Global Warming

For The Hand Wringers


Note: No post on Sunday. We’ll reconnect in a week.


We have hand wringers on the right .  .  .

.  .  .  complaining that all Democrats are socialists, that Biden is a useless wimp, that a Congress controlled by Democrats hasn’t and can’t accomplish anything for real Americans and that Biden is a pitiful Lex Luthor who will be slain by some right wing Superman. Plus, he’s too old now, much less for a second term. Besides, he stutters.

We have hand wringers on the left .  .  .

.  .  .  complaining that Biden is timid, that he always falls short of the progressive desires of the majority of Americans, that he isn’t a strong leader, that he has accomplished a lamentable not much, that he’s an inept presenter and that he’s too old now, much less for a second term.

That’s just a small sample of the wailing. Doubtless, you can add to one or both of those recitations of hand wringing material. But there’s just one thing:

The record of Biden and the Democrats in Congress is shockingly, fantastically stellar.
.

Here’s a partial list of what’s been accomplished in just 23 months. This list is lifted directly from Biden-Harris Accomplishments:

  • Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act – to bring down costs, reduce the deficit, and take aggressive action on climate – all paid for by making sure the largest corporations and billionaire tax cheats finally pay their fair share in taxes. Yippee! And no, your taxes won’t go up even a penny if you make less than $400,000 per year. Plus it lowers health care costs for millions of families and allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time*, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year and ensures no senior on Medicare will pay over $35 per month for insulin. Thirteen million Americans, covered under the Affordable Care Act, will see their health insurance premiums reduced by $800, plus this act takes the first steps to fight global warming.
  • Biden passed the PACT Act – the largest single bill in American history to address our service members’ exposure to burn pits and other toxins. Can you believe that it took Biden’s leadership and an act of Congress to take care of our poisoned vets? Note that 11 Republican senators and 174 Republican representatives voted against this bill. Hey wait: that’s the same number of Republican extremists who tried to clog up the electoral college vote certification on January 6 after they and the Constitution had been threatened by the January 6 mob.
  • Biden passed The CHIPS and Science Act – this bill will accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. That means that we won’t have to count on a possibly hostile foreign government for the microchips that control our smart munitions. Plus it brings thousands of manufacturing jobs back home.  Biden did that.
  • Biden passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – breaks a 30-year streak of reprehensible federal inaction to deal with gun violence. Requires people under 21 to undergo enhanced background checks, closes the “boyfriend loophole,” provides funding to address youth mental health and takes a step to curb “ghost guns.” Plus Biden issued numerous executive orders to curb gun violence. Makes me wonder how many more Sandy Hook, Parkland and Club Q massacres we’ll need before we all rise up in furious demand for a crackdown on weapons of death. Still, this is a step in the right direction.
  • Biden has revitalized our alliances and restored America’s position of leadership on the world stage – Trump had undermined our alliances and our influence in world affairs. Biden has restored our relationships with allies to the point that they are all in supporting Ukraine in its battle for freedom and democracy against Russian oppression and the United States is the leader. Plus he’s gotten tough with China.
  • Biden ended our longest and arguably our dumbest war – Three presidents refused to take the dirty, messy, horrible but necessary step of ending that unwarranted 20-year war in Afghanistan. There was never a remote possibility of ending it cleanly, but Biden had the courage to do it. It will take years to meet our obligations and keep all of our promises there – that’s the dirty, messy part – but the plug needed to be pulled. American troops are no longer in harms way thanks to Biden’s leadership.
  • Biden passed an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act, now reauthorized through 2027 – 172 Republican representatives and 22 Republican senators voted against this bill. How could it be controversial to protect women from domestic violence and sexual assault? Trump let the original act expire. Biden set it right again.
  • Biden got the American Rescue Plan through Congress – delivered 500 million shots in arms to protect Americans from COVID-19 and put a few bucks into citizens’ wallets, too, this at a time when people were hunkered down and income was constricted. Plus this act expanded the Child Tax Credit to put a few more bucks into the wallets of parents.
  • In 2021, the U.S. economy added over 6.5 million jobs – the greatest year of job growth under any President in history. At the same time, we saw the largest annual decline in unemployment ever recorded and the strongest year of GDP growth since 1984. Biden’s hands were in the reins for all that.
  • Biden passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – It’s finally infrastructure week! We’ve been waiting for this for decades. Provides funding for critically needed repair of bridges and roads, replaces every lead pipe in America, upgrades our ports and airports and expands broadband access to all. It also includes the largest federal investment in public transit ever and the biggest investment in Amtrak since its creation.
  • Passed the Omnibus Spending Bill – keeps the government in business, funds support to Ukraine, reforms the Electoral Count Act to prevent another coup like January 6th and far more.
  • If you have a problem with any of that you are in the minority of people most likely to be dedicated to misery.
  • Key Rule: Misery is optional. So is happiness.

You get the point. And you get the benefits. So, please, America, stop wringing hands because things aren’t getting done or done fast enough to suit you or that they aren’t perfect. Lots of really good things are getting done, plus, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Thank you, Barack Obama for the reminder. He was right then and he’s still right.

President Biden has accomplished an astonishing list of great stuff for America and Americans in a very short time. As important is our sense of ourselves. Read David Brooks’ comments following President Zelinskyy’s address to Congress, Biden’s America Finds Its Voice. Many thanks to reader and friend David Lindgren for his pointer to Brooks’ piece.

We’re just starting to crawl out from under the oppression of unreality and intentional cruelty that has afflicted us for so long. At last we have an opportunity to feel proud once again. It’s time to recognize the reality of what President Biden has accomplished.

Not everything is fixed. We have much work yet to do and that will always be true. So, use those wringing hands to instead roll up your shirtsleeves and let’s get to work in this new year.

Here’s to a better America this year and every year – that “more perfect union” thing.

Most important
Happy Birthday Beautiful Marilyn!
.

———————————

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), income maximizing expert.

