Freedom

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.

Click me

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 the 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 economists or law professors or self-serving politicians) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (daily 9/11s, 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  .  .  .

Yeah, I know this sounds like conspiracy craziness, but .  .  .

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?

Actually, it 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.

You Need To Understand This


Reading time – 5:19  .  .  .

Sure, you’re sick of coronavirus 24/7, but it’s killing so many of our family and friends that we need to know the truth. For that, read Sheila Markin’s post and you’ll understand both what’s happened and what needs to happen.

The president can’t tell the difference between reality and a reality TV show, but you know what he doesn’t know, that when people die from coronavirus they’re permanently dead. They won’t come back for the next episode. That’s why you and I need to understand reality, including what must be done.

This is important, because even if the virus fades during our warm months, it will be back next autumn and winter and will kill many more of us unless we do the right things all along. That’s why it is not hyperbole to say that the general election this November 3 is the most important of your lifetime. It really will be a life or death choice.

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Connected to that, you also need to understand the devolution of our welfare, our politics and our democracy.

In 2016 you saw enthusiastic Trump supporters chanting at every campaign rally, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” It was all about some unsubstantiated accusation that Hillary Clinton had broken some unnamed law at some unidentified time according to some unknown evidence and some unavailable accusers. Nevertheless, the hate chanting was enjoyed by all in attendance. What a power rush for them!

Now it’s back.

Click me

Nancy Kohn, Just Cause

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has Michigan on lock down against the spread of coronavirus and, of course, nobody likes being locked down. The far right hair-on-fire types don’t just dislike that: they rebel violently against anyone telling them what to do.

They organized a rally on the steps of the capitol building in Lansing to protest and demand that Michigan be “reopened.” They invoked Revolutionary War era slogans to amplify their aggrieved insistence. Clearly, their individual wants are more important to them than that they may be killing others by passing their asymptomatic  infection – like to you or to your granny or to your children. And their self-focus stands in gob-smacking contrast to the over 2,000 Michiganders who are now dead from coronavirus, as though that never happened.

Bear in mind that LESS THAN 1% OF ALL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS. That means that WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO’S SICK AND INFECTING OTHERS AND WHO WILL INFECT MANY MORE OTHERS IF EVERYONE IS SET FREE TO COUGH AND SNEEZE CLOSE TO ONE ANOTHER. But no matter, Governor Whitmer. the Michigan protesters are telling you plainly that you can’t tell them what to do.

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

Of course, there was no social distancing among the protesters as they marched and shouted, nor was anyone wearing a mask or gloves. Perhaps they think the power of their dark side is so dreadful that the virus can’t touch them. Sadly, they almost certainly have a nasty surprise coming. Some of those protesters surely were infecting others and the virus will spread among them and likely to yet others, too.

They were carrying the de rigueur symbols, the Don’t Tread On Me flag, the ultimate victim symbol, and a Confederate flag, the ultimate anti-patriotism flag. There were Nazi flags, too, yet they think of themselves as true patriots. And, as you already suspect, without any evidence of Michigan gubernatorial wrongdoing, they were chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” What a power rush for them!

This is what now passes as Republicanism.

This is what now passes as conservatism.

This is what now passes as patriotism.

This is what now threatens our lives, our democracy and our entire republic.

I believe we are reaching an inflection point, the path to which was instigated by Ronald Reagan’s intentional demeaning of government, with his repeated mantra that, “Government is the problem.” He began a cascade of attacks and criticism telling citizens not to trust government (and gave them reason with his Iran-Contra lawlessness), and led us to despise the commons. The Newt Gingrich crazies, the Tea Party crazies, the alt-right crazies and the Freedom Caucus crazies were and are ego power trips for the angry and all about destabilizing government and even overthrowing it. Steve Bannon, Trump’s anarchy whisperer, was and is all about “tearing it all down” – his words. These blatherers are all big megaphones for selfish anger.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage over perceived betrayal, tearing it all down sounds pretty good. You believe that the Second Amendment is foremost a message from the Founders to arm yourself against your own government, rather than its original meaning, to be a substitute for a then-unaffordable standing army in case the British came back, which they did. You believe that the Declaration of Independence says, “.  .  .  whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it  .  .  .” and that it means we should tear it all down because you’re not happy about some things and, of course, it’s all about what you want. In Jefferson’s 1787 letter to the son-in-law of John Adams he wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” You quote that, finding justification for insurrection and violence. Of course, it’s always about someone else’s blood.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage, you have guns, concealed carry, flag symbols so that you feel connected to some imagined noble cause of the past and you don’t play well with others. You insist that your rugged independence is more important than our collective welfare. So, you show up on the steps of the Michigan capitol building and you yell and you spit and cough and sneeze with your fellow coronavirus protesters. “You have to disobey,” you declare, with your Uzi strapped to your back and your Glock in your holster. What a power rush for you!

