Healthcare

Potpourri v21.0


Post 1,038


As we sigh romantically and fondly for those we love on this Valentine’s Day, we embrace their hearts. May that be true for you.

Who’s Next?

We continue to lose roughly 200 American sweethearts to Covid every day. Of course, that number lacks the shock value of refrigerator trucks used as emergency morgues during the peak of the pandemic. And, of course, we’ve been distracted by our ongoing outrages, so we’ve moved on from paying attention to the horror of over 1.1 million dead from the disease. But now there is different statistic for the daily 200.

Over 90% of daily Covid deaths are of unvaccinated people.

That’s right: Most vaccinated people are protected from lethal complications of the disease.

Our enthusiastic vaccine conspiracy lovers continue to make fantastical and lethal claims*, like that the vaccines don’t work**, that they’ll infect users with Covid, that the vaccines will make people sterile or that giving them to children will both cause autism and keep the Tooth Fairy away. Let’s just face the fact that some people need to see a boogeyman behind every tree. Meanwhile, convincing granny not to get vaccinated is accessory to suicide.

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

Surely, you must have noticed long ago that the loudest Bible thumpers, those who declare ownership of the moral high ground, the stiff necked definers and owners of family values, the wrath-spewing judges of those who succumb to the devil’s call are often the most flagrant violators of their own puritanical absolutism. Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and her flame, Corey Lewandowski, did and perhaps still do that

Kenzie Bryant lays this out (phrasing interntional) in her Vanity Fair piece,

Governor Kristi Noem, “God-Fearing” Family Woman, and Corey Lewandowski, Trump Creep, Reportedly Had “Yearslong” Affair.
.

She offers this subtitle,

It’s always the ones who insist that marriage is “a special, God-given union between one man and one woman” that forget how to count.
.

And forget they apparently did, that 1 + 1 = 2, not 4. But, oh what fun they’ve had over their years of mutual adultery. She rides her horse to rallies, proclaims her Christian values and then snuggles with Lewandowski, heedless of their hypocrisy.

But there is a price for hypocrisy. Just ask Jim and Tammy Faye. and Newt Gingrich.

The Border

Republicans bray like donkeys that Joe Biden has created open borders and eliminated national security. He’s the guy, they say, who won’t protect this country, refusing to put together laws to stop all those you-know-who-they-are from doing you-know-what to our blood.

But wait just a second. Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution (immediately after the Preamble you had to memorize in high school) is:

“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

That’s a job description. Congress is charged with and has “All legislative Powers,” meaning only Congress can make laws. All laws. Nobody else can make laws.

Article II of the Constitution outlines the office, duties and responsibilities of the President of the United States. Section 3 of that Article ends this way:

” .  .  .  he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed .  .  .”

Nowhere in Article II is there any suggestion that the President has “legislative Powers.” The President is powerless to create legislation – Laws. His only job regarding Laws is to “faithfully execute” them.

That begs the question of why anyone would berate Joe Biden for not creating the laws for an improved immigration system that everyone agrees we need. It is neither his job nor in his power to do that.

You know: Like it says in the Constitution.

So, as you hear Trump and Republican legislators and news shills on the far right criticize Biden for failing to make laws to improve our border security and our immigration system, you’ll know what that criticism really is.

Hint: It pertains to the end of the digestive system of male bovines.

Gaza

Here’s the headline from The Times of Israel, February 7, 2024:

” .  .  .  IDF uncovers largest Hamas rocket factory to date”
.

Link through, read the short article, look at the photos and read their captions. That’s why Israel cannot stop being aggressive. Note: Hamas is still firing rockets into Israeli civilian populations. Keep that in mind as you read the post.

Here’s another thought on that deeply troubled area.

Innocents

Everybody knows that Palestinian Hamas fighters are the bad guys. They wantonly killed over 1,200 Israelis, they raped females from babies to grandmas and took hostages and set it up for Palestinians to be “collateral damage,” as Israel does what it needs to do to stop and punish the killers. There is just one thing about the innocent Palestinian civilians.

I need someone to tell me all the things those innocents did to stop Hamas from constructing those tunnels, building weapons factories underneath hospitals, mosques, apartments, schools and houses. What did they do to stop the building and firing of rockets designed to kill Israeli civilians? How did the innocents fight the killers to stop them from using Palestinians as human shields, disposable victims? All of that leads to a question of who the real innocents are.

I know it isn’t pretty to spell it out in that way, but I’m not sure of the innocence of the “innocents.”

To The 36%, 20% and 42%

This is for the 36% of women who favor Donald Trump in 2024.

That is a man who wants to reduce women to nothing more than sexual objects, play toys to grab you-know-where. You’re a bauble to him, a pretty thing on his arm or in a department store dressing room. Unless you’re not his “type,” as he claims about E. Jean Carroll, in which case you’re dismissed, discarded. Then you mean nothing, you’re of no value, like his ex-wives.

So, in saying you’ll vote for him, what are you thinking?

Now to Blacks and Hispanics.

Five recent polls show that 20 percent of Black voters and 42 percent of Hispanic voters favor Trump now. To them I say:

He hates you. He disrespects you. He shows his disdain for you in a constant stream of racist statements, so here’s that same question:

In saying you’ll vote for him, what are you thinking?

———————————-

* From STAT, Feb 7, 2024:

“Here’s an update on the vaccine misinformation stories found by NewsGuard, a group of journalists and information specialists who have tracked false narratives spreading online since 2018. Today, in Covid’s fifth year, they report there are more than 300 vaccine-related false narratives circulating on social media and in online search results, emanating from 4,387 news sites and other sources.”

** Let’s consider what “works” means.

The vaccine developers and manufacturers were clear from the start that the vaccines weren’t designed to and do not prevent anyone from catching Covid. They are designed to prevent serious symptoms and consequences, like needing a respirator tube to be shoved down your throat to prevent suffocation from the disease. I.e., they’re only designed to prevent terrible consequences, like dying.

So, when some conspiracy minded person tells you that he knows that the vaccines don’t work because Uncle Fred was vaccinated but he got Covid anyway, gently remind him, “Nuh-uh.”


  • Today is a good day to be the light
  • _____________________________
  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA

 


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Immigration, Healthcare and Disappearing Spine Disease


Post 1,026

___________________________________

The Real Immigration Issue – Said Out Loud

With a noteworthy and continuing firmness, Congress has steadfastly stood tall for doing nothing to reform of our immigration system. That has left our proud Republican congresspeople free to whine, point fingers of blame, complain and demonize.

In the face of thousands of hopeful immigrants arriving daily, our courageous Speaker of the House, He Who Hates America, sent all representatives home for 3 weeks. The Republicans don’t want our immigration system fixed because they’d rather use our dysfunction to stoke their base against Biden and Democrats, even though it’s a challenge that is actually the responsibility of Congress, so they leave asylum seekers hanging. “The cruelty is the point.”