* “[Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA)] crafted a[n amendment to the] bill to provide prescription drug access to Medicare recipients [Part D], one that provided major concessions to the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare would not be able to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs and reimportation of drugs from first world countries would not be allowed. A few months after the bill passed, Tauzin announced that he was retiring from Congress and would be taking a job helming PhRMA for a salary of $2 million.”

PhRMA is the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry. That $2 million salary was a 7,110% bump in pay for Tauzin. Now you know how he earned it. Yes really.

————————————

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town or neighborhood vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mostly Serious – Part Two


This is a continuation of the Mostly Serious- Part One post of October 9, 2022.


Page 4: This Isn’t New, But

The Russians and the Saudis just decided to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. That will lower world supply, driving prices higher, which you will feel every time you fill your gas tank. We’ve done this dance with oil producers many times and we always get our feet stomped on. Same thing when the gouging comes from our domestic refiners. Think: Arab oil boycott in the 70s and price gouging this year.

In addition, many people have noticed that there probably is something to the claims of over 97% of international climate scientists who say that we humans are the biggest contributors to global warming. That’s leading to things like vastly more destructive hurricanes (I know you noticed that), droughts of Biblical proportions, rising sea levels that will flood coastal cities and more.

What that means is that drilling to produce more oil to lower costs probably isn’t a good solution to anything except more profit for the fossil fuel industry companies in the short term and ever worsening ecological disasters for all of us. Good news! We’re not required to be that, hmmm, what’s the word? – oh yeah: Self-destructive.

Maybe it’s a good time to start weaning ourselves off our dedication to self-destruction. We could do things like:

    • Start a massive program to install solar collectors on every roof and wind farms everywhere it’s windy.
    • Start upgrading our electric grid.
    • Make big incentives for people to replace their gas guzzlers with electric cars.
    • Begin construction of a huge number of charging stations.
    • Incrementally shut down coal and oil fired power stations.
    • Fund ongoing research to produce better power generation and storage.

You get the idea: Initiate a Manhattan Project to bring this country into the 21st century. Sooner or later we’re going to do this because we have to; otherwise we, our kids and grandchildren are gonna die.

I’m completely serious about all of that.

“If we want to make a difference, we need to maximize our energy security, national security and economic security, all at once. The only way to do that effectively is to incentivize our market to produce a stable and secure supply of energy with the lowest possible emissions at the lowest possible costs as fast as possible.

“The only truly effective way to do that is with a strong price signal – either taxes on dirty stuff or incentives for clean stuff – plus steadily increasing clean energy standards for power generation .  .  .  “

Page 5: A Final Serious Note

Republicans are fighting progress with all the hypocrisy they can muster, and they  can muster a lot of it. They excoriate Biden and Democrats for inflation, including high gas prices, but produce not even one idea to combat it. With blithe disregard for victims of global warming events they indifferently mumble something about “thoughts and prayers.” That probably won’t help the people in Lee County FL, any more than their thoughts and prayers have helped mass shooting victims anywhere. And they continue to support the candidacy of mentally scrambled Herschel Walker because for them it’s Power Uber Alles.

From Dana Loesch, former spokesperson for the NRA:

“I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort baby eagles. I want control of the Senate.”

From David Corn of Mother Jones:

” .  .  .  how much does it matter if a Republican says he or she is a conservative, moderate, or liberal, if he or she believes Barack Obama was born in Kenya, the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and Democrats are scheming pedophiles?

“The polling numbers on these reality-free propositions for Republicans .  .  . are 40, 50, 60 percent.”

“This is not an ideological polarization. It is a divide over reality and rationality.”

Which is all about grabbing power at the expense of all higher brain functions. Minority rule.

Tell me you’re getting this.

Too many Americans are sleep walking in a metaphorical democracy fire. The fire trucks are at the ready in the firehouse, but they’re just sitting there with nobody at the wheel, even as the 911 phone is screaming its alarm, the huge bell is clanging, sirens are wailing and everywhere flames are scorching the halls of democracy.

WAKE UP!

.

If you’re already awake, jab an elbow into the ribs of the people on your right and on your left to wake them up. It’s time for all of us to climb aboard the fire engine to answer the call of democracy.

All of us should be serious about that.

“The times have found us.” – Thomas Paine

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Criminals


Did You Ever Wonder .  .  .

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tells Fox News that he was grateful to have been in Washington instead of helping his constituents in Florida during Hurricane Ian. After the barrier islands off Fort Myers disappeared into the ocean he said, “Just think how much worse the hurricane would have been if global warming were real.”

.  .  . how the former Criminal-in-Chief has gotten away with so much obvious lawlessness for so long? Here’s an excerpt from Sheila Markin’s explainer, One Two Punch for Donald Trump:

Of course, the reason he has gotten away with so many travesties is that he was shielded by Republicans who were eager to use his power as president to get power for themselves and benefits for their ultra wealthy funders [emphasis mine]: tax cuts for the wealthy, right wing judges on the federal bench to protect corporate interests, culture war victories, a border wall instead of a reasonable border policy, the end of women’s reproductive rights to keep evangelicals loyal voters and an undercurrent of threat from white supremacy mixed with militias to keep low information aggrieved white men happy. Next, Trump knows how to talk out of both sides of his mouth as every good crime boss does, which allows him plausible deniability. And third, it takes time for investigations to be carried out when they are done thoroughly, factually, and investigators follow the rules which they must do to have an unbeatable case.

More is needed to explain Trump’s years of alleged money laundering, stiffing of contractors and lawyers, bribing skin dancers and calling it a campaign expense and far more, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, I find the part about his Republican shields (a.k.a. cowards and jellyfish) to be most interesting, what with the lying and reality denial. If you want to understand more of how lying became not just acceptable to, but required of Republicans, be sure to read Carlos Lozada’s piece, The Big Joke That Became the Big Lie.

Lozada defines the Big Joke as, “the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.” He goes on to give examples of the Big Joke, as when,

“politicians publicly defend positions they privately reject”

“they give up on the challenge of governing the country for the rush of triggering the enemy” [“own the Libs”]

“they intone that they must address the very fears they have encouraged or manufactured among their constituents”

“their off-the-record smirks signal that they don’t really mean what they just said or did”

Read the piece. I promise that you will not laugh at the joke.

