Integrity

We’re Still Not Free


Can you believe we’re still having conversations about basic Covid stuff? I mean, we’ve known what to do to defeat this pandemic for most of a year and the rising availability of vaccines has greatly enhanced our ability to fight it, but still over 60,000 Americans test positive every day and our hospitals are filling up once again.

Through most of the past year we sat on our hands and allowed a lot of people to get sick, and a lot of people to suffer very long duration horrible symptoms and we’ve stood by and watched over half a million of our fellow citizens die. Dr. Deborah Birx recently said what you know to be true, that about 450,000 of our 550,000 Covid deaths were preventable. Early on in the pandemic a study at Oxford University said that 70 – 99% of U.S. Covid deaths were due to poor national leadership; i.e. they were preventable, but for self-serving you-know-who.

Given that,

How is it that so many millions of Americans still refuse to wear a mask? Yeah, I know it’s a terrible infringement on their individual freedom, poor babies.

How is it that Republican governors like DeSantis (FL), Abbott (TX) and Noem (SD) are doing everything possible to prevent any requirement for mask wearing in their cities, at work and inside retail stores? Of course, they’re doing it to suck up to their flagrant and vocal constituents in order to collect campaign donations, but they harm those very constituents because they, like so many others, continue to get sick and die.

How is it that the vast majority of White Evangelicals oppose vaccines on self-righteous religious grounds?

How is it that way too many of our citizens are both anti-science and conspiracy believers who refuse vaccines for staunchly held, anti-fact reasons? No, vaccines don’t cause autism, as proven conclusively and repeatedly by – guess what? – science. And Bill Gates isn’t packing nanobots into vaccines so he can track and control you.

In all cases – mask and vaccine refusers, political contribution suckers and science and reality deniers –  these are people ruled by self-serving confirmation bias and a drive for power and control.*

Why are we treating this deadly disease like it’s an optional game of volleyball in the park, where refusing to play is no big deal? There are milliions of our people doing that, and that is why we’re still not free of this awful disease.

Here’s a parallel to that.

President Biden is initiating a series of Executive Orders aimed at curtailing our gun slaughter, but those will only be temporary fixes, subject to the whim of the next President. We need Republicans to act, but they’ve proven to be intransigent on this issue, as they are to most challenges.

Here’s my view about gun safety reform:

We’ll have strong gun safety legislation and the beginning of curtailing our national carnage when we and our legislators at last decide that we love our children, our relatives and our friends more than we love our lust for power and control.

Given the overwhelming public support for gun safety laws, it’s our Second Amendment thumpers and our political contribution suckers whom we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

And so it is with masks and vaccinations. The refusers are the key obstacle to our resuming full personal and national health and are the ones we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

Meanwhile, we know what to do to defeat this pandemic – really, both pandemics. The trick is getting people to do the right thing.

Jennifer Rubin explains why it’s so hard to do that here.

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End Note

Each year the local high schools combine their singing and orchestral talents into a marvelous spring concert of about 500 very talented kids under wonderful direction. It’s held in the cathedral of Techny Towers, a massive and beautiful sanctuary, the acoustics of which compel music to sound. It is a singer’s and musician’s delight.

The programs are new each year, but the closer is always The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it is a prayer for a time when we were ripping ourselves apart, not unlike today. If you have not heard this majestic piece in full, you need to – it’s attached below. As you listen, imagine that you’re surrounded by singers and musicians. They’re in front of you, along both sides and even along the sides of the balcony above and around you. You’re surrounded by a message.

The point of bringing this into the conversation is a line from the Hymn. It is inherently Christian, so feel free to take this in that way. But also read and feel these words as a compelling message for us in these dark times of civil strife.

As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free

That’s free, like: Our people healthy and free from pandemic; You and I free from the danger of firearms in the hands of those who would harm us; Our citizens free and with full and equal rights – all of them. Feel free to add to this list.

Let us live to make men – and women – free.

  • Glenbrook Festival of Music, March 13, 2016
  • Glenbrook High Schools, IL D-225, Choirs and Orchestra

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* Indeed, I believe that lust for power and control was the gut level driver for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. Life and death is the ultimate power and control.

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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.

JA


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

Survival


Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)

“The single greatest threat to our security right now is domestic terrorism and the tensions and polarizations between us.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), former CIA Agent, now serving on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Given her security background and current access to national security information, it seems likely she knows what she is talking about.

I wrote of that same concern in a recent post and some of my words were picked up in a very clever Star Wars format video that you can see below. Many thanks to reader Bob Beltran for his creativity.

The key words from both are:

In the absence of the Republican Party and with Trump soon to be headed to prison, the nation will face its most threatening foe: domestic terrorism. All that stands against this hateful enemy is “We the People” in a desperate fight for democracy.

