Guns

Rights


Reading time – 4:11; Viewing time – 6:20  .  .  .

There are small mobs clogging our streets, attacking our state capitol buildings and protesting inside those buildings with menacing assault rifles in their hands. They are carrying Confederate flags and Nazi flags and they’re egged on by the President of the United States. They are yelling and frothing and spitting – no face masks. They are demanding their rights, dammit. What’s theirs is theirs. No stinking governor or healthcare professional can tell them what to do.

Others are protesting less pugnaciously, like the Cleveland barbershop owner who’s shop is in financial peril, who needs to provide for his family and wants his workers to have paying jobs so they can care for themselves and their families, too. He has a right to earn a living, he tells us. And he, like the violence threatening protesters, is willing to risk contracting coronavirus in pursuit of financial stability and personal independence. It’s impossible to argue with the barber’s motivation or his willingness to take that risk. Except for one thing, which I hereby offer first to the swaggering, gun-carrying protesters, and then to all self-quarantine protesters.

The right to own firearms has been expanded greatly from its original intent, greased by the lubrication of the NRA’s millions of lobbying and campaign contribution dollars. What is true concurrently with Second Amendment rights is that while you may have the right to bear arms, I have a right to not get shot by your guns, whether they’re concealed or menacingly brandished. Your right stops at the tip of my nose. And, silly me, I think my right to safety and staying alive supersedes your right to own killing machines.

It works the same way in dealing with this worldwide pandemic. Your right to get out and protest – even with your AR-15 in your hands – or open your barbershop or any other shop seems clear, and your willingness to risk illness and even death in pursuit of whatever it is you’re pursuing is your decision to make. Where your right stops is at that same tip of my nose: I have a right to not be infected by you and that supersedes your right to ignore the dire health warnings that are all around. I have a right to not get sick and die of the coronavirus that you contracted during your protests and that you could pass along to me. It doesn’t matter whether you took that risk of illness solely because of your financial needs or because you were having yet another temper tantrum against authority. Either way, you’re unfairly putting me at risk.

I feel for that barbershop owner. But while he may clear-headedly embrace the risk of contracting coronavirus by opening his shop too soon so that he can feed his children, when he’s in an ICU with a breathing tube down his throat and then dies, exactly who is going to feed his kids?

I’d rather not have to admit that I don’t feel for the gun toting protesters, but there it is. Right now I can’t find room in my heart for those who threaten others so they can feel powerful for a few moments.

My heart instead is focused on the front line troops, the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and EMTs and the people who clean and disinfect our hospitals and clinics so that they’re ready to care for us, as well as the restaurant workers bringing your takeout to the curb for you, the delivery people and grocery store staffs who bravely show up and work so that we can get the things we need. All of them are risking their lives for the rest of us, risking even for the angry, gun-toting protesters who at last show up at our hospitals with coronavirus drowning their lungs. That’s why all those front line troops are in my heart. And the people who are suffering financial deprivations due to this pandemic, like that barbershop owner, are in my heart, as well. That doesn’t leave much room for the threatening AR-15 mobs.

For both groups of protesters my message is simple: There are hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t want to be infected by you or by others whom you infect and who unknowingly pass it along. Those who have survived the disease don’t want to learn that you’re setting it up for others to suffer the way they suffered. And if the dead could talk, they’d say, “Your selfishness is going to kill my family and my friends.”

So, grow up. This is not all about you. And you don’t get to wave the red, white and blue until you learn to behave as a patriot.

The Greatest Generation suffered rationing, 405,000 deaths, about 8 times that number of injuries and far more deprivations. All we’re being asked to do is to stay home for a while. Have we become so soft that we can’t do even that? Have we become so self-centered that we can’t sacrifice for others? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then it’s long past time to drop the self-congratulatory platitudes and our certainties about exceptionalism and do a national gut check and recommit.

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Follow up report

In a recent post, Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition, a reader lamented that a lot of the money from the Payroll Protection Program intended for small business operators had instead gone to large corporations. Turns out he was right and The Washington Post reported on that.

