Integrity

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

This is a proud JaxPolitix moment, as we have officially received our first vile, disgusting and politically inane troll message.

To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

The Most Valuable Event at the Tokyo Olympics


Simone Biles, easily one of the best and perhaps the best of women gymnasts, dropped out of the team competition. She cited a case of the “twisties” and perhaps some other issues that were troubling her. Social media creeps wasted no time in attacking her, calling her a quitter and applying far more horrific labels. She has retained her dignity and has not responded to the ugly. That leaves us with two things.

First, the internet trolls continue to show us the depths to which humans will go to be inhumane, to be cruel, selfish and hateful. They teach us the boundlessness of their ignorance and the harm they hope to do in their ignorance. While that may give them a rush of power, we know who and what they are.

The second thing we are left with is a profile in courage, a demonstration of bravery to do what is right in the face of enormous pressure to do otherwise. We have a picture of what honesty looks like, a stake in the ground for mental health, a demonstration of class and a reminder and an opportunity to fine tune our caring and empathy for one another.

Whatever records are set, whatever astounding performance in sports is displayed, however we are wowed by the elite Olympic athletes, Biles withdrawing from the team competition is and will stand as the most valuable event at the Tokyo Olympics.

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

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Golden Calf


Trump’s endless string of lies at the July 2021 CPAC convention was not just boring; it was old news boring. New day, same old lies.

On the other hand, his supplicants applauded and made the proper guttural noises for him in response to his calls for adulation. They did the same for the rest of the lying and outraged victim presenters. All of that, though, was secondary to the February CPAC supplication.

Golden Trump at CPAC, February 2021

That’s when the circle became complete, with people literally bowing down to an actual golden image of Trump. It is the ultimate Golden Calf of our time, today’s version of the biblical tale, this time focusing on our very own political debauchery and wilful human debasement.

The Evangelicals sold out for a promise of ending Roe, seating extreme conservative judges and having marriage strictly defined as between one man and one woman. They slimed their souls by tolerating the lying, cheating and moral degradation they actually got, and they did it with their eyes wide open. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

The White supremacists and hate groups sold out our country in the hope of moving their hate show to the main stage. They got that, and now everyone is clear that the haters are the real victims, poor babies, that it’s good and right to suppress the lowly “others” and that the haters are the meanest badasses in the country. In support of their sell out of our country and their beating of cops as they waved Blue Lives Matter flags is a human hot air balloon encouraging their wreaking national carnage.

The rest sold out for flimsier reasons, like, “I’ve always voted Republican and could never vote for a Democrat.”

And now all the sellouts have their very own golden idol to worship. Millions voted for him and continue to chant, “Stop the steal!”

Many thanks to JN for this graphic.

So do the Republicans in Congress, even the ones who at first finger-shamed and blamed Trump for his January 6 treachery. But then they chickened out. Back pedaled. Re-instituted their sucking up. Revved up their inner jelly fish and puckered their lips to match Trump’s ass.

They lie about everything that isn’t self-serving and, most awful, are trying to whitewash the insurrection against our country, even as they know that doing so is the path to the destruction of our democracy. That’s what passes for the Republican Party today.

The Tiananmen Square student protests of 2001 in Beijing were an illustration of the constant human struggle for freedom, this time played out on the world stage. It was also a demonstration of the unbridled lengths to which those in power will go to crush opposition.

That’s what autocracies do.

As those bloody events unfolded, one student summoned the courage to stand in front of army tanks and speak truth to power. He would not be silenced by the brutality of leadership. He would not allow the lies and cruelty to go unnamed.

We’re still looking for Republicans with that same kind of courage. Okay, I’ll give you Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. That’s two Republicans out of 263. Name another.

Strangely, we humans love to keep doing the same thing and then expect different results, but there are consequences to Einsteinian insanity. It’s time for Democrats to figure out that their opponents have been playing by different and draconian rules for decades, which is why Democrats have been overpowered in most state houses and governorships and manipulated into insignificance in Congress.

From The NKC Occasional Update of July 23, 2021:

Progressive think tank Future Majority is out with solid research that shows Dems are not getting credit for their achievements #ForThePeople. Their advice? Play offense on legislation, focus on message discipline about “Delivering” Democratic solutions for American families, and employ similar discipline in defining R’s as “For Q and Not for You!”