We do have a real and serious immigration problem, but it isn’t the one that is commonly talked about. Here’s the real immigration issue, said out loud:

Republicans don’t want any Hispanic, Black, Brown,
Asian or Muslim people in our country. *
.

After all, those people are so very inconvenient to straight, Christian nationalist, White Supremacist suburban and rural patriarchal posers.

Let’s be precise: This describes Republican extremists and Republican “moderates” (read: cowards). It certainly describes some others, too, especially the true believers of the wholly made up, hateful, bigoted, racist Replacement Theory.

Republicans still talk about people seeking asylum coming from the south, but nobody is complaining about White, European applicants seeking to immigrate – unless they’re from Ukraine and seeking asylum. They don’t want those people because allowing them in our country would help Ukraine in its fight for survival against Putin and Republicans are in the tank for Putin.

  • Side note: I remember a time when Republicans
  • were in the tank for America.

Our immigration problem isn’t about immigration. It’s about racism and White supremacy and delusional, hateful Christianity. Nothing more.

The Healthcare Ripoff

Read this from STAT, the healthcare newsletter from the Boston Globe:

INSURANCE
American taxpayers pay as much for health care as other countries do for universal coverage

The U.S. government spent more on health care last year than the combined governments of Germany, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Austria, and France did on universal health care coverage, according new CMS data. Their populations add up to a total of 335 million people, compared to the U.S. population of 331 million.

The $1.8 trillion in federal and state health care expenditures in 2022 funded by taxpayers last year — about 41% of the nearly $4.5 trillion in both public and private health care spending — calls to mind an argument made by economists Amy Finkelstein and Liran Einav. “We’re already paying as taxpayers for universal basic automatic coverage, we’re just not getting it,” Finkelstein said at the STAT Summit in October. Read more from STAT’s Annalisa Merelli.

Wait, what? We’re paying full price for universal healthcare – actually, many times what other countries with universal healthcare pay – but “we’re just not getting it”? Are we really allowing ourselves to be ripped off like that?

Well, yeah, we are.

And our politicians, in the pockets of Big Pharma, insurance, big hospitals and more, don’t want to change a thing.

Please open your hymnal to page 2024 as we sing together all the verses of “That Sucks.”

Disappearing Spine Disease, or,
“What Do You Want Me To Say About Slavery?”
Definition

psycho-emetic [SI-ko-e-MET-ik] – noun

1. so stupid that it makes you puke

  • Jax Dictionary

At a town hall in New Hampshire last Wednesday Nikki Haley was asked what the cause of the Civil War was. She went on a tear about states rights, limited government and more and never mentioned slavery!

When she was done windbagging, the questioner pointed out her astonishing exclusion of the obvious historical fact of slavery. This pretender to the throne responded by asking, “What do you want me to say about slavery?

Yes, Nikki Haley really did ask that stupid question. That’s psycho-emetic.

We don’t want to keep her hanging, so to answer her question, what we wanted her to say about slavery is that it was THE cause of the Civil War. We wanted her to say how unfathomably horrible slavery was, how wrong it was and that millions of people still suffer from its consequences 159 years later. But she didn’t say that. Instead, she asked what color the questioner wanted her Republican chameleon outfit to be.

I just wish she had had the courage to say her truth: “I’m not going to say the obvious, that our Civil War was about slavery, the greed that slavery supported and the enormous cruelty it spawned, because if I did that I’d lose MAGA votes.” But she didn’t say that.

What she did do was to instantly disqualify herself for any job that calls for intellectual honesty, moral courage and the ability to speak truth. What she did do was to support the banning and burning of books that mention anything about race, discrimination and our horrifying history of slavery. What she did do was to tell us that she’s such a suck up that she would be unable to confront either foreign or domestic enemies.

No, Nikki, even if you’re from the South, you may not own human beings. That was the cause of the Civil War. It wasn’t about northern aggression. It wasn’t about states rights. It wasn’t about limited government. It was about slavery, you coward!

Poor Nikki Haley is just another carrier of Republican Disappearing Spine Disease. Have low expectations of her, because like the hymn about universal healthcare that we pay for but don’t get, this sucks.

And the hits just keep on comin’.

One Last Thing
  • Definition:

re·ces·sion /rəˈseSH(ə)n/ – noun

  • 1. a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.
    – Oxford English Dictionary

    For our math challenged, “two successive quarters” means 6 months in a row.
    .
    Republicans continue to say that a recession is less than a heartbeat away or that we are in a recession right now. Here are the facts (as in: observable reality):
    .
    1. We have had nothing but growth in GDP, month after month, quarter after quarter for a really long time. The rate of growth slowed during the Trump-ignored pandemic in 2020.
    2. The S & P 500 returned 26% last year and the DJIA is at an all time high. Doesn’t sound very recession-y to me.
    3. Because there are business cycles, saying that a recession is coming is like saying that the sky will be dark. Sooner or later you’ll be right. Meanwhile, there is no recession.
    4. We keep making more jobs month-after-month, wages are higher for everyone who depends on a paycheck, insulin is just $35 a month instead of hundreds, they’re almost ready to replace the I-75 bridge over the Ohio River, and, and, and .  .  .
    5. If you’re one of the moaners saying that your economic situation is good, but that our national economy sucks, get over your slavish following of phony righty propaganda. They’re just feeding you mind crap, hoping for political advantage.

    Which sucks.

    Okay, This is the Real Last Thing

    For a wonderful list of places/causes/ways to take action and make a difference to protect our unfathomably precious democracy – that task you’re going to focus on and contribute yourself to this year – check in with Mobilize.us. Consider this an addition to the list on this post.

  • ________________________________________
  • *  Trump in Waterloo, IA on December 19:

“They’re poisoning the blood of our country. All over the world they are pouring into our country. They come from Africa, they come from Asia, they come from South America.”

He called it a “border catastrophe.” He said, “They’re poisoning the blood of our country.”

  • That’s it plain and simple: Racist, xenophobic fear and hatred is what immigration reform – and Trump and MAGA – are all about.

  • Today is a good day to be the light
  • _____________________________
  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Just Say No To Metastasizing


Post 1,008

—————————————

O’ Those Crazy Republicans

1. As Karoun Demirjian outlined in the New York Times, Jim Jordan and his allies deployed a pressure campaign – meaning threats of violence and death – against those Republicans opposed to him. As she puts it, they’re “working to unleash the rage of the party’s base voters against any lawmaker standing in his way.”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said,

“So far I’ve had four death threats. I’ve been evicted from my office in Colorado…because the landlord is mad with my voting record on the Speaker issue. And everybody in the conference is getting this …. Family members have been approached and threatened, all kinds of things are going on ….”

