Freedom

It’s About the Dog


Reading time – 5:41; Viewing time – 8:22  .  .  .

The political circumstances and the prospects for the future quality for life for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are becoming increasingly shaky and he is becoming more and more unhinged. Even desperate.

He knows that if he is removed from office he will immediately face criminal charges. That’s why he must stay in the White House bunker, hiding behind the Justice Department memo – not law – that says a sitting president cannot be indicted on criminal charges. That’s a very handy memo for a presidential perp to have. But the walls are closing in, driven mostly by self-inflicted errors and blatant cruelty.

It was only a matter of time before his complete bumbling of the coronavirus catastrophe would take a huge bite out of him. After all, the American public has a way of becoming very cross, as friends and family die alone with tubes down their throats, and the rest of us live knowing there are ventilators with our names on them in a parking lot being used for hospital overflow. Tens of millions have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their children and we don’t know when children will be allowed back in school. Still, that occupant lies to us that the global pandemic will magically go away. About 1,000 Americans are dying every day waiting for that magic. And this American story gets worse.

People of all colors have at last figured out that Black lives actually do matter. Who would have imagined that? And these people picked a time to make a statement which was quite convenient for the aforementioned occupant for his use as a reelection scheme.

The videos of the murders of unarmed Black men at the hands of police and vigilantes went viral and they called people out of their homes and into the streets to grieve those losses and so many others, and to wail their sadness and their anger. Some became violent.

Federal goons in Portland. Click for the Washington Post story.

At least we think some of them became violent. We don’t know who lit the matches and many wonder if violent right wingers staged the violence to make the demonstrators look bad, even un-American, and thereby incite a backlash. Not surprisingly, the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue occupant turned out to be Backlash Individual #1 and he’s making the most of it. However bad things have been for the past 401 years, he has made them incendiary and continues doing that today.

I’ve written many times, predicting that Trump would wag-the-dog (here, here, here and more) in a desperate move to stay in power and now he’s doing it, lying about the protests and starting the wag using his private thug army.

He’s sent federal storm troopers to Washington DC and to Portland, Oregon to crack down on (read: attack) protesters, whether they’re peaceful or otherwise. He’s showing what a tough guy he is. It’s his desperate political play to be the law and order candidate and thereby garner white votes, because “law and order” is a dog whistle for “whites keep their power over those horrible, savage Blacks.”

It’s unconstitutional to send our armed forces into our cities, so Trump found another way to have thugs do his thuggery. It turns out that the Department of Homeland Security has its own policing force, created to protect federal property, not city, state or private property. It is composed mostly of “contractors.” That doesn’t mean plumbers and carpenters working a second job. It means mercenaries. Guns for hire. Eric Prince’s Blackwater/Xe Services army.

Trump has used these as his private army, not to protect federal property, but to violently attack peaceful protesters in order to distract us. That’s how he’s using these protests to his advantage. Doing so keeps voters from focusing on his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, his failure to confront Putin over paying bribes to kill American troops, his blatantly illegal commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence, his ongoing violations of the Emoluments clause, his multiple obstructions of justice and more.

He’s wagging the dog not against a foreign nation, but against our own people, our friends and neighbors, claiming he is the law and order president who will protect us and the Constitution from socialist mobs.

He consistently stokes hatred and violence, thereby inflaming racial tension and division. Then he presents himself as the hero who will save us from the violence he stokes. It’s classic wag-the-dog. This miserable, dangerous cartoon character of a dictator is wrapped in erasable red, white and blue and is carrying a bible upside down as he sends thugs to our cities to make himself look tough.

Make no mistake: He’s brutally cruel to our people and he’s destroying our democracy. There’s danger coming soon to a city near you, especially if your mayor is a Democrat. The dog of tyranny bites selectively at first. Then things get much worse.

Read Tom Friedman’s piece for more.

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Resource Materials

Here are some book recommendations to explain more fully what this post is about and the danger we face.

First, read Professor Timothy Snyder’s small book, On Tyranny. Read it as a foundation piece, a context setter to understand our reality. It’s a quick, if scary read, as it’s not much bigger than a small pad of paper.

Next, read Jason Stanley’s book, How Fascism Works. That will put meat on the bones of Timothy Snyder’s work, but I warn you that you’ll be frightened for your children, which is why you need to read this book.

As long as you’re reading Stanley, get a copy of How Propaganda Works. From the first page you’ll recognize the political manipulation that has been and continues to be aimed at you.

No list like this would be complete without How Democracies Die. Levitsky and Ziblatt lay it out for you to see how brick-by-brick democracies are torn down, including our own.

I’m only a third of the way through Anne Applebaum’s brand new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. The lessons are clear and powerful and you need to see them. Get this little book.

Finally – and this is prompted by the behavior geek in me – if you want to know why you in your progressive bubble are afraid to talk to your neighbor who wears a MAGA hat and he’s not too crazy about talking with you, either, why last Thanksgiving devolved into a shouting match with Uncle Bob across from cousin George’s wonderful green bean dish and why those “other people” just don’t seem to get it, read Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. You’ll instantly understand why it’s so easy for politicians to divide us.

In addition, read any of Thomas Edsall’s essays in the New York Times.

Go buy and read these books. If you’ll only actually read one, get Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. Plus, read Edsall.

I have not provided links to purchase these books on Amazon or from any big box store. That’s because I want you to buy your books from your local Ma & Pa bookstore to help keep your neighborhood vibrant.