Meanwhile, the good news is that our very own supremely bad guy – the former Criminal-in-chief – is going down in at least a half dozen really nasty ways. Be patient and be ready to celebrate. I already have a special post prepared for his first of many courtroom defeats. And that’s no joke.

Speaking of Criminals

Republicans have entered a new phase of national sabotage by threatening to refuse to fund the government unless President Biden and the Democrats reverse all their policies.

Yes, really: All!

This refusal to raise the debt ceiling is a favorite bludgeon Republicans use to try to get their way with Democrats. Basically, they threaten to hold their breath until they turn blue (fine with me) unless they get what they want. They’ve been playing this self-destructive game since Newt “Mr. Amoral” Gingrich was Speaker of the House in the 1990s, slyly fingering his never executed “Contract With America”. He and his phony, power grabbing posse acted as though there weren’t always a contract, an obligation of Congress to the American people. But there was and there is. Back then Clinton was president and he was a Democrat, so the extremist Republicans shut down the government. Twice.

To review, raising the debt ceiling (done over 100 times since it was first a thing roughly 100 years ago) is simply allowing our government to pay its debts that it has already incurred. It’s like paying your credit card bill. Raising the debt ceiling is not more government spending. It’s avoiding being a deadbeat. Congress did it 18 times under Reagan and 3 times under Trump. But last year under Democratic President Biden the Republicans refused to pay our bills and they’re refusing again this year. Are you seeing a pattern?

But that’s not important to Republicans. Their propeller hats are spinning wildly now, as are their eyeballs, glorying in this wonderful opportunity to show everyone how testosterone-y they are.

The Senate passed a short-term extension of government funding to December 16. During the week prior to that date look for a most entertaining spectacle of Republicans wildly grabbing the big gun to see who can shoot more holes in America’s foot, telling the world that we are a most undependable nation. “Don’t trust us,” they’ll tell the world, “because we’ll Trump you with non-payment of our debts.”

This is yet another example of why Republicans must be defeated at the polls. That happens in just 37 days and you are the engine that will make that happen.

Speaking of Criminals – Again

22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of the Morality Police in Iran following her arrest for improperly wearing the hijab last month. As I understand it (let me know if I have this wrong), the requirement for wearing the hijab is based on the well known fact that the very sight of a woman’s hair can cause men to go mad with lust. Anything they might do under such a spell is the fault of the uncovered woman. It’s quite like the rapist’s defense, claiming that the way she was dressed or acted caused his assault.

Shifting to a national perspective, our insurrectionist thugs and our Republicans would have us believe that their malfeasance, like sedition, is someone else’s fault.

I think I’ve been clear on these pages that accountability – personal responsibility – is a real thing and that there is a price that must be paid for wrongdoing.

So, MAGA boys, even if you think there are elites controlling poor, oppressed you, even if you’re the most absolutist pickup truck driving, AR-15 toting, Jim Crow loving cowboy, you may not threaten, attack or kill others and claim that the elites or Democrats made you do it. You’re just a criminal thug blaming someone else for your crimes.

Hey Merrick! Make those guys pay the price.

On the other hand, perhaps we can export the “blame somebody else” types to Iran. I’m sure they’ll love it there. Maybe the rest of the Republicans will go, too. They can blame any women who are not wearing the hijab and get away with their cruelty.

Hypocrisy of the Week

“President Biden, I take back all the idiotic and false things I’ve said about you. Okay. Now that we’re buddies, how about some emergency help for Florida? What if I throw in returning those Venezuelans to San Antonio? I could ditch the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, if that would help and I can pressure Florida school boards to stop burning books. What do you say?”

Ron DeSantis was elected to Congress in 2013 and proudly voted against a $9.7 billion federal flood insurance assistance package for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Now, as governor of Florida, he’s begging President Biden for emergency help for his state. DeSantis explained, “We all need to work together, regardless of party lines.”

Funny how things work differently when DeSantis is the one in need. Insert your own label for him in the Comments section below.

DeSantis is a “drown government” guy. Leave everything to the private sector – “the market,” he believes. I’m just wondering what part of “the market” is going to pony up $90 billion to glue Florida back together and help all those suffering people.

Required reading on this topic: The White Man’s Burden, Revisited, by Ed Gurowitz.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Here’s Why


Take a look at this downloadable PDF map of NATO countries – they’re the ones in BLUE and follow along.

Putin has made it clear that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was not WW I, WW II or the 1918 influenza pandemic, each of which killed millions of people. No, he’s certain that the fall of the Soviet Union was the very worst thing that happened over those 100 years. He has dedicated his grandiosity to reconstructing that paragon of repression and cruelty or perhaps creating something even more dreadful. I’m sure that in his dreams he hears the sound of Soviet tanks crushing the pavement of the streets of downtown Budapest and has visions of Khrushchev pounding his peasant shoe on a lectern at the United Nations, where Putin hopes to pound his Gucci loafers.

He claimed there are lots of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which means, he says, that Ukraine isn’t a real country, but rather, it’s part of Russia. Using that logic, San Francisco should be ceded to the Chinese, Montreal should become the property of France and Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should surrender to Mexico.

In 2014 Putin grabbed the entire Crimean peninsula and large swaths of the Donbas, the southeastern part of Ukraine. That’s where you can find the rubble that was the city of Mariupol. That’s where you can still find Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, with its hundreds, perhaps thousands of wounded fighters and noncombatants who can’t get food or medical supplies, who can’t get out and who the Russians bomb every day.

When the brutalizing of Ukraine started I said that the Moldovans must be shaking in their shoes because surely they would be next. Sadly, Putin is proving me to have been right. He has announced that he will sweep up the entire east and south of Ukraine all the way to Moldova, where he’s already dropped bombs. Moldova has no army, although they do have a few traffic cops, so stopping Putin’s thugs will be more than difficult for them.

