Integrity

Restoring the Dream


    • You got trouble, my friend. Right here in River City.
    • Oh, we got trouble with a capital “T” and it rhymes with “D” and it stands for Democracy.

With apologies to Meredith Willson, creator of the wonderful music and lyrics for the wildly successful musical The Music Man, paraphrasing his words became irresistible after seeing Rob Reiner’s tweet from April 20.

He’s right, of course, as today’s Republicans work every day to replace democracy with authoritarianism led by Donald Trump or a Trump imitator. But there’s a problem with Reiner’s tweet: It doesn’t sell.

For many, a threat to democracy is too esoteric, too theoretical to solidly grasp it, much less to be motivated by such a claim. Worse, millions of Americans believe that democracy has already been taken from them, stolen by elitists in the 2020 election, stolen by people who don’t understand or care about regular Americans. That makes Reiner’s tweet sound like a lie to them. Perhaps they hear his tweet and then believe that left-of-center types think regular Americans are stupid enough to believe his vaporous claim.

I was on a Zoom call last week with a couple dozen like-minded people who were bemoaning the continuing threat to our democracy by extremists and self-serving liars. The context was about how to win in our next elections. The problem is that the argument about the far right’s threat to democracy, however impassioned anyone may feel about it, is only motivating to those who already agree and there aren’t enough of them to win an election.

The real battle is not to win over the far right extremists. The battle is for the independents, the middle-ists,* the regular Americans just going about their lives and who don’t like getting bashed by crazy claims from those who would inflame them. To win these folks over will take something more tangible to them than a claim about an idea.

From the Captain Obvious System Operating Handbook:

Appeal truthfully to the middle-ists on the basis of what’s important to them.

Now, there’s an idea that just might be good for both middle-ists and our country. Pair that with some Rock ‘n Roll philosophy from The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday:

    • “There’s no time to lose,” I heard her say.
    • Catch your dreams before they slip away.
    • Dying all the time,
    • Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.
    • Ain’t life unkind?

Okay, what about the American Dream? We figured it was ours, and it was. But some of us, perhaps millions of us, feel like it’s already gone or is being stolen from us and the robbery is happening in plain sight. The millions are angry, just as any of us would be if something dear to us were being taken away. Perhaps life doesn’t have to be that unkind.

What if we were to do something about restoring the American Dream, that sense of limitless possibilities (watch this space on Wednesday)? That might help. But the view of our possibilities is dramatically clouded by the anger and hatred that has been unleashed from the American subconscious by self-promoting thugs. This isn’t going to be easy. Nevertheless, it is necessary, because the alternative is unthinkable.

We have to catch that dream before it really does slip away and we all lose our minds.

Must Reads For Restoring the American Dream

First, Hillary Clinton wrote a wonderful piece about Madeleine Albright shortly after Albright died. Two notes about that.

  1. We have a national obsession to bash Clinton or defend her. Whatever your opinion of her, set that aside and learn about Albright.
  2. Albright lived under authoritarianism until she was 11 years old, so she knew the difference between that and freedom and democracy. She valued democracy likely far greater than those of us for whom democracy has been a given. Read and learn, grasshopper.

Second, Emmanuel Macron won the presidency of France over fascist, Putin loving, bigoted, authoritarian wannabee Marine Le Pen, daughter of fascist, Putin loving, bigoted, authoritarian wannabee Jean-Marie Le Pen. NATO and those who love freedom and democracy can breathe a sigh of relief over that.

David Leonhardt’s piece about that election provides clues to what is going on in the United States. For example, why do far right, angry, hateful extremist politicians get so many votes from ordinary citizens? I encourage you to read Leonhardt’s essay and substitute USA for France as you read and you’ll get a better understanding of how and why our nation is divided and perhaps a clue as to how to deal with that.

Hint: It’s a hard, uphill pull to convince people to let go of our protective “fear of the other,” of our need to blame and our enormous capacity for rationalizing of the irrational. That struggle is connected to restoring the American Dream.

Bonus Section: Gotta Fix This
.

Click me for the story

Read that carefully: ” .  .  .  prosecutors may have used false testimony;”  “.  .  .  prosecutors suppressed other evidence that would have been favorable to her.” Oh, and they browbeat her into a false confession – it’s on videotape.

I’m no lawyer or Constitutional expert, nor am I conversant in all the details of this case, but I’m pretty sure that prosecutors cheating is not okay. Nevertheless, it happens. Note that the chief prosecutor in Ms.Lucio’s case is now in prison for bribery and other things no prosecutor should be doing.

There are hundreds of innocent people who have been falsely imprisoned, some nearly executed, but who were exonerated through the work of The Innocence Project. We’ll likely never see the end of cheating prosecutors or inept pubic defenders, but Ms. Lucio’s case and the cases of others are why we need to end capital punishment, even in Texas.

Gotta fix this.

Updated Children’s Book

With the disclosures of recorded telephone calls of House Republican leadership shortly after the January 6 insurrection, we were rewarded by learning of the concern they held for the welfare of others in Congress. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Spineless) was specifically concerned that the ongoing vilification of other legislators by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pedophilia) could ignite additional violence. McCarthy said that kind of thing would have to stop and that he’d have words with Gaetz. Isn’t it wonderful that McCarthy had concern for the well being of others, for doing the right thing and for stopping Gaetz and others from putting other members of Congress at risk?

Sadly, his moment of morality didn’t last long. It appears he never took any such action and that he later lied about having said that he would. That’s just so surprising.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the states are moving to burn books and Gaetz is still running wild. Do you think the Republicans will ban this book, too?

Gaetz is under investigation for having sex with an underage girl and for sex trafficking. Many thanks to JN for the cartoon.

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* There’s nothing wrong with the word “centrists.” There’s just something pleasing today about “middle-ists,” regardless of the fact that until this post it wasn’t a word. I like it. Might use it again.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Numbers, Masks, Injustice & MTG


Numbers

This is scary.

There are roughly 331 million citizens in the United States, of whom 258 million are adults (identified at least by age, if not by behavior). Only 168 million adults are registered voters. The other 90 million adults either haven’t bothered to register, they’re ineligible to vote, like convicted felons in some states, or they have been removed from voter roles through black hearted partisan purgings.