Now, go do your homework. There absolutely will be a test.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Biden’s To-Do List – The Short Form


Mom said, “When someone does something nice for you, say. “THANK YOU!” – this time to Dr. Fauci. This is Sheila Markin’s idea. Click here for her posts.

Reading time – 2:52  .  .  .

This list of President Joe Biden’s To-Dos starting in the afternoon of January 20, 2021 is offered in no particular order of importance except for the COVID-19 section, which is urgent. Be clear that these items are solely about recovering from Trump destruction. The obvious point here is that this is only a partial list. Please provide your additions in the Comments section below.

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Provide strong, clear leadership for scientific, tough minded practices to deal with the pandemic and end it:

– Restore public faith and confidence in national leadership by consistently telling the public the truth. No denials of reality, no anti-science fantasies, no demonizing of those with differing views.

– Fully fund nationwide testing and contact tracing and authorize lock downs where they are needed.

– Restore full status to the CDC.

– Restore funding for the WHO.

– Provide dependable financial support for workers displaced by the pandemic. No more leaving Americans on the brink of disaster because action was delayed by Congress and the president until the last second.

– Apologize to Dr. Anthony Fauci and the people of the CDC.

– Provide funding for schools to create and fully implement the dramatic evolution in teaching made necessary by COVID-19.

– Create childcare for children of working parents for whom school was their resource before COVID-19.

– Restore COVID-19 funding to public schools from the private schools to which it was diverted by Betsy DeVos.

Rejoin JCPOA – the Iran no-nuclear agreement – if it can be resurrected.

Withdraw support for Israel to annex West Bank areas.

Call out Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Bin Salman individually for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Consider sanctions.

Expand Obamacare to cover all Americans.

Restore the full Voting Rights Act.

What could possibly go wrong? Click the pic for the story.

Rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership – “TPP” – so that we don’t cede half the planet to the Chinese.

Start rebuilding infrastructure. Do you remember those “shovel ready” projects Congress refused to fund during the Obama administration? Trump has done none of it.

End the attack on the Postal Service and initiate legislation to remove the 75 year pension funding requirement that hamstrings that service.

Unwind Trump and Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy and create sensible tax reform.

Immediately remove all “acting” officials and replace them with qualified, Senate approved people

Enact laws to prohibit federal “goon squads” from showing up in any state or city unannounced, unrequested, unidentified, unwanted, unconstitutional and unlawful:

– Require all federal policing individuals and vehicles to be fully badged and tagged for easy identification when used for crowd control or for protection of federal property. This is not intended to apply to undercover agents.

– Require federal officers to declare a clear statement of cause when apprehending protesters; e.g., “You’re under arrest for ___________ .”

– Require all federal officers to fully Marandize those they apprehend.

– Prohibit federal policing individuals from all actions other than directly protecting federal property while on federal property.

– Make it mandatory to secure a request and agreement from an appropriate state and/or local official for the deployment of federal personnel and equipment in any state or city for any purpose except when a state and/or city itself is violating the Constitution or acting illegally (Think: Little Rock Central High School in 1957; University of Alabama in 1963).

Biden’s Attorney General action list:

– Prosecute William Barr for whatever comes to mind.

Had to change a couple of words from the original for more accurate labeling. Many thanks to AR for the pic.

– Investigate all Trump Department heads, including Betsy DeVos, Sonny Purdue and all the rest for featherbedding and other illegal behavior.

– Indict Trump for his obvious criminal behavior, including many violations of the Emoluments clause, extortion in the Ukraine scandal, multiple counts of obstruction of justice, abuse of power and all the rest.

– Prosecute everyone responsible for the actions of the federal “goon squads,” actions that include kidnapping, beating, shooting, tear gassing and flash banging peaceful protesters in Washington DC and in Portland, OR.

– Review Trump’s commutation of the sentence of Roger Stone for illegality, specifically because the commutation was part of covering up Trump’s illegal behavior. Restore punishment for Stone if possible.

Review Trump’s federal judge appointments for conflicts, ineptitude and anything else that can be used to remove those who don’t belong. This is solely about bad appointments, not their political views.

Create law that will prohibit a future Attorney General from becoming the president’s Roy Cohn; i.e. the president’s attorney instead of ours.

Remove the conspiracy theorists from top positions in the Pentagon.

Challenge the DOJ memo claiming that a sitting president can’t be prosecuted for crimes while in office.

Apologize to our 16 intelligence agencies for 4 years of Trump’s insults, undermining, devaluing and for his jamming unqualified cronies into positions of power in these organizations.

Remove all former lobbyists from the Executive Branch and create law that prohibits former lobbyists from participating in any part of government where the industry they lobbied for is involved.

Replace the Trump/Barr suck up district attorneys and set these offices free to prosecute Giuliani, Lev & Igor, Trump family members and, of course, Trump himself.

Undo foreign policy unforced errors, including:

– Mend fences with allies, including NATO member nations, South Korea, Australia, Israel, Mexico – who else?

– Apologize to Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, the Kurds, Volodomyr Zelensky and the leaders and the people of all the “shit hole countries” for Trump’s insults, rudeness and harm.

– Apologize to Duško Marković, former President of Montenegro, for Trump shoving him aside for a NATO photo op in 2017.