Go back to that NATO map and look at the countries in GREEN that border Russia. These are nations that are not NATO member countries. Looking north from Ukraine and you’ll find:

Belarus

Finland

Sweden

Counter-clockwise from Ukraine there are:

Georgia

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Kazakhstan

The southern “-stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Left off this list are Mongolia, China and Afghanistan. Surely, not even Putin is dumb enough to invade China or Mongolia. Or Afghanistan – again.

Finland and Sweden are likely to become NATO members by June. But the rest of the GREEN countries would be easy pickings for Putin. Belarus is already a vassal state and he can gobble up the rest without fear of a direct confrontation with NATO.

If you were the leader of any of these GREEN countries, what might you be thinking about NATO membership right now? Maybe that you’ve waited a bit too long to request membership?

Putin thinks that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are legitimate parts of Russia, just like his claim about Ukraine, but they are NATO member countries. I suspect that it’s in these Baltic states where the inevitable Russian confrontation with NATO will occur. Putin and the world will quickly learn whether Article 5 of the NATO Charter means anything. Meanwhile, here’s the reason for this geography lesson.

Some are asking why.
.

The U.S. is in the process of authorizing another $33 billion of aid to Ukraine and some are asking why we would spend our treasure this way. After all, they say, this is Ukraine’s war, not ours. That’s where I and many others disagree.

Set aside the humanitarian imperative to help people who are suffering or the important need to right a wrong. It’s more solidly connected to self-interest than that.

Putin’s actions threaten the entire world. He’s upsetting the carefully crafted and tended political peace and economic order that have lasted since 1945. That threatens America.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their democracy, their freedom and their independence. Those are the same reasons every one of those GREEN countries will resist. But they can be picked off one at a time by Putin’s inept but numerically overwhelming forces and his threats of chemical and nuclear war. So, the world either stops Putin in Ukraine or we will have to fight him in the next country and then the next and the next. There will be no appeasement of this monster. Reference: Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement of Hitler in 1938. That didn’t work out too well for the Brits or for the world and attempting to appease Putin would be a similar disaster.

The Ukrainians’ struggle is an existential fight for all democracy and freedom in the world and if Putin isn’t stopped there this will eventually become our own fight. We can either help to stop Putin in Ukraine or we’ll have to stop him later as he directly threatens our own shores.

That’s why.
.

And that begs the question of why Representatives Biggs (AZ), Taylor Greene (GA), Bishop (NC), Gaetz (FL), Gosar (AZ), Norman (SC), Massie (KY), Perry (PA), Tiffany (WI) and Davidson (OH), all Republicans, voted against the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. They and others also voted against the resolution of support for Moldova. Just guessing that they’ll vote against the additional $33 billion of aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. And they’ll do so with the enthusiastic support of the supreme, authoritarian loving, Putin and Viktor Orbán suck up, Tucker Carlson.

Here’s the key question:

If all those Ukrainians are doing the fighting and dying so we don’t have to, why would these elected officials oppose supporting them?
.
President Biden’s Call To Action, by speech writer JA
.

“We’re calling on all Americans to pony up all the necessary military and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for all freedom loving people. That’s good, and it isn’t enough.

“Because of Putin’s war, there will be precious little agricultural output from Ukraine this year. That country was formerly the supplier of 10% of the world’s wheat, and that’s just a placeholder for all the disruption of food supplies the world will see this year. That’s why I’m calling on all of US agriculture to maximize production. No fields lying fallow. Find ways to produce more. This is your patriotic duty.

“European nations are already moving to get off the Russian gas and oil umbilical cord and move to renewables. We need to make similar changes here to maximize pressure on Putin.

“I’m calling on our fossil fuel companies to stop drilling and start building a carbon-free power infrastructure. I’m calling on Prime Minister Modi of India to do the same.

“And I’m calling on all Americans to support the switch to electric transportation, with all the infrastructure implications that means. This is war and we must lead the way for the world to end its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Hey, It’s Just a Draft

Yeah, but if its provisions become law, as it appears likely they will, we’ll take a giant leap back to women dying from complications of back alley abortions, women dying in childbirth, women delivering their rapist’s child – or their father’s incest child – ruined lives and more. It takes us back to brain-free, iron fisted patriarchy. It opens the door to making birth control measures – even within a marriage – illegal. Having a miscarriage could result in murder charges. And this draft opinion opens to door to reversing marriage rights and more. The Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court stand steadfastly in their Dark Ages ignorance and will use their legal spears to kill everything they fear.

All of this is the proud result of the extremist, control freak Republican minority and of Supreme Court justices lying, dissembling and snow jobbing through their confirmation processes, falsely claiming that they believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Plus, there’s Mitch McConnell’s cheating, refusing to even hold a hearing for Obama’s SC nominee following the death of Antonin Scalia. The depth of their dishonesty is breathtaking.

So, congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard for so long to force their misogynistic way to control others. They think they should be in charge of making decisions for we lesser people, much like the result of the Dred Scott decision that said that Blacks had no rights and which put all power into the hands of White supremacists. Those 1850s guys really liked being in control of others, just like today’s Republicans.

But, hey, it’s just a draft. Who knows? Maybe between now and June one or two of the justices who now favor witch burning will relent. But don’t count on it. Instead, get to work making sure that all the people who otherwise would stay at home on November 8 learn what is being done to them. Inspire them to get off their butts and vote for Democrats, unless, of course, they want some primitive, rich old White guys controlling their lives.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Getting Attention, Statistics and Projection


Hey! Over Here!

The New York Times gathered for a discssion Four Opinion Writers on How the G.O.P. Fringe Took Over American Politics. Here’s a comment from Ezra Klein from that discussion.

“Democrats have a lot of theories of policy. They have a lot of theories of politics. They just do not have a theory of attention. And what I would say for the Trumpist Republican Party is it mostly doesn’t have a theory of policy. It has a middling theory of politics, and it is overwhelmed by its own theory of attention. And I don’t think there’s some kind of grand strategic plan happening over there.