The words “absence of the Republican Party” refers to:

⋅  The incremental departure of moderates and conservatives from the GOP, leaving only extremists

⋅   The decades-long GOP negation of anything Democrats propose, regardless of the needs and desires of the citizenry – ”  .  .  .  the modern G.O.P. is allergic to any proposal to spend taxpayer money to advance the public good.” – Paul Krugman

⋅   The de facto abdication of fact and reason as official Republican Party policy

What is left in Congress are people on a self-important power trip that is long on puffery, slogans and inaction and short on observable facts and useful policy. That is increasingly leading us to a two party system of Democrats versus domestic terrorists flying a GOP banner. That’s dangerous stuff, especially in the hands of politicians who believe QAnon conspiracies and are beholden to citizens with firearms and the inclination to use them. Our very survival as a democracy is threatened.

There’s more.

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I continue to be amazed by President George Washington’s prescient comments in his Farewell Address of 1796. He used a great deal of it to direct caution against the nefarious acts of “factions,” by which he meant political parties. His primary concern was the action of men loyal to party over country.

Bear in mind that this was then a new country and the states were only loosely connected, making the union vulnerable to sabotage by vested interests, like political parties. That was his context and his concerns for our republic were well founded. Crucially, his concerns remain applicable for our republic even today. Here is one piece of his warning:

” .  .  .  [parties] are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government  .  .  .  “

Hold that thought.

From The New York Times: On Politics newsletter of March 25:

“State-level Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of bills this year that would tamp down voting rights  .  .  .  “

In that same newsletter they report:

“Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said that states simply ‘are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever’.”

Really, Mitch? How would you explain to President Washington the over 250 Republican Party/Faction bills in 43 states that have been described by many as Jim Crow 2? Like the Georgia law that makes it a felony to give water to people standing in line for 8 hours to vote. Bear in mind that their wait is primarily due to states shutting down polling places in non-White and poor areas.

Back to George Washington.

McConnell’s posturing and manipulation now look a great deal like the very ”  .  . . [usurpation] for themselves the reins of government” by “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” about which Washington warned us. And even McConnell’s disingenuousness seems almost tame compared to the outright anti-American insurgency that is much of the GOP in Congress. Don’t tell our first president about that. He warned us.

So, instead We the People must focus on the survival of our democracy. This is no spectator sport, so, TAG, we’re IT.

Special Note: Washington’s Farewell Address is read in full in Congress at the start of every new Congress. Even so, the Republicans just can’t seem to remember his message.

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2022 Winter Olympics

With the reasonable assumption that the pandemic will be under control by February next year, likely many people are planning a trip to China for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. But does attending these Olympics send the wrong message to that brutal and dangerous regime? Would attending be counter-productive for the free world?

I recommend that you read what Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has to say about that before making travel plans. He has a nuanced proposal that is well worth our consideration.

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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.

Liberal and Most Illiberal


Liberal

New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens has an interesting post on our politics. He says we’re not divided by liberal versus conservative; we’re divided by liberal versus illiberal. Here’s what he says liberal democracy is supposed to be:

By “liberal,” I don’t mean big-state welfarism. I mean the tenets and spirit of liberal democracy. Respect for the outcome of elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the principle (in courts of law and public opinion alike) of innocent until proven guilty. Respect for the free market, bracketed by sensible regulation and cushioned by social support. Deference to personal autonomy but skepticism of identity politics. A commitment to equality of opportunity, not “equity” in outcomes. A well-grounded faith in the benefits of immigration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, experiments in living. Fidelity to the ideals and shared interests of the free world in the face of dictators and demagogues.

If he’s right in his definition (and I think he is), then we’re not even hitting the liberal barn door today, much less the center of the bulls eye painted on it. And “illiberal” is probably too cozy a term. It’s more like outright hostility to democracy.

Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but we’re living in an age when outrageousness and high volume dominate. Given our wealth of venues for instant dissemination of whatever drivel dribbles from lips and finger tips, that makes every blowhard a blow torch that easily burns down decorum, critical thinking and even our sense of reality.

Stephens’ column was nicely book-ended by that of Ross Douthat, who wrote that voting restrictions aren’t really as impactful as lefties think they are. I wonder what response he’d get if he were to run that by the people in North Carolina where most polling places in Black areas were closed and people were forced to travel long distances and wait for hours to vote. Did he check in with the voters in Georgia and Florida whose names were removed from the voting roles solely because they missed voting in the last election? So many questions, so little liberal democracy.