Democrats, the traditionally tongue-tied, slogan challenged, inept communicators, better figure out a smarter, more effective way fast, because terrible Republican stuff is afoot.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt Republican Golden Calf prostration and the killing of democracy it can cause, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

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I’ve written many times to and about our vaccine refuseniks. I’ve answered their reasonable concerns, offered doses of truth to counter the disinformation and propaganda they’ve been fed, used patriotic duty persuasion, offered snarky comments and ridicule and I’ve also washed my hands of them. Still, they insist upon endangering themselves and others, especially our first responders who have to risk their own lives to treat them in hospitals. Many still proudly declare their right to be stupid and die, which they are doing at the rate of about 260 per day.

(Darwin Awards alert: We have some solid contenders in this bunch.)

I’ve come to the point where it’s clear that Emmanuel Macron, President of France, has it right. Read his comments that start this edition of The Markin Report. Then read the rest of the report. It’s time for plain talk, setting limits and accountability. The reason it’s time is because this is an immediate life and death issue that is on the way to becoming far more threatening.

Click the graph

Tennessee Update

As reported here, the Great State of Tennessee proudly announced its cancellation of all outreach to promote all vaccines for kids. Not just Covid; all vaccines. As reported by The Tennessean, after receiving pressure from national condemnation of that decision, Gov. Lee announced a reversal, with the exception of continuing to refuse to use social media to reach teens, where they might actually be able to connect with them and encourage them to be protected. Apparently, they’ve also decided not to eliminate the Tennessee Department of Health, which they had threatened to do.

The Covid vaccination rate in Tennessee is just 39% and new cases of Covid have quintupled in the past month. There is no word on whether they will attempt to rehire Michelle Fiscus, the state’s former top vaccine official, whom they fired when they caved to GOP pressure and had their health damning fit of insanity on July 13.

Bear in mind that Tennessee is the state that proudly attacked and denied science in the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

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“The blameless became the victims of the feckless.” *

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  • * feckless – adjective
  • lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible. In this usage, Republicans.

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Willful Ignorance


Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in a congressional hearing as he berates and attempts to humiliate Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dear Mrs. Jordan,

It is with regret that I write to tell you about your son, Jim.

He lies so very often, like repeating Donald Trump’s Big Lie. He lies about the attack on our Capitol Building. He lies by promoting conspiracy craziness. He says mean things about Democrats and liberals with almost every breath. His behavior is so bad that now Nancy Pelosi has had to shoo him from the committee investigating the insurrection because of his pugnacious attitude toward democracy. He just doesn’t play well with others.

I told him that if he kept on being so mean and dishonest that I’d tell his mom on him, but he said he didn’t care (sorry if that’s hurtful). Then he said some really horrible things about Dr. Fauci in a committee hearing. That’s the kind of thing he does all the time and it’s why I’m writing to you now.

It appears Jim knows the difference between right and wrong, so his bad behavior isn’t caused by accidental ignorance. Still, he chooses to do wrong. Is that how he behaved when he was a wrestler and a wrestling coach?

I’m sorry to send him back to you, Mrs. Jordan, but it seems he hasn’t grown up at all and needs discipline from his mom and dad. Surely, you didn’t raise him to be so mean and dishonest and I’m guessing he’ll be in loads of trouble now that you know about his bad behavior.

If there is ever anything I can do to help you to administer his punishments, please let me know. Actually, there are a lot of us who will be glad to help.

Sincerely,

Jack

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From the New York Times – On Politics newsletter of July 17, 2021:

After Sherri Tenpenny, a Cleveland-area doctor, falsely suggested during a hearing last month in the Ohio House of Representatives that Covid vaccines leave people “magnetized” and can “interface” with 5G cellular towers, Republican lawmakers thanked her for her “enlightening” testimony.

During her testimony Dr. Tenpenny told Ohio lawmakers that vaccinated people, ” .  .  .  can put a key on their foreheads. It sticks.” Download a PDF of a recent report on the FaceBook Dirty Dozen spreading anti-vaxx propaganda and self-serving lies here – there’s something in it for Dr. Tenpenny to spout this idiocy. And read The Markin Report here.

People magnetized?

Do you remember your 5th grade science class when you were taught that only iron and some of its alloys respond to magnets? Apparently, this doctor doesn’t remember her science class. She says – with a very serious look on her face – that a few cc’s of vaccine can produce strong magnetism in iron-free humans.