2. From Heather Cox Richardson on October 16:

Last week, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) called for shutting down the government in November unless Democrats agree to cutting all spending for processing or releasing into the country any new migrants. He says the demand is “non-negotiable.” But U.S. and international law require the U.S. to process asylum requests, even if a migrant arrives in between legal points of entry.

Former senior Department of Homeland Security lawyer Tom Jawetz told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post that Jordan’s plan “would be both illegal and a practical impossibility.” Administration officials “are legally obligated to process people for asylum on request,” he said. “It’s not a choice.”

But therein lies the heart of today’s Republican Party: its extremist leaders no longer believe that rules apply to them.

3. Ohio has a ballot initiative on the ticket to enshrine women’s healthcare, including the right to abortion, into the state constitution. The Republican Secretary of State of Ohio has rewritten the ballot initiative from the clear, simple language of the original to something confusing, unclear and unattractive to voters. It’s a Nixon-worthy, Roger Stone-worthy dirty trick. Its like the Republican sponsored billboards in largely minority areas that remind people to vote, but they advertise the day after the actual election.

4. 147 Republican members of congress voted to stop the counting of the Electoral College votes. They tried to keep your vote from being counted. That’s against the Constitution They supported Trump’s entirely fraudulent, dishonest, anti-American claim of a stolen election. Most of the traitors are still in congress.

5.  From Haaretz on October 20:

Republicans Compare Jewish Protesters Calling for Gaza Cease-fire to January 6 Insurrectionists
.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is among the pro-Trump supporters calling for hundreds of American-Jewish protesters who staged a sit-down in a congressional office on Wednesday to be ‘held in the DC gulag,’ equating their actions with the treatment meted out to those who stormed the Capitol in 2021.

First, of course, there is no “DC gulag.” Second, while I don’t agree with the demonstrators, all they were doing was demonstrating. They didn’t try to kill police. They didn’t vandalize the building. They didn’t try to overturn the Constitution of the United States. They didn’t  .  .  .  oh wait. I’m being logical in opposition to Marjorie Taylor Greene, the logic and reason arsonist. What was I thinking?

That is thugocracy from the likes of Jim Jordan and other far right extremists. Indeed, that’s MAGA style democracy, which is to say, no democracy.

All this and far more are what the Republican Party is today.

“But,” you might say, “traditional Republicans aren’t like that.”

Perhaps 20% of Republicans, every now and then, might be described as “traditional.” But any of them who cave in to MAGA thugocracy or who don’t publicly oppose the slimy and violent tactics and the destruction the thugs are doing are letting their cowardice drive their actions. They’re selling out our country. Which of them will stand up for what is right if doing so costs them something?

It doesn’t matter if they disagree in private with the wrong that they see. Their public silence is tacit support for the Republican path to destruction. Effectively, duty means nothing to them. So, don’t bother to wave the Yeah-But flag, because it’s meaningless. The Republican Party is irredeemable from its criminal march to destroy our democracy.

This is not the first time when power obsessed, virulent autocrats have tried to murder our democracy. They tried it in the 1850s, the 1930s and the 1950s. If you know our history you realize that each time they were traitors to the values we believe in. They actually perverted the words of the Declaration of Independence for their ends. They did the same with the Preamble to the Constitution and even the Federalist Papers. Some waved our red, white and blue next to Nazi swastika flags in the 30s and 40s. They’re doing it again today.

They and their cause are a cancer metastasizing inside our nation. Theirs is a grand larceny of what protects our nation from those intent upon stealing our birthright as a nation and as individuals. They are metastasizing the disease against which our Revolutionaries fought.

So we persevere in the fight for our democracy. We never give in. We join the battle because that is what we must do. We will not allow dishonesty and breach of oath and faith to stain our nation or to go unpunished. We will not allow our democracy to be destroyed.

This is from The Union, the activist arm of The Lincoln Project:

Scared, sad, worried, heartsick, jittery and jaded about our democracy? Put all of that on the shelf right now. Step up and join The Union. The Action Center is a direct line to volunteer actions you can take every day through more than 100 partner organizations dedicated to electing pro-democracy candidates. We’re an activist coalition 65,000+ strong, with members from across the political spectrum. And while we don’t agree on every issue, we’re in complete agreement about the one that counts: Defending American democracy now and strengthening it for generations to come. [emphasis mine]

Update

Hamas continues to rain rockets on Israeli civilians. 31 days after the October 7 massacre there are still over 3,300 injured Israelis, 249 are still being held hostage and 1,400 are still dead.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Or Not


Civics – Or Not

In order to graduate from my public high school I was requried to take a course in civics and pass the exam. That education was required in nearly every public high school in those days. In the 1980s this course often became optional or, in many schools, civics classes weren’t available at all. We had switched to a more market oriented view of education and citizenship and we have suffered from that ever since.

The National Education Association recognizes the loss and its effect can be seen in the regular occurrence of students shouting down presenters offering differing views. That isn’t about freedom of speech. It’s about temper tantrums and a refusal to learn.

Perhaps the shout-downs are a symptom of our increasing national incidence of mob brutality, as students see adults doing the same thing in school board meetings, at political rallies and in our Capitol Building on January 6. Maybe they are influenced by the non-stop torrent of lies, false accusations and online screeds that pollute our culture. Call it “Citizens Gone Wild.”

Lack of civics education hurts us all. It robs us of any sense of obligation to the commons and a respect for others. It robs us of our democratic principles.

None of us knows if education in our civil rights, responsibilities and limitations would affect any of the brutality that goes on daily. But in this era when a majority of Americans can’t name three presidents, don’t know the branches of our government and many think that enforcing our laws is “weaponizing” the Department of Justice, we have a problem.

From an essay by Debra Satz and focused on shout-downs on college campuses entitled By Abandoning Civics, Colleges Helped Create the Culture Wars:

It is our responsibility as educators to equip students to live in a democratic society whose members will inevitably disagree on many things. To strengthen free speech on campuses, we need to return civic education to the heart of our curriculum.

Jim Nathan is a long time friend, a former health system CEO, co-founder of Floridians For Democracy and Adjunct Professor of Health Services at Florida Gulf Coast University.* Here’s what he had to say after reading a draft of this post.

Sadly, students in my university classes have not seen or experienced national American unity and pride. Instead, their formative years have been influenced by two decades of unexplained wars; massively uncivil politics; the Great Recession; divisive and uncivil expressions and actions throughout society; degrading and marginalizing of racial, LGBTQ+, and ethnic diversity.

They have seen and experienced attacks on public education telling students what they are not allowed to learn about history.  They have been taught that the “other side are the worst people on earth!”

Their lives have been shaped by the near daily use of weapons of war in schools, churches, synagogues, groceries and they’ve done active shooter drills even as some honor people like murderer Kyle Rittenhouse.

They are presently witnessing American politicians revering autocratic leaders like Hungary’s Orbán and Turkey’s Erdoğan while stealing our freedoms under the guise of “freedom” and “liberty.”