– Apologize to our present and former State Department professionals, including Lt. Col. Vindman, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Dr. Fiona Hill, Gordon Sondland, Mr. Kent, Ambassador William Taylor, and all those who put their careers on the line to tell the truth at the impeachment hearings. Honor them publicly.

– Give a firm, face-planted stiff arm to Xi, Duerte, Putin, Erdoğan and Kim. Make our opposition to their tyranny clear.

– Rebuild our Department of State. Lure back the wonderful people who were forced out or quit out of conscience. Trump’s actions are a George W. Bush déjà vu nightmare and they harm us internationally.

– Examine support for the Kurds and do what must be done to reverse our betrayal of this ally.

Restore Lt. Col. Vindman to active status, rank and post if he desires it. Restore his brother to his former post if he desires it.

Levy stronger and more painful sanctions on Russia for invading the Ukraine, their meddling in our 2016 election, their 2020 election meddling, attempting to steal vaccine research and offering/paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill Americans.

Create and quickly implement a U.S. war on climate warming:

– Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.

– Join the international agreement to combat deforestation.

– Establish federal incentives for installation of renewable energy.

– Establish federal incentives for clean energy innovation.

– Establish a path for re-education of coal miners – no, they won’t all become coders. Then end the use of “beautiful, clean” coal for energy production.

– Establish emission control policies, such as fuel mileage requirements.

Lead fundamental police policy change.

Install Supreme Court Justices who aren’t conservative – create balance.

Formalize the elimination of state sponsored voter suppression. Reverse the abuses of the past.

Create gun law reform, like 100% background checks and limits on the size of personal arsenals. Make illegal high capacity magazines, assault weapons and bump stocks and repeal the right of concealed carry, etc. These measures are overwhelmingly supported by the American people.

Do comprehensive immigration reform – finally!

– Enshrine DACA into law so that the next Republican hate monger can’t undo it with an Executive Order.

What’s missing? Post your notions in the Comments section below.

– Open our system for prompt handling of asylum seekers.

– Reunite detained immigrant children and parents and close the concentration camps.

– Establish clear criteria for immigrating into the U.S. that is actually Constitutional.

Many thanks to brother Mike for starting this discussion.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Most Unusual Fourth of July


Reading time – 3:11  .  .  .

My post last Wednesday – What’s Most Important – was about the baseline, the sine qua non obligation of any President of the United States: national security. It is the president’s solemn, sworn duty to protect our nation and our people from foreign threats. Yet now we are at greater risk because this president has once again failed us, as Russia pays bounties to Taliban fighters to kill Americans.

Trump is always in attack/excuses/blame mode and he didn’t disappoint this time. First he claimed the story was fake news. Then he claimed he had never been briefed, that he didn’t know anything about it. Then he said it was a hoax. But he can’t know that it’s a hoax if he doesn’t know anything about it, so there’s some lying going on.

Regardless, that brings us to the obvious: it doesn’t matter what Trump’s perfidious story is. What matters is that the Russians – Trump’s BFF, Putin – are paying to get our people killed and Trump not only hasn’t done a thing about it, but he’s letting it continue.

How do you think the world feels about America as Trump once again goes subservient to Putin and fails to protect and defend? That question has an answer: pity.

Today’s Russian murder story is heaped atop our national death spiral, now accelerating past 50,000 conscripts per day and over 129,000 dead.

Thanks to Trump’s ongoing failures, there are no holiday parades, few fireworks displays, next to no way to safely gather with our families and fellow citizens. At the same time, our troops are in greater danger. This is a most unusual Fourth of July that teaches us what we Americans need to understand quickly.

If we allow Trump to fold in the face of Russian aggression and at the same time allow this pandemic disease to decimate our country; if we allow our economy to collapse; if we fail to at last learn the lessons of our racism; if we continue to put Bandaids on the gushing wound of police brutality; we will cede world leadership to the dictators Trump worships and democracy will be over. Ref: Trump’s “Nuremberg rally” at Mt. Rushmore on Friday.

The good news is that we seem to be awakening from our crippling national slumber.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s Most Important


Reading time – 2:12  .  .  .

Let’s see if we can zero in on what’s most important about the Russian bounty on the heads of American military personnel in Afghanistan.

What’s most important actually isn’t that Vladimir Putin set up this incentive to the Taliban to murder our troops. And it isn’t a bit surprising that Putin has denied what our intelligence people have found and about which they are 100% certain. Lying and killing is what Putin does. Just ask his political rivals. Oh, wait; you can’t do that because he killed them.

And what’s most important isn’t that Trump wasn’t told what has been happening. There isn’t even the remotest possibility that our intelligence people, including the DNI, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, director of the CIA, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense and others weren’t aware of Putin’s incentive to murder months ago. And their being aware of it and understanding the lethal implications for our troops and our national security means that there isn’t a chance that this slightly indirect act of war wasn’t brought to the president a long time ago.

It was in the PDB – the President’s Daily Briefing – but, of course, Trump doesn’t read and rarely reviews any PDB and refuses to hear bad things about Russia. However, our security types know that he doesn’t read and would have brought this critical issue to this president in various other ways that would get his attention and focus. There would have been walk-in meetings; short PowerPoint presentations using only single-syllable words; crayon and coloring book narratives; and Choose-Your-Own Adventure comic books. They would have had a beautiful model in a tiny bathing suit and heels parade past the Resolute desk waving pictures of dead American personnel with captions reading “PUTIN’S BOUNTY.” Our national security people would have used whatever it might take to get this president to absorb the key information.

