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Guest Essay

Regular reader, sometimes commenter and boyhood pal Frank Levy has supplied some guest essays for this column. He has a keen insight, so I asked his permission to share one of his recent FaceBook posts with you.

Give some thought to what he describes, as we stumble forward in our self-imposed Through the Looking Glass national reality. You can apply the principle message to a lot more than U.S. Space Command.


Why Would the United States Move USSPACECOM to Alabama?

I have to admit I am enjoying watching Alabama’s Republican elite, Tommy Tuberville, Tommy Battle, Katie Brit, Rep. Dale Strong, Rep Mike Rogers and others twist themselves into apoplectic knots to express their outrage over the decision to keep USSPACECOM in Colorado and not move it to Huntsville, AL.

For me, the decision makes complete sense. Common sense and concerns over national security dictate that USSPACECOM NOT be moved to Alabama. After all, why would US Military leadership and the White House move an extremely important military facility to a state where the White Republican power structure and the MAGA crowd that elects them over and over again don’t believe in anything that America believes in, like

  • – The Voting Rights Act
  • – The Civil Rights Act
  • – marriage equality
  • – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • – Affirmative Action
  • – a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion
  • – science education that does not include creationism
  • – The Constitution of the United States of America (except the Second Amendment) [They believe in that absolutely]
  • – the rule of law
  • – that Biden won the 2020 election

Add to that list the fact that the Republican super-majority in the Alabama legislature chose to defy SCOTUS with its newest Congressional redistricting plan because it simply didn’t like the decision and because Kevin McCarthy wants to keep his MAGA majority in Congress.

Why would the United States of America build a huge, expensive military facility, spend billions of dollars to post military personnel there and improve the economy of a state that officially celebrates Confederate Memorial Day and the birthdays of [traitors] Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, the leaders of the Confederate States that attacked the United States to preserve its power to enslave Black people for profit?

Why would the United States build what it believes to be a facility necessary to its national security in a state that once seceded from the Union, attacked it and might just do it again?

I get why Alabama’s Republican leaders and the MAGA crew that elected them would be angry at not getting USSPACECOM. It is all about the money.

As an American citizen and resident of Alabama I would have been furious if President Biden, Secretary of Defense Austin and Gen. James Dickinson, Head of USSPACECOM, had moved USSPACECOM to Alabama. In my not at all humble opinion, [the decision to keep it in Colorado] was the only decision that could be made. [all brackets mine – JA]

———————————

Commenting of Levy’s post, smart person and also boyhood pal Kirk Landers wrote:

I believe the space command should be based in a state where the majority of people believe the earth is round and revolves around the sun. It’s also best if most people don’t believe that [the advance of] all knowledge stopped with the writing of the Christian bible.

I had to weigh in with:

There should not be a reward for anti-American behavior like MAGA and Confederate treachery and that alone should keep USSPACECOM out of Alabama. I don’t know anything about the national defense aspects of the geography choice of the agency, but Lander’s comments pretty well outline the requirement for a science based organization to be located where people believe in science.

Taking this one step further, read this from Steve Schmidt, August 18:

It is important to understand the desecration and chaos Trump and his mob have wrought with their attack against America. They have normalized conspiracy. They have made the truth and lie equal in a public square contaminated by the toxic sewage of division, propaganda and misinformation. They have assaulted the essence of America through a conspiracy to seize [the] power that was bestowed by the American people on Joe Biden. The treachery is historic, unprecedented and ongoing. The days ahead will test America’s spirit, resolve and democracy.

That test for us is to turn the voices of “division, propaganda and misinformation” and even treachery into voices of patriotism. If those voices are instead determined to destroy, then our test will be to stand stronger for the principles we claim to hold dear and to overwhelm the voices of destruction. Our typical national yawn of apathy toward elections will have to be replaced by a renewed dedication to democracy.

Here’s another angle on this.

Last Thursday Schmidt’s post put fresh perspective to something you may have thought about but perhaps without a full perspective.