Currently, 47% of adults claim to be Republican or Republican leaning. 47% of our 258 million adults equals 121 million Americans who identify as Republican or Republican leaning. But here is where the numbers become frightening.

Rachel Gutman of The Atlantic Daily reported about those 121 million Americans that,

“Sixty-eight percent of Republicans do not believe that the 2020 election was free and fair, but few can explain exactly why. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but something just doesn’t feel right,” one Donald Trump voter told Sarah Longwell.”

Applying that data, 68% of 121 million self-identifying Republican Americans equals over 82 million Americans, or 32% of all American adults, who believe The Big Lie even in the complete absence of facts, data or evidence to so much as suggest that fraud took place.

Clearly, for these 82 million Americans accusations alone have superseded the need for the presentation of evidence. No proof is necessary for them to pronounce judgment and sentencing. Let me focus that a bit better:

One-third of American adults “can’t put their finger on it” and have absolutely no evidence for it, but they believe outrageous, completely unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud!

Plus, 57% of Republicans (about 69 million Americans) say that the January 6 insurrection was “patriotism,” not a crime.

I warned you that this is scary.

Unmasked

Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle decided last week that the CDC was just too mean and had overstepped the limitations of a 1944 law that allowed it to create limitations on Americans to keep them from killing one another with disease. Apparently, she felt that interfering with Americans’ right to infect one another was an abridgement of freedom too far. So, thanks to her nationwide quash of the regulation, we may Covid-slay one another at will.

We have two problems. The first is this 34-year-old judge nominated by Trump.

Before her Senate confirmation she was found Not Qualified to be a federal judge by the American Bar Association due to her lack of experience. That was no impediment for Mitch McConnell and she was rammed through the Senate. Before assuming the bench for a lifetime appointment, Judge Mizelle had driven past a courtroom once or twice, but had  never been in one.

Now, without hearing even a single syllable of oral argument about the mask mandate (i.e. without actually trying the case), she’s made a decision that reverses this CDC regulation nationally. I guess her Trump appointment makes her smarter than all the doctors, scientists, legislators and lawyers. Her finding is likely to have huge consequences, as our case and death counts continue to rise and new variants of Covid are wreaking havoc.

The second problem we have is that we’re Americans, which means we’re little cry babies and we want what we want when we want it. If things don’t work to our satisfaction quickly, somebody has wronged us, we’re poor little victims, and somebody – anybody – has to pay big time. For example, “Make those pedophile, weenie-hearted Democrats suffer for the burdens imposed by their socialist CDC!”

But still, will we sacrifice a little comfort for the sake of the our nation, for the well being of our fellow citizens? Don’t get me started. Oh, wait: I’m already started.

Authoritarian Moment

“Despots go after the press first. They seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can’t stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it’s a huge threat to them.”   –  Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK, 1963

Here’s Malcolm Nance from Ukraine. “I’m done talking. It’s time to take action here.”

I’m from the Internet and on some weekends I play fake soldier.

 

Something tells me that all the militia tough guys, the internet testosterone trolls and the badass guys with AR-15s strutting through their local Starbucks and threatening kids carrying posters at protests aren’t in Ukraine with Nance.

So, to all the camo wearing, shaved head burly boys: You whine about your rights; you wail about government stealing your god-given freedom; you bellow about your liberty. But when it’s actually on the line, when children and grandmothers (“babushkas”) are being murdered and cities are being leveled and people need help to keep their freedom, you’re AWOL. You’re nowhere to be seen when someone is shooting back.

In your next tough guy selfie video, please explain what that makes you.

The MTG Mental Infirmity

Click me

Last Friday Marjorie Taylor Greene testified in court, under oath, about her encouragement and participation in the preparation for the January 6 insurrection that was designed to upend our democracy. She responded to questions about what she had said and done, repeatedly claiming some version of, “I don’t remember.” That was a fine ploy to prevent her from committing perjury, but hardly believable, as she had spent years advocating for conspiracy theories, disrespecting the Constitution and encouraging sedition.

But with all her convenient loss of memory, perhaps she is rightly worried about her mental decline and loss of recollection. No worries, because we can provide comfort to her with this simple reassurance:

Marjorie, we understand your cunning testimony about not remembering those unpatriotic things you’ve said and done, but don’t fret. You can check with us any time, because we remember quite well what you’ve done.

And Finally, for Florida Gov. DeSantis
.

Click me for the story from The Onion

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Dunning-Krueger & SmackDown


The Dunning-Krueger Effect

We suffer – oh yes, we suffer greatly! – from people who proclaim they have wisdom, brilliance, expertise and, worst, announce “truth” as if they actually know something. They act as though their appearance of confidence is all that is required. The sad news is that some reasonable level of competence really is required for most endeavors, especially for leading a nation. Absent that, we get into a lot of trouble.

It’s called the Dunning-Krueger Effect.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon whereby people with little knowledge tend to overestimate their abilities, precisely because they ignore how much knowledge is necessary .  .  .

That may seem rather benign, but it leads people to say and do the most outrageous and harmful things, like accuse others of horrific deeds (see the next section of this post). Here’s a graph of this phenomenon.

In the snap of your fingers you can name ten people immobilized at step one on Child’s Hill. Examples: Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Green, as well as Sen. Bill Lee. And that’s just from last week’s cavalcade of deceit.

Here’s another graph of Dunning-Krueger with labels you may find more useful.

We have far too many politicians stuck on the peak of Mt. Stupid. Being there leaves them with nothing to do but sell out to whoever brings them more power and money. They are rendered paralyzed by fear of falling into disfavor with whoever is dispensing what they want (their “puppet master”). They will say and do the most inane and destructive things just to stay in the good graces of he who pulls their strings.

They will cheat and lie and when caught they will double down on their lies. They will sell others down the river without another thought. The problem is that you and I are on that boat headed south and we’re on board solely because of the permanent residence of our self-deluded politicians on Mt. Stupid.

If you want to know more about the Dunning-Krueger effect, click on the charts above. If you want to get rid of politicians stuck on the peak of Mt. Stupid, vote them off the mountain this November and in 2024 and recruit others to do the same.*

Smack Down

I know you hear the outrageous, hateful, bigoted rants of haters who seek to marginalize us, to create divisions to weaken us, to give power to the minority at the expense of the majority. Maybe your blood boils when you hear leaders spew lies and fear and your eyes go googly when some otherwise ordinary citizen recites the crap s/he has been fed by the hate mongers.