Just like all of us, these people want to go back to work. They want their old normal lives back. We all get it. The only thing that’s missing is their having any concern whatsoever for anyone else. It’s an astonishingly selfish stand to say, “My individual rights are more important than yours, even when I infect you and others, some of whom will die. I’m more important than all of us.”

Philadelphia didn’t cancel a parade during a 1918 pandemic. The results were devastating. Click the pic for the story.

All of that is bolstered by a president who doesn’t clearly call for individual sacrifice for the welfare of us all. Instead, he stokes division, telling us to follow the direction of our governors, then he encourages protesters to refuse to comply. Instead of leading a healthcare Manhattan Project, he seeks to set up others for blame when the whole thing explodes, as it’s doing right now. Indeed, the protesters are led by a president whose only interest is in what serves him, which is to say, selfishness is what is most important. This is the same president who has warned of violence by “his people” should he be removed from office. Read more about our ongoing “Wartime President’s” dysfunction here.

So, Reagan’s starting point has led us to where we are now, this inflection point, where mob behavior is our standard. In the 1960s conservatives contorted themselves into pretzels condemning protests against the Vietnam War, calling the protesters nothing less than a mob and other considerably less savory names. Now our self-defined patriotic conservatives are on the steps of our state capitol buildings as frothing mobs themselves, and somehow they now think that’s good.

The conservatives we elected to Congress drove our lobbyist-funded redirection of the Second Amendment, making it legal to take your AR-15 to your kid’s school or to the grocery store. After all, you never know when a threat might appear and assault weapons might be needed in the toilet paper aisle. And these protesters brought their heavy armor to the rally in Lansing, thinking they’re were making their point stronger. Actually, all they did was to threaten our domestic tranquility and make it clear that it’s their way or it’s violently their way.

This worldwide pandemic will have effects that will last decades and will impact everyone in ways not yet contemplated. An absolutist mind won’t tolerate that well. These people have been trained for decades by leaders teaching them that government is the enemy. Right now their lives, as for all of us, have been turned upside down, they’re more angry than usual and they aren’t about to tolerate that disruption, that abridgement of their individual rights, without making a lot of noise and threats. And this president has stoked their violence for years.

And they have guns.

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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.

Enough is Enough


Reading time – 1:56  .  .  .

(Jack is standing behind the island counter in his kitchen. A sunny back yard is seen through the windows behind him. He pumps his right arm up and down for emphasis as he speaks.)

We’ve heard this socialist, communist-sounding stuff for far too long.

Bernie keeps pushing free stuff as though it might really be free and as though he thinks that government is the best solution for every challenge. He constantly demeans our business people and companies as though all of them are criminals. As if that weren’t enough, now he’s singing the praises of Fidel Castro. If you were to craft a plan designed to disgust and repel the majority of American voters, you couldn’t concoct a better one.

In 2016 Donald Trump won the votes of millions of people, largely for two reasons:

  1. People were angry at government and Trump wasn’t a politician, so they hoped he would do better.
  2. And millions of people voted for him solely because he wasn’t Hillary.
→Bernie Sanders is in the process of driving millions of Americans to vote for Trump solely because he isn’t Bernie.

 

I’ve had it up to here (points to the bottom of his nose) with Bernie’s craziness and self-defeat.

I’m sick and tired (strong right arm pumping) of this extreme lefty nonsense. His radical base loves the power of his dark side, but most Americans don’t.

Like the people in Duluth, MN, Punxsutawney, PA and Kalamazoo, MI who don’t go for that stuff. Neither do people in Dayton, OH, El Paso, TX, Charlotte, NC, Flagstaff, AZ or Tallahassee, FL. This crazy, self-defeating nonsense has to stop. RIGHT NOW! (two arm pumps). ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! (two more arm pumps).

(Shift to camera two, 90° left. The background is dark and it’s difficult to make out details.)