In other words, there isn’t even a small possibility that Trump didn’t know about this until the past few days, as he has hollowly claimed.* Even that isn’t what’s most important.

Here’s what’s most important about this scandal:

Our military people are being murdered and Commander in Chief Trump has done nothing about it.

Click this pic and watch the video. Then  send this to independents and Trump supporters you know.

No threats of military action. No sanctions. No “Back off!” call to Putin. No coordination with NATO partners. No counter measures at all. Trump has sold out our military people.

I really don’t care what Putin has on Trump – pictures and videos, evidence of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, whatever – except when it results in traitorous actions against our people and our country by the President of the United States.

Our people and our country are what’s most important and Trump is betraying both.

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*From Congressman Brad Schneider’s (D, IL-10) newsletter of June 30, 2020:

“.  .  .   yesterday it was reported that as early as April, 2019 [emphasis mine – ed.] U.S. officials were aware of evidence of a Russian effort to pay bounties for the killing of U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan. Further reports indicate that President Trump received written intelligence on the Russian actions as far back as February. I spoke about this issue on the House floor this morning.”

Finally, a curious comment

The mayor of Tampa, Florida reported on Juiy 1 that they are experiencing a significant spike in coronavirus cases among 20- & 30-somethings. This comes just a few short weeks after the bars and restaurants in Tampa were re-opened.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fun With Numbers and The Trump CCC


Reading time – 3:56; Viewing time – 8:42  .  .  .

CAUTION: CONTAINS SNARK. Sensitive readers should close their eyes while reading this post. You’ve been warned.

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I have never heard a Democrat or Independent make an accusation of voter fraud. Criminal voter suppression, yes, but  not voter fraud. That leaves Republicans as the sole finger pointers at the ballot box.

They use words like “rampant” and “pervasive” and “un-American.” They profess to be patriotically opposed to mail-in voting, claiming it will be an invitation to massive voter fraud, but they never seem to be able to present evidence of significant voter wrongdoing to substantiate their assertions, whether through the mail or any other way to vote.

No worries. The very conservative Heritage Foundation has come to the rescue to bring this voter poison to democracy to light. You can download their 390 page report here.

They document state-by-state “proven instances of voter fraud” – those are their words, whatever “proven instances” means. The report is not date stamped, but in a cursory review I found that it provides a listing of “instances” that cover roughly the period of 1997 – 2013 and they claim that the number of these “proven instances” is 1,088. For the purpose of examination, let’s accept their numbers and look at what they mean.

First, their data might have covered 1996, too; it’s not clear. We’ll include 1996 for our analysis because that appears to be the basis for the case the Heritage Foundation attempts to make.

886,000,000 votes were cast in that period. Simple math tells us that the 1,088 “proven instances” of voter fraud sprinkled among 886,000,000 voters, means that the cases of voter fraud are just 1 in 814,338 votes cast. That’s 0.0001227%. More simply, it’s one ten-thousandth of a percent.

If we are to correctly understand Trump, the decades of flaming Republicans and the Heritage Foundation, they passionately believe that fraud at the rate of one in 814,338 votes cast constitutes “rampant” voter fraud. It is because of this “rampant” fraud that they are certain that they’re justified in their voter suppression programs in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin and elsewhere. They’re certain they have it right when they close most polling places in poor areas, remove voters from voter rolls for not returning a post card within 2 weeks and require voter ID that is difficult for many poor people to secure. Isn’t it just the oddest coincidence that nearly all of that goes on in poor and non-white areas?

If one in 814,338 incidents of claimed fraud qualifies for being labeled “pervasive” and “un-American” as they declare, we have to catch and punish that one guy in 814,338 who cheated. Lock him up, I say! And if we’re to have fraud-free elections we must suppress voters, too, because we can’t tolerate our basic democratic right being polluted at the rate of one in 814,338 votes.

For some clarity about protests, white privilege and Trumpian cluelessness, watch this. Thanks to JS for providing the link.

Besides, if fewer people vote (translation: no poor people or non-whites), Republicans can then win. We know that, because Trump just said that very thing. Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, made that clear a long time ago and said that was why he didn’t want everyone to vote. So, for just a smidgen of integrity for just a moment, next Trump rally I want to hear those true believers chanting, “SUPPRESS THE VOTE! SUPPRESS THE VOTE!”

Republicans make their fatuous claims of voter fraud and they suppress the vote wherever they can. Theirs is a most perverse claim of protecting democracy, but one vote in 814,338 is enough for them to do their dishonest best to make sure aging, soon-to-be minority white guys stay in power.

More Fun With Numbers

Courtesy of KL, watch this video to get a perspective on the flyovers performed by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to honor our healthcare workers. They have flown over at least 29 cities so far. Apply that number to the math per Dr. Bill in the video to get an idea of the good we might have done instead to help people in more concrete ways.

Most of us love watching those guys and appreciate the honoring of our front line people, but after doing the math, check how you feel about those flyovers.

Trump’s CCC

The Republican National Convention was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, NC from August 24 – 27. I say “was” because it will not be held in Charlotte.

