Impeachment

The Full Explanation


Reading time – 4:15  .  .  .

I’ve been clubbing Republicans for a long time. Let me be fair to them and say, in all humility and from the heart, that every bit of it is deserved.

I’ve called them things like “invertebrates” and “jellyfish” specifically for refusing the call from the very values they claim to hold. Instead, they have consistently knuckled under to Trump and allowed his evil doings to ratchet our country downward. What I saw was simple cowardice. It turns out the explanation for their behavior is far more complex and nuanced than I had imagined.

Anne Applebaum’s remarkable essay History Will Judge the Complicit, is a stunning and thorough analysis of collaboration with the Trumpian assault on our country. It’s published in the July/August edition of The Atlantic under the title.The Collaborators.

Applebaum unmasks what is at work to influence otherwise principled people to relinquish their values and submit to the will of this hateful, self-serving president. Her work is long and detailed and draws on clear historical parallels – yes, this has happened before. If you have ever asked, “How could otherwise good people sell their souls to a tyrant?” I urge you to read her piece in its entirety for the answer.

Here’s a summary of the rationalizations Trump collaborators use.

1. We can use this moment to achieve great things. This is the rationalization used by the true believers. They ignore the abhorrent to achieve something they think is important, like seating conservative judges.

2. We can protect the country from the president. This is the rationalization of people like Gary Cohn, Trump’s first economic advisor, as well as Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s umpteenth chief of staff and by “Anonymous,” the author of the New York Times piece describing Trump’s erratic behavior, his inability to concentrate, his ignorance and more. Cohn and Kelly are gone from the administration now, so they have no influence and can no longer protect the country. Worse, they have yet to speak out and, “their silence now continues to serve the president’s purposes.”

3. I, personally, will benefit. Nobody says this out loud, but Trump’s Cabinet heads and their staffs are full of self-serving industry insiders, lobbyists and incompetent drones. Think: Sonny Perdue and his vigilantes of industry association lobbyists now regulating their own industries.

4. I must remain close to power. It’s the “intoxicating experience of power, and the belief that proximity to a powerful person bestows higher status.” Applebaum wrote, “A friend told me that each time he sees Lindsey Graham, ‘he brags about having just met with Trump’ while exhibiting ‘high school’ levels of excitement, as if ‘a popular quarterback has just bestowed some attention on a nerdy debate-club leader.'”

“The Russian language  .  .  .  has a word – prisposoblenets – that means ‘a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly.”

5. LOL nothing matters. “If there is no such thing as moral and immoral, then everyone is implicitly released from the need to obey any rules.

If the president doesn’t respect the Constitution, then why should I? If the president can cheat in elections, then why can’t I? If the president can sleep with porn stars, then why can’t I? .  .  .  Nothing means anything, rules don’t matter, and the president is the carnival king.”

6. My side is flawed, but the political opposition is much worse. It’s about portraying the opposition as an existential threat and is seen in the accusations against liberalism and cultural degradation that they claim Hillary Clinton would have brought. It’s the flood of rationalizations to get the judges that conservatives want and the Evangelicals to get the path to salvation they hallucinate is needed.

“If you are convinced we are living in the End Times [included in the list of these believers are Barr, Pompeo and Pence], then anything the president does can be forgiven.”

7. I am afraid to speak out. This, of course, is the spinelessness explanation. It is what led Republican lawmakers to mock and whine and rail at Democratic House leaders during the impeachment hearings and to refuse to judge Trump guilty of the nefarious, unconstitutional acts they knew he had committed. They had to be playground bad kids to satisfy the biggest playground bully. It’s the extreme of refusing to speak against the president’s wrongdoing, the wrongdoing that violates their stated principles;  it’s hypocrisy at the highest levels.

In speaking of our economic catastrophe and the death of over 125,000 Americans to a pandemic we could instead have fought well and thereby protected the thousands who didn’t have to die, Applebaum writes,

“This utter disaster was avoidable. If the Senate had removed the president by impeachment a month earlier; if the Cabinet had invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as soon as Trump’s unfitness became clear; if the anonymous and off-the-record officials who knew of Trump’s incompetence had jointly warned the public; if they had not, instead, been so concerned about maintaining their proximity to power; if senators had not been scared of their donors; if Pence, Pompeo, and Barr had not believed that God had chosen them to play special roles in this ‘biblical moment’ – if any of these things had gone differently, then thousands of deaths and a historic economic collapse might have been avoided.