“But I think that one way to think about the asymmetry, or maybe the inversion of the two sides right now, is that Republicans know how to get attention, but they don’t know how to be strategic about it. And Democrats know how to be strategic, but they don’t know how to get attention.”

I maintain that messaging from Democrats is uninspiring and commonly submarines their value to Americans. Klein is adding that they don’t know how to get attention, this in the face of Republicans who are experts at getting attention. I’m certain he’s right.

The key tools Republicans use to get attention are:

  1. Stoking fear of “the other”, be they Democrats or Blacks or Mexicans or Muslims – all the usual suspects. Those “others” aren’t real Americans, Republicans would have us believe.
  2. Saying crazy, even stupid things and being outrageous.

Clearly, Democrats aren’t going to stoke racial fears and hatreds in order to get attention and votes. But what about being outrageous? They can:

Call out Republican lies and label them that way – not falsehoods or misstatements: LIES! And ask Americans how they like being lied to.

Many thanks to JN for passing this along.

As the food stamp program is ending they can make headlines saying, “Republicans don’t care if poor kids starve!”

They can go on the Sunday news programs and tell America that Republicans are banning and burning books, just like the Nazis.

Speaking of books, Democrats can proclaim that Republicans want to cut short your kids’ education – leave them ignorant and prepared to be losers. They even want to close your public school.

Beto can tell Texas women that Gov. Abbott wants them to carry their rapist’s baby to term. And carry the babies from incest, too. Even if they’ll likely die in childbirth. Same thing in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida and other states.

Declare that new strains of Covid are already here and it’s killing our unvaccinated, but Republicans don’t care if they die.

Speaking of Covid, Republicans are spreading anti-vaccine and anti-mask disinformation, fighting against everything that would help end the pandemic. They’re doing that to attack Democrats over the inflation caused by the pandemic! Clearly, they don’t care if Americans go broke or die. That last sentence is the important one.

You get the picture. It’s how it’s said that gets attention.

One of the reasons so many liked Trump is that he seemed to them to be strong. No politically correct phrasing comes from him. He’s all about groundless accusation and promises of “unbelievable” and “huge” great stuff that never materializes. And he’s about “hit back harder,” as declared by Kellyanne Conway, as though hitting back harder were a good thing. Many see that stuff as strength.

There’s no need for Democrats to mimic Trump’s cruelty and stupidity. All they have to do to appeal to those wanting strong leaders (that’s all of us) is to speak plainly.

For example, when Ted Cruz was abusing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over kids’ books, Democrats should have said the same thing publicly as they screamed while watching their TVs: “What a jerk! That guy wouldn’t know the truth if he read it in a children’s book.” I.e., Democrats must speak the outrage plainly.

Instead, we got Dick Durbin doing nothing. When he did speak he seemed to have a mouth full of oatmeal.

He let Lindsay Graham get away with his temper tantrum, false accusations, stealing 50% more time than was his, and then storming off like a 7-year-old brat. We got next to nothing in leadership from the #2 senator at a time when strength was called for. What we should have heard from Durbin was,

“The senator’s time is done – we’re not negotiating more. The senator will silence himself or he will be removed from this chamber. He will not be allowed to come back until he is prepared to apologize for his rude, insulting behavior and write on the board, ‘I will follow the rules, I will follow the rules,’ 100 times.”

That would be outrageous, of course, yet appropriate. And it would have made the 10:00 o’clock news across the nation. The Ds would have gotten some good attention as the strong ones. It would have been clear what they stand for. Instead, it was just another lost opportunity and a show of weakness.

Democrats have managed to disagree with Republicans, but only in nicey-nice Democrat-speak. That gets no attention. But it just isn’t that hard to get attention. The question is whether they have the courage to do what’s necessary.

Must Read

Late find following the writing of this post:

Thom Hartmann writes, “It seems that Democratic leadership is suffering from a serious deficiency of outrage.”

Statistics of the Week

From the Center for American Progress:

“There are 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress [109 representatives and 30 senators] who still deny the scientific consensus of human-caused climate change.”

These Republicans “have received more than $61 million in lifetime contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.” [emphasis original]

Projection Speak of the Week

Democracy is failing and authoritarianism is rising because of democracy’s bad moral foundations, said Sergey Karagonov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, from back in the days when Putin had advisors. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the powerless Russian legislative body, attacked democracy as the evil against which good guy authoritarians fight. Think: Putin as a warrior for all that is good and right in the world.

Somebody please tell me when there has been an authoritarian whose primary motive wasn’t amassing wealth and power for him/herself. For extra points, name one who made the lives of ordinary citizens better. Name even one authoritarian (another word for “dictator”) who wasn’t amoral or immoral and who didn’t descend into some form of debauchery and cruelty.

Oddly, an authoritarian is exactly what our extremist political righties think they want. Set aside whether that is an American thing to do. Focus for the moment on whether you want to be under the thumb of a self-serving, amoral, cruel dictator. See this Sunday’s post for more.

Sadly, our home grown authoritarian lovers don’t even get to the point of thinking about such things. They get a short-lived jolt of power from their tirades as they demand non-democracy, but they’re left powerless immediately after the power rush fades.

The science is well known about how anger short circuits logic and reason and it is that short circuit that we have to confront if we are to avoid a Vladimir Putin wannabee in power over the United States of America. For more, read this from Heather Cox-Richardson.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri-v14.0


What are we handing to the next generation? Attribution unknown

Does It Feel Hot In Here To You?