And just maybe you wish that somebody – anybody – would hit back hard. You need right and wrong to be restored to something having moral fiber.

Well, wait no longer.

The video below is of Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow on April 19 offering “words” for another senator who had trashed her with accusations of pedophilia in an emailed fund raiser the night before. Even if you’ve seen it, watch it again.

This is the kind of sterner stuff we need in this country. This is the kind of impassioned smack down of hatred that we need to see in every venue where hateful idiots are spewing vile lies. Sen. McMorrow may be exactly who we’ve been waiting for to shine a light that leads us all back onto the right path.

 


* Here’s a comment from one of the D-K pieces, addressed to those on the peak of Mt. Stupid:

“Please move out now while you still know it all.”

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Cancel Culture, Crayons, Lincoln & Lemonade


Cancel Culture

It’s about shutting down, shutting up and shutting off opponents.

The power of authoritarians lies in the absolute, unthinking enforcement of their desires and taboos by absolute, unthinking followers who are otherwise average people. We’ve watched this dynamic in constant replay through all the Trump years, as people did and do unpatriotic things just because Trump wanted them to – and they’ve believed their actions were patriotic. All such things require is a nod from the authoritarian and people will do destructive, even self-destructive things. And nobody will push back against the authoritarian for fear of being persecuted and even expelled from the group at any time and for any reason.

For example, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) was a Trump sycophant. He regularly carried water for Trump and even talked insurrectionist trash at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6. But he got on the wrong side of Trump and has been kicked to the side by Trump and his followers. Brooks has been cancelled.

That’s cancel culture.

The funny thing is that Trump suck-ups point their sinister, threatening fingers at Democrats, accusing them of cancel culture whenever Dems decry bad behavior, like cops killing unarmed Black men. Then these same Trump wannabees proceed to cancel gays, lesbians, Blacks, teachers, doctors and more using legislation to shut them down, up and off. And they seek to end our democracy and our Constitution, which these cancelers falsely claim they are protecting.

The armies of the authoritarians charge ahead without so much as a single critical thought in their heads. That’s how Hitler got millions of ordinary and otherwise peaceful Germans to do the most despicable things. Threats and intimidation are all it takes. As Lord Tarkin said in Star Wars – Episode IV, “Fear will keep the local systems in line.” And so it does.

Republicans used to be strong advocates for law and order and for the rule of law. Yet on April 6 all but two Republicans voted not to hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for having obviously and publicly refused to comply with lawful subpoenas issued to them by the January 6 Committee. Plainly, these guys broke the law. You would be in jail in a heartbeat if you did such a thing, but 203 Republican representatives voted to let these guys skate.

This happened because the House Select Committee is getting ever closer to Trump’s involvement in the insurrection, so Trump wants to stymie the committee. His unthinking and absolutist sycophants in the House did his unpatriotic bidding by voting against the contempt resolutions for fear of being persecuted and perhaps expelled from the Trump cult, like Mo Brooks. Ask Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney if you need further explanation.

Obeying Trump is more important to most Republicans than obeying the law.
So, they used their NO votes to cancel the rule of law.
.

That’s cancel culture.

Here’s a reminder from the New York TimesBret Stevens. Read these words as the marching orders for today’s Republicans.

.  .  .  we recall the words of Otter, one of the frat house characters from “National Lampoon’s Animal House”: “I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.”

Canceling the rule of law is really stupid. Our job is to make sure that effort is futile. We have to cancel the cancelers.

Crayons

I don’t know where I found the graphic to the right – at the bottom it says, “Your Tango.” Feel free to explore.

Meanwhile, this is so simple – and frightening – that it could be written in crayon. If I had crayons.

Somehow, I managed to get to this point in life without having read George Orwell’s 1984. While walking the dog recently I came to a house with a Little Free Library in the front yard by the sidewalk. There I found a copy of 1984 and took it home.

Couldn’t resist

Within minutes of starting to read the book I was startled to find a plain description of Trump rallies, the January 6 insurrection and the mindless public recitations of demonstrably and obviously false claims. Here’s just a bit of the description of a Big Brother Two Minutes Hate session.

“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”

” .  .  .  the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow, rhythmical chant of ‘B-B! .  .  .  B-B! .  .  .  B-B!” over and over again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first “B” and the second – a heavy, murmurous sound, somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms.  .  .  it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.”

There is a mob mentality that is alive and murderous in our country. From “Lock her up!” to “Beat the hell out of protesters” to “Can we use the guns now?” we are awash in angry people who deny reality and recite the lies and rage they have been taught to chant by the authoritarian. They are ravenous for power and do not care who or what gets trampled by their stampede, even those things that allow them to rage.

Sometimes, their violence is thinly veiled. Sometimes, they make death threats and they menace voters and school boards. Sometimes, they shoot people.

Would that Orwell were wrong.

Abraham Lincoln and You

No, that isn’t the title of Heather Cox-Richardson’s April 15 post, but it could be.

She begins her post with this: “Early in the morning of April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln breathed his last.” With him could have gone the glue holding the states together and our very democracy, even as the Civil War was all but over.

But it wasn’t over – not really – and we see it being waged today in sneaky, dishonest ways. Except for slavery itself, all the divides of those awful years are with us and they are as threatening and corrupt today as they were then. Richardson’s post is a must-read – here’s a link.

Lemonade

Friday night I found the flyer you see at the right stuffed into my mailbox. The next day I stopped by to find that 3 first grade girls, 7 years old, had created the flyer and had set up a lemonade stand, complete with cookies, surprise packages and bags of dog treats. They and several of their friends flagged down cars, sold their goodies and were devastatingly cute.

“Just a kid thing,” you might say. But when that cold spring day was over these kids had raised almost $800 to send to an outfit doing humanitarian work for Ukrainians.

And the kids had learned a lesson about helping those who need help. They’re a great example for all of us.

Girls, YOU ROCK!

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Elections Have Consequences


April 7, 2022

On Thursday the Senate of The United States voted 53 – 47* to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Without Georgia having elected two Democrats to the Senate in 2020 and the country having elected a Democrat to the presidency at the same time, you likely wouldn’t even know Judge Jackson’s name. But you know it now.