The money from the Payroll Protection Program was supposed to provide money to small businesses to enable them to retain their employees, to pay them, even as our economy is “shut down” due to this pandemic. Instead, more than $1 billion went to large public companies. The result: “After the first pool of [money] ran dry, [that left] more than 80 percent of applicants without funding,” WaPo reported. This happened even as the CEOs of some of the large companies that received money from the Program are being paid millions of dollars.

It’s truly astonishing that in a time of national crisis the greed machine of the already wealthy keeps spinning along. Download a PDF of the WaPo article here, or read it online here.

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

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

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.

JaxPolitix: Cynical Edition v1.0


Reading time – 2:30; Viewing time – 3:53  .  .  .

The number crunchers tell us that once infected, blacks in this country are at least 6 times more likely to die from coronavirus than whites. It’s worse for Hispanics than whites, too. There has been much hand wringing about this lately and ties to historical  realities have been offered to explain this fatal discrepancy. We have to do better, they say.

But actually, no, we won’t do better. We never do. Here’s an analogy.

Sandy Hook happened and it punched us in the national gut, because these were little children whose bodies were ripped apart by bullets from an assault rifle. Columbine hadn’t been enough to move us to action to ensure our children’s freedom from gunfire death, partly because the victims were teenagers and we aren’t quite as protective of older children. And the Pulse Nightclub slaughter didn’t move us to action either, because, hey, they were just gays. This one, though, the murder of so many little white kids, touched our hearts in ways that are locked into us from ancient times, so it would propel us to do something to prevent another ghastly, horrible massacre, of course.

How’d that work out for us? Did anything happen to protect our little ones or anyone else? You know the answer.

The discussion now isn’t about domestic terrorists murdering children; it’s about the way we set up people of color to suffer and die, including from coronavirus. It’s the stinking education given to so many of them in rotting buildings with decades old text books. It’s the poor training, the minuscule job opportunities, the low wages, the unavailability of healthcare, the living where people breathe toxic exhaust from upwind industrial plants and where there are food deserts that offer nothing to eat but crap. The reasons go on and on and the point is that we haven’t done anything about the things that leave people of color at significant risk, we aren’t doing anything about that and we won’t do anything about that.

Whites will be a minority in this country in just a few years and there is a mad rush to suppress non-whites in order for the soon-to-be white minority to retain power, like the blatant voter suppression efforts in red states. We’re incrementally becoming South Africa and apartheid will be our culture. Those in power are carrying on our 400 year tradition of suppressing “others.”

America is a Europe-centric, white, Christian majority country. We tolerate others, but only barely. That leads to a Muslim ban, a declaration of “shit-hole countries” with little push-back from most of those with the greatest power, Native American subjugation, a southern border “f**k you” wall, gross immigrant detention facilities inhabited by families torn apart and all the rest of our abominable actions toward those in America who aren’t from European white Christian stock. Some relative few wail in protest. But as with our gunning down of first graders, those in power steadfastly do nothing to make things better.

So, with this coronavirus ravaging the world; with our body count into the tens of thousands and likely headed to the hundreds of thousands; with our Commander in Chief pushing to get us back out and infecting one another soon because a temporary goose to the Dow is good for his reelection chances; with the same orange buffoon saying we’ll be lucky if we hit numbers of dead in the hundreds of thousands and he doesn’t care that a disproportionate number of our dead will be non-white (hey, that’s good for his election chances, too.); don’t expect anyone with the power to help “others”  to make any efforts to stop the kill off of people of color in America. Because, honestly, we just don’t care about them.


Late Addition

In the most recent of Donald Trump’s bizarre 2-hour daily press briefings he announced the cutoff of U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, claiming it was for their “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” It was typical Trump blaming of others for the very same destructive things he does. This time it was for his foot dragging and lying that has caused thousands more deaths. Next time, who knows? What we do know is that the blame game will go on, as Trump claims he isn’t responsible for anything. Because, honestly, he just doesn’t care.