Nope. Not on this planet Earth. Maybe on hers. Plus, most keys are made of some version of brass and are non-magnetic under any circumstances. So, if there are any keys sticking to the forehead of Dr. Tenpenny or others, I suggest they make a date with some soap and warm water.

And interfacing with 5G cellular towers?

Can we vaccinated ones really listen to YouTube videos via the fillings in our molars? Will Bill Gates make us update Windows? Will we be able to use our noses as divining rods to find water in the desert? Puleeze!

Here is a critical alarm we should be ringing: That nut bag, Dr. Tenpenny – quite a few pennies short of a dollar – is providing medical care to Clevelanders. Woe be unto them because of her disdain for science and her willful ignorance.

Far worse than that, Republicans are taking her seriously and enthusiastically embracing yet more ignorance. That’s what passes for a political party representing Ohioans and Republicans across the nation.

Please, please DO NOT give me false equivalences or “both sides” blabbering. There are no Democrats or Independents saying such idiotic things. They are instead trying to ensure voting rights for all Americans, beat this pandemic, rebuild our infrastructure and – who knows? – maybe do something to stop the insanity of unchecked global warming.

The old saying is that there is no cure for stupid. I think that remains true. More important now, though, is a question about a variation on that sentiment: Is there a cure for willful ignorance? Because we have an epidemic of willful ignorance in our country and it is destroying lives, driving people to take up arms against fellow citizens, to attack our democracy itself and even more.

There is a virus going around that lodges in lungs. It has killed over 626,000 of us, yet people willfully deny its existence. Instead of taking the proven protection against the pandemic, they refuse it, claiming that the disease is a hoax. 99.5% of such people make up our current dead victims list, which is increasing by over 260 per day. There is a price for willful ignorance and sometimes it’s the ultimate price.

The willfully ignorant are also denying the crisis that is destroying this planet. In the face of the obvious reality of massive storms, droughts, fires and hurricanes they say things like, “Global warming is a hoax.” As far as I know, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is still doing a dance about the reality of global warming, even as the ocean level rises to engulf his state.

But you can ask anyone in our incinerating west or anybody in the devastating floods in Germany or in coastal and even central China right now if, unlike magnetizing vaccines, global warming is a real thing. They’re quite clear that it is, but the willfully ignorant still deny it. For some crazy reason, our willfully ignorant don’t seem willing to connect the dots, even as they see that both the sun and the moon are now red all across the nation due to smoke from our western fires. Once again, there is a price for willful ignorance and sometimes it’s the ultimate price.

“The Stone Age was once the future,” said my 15-year-old grandson. Our task today is to keep the accuracy of his statement in the past tense. It’s on us to make damn sure we fix global warming because – and I say this without any keys stuck to my forehead – global warming is coming for us unless we take bold action to stop it. It’s the same with the pandemic.

So, here’s my question for your comments: What is it that drives otherwise sensible people to embrace willful ignorance and consequently imperil all of us?

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Legislation Republicans Will Champion – The KBL Act


It seems so obvious that I just don’t understand why no member of Congress and no state legislature officials have proposed this. It comports perfectly with today’s Republican Party and its policy of having no policy other than obstructing all progress and stoking cultural wars to aggregate power for itself at the risk of our democracy. They find unconstitutional laws to be very attractive, so I have one for them. First, the substantiation for it.

It has yet to be judicially established that Republican members of Congress and/or their staffs took January 6 insurrectionists on tours of the Capitol Building – scouting missions – on January 5. However, other members of Congress witnessed these “case the joint” expeditions, so we can safely believe they occurred. These reconnaissance operations were critical to the insurrectionists if they were to have a chance of finding Mike Pence in order to hang him and to find Nancy Pelosi in order to murder her. That’s wrong.

After the bloody destruction and vile befoulment of our most symbolic building happened, the confirmation of the Elector’s votes took place, as proscribed by the Constitution. But even after the insurrection that put the lives of all members of Congress and their staff members in peril, 8 senators and 140 congressmen/women voted to reject the will of We the People. They succumbed in subservience to the Jackass-In-Chief, who constantly brayed lies about election fraud. Only a single example of voting fraud could be found. It was a guy in Pennsylvania who tried to cast his dead mother’s vote for Trump. That near-total lack of evidence of fraud (one in 160,000,000 votes cast = 0.0000006%) is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. Still, the 148 cowards voted to undermine our democracy. That’s wrong.