Caroline Randall Williams, Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, said of Jackson’s confirmation that once again a Black woman had, “dragged democracy back into the light.” It’s good to hear from the poets in order to put things into proper perspective.

We’ve taken another small step toward a more perfect union.

Elections have consequences.

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It was early 2000 and Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and his Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, had completed the enormous job of removing tens of thousands of Black people from the voting rolls. POOF! Voting rights were evaporated from people – citizens – to whom the right to vote was supposed to be guaranteed.

But these citizens were likely to vote for the Democrat in the upcoming presidential election, so the Republicans put their thumbs on the scale to prevent that from happening. Well done, Jeb, and a really in-the-family thing to do for your big, doofus brother. But even with Jeb’s cheating, the election was a nail biter and a recount was ordered.

With the recount proceeding and the vote count close but slightly in his favor, George W. Bush brought suit to stop the recounting of votes. The case went to the Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore) where Republican Chief Justice William Rehnquist presided and the Court declared that the vote recount must stop.

Instantly, that disenfranchised about 20,000 voters in the panhandle of Florida, because their votes had not yet been recounted. That’s a lot of voter disenfranchisement and it did the trick, because that area was slightly more Democratic than Republican. The state’s electoral college votes went to Bush and he became President. Later, full counts of the vote would show that Gore actually won by over 300 votes. Too bad for him and too bad for the nation. Here’s why.

Not long after that election I was having breakfast with a CEO I coached. The restaurant owner unexpectedly turned on the radio so that all could hear the breaking news of the disaster that came to be called “9/11.” Once we realized what was happening my friend said, “Good thing Bush won. Can you imagine what it would be like if Gore were President now?”

Actually, I could, but that’s for later.

Bush lied us into a war in Iraq, having preposterously told us that secular Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with radical Islamist Osama bin Laden. He made up the “yellow cake” and “aluminum tubes” lies and had his National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, terrify the nation, warning us repeatedly that the the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud.

So, we went off to war against a nation that had not harmed us in any way. Bush told us that the Iraqis would receive our military as liberators from the evil Saddam Hussein and would greet them with flowers. That didn’t happen. And he told us that the war would be paid for with Iraqi oil. But the Iraqi oil belonged to the Iraqis, not the U.S., so it wasn’t ours to take as payment for invading. Anyway, the oil money plunder didn’t happen, either.

And, of course, Bush sent our people after Osama bin Laden. They had him cornered in the caves at Tora Bora in Afghanistan and needed additional military muscle to seize him. Bush refused and instead invaded the entire country.

His lies and ineptitude led us into 20 years of war there and seven years of war in Iraq. Over 6,700 Americans were killed, about three times that many were injured and an uncountable number of Iraqis and Afghanis were either dead, wounded or displaced. He squandered trillions of dollars and managed to destabilize the entire region.

Click the pic to see more. BUT: See Note 5 below.

Bush led Republicans on a new testosterone march, where “supporting our troops” meant no critical thinking was allowed about what we did as a nation. Any challenge to his divine word was unpatriotic, we were led to believe, because “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”

At the same time the NRA was glorifying weapons of war and much of the nation began to equate violence, bravado and bullying with patriotism. Indeed, in Ryan Busse’s frightening book Gunfight, My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America, he writes,

“By the time Bush left office, the US public bought nearly seven thousand AR-15s every single day [italics original]. The country embraced even larger numbers of the guns as symbols of freedom, symptoms of fear, and statements of patriotism.”

Elections have consequences.

So, yes, I can imagine what it would have been like if Gore had won. He wouldn’t have lied us into those two catastrophic wars, the region might be stable today, there would be a buffer on Iran’s western border and a bunch of people who died would still be alive.

Maybe we wouldn’t have enthusiastically embraced bullying as a main tool of our politics and even our interpersonal relationships. Maybe AR-15s and other weapons of war wouldn’t be so popular and we wouldn’t have far more guns in this country than people.

To be fair, had Gore been president we still would have our pathological daily mass shootings, assault rifles likely would still be the dream of couch commanders and testosterone junkies. The NRA and right wing extremists would still be blaming lefties for every problem in America and they would seek to divide us using their us-versus-them hate speech. But we might have some common sense restrictions on guns and gun ownership. And justice would have found Osama bin Laden in a Tora Bora cave about 10 years earlier.

Elections have consequences.

Next came an intelligent, even-tempered Black President who offered a welcome groundedness. He was obviously guilty of the felony of being President While Black and that lit the racist torches and brought us constant insane propaganda and power grabs. Opposing and making Barack Obama a one-term President became the Republicans’ “job number one” and they completely abandoned their job of dealing with America’s vexing challenges.

And, of course, there was the nonstop blizzard of lies, even about Obama’s birth. The lying was so common that it became a repugnant snowball of hatred rolling downhill. It grew and launched an unstoppable avalanche of cruel fictions and propaganda.

Elections have consequences.

40% of the public loved the lies and cruel fictions and the self-righteous power rush of hatred that brought them. And that brought us Trump.

When he announced his candidacy he let us know immediately what he was about by declaring that Mexicans are rapists and murderers and later told us that he could grab women .  .  . anywhere. You know the rest of the mental derangement, but his Russia-fueled election brought us a dismantling of our societal and constitutional norms that had been honed over the centuries, as well as his incitement to hatred.

What is most striking is the spinelessness of the people who could have prevented his worst. All it would have taken was for Republicans to speak out and act with integrity.

From Busse’s book, quoting a highly respected firearms editor at Field and Stream Magazine,

“A United States in which someone can be ruined for voicing an unpopular opinion is a dangerous place.” p. 195

Again quoting Busse, now writing about a revered writer on hunting and guns who spoke out against assault rifles:

“They’re crucifying the guy, and none of us [industry people] dare say anything, or we’ll end up like him!” p. 195

That’s what myopic self-interest looks like and our spineless Republican politicians know it well.

Opposing Trump might, indeed, be an unpopular thing to do in Red State America and doing so has proven disastrous for more than a few traditional Republican congressional careers. But what if all the Republicans had stood as one and opposed Trump’s hatred for others and for our Constitution? Perhaps Trump could have been contained.

The engine section of a Russian missile from Vladimir Putin. It exploded at the Kramatorsk train station, killing 50 and wounding over 100 Ukrainian women, children and old people on April 8. The hand-painted Russian words on it translate to “For the children.”