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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.

As Smart as Squirrels – v2


Reading time – 3:32  .  .  .

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump continues, even as more revelations arrive almost daily that paint a very dark picture of his actions. Whether witnesses will be called and evidentiary documents will be presented at his impeachment trial remains unknown. Whether he will be convicted and booted from office remains an extreme long shot. Nevertheless, he will leave office either by impeachment, by election this year or, worst case, in 4 more years. That leaves us with what appears to me to be a critical and un-examined issue: the threat of hate group backlash when Trump is removed.

You saw all those angry looking (mostly) men with loaded assault rifles and handguns on the streets in Virginia last weekend. They were carrying their firearms to send a testosterone-fueled, anger-fired message. Perhaps these are the same people who deliver death threats to politicians and pundits who dare to oppose Trump. Perhaps these are the same people who show up at churches and synagogues and movie theaters and outdoor concerts to murder innocent strangers. Perhaps they are a powder keg just waiting for the right stimulus, some perceived wrong, to light their fuse, like Trump’s removal from office.

I want to know someone is thinking about how to handle this situation when it arrives on our doorstep. Better yet, before it arrives on our doorstep. Who in government is forging a strategy to prevent the carnage that these haters have promised, like a new civil war? I want to know what we are doing to interdict post-Trump violence. There aren’t enough security guards in the world to protect all the people in all the churches and synagogues and movie theaters and outdoor concerts.

You and I and everyone else know it’s coming. Maybe there will be a lot of violence; maybe not so much. Regardless, the bad guys have promised violence on our country. We can make a plan to prepare for that every bit as surely as squirrels plan and prepare for the harsh winter they know is on the way.

Squirrels aren’t very bright. Their brains are about the size of a walnut and survival activities are about all they are capable of mastering. Can we do that? Can we master what’s needed for our own survival? Are we as smart as squirrels? I have my doubts.

Sarcasm Corner

With the promise of white supremacist violence on the horizon, this is the right time to express our gratitude, so:

Thanks so much, George W. Bush, for allowing the ban on assault weapons to expire.

Thanks so much to the NRA-funded politicians who refuse to do anything to curb gun violence except mouth pitifully inadequate thoughts and prayers.

Thanks to the Supreme Court for greasing the skids to oblivion by making so much corruption possible, including the gun lobby purchasing of politicians and laws made possible by the Citizens United decision 10 years ago last week.

Really, thanks to all who have made it possible – and even desirable to many – for America to have become a supremely well equipped arsenal of anger. You know who you are.

Who will save us from ourselves?

Last thing  .  .  .

The Trump defense team finished up on Tuesday and honestly, the wrap up by Pat Cipollone was masterful. Most impressive was his playing of a series of videos from the Clinton impeachment, featuring many of today’s House managers and other top Democrats appearing to have argued that Trump’s deeds are not impeachable, exactly the opposite of their earnest pleading today. It was a brilliant job of displaying hypocrisy, just as the recordings shown by Democrats of Lindsay Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr and others from the Clinton impeachment days have unmasked their hypocrisy. Great showmanship from both sides. Of course, while all of this was riveting courtroom drama, none of the tearing down of others deals with the substance of the charges against Trump.

As impressive as Cipollone’s videos were, my key takeaway from the entire body of defense work has led me to some questions. I didn’t go to law school so I need help finding answers from someone who did.

  1. Exactly which course in law school trains litigators to create fantastical arguments entirely out of fiction, to mislead and to blatantly lie?
  2. Who schools law students to misrepresent, to turn reality upside down and to say the most outrageously false things they can conjure, telling people not to believe their own eyes?
  3. What is the process they’re taught for selling out their integrity?

Yes, that is a brutal indictment of Trump’s team. That’s how it’s intended.

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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!

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.

Holiday Remembrances


Reading time – 1:44  .  .  .