Those 148 legislators and more also blocked the formation of a special commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Some of these investigation refusers are the same people who were insane fanatics for investigating the Benghazi tragedy TEN TIMES OVER! But this time, when our entire democracy was threatened, they refused to look even once. Whatever their reasons (feel free to suggest your views on that), they voted to continue their attack on the Constitution. That’s wrong.

Captain No

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has done to Biden what he did to Obama: he vowed to block any and all things promoted by the President and has pretty much made good on his obstructionist promise. That subverts the will of the people and threatens our democracy. That’s wrong.

Our Senators and Congressmen/women have said some dazzlingly, on-the-face-of-it blatantly false things. Call them stupid, if you want, for saying that the January 6 insurrectionists were ordinary tourists visiting the Capitol Building (on a day when it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic), but they saw what you saw and they aren’t stupid. What they are is dishonest and cowardly. That’s wrong.

Republican state houses and Republican governors are stampeding their voting suppression laws through their legislatures to make sure that they can maintain minority rule. They’re even attacking their own structure and processes in an effort to remove impartial election officials and replace them with Republican/QAnon operatives. That’s wrong.

That’s a lot of wrong going on and defeating that at the voting booth level will take a very long time. Actually, it may be impossible to reverse the damage. We must do something far more expeditious, so I propose my unconstitutional act of democracy restoration and protection. Its very unconstitutionality should be like mother’s milk to Republicans.

The Kibosh Illegal Lying Liars Babbling In Government and Legislatures Idiotically Eliminating Self-government
(“Kill Big Lies” ) Act

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Provisions of This Act

Section 1: It shall be illegal to promote small or big lies whenever the aim is to undermine our democratic processes and/or our democracy.

Section 2: All federally elected and appointed officials, as well as all their staff members shall be held personally responsible for any and all harm to persons and/or property caused directly or indirectly by their efforts to aid or abet insurrectionists or democracy threatening actors. Liability shall be determined based on the stupidity of statements uttered, actions taken and obstructions attempted. Penalties shall be doubled for obviously self-contradictory claims.

Section 3: All state level attempts to prevent or limit voting shall result in the immediate removal from office of perpetrators, be they legislative, executive or judicial, and the permanent removal of voting rights from them. In addition, they will be required to deliver pizza and bottled water to voters waiting in line to vote.

Penalties for Violation

Section 4: All violations of this law shall be deemed a felony with penalties of not less than 1 year nor more than 112 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines. In addition, violators of any provision of this Act shall immediately be placed in stocks in the public square of the municipality where they live, to be ridiculed by the citizens as the laughing stocks that they are. This public humiliation shall continue for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 112 years.

Attempts to Avoid Compliance With This Act and Penalties

Section 5: No state shall be allowed to declare a states rights objection to this federal law. Each and every attempt to do so shall cause the proscribed penalty to be doubled and one Republican congressperson or senator of that state per attempt shall be removed from office. If, due to prior penalties, there are no longer any federal representatives or senators from a state which has again violated this provision, the penalties shall shift first to the governor of said state, then sequentially to members of the state legislature. Should all of those have been removed from office for their attempts to violate or circumvent this law, random registered Republican voters in the state will be selected for prosecution, including eliminating their right to vote.

Period of Applicability of This Act

Section 6: This law is retroactive to January 20, 2017 and there is and shall be no statute of limitations on any act of dishonesty or unconstitutional manipulation to which this law applies.

Severability

Section 7: If any part of this Act should be found to be unconstitutional, it shall be considered severed from the Act, leaving all other provisions intact. So there.

Who Is Eligible To Vote For This Act

Section 8: All members of the duly constituted voting public shall be eligible to vote for this bill in the Comments section below. No onerous voter ID is required. Early voting has started. Black, brown, poor and young people, high school seniors, college students and naturalized citizens are all eligible to vote – always. Plus old white guys and angry young white guys (“guys” is gender neutral here), as well as Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jesus freaks, droolers and both conspiracy nuts and sane people. Also white collar, blue collar and no collar workers, as well as unemployed non-workers, the physically challenged and all convicted felons, whether they’re now free or still in prison. Urban, suburban, rural and wandering citizens are eligible and encouraged to vote. Gun ownership is not required for voting privileges, nor is an Armageddon hiding place, nor is a facility with the English language required. Those under the physical care of a Republican are encouraged to grab a laptop when the obermeister isn’t looking and register their vote. Polling places are everywhere internet electrons can reach, so no worries about a long journey to vote or a long wait in line or threats from Republican intimidation thugs. Bring your own pizza and bottled water.