But they didn’t and he still isn’t. And that’s a key outcome of the 2016 election. It had huge consequences, to the point that our democracy itself is now at risk.

Self-styled American faux-patriots with big mouths and even bigger egos are siding with Vladimir Putin, as he rampages through Ukraine, intentionally killing civilians and committing other war crimes. At the same time, the big mouths are castigating President Biden for doing too much to support Ukraine or too little, anything at all, as long as they are criticizing and belittling the President. There isn’t anything remotely patriotic about siding with Putin or baselessly attacking the President, yet millions listen to these blowhards.

All of that and more are consequences of the Bush stolen election, the racist reactions to the Obama election and Trump’s Russia-fueled election.

Elections have consequences.

They have repercussions that reverberate for decades and can be ruinous if we allow it.

But we don’t have to do that.

We can vote to silence the haters and the demonizers. We can vote to stop the bullying and find ways to actually live with one another peacefully. We can vote so that elections help us move toward that more perfect union envisioned by the Founders. It’s time to vote to move in that direction – while we still can.

Elections have consequences. Choose yours wisely.

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* Senators Collins, Murkowski and Romney are the Republicans who voted to confirm Jackson. Doing so should not have required courage. All the rest of the Republicans voted against her confirmation. When the count was announced, Democrats and the gallery enthusiastically cheered the Justice-to-be. The 47 rudely stormed out of the Senate chamber. Sadly, that’s America today.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

DNC Messaging Sucks


I have periodically accused Democrats of having terrible messaging. Turns out, I’ve been too kind.

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In a recent rah-rah fundraiser email from “Team Joe,” written in Biden’s voice, he listed some of his accomplishments. Joe, I know you’re a Democrat because – and let me say this gently and respectfully – your messaging, generally speaking, sucks. This fundraiser piece made me want to pull out what’s left of my hair (see the pic to the right).

The first rah-rah heading in the email was “A massive vaccination effort.” Seriously now, who cares about the administration’s vaccination efforts?

Joe, what we voters care about is that we were protected from this terrible disease, that more of us didn’t die and that the Biden Administration made that happen for us.

They did that in spite of the far right homicidal messages that Americans should refuse vaccines and in spite of Trump insanely telling us to mainline Lysol and take the useless anti-malaria drug Ivermectin. But it’s hard to get across the Biden victory message when Team Joe highlights the administration’s effort as though effort is what’s important.

Note, too, that it’s necessary to read to the end of the second paragraph of that section to learn of any benefits that were delivered to We the Voters. You hid the goodies, Joe!

The next section was “Getting folks back to work,” under which they waved the success flag for the creation of over 7.4 million new jobs. Great!

Below that was this graph:

There are only three problems with this graph. First, they pulled the rug out from under its power by soft-pedaling “in history” in the title.

Second, it says 6.4 million jobs were created, not the 7.4 million named in the text above the graph. Joe, the damned thing argues with your own words!

Third, that skinny little vertical white line on the right doesn’t sufficiently wave the success flag because it’s too hard to find. Plus, it looks like it’s just a right angle extension of the baseline of the chart. Joe, where’s the big, thick, Democrat blue WOW! line?

Here’s the thing, Joe: The creation of millions of new jobs is, in reality, what you and most of us  – even your detractors – call a BFD. But Joe, this fundraiser graph managed to make it look like it’s only an insignificant little D.

This piece sucks just as so many DNC communication efforts suck. For example, Democrats are messing up with school issues. Read If You Think Republicans Are Overplaying Schools, You Aren’t Paying Attention, originally entitled, Republicans Are Winning the School Wars.

And they are. See Gov. Glenn Younkin (not Terry McAuliffe) and his phony school hysteria that won him the Virginia governorship and which continues to rally support for him.

It isn’t that the Democrats are bad for education or that their ideas are poor. It’s that Dems consistently shoot themselves in the foot with terrible messaging. When they do that they hand Republicans (who want to stifle education) easy targets to shoot at. It’s like the people who chant and lobby to defund the police. Why don’t they just take out ads saying that everyone should vote for Republicans?

It seems to me that there are two ways to promote political candidacy. One is to attack the opponent (e.g. “My opponent is lying to you about Critical Race Theory.”). The other is to wave the “I’m just so good for you!” flag.

To illustrate this, watch any commercial for a Disney movie or for their theme parks. They are non-stop listings of benefits. Not characteristics. Not how they do it. Not how hard working they are. Benefits for their customers and visitors. And they always end their theme park commercials with some famous person saying they’re going to Disney World!

Mr. & Ms. voters: Where did you say your family is going on vacation? I thought so.

See, Joe? This stuff works.

More

Ending the CDC emergency public health order that restricts immigration at U.S. land borders because of the Covid pandemic is probably a good idea. But politically it’s suicide.

Instead, Joe, try this “Demand Better!” address to the nation:

“President George W. Bush offered comprehensive immigration reform of our dysfunctional system as a core piece of his campaign for the presidency. Once president, he tried to get something moving, but Congress, in its infinite ability to avoid dealing with challenges, stonewalled his effort. The same thing happened during the Obama administration.

“The net of this is that the challenge of modernizing our immigration system is just another can being kicked down the road by Congress, leaving hopeful new citizen applicants to be used and abused solely for partisan political gain – again.

“Well, that abuse of these people and the self-sabotage of our nation ends now.

“I’m formally challenging Congress to step up to the plate and tackle this vexing issue. I’m doing that specifically because it is Congress’s job to do that.

To jump start the process I will be inviting a bi-partisan select committee of senators, congresswomen & -men to the White House to start this process. And all the resources of the Executive Branch of government will be supporting them.

“Look, folks, We the American People should and must demand that Congress do its job. To make sure that happens I will be reporting to you regularly on the progress of the Immigration Reform Select Committee so that you can hold them accountable. If you’re happy with what you see, call your senators and representative and let them know. And if you aren’t happy with what you see, call your senators and representative and let ’em have it!

“Demand Better!

You see, Joe? It isn’t that hard.

There’s no need for you to put your face in the center of the political shooting range bulls eye. Congress belongs there. Handling this issue in the Demand Better! way means you won’t take heat for their failures. Besides, there’s an outside chance that this way something might actually get better. They might even agree with your CDC to lift the emergency public health order that’s no longer needed.

One last thing: Afghanistan.