“Boomers” refers to our fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The absolute nature of their purpose is difficult to comprehend fully. The sailors aboard these vessels are stunningly smart, dedicated, well trained, prepared and young. We invest our collective future in their hands, extending even beyond time that is foreseeable.

Click here and read Schmidt’s piece. Watch the embedded videos, then sit back in your chair and think about what he’s shown you.

The graphic in the notes section following all of my posts (see below) is correct:

It seems pretty clear that all of the previous “Most Important Elections of Our Lifetime” pale in comparison to what’s at stake next November.

My hope for every next election is that it is the last one for which we’ll need that reminder in order to protect all aspects of national security.


  • Today is a good day to be the light

    ______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

  • Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What Art Friedson Has On His Mind


Here’s a guest essay, a wonderful post from Art Friedson from the June 23 NKC Occasional Update, reprinted with permission of the author.

.
One of the great mysteries of life is how Joe Biden can be polling so low on favorable/unfavorable, and even more so, on his handling of the economy. Really? Are you kidding me?
.

Okay, I get that he’s old. We all wish he was a decade or two younger. But by any objective measure, the man has been one of the most effective presidents in recent history, especially when it comes to the economy. Probably the most effective president. In fact, when it comes to presidents, Joe Biden is the GOAT: Greatest Of All Time.

Let’s start with the big picture and work our way down. President Biden took office just as the Covid pandemic was ramping up. China was already shut down which caused major supply chain disruptions: factories we relied on for goods were closed, and the related shipping delays made it nearly impossible to get the few goods that were available..

At the same time, there were vaccines in development, but no plans for the kind of mass distribution that would be necessary for what turned out to be the series of shots that would be required to tamp down the spread of the virus.
.
.
U.S. Covid deaths
(Graphic from the C.D.C.)
Just three months into his term, as Covid deaths were reaching their first big spike in the U.S., the Biden Administration had already ramped up vaccine production and put a distribution plan in place that was flexible enough to be tweaked and evolve to meet impediments that surfaced.
.
Throughout it all, President Biden skillfully and adeptly worked with a polarized Congress to pass law after law to pump money into the economy in general, and directly into the hands of the Americans who needed it most. At the same time, he used every administrative maneuver possible to successfully get the kinks out of the supply chain.
.
The pandemic revealed a more serious problem for American industry: we had ceded control to foreign manufacturers. So again, President Biden finessed a series of measures through a challenging Congress that directly addressed the structural problems the pandemic exposed.
.
Private Investment in Manufacturing
(Graphic from the St. Louis Fed)
The billions of dollars that have been and will be spent on infrastructure, coupled with the massive investments in new manufacturing sites for batteries, solar cells, and semiconductors, have been matched by unprecedented foreign investment resulting in what Axios chief financial reporter Neil Irwin calls “a manufacturing supercyle.”
The industrial construction boom has already offset the decline in residential and commercial construction that were hit by rising interest rates. Longer term, they can be counted on to provide a steady flow of good-paying jobs that will go a long way towards building back the middle class that was decimated by Republican economic policies that sent jobs and production overseas.
.
While the Republican tax cuts drove income inequality, President Biden’s successes are driving an American revival. Current unemployment rates are lower than they were in the economic boom times of the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. While the unemployment rate for African Americans still lags, it has fallen from 16.8% in May, 2020, to just 4.7% now which is very close to an all-time low.
.
President Biden has also taken on the surge of hidden fees that have raised prices on airline and concert tickets, as well as “junk fees” for banking and credit cards. These are the hidden drivers that fuel inflation by increasing corporate profits, separate and apart from the macroeconomic drivers of inflation. It’s like he has eliminated the Greed Tax.
.
It took this long to mention inflation, so let’s deal with it. Yes, when you pump a bunch of money into the economy, even for the best of reasons, you get inflation. It has happened everywhere in the world since the Covid crisis. But in the U.S., thanks to President Biden and The Fed, inflation has fallen for 11 straight months, from a peak of over 9% last summer to the current rate of 4%. At the same time, markets have returned to within 10% of their all-time record levels. Why, you may ask? Because (a) investors have confidence that the right actions are being taken; and (b), since markets usually project the economy six months out, they believe that we will stay on the right track.
Energy CPI
(Graphic from Axios)
.
The combination of falling inflation, decreasing unemployment, and record investment in manufacturing has been a boon to all Americans, not just the 1%. Income inequality has fallen thanks to tighter labor markets, greater transparency, and increased unionization.
.
The bulk of the benefits of the Biden Boom redounds to the poorest members of American society. They are the ones whose incomes -even with inflation- have increased the most on a proportional basis. They are the ones who are getting the high-speed internet connections they were denied in the past. They are the ones landing the jobs rebuilding infrastructure and manufacturing and they are the ones who will hold the jobs that come on-stream after these facilities are built.
.
The policies of the Biden Administration are benefiting the very people who are least likely to support him in an election. How crazy is that?
.
Along the way, the Republican policies that drive income inequality and only benefit the rich are now completely debunked. They don’t work. They don’t create jobs and they don’t lift the poor. As hard as it is for even Establishment Republicans to admit it, their policies only benefit the rich, while Biden’s policies benefit everyone, rich and poor, rural and urban, blue and red.
.
All this, and we have only focused on the economy. How about resurrecting the State Department and reconstituting NATO just in time for the Russian invasion of Ukraine? How about getting a record number of federal judges ratified and seated? How about the fact that America is not at war with anyone? Can any of you recall a time when we could say that?
.
Our job – yours and mine – over the next 14 months is to spread the word about the unparalleled success of the Biden Administration and push pack hard every time we hear a discouraging word. Nobody has done this president thing like Joe Biden. He’s the GOAT. He may be an old goat, but he’s the GOAT and he deserves our unqualified support. The state of our nation quite literally depends on it.
______________________________
.

