Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

Integrity

January 20th, 12:00 PM


Reading time – 2:36; Viewing time – 3:25  .  .  .

Washington DC

There have been years of outright lying, manipulation and the sowing of hatreds to divide Americans from one another.

The Justice Department has been polluted and has compromised the Constitution.

Department Secretaries with vested, greedy interests have been posted to subvert the intent of the agencies they lead.

The courts have been packed with incompetents and ideologues.

The Department of Defense leadership has been given over to ignorant sycophants of the President.

The agency that brilliantly fought in cyberspace for our election integrity has been decapitated.

The intelligence agencies have been infested with know-nothings of worrisome security risk.

The former President was impeached for extortion and obstruction of Congress, but nearly all of the Republican senators, in an unconscionable act of subservience, did what they always do: they collapsed into pitiful, spineless blobs and refused to stand up to the criminal and convict him. They refused to even look at the evidence.

The former President wailed phantasmagorical fantasies, claiming he won the election. He brayed vacuous accusations of voting fraud everywhere, especially accusing minority cities, while providing no evidence at all. That’s because voting fraud didn’t happen, so his dozens of lawsuits were laughed out of court. At the same time he reveled in his victimhood, his most consistent whine. It was all in an effort to subvert the will of the people, to retain power to which he was not entitled and to draw ever more cash contributions from his followers.

Worst of all, he incited a riot of insurrection and sedition, hoping to knee cap Congress and stay in power. That resulted in desecration of the Capitol Building, threats to the safety of every member of Congress and 5 people were killed. That led to his richly deserved second impeachment.

The large, 15 stripes flag that inspired the lyrics of the US national anthem when it flew above Fort McHenry in the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Click the pic for more.

There have been far more efforts to undermine and crush our democracy by the former President and his faithless enablers. But a few good people and the Constitution have stood in the way of his anti-democracy malfeasance, such that our democracy has survived this four-year-long dark night.

Even in the face of the former President’s war against this country we now have a new President and a new Vice-President, as directed by the Constitution.

It was said long ago:

“And the rocket’s red glare,

“The bombs bursting in air,

“Gave proof through the night

“That our flag was still there.”

Our flag is still there. And it’s up to those of us who believe in democracy to do the hard work to stop the lie and keep our flag flying.

Today, this day, we gather the scattered blocks and begin to build anew.

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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Three Questions, One Answer and A Snow Job


1. Question

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was widely praised for standing up to President Trump by refusing to “find” 11,780 votes for Trump.

Question: When did the bar get set so low that just refusing to commit a felony was cause for praise and celebration?

2  Question

The end of Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution reads:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the end of their next Session. [emphasis mine]

Question: Trump has been allowed to appoint “acting” secretaries of Executive departments and avoid Senate scrutiny for nearly all of his presidency. Why weren’t his unconfirmed picks challenged when their clocks ran out?

3. A Question and An Answer

How is it that thousands of Americans rioted, defacing and violating the people’s seat of government and threatening murder, yet they see themselves as true patriots, even as they were clearly violating the Constitution and the law?

I have at least a partial answer for that one: These people have grievances that are very real to them. You might not like or agree with all of them, but they are powerful for these people.

For example, they really dislike being insulted and dismissed as “deplorables” by “elites.” They respond to that dumping of humiliation exactly as you would. And they most certainly don’t like being lied to, especially by people with a lot of money, which includes members of Congress, as they see it.

For decades politicians have been promising to bring back good jobs, the manufacturing jobs that pay well and allow for a solid middle class life for them and their families. Instead, they’ve watched as town after town lost their strongest employers and their towns became boarded up shells of what they once were.

It’s a huge impact on them to have their economic security undermined. They’re just like you in wanting to be self-sufficient and not needing to be dependent on others. I was reminded of that recently when I delivered a neighborhood collection of groceries to the local food bank. One of the workers told me how humiliated people feel when they have become dependent on handouts to feed their families.

You won’t like the next example.

Over their lifetimes these angry people have seen the increase in power and status for non-whites, women, religious minorities and concessions made to immigrants. To white men viewing everything through a zero-sum lens, that means less power, status and opportunity for them. They see the superior position that they believe is rightfully theirs being compromised and incrementally being taken away.

Yes, that’s racist, misogynist and xenophobic. But it’s threatening to these people and a powerful inducement to rebel. For additional clarification, refer to The American Civil War, which, clearly, isn’t over. We have to find better ways.

There’s far more, of course. Just get that people only act as they did on January 6 for powerful reasons and those reasons don’t include their being stupid. I urge you to read Thomas Edsall’s compilation of insights from expert thought leaders in his piece, “White Riot“.

As much as I insist on accountability, we urgently need to deal with our realities in more ways than just locking up the perps. We need to deal with the root causes of the anger and desperation that drive people to act in this most unpatriotic and dangerous way. Otherwise, we will be condemned to a never ending cycle of hate, violence and suffering.

4. A Snow Job

In the debate over the article of impeachment in the House of Representatives on January 13 I heard Republicans oppose it by invoking:

    • The Wright brothers (yes, really)
    • There is grievous harm being done to Republicans when they are confronted in public by meanies.
    • There was violence and vandalism done at BLM protests.
    • A list of imagined Trump good stuff was recited.
    • There were meanies who wanted Trump impeached from the beginning of his presidency.
    • Moon landings (yes, really)
    • Claims that Trump was cleared of conspiracy and extortion in the Ukraine affair (not true).
    • Claims that Trump was exonerated by the Mueller Report (not true).
    • Nancy Pelosi is a meanie.
    • Republicans are poor victims of a double standard. Woe is them. So unfair. They’re victims. Feel sorry for them. (Yes, they pretty much said those things.)
    • Swift justice is unfair.
    • This is a great country.
    • The economy.
    • Yeah, but Democrats are bad guys, too (the “false equivalence” and “dirty hands” defenses).
    • Trump didn’t conspire with the Russians.
    • Trump didn’t incite violence because all he did was to decry election fraud.
    • The bill of impeachment is a fraud against the people of the United States.
    • Impeachment will be divisive.
    • Trump wanted peaceful protest.
    • The protesters were peaceful. (Seriously, a duly elected congressman said this just days after the rioting mob was looking for him in order to kill him.)
    • There is illegal immigration going on.
    • BLM was founded by Marxists.
    • Democrats have encouraged and endorsed violence.
    • Democrats support defunding the police and taking everyone’s guns.
    • Republicans are victims.
    • We’re in a race to the bottom and we need to do better.
    • The president didn’t incite violence.
    • It’s time to put people over power.
    • This isn’t due process. (Actually, that’s correct, although dumb to say. Per the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, due process happens in the Senate.)
    • Can’t we all just get along? This needs to be a time of healing.
    • Democrats are hypocrites.
    • Impeachment will start us down the path of cleansing political speech.
    • Democrats have just realized that riots are bad.
    • We shouldn’t waste time on this and instead should get to work on issues for the American people.
    • There are only 7 days left in Trump’s term.
    • Impeachment will offend the people who voted for Trump.
    • This is just an effort to divide the nation.
    • Democrats are hypocrites.
    • None of the rioters has been asked if they rioted because the president told them to do so.
    • Impeachment is a political act.
    • Democrats are hypocrites – seriously, we really mean it, which is why we repeat ourselves.
    • Two wrongs [impeachments] don’t make a right.
    • Democrats oppose free speech.
    • Trump is pro-life and America First. Democrats hate that.
    • There is a double standard regarding people committing violence.
    • The other side only wants to attack and demean.
    • It’s not fair.
    • Democrat committee chairs lied; Republicans didn’t.
    • The assault on the Capitol was pre-planned, but that isn’t included in the articles of impeachment.
    • Trump did a lot to make America great.
    • We need to tone down the volume and heal the nation.
    • The Capitol police deserve our applause. (Actually, that line got applause.)
    • Many Lincoln quotes were quoted. (Nevertheless, he did not make an appearance.)
    • We should seek higher ground.

The old saying is that if the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If neither the facts nor the law is on your side, pound on the table.

The list above, all from Republican congresspeople, is nothing more than pounding on the table. A few statements might be true; still, they miss the point.

THE ONLY ISSUE before the House in this hearing was whether Donald Trump urged violent insurrection and sedition against the Constitution of the United States and whether he should be impeached for his actions. It was not about any of the distractions listed above.

Not even a single Republican congressman/woman opposed the impeachment on the merits. Not one.

With the exception of the 10 Representatives who stood strong for the Constitution, these whining Republicans haven’t the courage to call out the traitorous acts that put lives and our democracy at risk. Again. They violated their supposedly sacred oath of office to protect and defend. Again. They put on display their profound moral incompatibility with truth. Again. A 2016 word comes to mind to describe these representatives: deplorable. And I’m no elite.

Now conspiracy hangs in the air, as we begin to uncover evidence of members of Congress giving tours – reconnaissance missions – to insurrectionists the day before the insurrection, and of Capitol police opening doors and removing barricades for the intruders. As ugly as things are now, they are going to become far uglier.

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Best Quote

Thanks to NK for offering this:

“[2020 was] like looking both ways before crossing the
street and then getting hit by a submarine.”


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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Ledge


She tried to talk me off the ledge, but I only moved back a bit.

It was late in the afternoon and I was suiting up for walking the dog on a cold January day, muttering under my breath and slamming drawers that had done me no wrong.

“What’s the matter?” she asked in her gentle way.

“I’m mad as hell and not fit to be with. Please respect yourself by staying away from me. I’m so damned mad I’m trying to stay away from myself.”

She insisted on walking with me, so instead of grunting to myself as I walked the dog, I spoke mostly complete sentences.

I’m so goddamn mad that 4,000 of my countrymen are dying every day. President Doesn’t Give a Shit told us of his level of care directly, saying, “I’m not responsible for anything.” That comment was aimed specifically at anything having to do with our mass death pandemic, so of course I don’t expect any action from him to protect and defend the American people – you know, the ones dying at the rate of 4,000 per day?

But there’s a commission specifically tasked with distributing vaccines and getting them into the arms of Americans and now weeks after vaccines were available we’ve managed to vaccinate just 9 million people, while tens of millions more vaccine doses are sitting uselessly in freezers.

And 4,000 of us are dying every day. That’s one every 22 seconds. Go ahead – look at your watch or iPhone timer and count off the deaths. One every 22 seconds.

And every single one of those deaths is somebody’s mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or brother or sister or son or daughter or friend or co-worker or neighbor or the guy at the convenience store. Those who have died lost their lives. The survivors have lost their hearts.

And that goddamn incompetent distribution commission continues to bumble.

That’s why I’m furious.

Now President Burn It All Down has incited insurrection – sedition. He’s attempted to neuter the Congress, to violate every voter and take over the country in order to become a fascist dictator. His mobs have the same certainty that they are on the side of justice and what’s right, that they’re the true patriots and that God is on their side as does al Qaeda and ISIS and the World War II Nazis and the Hutu’s and Slobodan Milosevic’s army of ethnic cleansing thugs and all the rest of the genocidal maniacs.

This time the terrorists, the killers and the rampagers are our countrymen.

Our domestic terrorists believe they’re the true good guys because President Burn It All Down has told them so. He’s told them he loves them. Here’s what I’ll tell you.

We’ve always had our significant minority of citizens who hate, who dearly love to hate. I want to be bigger than this, but the truth is that right now I hate them. I fantasize about violently dragging those slimes off the walls of our Capitol Building and of beating the hell out of the vandals who beat the hell out our beautiful windows and doors of that building. I want to smash those who are trying to smash our Constitution.

My dad and 16.5 million of his generation served in the military in World War II. 405,399 of them died in Europe to end Nazism. On behalf of my dad and his compatriots in that awful war, our Greatest Generation says loud and clear that you goddamn neo-Nazis are an American disgrace. You are everything we know to be wrong.

That’s why I’m so damned angry.

In some ways what is even worse is the cabal of hypocritical, cowardly, manipulating cretins in Congress who have enabled and even encouraged the hate and violence, not out of some warped sense of patriotism, but for individual, stupidly selfish personal gain. We’ve known of their treachery for years and they have gotten away with it.

That’s why I’m livid.

The thing is, there are a lot of truly patriotic Americans on that ledge with me. That doesn’t ease my anger, but they and I know right from wrong and will not stand for anything less than full punishment for those who did these awful things. I expect that a lot of us will continue to be on that ledge until the balance of justice is restored.

Meanwhile, the domestic terrorists have promised more violence and hate in DC and in our state capitols this weekend and on Inauguration Day. So,

Memo to DHS, the National Guard and all the agencies that somehow managed to come out and beat the hell out of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer:

Show up and do your job this time. I don’t give a damn what President Doesn’t Give a Shit or Burn It All Down says to you. Do your goddam job.