Most Illiberal

In an interview on the Joe Pags show Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Racism) spoke of the insurrection against the Constitution on January 6, declaring,

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

“Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Never mind that the rioters clearly didn’t love this country – they were attacking it – and rather than “never do anything to break the law,” they were in constant violation of the law. And no, they didn’t honor Blue Lives Matter, either – they attacked over 140 police officers. And let’s ignore his blatant racism implicit in “I might have been a little concerned” if the rioters were BLM or Antifa. Instead, let’s look at how Johnson defended himself against the justified excoriation of his racist comments.

“This isn’t about race, this is about riots. I have been attacked and criticized because I pushed back on the narrative that there were thousands of armed insurrectionists, and that’s just a small part of the 74 million Americans that voted for President Trump that also need to be suspect of being potential domestic terrorists or also potentially armed insurrectionists. This is a false narrative, and so the few of us that push back on that we get mercilessly attacked.”

Since making his disingenuous comments, Johnson has been roundly accused of slimy, miserable scum bucket racism. Full disclosure: those are my adjectives and not necessarily those of all the senators, congressmen/women, pundits and ordinary folk who have called him out.

As you can see by his last sentence, he has advanced to the next step of despotic manipulation as instructed by Trump. After doing his own version of “fine people on both sides,” Johnson has taken refuge in sulking, declaring himself a poor victim. Just look what those unfair critics have done to him!

Ron Johnson is so morally bankrupt that he isn’t worth this much space in a blog post, except for one thing: he speaks for all the Americans who manage to rationalize their fear and hatred and notions of supremacy, somehow justifying their joy in discrimination. Holding him up as a fine example of this cowardliness is useful.

Michael Gerson says Johnson is no outlier. Writing in The Washington Post he says,

“There have always been bigots with access to a microphone. But in this case, Johnson did not face the hygienic repudiation of his party. Republican leaders preferred a different strategy: putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. Republicans have abolished their ideological police.”

“It matters whether leaders delegitimize hatred or fertilize it; if they isolate prejudice or mainstream it. If political figures base their appeal on the cultivation of resentment for some group or groups, they are releasing deadly toxins into our society without any idea who might be harmed or killed. Such elected leaders might not have blood on their hands directly, but they are creating a society with more bloody hands.”

To be clear, I do not know if Ron Johnson (or any other illiberal posing as a Republican) is feeble minded, galactically ignorant or if he is a vicious, pandering liar. I do know that he is dangerous because he perpetuates hatred that does more than upset people; it gets people killed and it can upend our democracy. That pleases Vladimir Putin, whose propaganda Johnson and other Republicans trumpeted loudly in the last election and beyond. Johnson, like so many other chaos generators, is actively working against America, and that is very illiberal. Read this from Anne Applebaum.

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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.

Sing It With Me


A video of this post is inlne below.

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Our national mania for freedom (“You can’t tell me what to do!“) and  our desire for retribution for both real and imagined wrongs, combined with our obsession over firearms (click for the truth about “Second Amendment remedies“) is a potent combination that is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: it’s killing people.

15 were killed and 24 injured at Columbine High School

9 were killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church

17 were killed at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School

11 were killed and 6 wounded at Tree of Life Synagogue

58 people were killed at the Las Vegas music festival

49 people were killed and 53 were injured at the Pulse Nightclub

20 little kids and 6 teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School

8 people were killed in Atlanta spas

10 people were killed in a Boulder, CO supermarket

Click me

You know that this list could go on and on and you’d recognize the names, like Poway and San Bernardino and El Paso and Aurora and Sutherland Springs, Virginia Tech and Ft. Hood. We’ve already had 25 mass shootings in March alone, over one per day, and here’s the key point: most or all were done with legally purchased and carried weapons. Some of the killings were done by mentally ill people. Some were done by delusional angry people. Doesn’t matter much. The victims are still dead.

President Obama stood before the nation after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of those little 5 and 6 year old kids, wiping away tears as he spoke. He prayed that we would come to our senses and enact gun safety legislation that would begin to put an end to the murdering of so many of our innocents, but that still hasn’t happened. We still don’t have universal background checks. We don’t prohibit concealed and open carry. We don’t prohibit ownership of assault weapons. We don’t limit the size of ammunition magazines or the number of firearms and the amount of ammunition anyone is allowed to own. We do nothing – literally nothing – to stop the bleeding and dying.

A lot of our politicians have had a backbone-ectomy and have refused to do a thing about preventing our national carnage, even as 90% of us want universal background checks and more.

Exactly who do you think is doing all that shooting: lefties? Get real. In fact, get so real that you’ll read the unclassified version of the Intelligence Community assessment of domestic violent extremism. You can download a copy here.