“The price of collaboration in America has already turned out to be extraordinarily high.”

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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.
  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.

My Weekly Reader


Reading time – 3:57  .  .  .

We’re taking a break from the gigantic stories of the day, the pandemic, racism, our teetering economy and our perennially incompetent government to have a look at other vitally important stories that belong on the front page but have been pushed back to Section B beneath the fold.

Bully Barr

Did you ever wonder why Attorney General William Barr is such an immoral creep? Turns out it’s a lifelong obsession of his. Read about his commitment to being a bully here.

Popeye Point

There is a never-ending commentary on the Sociopath-In-Chief and the anti-democratic, self-serving and illegal things he does. So, it isn’t the slightest shock to learn that Trump begged President Xi of China to buy more farm products from the U.S. so that Trump could win farm states and get reelected. Hint: That’s the same kind of presidential election tampering that got him rightly impeached.

Meanwhile, there are the moral and ethical perversions of President Caligula that by now seem almost normal. Here’s a smart analysis by someone who knows a bit about such things. Rabbi Wolkoff has reached his Popeye point, where it’s all he can stands, he can’t stands no more.

Foreign Danger

Perhaps you think international affairs and national security are important things. I have warned about the danger to the U.S. (here’s one example) when weakened by things like a pandemic, a ravaged economy, deeply damaged alliances with friends, civil unrest and, of course, our sucking up to tyrants. But that was just me talking. How about the view from an expert with decades of experience and keen insight? Have a look at what Richard Haass, now President of the Council on Foreign Relations, has to say.

Anti-Corruption Wins!

Just taking a chance here, but you might care about corruption in government. I’ve done countless presentations on the corrosive impact of big money in government because it is both damaging to the Constitution and it’s anti-democratic.

For example, since those kids and teachers at Sandy Nook Elementary School were massacred 8 years ago 90% of Americans have wanted universal background checks on the sale of any firearm. Since that atrocity there have been mass shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Mother Emanuel AME Church, the Pulse Nightclub, the Las Vegas outdoor concert, the Sutherland Springs, TX church, Ft. Hood, the El Paso Walmart, Tree of Life Synagogue and more and we still don’t have those background checks. (BTW – had those Sandy Hook kids not been gunned down they’d be entering high school this fall.) Watch this video (scroll down just a bit to find it) by the remarkably clear-headed and hugely effective folks at Represent.us. They’re successfully fighting the corruption that drives Congress to ignore We the People.

Migrant Health

Trump has waged a war on immigrants, regardless of their documentation, ever since the abhorrent escalator rant against Mexicans in 2015. That war went on to include his baby and child cage farms, his ripping babies from their mothers’ arms and separating them for life, his slandering all people from “shit hole countries” and far more. For those who have made it to our shores there is nothing easy, including healthcare during this pandemic, especially for migrant workers, many of whom are immigrants.

Download and read this piece of advice from Diane Harrison at HealthPSA.info and pass it along to those in need, because they’re pretty well forgotten otherwise. Like you and me, they want to live and they want their children to live, and that’s much harder for migrant workers in the age of coronavirus.

Dying for Leadership

It turns out that the Columbia University study that I reported to you on May 24 showing that approximately 30% of American COVID-19 deaths were preventable was right in concept, but things are far worse than they calculated.

A new Oxford University study detailed in “STAT” shows that 70% – 99% of American coronavirus deaths could have been prevented. That would have required early, aggressive, responsible, competent national leadership. We didn’t have that. We still don’t. One could argue that the avoidable death of 84,000 – 118,000 Americans is in the past – nothing we can do about that now. One would be right – and completely missing the point.

That same inept or completely absent leadership continues to allow and indirectly encourage massive numbers of unnecessary deaths of Americans. Read about it here.

Weekly Snark

Surely you’ll recall that President Trump proudly proclaimed following a visit with the brutal, murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in 2018 that they, “fell in love.” That suggests a solution to several issues.