The number next to each location listed below is the number of people shot to death in a single incident. This only includes mass shootings since August, 2019 with 4 or more killed, plus a few horrific others.

Here’s a question for the people still living in these places: How’s your holiday season?

    • Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT    26
    • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL   17
    • Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC    9
    • Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, PA    4
    • Pulse Night Club, Orlando, FL  49
    • Harvest Music Festival, Las Vegas, NV    58
    • Garlic Festival, Gilroy, CA    4
    • JC Kosher Supermarket, Jersey CIty, NJ    6
    • Emerald City Casino, Great Falls, MT     4
    • Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Pensacola, FL    4
    • Backyard football watch party, Fresno, CA    4
    • Family killing, San Diego, CA    6
    • AirBnB house, Orinda, CA    5
    • Family killing, Philadelphia, PA    4
    • Memorial gathering, Chicago, IL    5
    • Family killing, Abingdon, MA    5
    • Tequila KC Bar, Kansas City, KS    4
    • Street shooting, Beaumont, TX    4
    • SuccessTech Academy school, Cleveland, OH    4
    • Mobil home park, Albuquerque, NM    4
    • Family shooting by 14 year old, Elkmont, AL    5
    • Outside movie theater, Odessa, TX    8
    • Ned Peppers Bar, Dayton, OH    10
    • Walmart, El Paso, TX    22

Our hearts go out to these folks for having to bear the pain of an empty chair at the holiday table. Too bad NRA sponsored politicians only have thoughts and prayers. If they had hearts, perhaps some of these massacres wouldn’t have happened and today’s survivors would have had a joyous holiday.

Finally,

If we had applied our immigration policies to those seeking asylum back then  .  .  .

What would Trump-supporting Evangelicals say if Customs and Border Patrol told Mary and Joseph, seeking refuge, that they couldn’t even stay in a stable in the U.S.? How would they react if they found out that all children entering our southern border are separated from their parents because the parents are arrested while seeking asylum, so Jesus was wrapped in a mylar  blanket and put in a cage? Would Evangelicals applaud that Trumpian get tough immigration policy?

If the answer is yes, Evangelicals may keep that one-word descriptor, but they have to stop calling themselves Christians. There’s nothing Christian in being cruel to the poor, to the stranger and to children. There’s a really good chance Evangelicals missed the main point.

————————————


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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

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

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

Brutal – By The Numbers


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 4:55  .  .  .

I’ve long believed that the hope for the world is our young people. Here are two reasons why I see things that way:

  1. We adults have made the terrible messes we’re in and we steadfastly refuse to do anything to make things better.
  2. Our young people won’t stand for our self-destruction and hypocrisy.

Sure, they’re idealistic, just like you and I used to be – remember? Then life intervened and we started making compromises. We all do. Now we’re at the point where the majority of us tolerate non-stop lying and cheating and stealing. Some of us wring hands over that, but a majority of our citizens and, indeed, a majority of the world, sits in stupefyingly dull states of semi-consciousness, our vision sorely compromised by the complex mess we’ve created. We act as though consequences don’t exist, as though what has been will always be and even as though that would be okay – it wouldn’t be – and as though there is no price for ignoring the startlingly obvious threatening realities all around us.

But our young people aren’t mired in the goo we’ve used to blind ourselves. They see perfectly and clearly what is all around us and they won’t tolerate it. Here are just two examples:

  1. The Parkland kids stood up and called B.S. They continue to push for Never Again and are driving the decades overdue overhaul of our murderous assumptions about gun rights and to push for legislation to begin to stop our free flow of blood.
  2. You saw the beginning of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s quest to reverse global warming. She started by sailing to America instead of riding in a fossil fueled airplane. Then she addressed the United Nations and spoke the outrage her generation feels for what we older people have done to their future: “HOW DARE YOU?” she demanded.

These people won’t be denied and they shouldn’t be, because they are going to live – or die – with the consequences we dump on them and they’ll suffer much longer than those of us now raiding the planet for short term gain and those of us who blunder along, oblivious to the realities of the climate changes and the gun massacres that threaten us every day.