Donald Trump is desperate for the visual of thousands of MAGA hat wearing zealots thundering support and heaping praise upon his orange head. He detests the optics of N95 masks (did I mention that it’s all about the optics?) and needs a packed stadium of bare faces as a visual of the adoring, fervent love and support he knows he so rightly deserves. He won’t tolerate masks or social distancing. Bad optics. That’s why he told Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, that he wants his packed stadium and he wants it his way. But that’s now a problem for Trump.

Call him crazy, but Cooper thinks it’s a medically bad idea to pack thousands of yelling, sweating, coughing, non-masked people shoulder-to-shoulder for hours, this in the face of the world’s worst pandemic right here in the world’s most highly infected country. It’s an “out there” notion, I know, but Crazy Roy Cooper is just that way, thinking that protecting his people is more important than another hate-fest Trump rally in North Carolina.

So, Trump and the RNC jellyfish are shopping for a new venue in another state. There’s lots of talk that Jacksonville, FL is the likely site for Trump’s infection rites. Makes sense. There’s a compliant Republican governor there – Ron DeSantis – and Florida is a swing state with a lot of electoral college votes. Besides, they still haven’t taken the coronavirus seriously in Florida.

1. Yes, Hizzoner did say that following the violent Chicago Police riot in Grant Park. 2. This is included for all those who can’t tolerate a little disruption in times of change and who are willing and even eager to suppress others in order to tamp down their discomfort and regain their fragile sense of being in control. See Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed for an example.

Recall that this is the state whose governor welcomed thousands of spring breakers as the body counts of the pandemic dead were mounting at the rate of 2,000 per day. Florida pretty much never “shut down” and was among the first to “reopen” and enable full coronavirus transfer. Pandemic, schmandemic. Who cares?

So, let’s pack Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field with thousands of sweating, yelling, sneezing, non-masked MAGA hat wearing Truckers for Trump, The WWWDCABG For Trump (White Women Who Don’t Care About Being Groped), White Supremacists for Trump, The IHOSIHB for Trump (I Hated Obama, So I Hate Biden) and, of course, TOTBG for Trump (The Only Two Black Guys). Let them thunderously chant to lock up Hillary and Biden. Let them pump muscled, Confederate flag tattooed arms as they chant their demand to, “PAR-DUN FLYNN! PAR-DUN FLYNN!” O’ the rush of it all!

So, let the spittle fly and the sneeze and cough mist spew unrestrained in the sublime reverie of the cult. Right there in Jacksonville at Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Contagion Convention (The CCC).

Many thanks to Donald Trump for making massive infection possible through his complete abdication of his responsibility as President.

Last thought about this: If we were to go full Machiavellian, we might say that a massive MAGA rally is a most effective way to suppress the Republican vote. That oughta battle that “rampant” voter fraud they whine about constantly.

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Click me

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Arc


Reading time – 4:43; Viewing time – 8:05  .  .  .

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., paraphrasing 19th century clergyman Theodore Parker.

He was right, of course, but that bending isn’t guaranteed and it doesn’t happen accidentally. The moral arc will only bend toward justice if we make it bend that way.

There is nothing pre-destined about justice. Bad guys sometimes win. Despots sometimes create dynasties that oppress people for centuries. Evil has terrorized people throughout recorded history. Justice doesn’t just happen. Ask any person in the U.S. of any color other than white for confirmation of that.

The only way that justice prevails is when good people bear down and do what is necessary, especially in perilous times. It happens when they demand justice. It happens when they refuse to condemn their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the cruel slavery of injustice.

George Floyd memorial, Minneapolis. Notice how many protesters aren’t Black. Across the country this is a people’s protest. Perhaps our young ones will save us from ourselves.

This is the time to demand justice. And I don’t mean only because of what’s happening in our streets now, triggered by the murder of George Floyd. There is an even bigger picture that we must focus on and it bears heavily on the Floyd tragedy. If we don’t do that, all the protesting in the world will fail to make the changes we need and things will become far worse. Besides, we largely know what to do about racial injustice. It’s been studied again and again. It’s the take-action part that we haven’t done.

The President of the United States doesn’t want his job. He wants something far bigger, like the despots he admires, Putin, Xi, Duerte, Kim and Erdoğan. He wants to be an autocrat with absolute power. A dictator. A monarch. A god. He’s told us that plainly.

There is nothing too low for Trump, including holding up a Bible in front of a church for a hypocritical photo-op after having the U.S. military attack peaceful protesters. Here’s why.

We decided in 1775 that such an arrangement just doesn’t work for us. We said that we would be peasants to no one and we threw off the tyrannical rule of King George III and set out on an audacious journey of self-government. To be sure, the road has not always been easy nor has it always been just, but it has become better over time.

Now, though, we are standing face-to-face with that president who wants to be a god. If we don’t stop him now, he will grab absolute power, because grabbing everything for himself is what he always does. We will be peasants once again and that glorious journey of self-government will end. There will no longer be a path toward a more perfect union.

Nameless, badge-less, unidentified cops/military threatened peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park. Then they attacked.

Trump has already deployed the U.S. military to DC in a brutal act of martial law and is threatening to do the same in our states. Is that okay with you? It isn’t okay with George Will. It isn’t okay with Gen. James Mattis. It isn’t okay with Gen. John Kelly or with Gen. John Allen. It isn’t okay with Adm. James Stavridis or with Steve Schmidt or with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) or with Gen. Martin Dempsey or with Gen. Douglas Lute or with Gen. Tony Thomas or with Adm. Mike Mullin or with Adm. William McRaven. And it surely isn’t okay with the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park who were beaten, gassed, shot and flash-banged by anonymous thugs in anonymous police and military uniforms. That injustice stands in perfect perverse harmony with the fact that slaves were once sold in that very park.