In class, I share with these impressive students that the good news is they have learned to be resilient, that they have the opportunity to reverse these culture wars. We are beginning to see that young generation making the decision to speak up and speak out. They truly are our hope for the future.

Perhaps they will be the ones to restore civics education to our nation. Perhaps they will be the ones to take action on Thomas Jefferson’s words,

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.

Fentanyl Treatment- Or Not

It appears that if any of the Republican candidates for president gets their hands on power that there won’t be much attention paid to treating those addicted to this killer. From STAT:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to “use lethal force” by sending troops to attack cartel operations in Mexico. [That’s called an invasion of a sovereign nation. Of an ally. Our second largest trading partner. But it’s a splendid, brain-free chest thumping.]

Former President Donald Trump has called for convicted drug dealers to be sentenced to death. [That’s called unconstitutional.]

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina pledged to finish constructing Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. [That’s stupid.]

Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy suggested a different tack: Decriminalizing nearly all drugs, including ayahuasca and ketamine. [That’s called useless bombast.]

Note the total lack of any help at all for those who need it. Oddly, these self-puffers think they should be sitting at the Resolute Desk charged with promoting the general welfare. You know: that Preamble thing.

These schemes are how we typically “help” our addicted, with tough guy proclamations, preventionless preventions and cureless cures. Sometimes we paper over the issue with a blizzard of words, often sounding very fancy and scientific in multi-syllabic self-importance. However, there is no scientific or medical data indicating that a blizzard of words cures drug addictions.

Quote From Somewhere Else That Applies

From Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, referencing a proposed cage match between two high tech genius-idiots:

From the standpoint of being a human, the Musk-Zuck cage match is an offensive waste of time—the result of a broken media system that allows those with influence and shamelessness to commandeer our collective attention at will.

Wait – was that about two high tech egomaniacs, or about flamboyant, hypocritical, conspiracy addled, democracy hating politicians and a media addicted to “If it bleeds, it leads”?

A Terrible Anniversary

Friday was the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL that killed four little girls: Denise McNair; Cynthia Wesley; Carole Robertson; Addie Mae Collins; and severely injured Addie Mae’s sister, Sarah Collins. It took until 2002 to at last prosecute and convict three of the murderers. By then the fourth had already died. The three spent the rest of their lives in prison.

This is a terrible and heroic story that includes former Senator Doug Jones and former Attorney General of Alabama Bill Baxley, who put the murderers in prison. I urge you to watch the presentation they gave in 2017 telling the story of how justice was at last done. And there’s one other thing.

This story is one of virulent White supremacist hatred. What we know is that it didn’t go away after 1963. There’s yet another generation of haters now. As then, they are doing and threatening violence and are led by haters and power cravers. We can allow that to go on  .  .  .

.  .  .  or not.
.
Note the first 3 words of the Constitution:
.

We The People

_____________________________________

* Jim teaches “History of the American Health System from Economic, Social and Political Perspectives.” The course is colloquially called, “How did the American Health System, with the best technology and best trained clinicians in the world become the most expensive, highly fragmented and under-performing for the overall investments made by the American public?”

Good question.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Reality Jokes from the 1950s


Q. What do you call couples who practice the rhythm method of birth control?

 A. Parents

Q. What do you call teenagers who are taught abstinence as the only acceptable form of birth control?

A.  Parents

Amazingly, according to some bible thumpers, some Republicans and a former Republican Party platform, only abstinence is to be taught in our schools to instruct our teenagers in birth control. That ignores the slam-dunk certainly of human behavior.

We humans are remarkably resistant to changing our natural behavioral tendencies. We have certain defaults, like survival of self and our species. Following puberty we have sexual urges. While it is undeniably true that our behavior can be and sometimes is curbed by societal norms, our urges remain and, in certain circumstances, societal norms are all but forgotten. Like in the back seat of a car.

While kids know not to have sex because of the risk of pregnancy, plus Puritanical legacy pressure, they’ve always done it and will continue to do so. Leaving them with nothing but abstinence for birth control is like dumping them in the ocean in a tiny raft with a spoon for a paddle.

Science has become a strange and forbidden topic for the far righties. They say and do things that suggest that they believe that nothing has been learned over the past 2,500 years, but science exists just the same.

To paraphrase the 1997 movie Men In Black, 2,500 years ago men knew that the Earth was flat. 500 years ago men knew the Earth was the center of the universe. 50 years ago men knew that the only form of birth control was abstinence. What do the bible thumpers and far-right Republicans know now?

According to a CDC study reported by CBS News, there was a 44% drop in American teenage pregnancies (ages 15 – 19) from 1991 – 2010 and there were fewer teenage mothers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. Better still, the teen pregnancy rate was at its lowest rate ever in the U.S. in 2022. The CDC reports that the dramatic decline is due to pregnancy prevention education, the pill and condoms.

What that says is that teaching about sex and pregnancy and supplying the necessary tools gives kids a better chance to avoid unwanted consequences. It says that science (like the pill) exists and is available to prevent pregnancy. That suggests that kids aren’t stupid and will learn to make better choices when they are told the truth and when they are given necessary tools.

Pretending that teen sex can be controlled by telling kids not to engage in sexual behavior or that they must not take advantage of better science is to ignore the reality of human beings. Same for adults.

Come to think of it, that Republican mania to deny reality seems to pop up in lots of areas, like global warming, honoring our obligations and stealing public money from public education and passing it along to private schools, saying that isn’t a violation of the First Amendment.

Here’s the thing about reality: we can deny it, but that won’t change what exists. And the longer we pretend, the worse our problems become.

For example, we can pretend that outlawing abortions will prevent them, but we have hundreds of years of experience that tell us with certainty that if abortions are made unlawful, they will continue to be performed just the same. Rich women will find a doctor to help them and all the rest in need will revert to what used to be called “back alley abortions.” Women will be mutilated and killed in the process. That is the reality even if some deny it.

Those jokes from the 1950’s weren’t particularly funny then (think: surprise babies) and they are less funny now. That’s especially true since Supreme Court Justice and right-wing billionaire moocher Clarence Thomas argued in his Dobbs anti-abortion decision that, “. .  .  the right to birth control — decided by the Court in [the] 1965 Griswold decision — should be overturned, along with the right to gay marriage [and that] maybe contraception shouldn’t be legal.”

Wait – wouldn’t outlawing contraception result in lots more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions?

Headlines This Week – So Far

New York Times

Note 1: The only reason for this right-wing idiocy is to create the illusion of a Biden equivalency to the poster boy for criminality.

Note 2: McCarthy caved to the crazies because he cares more about keeping the speaker’s gavel in his hand than he cares about life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, forming a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty.

New York Times [Italics emphasis in headline are mine]

That end of aid was due to congressional Republicans and Democrat Joe Manchin killing the expanded child tax credit. The poverty rate among children jumped from 5.2% to 12.4%.