Since Trump and Kim love each other, Trump should move to North Korea to live with his lover. Maybe Kim will allow Trump to build Trump Tower Pyongyang or a golf course at Mar-a-Demilitarized-Zone. Of course, since it’s a closed society and nobody from the rest of the world vacations there, both properties would go bankrupt. That would be okay, though, because for Trump that’s just another genius day at the office.

Also, each year the Darwin Awards recognize those who have done the most to improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it. Could it be that last night we had 6,100 applicants in Tulsa?

Trump had bragged it would be 19,000 or 100,000 or a million, but he couldn’t fill the place – gobs of empty, appropriately blue seats in the arena – and there was no overflow crowd to watch him on the outdoor look-at-me big screen. Still, there were 6,100 Darwin volunteers. Thanks go to MSA for the Darwinian insight.

From the ‘Hood

10-year-old Elisa asks, “What’s orange and ugly?”

You supply the answer.

Closing question:

Trump is notoriously ignorant on even the most basic things. For example, John Bolton reports in his new book that Trump asked if Finland is part of Russia. Yes, really. That kind of demonstration of his boundless ignorance goes on every day.

He’s clueless enough that he couldn’t pass even a middle school geography test, much less succeed at a top university. Plus, payoffs are in his blood (think: Stormy Daniels). Given his boundless, bottomless ignorance and reliance on pay-to-play, how much did he or his daddy pay for his Wharton diploma?

Far more important: how much are we paying for his constant fraudulence?

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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.

Counting Just For Fun


Reading time – 97 seconds  .  .  .

I received a Trump fundraising letter today – no clue how I got on the Trump/RNC mail list. Perhaps they read these posts. Nah, not likely.

This packet is like so many, in that it includes a clumsily skewed questionnaire designed to appeal to the confirmation bias of true believers. To be fair, the Ds send the same kind of thing and for the same purpose: fundraising.

What’s special about this one is how genuinely Trumpian the RNC has become and how Trumpian the letter is. That’s where Counting Just For Fun comes in.

Have a look at the letter. Ignore the completely out of date complaints about impeachment as though it were still ongoing and topical today – I counted 3  instances of that. And also ignore the equally out of date claims that people are, “getting back to work and they are starting to believe once again that America’s best days are ahead of us.” And ignore the declaration that Trump will be traveling across the country to hold rallies, too, because that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Just read the letter to see if you can spot more instances than I did of:

    • Claims of victimhood (total 13), including from Democrats in general (4) and as socialists (2), those with demonization of Chuck Schumer (1), Nancy Pelosi (2) and Adam Schiff (1), plus general “they hate me” and “it’s not fair” whining (3).
    • Whining about the biased, liberal fake news (all their words – I counted 4 instances)
    • Claims of winning – so much winning! – laced with great fantasy (7)
    • Appeals to “real Americans” (2) and desperation over the future of the country if Trump doesn’t win (1)
    • Begging for money (5), not counting the begging in the manipulative survey.

Go ahead and download the Trump/RNC miserable manuscript of manipulation here. That’s when the fun starts. See if you can you find more examples than I did in my once-through. What are your counts? Put ’em in the Comments section.

The winner of this first ever Counting Just For Fun contest will win an all expense paid trip to your mailbox to see if you receive the next flagrantly dishonest fundraiser from the Whiner in Chief. If you do, please send a copy to me at [email protected] and we’ll all have another round of contest fun.

Extra Credit Opportunity!

For extra credit see how many outright lies you can spot. I found 12.

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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.

How The Country Was Lost – in Retrospect


Reading time – 4:03  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Buy and read this book. Click on it.

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

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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.

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Here’s the Smidgen More

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

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

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

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

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

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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.

Eulogy


*  *  *  BREAKING NEWS  *  *  *

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Profiles in Cowardice


Reading time – 3:47  .  .  .

Alan Dershowitz has never seen an opportunity for attention that he didn’t covet. He hasn’t exhausted his reservoir of outrageousness, nor fully plumbed the hollowness of his integrity; however, he may have come close last week.