Recently Bernie bragged,

“I’ve got news for the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment. They can’t stop us.”

He’s wrong.

The easy way for Republicans to stop Bernie is for him to be the Democratic nominee. Then Donald Trump will win and be President for four more years. No sane person could want that (awkward gesture, arms to both sides, palms up).

The are two ways for Democrats to stop this runaway, self-destructive Bernie train. The far lefties are energized to vote, so first, mobs of non-radical Democratic voters have to show up for their primaries and vote for a moderate, non-Bernie candidate. Given our pervasive national apathy toward elections (only about 30% of eligible voters participate in primaries), this simply cannot be the only strategy.

The second way is for at least 4 candidates to drop out of the race and throw their support to the remaining moderate candidate. Economics will cause some candidates to quit the race. Others will have to volunteer. Then those who leave the race must endorse the remaining moderate candidate. That will give us an electable nominee. Otherwise, Trump will win and democracy will die. The trade off is as stark and as simple as that.

There are 350,000,000 people in America and about 50% of them meet the qualifications to be President of the United States. I want this current group of candidates to prove to us that they are better than a random selection from our citizen pool. I want them to demonstrate to us that our democracy is more important than their ambitions.

I’m sick and tired (much arm pumping) of self-defeat.

WAKE UP, CANDIDATES and WAKE UP, AMERICA before it’s too late.

APPENDIX

Read the Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected at the end of the post linked here.

————————————


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.

How The Country Was Lost – in Retrospect


Reading time – 4:03  .  .  .

It started well before the 2016 election. It started with birtherism.

The formal start of Donald Trump’s campaign began with a vile slur against Mexican people coming to this country. That was the first clear indication of the torrent of hate mongering to come. It continued with his Muslim ban and all his racial, ethnic and religious dog whistles and outright verbal attacks, including his infamous Charlottesville “good people on both sides” slur.

His declaration that we need more immigrants from Norway made it clear that the only people who would be welcome immigrants would be white European Christians. His ongoing marginalization of minority populations powerfully served to divide and even polarize the citizens, which weakened opposition to Trump and continues to this day.

During the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged. He attacked the FBI, especially James Comey. Then he praised the FBI when Comey, announced – twice – the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails right before the election. When Trump won the election, oddly enough, the election was no longer rigged.

Not much later Trump resumed his back stabbing of Comey because he wouldn’t pledge fealty to Donald Trump, instead sticking with his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which included investigating Russian interference in the election. That’s when Trump declared that the FBI was both corrupt and demoralized because of corrupt, weak leadership and resumed his attacks on Comey, eventually firing him and demanding that he be investigated for some imagined wrongdoing. What is significant about all the criticism is the profound effect it had in undermining public confidence in government.

Over the next four years the attacks on government and the undermining of our institutions were constant, including attacks on the press as “fake news,” which had the effect of reducing people’s trust in those who hold public officials – like the President – accountable. He gutted the State Department, brutally criticized “the generals”, fired everyone who showed so much as a raised eyebrow of disagreement and installed Trump loyalists throughout his Cabinet. That many had been lobbyists for the industries they were now to monitor was a plus for Trump and his control.

The undermining of government was powerfully enforced through vitriolic verbal attacks, many scandalous accusations and a continuous tweet storm of rage. His angry supporters, roughly 38% of the population, loved it. His raised middle finger tantrums spoke for them and their sense of betrayal and their disgust with government. It was tolerated by many centrists because of weak, ineffectual opposition.

Republicans were terrified of crossing him because of his verbal attacks and the certainty that they would get “primaried,” the dynamic that prevented his removal from office following his impeachment. This is exactly how a minority wrests power from the majority.

During the impeachment proceedings numerous State Department and military people testified under subpoena, even though Trump had ordered all Executive Branch personnel to refuse to testify as part of his stonewalling of the investigation. His response following the Senate refusal to convict him was to fire all who had testified and even some who had not. That created a powerful deterrent to anyone who might otherwise speak up in the future, giving Trump complete power over them.

Only one more thing was needed to secure absolute power: control of the judiciary and the intelligence community, the departments of government that have the power to investigate him. After that, there would be no impediment left to stop Trump’s assuming total control of the country.

Trump installed William Barr to the post of Attorney General and Barr wasted no time in becoming the personal attorney for Trump, instead of for the nation. Most notably, when the Mueller Report was released to him, Barr quickly said that he had reviewed the entire document and released a summary, in which he claimed that the report exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing, including conspiring with the Russians.