The New North Korean Threat
Why the United States Needs to Address Pyongyang’s Nuclear Advances Now

Foreign Affairs

Quotes Describing Us

Dahlia Lithwick’s guest on her Slate podcast of September 9 was Marc Elias, the attorney-crusader for voting rights. They discussed the Republican legislature of Alabama having refused to obey a redistricting order from the United States Supreme Court, as well as other examples of Republicans flouting the law.

Elias:

“Within the Republican Party now, violating court orders [and] breaking criminal laws makes you more popular.”

Lithwick, speaking of multiple examples of Republicans defying laws and norms:

“The[ir] coin of the realm is lawlessness.”

This is what years of a constant drumbeat stoking anger and of middle finger politics has done. This is how an entire society self-immolates.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Inflation


First: E. Jean Carroll Won

her civil lawsuit against Donald Trump for sexual abuse and defamation of character. She was awarded $5 million in this unanimous verdict. I hope she publishes a picture of the check.

Trump responded to the verdict on his imitation of Twitter, “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace — a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!”

Might be, but it’s sure great when a witch hunt uncovers and punishes an evil witch.

I repeat:

While it doesn’t always happen on the timetable we’d prefer, what goes around often does come around. Watch for this same sentence following each of the guilty verdicts against Trump.

Now On To Inflation

Ever since we started fighting inflation following the pandemic I’ve wondered about how this has been handled.

First there was the supply chain craziness, with container ships anchored outside our ports unable to unload because there weren’t enough trucks to move the goods, so supplies of many things shrunk. That was made worse by our decades long insufficiency of truck drivers. And all of that was just a small piece of worldwide supply challenges, including raw material shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

That was happening as we were coming out of pandemic lock downs. Those kept us from consuming as we did before Covid and that caused a pent up demand for goods – stuff we like to buy. Once the pandemic was receding and lock downs were over, demand became un-pent up and soared.

Let’s see: greatly increased demand occurring at the same time we had greatly constricted supply .  .  .  PRESTO! Adam Smith’s invisible hand shoved prices way up. That’s called inflation, but it was made worse.

At the same time those things were happening our oil industry started raising prices faster than anything propelled upward by that invisible hand. That has often been labeled “price gouging.” Gas prices at the pump rose day and night, even though there were no oil supply shortages or supply price hikes of any kind to justify those prices at the pump. The result was huge profits – some would say windfall profits – for the oil producers and a huge financial hit to ordinary people every time they filled their gas tanks. And gas was a major player in spiking inflation.

Click me

The Fed is limited in what it can do to counter inflation. Its most powerful, albeit indirect, tool is to raise interest rates. Doing so makes borrowing, and really everything, more expensive, so demand drops. That’s the theory. And that’s what the Fed has done. Over and over.

This year the Fed rate went from near zero to over 5% in short order. Sounds great for fighting inflation, but along with the decreased demand due to higher prices came job layoffs, small business disruptions and a stick in the spokes of the wheels of new construction. Workers were laid off.

In other words, the pain of fighting inflation has been dumped entirely onto the backs of we ordinary folk and the pain for some of us has been enormous. But that isn’t the only way to fight inflation.

Government can create price controls to stop the gouging by industries that are reaping huge rewards just because they can get away with otherwise unjustified price increases.

Yes, I know that’s heresy to our absolutist market economy proponents, but this isn’t a pure market economy and it never has been. Example: we have rules to prohibit monopoly. Not the board game. They’re called anti-trust laws and they are designed to protect competition, smaller businesses and consumers from unfair monopoly power.

Another example is that we subsidize fossil fuel companies with the depletion allowance, farmers with gimme money and many more. More on that in a future post. Politicians may bloviate about the free market, but they’re all too happy to deliver non-free market paychecks to their constituent corporations and benefactors.

We know that people will act in accordance with their perception of their best interests. That alone led to the profiteering of oil companies and others in different industries in this opportunistic environment of overall rising prices. In some industries that becomes moderated by buyers choosing to refrain from buying overpriced goods, perhaps switching to cheaper alternatives. But that’s nearly impossible to do in some areas. People need to fill their gas tanks for all the usual reasons, like getting to and from a job, regardless of the price of gas.

It’s much like the hospital bill for heart surgery. Nobody decides not to get life saving healthcare and instead decides to die because of the price of the service. Healthcare and fuel are examples of inelastic demand, in that demand doesn’t adjust much based on price.

So, we can impact inflation by reducing demand by means of raising costs, which is what the Fed has done. That also causes workers to lose their jobs. Or we can impact inflation by controlling certain prices, which cuts corporate profits a bit. Perhaps there are other things government can do. But I can say with certainty that even as the fat cats aren’t listening to them, the people who are shouldering the bulk of the burden to fight inflation now aren’t any too happy about things as they are.

Quote of the Fiscal Year
  • “We shouldn’t even be talking about a world in which the U.S. doesn’t pay its bills. It just shouldn’t be a thing.”
  • Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chair
  • Note: If Biden were to submit to Republican extortion over paying our debts, he would be dooming us to extortion in every year to come.
  • In Other News

There’s a test strip that can identify contamination with fentanyl in drugs like heroin. Because fentanyl is such a powerful drug and is so often lethal, being able to test for its presence can be life saving (as in: death avoiding) for users. But tough-on-crime legislators (read: Republicans in red states) have insisted upon seeing these test strips as illegal drug paraphernalia and have criminalized them. That seems to be changing.

Several states are decriminalizing the test strips. Indeed, there appears to be a shift from criminalizing illegal drug users to harm reduction. That will put a dent into the number of users going to prison and also the number of users going to graves. Here’s what’s interesting about that.

Over 100,000 Americans die from illegal drugs every year and over 67,000 of those are from fentanyl. There is a significant change, though, in the population that dies from overdoses. Now opioids are used a lot more and many more White people are dying from drug overdoses.

I’m sure that shift in the race of the corpses is unrelated to red states’ drug policy changes. Aren’t you?