A short time ago I posted a piece about global warming. In case you are a denier, you need to know a few more things, so, in no particular order,

  1. Any discussion about global warming needs to be grounded in facts. Not fantasies. Not wishes. Not conspiracy theories fed to you by blabbers on a power trip or from any of the mealy-mouthed liars.
  2. Politicians who deny or weasel about global warming (I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis, Rand Paul and more) are nothing more than short-term thinking, self-serving pocket lint to the fossil fuel industries. What do you suppose it’s like living in Charles Koch’s trouser pocket? Or living life as an asterisk on the balance sheet of Exxon? That’s where our elected deniers live.
  3. Data comes out in a steady drumbeat of messages telling us our time is running out for maintaining this planet as capable of sustaining 7.75 billion human lives.
    1. See the teaser to the right and click through to read the story. What do you suppose this means to the millions of Americans who live there? If you call that area home, how will it work for you to be without water?
    2. There is danger that deniers will say that this report proves that global warming is natural and that mankind has not grossly distorted this into an existential threat. These people are categorized as reality morons. Ignore them because they are incapable of learning. And don’t be one of them.
    3. That worst drought in 12 centuries story is just one example. Think: the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes that cause billions of dollars of damage every year to our Gulf Coast; the 200 mile long path of devastation from one tornado – in winter; over 100° F. north of the Arctic Circle; melting of permafrost and the consequential gassing out of methane, an atmosphere warmer 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. There are plenty more examples of atmospheric messages of doom that we deny at our own peril. This stuff is happening and it’s getting worse really fast, regardless of any denial of the facts.
  4. My friend David Houle is a futurist and is deeply involved in dealing with global warming issues, so,
    1. Read this to get an idea of what we are facing. It’s about what we must do to anticipate coming disasters, like sea level rise that will make our coastal cities uninhabitable in less that 20 years. Yes, really.
    2. Read this and study the chart – it will make your eyes pop. And pay attention to what has caused that hockey stick graph.
    3. Subscribe to David’s posts and figure out how you’re going to help. We all will saddle up when the question of our very survival is in our faces. The question now is whether we will be as smart as a squirrel. Instead of waiting for disaster to strike, will we take action to limit the threat that we know is coming – like what squirrels do before winter arrives?
  5. Tell your children what you’re doing right now to ensure their future safety and even their survival. They’re already clear about what’s coming and they’re furious over the intransigence of so many who are putting their lives in danger – see the pic top-right above. So, check their reaction when you tell them you’re a denier. And brace yourself, because their reaction won’t be pretty. Perhaps after they’ve explained things to you, you’ll be willing to reconsider. That would be nice.

From the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos:

“We are using 50 percent more resources than the earth can support. Today we are living as if we had 1 1/2 planets,” Leape said.

“If we continue like this, by 2050 we will need three planets. Our pattern of consumption is unsustainable.”

And things have become worse since then.

Our problem, of course, is that we only have one planet. Do you think we should do something about that math imbalance?

How Come?

There are reasons why some don’t trust the COVID vaccines. And there are reasons why some feel disrespected in general and are ripe for the picking by liars and conspiracy spinners. Read this from STAT:

Perhaps lack of respect has something to do with our severe cultural conflict and why you and Uncle Bob can’t talk with one another any more.

What If We Help Ourselves?

I’ve been wondering for over 20 years why there isn’t a robust and sustained “Buy American” campaign. The truth is that we can’t buy cheap stuff at Walmart and also have our good paying American jobs, because the math of having both just doesn’t work. So, how come that campaign isn’t happening?

We all know that the manufacturing jobs went away a long time ago – millions of them. That brought us those cheap goods. It also shuttered our factories and delivered massive un- and underemployment and disillusionment. It killed factory towns, undermined trust and amped up anger.

In a piece examining a possible post pax-Americana, Bret Stephens of the New York Times wrote,

“Instead of depending on China for low-cost manufacturing and labor, we reinvest in American workers and factories and become independent in everything from energy to microchips.”

Indeed, what if we did that? What if we told the ultra-wealthy and the big corporations that they will re-shore their manufacturing or pay a huge penalty? What if we were to take care of our poor and middle class citizens by enabling them/us to live in dignity and security?

What if we were to Buy American and thereby help Americans?

Winning Elections
I called the Wisconsin Democrats twice offering to volunteer to help by using my writing and public speaking skills. Two staffers took my messages and I never heard from anyone. That’s strange, because Ben Wikler, the head of the organization, is begging for volunteer help. How will they win elections if they ignore offers of help?
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Perhaps President Biden can set Democrats on a useful course. He can do that by following the advice and direction of David Axelrod. He lays it out clearly in this piece. It has to do with respect, humility and empathy, things Biden is usually pretty good at delivering.
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Further, here’s my suggested battle plan:
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PRESIDENT BIDEN AND ALL DEMOCRATS MUST NAME WHAT AMERICANS WANT * AND THEN BLAME REPUBLICANS FOR THEIR NOT HAVING IT.
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You know – like they’re in a street fight and are throwing their best punches by telling the truth.
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Plus, somebody should return my phone calls. ***

Just In Case You Want Us To Keep Our Democracy

Lots to be said about this and many books have been written about it in just the past few years, like How Democracies Die, On Tyranny, How Fascism Works and more. It’s critical that we be clear-headed about where the power lies that is undermining our democracy and that we learn how to defeat it. That is the point of David Pepper’s book Laboratories of Autocracy.** Spoiler alert: It’s in the states.

Sheila Markin posted a guest essay from Pepper and I encourage you to read it and then buy and read his book. Learn what we can and must do.

But only in case you want us to keep our democracy.

And read Gail Collins’ Opinion piece, Should We Blame Mitch McConnell or Brad Pitt?

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* Read Thom Hartmann’s post which includes a short list of those things we want but are denied. To the issues he lists you can add gun safety laws, stopping global warming, universal healthcare, clean, lead-free water, cheaper rugs, universal low cost, high speed internet access, debt-free public education, high speed mass transit and more. We don’t want brain-free, simple, non-solutions to complex problems from con artists. We want real solutions from adults.

I’ll say it again: This is not a center-right nation. We the People want those progressive things.

** See Fine Print #5 below.

*** Late addition: I made the same offer of help to Adam Kinzinger’s Country First organization and just heard back from them. Dunno yet where this goes.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Year End Awards


Hypocrite of the Week

Iron Dome is a defensive rocket system that finds and destroys attacking missiles. During the Gaza war in May 2021 Israel used it against the roughly 4,400 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and knocked down about 90% of therm. This entirely defensive system is all that stands between Israeli civilians and the next barrage of rockets launched by Hamas in Gaza.