As a member of Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, Dershowitz proclaimed the absence of Constitutional guardrails limiting a president, a concept that isn’t just outside the mainstream; it bears no resemblance to the Constitution at all.

Alan Dershowitz told the world that if a president believed that his/her reelection was in the best interests of the country that they could do whatever they wanted to do in order to ensure their reelection – including the soliciting of foreign interference in our electionand it would not be impeachable!

Apparently, in DershowitzLand there aren’t any limits on what presidents can do, so perhaps they really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not be subject to prosecution or impeachment.

This is the same nonsense as Richard Nixon telling David Frost, “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” That’s Kim Jong Un murdering anyone he’s a little cross with today. That’s Vladimir Putin killing political rivals in Red Square. And Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milošević, Josef Stalin and all the other murderous, genocidal, ethnic cleansing maniacs getting away with what they do because there are no guardrails. That’s Trump saying, “Then, I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Dershowitz is telling us that Trump is correct and 53 Republican senators are refusing to say “NO!” If this craziness comes to pass, they will have invited dictatorial brutality into America. Not today and maybe not tomorrow, but not too many tomorrows from now. Can the very despotism that the Founders rebelled against be far away?

I can’t handle the ache it would cause to fully refute Dershowitz’s stupid, idiotic, unpatriotic befouling of the Constitution. The point for now is the cowardice he displays by sucking up to this president with his outlandish behavior.

Professor Dershowitz is not alone in his Constitution demolition efforts. His un-American words were compounded by defense attorney Patrick Philbin’s argument that, “American politicians can accept damaging information on their opponents from a foreign country.” Yes, he’s telling us that it’s okay for foreign governments to contaminate our elections and that America is for sale to the highest bidder.

Patrick Philbin is just as cowardly and just as guilty as Alan Dershowitz in claiming idiotic views of the Constitution that would have gotten them both laughed off the Senate floor just a generation ago. Adam Schiff called this craziness, “The normalization of lawlessness.” Schiff is right.

And let’s recognize what the Republican senators are doing as they sit in quiet cowardice, shooing the Constitution off a cliff with their refusal to acknowledge truth and stand up to this lawless president.

I still can’t get my head wrapped around the fact that there had to be a debate over whether there would be witnesses and documentary evidence presented in this trial. Why was this ever a question? How do these senators manage to look in a mirror, knowing they have sold their souls for a handful of beans?

On the other hand, the beans really are magic. They ward off Trump calling these senators mean names and lets them keep their seats in Congress. Yes, that does mean that for each of them, their seat in Congress is more important to them than democracy and their oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Tough beans for the rest of us.

Of course, this is all about Trump and his base, as exemplified by Rex Huppke’s “humor-ish” piece (that’s what he calls it) in the Chicago Tribune.

“As a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, I demand that Republican senators in charge of the upcoming impeachment trial swiftly acquit the commander in chief before any more truth leaks out.”

“The last thing we need is to see a great president, who we Trump supporters have built up to be an avatar of American strength and decency, get knocked down by stupid things like facts.”

This is supposed to be a caricature of Trump supporters. Clearly, though, our Republican senators are acting as though these are their marching orders.

A minimum of 75% of Americans wanted witnesses and documentary evidence brought before the Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial. 51 senators rejected it.

Q. How could the Senate refuse the wishes of three-quarters of the American people?

A. The same way they refuse the wishes of 92% of the American people who want gun safety legislation.

Add these cowardly senators to Dershowitz and Philbin and we are left with three profiles in cowardice and precious little to protect us from a dictator the Founders feared.

Here’s a clip from the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop that illustrates the Republicans’ relationship to facts and reality. Think of Paul Reiser’s character as today’s American people and Eddie Murphy’s character as the Congressional Republicans.

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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.

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.

Put Them in RDP


Reading time – 4:02  .  .  .

We’ve had years of hearing Donald Trump say whatever came into his fraudulent head and many of us are way past shock and indignation. We see that’s just the criminal, disconnected-from-reality way he rolls and it’s become what we expect. But he’s infected pundits and members of Congress who now ignore reality so well and who are so facile with rationalizations that they no longer recognize when they’re just making up crap. Reference: the impeachment trial defense team.