Note: All graphics are linkable.

You can subscribe to Art Friedson’s offerings in NKC Occasional Updates here..

______________________________

Focus For Democracy: Zoom Briefing – 2022 Impact Event
Focus for Democracy is a pro-bono donor advisory that approaches political investment in an effective, dynamic, data-driven way.  Learn about the effectiveness of its 2022 Midterm programs and hear the network leaders’ thoughts on the road ahead.
.
This is NOT a fundraiser.
Thursday, June 29th
5:00pm PT/8:00pm ET
Register here: https://tinyurl.com/F4DJune29

Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Cut The Crap – Part Two


Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted – This Time

Reports last night said that President Biden and the Republican hostage takers had come to an agreement such that the world economy will not crash next week. I’m glad, of course, that the sky will not fall, but I find it abhorrent that extortion has been rewarded. Again.

I would have been far happier to learn that the President was invoking the 14th Amendment, which would retire forever our foolish requirement to secure permission to pay our bills.

Immigration Crap

It isn’t about Title 42. It isn’t about Biden. It isn’t even about Trump. It’s entirely about Congress.

Dubya tried to get things inched along toward immigration reform, but Congress killed that. Reagan did a little, but it was a spit in the ocean of what was needed.

It’s Congress’ job to create immigration laws and rules and it has steadfastly refused for decades to do anything to make things better. Indeed, Congress can’t even deal with our Dreamers in any way other than to make them political pawns. That has allowed a huge train wreck of a mess to pile up and has stifled our national growth.

One hundred years ago the United States’ most hated immigrants were the Irish and the Italians. Plus the Chinese. And always Jews. Really, anyone who wasn’t both White enough and Protestant. Now the favorite whipping boys and girls are Hispanics from – gasp! – across the Rio Grande River. They’re – what are the words? – not like us. Most of them aren’t either White or Protestant. They are so easily Evangelically objectionable.