On January 6 they failed us. They failed to do their job. Now the Capitol Building is desecrated and four more people are dead.

That’s why I’m on the ledge.


Late Additions

Three congressmen/women have tested positive for COVID-19 following their sheltering in place with Republican congressmen/women who arrogantly, selfishly, stupidly refused to wear masks. They should be chained to the wall of the darkest, moldiest part of the basement of the Capitol Building and left there until they fervently apologize for their cruelty to others and swear to comply with the simple public health directions of the CDC for the duration. It will be okay to feed them gruel once per week until they repent.

Watch/listen to what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say about the attempted overthrow of our government.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Government Hall of Shame


While traitors attacked our democracy, we were killing 4,000 Americans with COVID-19 every day. Somehow, four 9/11s every three days – one gasping death every 22 seconds – got overshadowed. That’s how insane things are.

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Be sure to read to the end for a poem for our time.


We start with the obvious.

Sedition – 18 U.S.C. § 2384:

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

Benedict Arnold

You could have stopped reading in the middle of the second line above at “conspire to overthrow,” because that’s what scheming to fraudulently reverse an election is. And the sedition guilt isn’t in the overthrowing; it’s in the conspiring. The conversation is all it takes to earn 20 years in prison. Still, feel free to be motivated by the “seize, take, or possess” part as well, and apply that to Trump’s incitement to riot, vandalize and seize the entire Capitol Building. Seriously, is there any part of this that isn’t clearly worthy of a Benedict Arnold award?

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State

If you take the time to read the transcript or listen to the audio recording of the phone call Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last weekend (yes, that was just 8 days ago), you’ll hear Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attempting to persuade, cajole, muscle and threaten Raffensperger into fabricating 11,780 votes in order to award the election to Trump. Attempting to overthrow an election and toss out the votes of millions of Americans is an affront to any sense of democracy and is illegal on its face.

So is inciting violence, beginning with calls to beat up protesters at his rallies starting in 2015 and his Charlottesville “good people on both sides” declaration in 2017. So is inciting people to riot, like inviting the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to storm the Capitol Building during the recording of the Electoral College votes. His continuing shameful calls to violence were the training wheels for his calls to sedition on January 6. All of this whipping up of mobs is what fascists do. And, because this is a democracy, that’s why all of that is illegal.

How illegal, how un-American, how outrageous does a crime spree have to be until we at last say, “No more. Not now; not ever“? Failing to do so will invite far worse from the next megalomaniac to hoodwink our country.

So, shame on Trump, of course. But shame on us if we let him get away with his crimes.

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The senators and congressmen listed below (someone called them the Sedition Congress – and no, there isn’t a “both sides” argument) promised to do all they can to subvert the will of the people by overturning a free and fair election. Each of them swore on a Bible to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, including some brand new legislators, whose very first official act in office was to betray their supposedly solemn oath. That happened after mutinous, faithless thousands stormed the Capitol Building to undermine our democracy.

Their claim of fraud is the very same non-existent fraud that Trump made up and blabbered all across MAGA-Land. It’s all fake. It’s all treachery. It’s all lies. And these Republicans broadcast those lies from the halls of the Congress of the United States.

There is speculation as to why these turncoats would stand up in Congress and declare to the world and for all history that they themselves are seditionists. I am certain that ignorance of reality is not the reason. They know that Trump lost the election fairly and that there was no fraud. The only way for them to weasel out of guilt for betraying our country is if they are truly delusional – mentally ill – and believe that elections are only valid if their preferred candidate wins. But contagious mental illness contracted only by Republicans just isn’t what’s going on.

January 6 , 2021, U.S. Capitol Building – The flag of treason, our lowest moment as Americans.

They want to avoid getting tweet-trashed by Trump before their next reelection campaign. That might avoid their getting primaried by a gold plated Trump suck up and that might help them to keep their jobs.

Theirs is a job that pays $174,000 per year and gets them free healthcare and free parking at Reagan National Airport. I hope our adversaries like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China don’t realize how cheap it would be to get these sell-outs to sell out.

They have turned their backs on the Constitution and their formerly sacred word. And they’ve done all that and worse for the self-serving possibility that Trump’s base will vote for them in their next election.

Is it any wonder that approval and respect for Congress is just 15%? That means that 85% of Americans disapprove of Congress. Now we know what it takes to get bipartisanship.

Here Are Your 2021 Government Hall of Shame Inductees
Heap Shame and Scorn Upon Them as Befits Their Absence of Integrity

________________________________________________________________________

Senate

Sen. Tommy Tuberville                             Sen. Cynthia Lummis                            Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith                              Sen. John Kennedy                              Sen. Josh Hawley

Sen. Rick Scott                                           Sen. Roger Marshall

And, of course, the Chief Perp, Donald Trump

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A Poem For Our Time

A mob of the MAGA persuasion

Conducted a Capitol invasion.

Though possibly armed,

They parted unharmed,

And that’s how you know they’re Caucasian.

– Lindsey Horner

– @NoMorBS1958

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—————————————-

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Insurrection


Reading time – 2:49; Viewing time – 3:49  .  .  .

Updated 1/9/21 – see Last Question above the end photo.

Hatred and distrust of government didn’t start with Ronald Reagan saying, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” There was plenty of ill feeling about government long before then, but he did a great job of fanning the flames to ensure there were a lot of pissed off people who would vote for the Republicans who fed their biases.

That pattern has continued all the way to today, but there are stark differences. Now there is no facet of reality that is safe from attack and denial if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there is no lie too obscene to tell if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there are politicians lying their asses off in supplication to the Insurrectionist-In-Chief. They do that because that’s how they think they’ll keep their jobs, retain a sense of power and inflate their egos.

And their refusal to stand up to what they know with certainty is wrong encourages more and worse destruction of our democracy and our national safety.

Hate-filled, angry mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. The felons trespassed, rioted, vandalized, threatened, disrupted democracy, planted at least one bomb in the Capitol Building and four people died in their insurrection. I just have a few questions about all that.