Minutes after the picture to the left.

With one moronic, corrupt declaration after another this president is stealing all that you hold dear, all that you believe in and he will get away with it if we are passive toward his thievery. Look up and you’ll see that this isn’t the flag to which you pledged allegiance in elementary school. That flag has been hijacked and the president and his flunkies are wiping their dirty Gucci loafers on it for a power grab and a photo-op. They’re self-justified by a tyrannical tear everything down mantra and they want you to salute their flag of fear, obedience and powerlessness.

We all have our private lives and we ordinarily focus on our own personal issues, but these times aren’t ordinary. These times are ringing an alarm and it is we who must answer the call.

New fence in Lafayette Square Park to isolate demonstrators – not unlike the Berlin Wall. So, we paraphrase Pres. Reagan’s words: “Mr. Trump. tear down this wall.”

The First Amendment tells us that we have the right to petition our government for redress of grievances, which, of course, is exactly what the demonstrators in Lafayette Square Park were doing. You and I better exercise that right while we still have it, because we surely have grievances: our country is being stolen from us. And this president is being aided and abetted by Republican invertebrates in the Cabinet, the Senate and the Justice Department. They don’t have the spine to stop him.

Our own senators and congressmen are the very ones for us to petition. So go to Senate.gov and House.gov, find the contact information for your legislators and call them. Demand that they stop this mad tyrant wannabee before military boots hit your streets and the tear gas fogs your park and the intimidating Black Hawk helicopters hover low over your town square as they did over Lafayette Square Park. Those actions are what this president has threatened to do to you.

Do those calls to your legislators seem like a futile gesture amid Trump’s crushing avalanche of lies, his calls to hatred and violence and Trump’s vile power grabs? Consider this.

Howard Reich’s book, The Art of Inventing Hope: Intimate Conversations with Elie Wiesel, is a very personal and complex narrative that speaks to us in a way perhaps not intended by the author. Nevertheless, Reich wrote,

“Taking action even when you think it may be futile – especially if you think it will be futile – was not only Wiesel’s definition of active pessimism but also, I believe, his statement of hope amid sorrow. When the quest is failing, he seemed to be saying, we need to work that much harder, not only to try to effect change but also as a statement of who we are.”

“In effect, we create hope by pushing forward in the face of failure.”

If we are to have hope that the arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice, we have to take action especially if we think it will be futile. We must try that much harder and say clearly, unequivocally that this who we are.

Do you need inspiration?

Download this piece that I recently received as an email from the Chicago Urban Prep Academies. Tim King is working miracles there, inventing hope and changing lives for the better every day. Download and read the Urban Prep Creed. These high school students recite it every day and they make every word of it ring true, right there on Chicago’s dangerous south side. Perhaps those kids have something to teach us.

When you question whether you can make a difference, repeat Tim King’s words in his emailed message: Either WE do or WE don’t. It’s up to us. And BTW, feel free to help keep the Urban Prep magic going by kicking in a few bucks.

Finally, inspired by the song Teach Your Children, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by  .  .  .

It’s time to sing your code. It is your own personal guide and this is the time to sing the words out loud and fully live them to bend that long arc of the moral universe toward justice.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Emergency – Break Glass


Donald Trump has declared martial law in DC.

No, this isn’t a reality TV moment. This isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t a prank. This is actually happening. And he’s threatened to declare martial law in any state where he wants to deploy our military personnel to “dominate the streets” against our citizens, regardless of governors’ objections.

I wrote about and warned of this kind of dictatorial takeover here (see especially the last point) – also here and here and as far back as 12/31/16 here. It is no longer a theoretical construct. Now it has started for real.

Trump has been clear all along that he admires autocrats – dictators – and he wants to be like them. That’s exactly what he is in DC right now.

One thing we know about Trump is that he will keep pushing the limits unless somebody stops him. The attorney general is worse than useless to us in reining in this President. So somebody else better stand up immediately with a big legal STOP sign in hand.

If that doesn’t happen, there will be no election and our democracy will be gone.

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Here’s what’s behind this, other than Trump’s obvious sociopathic dysfunctions.

Trump knows that he’s protected by that damned Justice Department memo that says that a sitting president may not be indicted or prosecuted for any crime. Note that the memo is just that: a memo. It is not law. What needs to happen is for it to be tested in court, struck down as the poison to democracy that it is, and then put through a powerful Justice Department paper shredder.

But with that memo effectively acting as a shield to protect him, Trump can hide right there in the White House. And he needs to hide, because once he’s out of office he will be indicted for money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and more by the SDNY, the State and City of New York, the State of Virginia and some other states. An honest Attorney General will prosecute him for crimes while in office, including emoluments, the insane Ukraine quid pro quo extortion deal and much more. All of that will keep Trump in court and in prison for the rest of his life and will consume the rest of his ill-gotten fortune.

That’s why he’ll do anything to stay in office.

He knows that Biden will whip his obese ass in November, so all that’s left to him are cancelling the election and declaring martial law. It’s already begun.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Here’s Why We Don’t Do Widespread Testing


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 5:28  .  .  .