No time to read? Okay, I’ll make this quick. Things are terrible and they are rapidly becoming even worse.*

Here’s a lovely set of statistics. There are enough firearms in private hands in this country to equip every man, woman and child with a gun and still have millions of firearms left over. That’s the first statistic.

Here’s the second: 50% of all those firearms are in the hands of just 3% of the population and a lot of those people are very angry. Worse, they think they’re the true patriots and the proper arbiters of justice and that violence is a fine solution.

We live in the lunacy of unrestricted firearms in the hands of angry people who think a stop sign is an abridgement of their freedom. Or they think that somebody else is the cause of their problems and unhappiness and that all the somebody else’s should be made to pay. Better hope you’re not a somebody else. Meanwhile, sleep well and have a nice day.

Which is hard to do right now if you live in Boulder, CO or Atlanta, GA or even Newtown, CT. And who knows? Maybe your town will make the news just like theirs, so that the name of your elementary school or your high school or your favorite supermarket or spa will be known across the nation.

You know the words of the mass murder song, so sing it with me: Thoughts and Prayers.

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ADDENDA

From Giovanni Russonello in the New York Times – On Politics newsletter of March 24, 2021, wherein he directs a fictional stage play.

“Senators, assemble, stage left and stage right, and face the audience. Now, express your outrage and frustration. Demand change. Or, if you’re standing on the right, direct your outrage at those across from you, ridiculing them for suggesting that changing the laws might even address the problem.”

This is, in fact, a constantly recurring drama that played out yet again the day after the Boulder, CO massacre. This is why things never get better.

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Click through the graphic below to the Mother Jones “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America.”

The Geography of Mass Shootings in America – Click the pic

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  • * 2020 was a great year for gun murders in America. We’re number one and certain to stay there. Read about it here.

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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.

Our Watch


The good news is that there are lots of people who are smarter than me and I need them, because I have a big bucket full of I Don’t Know.

For example, I don’t understand righties who not only want to have their way (that part is understandable, of course), but they want to “own the libs.” What’s with the implied meanness and even cruelty?

And what about all the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers? I understand people younger than 65 years old saying they’re willing to take their chances with the coronavirus, because if they get sick it’s less likely they’ll become seriously ill or die. But they are the ones who are most likely to infect their parents and grandparents and those older people are far more likely to die. Instead of doing their part to protect our vulnerable, the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are having temper tantrums about their freedom to not wear a mask and to refuse vaccines, but those are the very things that will stem the tide of this pandemic and limit coronavirus deaths. I don’t know what happened to our sense of patriotism as  expressed through national willingness to sacrifice for one another and for the common good. I just don’t know.

Why were there thousands of our fellow citizens who stormed the Capitol Building looking to kill members of Congress and lynch the Vice President? Where did that rage and viciousness come from? I surely don’t know.

How did our society and our values devolve to such a point that these people would chant “USA! USA!”as though they were patriots, when they were at the same time vandalizing perhaps the most prominent symbol of our country? Why would they carry American and Blue Lives Matter flags and then beat the living daylights out of our Capitol Police with their flag poles? And how could they see themselves as true Christians when they were in search of legislators to wantonly kill? I don’t know that, either.

The Republican party has completely shifted its behavior over the last 40 years. For example, speaking of Republican efforts to undermine our last election, Sheila Markin writes, “Disinformation works to create mistrust of government. Currently, there is a campaign in [some] communities to create mistrust about the vaccine. General mistrust of government is the goal.” [emphasis mine] That is happening right now in plain sight. I don’t know why we just watch and remain immobilized.

More to the point, we’ve seen all of this coming for years, perhaps decades, and we’ve done nothing to stop the selfishness, the dishonesty, the fear, the hatred, the violence and now the insurrection. I don’t know how we let that happen.

We’ve never lived up to our democratic ideals, especially the “We hold these truths to be self-evident” claim. The Republican legislatures of 43 states are working frantically right now to prohibit poor people and people of any color but white from voting. As bad, the Republican bloc in the Senate is dedicated to making sure that Congress allows all that state crafted disenfranchisement to happen. Apparently, the truths we hold as self-evident aren’t exactly the same as those stated on that piece of 1776 parchment. How have we allowed that to go on for so long?

Nikita Khrushchev was First Secretary of the Communist Party in the former Soviet Union. We were in a cold war with the Soviets then and Khrushchev famously said, “We will bury you.” Indeed, in a moment of gleeful disparagement of capitalism he declared that they would sell us the rope that they would use to hang us. In a crazy twist of fate, he may have been right.