We now have governing by gaslighting and these reality deniers have infected the 38% voting bloc that has adopted their practices. We may soon hear a thundering claim of a flat Earth, a serious proposal for a National Alchemy Act and the burning of witches.

Often we’re slow to figure out that we aren’t dealing with reality. For example, we didn’t do a good a job with the war on drugs. It was based on lies and was heavily weighted against non-white people. Essentially, it was and is a tool of suppression, not unlike any Jim Crow law, giving us the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A consciousness of that hypocrisy has started and at last we’re doing something to bring us back to actual reality. It’s taken half a century for us to recognize the facts.

Now we’re in the midst of the impeachment trial of the Criminal in Chief. The blindingly fast stampede away from actual reality (e.g. promoting the totally debunked Russian propaganda story of Ukrainian interference in our 2016 election) being done by Trump’s supporters is astonishing in its vehemence and audacity. They deny documented actions. At the same time they admit that Trump did those very things, but claim they aren’t impeachable offenses. But really, now, they can’t have it both ways.

They deny Trump’s solicitation of foreign government interference in our upcoming election (read Federalist 68 for an adjustment back to reality – see the pertinent paragraph below), even though his own words and actions show us plainly that’s what he did. Hugh Hewitt, a man who otherwise appears to be conscious, claimed this on Meet The Press last Sunday – watch starting around the 1:00 minute mark for a fine example of departure from reality.

Majority Leader McConnell claimed that the impeachment trial process that he created is the same as the process used in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial (not even close). That and a thousand other distractions, whataboutisms and whining lead us ever further away from actual reality. This is the kind of blatant refusal to acknowledge fact that is poisoning our nation. The more we deny actual reality, the more difficult it will be to fix what we’ve broken and the easier it becomes for people to deny any and all reality.

Countering fantasies with facts to redirect back to what actually happens here on planet Earth is pretty much an exercise in wheel spinning; deniers are immune to logic, so it’s time for us to get tough on this craziness. I propose a War on Reality Denial. Too bad for you, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer.*

It’s time to draft a law making it a felony to knowingly promote false realities. We need a stop-and-interrogate provision. Playing off Donald Trump’s invitation to police officers, it’s okay if perps routinely get roughed up during questioning.

There will be mandatory sentencing to prevent wussy judges from undermining the program. And there will be a 3-strikes rule, just like in the war on drugs and the war on crime. I want to see repeat offenders put away for a long time. And while they are there we won’t provide training or rehabilitation, so that when they are released, recidivism will be their reality. That will let us keep them locked up even longer. And because reality denial offenders are primarily white I want to see these laws disproportionately enforced on them.

Science and education are under attack in this country from many angles, but the overriding issue is the wholesale denial of reality. Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel and move this legislation right past our fact contradicting politicians and send them where they belong: to RDPReality Denial Prison.

One bright spot: Yesterday I was once again a judge in the local middle school science fair. Seventh and eighth grade students proudly strutted their science stuff with a wanton embracing of reality. These kids learn and use the scientific method – you know, factual, testable real world reality. They are our hope.

Useful stuff: Because of what I learned at the science fair, check with me to learn about the best batteries, the fastest seed germination methods and ways to marginally increase memory performance. Also, I can now tell you which colors improve test performance and why a recording of your own voice doesn’t sound like you.  These kids teach me a lot every year.


Resources:

Alexander Hamilton warned us about factional (i.e. partisan) lunacy in impeachment trials in Federalist 65**. Click through for the complete essay. Here’s the pertinent paragraph:

“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Have a look here for an interesting take on impeachment from the Harvard Law Review that will open your eyes. It might even poke at a cherished notion or two.

From a recent Lawfare brief:

”  .  .  .  the Founders had a broader conception of bribery than what’s in the criminal code. Their understanding was derived from English law, under which bribery was understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest. This definition not only encompasses Trump’s conduct—it practically defines it.”

*From Federalist 68:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter [sic], but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” [emphasis mine]

Maybe our “originalist” (interpreting the Constitution as the Founders intended) senators could stop denying this reality  .  .  .  ?

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*“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” Edward Abbey. Thanks go to MG.