Instead of just taking an ongoing beating from Republicans for the debacle at the end, where’s the messaging saying how grateful We the People are that you had the courage to at last do what we all knew needed to be done to end the 20-year disaster?

Where’s the message that the end was always going to look like that? The generals told you and everyone else that’s what would happen. Congress chickened out of doing the right thing for 20 years. You’re the one who had the guts to do what everyone knew needed to be done.

I’m still looking for those victory flags, Joe.

Look, man, this isn’t that hard. Just put on your aviator sunglasses and lay some rubber on the concrete approach to the Capitol Building with your classic Corvette. They’ll get the message. No joke.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

States’ Rights and Drowning


Just a few years ago I heard quite a few southerners claiming in sincere and strongly felt terms that the US Civil War wasn’t about slavery. They claimed it was not started by the southern states to protect their lucrative way of life made possible solely through the use of free, involuntary labor. it was, rather, a highly principled fight for states’ rights. Any limitations coming from the federal government, they were certain, constituted tyranny.

Georgia Senator Alexander Stephens was the provisional vice president of the Confederacy in 1861 and he gave what was labeled the Cornerstone Speech. Apparently, those claiming today that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery were absent from school and missed the field trip to learn about Sen. Stephens.

Here’s how history Professor Heather Cox Richardson reports Stephens’s comments:

“Stephens spoke in Savannah, Georgia, to explain the difference between the United States and the fledgling Confederacy. That difference, he said, was slavery. The American Constitution was defective because it based the government on the principle that all men were created equal. Confederate leaders had corrected the Founding Fathers’ error by basing the Confederate government on the idea that some people were better than others.

“In contrast to the government the Founding Fathers had created, the Confederacy rested on the ‘great truth’ that ‘the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.’”

Click me to buy one.

Stephens himself pretty much put the BS sticker on any claims that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, but instead was about states’ rights. After all, he was there and helping to lead that treasonous insurrection, so I’m confident he knew what he was saying. Sure, anyone can claim that there was a huge component of “You can’t tell me what to do – or not do – federal government!” and that is surely true. But at the end of that argument, the Civil War was about,

greed, control and power over others and the abhorrent belief that some people are naturally superior to others.

And we’re still having that argument.

Today, 19 states, each with a dominant Republican legislature, have passed onerous, discriminatory voting restrictions designed to prevent from voting every citizen who doesn’t look like their ancestors came from Europe, like Black people and Brown people. They also happily extend their discrimination to young citizens of voting age and to poor people. These laws and the over 100 additional proposed laws in those 19 and other states are about,

greed, control and power over others and the abhorrent belief that some people are naturally superior to others.

Building on the morally repugnant foundation of Sen. Stephens, these Republican controlled states aren’t content with simply preventing citizens from voting. It may be fairly claimed that they have perfected their quest for greed, control and power over others by enacting legislation that gives Republican dominated state legislatures the power to ignore the will of the people. They get to claim that a Republican loser of any election has won.

So much for majority rule, democracy, rule of law, integrity, all men are created equal and a bunch of other things we commonly call fair, moral and honest.

Which is why it is critical that the Senate passes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act. These will have the power to stop the Republican states’ decapitation of democracy. They are the the true “Stop the Steal” acts.

Professor Cox Richardson goes from Sen. Stephens’s immoral Confederate rant to the importance of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson being confirmed and sent to the Supreme Court. Read her essay and note the similarity of today’s efforts at human suppression to that of the 19th century.

Drowning

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings regarding the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court were what we should have anticipated. The Republicans spewed demagoguery, false accusations and hypocrisy so thick you could drown in it.

This is how we now vet candidates for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. It’s a confidence builder, but not confidence for what is best for our nation. It’s confidence that yet worse toxic tribalism and threats to democracy are on the way, and we’re already drowning in those, too.

Be sure to send a note to the mothers of Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, advising each of them that their son tells huge whoppers that disrespect and demean others and that he is very rude, interrupting other people when it’s their turn to talk. Let her know that her son is focused on creating sound bites in order to get on Hannity’s show, instead of doing his proper job. Suggest to them that they wash out their son’s vile mouth with laundry soap to clean out the dirty lies and that they once again teach them to take turns.

In contrast, send Sen. Cory Booker’s mom a note of thanks for raising a clear, bright, heartfelt son who hangs out in public what he knows to be right and good. True, he didn’t interrogate Jackson – he gave fawning praise. Still, if you didn’t hear his remarks to KBJ, watch here. If you did, watch again. He speaks to America about being America, about a more perfect union. And if your eyes stay dry as you listen, see your cardiologist immediately.

Finally

Have a look at this. It’s a Les Misérables flash mob in Adelaide, Australia. It’s all wonderful, but more important, consider the second song the anthem of Ukraine today.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Dream Sequence


I awoke from this fully formed dream in the dark of last Wednesday morning.

——————————-

The regular army and air force of Ukraine, plus the hundreds of thousands of volunteer citizen soldiers have inflicted enormous damage to President Putin’s vaunted military forces. Thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed and at least twice as many have been wounded. Their tanks, troop carriers, aircraft and artillery pieces have been destroyed and the Russian army is in retreat, its myth of military might destroyed.

President Zelenskyy is taking to the airwaves to address President Putin. The whole world is watching, holding its breath. He speaks fluently in Russian from his office, with only the Ukrainian flag behind him. He is wearing a green tee shirt, over a month of dark beard and his eyes are bloodshot, yet rock solid into the camera.

President Putin, it is time for us to end this war.

Clearly, you began it with the expectation that your military would roll over my country in just a few days; that you could eliminate our parliament and me and install a puppet regime that would be your servant; that the world would stand by and watch while you once again commit unspeakable crimes against humanity. But none of that happened.

You did not count on the pride, the resolve and the unbendable patriotism of the Ukrainian people. You did not expect our fierce insistence upon our sovereignty, our democracy and our freedom. And you did not understand that the fire of freedom that burns in the hearts of people everywhere would cause them to reach out and support the Ukrainian people and punish Russia. Perhaps by now you are beginning to see the truth.

We will not bend. We will not be beaten. We will prevail. So, I am now giving you one chance to end this with some of your military still intact. If you refuse this offer we will continue to destroy your armies.

Here are my non-negotiable terms.