  1. Trump invited angry mobs to show up that day, including the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. Their arrival was no surprise to anyone. The authorities had days – perhaps weeks- to prepare. Why were they totally unprepared and grossly short of manpower to deal with the lawbreakers? Note that this happened on federal property, so it wasn’t a DC Police issue. Somebody in the federal government failed us all.
  2. Why wasn’t the DC National Guard stationed around the Capitol Building by 6:00AM? Everyone knew an angry mob was going to show up.
  3. Where were the Homeland Security thugs who terrorized Portland, Milwaukee and other cities last summer? The excuse given for sending them to those cities was to protect federal property. By that logic, there was no better place for them to be on January 6 than at the Capitol Building, but they were nowhere to be seen.
  4. Why were there so few arrests made? Most were for curfew violations, not insurrection. Why aren’t the DC jails jammed full of perps?
  5. What do you think would have happened if that same number of protesters showed up, but instead of being right wingnuts they were Black Lives Matter protesters, like the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park last summer that Trump brutalized and excoriated?
  6. Where are the cops in riot gear with the scary black SWAT vehicles to intimidate the bad guys?

There is a lot to learn and there are new procedures to establish, but the most urgent, critical action is:

Impeach Donald Trump immediately so that
he can never again hold federal office.

Oh, wait: that would require Senate Republicans to find a spine.

Never mind.

In a different moment of far right hate and bile spewing, John Lewis implored, “We’re better than this.”

In his address yesterday Joe Biden said, “This is not who we are.” I have news for both of them.

We are not better than this. But we could be.

And this is exactly who we are. But we don’t have to be this way.

Last question (for now)

Just suppose that Russia participated in this insurrection and had agents in the crowd. Given their years of cyber invasion, that seems likely. On a lower level of the Capitol Building are vaults containing some of America’s most critical and vital secrets. So,

Did the Russian bad guys access our national security information? And if so, what would you like to say to the flag waving insurrectionists who assaulted democracy, made way for the foreign spies, yet who stunningly believe themselves to be true patriots?

“When fascism comes to America it will be wearing a flag and carrying a cross.” – Henry Wallace, FDR’s second Vice President

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Action Required


Trump has abandoned nearly all presidential duties since November 3. What’s missing from this list?

Reading time – 3:09  .  .  .

You’ve seen the visuals of miles of cars in line to get a little food from food banks. People are waiting in line for hours because they can’t feed their families without assistance, so you already have a sense of the need. These are our friends and neighbors hit hard by forces beyond their control, so it doesn’t take much effort to imagine yourself in such a situation. You can feel the horror, because if circumstances were slightly different, it could be your kids going hungry. Here’s an idea for how to make things a bit better for those who desperately need things to be better.

We have a family tradition of doing a holiday talent show, where each of us gets up and does a 3-minute routine to entertain us all. It’s great fun. Be sure to ask me about my grandchildren’s amazing talents, like solving a Rubik’s Cube in under 1.5 minutes or reciting the alphabet backwards in under 4 seconds or doing magic tricks.  There was some discussion that this year’s event was perhaps the best, in spite of having to do it via Zoom.

What’s important is that at the end of each of our shows we discuss what we’ll do with the money we’ve all contributed throughout the year to a big jar sitting on a table by our front door. What’s in that jar is the funding for our family philanthropy project, designed both to help those in need and to instill in the young ‘uns a sense of duty to others. Sadly, this year nobody came through our front door to toss money into the jar – just another casualty of Covid.

What we did instead is to noodle at the end of our talent show Zoom about the massive hunger problem we have across the country and what our little tribe might do to help. What we came up with is to place a donation box in front of our house and ask the people in the neighborhood to pitch in food and then donate it to the local food bank. We already checked and learned that they’ll accept unopened cans and boxes of food still this side of their expiration date. We sent an email blast to the neighborhood yesterday and are looking forward to hauling boxes of food to where it will do some good.

You can help that way, too. Maybe you have better ideas. The point is to do something. Take action: children are hungry.

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The warm-ish weather is gone and in the mid-west the party is over: it’s cold. If you know someone who needs a safe, warm place to escape the winter weather, visit KeepWarm.Illinois.gov to find a warming center nearby. If you live outside of Illinois, find the safe places in your state and pass them along to those who need one or those who might know who needs help. Just do a search of “warming shelters state” (substitute your state name for “state”). The point is to do something! Take action: children are cold.

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Just It Figured Out

I’ve found it most curious that in this peculiar time when the President of the United States is ignoring every presidential duty that he would suddenly and belatedly become interested in the Covid relief bill and insist on direct payments being increased from $600 to $2,000. This is the same president who refused to become involved in negotiations over this issue for 8 months. This is the same president who told us the economy was doing great, as millions applied for unemployment aid. This is the same president who refused for a year to lead the nation in a full court press to minimize the suffering and death due to this disease. Why would he suddenly want to provide greater financial benefit to We the People?

I’ve heard pundits speculate that the reason for his sudden interest in aid to suffering people is to instigate yet more chaos, one of his favorite activities. Sounds plausible.

Maybe he wants to look like a last minute (actually, past the last minute) hero. Foolish, but plausible.

Some kindhearted folks have suggested that he’s just realized the scale of the human suffering in this country and cares deeply about people going hungry or becoming homeless. Does not sound plausible at all when ascribed to a totally self-absorbed sociopath with a perfect record of ignoring the needs of others.

Many have simply scratched their heads. I get that. But I think I’ve just figured this out.

Trump has done all he can to make the transition difficult for the Biden team. He’s booby-trapped every door to every department of the Executive Branch. He’s stopped or slow walked cooperation. He’s removed knowledgeable people who could help the incoming administration. And he’s done all he can to make governing difficult for Biden after January 20, 2021, which brings us to the $2,000 mystery.

Any increase in benefits to Americans likely won’t happen through this Congress. It’s too late for that and McConnell won’t bring it to the floor for a vote. That bill will pass to the new Congress to do the right thing. That will give Republicans and Trump the opportunity to excoriate Democrats controlling the House and perhaps the Senate for flagrant over-spending, labeling them the profligate tax and spend demons. After all, with a Democrat in the White House, Republicans will rediscover the awfulness of deficit spending, something about which they developed amnesia when voting for the $1.5 trillion tax act in 2017.

Trump doesn’t care a bit about suffering people. This $2,000 demand is just a ploy to attack Biden and Democrats and set himself up for a 2024 run for the presidency.

Never underestimate the genius of this cruel, vicious, self-serving monster. He isn’t the president of all the people. He’s a president serving just one.

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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

No Rationalizing Allowed


Reading time – 4:05  .  .  .

Arguments abound about whether to prosecute Donald Trump once he’s out of office for his alleged extensive and nefarious lawbreaking both before and since becoming President. He may be Dear Leader to his MAGA nation followers, but in the eyes of the law he is, at best, a suspect in numerous felonious activities. What are we to do with this?