Republicans like this kind of heavy-handed, blatantly unconstitutional legislation. It’s their style, their M.O. to promote anti-democracy things, so we might expect them to champion this Act.

On the other hand, this proposal puts the sting to them, so I don’t expect to hear a chorus of “D’OH!!!” from the Capitol Building and all Republican state houses, nor do I expect to see pictures of these Republicans posted on their FaceBook pages showing them slapping their foreheads. Still, we know who and what they are.

They are so busted.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

Crap! A Friday Extra


One of the features of watching a YouTube video is the line up of additional videos presented to tantalize us. YouTube captures what we’ve watched before and provides links to videos with some similarity to them in order to keep us watching. As you know, what commonly results is an enormous time suck.

I haven’t a clue how it happened, but somehow I got tagged for pseudo-science conspiracy crap videos. I know this because I clicked on a video and watched a very well produced documentary of idiotic, serious face “experts” claiming idiotic, seriously meant possibilities, like, “Only a handful of astronauts have seen the far side of the moon, so there could be massive construction there.” And there are crackpots spouting provocative, idiotic questions, like, “Can it be that the Moon is actually hollow?” *

To support their hollow Moon theory they quote a United States Geologic Survey study of radar pings to the Moon that supposedly have penetrated the surface. They report that the USGS determined that the moon’s crust is only 20 miles thick; past that it’s hollow. To fact-check their claim I went to the USGS site and did a search. The closest I could get to validating the claims of this YouTube video was a piece published in 1991 entitled Demography and Natural History of the Common Fruit Bat. I, for one, believe the fruit bat information confirms their claims of a hollow Moon, but that’s just me.

That information is especially powerful when paired with multiple claims by multiple no-name talking heads in this video. They say that NASA has banged on the Moon, which has resulted in echos lasting for hours. Perhaps that means that the Moon is actually a celestial bell awaiting a galactic clapper.

YouTube has lined up other crackpot videos. There’s one asking if the Soviet Union discovered aliens in the deepest lake in the world. Another tells the story of a pilot who survived the Bermuda Triangle and who will tell you what he saw. There’s some guy who was pronounced dead for 20 minutes and he’ll tell you what he saw, too. And there’s a video telling what would happen if Yellowstone National Park were to blow up. It sure is a good thing that someone is thinking about that.

There’s a video about a massive LA disaster you’ve never heard of and another where Apollo 11’s “third astronaut” Michael Collins reveals secrets from the far side of the moon. But if you were to watch that video you’d learn that there are no secrets and Collins doesn’t reveal anything. Fact checking ruins all the fun. Nevertheless, there is no end of provocative, pseudo-science crap just waiting for our clicks. Enjoy. Better yet: don’t.

The point of this is captured by a single statistic: The hollow Moon video has been viewed 2.1 million times. Clearly, people believe this crap and they share it with their airhead friends, who believe it, too.

Literally millions of Americans believe that the January 6 insurrection was just an ordinary group of tourists visiting the Capitol Building. Never mind that the building was closed to visitors due to Covid-19. And when you watch the videos again just ignore the chants to hang the Vice President and pay no attention to the bear spray, the Auschwitz tee-shirts, the beatings of Capitol police, the vandalism and the rest. Bear in mind that, “15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds ‘are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation’”.

Idiotic, false-on-the-face-of-it crap is gobbled up by otherwise capable humans who are commonly able to feed themselves, fill their own gas tanks and utter intelligible sentences in a single language. But now due to cowards in our government, these conspiracy gobbling, gullible people have outsized influence on our democracy. Fantasy rules. Rationality, logic and good sense be damned.

To use the suggestive question format of the conspiracy world, “Could this be evidence of alien life forms eating the brains of Americans?” Perhaps if NASA were to bang on their heads we would hear the echos.

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  • * Full disclosure: these are not verbatim quotes. They are the substance of such statements repeated throughout the idiotic video. My life has great value to me and I won’t waste it on crap, so I am unwilling to watch the video again in order to perfect the quotes.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

If It Feels Right


This is a special time. It is a time when magical thinking has washed over the land, drowning our world in hyperbole, fiction and venom, and leaving so very little grounded in the observable. The waste of the neocortex imperils the people like oxygen deprivation, with hypoxia choking the rational.