We have senators and congressmen/women openly spreading propaganda supplied by Vladimir Putin. What is the payoff they get for spreading Putin’s lies and misinformation to Americans and for undermining our trust in government and in ourselves? That sounds suspiciously like Putin is selling rope to these congressional fools and we are hanging ourselves with that rope. That seems treasonous to me and I don’t know why we tolerate the behavior of these congressional betrayers. I don’t know why we allow these people to be in government or have any power at all.

Click me

When it comes to adverse events, there is a useful and powerful declaration that comes from our military: Not on my watch. That means that I won’t let anything bad happen when it’s my turn to stand a post. You can feel safe when it’s my watch.

But this is our watch. You and I are standing a post and these bad things are happening right now.

We’re in charge and we’ve allowed ourselves to be lied into wars, we tolerate gun massacres and we stand by while hundreds of thousands of our compatriots suffer and die needlessly. All that and more has happened and continues to happen on our watch. I don’t know why we tolerate that. I can’t explain the pervasive silence.

If you want to know why people are doing the reprehensible things that are now everyday occurrences, read this and click through the links in that piece, too. If you want to know why we have allowed the degradation of our country to happen, I can’t help, because, as I said, I have a big bucket full of I Don’t Know.

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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.

That Guy


Upton Sinclair said,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (Thanks go to MG for the quote.)

That’s a powerful observation about human nature and motivation, but when I read it I instantly shifted to our national cultural and political divide. If you’ve had or even overheard a conversation between two people on opposite shores of that divide you likely have wondered how the other guy – let’s say the guy you’d describe as a Trumpy – can possibly believe the unreal things he’s been told and which he’s proudly trumpeting.

Even with various attempts to get “that guy” to see reality, to accept truth, he steadfastly clings to his stated beliefs. Perhaps you’ve metaphorically or literally rolled your eyes and asked yourself some version of, “What’s the matter with that guy? Is he crazy?”

Back to Upton Sinclair.

Suppose we adjust his quote a little so that it reads,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his very sense of himself depends upon his not understanding it.”

Fonzie

Fonzie was one of the main characters in the TV sit-com Happy Days. He was a pseudo tough guy and he had a limitation of not being able to admit he was wrong. Indeed, he was unable to even pronounce the word “wrong” if applied to himself. That made for some funny TV, but what made Fonzie unable to admit he was wrong is the valuable part. Admitting being wrong was antithetical to how he saw himself. Admitting he was wrong would negate his tough guy self-image.

Back to “that guy.”

Presenting proof that the January 6 insurrection was instigated by the President and far right-wing agitators and not by lefty groups would likely fall on deaf “that guy” ears. The same applies to his inability to let go of his belief that Jewish space lasers caused California wild fires and his belief that Democrats run sex trafficking rings. To acknowledge such errors would mean “that guy” would have to admit he was wrong. Yet, like Fonzie, he may well be limited by his self-image so that he’s unable to change his thinking.

Noodling through that brought me to an unexpected place. What, I wondered, does my self-image keep me from understanding?  What if I’m “that guy?” Taking this one step further, what if you’re “that guy?”

Have a look at this TED talk.

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Speaking of That Guy

Paul F. Campos makes an enormously compelling case for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to resign. If he doesn’t do so promptly, we run a great risk of repeating the Ruth Bader Ginsberg Supreme Court justice replacement debacle. Click here to see why Justice Breyer should step down.

Click me

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Wiped Out

I’m still amused by The Great American Toilet Paper Hoarding that began one year ago. Covid wasn’t and isn’t a GI disease, but we grabbed all the TP we could until the shelves were wiped out. We humans are so entertaining.

Has your home stockpile been consumed down to a more normal level by now? If not, what’s up with that?

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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.
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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.

FDB – Not a Typo


The Yungr Machine is a modification of the Wabac Machine.

Were I twenty years younger and living where there is a Republican senator or congressperson I would run for office in 2022. I’m licking my lips at the idea of running against any fool Republican who voted against the American Rescue Plan, which includes every Republican in Congress. By November 2022 it will be the single most positive and popular thing to impact the voting public in many decades and its popularity will climb as people get checks, vaccinations. jobs and their kids go back to school. Please, somebody, stuff me into the Yungr Machine so I can become a generation younger and run against an R in the mid-term election.

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Passing the American Rescue Plan is a huge step in delivering what Americans want and desperately need. It has a 76% approval rating – over 60% of Republicans like it – and those numbers are going nowhere but up. It’s the kind of thing that makes people say, “Hey, this is pretty good stuff – these guys actually can deliver.” Some will say quite reasonably, “It’s about damn time,” and, of course, they’ll be right. We’ve dragged feet for decades on any kind of benefit package that actually helps working people and our most desperate.