If Trump is indicted and prosecuted for his many crimes like extortion, multiple counts of obstruction of justice, money laundering, tax fraud, bank fraud and so much more, his angry followers will become yet more enraged and our national divide will surely widen. Some of the hot heads may commit violent acts including vandalism and maybe murder. After all, they are well armed and many believe that the Second Amendment is their Constitutional protection against the evils of government encroachment and is the right tool to use when they feel aggrieved. They may believe it’s their patriotic duty to violently overthrow the government, having been told repeatedly that anything that looks different from Trump World is unpatriotic. Use your own imagination to conjure what red-faced angry people might do if their cult leader is indicted. Preventing such dangerous events is a strong argument against prosecuting Trump. I think, though, that it fails to persuade and is, in fact, negotiating against ourselves. Here’s why.

Richard Nixon was clearly guilty of obstruction of justice of the congressional investigation into the Watergate “Plumbers,” the burglars who broke into the Democratic National Headquarters in what was labeled a “third rate burglary.” Nixon finally left office when Republican senators told him the jig was up and he had to resign or he would be impeached and removed from office. In other words, he was so plainly guilty of having broken laws that even Republicans couldn’t or wouldn’t protect him, so he resigned. That was good. It was also the beginning of a lot of bad.

In a tortured piece of logic that flew in the face of the rule of law, Gerald Ford granted a “full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in  .  .  .  ” That logic was:

”  .  .  .  the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.”

In other words, jeez, some people might become upset over Nixon being held to account for his criminal acts, so we should simply do nothing. So much for accountability.

Do you really want Presidents to have one of these?

Ford took a lot of heat for that pardon and was defeated in the next election, but Nixon went on a tour to rehabilitate his public image so that he could be seen as an elder statesman, rather than the felon he truly was. And that surely cranked up the get-out-of-jail-free card that we’ve issued to all tenants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since then.

Reagan negotiated with the Iranians before his 1980 election and persuaded them not to release our people who were being held hostage. He convinced the Ayatollah with promises favorable to Iran, to hold the hostages until after the election so that Reagan would more easily defeat Carter. That’s illegal, but there was no accountability.

Reagan had his fingerprints all over the Iran-Contra crimes. As close as he got to being held accountable was a reporter calling out to him as he and Nancy walked across the White House lawn from Marine 1. He cupped his hand to his ear and mouthed, “I can’t hear you,” and the scandal slipped off him as though he were coated with Teflon. No accountability.

When he was president, H.W. Bush pardoned the Iran-Contra criminals, which was doubly interesting because Bush was part of the criminal conspiracy and the cover up, so he benefited from those pardons and escaped accountability.

Clinton lied to a grand jury and got away with it. Of course, the circumstances were muddy because Ken Starr had spent 4.5 years looking under every rock for anything Clinton had ever done that might be indictable and found nothing but illicit sex in the Oval Office, which isn’t a crime. So, Starr set up Clinton by forcing him to embarrass himself by telling the truth or lying.

W. Bush got away with the torture of prisoners and lying us into 2 wars. Torturing was and is illegal. I don’t know if lying to Congress to get us into wars is illegal. It sure ought to be.

W. Bush and Cheney got away with awarding massive, no-bid contracts to Halliburton.

Obama got away with refusing to prosecute CIA people who did Bush’s torturing.

And now we have Trump violating the law over and over.

The point is that none of the perps has been held accountable , resulting in violations becoming so ordinary that we no longer expect anything to be done, other than some partisan gnashing of teeth. Refusing to hold wrong-doers accountable guarantees we’ll have more and worse wrong-doing in the future. As horrid as Trump is, I fear the felon who follows him even more.

If Trump is allowed to get away with his noxious crime spree, we can be certain that some future President will do far worse, safe in the knowledge that there will be no accountability. And in our refusing to act properly and hold leaders accountable, invoking any of our rationalized reasons in the manner of Gerald Ford, we are eliminating – demolishing – the rule of law and our very democracy that we say we hold dear.

Caving into threats from MAGA cultists would amount to that very thing. In fact, it amounts to caving in to terrorists. Absurdly, any argument against holding Trump accountable now is caving into the fears of our imagination.

Perhaps you share my preference not to have terrorists running our country. Perhaps you agree with the Founders who refused the divine right of kings and declared that this nation will never have a king. It’s why they set us up with presidents instead. Indeed, read the Declaration of Independence, specifically to review the list of abuses of power of King George III, who was never held to account except by losing a colony. That’s what we will have and perhaps far worse if we neuter the rule of law.

If we want accountability from our leaders, we must hold them accountable. No rationalizing allowed.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Numbers


The Election

The electors have voted, the election vote totals are in and they are final.

The good folks at Quinnipiac have a detailed breakdown of this information, so have a look if you’re interested. Plus, updated vote totals can also be seen here. For our purposes, what’s important is in red, because it begs the question:

How can we govern ourselves when almost 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes?

I’ll phrase that in another way, this time addressing the 60 million:

You’ve been fed lies for decades from elected officials, Fox News, conspiracy nutballs*, propagandists, Breitbart, and more. For the last 4 years (plus the campaign year of 2015) the President of the United States has stuffed your head with fantastical lies, lies claiming his greatness, lies demonizing hundreds of people who he didn’t think were sufficiently loyal to him (although their job was to be loyal to the Constitution), lies slandering millions of people, lies citing false statistics and made up facts. The President lied to you over 17 times per day for over 4 years – over 25,000 lies. Here’s your question:

How do you feel about being played for a sucker?

Perhaps you’ll hear it better this way:

How do you like being lied to?

Note that if you don’t care about being played for a sucker and you don’t mind being lied to, there’s nothing you need to do. Just go along as before, being fed lies that stoke your fear, that fire your anger, that make you distrust your neighbors and hate anyone who isn’t exactly like you. No need for that E Pluribus Unum stuff.

On the other hand, if you’re sick of being played for a sucker and you’ve had it with being lied to, welcome to Planet Earth #1. Glad to have you aboard.

Regardless of Trump’s vacuous claims, even his attorney general couldn’t find any evidence of voting fraud. The same is true for the guy who protected our election from cyber hackers. There isn’t even one state election official who could find illegal voting activities – that includes all 50 states. The election was clean. Joe Biden won fair and square. The number of frauds committed in the election is zero.

To be clear, there was cheating. There were tens of thousands of voters purged from voting roles when they should not have been. Polling places were closed, making voting difficult for many thousands of voters. There were dirty tricks to confuse voters into not voting. But all of that was done by Republican operatives for the benefit of Trump. There is no “both sides” argument. There is no room for whataboutism. That number is zero, too.