    1. All Russian military personnel, army, navy and air forces, will immediately cease fire.
    2. All Russian military personnel will immediately withdraw from all Ukrainian territory, including the Donbas and Crimea and all of our national waters. They will continue to withdraw until they are at least 150 miles from any part of the Ukrainian border.
    3. You will not interfere with any Ukrainians being repatriated or attempting to leave our country.
    4. You will immediately pay for your indiscriminate bombardment of our civilians, our cities and our lands the sum of $1 trillion dollars in U.S. funds as reparation for the destruction you have caused. It grieves us that we cannot get reparations from you that could bring back our little children you have killed.

The entire world wants you to accept these terms, Mr. Putin, including all of the Russian people. They don’t want this horrible war any more than any freedom loving people do. That’s why you must stop the killing and suffering and end the morbid parade of thousands of body bags containing dead Russian boys being sent back to Russia and their wailing, grieving mothers.

This offer will expire in three days. Take it. Save what you can from this misbegotten adventure and Europe will once again be at peace.

The world awaits your response.

——————————-

Then I woke up.

At 8:00AM that day, March 16, I watched the broadcast of President Zelenskyy addressing the U.S. Congress, the American people and the world. His words were brilliant and compelling. His message was clear and unmistakable. And the fierce resolve of his people was reflected in his bearing, plain for all to see.

Putin cannot win – ever – and there is nothing he can do to change that. Ukrainian troops have begun counter-offenses and the Russians are being defeated, even at the cost of so many innocent Ukrainian lives.

America and the rest of the free world have given much and will continue to give to Ukraine to help them to succeed. And perhaps one day soon President Zelenskyy will be able to deliver my dream speech.

May it be so.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

You Were Taught This


Whatever your holy book, somewhere in those pages you can find some directives – perhaps they’re instructions, possibly Commandments – that tell us how to behave.

For example, the Exodus story is a stunning message about freedom. The story is retold every year at the Passover Seder. It’s like all traditions, in that it’s reinforced through repetition so that we both remember its lessons and educate new generations.

At the Seder we are admonished to, “Remember, you were slaves in the land of Egypt.” That’s “you” as in: each of us today. The message isn’t about some quaint, obscure people who had 430 horrible years as slaves those thousands of years ago. Those people were just like us and they craved and loved freedom as much as we do. That’s why retelling the story is critical for us today, lest we forget and recreate those horrible years for ourselves or others. That’s why we are admonished to welcome the stranger, because once we were strangers. Think: Immigration reform.

We are also directed not to curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling block before the blind. I’m confident you can see through the metaphors about refusing to be cruel to others or influencing others to do harm. Think: Rage at school board meetings; death threats; and conspiracy theory hatred. Seriously, we’re not supposed to do that stuff.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Try this.

Some years ago my friend Tom was going through a difficult period and was facing it head-on. He came across the term “loving kindness” and explained some of what he learned about it.

It’s a solitary term, he said; nothing else quite captures the essence of its meaning. My best guess is that somewhere in your past you were taught the concept and the sweetness, generosity and purity of its meaning. Somebody told you that this is something important, something we’re supposed to do. Perhaps you remember.

Maybe it was offered this way.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” For those of us who have difficulty getting beyond ourselves, that makes the recommended treatment of others easier to understand. Just love them, the directive says, and we understand, because we, too, want to be loved.

The word “loved” might cause some confusion, given that our definition today may vary from what it meant thousands of years ago. And the message has been filtered through multiple language translations, too. So, try “care about” instead, or “care for.” Regardless, we have clarity about how we want to be treated as the benchmark, a True North for how we are directed to treat others. It’s about caring. *

The problem is that we moderns aren’t doing a great job of following those simple, clear directions from our Human Being Manuals. We haven’t managed to stop enslaving one another. We still refuse freedom to others and refuse to welcome strangers and we inflict cruelty or we condone it. The concept of loving kindness enters our consciousness far too infrequently and we’re afraid of our neighbors, so it’s really hard to care about them.

Click me for the story.

You’re seeing horrific pictures from Ukraine every day. All of its cities are being reduced to rubble. People are being murdered, and yes, it’s first degree murder, because it’s premeditated. There are people there who spend their days dodging missiles and bombs, who are sleeping in the cold and have little or nothing to eat. There is no fresh water, so they’re drinking pond water and melting snow. Your internal meter that monitors your sense of right, of justice and of humanity has been pegged out and flashing red for weeks and you know you have to do something. But what?

I looked into getting a flight to Warsaw, figuring to find ground transport to the Ukrainian border to help refugees there somehow, but I’m afraid I’m past my sell-by date for such things. There must be another way to help.

In a short presentation to our local village board, a senior in high school offered a couple of simple ideas.  And really, this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Her family came from Ukraine and, as you will surely understand, she has strong feelings about what is happening to her ancestral homeland and its people. She named a couple of agencies doing relief work for Ukrainian refugees. Have a look at UMANA and Razom.

Look at what World Central Kitchen is doing. They are providing hundreds of thousands of hot meals for those very cold refugees. Kick in something so that stomachs get warmed and filled.

You can go here and see what AirBnB is doing to provide housing, or here or here or here or scroll through the slides on this New York Times page to find various agencies helping these suffering people. Check them all for veracity here.

At very least we can support the do-gooders so that they can do the good that so desperately needs to be done.
.

If donating money isn’t how you want to do it, that’s okay. Find another way. Here’s some creative thinking from my friend, futurist David Houle.

He has committed to buying 10% less gasoline. He can do that and so can you and I with just a little brain work, like combining trips instead of being wasteful. That 10% reduction in consumption by lots of us will take pressure off gas prices, our climate crisis and the pressure to import Russian fossil fuels, which we don’t want to do ever again. Read David’s post. Then commit and tell others about it.

You know well the messages about freedom, welcoming the stranger, loving thy neighbor and loving kindness. That’s why your internal meter is flashing red and screaming for your action. You were made to right this wrong and you know in your bones that you have to do something.

You were taught this.

———————————–

* Tucker Carlson doesn’t care, nor do millions who listen to that anti-American fool. Mother Jones revealed how Putin is using the drivel that comes from Carlson’s mouth. He’s stuffing it into his propaganda to control the Russian people and continue his Ukrainian genocide.

Tucker Carlson is helping Putin to murder Ukrainians right now.
.