When Barr at last released the report, it was found that he had redacted so much of the Mueller report that many of Barr’s lies about it couldn’t be fact checked immediately. What was checkable was that Mueller specifically did not exonerate Trump, nor clear him of colluding with the Russians. But Barr’s dishonest summary was out for weeks before the complete report was released and that delay controlled the narrative for Trump.

Later, Barr inserted himself into Justice Department investigations with the clear intent to protect Trump’s operatives and attack his opponents. Indeed, Barr instructed federal prosecutors that all new investigations had to get approval from him or his designee, giving himself the power to protect Trump. This is precisely the way all authoritarians operate, using the legitimate mechanisms of government to dismantle its protections against abuse.

The final act of wresting total control came when the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) reported to the appropriate committees of Congress about Russian interference in the 2020 election. Even though the briefings were federally mandated, Trump fired the DNI and replaced him with a completely inexperienced Trump loyalist. In addition, he fired other long serving Intelligence Agency personnel.

With that, Trump effectively had dictatorial control over all of government. That even gave him the power to declare a national emergency and use that to cancel the 2020 election.

And that, in shorthand, is how the country was lost.


Buy and read this book. Click on it.

Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected:
  1. In order to win the 2020 election, it must be – it must only be – a referendum on Trump. You must attack and continue to attack. You must never stop putting before the public his criminality, his racism, his cruelty (at every opportunity decry his putting children in cages), his attempts to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, his sell out of hard working Americans, his neutering of our national security in order to benefit Putin and the rest of his un-American outrages. Say it with me: UN-AMERICAN. Conservative and center-right voters see themselves as bedrock Americans, so this labeling of Trump will drive a wedge between them and the un-American president. Say it again: UN-AMERICAN.
  2. You must stop the circular firing squad. Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, you must obey the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Democrat. Don’t do Trump’s work for him. Ever.
  3. Of course the primary election is important, BUT, every word you say in the primary season can and will be used against you in the general election. So, if you want to win the general election – you’re going to hate this –  you must stop promoting far left policies and memes, regardless of how fervently you believe in them. That includes Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college tuition, erasing student debt, socialism, calling out to “brothers and sisters” and the rest. Promoting those things will ensure that you only get the votes you already have from your base. You’ll drive away all the other votes that you need in order to win in the general election and Donald Trump will be reelected. Stop pissing off the 78% of the electorate that doesn’t embrace those ideas, because you need their votes in order to win.
  4. Stop your wonkiness about policies altogether. You bore listeners (i.e. voters). Okay, your true believers love it and they cheer wildly and you puff up and ride a high with each cheer. Everyone else has changed the channel. In all debates and speeches, you must make every issue solely a referendum on Trump. Park your wonk on your desk and don’t go back to find it until the general election is over.
  5. Following the Milwaukee DNC convention when you’re the nominee, you must make the election solely a referendum on Trump. Refer to points #1 and #4 above for further clarification.

————————————


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 Could Possibly Go Wrong? v2.0


Reading time – 1:21  .  .  .

Trump drives ever more lawlessness; then career people resign in protest. I get it. Makes sense. They don’t want to be a part of his criminal activities or the destruction of our democracy, so they both make distance from Trump and make a public statement. The concern I have is for what happens when all the good guys are gone.

At that point the government will be run by nothing but toadies, criminal conspirators and the nothingness that is left when critical positions aren’t filled. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s bad enough when there’s a coal industry lackey running the EPA and a fossil fuel lobbyist heading the Energy Department. Now, though, we’re looking at a Justice Department headed by William Barr, Donald Trump’s “Roy Cohn.” Cohn was a sleazy attorney/fixer for Trump’s father. Barr has abdicated his role to protect and defend the Constitution in favor of protecting and defending President Trump; i.e. Barr is Donald Trump’s personal attorney/fixer.

With his own bag of nefarious activities, Barr is inducing good guy attorneys to quit. Three withdrew from the Roger Stone case and one disappeared altogether last week because of Barr’s interference in the sentencing recommendations for Stone, Trump’s long time dirty tricks guy and advisor.

There were others who left the DOJ in disgust before that and, considering the thumbs – no, make that bowling balls – Trump and Barr are putting on the scales of justice, there will be many more good guys who will protect their integrity by resigning. And for the good guys who remain a little while longer, it’s likely their efforts to enforce justice will be compromised. Who does that leave to ensure justice in America?