Back to the original question: How can we govern ourselves when 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes? Those 60 million people are largely angry, resentful, certain theirs is a just cause, believe they are the true patriots and oh, by the way, they own most of the guns in private hands. Did I mention that they’re angry? Plus, their elected representatives in both Congress and the state houses are terrified of them, so the number of Republican legislators those folks both listen to and who will provide leadership in the direction of the aforementioned E Pluribus Unum is zero.

Those are the numbers. President Biden, how will you govern?

The Pandemic

Here is how this killer pandemic stacks up against events we have universally called tragedies, monstrous killers and national disasters. The charts below are from December 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Those are, indeed, awful numbers. Day after day, week after week we’re given nothing from any of our Republican national leadership (the President and those in Congress) to indicate even a little concern over our massive suffering and death. Instead, we get over 50% of Republican House members signing onto the gigantically stupid lawsuit filed by the pardon-seeking attorney general of Texas, seeking to invalidate the votes of millions of citizens of four states in order to give the election to Trump. That was their focus, instead of the suffering of the American people.

Thanks, Melania, for explaining this administration and the Republicans in Congress.

As for how we’re doing relative to other countries, we already know that we’re just 4% of world population and but we have 19% of worldwide Covid deaths. It’s noteworthy that densely populated India has the second highest number of Covid deaths. Their number is 38% fewer deaths from Covid than the U.S., yet India has over 4 times as many citizens. This is not a good way for the U.S. to be number one.

Now vaccines are beginning to be available, but at least 25% of Americans are either skeptical of them or outright hostile to them. If you have reservations about taking a vaccine, given the manipulation, lying and grandstanding of the President about vaccines, given the pressure he’s put on the FDA to approve vaccines without any reasonable review, even for an Emergency Use Authorization, there is some hope.

It comes in the form of a clear explanation of what’s gone on to make it possible to develop a vaccine so quickly. It wasn’t done by cutting corners or succumbing to political pressure. It was done by years of hard work borne of developing vaccines for other pandemics, like Ebola, MERS and SARS. For some confidence building and satisfaction of your curiosity, read this piece from the BBC News. It explains the good things that happen when we trust facts, knowledge and science, instead of populist rage and manipulation.

As for interim relief for Americans suffering from personal economic devastation, Republican leadership in the Senate continues to refuse to help We the People. We have the means to alleviate much suffering, but Republicans, who couldn’t wait to give $1.5 trillion to rich people and corporations, are suddenly horrified that we might run up some debt feeding our hungry and protecting our soon-to-be-homeless people. Help was created over half a year ago, but these programs all go away within a few weeks. There are rumors that McConnell has come out of his shell and that there may be a little relief coming. But right now those are just rumors. If you have a Republican senator, be sure to lean on him/her to refuse to be stingy and instead take proper action to relieve suffering. Even if you’re doing okay, millions of others are not.

Finally, that swelling of passion you feel when you see vaccines being delivered to our heroically courageous front line healthcare workers is testament to how gut wrenching this pandemic has been. Still, the number of available vaccine doses is small and it will be months before you and the people you love will be able to be vaccinated. So, boring as it may sound at this point, keep that mask on, socially distance, wash your hands, avoid all but small gatherings and sanitize everything. We’re starting the last lap of this marathon race. This isn’t the time to stop running.

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*No, there wasn’t a child trafficking scheme operated by Hillary in the basement of a pizza parlor in DC. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School did happen. There is no plot for Jews to control the world. The Denver International Airport does not sit above an underground city housing The New World Order. The moon landing wasn’t faked. There is no evidence to support the notion that Jesus and Mary had offspring, many generations of which have been hidden in Europe. George Soros doesn’t fund Antifa and it is not a single far-left militant group. Democrats aren’t molesting and selling children. Global warming is real. The Israelis don’t use animals to spy or attack. Fluoride in our drinking water isn’t a communist plot to poison us. The earth is not flat. Elvis and JFK really are dead and are expected to stay that way for a while.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 and all of us. That’s what the Comments section below is for. Please use it to help everyone
  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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stuff I Just Don’t Get


Reading time – 3:29  .  .  .

I don’t get “pro-life.” Republicans overwhelmingly call themselves pro-life, perhaps to make anyone disagreeing with them get labeled “pro-death.” Good sloganeering, but  .  .  .

They are overwhelmingly anti-abortion. Okay, if a fetus is considered a person, that’s understandable. But the anti-abortion thing – we’ve always had abortions. Before they were legal they were mostly done in alleys and filthy rooms equipped for little more than spreading disease. Complications and possible death awaited a woman having an abortion. Women at severe risk of dying from complications due to pregnancy were kept from having an abortion and some of them died, too. Is any of that pro-life?

Republicans are also overwhelmingly in favor of capital punishment – the death penalty – killing bad guys. I have trouble seeing how our state sanctioned murder is pro-life. That’s made more poignant by the huge number of innocent people released from prison and death row through the marvelous work of The Innocence Project. Nevertheless, the current President is rushing to get half a dozen people executed before he leaves office. I don’t suppose those people would view that as very pro-life.

And what about our concentration camps on our southern border that were built at the direction of the President and tolerated by meek Republicans in Congress? People in those camps have died from heat, malnutrition and more and we’ve been stingy with our healthcare for them. Are those camps pro-life? Is our indifference to the suffering and death of our concentration camp prisoners pro-life?

From a CR report about the Safe Water Drinking Act of 2005 (AKA “The Halliburton Loophole” – you’ll want to read both of these reports), passed during the Bush-Cheney administration:

[The act] “exempts industry from having to disclose the chemicals it uses in fracking and prevents the EPA from regulating fracking fluids.

“’The purpose of the [Safe Drinking Water Act] is to protect our drinking water, and the industry that is pumping toxic chemicals, carcinogenic chemicals underground doesn’t even have to tell us what those are’.”

Those toxic chemicals are consistently leaked into the drinking water resources for human beings. And, “The oil and gas industry is also exempt from federal EPA hazardous waste regulations and Superfund regulations,” meaning they can make a toxic mess and never have to clean it up, leaving pollution and the health dangers to the rest of us. Does any of that sound very pro-life to you?

I don’t understand those pro-life Republican legislators who refuse to provide relief to hungry Americans, including 1 out of every 6 children in the country. Is that pro-life? Is the refusal to prevent upcoming evictions caused by unemployment due to the pandemic pro-life? It sure isn’t going to look that way in January when millions may be tossed out of their living quarters and onto very cold streets. That’s going to look very pro-death.