We continue to bumble along, seemingly unable to develop a reliable test to use in large quantities throughout the country to fight this awful disease. It isn’t because we don’t have access to the needed resources. Here and here are reports on testing options that have been available for months.

In contrast to our stumbling, Germany has the lowest death rate from coronavirus anywhere and it’s hard to understand why we don’t use what has been proven to be the best available testing technology and practices.  Here’s an excerpt from a report by The New York Times on how Germany is achieving relative success:

In mid-January, long before most Germans had given the virus much thought, Charité hospital in Berlin had already developed a test and posted the formula online.

By the time Germany recorded its first case of Covid-19 in February, laboratories across the country had built up a stock of test kits.

“The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said Dr. Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Charité, whose team developed the first test.

By now, Germany is conducting around 350,000 coronavirus tests a week, far more than any other European country. Early and widespread testing has allowed the authorities to slow the spread of the pandemic by isolating known cases while they are infectious. It has also enabled lifesaving treatment to be administered in a more timely way.

To test in the U.S. at a rate comparable to that of Germany we would have to do a minimum of 1.4 million tests every week, but we don’t have a sufficient supply of test kits even for as little as 10 days; then we’re out of kits. Further, the reliability of our tests has been suspect, although claims are being made that some are now reliable. Nevertheless, our ineptitude exists and continues in spite of three facts:

  1. The World Health Organization had test kits available for our use months ago, but for unexplained reasons, our government refused to use them and relied instead on a CDC test that proved to be faulty.
  2. The formula for the reliable test that Germany is using was posted online in January and was available for everyone to use, as were other kits, but we refused those, too.
  3. President Nero invoked the Defense Protection Act and could have forced many manufacturers and labs to ramp up to produce as many  millions of tests as we need. BUT HE HASN’T DONE THAT.

On May 5 Trump made things worse by having Vice President Pence announce that he is disbanding the coronavirus task force by the end of the month. He essentially said that he is giving up without firing a shot. We would be left to suffer and many to die due to a complete lack of coherent leadership.

One day later, and in typical Trump flip-flopping fashion, he reversed that. He had been stung by the very negative public response to his disbanding decision, so he announced that now the task force will continue. But we’re left exactly the same as before, wondering if Trump and his team of incompetents will ever actually do something to help the people. Here’s why they haven’t and why they won’t.

If Trump were to take clear, decisive action, like organizing massive, national testing, he would be putting a stake in the ground, making himself accountable for results. If the results don’t turn out to be good – and it’s obvious that outcomes from this coronavirus are dreadful and will only become worse – Trump’s culpability would be on display for all to see. But Trump never accepts responsibility for anything unless he can claim victory, so once again he’s set things up for him to skate,

and he’s doing nothing.

 

Click me for the story

You can depend upon Trump to continue to do nothing to fight this killer disease. You can depend upon him to continue to blame others when things go wrong. You can depend upon him to care nothing about the suffering and dying that is all around. You can depend upon him to focus solely on what’s good for Trump.

Turns out that’s a multiple whammy.

The lack of a robust testing protocol is why we don’t have accurate, targeted quarantines to prevent the spread of the disease. Lacking that testing information is why we’re all quarantined and why the disease continues to spread and why millions are out of work and out of money. And that financial nightmare for millions of Americans is why we are in a financial depression from which it will take years to recover. And that financial depression is why we will be at far greater risk from international bad actors for a long time.

In other words, our human carnage catastrophe, our economic peril and our future foreign vulnerabilities are largely self-inflicted injuries that are due to the cowardice, ineptitude and total self-focus of Donald Trump.

That is why we don’t do widespread testing to control coronavirus and protect the people.

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If you’d like to learn about the kind of leadership we truly need, my pal John Calia recently penned a post that provides that clarity. Read it here.

And watch this ad from The Lincoln Project. The message from these traditional conservatives has Trump apoplectic, so instead of focusing on our  dire national circumstances, he’s using his presidential time to rage tweet. Decide for yourself if someone telling truths he doesn’t like is justification for him abandoning his post.

NOTE – be sure to click the SKIP ADS button on the right side of the YouTube video.

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Looking for a way to make a difference? Check out the One Minute Activist list right here. Not in the Chicago area? Just substitute organizations in your area as appropriate and go make a difference. Yes, today.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry.

That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

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Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering, know-nothing politicians, economists or law professors) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (a daily 9/11; a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses. Employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition


Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has been kicked out of his post. Reports STAT, “Bright’s career has largely centered around vaccine and drug development. His work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on influenza viruses, antiviral drugs and tests.” Sounds like the kind of guy we need right now.

But reports are that Dr. Bright and Bob Kadlec, the current HHS assistant secretary for – get this – preparedness and response had a little conflict. In fact, Bright foolishly pointed out the homicidal stupidity of recommending hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19. That’s the drug prescribed by Dr. Trump and recommended by the prime time Fox News clueless hysterions and which hasn’t been shown to be effective against this virus but has been shown to kill patients.

Let’s see: A doctor, an expert scientist in his field, had the temerity to say something truthful and important that Trump didn’t like. Rather than listening to this guy who actually knows something, Trump and his know-nothings instead did what they always do. They always purge the best people – in this case, a really Bright one, in both senses of the word – and replace them with Trump hacks, like the know-nothing former Labradoodle breeder who is now the senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. In this hour of our desperate need, what could possibly go wrong?

This sounds like a conspiracy to ensure things really do go wrong. Truly stupid.