This is so good that even stogy economists, like those at Goldman Sachs, as well as non-stogy Paul Krugman, are predicting 7.7% growth in GDP, and that’s nothing but good for everyone.

The key political play is for the Dems to keep the Plan properly framed and its benefits in front of voters for the next four years. That’s critical, because Trump will try to steal the glory by claiming that “only he” could have delivered Operation Warp Speed. Look for that BS coming soon to a communication near you.

Now imagine Biden delivering an infrastructure bill, a critically needed updating and rebuilding of our national foundation that politicians have been wagging tongues about and have steadfastly avoided tackling for at least 40 years. This will be a WPA-like package that puts millions more Americans to work with good wages and benefits and the self-respect that comes with that. That will be next on Biden’s playlist and, like the American Rescue Plan, it will be gigantically popular.

Big projects are what are needed for our big challenges. This is very much like the time of the Great Depression, in that there are big crises afoot, which opens a space for a strong leader with the right message to emerge and champion serving the people. Delivering on that opportunity will cement Biden as the right guy for our time and perhaps the cultural and economic successor to FDR; hence, the title, “FDB.”

Republicans know and fear this, so they especially want to oppose an infrastructure plan, because its popularity would likely portend 8 to 12 additional years of a Democrat in the White House and Democrats controlling Congress, too. That’s why they are scratching and clawing to keep the filibuster. They are desperate to prevent its modification so that they can continue to submarine every Democrat and every Biden effort. Their motto:

Obstruction Я Us

They are all about stopping anything that is good for We the People because that prevents Ds from having a win. They think that will put them in power. Too bad for you.

That is why Democrat efforts to de-fang the filibuster and prevent Republican obstructionism is so important to our nation. Read this to understand fully.

Republican legislators refuse to be responsive to the needs and desires of the American people, but they still want power. They ache for the appalling thrill of minority rule. They are unable to compete on policy, so they’re waging a war using cultural divisiveness, fantastical lying, gerrymandering and overt voter suppression. Sadly, in their complete absence of even a single idea of substance for We the People, they’re now using their lofty Congressional status to attack Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head. Really.*

If you believe in majority rule, you better get into the fight to limit or eliminate the filibuster.

Fun Contest

There’s red wine, white wine and Republican whine, and they have already started their whining campaign about the American Rescue Plan. They are claiming that it’s full of “pork barrel spending.” They are wailing great cries of woe and rending their garments in anticipation of a fantasy mortal hog snort to our nation. This is exactly like Trump and Republican accusations of voting fraud in the 2020 election, in that in neither case are they able to point to even a single example of the horrible thing they decry. All they have are false accusations projected at spit-spewing volume.

Which brings to mind the title and key lyric of a fine blues tune:

Your Mind Is On Vacation (and Your Mouth Is Working Overtime)

So, the contest is to find an example of the pork that Republicans claim is in this bill. Submit your contest entry in the Comments section below. The contest winner’s name will be attached to a pork chop that will be sent to the Congressional pork whiner of his/her choice.

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  • *Tucker Carlson responded to President Biden’s Thursday speech, wherein the President offered hope that we will be able to gather with friends and family on the Fourth of July. Carlson said, “This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?” He’s quite good at indignation.
  • That empty headedness is what passes for thoughtful Republican commentary in a pandemic.
  • Okay, I accept your criticism that Tucker Carlson is anything but thoughtful. So, instead consider applying to him the blues tune title above.

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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.

Lessons


The Playground Lessons

When I was a kid the grown ups let me know when I behaved improperly and the messages were always very clear and compelling. That didn’t mean that I never did whatever-it-was again, but it did mean that I knew the rules and did whatever-it-was less and less often. I saw other kids learning that same hard way, too. “Betcha grown ups don’t get in trouble that way,” I thought, because, well, they’re grown ups.

Wrong.

Some didn’t learn their lessons,

like the huge community of Trumpist liars who never quite got the message that it isn’t okay to lie.

like the self-certain conspiracy theory followers who use their self-righteousness to bully others, even though they were taught on the playground not to bully.

like the rule benders who victimize others with their barely legal discrimination and hateful suppression.

like the shameful cowards who don’t stand up for what they know is right and don’t stand against what they know is wrong.

There are lots more, of course, but the point is that becoming an adult doesn’t guarantee anyone will leave childhood wrongdoing behind, even though we all know that it should. Some carry around their brattiness like a badge of honor all their lives and hone their skills with pride. They refuse to learn their lessons and you can see that any day in Congress and hear it constantly from the mouths of political blatherers. They all wear adult bodies, but inside some are just bratty kids from the playground.

Go tell their moms on them. Then they’ll be in trouble.