Is it pro-life to enact legislation that protects Monsanto from accountability for their product, Roundup, that has poisoned people, given users cancer and killed them?

Is it pro-life for the Republican President of the United States to refuse to lead and only do minimal things to protect Americans from the pandemic? Several studies have shown that between 75 – 99% of death from Covid could have been prevented by strong federal leadership, but that leadership never showed up and more people died unnecessarily – at least 200,000 more. That doesn’t sound very pro-life to me.

During this lame duck period the President hasn’t even mentioned the pandemic that is killing 3,000 Americans every day. And there hasn’t been a peep from Republican lawmakers calling for desperately needed leadership to mitigate the worst of this pandemic. That doesn’t sound very pro-life to me, either.

Our government repeatedly turned down opportunities to secure another 400 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, leaving us with a huge shortfall of protection for Americans and only fingers crossed that other vaccines will prove to be safe and effective. That doesn’t sound pro-life at all.

In fact, from what I can see, once a baby is born our pro-lifers don’t seem to care much about life. Perhaps they should make an honest attempt at accurate labeling and call themselves “pro-fetus only.”

Something else I don’t get  .  .  .

Literally, millions of Americans think that the pandemic is a hoax. I’m not sure what they mean by that. I have my own definition of the word “hoax” and it’s pretty much in accord with Webster’s: an act intended to trick or dupe. But I don’t get how that fits with our medical crisis.

Frank Bruni detailed this claim of Covid hoax in his piece, “Death Came for the Dakotas.” He told the story of a nurse working in a South Dakota ER. That’s South Dakota, the place with the third highest rate of death from Covid in the world. He wrote,

“She was reeling from tending to dying Covid-19 patients who continued to insist that the coronavirus was some kind of hoax.

“‘They ‘scream at you for a magic medicine’ and warn that Joe Biden will ruin America even as they’re ‘gasping for breath,’ she wrote. She added, ‘They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that “stuff” because they don’t have Covid because it’s not real.’

“‘They stop yelling at you when they get intubated,’ she wrote. ‘It’s like a horror movie that never ends.'”

That doesn’t sound to me like the pandemic is a hoax.

Click me for the story

I have asked dozens, perhaps hundreds of people to help me understand how Americans can call this pandemic a hoax, even with death all around. My question became almost silly upon hearing about people denying coronavirus even as they themselves were dying from it.

I wonder what the reaction of the deniers might be to hearing what this looks like from the point of view of a few more nurses. My notion is that if you can read that piece of reality without tearing up, if you can read it and still deny this wicked sickness, you should check your pulse immediately, because something is terribly wrong.

Let’s make a reasonable assumption that the people who deny the disease, or whatever it is that they think is a hoax, are reasonably functional adults in other aspects of their lives. They made it through school, they care for themselves and their families and are law abiding folks. Still, they deny what is right in front of their eyes and perhaps what is right in their veins and their lungs. Somewhere, somehow they are seeing a hoax. I don’t get that.

Of course, there are lots of other things I don’t get, like quantum physics, the meaning of life and whatever happened to tongue-shaped Saf-T-Pops, the ones on a loop of rope instead of a stick. Root beer was the best flavor.

But those topics are for another day. For the moment I’m more interested in explanations for the pro-life and hoax issues. Can you help?

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Oh, Kevin


New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd annually gives her Thanksgiving column space over to her brother Kevin, whom she calls a conservative. I’ve read several of his offerings and have come away with the sense that Kevin is not a conservative; he’s a Trumpy, which is distinctly not conservative. And in this year’s essay he gives us an exquisitely clear example of why it is so difficult for moderates (Republicans and Democrats alike) to have a constructive, seek-to-understand conversation with a Trumpy. That is the focus of this post.

I want to be clear that in my comments below I am cherry picking his essay, this for brevity. Here’s a link to his complete comments. Also, full disclosure: I agree with some of what Kevin wrote. Most of that is not covered here because that isn’t where the problem lies.

Here are some examples of obstacles to conversation. The wording in green is verbatim from Kevin’s essay and the substantiating data that he presents is included in the same color.