Left behind is rigorous critical thinking, the very thing of the Enlightenment that brought such freedom and progress to mankind. It has been displaced by, “If it feels right to me, then it is right.” No need for evidence. No need for observation of any kind. No need for the bother of accuracy or the effort of thinking.

There is no need for testable theory, because that space has been taken over by the subjective satisfaction of, “If things are as I like them then all is fair. If not, someone cheated and stole from me.” So, fair becomes unfair if I don’t like outcomes, and accusation is the same as proof. Opinion is the same as fact and judgment is a prize unto itself. To quote Professor Scott Galloway’s commencement address, “We optimize for short-term emotional satisfaction rather than long-term prosperity,” and “[t]he prioritization of victimhood. The belief that to be offended is to be right.”

We are through the looking glass and opportunities to make the movie Back To Reality are incrementally, relentlessly turning to vapor. The portal to the world where lies are not the same as truth, where up is different from down, where knowledge, wisdom and learning are valued and where science is a real thing is closing. That is why there are so many calls for action right now, because absent our action, we won’t like the albatross we’ve placed around the necks of our children. They won’t like it either, although that won’t matter to the brutes, liars and manipulators in charge.

Our choices are: to ignore what’s going on; to sit at home and wring hands; or to take action – do something about it.

The first two options won’t help our children, so they’re unacceptable. Here are some ideas for the third option.

  1. Attend The For the People Act: A Conversation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn at 5:00PM on June 22. Register here. Go ahead: learn something that is Earth-based and useful. It will be a refreshing contrast to the ever-present magical thinking that assaults our ears.
  2. Do some phone banking to West Virginians to twist Joe Manchin’s arm back to where it belongs.
  3. Help the experts do what we don’t know how to do well ourselves. Donate to Focus4Democracy. These are the folks who know how to turn the crank of progress. And we surely need progress right now.

If this feels right to you, it’s because it is right. It’s right to fight for what you believe in. It’s right to do good and to fight the bad. And that stands in stark contrast to the magical thinkers, because you have evidence from the right side of the looking glass.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

Have A Nice Memorial Day


From Giovanni Russonello’s article in the New York Times:

“QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests
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“But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that [QAnon] caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public – particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

“Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

“And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and ‘restore the rightful leaders.'”

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are conducting hate rallies. Last week Gaetz began, saying, “We have a Second Amendment in this country and I think we have an obligation to use it.” He was reported by Heather Cox Richardson and all major news agencies this way:

“[Gaetz] told attendees that the nation’s founders wrote the Second Amendment to enable citizens to rise up against the government. ‘It’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports,’ he said. ‘The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.’

“As the audience cheered, Gaetz continued: ‘I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.’”

These are powerful words harkening back to our founding days of tricorn hats and muskets and thoughtful men in wigs, except for one thing: every bit of Gaetz’s chest thumping declaration is false. All of it.

The Second Amendment was included in the Constitution for many reasons, including self-defense. It was also included to keep southern slave states in the Union. White slave masters were vastly outnumbered by slaves then and the slave owners figured they needed a mechanism to counter any slave rebellion. Local militias – essentially vigilantes with firearms – was their solution. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to appease the slave owners.

Further, as Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic. ”  .  .  .  the main—indeed, almost exclusive—purpose of the [Second A]mendment was, in fact, to protect the rights of states to maintain and arm militias.” And, indeed, they’ve done that. Today they’re called the National Guard.

However chest-thumpingly satisfying it may be to our citizens wearing camouflage, carrying military weapons and assaulting our state capitols and the Capitol Building in DC or plotting to kidnap and assassinate the governor of Michigan, they aren’t the militias envisioned by the Framers. They aren’t well-regulated. They aren’t even militias. They are insurrectionists in waiting.

There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in The Federalist Papers or in the words of any Founding Father, nor is there any representation anywhere of a right of citizens “.  .  .  to maintain an armed rebellion against the government,” to rise up in violence against democracy – not a word, however our many insurrectionists and impassioned blowhards think there is. What’s worrying is that our self-righteous believers in citizen tyranny own a huge proportion of the over 300 million firearms in this country.

There is no cabal of Satan worshiping child sex traffickers running the world or our country, nor is there an imminent biblical-scale storm that will sweep away elites. There is no right of insurrection. Accusations are not the same as evidence or proof. Fantasies aren’t the same as facts. Lies are not truths. But some people will believe whatever feeds their passions, hate and anger, good sense be damned.