————————————


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.

Adjunct Quiz*


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

WARNING: SNARK AHEAD

Question 1:

What do you get when you combine the bottomless need for attention of Donald Trump and Alan Dershowitz with the boundary-less conceit and snark of Jay Sekulow, the arrogance and disingenuousness of Pam Bondi, the fanatical, hypocritical self-righteousness of Ken Starr and all of that is paraded on television and before the Senate of the United States of America, where all the senator-jurors have already made up their minds whether they will both recognize and accept Earth-based reality? Important note: Answers containing biologically impossible acts are not allowed.

Question 2:

Where is (the thankfully former) Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) now that we need him in the Senate gallery during the impeachment trial to blurt repeatedly at Trump’s defense team, “YOU LIE!“?

Question 3:

Richard Nixon claimed that, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Compare and contrast that with Trump claiming, “The law is on my side, the President can’t have a conflict of interest,” and also that the Constitution gives him, “the right to do anything I want.” Factor into your answer that the Constitution specifically contradicts these statements, that Nixon was forced out of office in disgrace – by Republicans – and that those claims are really stupid. Citing Article II of the Constitution in your answer is mandatory. Extra credit will be given for answers that rhyme.

Question 4:

What is the commonality among these things:

    1. The foreshortened arguments of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, roughly half of which will occur after most Americans are asleep
    2. The pledge under oath of the Majority Leader to be impartial in the impeachment trial, yet he has declared he would be in “total coordination” with the White House?
    3. The refusal of the Senate to have given Merrick Garland a hearing as a nominee to become a justice of the Supreme Court
    4. Hundreds of bills that have passed the house and are now in sloppy stacks on the floor of the Senate Majority Leader’s office.

Earn an extra 5 points each for the use of “turtle,” “Moscow,” and “grim reaper” in your answer.

Question 5:

1. Taking into consideration all federal, state and local courts, in what percentage of trials in the United States are witnesses and/or documentary evidence explicitly and unconditionally prohibited?

2. Taking into consideration all federal, state and local courts, in what percentage of trials in the United States are witnesses and/or documentary evidence produced after prosecution and defense arguments are completed?

Use a No. 2 pencil for both sections of this question and show your work. Winking face and googly eye emojis are allowed.

Question 6:

Of the eight primary Founding Fathers (George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Jay), which of them would be most horrified by what Donald Trump has done to this nation and most shocked by the cowardice of the members of Congress who have steadfastly refused to hold Trump accountable? Include in your answer appropriate reference to the Founders’ abominable experience with King George III and their justified abhorrence of rule by despot. References in your answer to The Federalist Papers is both allowed and, if appropriately cited, that will be really impressive and cool.

Answer hint: Choose “All of the above.”

Question 7:

What is the date of the general election in 2020? Use of a Google search is permitted for this question.

Question 8:

Extra credit opportunities:

Five points for each criminal offense you can list which Donald Trump has committed since starting his campaign for the presidency

Ten points for each Constitutional violation you can name that Trump has committed

Fifteen points for each purple state senator you can name who is up for reelection this November and right now is scared out of his/her skin because they are facing the possibility of having to get a real job in 2021

If you do an excellent job with this question it is possible to achieve a score greater than 100%. Pat yourself on the back.

The first person to answer all questions correctly will have a gold sticker of his/her likeness placed on the title page of all copies of the Constitution to be printed in the future. Further, following Trump’s eviction from the White House, the winner will be given a seat in the gallery at Trump’s first money laundering and fraud trial, plus a Whoopee Cushion imprinted with the words “BIG SUCK” to put on Mitch McConnell’s chair.

All persons who are at least 18 years of age and a citizen of the United States are required to take and pass this adjunct quiz and vote on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Oops – I gave away the answer to Question 7. All participants will receive a red, white and blue “I voted” sticker and the thanks of a grateful nation.

WARNING: If you fail to participate in this adjunct quiz and, most important, its associated election, there may not be another election.


*Adjunct quiz:
  1. a test added to the main and most important event
  2. an examination intended as an orienting supplement
  3. a “Hey, wake up!” message
  4. having a little fun with dopes and babies

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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