  1. Trump gave us a strong economy.
    1. Actually, the economy continued on the same trajectory from throughout the Obama years. Until it didn’t. Trump promised 4% GDP growth. Before our current recession we had an “economy like no one has ever seen,” when we had GDP growth that averaged just 2.5%. Overall it’s 1% since Trump took office. It never hit 4%.
  2. Trump achieved the lowest unemployment in 50 years.
    1. True, but  .  .  .  Actually, unemployment continued to decline on a straight line trajectory passed on from the Obama years. The best you can say for Trump is that he didn’t screw up a good thing. Until the pandemic arrived. Then he screwed up everything, including unemployment.
  3. Trump fortified the border.
    1. There were only 9 miles of new border wall constructed over the 4 years of Trump’s presidency. All the rest of the construction was replacement for old, dilapidated fencing. And Mexico hasn’t paid a dime for any of it. Does that qualify as “fortified”?
    2. Our southern border has been turned into concentration camps on the U.S. side and death in the desert on the Mexican side. Does that qualify as “fortified”?
    3. Our immigration system refuses to grant asylum to most of the people fleeing rape and death in the Central American countries they left behind. No clue how that makes our border fortified. It does make us complicit in assault and murder.
  4. Trump has guaranteed the integrity of the judicial system by appointing over 200 judges and three Supreme Court justices.
    1. Appointing judges does not guarantee integrity of the judicial system. It only guarantees butts on benches.
    2. 10 of Trump’s nominees were rated Not Qualified by the American Bar Association and 67 were rated only Qualified (i.e., they’re marginally OK warm bodies to hold down a bench).
    3. Two of Trump’s appointees had never practiced law or even been inside a courtroom. That doesn’t sound like integrity.
    4. There was a huge deficit of federal judges when Trump came to office because Mitch McConnell had shoved a stick in the spokes of judicial appointments for nearly all of the Obama years. If there was any additional integrity it was only because more judges meant swifter justice for the accused. Trump doesn’t get integrity kudos for that.
  5. Trump had foreign policy successes, including:
    1. Renegotiating NAFTA – into essentially the same agreement but with Trump’s name attached.
    2. Abandoning the Iranian nuclear deal.
      1. Which allowed the Iranians to resume both enriching uranium and building their bomb making capabilities.
      2. Kevin doesn’t mention it, but after abandoning the multi-nation agreement Trump slapped sanctions on Iran that have been labeled “crippling.” On the other hand, they don’t seem to have curtailed any of Iran’s military activities. Not seeing a foreign policy success here.
      3. Kevin claims that we gave the Iranians a $400 million bribe to get the nuclear deal done. That claim was a standard right wing talking point when the JCPOA was being negotiated and was wailed about afterward by the anti-Obama crowd. What actually happened is that because of Iran’s past bad behavior we had frozen their assets during the Obama administration. Returning to them what was rightfully theirs was part of the Iranian nuclear deal. So, it wasn’t a bribe; it was a return of stolen property. And it was $300 million, not $400 million.
    3. Trump brokered Middle East peace deals and was the greatest friend Israel ever had.
      1. Two recently concluded agreements between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain had been in process since 2015. These agreements were essentially “normalization” documents to formalize what already existed. Trump had nothing to do with the negotiating or finalizing of the agreements. He did claim credit for them.
      2. Might not Harry Truman be the greatest friend of Israel, since he was the first world leader to recognize the new state in 1948? Or President Obama, who handed the Iron Dome defense system to Israel in 2011? Or every other president who has sided with Israel against brutal attacks in the U.N.?
      3. Note that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem did not help Israel. It only served to inflame Palestinians and make a 2-state solution even more difficult to achieve.
      4. It’s interesting that the “greatest friend Israel ever had” meme is quoted. It’s word-for-word what Trump has said repeatedly and his followers pick it up as though making the claim is the same as stating reality. It’s akin to his saying that he’s been the greatest president for Blacks, with the possible exception (or since) Abraham Lincoln. Making the claim isn’t the same as saying truth, but Trump’s followers repeat his phony superlative opinions of himself anyway.
  6. Trump made the Republican Party tougher, teaching it to counter punch harder than its opponent.
    1. The Republican Party was intransigent and spiteful long before Trump showed up (think: Gingrich, McConnell, Boehner, anyone from the Tea Party, etc.) and they played dirty before Trump came along, doing things like filibustering everything with Obama’s name on it, essentially exterminating majority rule. For verification of Republican cheating, check with Judge (not Justice) Merrick Garland.
    2. We need to understand why “counter punch[ing] harder than its opponent” is important. Doing so guarantees no cooperation, so America’s problems don’t get solved. This sounds like being macho is more important that doing what is best for America and honoring one’s oath of office to protect and defend. I do understand the momentary puff-up feeling of being powerful that comes from dominating others.
  7. Kevin writes, “The Democrats remain mystified by the loyalty of Trump’s base. It is rock solid because half the country was tired of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted. Trump was unique because he was only interested in results.”
    1. First sentence: I agree. Surely, I agree with the “mystified” part. It is what underlies the question of this post.
    2. Second sentence: How much of these beliefs of being patronized, lied to and taken for granted is due to people being fed a constant stream of right wing propaganda, rather than the facts? Hatred of ordinary Americans by elites is a standard of righty talking heads and that constant drumbeat stokes belief and ratings. And anger and hatred. Show me the facts, though, or this is just another hateful Big Lie.
    3. Counterpoint to #2 above: I don’t know about the patronizing, but there have been a lot of promises broken and without question the Democrats have taken some people for granted. Nobody likes to be treated that way.
    4. Third sentence: Trump was, is and forever will only be interested in results for Trump, not for America. And he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process (think: playing golf throughout the pandemic). His continuing lies to undermine our election are corroding our democracy and pouring more fuel on the fire of hatred. Further, ask any contractor who worked on a Trump Building and got stiffed about what results were important to Trump. Or ask the State Department, which has consistently been overcharged for everything during the Trump administration. Secret Service personnel were forced to patronize Trump properties and rent rooms at far above standard rates. And I know it’s a small thing that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago billed the U.S. $3 to serve Trump a glass of water, but it’s a satisfactory placeholder for all his grifting. I agree that Trump is focused on results, but are results like these what we should want?

As you can see, there are sweeping claims, but almost no supporting facts. That’s standard M.O. for Trumpies and it does not lead to any possibility of a meeting of the minds. In fact, it is one of three major reasons that a fruitful conversation is so difficult. Another major reason is the denial of provable, observable facts, as is a commonly found belligerent attitude.

Kevin ends his essay with dire warnings for the media and especially for Fox News, which has recently been slightly less of a lapdog for Trump. I’m sure Kevin is right in claiming that Biden’s TV ratings will be lower than Trump’s. What is far more disturbing is that anyone would care about such a thing.

It’s worrisome that anyone would equate TV ratings with the quality of the job a president is doing for the country or even whether a president is popular. Nobody paid attention to such things until the circus sideshow barker came to town and constantly bragged about his TV ratings, as though his primary job was to get high ratings. It’s akin to Trump bragging for months about having had the biggest inaugural crowd ever, which, of course, he didn’t. He bragged that way as though that’s what was important. For most of us, it wasn’t and isn’t. It shouldn’t be for any of us.

I appreciate Kevin’s passion and understand that he has his certainties – I have my own passion and certainties – and both of us are sorely infected by confirmation bias, of course. But I need someone to bring us real world stuff to examine and which will help us to understand one another, not bring just sweeping, baseless superlatives.

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The important question is how to deal with people who refuse facts, truth and reality. They are our countrymen and -women, after all, and we are obligated to figure out how to live together.

Roughly 80% of those who voted for Trump believe his lies/fantasies/distortions that the election was rigged and riddled with fraud. They believe him when he says he won the election and that “everybody knows it.” That’s around 60 million Americans who are living in an alternate reality. I’m guessing that to them this is just another example “of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted.” And I’m also guessing that they are very angry they didn’t get their way, especially because they believe they were cheated. That makes conversation extremely difficult.

These folks are supported by the continuing refusal of nearly all elected Republicans to stand up and speak up about the Big Lie that is Trump and Trumpism. They provide tacit approval to believe Trump’s hateful and anti-democratic venom. These elected officials do great damage to our country with their cowardice (read this). They make it ever-harder to have a conversation with Trumpies, because they stoke the macho bravado posturing to “counter punch harder than its opponent.” That relegates us to communicating via fistfights. Or worse, like attempting to kidnap and execute a sitting governor. It’s worth noting again that our macho, bravado angry citizens are the ones who own most of the guns in this country.

So, you tell me how to bridge this insane divide that is America today, with half of us believing the untrue. And if I got any of this wrong, please set me and everyone straight.

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

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Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
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