To be clear and fair, two generations ago we boomers were like today’s young people. We made “the establishment” end the war in Vietnam, abolish the military draft and lower the voting age to 18. Then we became what we are now, an obstacle to meeting our existential challenges.

This is brutal talk – I get that. But our condition is increasingly brutal and we can’t afford more exercises in self-sabotage. So, I’ll tell you what we need to do in a simple 3-step formula:

  1. Identify and work for candidates for all elective offices who think young, act young and aren’t burdened by self-destructive legacy mindsets, because we can’t solve 21st century problems with 19th and 20th century thinking.
  2. Vote for those candidates. And make sure others do, too – your buds, your family, your FaceBook friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances, people sharing the elevator with you, the cashier at the supermarket, the dog walkers, bicycle riders, joggers, walkers and shufflers in your neighborhood – make sure all of them vote for these right-thinking candidates.
  3. Once they’re in office, dog their tracks to ensure they’re doing what we need them to do. No back-sliding. No wimping out. This is no time for cowardice.

Does that sound like a lot of work? Well, citizenship is work. But what is at stake is survival. Don’t believe me?

  1. Ask any of the survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, or the Tree of Life Synagogue, or the Gilroy Garlic Festival, or Columbine High School, or the Orlando night club, or Sandy Hook Elementary School, or Gabby Giffords.
  2. Ask the people living in the squalor of what’s left of the Bahamas or, for that matter, Puerto Rico, or the survivors of the Thousand Oaks fires, or the people in Houston whose homes are now submarines, or the people in Miami Beach whose streets are flooded even when it’s not high tide.

We are in a fight for survival, and refusing to fight is not an option. And really, a little political action just isn’t all that hard to do.

We can do this. Now, let’s get to work.

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

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

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

How To Lose an Election


Reading time – 3:52; Viewing time – 5:08  .  .  .

Set aside for the moment your notions of what you want and how you want to go about making it happen. Focus, instead, on how to win the presidential election, presented here in inverted format as the sure path to the Democrats’ loss.

Start with this: The Democrats already have all the votes of their True Believers and those a bit closer to the center. Lots of women and lots of people of color will vote Democratic for the obvious reasons. The battle is for the marginal voters, the independents and the former Trump voters who only voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary. Be reasonable with them and they’ll vote for the Democrat. Be foolishly partisan and extreme and they’ll vote for Trump and we’ll get 4 more years of insanity.

Key point: Change scares people and big, rapid change scares people a lot. Small incremental change is easier to tolerate, so offer that.

Marginal voters will vote for Trump if you tell them that you’re going to take away their private healthcare insurance. It doesn’t matter that he’s trying to do worse. Explaining how Medicare for All will be better for them will fall on deaf ears. Parsing out the nuanced differences between extreme plans will, at best, put voters to sleep. It will not shift a single vote to Democrats.

In order to scare away red, white and blue Americans, all you have to do is to tell them about the socialist Medicare for All program that Democrats are going to force on them. To most Americans that’s the same as telling them that Comrade Vladimir or Chairman Xi will be our next president. So, stop with the socialism, because it’s a guaranteed election loser. Explanations are useless to blunt the enormous fear that will be fostered by the threat of socialism.

In fact, for all policies, if you have to explain it, it’s a loser.

If you want to be sure that all gun owners vote against the Democrat candidate, tell them you’re going to take their guns. Regardless of what the Democrats say about military assault rifles, all you will hear from Republicans is “slippery slope”. Opponents will claim that taking their military assault rifles is just the first step to confiscating all guns and making criminals of otherwise law abiding citizens because they didn’t turn in their target pistols.

You’ll hear that a thousand times and there will be over-the-top SuperPAC ads warning of an Orwellian dystopian future and the subjugation of the people if gun confiscating Democrats have their way. Democrats will lose and Trump will win.