The Government Lesson

President Ronald Reagan famously and repeatedly said, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” That was an odd thing to say for a guy wanting to run government.

Surely, Reagan found a useful campaign tool in making government a boogie man. He gave people something to blame for their problems. He stoked the fires of discontent for his own benefit and left the resulting carnage to others. We are living in that carnage right now.

In contrast, President Biden now has our vaccination program humming along at over 2 million poked arms per day. We’re rapidly on our way to beating this horrible virus and restoring our more normal lives, all because government is the solution.

There are some things that even rugged American individualists cannot do on their own. That’s why we have government. Government is why we’re able to roll up our shirtsleeves and get vaccinated. That’s why Biden is decisively proving Reagan wrong. Because it turns out that government wasn’t the problem; Reagan was.

The Texas Lesson

Governor Greg Abbott issued an imperial proclamation that mask wearing is no longer required and all businesses in Texas are free to open fully as of today. That’s more than odd, given that it’s obvious that we have not defeated the coronavirus pandemic.

Worse, there are multiple mutant strains of the virus that are accelerating infections across the nation. They are more efficient in their transmission, meaning that we infect one another with even less exposure than from the original coronavirus. Worse yet, they are more serious and perhaps more deadly to humans. Surely, Governor Abbott knows this. So, why would he put Texans at mortal risk? I think I know.

Abbott knows that eliminating the mask mandate and opening up the state for full interpersonal viral transmission will result in massive numbers of Texans becoming gravely ill and many will die. I’m guessing that will affect fewer Democrat voters, as they are likely to wear a mask, Abbott proclamation or not. His order, then, will result in fewer Republican voters, thus helping purple Texas go Democrat for years to come. I think Abbott is a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Well done, Governor Machiavelli!

The Rights Lesson

Click the pic for a more legible view. Scroll down to the “Feminism vs Corporate Rule” article.

The Politics Lesson

If you want clarity about the realities of your political choices and the future of America, read Sheila Markin’s post here.

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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.

E Pluribus Unum


Perhaps you heard that in the face of the Texas winter nightmare Republican Governor Greg Abbott blamed the breakdowns and suffering on the Green New Deal. Of course, the GND is only an idea; nothing has been done to create its physical reality, so Abbott’s pronouncements were most perplexing. Besides, the wind and solar renewables that have been in Texas for years kept working as the fossil fuel plants shut down. His gubernatorial leadership seemed rather QAnon-ish and unhelpful.

Former Republican Texas Governor and former head of the Department of Energy Rick Perry said that “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” He also said that the current disaster shows that we have to double down on burning natural gas.

Perry made these claims even as climate scientists explained that the jet stream was altered by global warming and that the resulting redirection drove the frigid air that far south, all the way to Texas and northern Mexico. It’s incontrovertible that burning more gas won’t prevent the next arctic blast and it’s unlikely Texans want to experience yet more days without power. Like Governor Abbott, former Governor Perry’s comments were detached from reality and notably unhelpful at a time when help was needed.

“Don’t mess with Texas” is an attitude of fierce independence and pride in the Lone Star state and those politicians have used that attitude as their political tool. But the experts have made it clear that this stand-alone bravado and a mania for deregulation are key drivers of the Texas lack of preparedness for cold weather and the suffering it spawned this month.

In the face of our obvious interdependence, neither Texas nor, indeed, any part our country can go it alone in facing our deepest, most difficult challenges. It’s time to get over our self-puffing swagger, our self-serving pronouncements and leave the failed policies and attitudes behind.

We cannot “burn natural gas” our way out of our power and climate messes. We cannot “deny medical care” our way to health. We cannot “austerity” ourselves out of poverty. We cannot bootstrap ourselves out of natural disasters. We cannot suppress our way to security. We cannot hate our way into patriotism. It’s time – really, long past time – to deal with reality.

One reality is that everyone likes the idea of small government and low taxes. The companion reality is that we like that first reality only until the moment when disaster hits and we have to pull together. It’s called government. The Commons. It’s how we band together to do the things we cannot do alone. It’s why impoverishing government ultimately doesn’t work for us.

Philosopher and heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That’s when the old plan shows its weaknesses and we realize that we are in a fight for our lives and that we’re in it together. That’s when we drop the pretenses and get about doing what we should have been doing all along.