Israel’s supply of these defensive rockets was greatly depleted during that war, so Israel is looking to the U.S., the only source, to replenish the supply. There is near universal support for that in the U.S. Congress, with the notable exception of Sen. Rand Paul. He has blocked the funding bill for Iron Dome four times, leaving the security of Israel in peril for over 90 additional days as of this writing.

ImageThis is the same Rand Paul who voted against humanitarian aid for the people devastated by Gulf Coast hurricanes, but who now has pleaded for help for Kentuckians devastated by that super tornado a couple of weeks ago.

I guess if it doesn’t help Rand Paul personally, it’s just not important to him. And being a hypocrite isn’t a problem for him, either. That makes Rand Paul the winner of the Hypocrite of the Week Award for a lot of weeks.

Hypocrites of the Year

Read these examples highlighted by Steve Sheffey:

More than 800,000 Americans have died from COVID, but Republicans continue to oppose vaccine mandates. Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook, when 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered, but Republicans continue to block gun-control legislation.

Gotta add that this Valentine’s Day will mark the fourth anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, FL, where 17 students and teachers were killed and 17 more were injured by the bullets fired by a deeply messed up former student. And still Republicans refuse to pass gun safety legislation that over 80% of Americans want. These Republicans are the same people who loudly proclaim that they are pro-life. Yes, seriously.

So, it’s the same deal: If it doesn’t help these Republicans personally, it’s just not important to them. And being a hypocrite isn’t a problem for them, either, just like Rand Paul. That makes them individually and collectively this year’s winners of the Hypocrite of the Year Award, same as last year. And the year before. And next year.

Oddly, Americans selected this hypocrisy by voting these people into positions of power. Ruminate on that a bit.

The 2021 Lucy Award

The Pull-The-Football Award Committee is unanimous in awarding the 2021 Lucy Award to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for his steadfast commitment to not committing. Furthermore, the Committee’s deliberation led them to the obvious conclusion that Manchin must also receive the Goalpost Mover Citation of Excellence for his incremental “one more thing-ism.” It’s unclear as of the time of this writing if Manchin will change parties and throw control of the Senate to Mitch McConnell and the obstructionist Republicans, but experts suspect that move may be on the way. That would secure the Benedict Arnold Award for Manchin, too.

Hypocrite of the Century

The votes are in and only one candidate received votes – all of the votes. Congratulations to Donald Trump for securing the well deserved Hypocrite of the Century Award! Here’s what’s amazing about that.

There are 79 years to come in this century, yet all 7.9 billion people on planet Earth agree on the winner of this award. “People are saying,” that it will be impossible for anyone to be a bigger hypocrite. This award is bestowed upon its recipient even knowing that he is on his way to becoming the world’s biggest loser, going from the Oval Office to the Iron Bars Office. He’ll be a hypocrite there, too.

Dupes of The Year Award

Ronald Reagan began the overt demonizing of government four decades ago and it has been amped up continuously by people appealing to the frustrations of ordinary citizens. Donald Trump tapped into that and exponentially increased that anger with the very things that get people to follow him, including his lies, never backing down regardless of how obviously wrong he is, continuously circus barking promises that will not and could not be fulfilled and always appealing to victimhood. And grift.

Trump has manipulated thousands of elected officials and pundits to repeat and even expand his inflammatory lies and together they have fooled millions of Americans. Now over 60% of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen and 20 million think violence is appropriate for “taking back our country.”

These millions are once again the winners of the Dupes of The Year Award. Ensuring this honor for them were the hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans who refused to mask or be vaccinated because of the right-wing lies told to them and who subsequently died. It’s possible that they are worthy contenders for a Darwin Award, too, which each year goes to people who most improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Wrong Time Award

No, not that kind. I’m talking about Time Magazine and their poor choice for their 2021 Person of the Year. Read Eugene Robinson’s clear, compelling case that Eugene Goodman is the real deal and should have been awarded that honor and been on that magazine cover. That’s why the Wrong Time Award goes to Time.

James Webb Telescope rocket lift-off, 12/25/21

The Hope Award

If you watched NASA TV early Christmas morning you saw the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 Rocket. For we science geeks (Key requirement: you must believe in science) it was another lump in the throat success, a reinvigorater of can-do spirit and an ultimately cool way to restore a sense of pride.

The “Of Course I Still Love You” autonomous landing barge

An observation that I found impossible to miss is that the vast majority of NASA scientists are 20-somethings. That’s right, it was kids who put the most sophisticated telescope in the world out of this world. And it’s kids who make Elon Musk’s rockets back down onto their launching pads and onto the “Of Course I Still Love You” barge in the ocean.

And it’s largely kids protesting and demonstrating for action to battle climate warming all around the globe. It’s kids who are jettisoning racial and gender hatreds. It looks as if we Boomers and X-ers at last have done something right: we raised this upcoming generation who just might save us from ourselves and fix upon our times the label: “Hope.” That’s why our 20-somethings get The Hope Award.

Finally

God’s Tech Support – click me

We have skyrocketing infections and deaths due to the twin epidemics of COVID and American pigheadedness, and plenty more threats to send us out on the ledge. But before you climb through the window, reread The Hope Award section above and then read this from Dan Rather. He’s no Pollyanna, but he’s been around the block enough times to have a valuable perspective on the use of ledges.

In this season of wishing for stuff, I wish for us a just nation, where right matters and wins, where democracy always prevails, where we care about one another in the ways that truly matter and where we think and plan far into the future to set things on the best path for our children, grandchildren and all who will come after us. I figure it’s our job to make all of that happen, so wishing isn’t enough.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Be Decent, Waukesha, Climate & Just-For-Fun


Be Decent

Over 5,000 nut balls have disrupted airline flights with their violent behavior, endangering flight attendants, pilots, first officers and all the other passengers on those many flights. If you check with any teacher, dean of students or principal you’ll learn that our school kids are in a similar state of craziness.