What about telling voters you’re going to give everyone $1,000 per month? Or $10,000 per month? Or that the solution to all problems is for the government to give away cash? Who believes this lunacy?

Another sure loser is to tell the American people that we’re going to have open borders. Seriously, now, the people are already afraid of terrorists and immigrants who they think will steal their jobs. Telling them that when you’re president you’ll make it easier for such people to just walk into the country is a guaranteed victory for Trump.

This is just a short list of actual candidate policies and positions that are enthusiastically being promoted. Every one of them will drive away millions of voters and give President Orange more time to trash our democracy, suck up to Putin and hurt yet more people.

I don’t have the sense that you can change candidate policy positions, but you can work for and vote for people in primaries who aren’t going to scare the daylights out of Americans. That will lead to a candidate who can contrast powerfully with Trump, and his bullying, cluelessness and incompetence will be on full display and he will disqualify himself.

Recall that Trump won in part because he spoke to people’s fears, many of which were borne of rapid change, like globalization. If Democrats incite people’s fears with the promise – perceived as a threat – of large, rapid change, they will have surrendered in 2020, lost the election and Trump will stay in the Oval Office for 4 more disastrous years.

Key point: Change scares people and big, rapid change scares people a lot. Small incremental change is easier to tolerate, so offer that.

Smarten up, Democrats.


Finally,

In one of life’s great ironies we learned that Donald Trump, the chosen one, is capable of making John Bolton a sympathetic character. Who would have thought it possible?

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

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

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

The MAGA Bible


Reading time – 47 seconds  .  .  .

Whether you are a bible-thumper or a critic of bible-thumpers; whether you think of yourself as a Christian in good standing, an occasional Christian or a non-Christian; whether you’ve wondered how evangelical Christians could consistently support a president and legislators who routinely espouse and do anti-Christian things; whether you fret or roll eyes over anyone declaring themselves to be “the chosen one;” you must read John Pavlovitz’s stunning piece, Excerpts From The MAGA Bible. Do that now.

Final Note

Cameron Kasky

We kill around 100 people per day with guns – seven in Odessa, TX and five in Elkmont, AL this week, and the week is just half over. Ten were shot at a high school football game in Mobile, AL on Saturday. And nothing that might make things safer will change because .  .  .  you know why.

Cameron Kasky, student survivor of the horrific Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL a year and a half ago wrote this:

“I just want people to understand what happened and understand that doing nothing will lead to nothing. Who’d have thought that concept was so difficult to grasp?”

David Hogg

What is true remains true:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.

So, when we don’t do anything to stop the shooting and bleeding, we just keep on bleeding and dying.

Fellow Douglas High School shooting survivor David Hogg has left Parkland, FL and is attending Harvard, but his college studies haven’t and won’t stop him and his Parkland pals from continuing their quest to stop gun violence. Click here to donate and save the lives of some school kids.

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

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

     


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

Where Political Influence Comes From – and a Destructive Snit


Reading time – 4:19; Viewing time – 6:49  .  .  .

It’s going to take decades to clean up the mess that our terrible infant president is creating. Some things will take much longer and will leave permanent scars. Other Trump damage, like loss of endangered species, will be impossible to fix.

We’re told that the Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency intends to “sharply curtail rules on methane emissions.” It’s possible that methane isn’t a focal point of your day, so I’ll explain what this newest EPA ruling will mean to you.

Methane is likely the gas that burns in your home furnace and water heater. Burning natural gas instead of other fossil fuels produces less carbon dioxide, so it adds less to global warming, and it’s cheaper to use, too. That’s where the methane happy stuff ends. The rest requires a little story to explain it.

The phenomenally destructive Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission granted Big Money interests – deep pocket individuals and corporations – the power to dominate and control our politics using their cash. That was more than surprising, since the case was only about the Citizens United organization wanting to show their movie trashing Hillary Clinton right before each primary in 2008. It wasn’t about campaign contributions and domination of politics.