And all of this fantasy based insanity that promotes tough guy-ism and stokes violence flies in the face of the special day we set aside for our military people who died protecting our nation from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That refers to enemies of the Constitution.*

Go to your local Memorial Day ceremonies tomorrow, be they in person or virtual. Honor our fallen ones and say thank you.

And have a nice Memorial Day – while we still have our democracy.

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In Case You Missed The Craziest Play in Baseball

Watch this.

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  • * I’m reminded of a line from Aaron Sorkin’s wonderful movie The American President:

“How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

Relativism and National CPR


Relativism: The idea that nothing is any more correct or true than anything else.

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I know, it sounds preposterous, but that is the prevailing assumption about reality in much of our society. Example: Kellyanne Conway did an interview from the White House lawn shortly after Donald Trump moved in. She was defending a false claim that press secretary Sean Spicer had made at his first press briefing a day earlier. He had insisted that Trump had the greatest number of attendees at his inauguration of any president, ever. When presented with empirical evidence that the claim was false, Conway announced that they (the administration) believed “alternative facts.”

Let’s be clear that “alternative facts” doesn’t mean that they were looking at other metrics, nor does it mean that they had additional information not included in the original observations. It means specifically that they believed that they were free to make up anything they wanted and that their made-up story was just as valid, accurate and true as any other. For them and for so many others, false = true, fiction = fact. Relativism.

While Trump is gone from a position of power and is now preparing for his position as defendant, alternative facts have not disappeared. We hear them every day from politicians blabbering some vacuous reinvention of history, from QAnon spouting another impossible conspiracy fiction, from yellow journalism masquerading as news and from extremists breaking the law while claiming they’re protecting the Constitution. But these conjurors of alternative facts aren’t alone. Indeed, we have a major cultural problem.

Kurt Andersen’s book Fantasyland is an historical trip through our wondrous American tapestry of belief in fantasy, in anything goes. Andersen quotes science fiction writer Phil Dick, introducing his words writing, ”  .  .  .  he wrote a perfect summary of his dread about the transformation of American society and culture as the real and unreal became indistinguishable.” Sounds a lot like today, don’t you think?

‘The problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups – and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener.  .  .  .

‘And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes.  .  .  .

‘I consider that the matter of defining what is real – that is a serous topic, even a vital topic. And in there somewhere is the other topic, the definition of the authentic human. Because the bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans – as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides.  .  .  .  Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans. It is just a very large version of Disneyland.’

And here we are in our alternative worlds, stumbling through our cultural Fantasyland of alternative fact inbreeding. We believe whatever we want to believe and then accept the mutants we’re creating, as we befuddle ourselves to death, all because relativism rules.

This is dangerous stuff. It is where people believe whatever they want to believe with no weight given to reality. They believe whatever serves their motives and fears and hopes, like believing that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump; like sending partisan know nothings to audit the last election so that they can fabricate the desired result; like people selecting themselves to attack democracy, even as they invoke the red, white and blue. It is what causes little self-inflated men and women to lie and to cling to power over others, while justifying their actions with fantastical fabrications. That and more goes on every day in America, regardless of how our detachment from tangible facts causes us to self-immolate.

Perhaps that is why President Biden speaks of fighting for the soul of America. It needs life support intervention right now and nobody else is showing up to do national CPR.

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Tweets So Far This Week

From @richardhine:

“If 53% of Republicans think Trump is still President but only 26% of Americans say they belong to the decaying Party of Trump, that would mean only 14% of Americans think Trump is still President. Which might be an accurate measure of the batshit fringe.”

From @HunaNaMeaHuna

“Vote Theft Is Your Future Denied”

Gerrymandering and sham voting audits will do that.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

Are You Seeing a Pattern? Ug!


We humans are predisposed to look for causes for what we see, relationships to explain the way things work and patterns of events to help us predict the future. For example, if caveman Ug leaves his cave, turns left and runs into no danger, and if this happens the next day and the next, Ug is wired to see the pattern and he will expect to be able to leave his cave safely, as long as he turns left. Such is the power of repetition.

This observed pattern is reinforced when one day his cave mate Gug leaves the cave, turns right and is attacked and devoured by a very hungry, grouchy carnivore. In that moment Ug will have thoroughly internalized his important lesson on cave exiting.