Parents are having temper tantrums at school board meetings – yes, just like children who missed their nap and are kicking and screaming on the floor of the cereal aisle at the supermarket. Citizens are screeching incoherently at town hall meetings, ranting and menacing their neighbors, whom they themselves elected. We have athletes lying about having been vaccinated, then testing positive, having endangered both teammates and opponents and then justifying their actions with nonsense.

People at every level of government are saying the most outrageous, googly-eyed, false and rage inducing things, even attacking Big Bird. Our political blabbers are blabbing mindlessly and dishonestly and the online bullying continues unabated, spreading fantastic lies and ridiculous and brutal conspiracy theories. Somehow millions of our fellow citizens believe this idiocy.

Click me

We’re facing challenges, to be sure, but they’re not all unprecedented – we’ve seen some of these movies before. But our society hasn’t held up very well this time. We’ve degenerated into fearful, rageful things, fighting in some dystopia of our own making. Are we a less hardy bunch now? Have we lost our civilization backbone? Did we lose the secret of how to be together?

Watch this clip from the 1990 movie, The Bonfire of the Vanities. It doesn’t address root causes or the myriad, fundamental frailties of human beings, but it’s good advice. Actually, it isn’t just good advice; it’s great advice and an imperative for our time. It’s what we’ll have to do if we are to save ourselves from ourselves. *

A Word About Waukesha

Long ago a friend urged me to see bad things in a different way. He said to ask what the bad things are here to teach. What is it that we have refused to learn and retain through any other means of instruction? It may be hard to apply those questions to the tragedy in Waukesha just now, given the physical and emotional pain assaulting that community, but I’ll take a stab at that.

As the people of Waukesha come together in vigils, as they nurse their wounded of body and wounded of heart, perhaps they show us that our lesson is that we are in this life together. They tell us through their selflessness in this grievous moment that it’s time to stop assuming the worst of one another and stop attacking those we fearfully think of as “other.” They’re saying that it’s time for us to be a community. Maybe relearning that – yet again – is our lesson from this awful attack.

Climate

Speaking of saving ourselves from ourselves, the bad news is the way in which climate is changing and the ways in which we are making it worse instead of better. But you knew that.

The real question is what we – that’s us, acting primarily through our governments – are willing to do to ensure that our climate doesn’t kill us, which is something many humans would prefer. Actually, the keys to the most desirable solution are really pretty simple. For example, we have to get past – as in: replace – politicians who are in climate crisis denial to remove their self-serving roadblocks so that positive action can occur.

The core solution to our climate crisis cannot be found in any Glasgow blah, blah, blah resolution. It lies in the center of the region known as “Less Talk – More Positive Action – No Negative Action.”

That area is opaque to large corporations and very rich people, because that’s not where they accumulate ever-more-massive wealth. What happens instead right here in our current Earth sabotage is that campaign contributions go to politicians who ensure growing massive wealth for the already massively wealthy. That causes cataracts to grow over entire governments to the point that they’re blind to what is glaringly obvious. That drives a stasis which is counter-productive to the continuation of human life. But, hey, what a vast further enrichment of already rich people there will be for the short time we humans are around to see it!

We need cataract surgery on our governments. Immediately.

Click me

This has been creatively explained in the video to which you can link from the pic to the left. Please note that this video contains graphic and “colorful” language. If you know that you will find such language objectionable, you can find a bleeped version here. Either way, the message is clear, compelling and challenging to all of us.

We have to make our governments stop the greed saturated, suicidal stuff and do the things that will allow us to continue to live on the only inhabitable planet in the known universe. Or we can continue as we are and turn over the planet to our children and grandchildren and let them scratch out a miserable subsistence in the ever-dwindling arable land on Earth for the few wretched years available to them.

It’s our choice.

Pop Quiz!
  1. Can you think of even one reason we should still be subsidizing fossil fuel industries? If you have more than one, rank order them starting from the most dumb.
  2. Compare and contrast: A). Taking immediate positive action to prevent the worst climate catastrophes, and; B). Talking about taking positive action, but continuing our smug, willful intransigence. An extra 5 points each will be awarded for the inclusion in your answer of the following terms:
    1. survival
    2. massive migration
    3. desertification
    4. permanently flooded coastal cities
    5. wars
    6. societal breakdown
    7. wildfires
    8. deforestation
    9. catastrophic weather events
    10. integrity outage
  3. List the names of your senators, congressperson, governor and state representatives, along with their phone numbers. BONUS: 10 points each if you call their offices and tell them to immediately take action to combat the climate crisis.
Just For Fun

SNL, November 6, 2021 – Click me

Feeling stressed preparing for Thanksgiving? Worried about what Uncle Dorkus will say this year? Just need a laugh? Well, look no further.

Grab a glass of your beverage of choice and have a look at what is probably the best SNL skit in decades. Be sure to read a couple dozen of the comments below it. I promise you that, one way or another, this has happened to you.

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* “Saving ourselves from ourselves” – Several states have introduced or intend to introduce bills to prevent the mandating of any vaccine to prevent highly contagious diseases, like polio, smallpox, measles, rubella, chicken pox and the rest. We know what happens to civilizations when people aren’t protected from such things, because we have the experience of thousands of years of misery, suffering and death to make that clear. Denying that is stubborn, willfully obtuse and homicidal.

Such reversals of a century of progress toward better health, now with easy, cheap preventives available everywhere, is being fought in the name of reptilian notions of individual freedom and the crank idea of a mandatory vaccine as an assault. If the legislative attempts to end science, medicine and learning in several states succeed, my strong recommendation is to permanently stay away from anyone from Montana, Idaho, Florida and all the other vaccine refusing states, as well as anyone who has had contact with anyone from those states. And don’t let your kids play with their kids.

Said Dr. Anthony Fauci about vaccine refusal, “It’s the normalization of insanity, I think.”

Read about it in STAT here.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

E Pluribus Unum


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From ES:

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

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American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

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

This time for sure!

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

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

.

To the attendees at CPAC

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

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

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

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

Random Fact of the Week

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

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

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

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I Really Need Your Help With This


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are Trump’s national policies?

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

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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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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