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • 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.
    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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Scheming


Here’s Some Of What Decades of Far Right Scheming Have Brought You

Voter suppression through:

extreme gerrymandering;

voting rights suppression;

throwing out voter registrations for obscure reasons – especially in poor and minority areas;

eliminating voting places;

restricting ballot drop box access;

School vouchers for private and parochial schools that starve public schools of money and violate the freedom of religion guarantee of the First Amendment;

Attacking and eliminating healthcare rights;

Cheating on Supreme Court confirmation hearings to get a polarized Court;

Cultivating a power base by appealing to racism and hatred – no more need for dog whistles;

Book banning and book burning;

Stoking fear of the “other;”

Promoting supply side “voodoo” economics for over 40 years, which has served only to make the wealthy wealthier and more powerful and make all others poorer and less powerful;

Packing the Supreme Court to engineer the Citizens United decision into a grotesque monster that allows enormous sums of money from hugely wealthy individuals and corporations to control our elections. This was accomplished by expanding the original case into something not in contest – in effect, making up a new case to ensure power for the wealthy;

Denial of truth and embrace of cruel fictions that stick a spoke into the wheels of progress in Congress and state houses, then complaining that government can’t do anything. Example: spouting lies about the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines and demonizing public health officials, while well over a million people died and our healthcare infrastructure (hospitals) failed, leaving millions without healthcare at all – and at the same time complaining that the government grossly mishandled the pandemic;

A Trump appointed Texas judge overruling the FDA to eliminate Mifepristone, this on a foundation of boundless ignorance and vacuous reasoning. That compliments what appears to be his whitewashing of his extremist views that he hid during his lifetime appointment judgeship confirmation process;

Challenging election results on the basis of absolutely no facts or evidence – but the false claims have accomplished the undermining of citizen confidence in our elections;

Stoking fear and hatred of LGBTQ citizens and inciting violence;

Ignoring the overwhelming public will on issues like gun safety, abortion, healthcare and more. Here is an example in a chart from the April 11 STAT report, based on a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

These are shocking numbers and the story is actually worse than it appears. Read the full Kaiser Family Foundation report. This is what happens when a minority is in control and they ignore what the rest of us want. It’s deadly.

The extremists have been at this for decades, applying billions of dollars and enormous political pressure and their scheming has paid off in their minority control and their fantastic self-enrichment. Decide for yourself if this stuff works for you. If it doesn’t, then perhaps we should be scheming to set things right.

DNC: I don’t hear a thing from you except solicitations for my money. Is that your best shot?


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • 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.
    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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Woke, Parents Rights, Covid & Court Watch


“Woke” Update 2

Given the decades of Republican and so-called conservatives’ efforts to establish absolute power and wealth into the hands of (guess who?) the wealthy, including themselves, it seems this mania to attack whatever is “woke” was inevitable. It’s undefined by those same Republicans and so-called conservatives so that they can use the term just as playground brats would, to ridicule others.

Paul Krugman has given us some definition of what “woke” is, as used by these hateful culture warriors (the brats). In his essay Wonking Out: Conservatives Face a Rude Fiscal Awokening [sic], he explains,

“So now we know what many conservatives mean by being woke: It means showing any concern for and offering any help to, Americans who are victims of adverse circumstances.”

That means that many of We The People, those whose safety and security we claim to protect, are instead blown off by Ron DeSantis, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and the rest of the frothy-mouthed usual suspects.

Those suspects aren’t just brats. They are thugs.

Parents Rights

The so-called “parents rights” temper tantrums polluting our Republican controlled states have resulted in faculty firings, book bannings, book burning, race negating, history denial, bullying, board of education upheavals and more. These tirades long ago reached a level of refusal of learning that is gut wrenching to any thinking person. This is, in fact, a denial of education and learning.

Public education is for the public. All of it. It isn’t just for kids whose parents are an angry, frothing few. Surely, parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s education and should have a voice in what that looks like, even when parents don’t know much about educating kids. But public education isn’t just for a small minority of vocal thugs who want to force their narrow, angry beliefs on everyone else.

So, for parents who think the statue of David is pornographic; for parents who think Toni Morrison’s writings are racially offensive or harmful to their fragile White children; for parents who don’t want their kids to know that not every other kid is exactly like them; for parents who think their kids should be told only that Rosa Parks was a woman on a bus, this without mentioning that she was Black; for parents who want to micromanage every classroom and who just can’t abide a complete education for their kids; there are two simple solutions: either home school your kids or send them to a private school more in line with your narrow notion of education.

And you can pay the entire bill for either of those options with your own money. Vouchers transferring public education money to private schools are a scam and an offense to the Constitution.

But don’t worry. The public schools will be there for your kids when you run out of anger and money, just as the Framers intended – even if Betsy DeVos, Ron DeSantis and their private, for-profit school CEO buddies don’t like that.

Covid

“If you are up to date on your vaccines and you get treated with Paxlovid, if you get an infection, you just don’t die of this virus,” [Dr. Ashish Jha] said. “Almost every one of those [Covid] deaths [of un-vaccinated people] is preventable. And yet people are still dying [at the rate of 200 – 500 per day]. And that is the power of misinformation. That is the power of disinformation that we all have to work on countering.”

  • Dr. Ashish Jha, coordinator of the White House Covid response team,
  • speaking to an audience of physicians at a
  • conference near Boston, Friday, March 28

Even as our people die, Republicans in Congress and big megaphone blatherers continue to do diaper-clad political performances to incite an angry army of malcontents (dunno where I saw that, but I sure like it) to self-harming craziness.

It’s safe to say that we have an large part of our population that has been trained over decades to see themselves as victims of some other group of Americans, so they’re angry. They are angry to the point that they won’t do the simple things that are necessary to save their own lives, let alone the lives of Granny, their kids or the check-out lady at the supermarket. They prefer anger over continuing to live.

That’s a lot like our gun safety refusers, who love their guns more than they love their own kids – or yours.

And That Connects With .  .  .

The alt-right (aka, radical extremists) have been hyper-crazificating for at least three decades to get Americans to distrust and hate:

government

healthcare professionals

healthcare insurance

journalists

democracy

the media

all politicians with a “D” next to their name

all politicians regardless of party who don’t toe the extremist line

the courts

elections

any Democratic president

truth, justice and the American way

anybody not just like themselves

And if there are real, Earth #1 facts that refute the distrust and hate disinformation, it is labeled fake news or assigned some other form of reality dismissal. This is blind acceptance of propaganda to the point of self-reinforcing, evidence-free belief in the unbelievable. Here’s an example.

Take a look at this chart from a recent Gallup survey.

The study was done following Vice President Harris’ visit to these three African countries. You can see that roughly half of the respondents approve of our job performance there, which means that roughly half of the respondents disapprove.

Questions:

  1. What percentage of US adults can find any of those countries on a map, even if the countries are labeled?
  2. What percentage of US adults can name even one US policy regarding these nations?

Bolstered by their ignorance, half of surveyed adults disapprove of the work of our government. Hint: they were propagandized to disapprove, to believe the unbelievable.

Here’s another Gallup chart showing President Biden’s approval rating at just 40% (green). It also shows that 56% disapprove of his job performance (orange).

We can ask survey respondents the same type of questions as for the African countries and the results would yield the same kinds of answers: they really don’t know any reason for their negative opinions except that a lot of very loud, self-serving people have been exhorting them to distrust and hate, to believe the unbelievable.

Too many of our citizens have been trained that way all their lives. That sadly defines our challenge to restore our institutions, our values and our country to something that resembles a democracy.

“We live in an age of explicit disinformation—that is, disinformation that is publicly confirmed as disinformation yet still succeeds as disinformation.”