The McCain-Feingold Act prohibited such “electioneering” within 30 days of a primary, so Citizens United was enjoined by the district court from showing their 30-minute attack ad that was designed to influence the primary elections. They filed suit and the case wound up before the Supreme Court, which reversed the district and appellate court rulings against Citizens United. That should have been the end of the case, but it wasn’t.

Chief Justice John Roberts ordered the attorneys to return to the Court to re-litigate the case, this time testing the rights of corporations and speech equivalency. In that gross distortion of the original case, the 5-4 conservative majority decided that corporations have all the same rights as flesh and blood human beings, including the right to make campaign contributions and air political advertising.*

Justice John Paul Stevens

As outrageous as that is, if you’re a Constitutional purist, get that, “[In addressing an

issue that was not raised by the litigants], the majority changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” That is from the blistering dissent of this decision, written by Justice John Paul Stevens.

Effectively, the Supreme Court legislated from the bench on issues that were not in contest in this case. Citizens United v. FEC had nothing to do with human rights or corporate rights or political contributions, but its adverse effect in those areas will be felt for a very long time.

Dig into the case a little deeper and you’ll have a new and dark understanding of Chief Justice John Roberts. Be sure to pay attention to his Senate confirmation hearings, where he did the now familiar confirmation dance, spewing volumes of words while not answering questions. More specifically, though, he invoked stare decisis, the principle of not upsetting prior court decisions and making current decisions based upon precedent. Roberts had a solid belief in that, he told us.

Turns out that stare decisis actually wasn’t a real important thing to John Roberts and that allowed him to legislate from the bench. That bench-created new law gave us things like the NRA being such a powerful campaign contributor to legislators that our elected officials refuse to create the gun safety legislation that 90% of Americans want them to create. Sadly, we have a government of, by and for Big Money, not you and me.

Here’s how that connects to the EPA lifting methane emission regulations.

Point #1: Over the course of 20 years methane released into the atmosphere has 86 times more powerful global warming effect than does carbon dioxide. The EPA has taken down its web page detailing this.

Point #2: Natural gas comes largely from fracking wells and as many as 50% of them leak methane into the atmosphere. The page for that has been taken down from the EPA site, too.

Point #3: The Obama administration generated regulations to cause the actors in the methane extraction business to take action to reduce methane emissions.

Point #4: Trump’s EPA is in the process of trashing those Obama era regulations and allowing essentially uninhibited methane leakage.

Some major oil companies have stated that they are opposed to the change the EPA is proposing. Do your own math on why they’d do that, especially since their own industry association and lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute, has come out in favor of EPA’s proposal to eliminate methane emission regulations.

There’s a really good chance that you are not in favor of the EPA’s proposal that will dramatically increase the rate of global warming. The problem for you is that our legislators don’t really care what you think about that, any more than they care about the 90% likelihood that you want strict gun safety regulations.

Just like healthcare, immigration reform, voting rights, education and so many other issues, you’re not getting what you want and it can all be traced back to Citizens United.

That’s now compounded by Trump’s ongoing snit over being dissed by President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. Since that time Trump has been doing everything he can to negate everything Obama accomplished, including DACA, regardless of the harm he does to you and all of us, our allies and our planet.

Such is the behavior of this terrible infant president. We are paying the price for his temper tantrum and, as I said earlier, it will take decades to clean up his mess.

Quote of the Week

Trump is a man who has been progressively hollowed out by the acid of his own self-regard. David Brooks

Opinion Piece of the Week

The Frauding of America’s Farmers, Paul Krugman


*Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, wrote,

“The First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker  .  .  .  even if the speaker is a corporation.”

It is beyond any possibility that the Founders intended the Bill of Rights to have any connection whatsoever to non-human entities, like corporations. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect the rights of people. Humans. Read the amendments and it will be clear to you.

So much for Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas being “originalists.” They claimed to interpret the Constitution as the Founders originally intended. so they liked to call themselves originalists. Clearly they were/are not.

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

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

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

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