Sadly, immigration memory is short enough for most Americans to forget the hard, hard path of their own families and why their forebears came here. That makes it difficult for therm to empathize with those seeking something better for their children or fleeing death in their home countries.

There’s only one way to fix this: Congress has to do its job and

CUT THE CRAP!

Speaking of Immigration, Here’s A Crazy Idea

It’s so easy to claim the stupid and hateful replacement theory as a powerful tool of bigotry, but try this on for size.

We have an enormous shortage of labor in the U.S. and a tiny 3.5% unemployment rate. At the same time, we have an enormous number of people wanting to enter the U.S. to work. Maybe there are ways to fix this craziness.

What if we allowed immigrants to enter our country? We’ll give them green cards and let them work. What if we set them up with Social Security numbers and they were to pay taxes, just like you do?

We can hire immigrants for laborer jobs to aid in the projects that are the rebuilding of our infrastructure. They can build parks in blighted urban areas, build and renovate housing, plant trees in our tens of thousands of acres of burned forests and more. We’ve done this before. It was call the WPA and CCC, the CWA and NIRA and other agencies that put Americans – and immigrants – to work building America.

And under a formula to be determined (perhaps the one that allowed your ancestors to become citizens of the U.S.), we’ll give them a path to citizenship.

Maybe some of these new immigrants will start business. Maybe you’ll find a terrific job there. When we peal back the layers of fear and protectiveness and hatred, this is the story of America.

You get the idea. In doing such things we don’t just improve our physical existence. We also restore our national soul by ending the cruelty we condone and restoring the American Dream. And we gain new, patriotic Americans.

Too many believe that everything is a zero-sum game, where one person beginning a climb to a better existence means someone else is knocked down. But that just isn’t what happens. That’s never been what happens. Immigrants help to build our economy. All we need is the national will to face reality and for Congress to do its job and

CUT THE CRAP!

THE Major Case

There is grave danger in Raleigh.

Harper v. Moore is the North Carolina case now being decided by the Supreme Court. The substance of this anti-democracy case is whether states have the right for their legislatures to override the will of the people.

If the Supreme Court gives the green light, the Republican super-majority North Carolina legislature (not it’s Democratic governor) will be able to completely ignore its citizens. It will have the power to stuff all the ballots voters cast into a dumpster, set it on fire and send its own hand-picked, extremist slate of electors for president to be counted in Congress on January 6.

Yes, really.

This is as corrupt as Vladimir Putin’s elections. Instead of counting ballots he just makes up his winning percentage.

Effectively, that’s what the North Carolina far right extremist legislators want to be able to do. That paved road to dictatorship could have the blessing of the Supreme Court via its six far right extremist, lied-to-the-Senate-Judiciary-Committee justices.

Did I mention “anti-democracy?”

Here’s a short summary of the case from Wikipedia:

Moore v. Harper is an ongoing United States Supreme Court case related to the independent state legislature theory (ISL), arising from the redistricting of North Carolina‘s districts by the North Carolina legislature following the 2020 census, which the state courts found to be too artificial and partisan, and an extreme case of gerrymandering in favor of the Republican Party.[1][2]

It’s so hard to imagine that the Republican North Carolina legislature might do something so outrageous, so undemocratic, so despotic.

NOT!

It’s easy to imagine that because it’s what they always do.

Have a look at what conservative federal judge Michael Luttig has to say about this.

Now imagine that not only North Carolina, but all the Republican controlled states, tripping on the hallucinatory drug of authoritarianism, did the same thing.

The Court’s decision is expected soon. So, “Hey, Supreme Court:

CUT THE CRAP!”

BTW

There is a lot of criticism and hand wringing over Biden’s 40-something percent job approval rating. To put that into perspective, at this point in his first term, Ronald Reagan had an approval rating of just 35%. Trump’s approval rating never got out of the 40s.

Read of the Week

Of course you’re sick of hearing about the debt ceiling and the certainty of economic and democratic doomsday if we default via the fecklessness* of the insane Republicans in the House. They and this stupid, self-inflicted crisis over whether we’ll pay the bills we’ve already run up should never have happened. It began as lies and continues now in a master class of greed and deceit.