David Corn, Our Land newsletter, April 4, 2023

Court Watch

Perp walked, finger printed and indicted on 34 felony counts in New York. 

That’s one.


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • 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.
    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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v18.0


Silence
This is for those Republicans quietly whining in their closets about right wing extremists: you really should be speaking up.
.
You should have voted for a Democrat to be Speaker of the House instead of voting for spineless Kevin McCarthy. You should have been speaking out against Trump’s outrages and those of the alt-right for years, maybe for decades, because you know the difference between right and wrong. Right?
.
Your closet whining instead of speaking up probably helped you keep”the base” votes,  I suppose, but at what cost to your integrity, your legacy and our republic? What will you tell your grandchildren?
.
From Heather Cox Richardson:
.

That today’s Republican leaders have not condemned any of [Trump’s] attempts to cheat speaks volumes about the party. As Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) pointed out [on March 22], when “[Michael] Cohen was arrested, indicted, convicted, and went to prison for participating in an illegal hush money payment scheme to Stormy Daniels, not a single Republican leader complaining now said a thing about what happened to Michael Cohen.” So why the rush to defend Trump in the same case?

From Ella Wheeler Wilcox, author, poet and activist, 1850 – 1919:

To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

Democracy

I’m not partisan by nature, but the past 40 years have made me a non-Republican, as that party ran headlong into autocracy mania. Even so-called traditional Republicans have ducked and run from what is actually conservative, leaving Democrats the only ones to vote for if we still want a democracy.

Yoda

I get that keeping our democracy is far too ethereal to be sufficiently motivating to most Americans to get them out to vote. We prefer not to expend the effort to be aware of anything not in our immediate lives. It’s just a human being thing. But here’s the real deal: Keeping our democracy is the only way to preserve what we call our American values. “On that everything depends,” said Yoda.

Accountability

What if we actually believed what so proudly we hail about our virtues, values and beliefs – like accountability?

Last week was the 20th anniversary of George W. Bush’s second faithless war. We lost 4,400 Americans in Iraq. More important, they lost everything. We saw 32,000 of our people wounded. Nobody knows how many of our returning vets committed suicide or are still living on our streets two decades later. And, of course, nobody knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed or how many millions are still refugees.

Bush looked for an excuse to invade Iraq as far back as 1999, two years before he took office. He wanted to be seen as a strong “commander in chief.” That would ensure his 2004 re-election, and, of course, that was what was most important. Pay no attention to the dead bodies in his wake.

All that death and suffering was based on Bush’s quicksand foundation of lies, fear mongering and his reprehensible swagger. Here’s just a tiny sampling.

Lies

Lie #1: Saddam was a really bad guy and had to be removed. Actually, it isn’t a lie to say Saddam was a bad guy. What was a lie was that Bush contended that was enough of a reason to topple him. There are a lot of other bad guy leaders in the world, but, oddly enough, we don’t depose them for being bad guys.

Lie #2: Saddam was in cahoots with al Qaeda, the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11. Actually, the al Qaeda group was fanatically religious and Saddam was entirely secular. They hated one another. Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.

Lie #3: The Iraqis will receive us as liberating heroes and will pay us for the war with their oil. Except those Iraqis who were killed or tortured or forced to become refugees – we’re not heroes to them. And their oil was never ours to take.

Lie #4: Waterboarding isn’t torture and torture is legal. No point in elaborating – you already know.

Fear Mongering

Bush told us that Saddam Hussein is “this close” to having weapons of mass destruction (“WMDs”). Actually, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission was continuing its search for WMDs in Iraq before our invasion and had found nothing to indicate that Saddam had any such weapons or was working to acquire them.

From Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice: “.  .  . we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Seriously, she said that over-the-top, scare everyone into compliance outrage.

Covert CIA operative Valerie Plame was outed by Dick Cheney because her husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, unmasked Bush’s and Coliin Powell’s lies about yellow cake and aluminum tubes. That didn’t even momentarily pause the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld march to war. And our almost entirely lapdog Fourth Estate, our press, forgot that it was supposed to be a check on government.

Our Congress bought the lies and fear mongering and voted an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which Bush was all too eager to use. Congress is only now moving to end that authorization.

Swagger

Bush swaggered across the aircraft carrier flight deck wearing a flight suit, flight helmet under his arm, following his being nothing more than a passenger for the aircraft carrier landing. He stood in front of his false and embarrassing MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, even as our troops were being blown up by roadside bombs, IEDs and more. The war dragged on for years after that. I guess that mission wasn’t quite accomplished after all.

There weren’t any WMDs. There never were. There never were going to be. The WMDs existed only in the fraud perpetrated on millions of duped people so that Bush could be commander-in-chief in wartime and get re-elected. Plus, Cheney could acquire no bid contracts for Halliburton, but that’s another story. The key story is the death, the wounding and disfigurement and the miserable displacement of millions, all for a fraud.

Two decades later not a single Bush administration liar has been held accountable. Dick Cheney sneers on, without a heart, both figuratively and literally. Bush paints bad portraits of veterans, dogs and world leaders and sells them for ridiculous prices. Condoleeza Rice is the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Cushy for all, except for an America without accountability.

Here’s the truth about what happened. And watch Rob Reiner’s movie Shock and Awe.

Healthcare Capitalism

Let’s give credit where it’s due: Trump’s childishly named “Operation Warp Speed” worked. We gave vaccine producers the up front money to create new vaccines to protect us from the new, not well understood SARS‑CoV‑2 coronavirus that was killing people at a devastating pace. Indeed, we gave Moderna $12 billion for research and development of their vaccine. That has earned the company over $40 billion over just the past two years. In other words, we paid for the risky up front costs and Moderna has reaped the benefits. Now Moderna has a surprise for us.

Said Senate Health Committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT),

“Here is the thank you the taxpayers of this country received from Moderna for that huge investment: They are thanking the taxpayers of America by proposing to quadruple the price.”

The part I loved best is that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), former CEO of a private investment firm, said that Moderna is an example of capitalism at its best.

Moderna has just one successful product, the mRNA coronavirus vaccine, the R & D for which We the People paid. Our government funding of Moderna to produce that vaccine was not a fine example of capitalism.

It was pure socialism!
.

Remember: that vaccine socialism was powered by chief socialist, Republican Donald Trump. O’, those evil socialist Republicans!

Debt Ceiling Update

That’s Congress as Dastardly Whiplash, who tied the U.S to the tracks. Click the pic

“Good” Republicans dither while others (the suicidal crazies) continue to threaten to default on and extinguish the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They’ve tied the country to the tracks and we can hear the locomotive coming. It’s just a few months off and the crazies continue to behave as though future spending negotiations have something to do with paying the bills for what Congress itself already bought. Read this explainer to understand that our debts must not only be paid, but that they must not even be questioned. Better yet: send the link to your representative in Congress.