Whatever positions are refilled, keep an eye focused on who shows up. Given what we know from the last three years of this sordid Trump administration, we just might get some sketchy people who will administer sketchy justice. That’s what could possibly go wrong.

————————————


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!

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.

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week.

Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families. Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.


Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book Running Against the Devil. It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

————————————


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!

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.

Eulogy


*  *  *  BREAKING NEWS  *  *  *

 

The Senate of the United States has officially declared the Rule of Law to be dead. The declaration of death was ensured by an almost perfect party line vote.* The Secretary of the Senate has recorded the death certificate into the formal Senate historical record so that future generations will know the truth of what was done in order to help them to understand what caused their dire circumstances.

Mourners noted that the succumbing of the Rule of Law to the terminal illness of cowardice had long been predicted because of the absence of what should have been protecting it. Many had suspected rigor mortis at the upper levels of government for quite some time.

In an impressive impersonation of a potted plant, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, where the final battle for the Rule of Law took place. His black robes gave an air of dignity to the mostly tawdry affair.

Sadly, it was clear from the start that the black robes of the nation’s chief jurist, absent any action on his part to preserve and protect, weren’t up to the task of ensuring that the Rule of Law would endure. The task was made far more difficult by the efforts of the counsels for the defense to mask truth and even rewrite the Constitution. They went so far as to prevent pertinent evidence from being presented and declared that the President is above the law and is officially allowed to do whatever he wants to do. One Republican senator was overheard declaring to colleagues, “We don’ need no stinking laws on the President.”

Said one observer, “The Rule of Law had a long and fine run. It did what it was supposed to do most of the time and it has served us well. It seems, though, that the Senate has decided that we no longer need it and that we should revert to the divine right of kings and dictators. No telling how we’ll adjust to a Kim Jong Un type of autocrat.”

In lieu of flowers, mourners are invited to make contributions to Democratic candidates for the November election. They are further encouraged to secure promises from candidates that, once elected, they will resurrect the Rule of Law and restore it to its proper stature and function in our democracy, should our democracy still exist then.

  • * Note to Mitt Romney: The nation turned its lonely eyes to you, but try as you did, the job of saving the Rule of Law was too big for one man. Nevertheless, we honor you for your integrity and courage to do what is right. Perhaps in some distant future others will hear your call. For now, though, know that millions of Americans stand with you in the face of the threats and hatred thrown at you by people who just don’t understand.

————————————


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!

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 Point


Reading time – 58 seconds  .  .  .

This post is certified to be gluten free, dairy free, soy free and free of contamination from the recent State of the Union address. You can read with full confidence for your safety and mental health, although if you’re allergic to nuts  .  .  .

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Preface: The post below was written during the hours that the Iowa caucuses were in progress. The sentiments expressed still hold. The screw up of the Iowa Democratic Party doesn’t change a thing, except for the opportunity they provided to Republicans to name call like bratty children, which is how the White House is currently run, That makes the meaning of this post all the more consequential.


I’m sappy for America. I get a lump in my throat walking to my polling station to vote. The Fourth of July parade and Memorial Day ceremonies mean something deep to me. So, as I watched the coverage of the Iowa caucuses, my heart swelled. I was watching people doing democracy.

They left their warm, comfortable houses on a cold winter night to stand up for our country. They came to the grade school, high school and college gymnasiums to meet with their neighbors and declare what they want the United States to be. And that’s the point.

It’s about we people declaring what We the People want in a way that will make it stick. And it looks like rejecting Donald Trump is the most important thing. It’s more important than such critical issues as health care, climate warming, jobs, the threat of Russian expansion and everything else. It’s about elect-ability so we can reset our country back to the values we believe in.

Did I mention that’s the point? We get to decide. And that’s why you and I and all of us are going to vote in our primaries, phone bank, knock on doors, kick in a few bucks, vote in the general election and, like the Founders, pledge our lives our fortunes and our sacred honor. It’s about doing democracy.

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P.S. Since we’ve begun the primary process, however clunky that’s been, John Pavlovitz’s post is a must read. It’s especially useful:

Ο  If you’re a girl or woman

Ο  If you know a girl or woman

Ο  If you had a mother

Check all that apply.

————————————


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!

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.

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