I don’t think his Human Being Manual instructed him to do that. His is free lance apostasy.

Be sure to read that Mother Jones piece, as well as John Pavlovitz’s explainer, I’m Sick of Pretend Patriots and the Phony Faithful. This is the time for real patriots and lovers of liberty to stand and be counted.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Accountability & The Questions


Regular readers of these disambiguations know that I have strong views about accountability. There are two reasons.

One is that we’ve known since childhood that wrongdoing should be punished. The absence of punishment is an affront to our sense of right and wrong and it leads to the second reason.

In the absence of punishment for wrongdoing, the wrongdoer will do more wrong. Often, the bad acts become worse because there is no impediment to bad behavior.

Vladimir Putin got away with crushing Chechnya, Georgia, the eastern section of Ukraine and the Crimea and he used chemical weapons on Syrians. The world did almost nothing to stop him.

World War II comparisons are fraught with the danger of mistaken causalities and correlations, but this one fits. Hitler rolled over Czechoslovakia, Poland and more and the world did nothing but ignore or try to appease him for far too long. With 80 million killed, that didn’t work out too well for the world.

Putin has now invaded all of Ukraine, perhaps expecting a similar non-reaction from the world. He’s laying waste to all of Ukraine’s cities and endangering the world by bombing its nuclear power plants. Our human reactions include sadness, grief, anger and the desire to step in and stop the atrocities and step on Putin’s neck. The constraint is that engaging with Russia militarily will likely have unintended and disastrous consequences.

Consider this question: If the world had stepped up to stop this megalomaniac from one of his other outrageous assaults on life, liberty and sanity – i.e. had we held him accountable – would we be facing today’s dire circumstances?

This is why Putin cannot win.

This time, in this globally connected world, we’re not letting him get away with it entirely and he, his cronies and all the Russian people are paying the price. We’re strangling Putin and Russia economically by governmental action, by private businesses bailing from Russia and even through the actions of international hackers, yet there is danger in that.

Putin appears to be unhinged and is becoming forced into an ever-tightening corner. We all know what cornered animals do. Even a rabbit will attack if sufficiently threatened. The problem is that this rabbit has nuclear weapons and is threatening to use them. That makes accountability really tricky, but it is nevertheless necessary. We all must hope that our VSPs (very smart people) are working day and night to figure out how to avoid global annihilation.

What About Here?

We can and must extend the issue of accountability to our domestic challenges. Trump has gotten away with wrongdoing for decades, largely because he has not been held accountable. He was impeached twice for his wrongdoing, but our polarized Senate failed to make it stick and – guess what? – he then did worse by inciting an insurrection. He is still working to end our democracy, all because he has not been held accountable.

There is a hint of the cavalry coming over the hill in the forms of the Secretary of State of Georgia, the State of New York, the SDNY, the Justice Department in DC and maybe more. The hope for accountability lies with them and their courage do to what we all know must be done if we are to both punish the wrongdoer and make a statement to the next miscreant wannabe, who may be smarter and more cunning than this convict-in-waiting.

And we must hold accountable all the sycophants, dupes, spineless ones and selfish villains who have done so much to allow all the wrongdoing. No amount of their back pedaling should be allowed to exonerate them.

From Thom Hartmann:

You may remember [Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)] as the guy who ran the company convicted of the largest Medicare fraud in the history of America, who then took his money and ran for Governor of Florida, where he prevented the state from expanding Medicaid for low-income Floridians for all the years he ran the state.

Now he’s the second-richest guy in the senate and, IMHO, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2024. [emphasis original]

And he wants to:

.  .  .  raise taxes on poor and working-class Americans, end Social Security and Medicare, jack up pollution and corporate profits, all while continuing to pamper their billionaire donor base.

No worries about Scott back pedaling, because he needs to appeal to his basest base, but he must be held to account for being a selfish villain, fundamentally dishonest and probably a lot more nefarious things.

We The People must punish these – let’s call them “bad guys” –  in their next elections. If we fail to do that, we will have told them and future sycophants, dupes, spineless ones and selfish villains that they can get away with their dishonesty. *

It’s long past the time when we should have been holding people accountable and punishing them for their wrongs. Think of it in either (or both) of these easy questions.

Trump and these Republican officials are your employees; they work or worked for you. It says so in the Constitution. If you have ever had a job working for someone else, what do you suppose your employer would do if s/he learned that you had been working to destroy the company? Now, what do you think we should do to our employees in government who are working to destroy our democracy?

Here’s a second take on this: What would Mom and Dad have done to you had you behaved as dishonestly as these “bad guys”?

Accountability. It’s a good thing.

The Ukraine Questions For The Moment

Russia and Putin’s standard M.O. is to pound cities and people into submission and there is no limit to the methods of brutality, including chemical weapons, they will use. Putin first raises a false flag (lies claiming awful things the other guys did) which he then uses as justification for his barbarity. Count on hearing about phony Ukrainian awfulness from Putin in the days to come.

Infants, babies, children, mothers, grandmas, grandpas and young, fit men are being killed by Putin’s army of murderers. President Zelenskyy is begging for an enforced no-fly zone to help his fighters battle the invaders. Everyone understands his insistence.

The west has assaulted Russia with massive economic penalties, but refuses to become physically engaged in a conflict with Russia to stop Putin’s murder spree. We all understand that, too. Here are the questions.

  1. When will Putin’s madness and cruelty be too much for us to tolerate and to counter only indirectly?
  2. If Putin uses chemical weapons on the people of Ukraine – or biological warfare agents or tactical nuclear weapons – what will we do?
  3. If the answer to question #2 is that we will intervene to stop Putin from committing such horrid acts, why would we wait for him to kill millions of people before taking action?

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* From friend and CWP (Certified Wise Person) Mardy Grothe:

“If politicians can’t condemn Putin as a war criminal,

what does that say about them?

And if those politicians still get your vote,

what does that say about you?”

Click here for Mardy’s recent newsletter, which concludes with his lines above. If you’d like to subscribe, just send him an email at [email protected] and write “Subscribe” in the subject line.

And read Paul Krugman’s piece, America’s Right Has a Putin Problem. Then think about what we should do to our anti-democracy officials.

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1,476 more dead from Covid on Friday. Q. Can we spike the ball in the end zone now? A. Ask a Red state governor.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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