It’s the same for us today. You find a restaurant you like so you go again with the expectation that you’ll like it again. If you do, you’ll likely eat there a third time. By then the pattern is clear and expectations are reinforced by the evidence and by repetition. We’re quick to pick up on such things, just like Ug.

That pattern recognition can carry over to our politics, although it can be badly warped. For example, Trump continues to make the demonstrably false claims that the election was rigged, that there were millions of fraudulent votes cast against him and that hundreds of thousands of votes cast for him weren’t counted (only in swing states). He whines as though making the claims is enough to make them true. Both his true believers and his cowardly sycophants repeat those lies over and over until they seem to many otherwise sensible people to be true. The repetition, not evidence, drives their belief. That is the essence of The Big Lie throughout history.

Last week the House voted to establish a January 6 commission to learn the full story behind the insurrectionist domestic terrorists that killed 5 people, brutalized police, vandalized the Capitol Building and threatened to kill the Vice President and members of Congress. 175 Republicans voted against that bill, even though they themselves had been targets for violence on that awful day.

From the Washington Post:

Republican leaders denounced the commission as a partisan Democratic plot. [House minority leader Kevin] McCarthy [R-CA] accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of not negotiating “in good faith” and wasting “time playing political games.” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-KY]  chimed in to accuse House Democrats of having “handled this proposal in partisan bad faith going back to the beginning.”

I count 4 baseless claims and zero evidence in those 2 sentences and the rest of the article puts no evidentiary meat onto those bones. And the bad faith thing – in negotiations over the creation of the commission Republicans were given everything they asked for and – did I mention? – 175 of them, including all of Republican House leadership, still voted against the bill. These are the same people who declared unequivocally following the domestic terrorist insurrection that a full investigation was required. Perhaps they disliked having a bulls eye on their backs that day.

Apparently, giving Republicans all that they asked for was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “partisan bad faith.” Absurdly, their claims about the evil Democrats, having been repeated in the extremist echo chamber, and are now believed. That rejection of the legislation after getting everything they asked for makes me wonder what Republicans don’t want uncovered by a commission.

Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) is a guy with a most pliable memory. He delivered the fantastical claim that the violent, murderous, defiling insurgents were only making “a normal tourist visit.” To give credit where it’s due, Clyde did offer cherry picked, misleading “evidence.” Of course, that’s actually worse than offering no evidence. On the other hand, on the day of the insurrection he was screaming and helping to erect barricades inside the House chamber, hoping to stop the terrorists.

Sen. Rob Johnson (R-WI) is always reliable for a fantasy-based quote, now claiming that the insurrection was largely a “peaceful protest.” It’s entirely possible that murdered Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s next of kin might see things a bit differently. Nevertheless, it’s likely that huge numbers of believers of evidence-free claims think Clyde and Johnson have it right. Once again, outrageously false and evidence-free claims got repeated and people believed them because of the repetition.

For a clear statement of the insanity of baseless, hollow claims and the harm they do to America, watch this 52-second clip of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) excoriating Republicans for their detachment from reality and perfidy to the Constitution.

QAnon claimed that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking operation out of the basement of a pizza shop in DC. That  conspiracy claim was extra crispy crazy, if only because that pizza shop has no basement. But those claims were made and repeated in the vaporous, conspiracy-echoing universe and then believed by millions.

Are you seeing the pattern? People with large megaphones are making wild, ought-to-be unbelievable claims, offering no evidence (because there isn’t any). They repeat their fictitious claims over and over and people start to believe. And it’s worse than that.

Otherwise normal Americans are now trained to repeat these evidence-free claims themselves, as though making the accusations alone causes them to be true. These millions of Americans require no factual evidence.

Indeed, for true believers, continuous repetition of fraudulent claims at last becomes its own evidence that proves the claims.

That’s the kind of thing that could cause Ug to foolishly leave his cave and turn right, only to come to a very brutal and ugly end, just like Gug.

Speaking of Patterns

I’m an enthusiastic fan of John Oliver and I commonly appreciate his sense of outrage over very real outrageous issues. Here comes the “but.”

But last week he weighed into the Israeli-Palestinian carnage, making simple judgments about complexities he apparently doesn’t understand. He’s in good company, as most public commentary has done the same thing. I encourage you to view these videos (here and here) for a response to Oliver, because at the very least, they shed some light on the complexities and skewer the simple, easy and misleading judgments that so many are making.

I’m still a fan, but this time, as he sounded like he was making sense, John Oliver was actually making very little sense.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

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