No matter what the President says, DON’T drink me.

A reader wrote to me,

I’m reading about the latest bill passed to send $ to “SMALL” businesses. Every article mentions that the prior bill ran out of money in 3 weeks because the majority of money was sent to “LARGE” corporations. So, my question is: why is there no one in public office demanding that the government require the large corporations to return the $ so that it can be redirected to the smaller businesses, which were the intended recipients of the $ in the first place? What am I missing here?

If those large businesses fell within the program guidelines (guidelines that were created to support small businesses), then where was the oversight among all those professionals when the guidelines were created? Surely, someone should have been charged with assuring the money would go to the right companies. Seems like a slam dunk job to me.

Dear Reader,

And DON’T inhale me. No, really.

Thanks for your comments. I have no satisfactory answers. Nevertheless, I offer this:

  1. I have not heard of anyone in a position to do anything about it say a word suggesting a give-back.
  2. To the best of my knowledge, those larger businesses fell within the guidelines of the federal program – even the hedge fund operators who sucked cash from the trough. It’s crazy that these folks who clearly don’t need help could do that legally. Where, indeed, was the oversight?
  3. The larger companies commonly have a strong relationship with their bankers and they have the in-house professional expertise to apply for money from the program. Not so much for the mom and pop shops or small manufacturers. That effectively aced a lot of them out of the program.
  4. The whole thing was chaos, because the program was suddenly dumped on banks with very little in the way of direction to process these loans. Like so much during the Trump era, it was ready, fire, aim, only this time it was Congress that did it. They were in such a hurry to get money to businesses that they failed to be more clear in the process to ensure they’d help the little guys and not the hedge fund managers.

Gotta give Congress credit for earnestly wanting to help small businesses. But there was something stupid about the guardrails for the program. Do you suppose that’s fixed in the next tranche of funding?


In this time of crisis, we need the President standing a post on that wall. Instead he’s playing a constant game of Top That Lie.

On Thursday of last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested, ”  .  .  .  that states hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak should be allowed to seek bankruptcy protections rather than be given a federal bailout.” This was specifically aimed at diminishing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and pension obligations of the states. From reader John Anderson ([email protected]):

Today Mitch McConnell suddenly got concerned about government spending.

He was not concerned after the so called tax cut bill.

He was not concerned after the recent stimulus bill.

He was not concerned when the Senate passed another stimulus bill yesterday.

Today, he WAS concerned. He talked about the need to cut spending. For him that means cutting Social Security and Medicare. Not cutting Defense Spending. He’s said that before. Only a partial scare there.

Now the SCARY part.

He suggested that maybe, just maybe, states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. He didn’t suggest that states could default on bonds. For him, bankruptcy of the states means they would reduce or completely default on the pensions for all people who earned those pensions – millions of police, fire, state parks employees, road crews, teachers, librarians, city employees and all others drawing state or local funds. If you’re one of those people who had to forego pay increases for the promise of future income (a pension) and who kicked in their own money to the fund, THIS IS SCARY.

I mentioned this a few years ago when Illinois attempted to change the pension terms. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association sued (Quinn v. Hearon) and won in a unanimous decision. When I wrote about this, some responses to my article were hostile, but consider this.

After WWII, Stalin took care of the USSR’s war debt by declaring that the USSR was going to write those war bonds off and thanked the Soviet citizens for their contributions. That’s essentially what McConnell wants to do to those on Social Security and Medicare and clearly thinks that the states should declare bankruptcy and default on the pension obligations to their former employees.

Responding to John, per IllinoisPolicy.org, “In fiscal year 2019, state estimates of Illinois’ total unfunded pension liability rose to $137 billion.” That’s just for the state pensions and doesn’t include city or county obligations; furthermore, the state is broke. And dealing with coronavirus is digging an even deeper hole.

Of course, this is all the result of kicking the can down the road for many decades – generations, really – refusing to fund the liability and stealing from the fund when desired. This is equal opportunity stupidity, proudly done by both Republicans and Democrats and Illinois isn’t the only state where this is happening.

Nevertheless, this bankruptcy thing is stupid on a world class level. Congratulations are due to Mitch McConnell for cavalierly flipping off 50 states and their present and former employees. On the other hand, he’s inadvertently helping to turn red states blue.


© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press. Protesters gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

Finally, we have to pay homage to the many rugged individualist Americans who, with AR-15s and testosterone proudly on display, proclaim we mustn’t tread on them. They bellow in thunderous voices that we can’t tell them what to do, as they ascend the steps of our state capitols to loudly proclaim their demands.

They’re insisting on an end to our punishing stay-at-home orders and that we “open up” our economy and let them get back to work to earn their pay and re-assert control of their lives. Let us all raise a vinyl-gloved fist in solidarity with these true descendants of the original Revolution, as they wave their Nazi and Confederate flags on the sidewalk.

There is a powerful message in their behavior, as they make a mosh pit of protest, absent masks and gloves. The message is their nomination of themselves for the 2020 Darwin Awards.

These awards are given annually to people who have helped the most to improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. And surely many of these angry protesters will fall in the Battle of the Daft, having been infected by contagious fellow protesters. Sadly, we soon won’t be able to identify these COVID-19 volunteers from others, because once a ventilator tube goes down a throat and a plastic mask covers a face, everyone looks pretty much the same.

How can we be this stupid?

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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