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going”

     – Irwin Corey (American Stand-up Comic 1914-2017)

Many thanks to friend and futurist David Houle for the reminder.

A Question From The Future

“Hey Mom and Dad – is it really true that a while back people could be denied health insurance and healthcare just because they had a pre-existing condition? No way, right?”


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • 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.
    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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Guns, then Nikki Haley


Guns

After I had delivered a leadership workshop to an executive group we went to lunch at an upscale suburban restaurant not far from the meeting venue. I sat across a small table from a guy who had a pistol in a holster clipped to his belt. I’m not a gun guy and I felt profoundly at risk, but I tried to be cool about it.

“Why do you carry a gun?” I asked. You could reasonably expect him to have said that he carries it in case a bad guy shows up or an argument became dangerously heated or in case he sees a crime in progress. None of that is what he said.

He said – and I’m quoting him – “Because I can.” As in: because it’s legal; because the Second Amendment says he can. He was letting me know he has rights.

In fact, everyone I’ve encountered who is carrying an easily spotted gun and to whom I’ve posed my question has answered the same way. “Because I can.” It’s always said with some degree of chip-on-the-shoulder and with bravado bordering on defensiveness.

I can push a broom in a crosswalk on 5th Avenue – that’s legal – but the right to do so hardly explains why I would do such a thing. Same for the gun carrying business.

So, I leaned into my questioning of the guy across the table from me at that restaurant, acknowledging he does have a right to carry and asking why he would do so. I then got a series of statements that can be collected in a bucket labeled, “In case something happens.” But I don’t think that’s much more than a small part of his truth.

I think his truth is that carrying a pistol makes him feel strong and powerful and in control. While wearing his pistol he can wear his “Don’t even think of messing with me” tough guy attitude with ease.

He’s prepared to be a hero – the good guy with a gun who will stop bad guys with guns. He’ll be the protector of grannies wheeling their shopping carts across the suburban parking lot. He’s ready for a return to the Wild West when people believed that a good old fashioned shoot out solved all problems. Bummer he wasn’t on the Michigan State University campus that night to confront the murderer. Pay no attention to the kids who would have been killed in the cross fire.

That’s just one of the problems – the price we pay – for that guy carrying in order to feel strong and powerful and in control. Even if he really is a good guy – and I’m pretty sure he is – there are plenty of others who carry a gun for less honorable reasons than protecting those grannies and those students.

They carry firearms and always say, “Because I can,” as though saying so makes it sensible for them to have a killing machine strapped to themselves. But every choice has consequences. One of the choices we’ve made is to let people do that. One of the consequences of that choice played out in East Lansing, Michigan last week.

Nikki Haley

To her cheering attendees, rah-rah sign wavers and applause line clappers at the kickoff rally for her presidential candidacy race on February 15, Nikki Haley said of Republicans,

“We’ve lost the popular vote in 7 of the last 8 presidential elections. Our cause is right, but we have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans.”

She was right about all of that – except for the four words about Republicans’ cause. The American voting public keeps telling them that their cause is wrong, not right, but Republicans act as though they’re deaf. Or perhaps they just don’t care about We the People.

Consistently, over 92% of the American public wants universal background checks on all sales of firearms. Half of all Americans want assault weapons, high capacity magazines and more to be outlawed. But Republicans block such legislation from coming to a vote or they vote against it. Republicans never ask Gen-Zs what it’s like to go to school feeling like they have a bulls eye on their backs. It wouldn’t matter if they did ask, because the Republicans aren’t listening to the answers. They’re completely wrong on this.

61% of Americans want abortion to be legal, yet Republicans continue to wave their holier-than-thou flag and oppose We The People. They’re completely wrong on this.

63% of Americans want universal medical insurance – single payer, Medicare for all, just like in all the other first world countries – but Republicans block legislation or vote against it every time. They’re completely wrong on this.

85% of the American public wants Social Security but Republicans launch sneaky back stabs to kill it, using dishonest, patriotic sounding names. But a theft of people’s security through Republican treachery remains just that. They’re completely wrong on this.

Haley is flat out – let’s call her “mistaken.” Republicans have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans and they keep losing the popular vote because their cause is wrong. And only gerrymandering, the theft of voting rights and the existence of the archaic, anti-democratic Electoral College allow them to win any elections at all.

Quotes Making The Point

“Mr. Trump didn’t change the Republican Party; he revealed it. Ms. Haley, for all her talents, embodies the moral failure of the party in its drive to win at any cost, a drive so ruthless and insistent that it has transformed the G.O.P. into an autocratic movement.” [emphasis mine]

Also,

“There is a great future behind Nikki Haley.”

“Haley, like [Lindsay] Graham, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Ohio Senator J. D. Vance, and so many others, sees principles as disposable, making her yet another example of why the GOP cannot be trusted with power. Haley knows how to say the right things about how the violence of January 6 was bad, but to this day she refuses to hold Trump accountable, and so there is no way to know if she or any other candidate will withstand the antidemocratic demands of Republican primary voters. For Republicans in elected office, the GOP base is now so hostile to our democratic institutions that loyalty to the Constitution has become an unaffordable political luxury.” [emphasis mine]

  • Tom Nichols, The Pointless Nikki Haley Campaign
  • The Atlantic Daily, February 15, 2023

‘Absolute Hypocrisy’: GOP Unveils Bill to Make Trump Tax Cuts Permanent While Howling About Debt”

  • Jake Johnson, CommonDreams.org 
  • February 16, 2023
  • Addendum
  • From NewsMax – click the pic

    On Friday, February 17 Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) signed his political death warrant. He’s term limited by Ohio law for the post of governor, but whatever other political posts he might be interested in, they are now permanently closed to him.

  • He spoke in a monotone from the state capitol in Columbus about the massive train derailment that occurred in East Palestine, OH two weeks earlier, one of well over 1,000 derailments we experience each year. His message to residents was largely a pat on the hand, saying that it’s safe to breathe the air in town and it’s safe to drink water from the municipal water supply and its 5 wells.
  • That didn’t go down well for the residents of the town who were witnesses to thousands of dead fish in the Ohio River, or with some of their fellow citizens with significant skin rashes and respiratory irritation, or with people suffering from strange diseases that somehow coincidentally showed up immediately after the train crash. It wasn’t reassuring for citizens who use private water wells and who were terrified for the safety of their little kids. Nobody felt safer about the long term carcinogenic effects of the burning vinyl chloride that spewed black clouds over their town.
  • Note that DeWine did not drink a big glass of water from the East Palestine municipal water supply during his address to Ohioans. He appeared to do that 4 days later. There has been no reporting on his health following that drink.
  • His presentation came across as a limp-wristed cave in to the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
  • I have been a fan of this moderate Republican for a while, but that relationship is over. I’m on the side of the people of East Palestine, OH.

______________________________

  • 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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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