Like aggressively fighting Covid-19.
Like rebuilding our infrastructure before everything falls apart.
Like admitting that we really need some things to be regulated.
Like standing up to bullies.
Like ending our ongoing un-civil war.
Like educating all of our young.
Like preparing for a tomorrow that is going to look very different from our yesterday.
Like acknowledging that not everything is a zero-sum game.
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That means that we must be an E Pluribus Unum, because without it we are self-defeating. Just ask anyone on our Gulf Coast who has dealt with frequent and ever-more powerful hurricanes, or any former homeowner in the burned out wreckage of California, or survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 or most any Texan right now,

Our being composed of such large numbers of people today make the E Pluribus Unum part difficult, because we humans are more comfortable in small numbers. But we’ve solved that puzzle before, once at our beginning and at other times since then, and we can do it again.

All we have to do is to deal with reality like an E Pluribus Unum.

From ES:

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. – Robert Fulghum.

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American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

People are bowing before a golden image of Trump at CPAC. It is the ultimate graven image of our time, today’s Biblical-political tale of debauchery and willful human debasement. That kind of idol worship over the last 4 years got us January 6. And now these people have their real Golden Calf to worship. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

This time for sure!

Said Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” Here it is again in perfect verse.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt the CPAC worship perversion, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

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To the attendees at CPAC

You booed the woman calling for wearing face masks and shouted “Freedom!” in protest of her outrageous proposal to suppress virus transmission. What was she thinking?

Hold tight to your liberty to refuse to wear a mask. Breathe, cough and sneeze to the point of hypoxia in your asymptomatic self-certainty. Exercise your freedom by sharing your disease with your family and friends.

Just keep your cooties the hell away from me and everyone else who knows they have the freedom to not be infected by you. Freedom!

And no, I won’t visit you in the hospital when that respirator is shoved down your throat. Neither will anyone else. You’ll have the freedom to die alone.

Random Fact of the Week

Barbie Doll’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Now you have all you need for a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Many thanks to grandson JG and his Fact of the Day calendar for that.

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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.

Lessons From a Senate Committee Hearing


The Merrick Garland confirmation hearing yielded a couple of unanticipated lessons, one of which we might have expected, but it arrived in a surprisingly moving and impactful way. The other was a fresh take on what happened on January 6.

Judge Garland responded to a question from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) about why he wanted to be the United States Attorney General. Here’s what Judge Garland said – I watched it live – as reported in the Washington Post:

“I come from a family where my grandparents fled antisemitism and persecution,” Garland said. And then he stopped. He sat in silence for more than a few beats. And when he resumed, his voice cracked. “The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country, to pay back.”

“This is the highest, best use of my one set of skills,” Garland said. “And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general you’re saying I could be.”

Does that work for you? Is that the kind of fiercely held attitude of service and integrity you want the chief enforcer of our laws to have? I think we can feel safe in entrusting our Constitution to this guy. And won’t that be refreshing?

One other thing was also prompted by Sen. Booker. He invoked the Bible, Micah 6:8: ”  .  .  .  to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.” Booker used that to frame a question for Judge Garland, but I got to thinking about those words and juxtaposing them with the cross carrying, Bible thumping, hate spewing, Jesus intoning violent people who attacked the Capitol Building and everyone in it or guarding it on January 6.

As these people ransacked the building, as they went hunting for Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence in order to murder them in the name of their false patriotism, as they befouled the halls of Congress, what was their score in doing justly?

As they murdered several people, and injured 140 Capitol Police and DC cops, as they brutalized one cop trapped in a doorway and bludgeoned another with the staffs of American flags and baseball bats as he lay prone and defenseless on the steps of the Capitol, how were they doing in loving mercy?

Booker didn’t mention the walking humbly part, but did you see or hear any humility on the part of the hate-filled, raging insurrectionist mob that day?

It’s a most stark and shocking comparison between a humble man who longs to give back to the country that took in and protected his grandparents when they had nowhere else to go, and the hateful thugs who want to tear down every good thing this country stands for.

Every now and then Congressional hearings bring us something truly valuable. In these hearings we found a good man, this in a time when we dearly need good people.

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Unavoidable Footnote

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-QAnon) used his five minutes in this hearing to make vacuous claims, like saying that the rioters carrying Trump flags and invoking his name were Antifa provocateurs and far left subversives. Claim after claim was not just false, but outrageously, cartoonishly false.

I believe Johnson to be reasonably intelligent, which eliminates his using ignorance as his excuse for saying such things. That leaves us only one other explanation: he lied. Now, why would he do that, especially in such a brazen and evil cartoon character manner?

I think it’s time for the Commissioner to shine the Bat Signal onto the clouds and summon Batman and Robin to clean up the pandering.

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Correction

In the original posting of this essay Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) was identified as the invoker of the cartoon comments. It was Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who made the cartoon comments, not Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. This post has been updated to correct the error. Many thanks to sharp-eyed reader Chuck Tanner for the correction  and apologies to Sen. Portman.

—————————————-

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.

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