Read Thom Hartmann’s excellent explainer The Debt Ceiling is just “Two Santas” in Drag. You’ll see how We The People have been terminally duped by self-serving Republican dishonesty. Then let me know how you feel about it.

Quote of the Week

“It’s important to remember that the global autocratic movement is not solely about creating a traditional religious society; it is about destroying democracy to concentrate wealth and power in a small group of men, usually white men, who will dominate the rest of us.”

  • Prof. Heather Cox Richardson,
  • Letters From an American, May 21, 2023
  • You can find Cut The Crap – Part One here.
  • _________________________________
  • * feckless | ˈfekləs | adjective
  • lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible
    • – Apple dictionary

  • Today is a good day to be the light.

    ______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

For The Hand Wringers


Note: No post on Sunday. We’ll reconnect in a week.


We have hand wringers on the right .  .  .

.  .  .  complaining that all Democrats are socialists, that Biden is a useless wimp, that a Congress controlled by Democrats hasn’t and can’t accomplish anything for real Americans and that Biden is a pitiful Lex Luthor who will be slain by some right wing Superman. Plus, he’s too old now, much less for a second term. Besides, he stutters.

We have hand wringers on the left .  .  .

.  .  .  complaining that Biden is timid, that he always falls short of the progressive desires of the majority of Americans, that he isn’t a strong leader, that he has accomplished a lamentable not much, that he’s an inept presenter and that he’s too old now, much less for a second term.

That’s just a small sample of the wailing. Doubtless, you can add to one or both of those recitations of hand wringing material. But there’s just one thing:

The record of Biden and the Democrats in Congress is shockingly, fantastically stellar.
.

Here’s a partial list of what’s been accomplished in just 23 months. This list is lifted directly from Biden-Harris Accomplishments:

  • Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act – to bring down costs, reduce the deficit, and take aggressive action on climate – all paid for by making sure the largest corporations and billionaire tax cheats finally pay their fair share in taxes. Yippee! And no, your taxes won’t go up even a penny if you make less than $400,000 per year. Plus it lowers health care costs for millions of families and allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time*, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year and ensures no senior on Medicare will pay over $35 per month for insulin. Thirteen million Americans, covered under the Affordable Care Act, will see their health insurance premiums reduced by $800, plus this act takes the first steps to fight global warming.
  • Biden passed the PACT Act – the largest single bill in American history to address our service members’ exposure to burn pits and other toxins. Can you believe that it took Biden’s leadership and an act of Congress to take care of our poisoned vets? Note that 11 Republican senators and 174 Republican representatives voted against this bill. Hey wait: that’s the same number of Republican extremists who tried to clog up the electoral college vote certification on January 6 after they and the Constitution had been threatened by the January 6 mob.
  • Biden passed The CHIPS and Science Act – this bill will accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. That means that we won’t have to count on a possibly hostile foreign government for the microchips that control our smart munitions. Plus it brings thousands of manufacturing jobs back home.  Biden did that.
  • Biden passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – breaks a 30-year streak of reprehensible federal inaction to deal with gun violence. Requires people under 21 to undergo enhanced background checks, closes the “boyfriend loophole,” provides funding to address youth mental health and takes a step to curb “ghost guns.” Plus Biden issued numerous executive orders to curb gun violence. Makes me wonder how many more Sandy Hook, Parkland and Club Q massacres we’ll need before we all rise up in furious demand for a crackdown on weapons of death. Still, this is a step in the right direction.
  • Biden has revitalized our alliances and restored America’s position of leadership on the world stage – Trump had undermined our alliances and our influence in world affairs. Biden has restored our relationships with allies to the point that they are all in supporting Ukraine in its battle for freedom and democracy against Russian oppression and the United States is the leader. Plus he’s gotten tough with China.
  • Biden ended our longest and arguably our dumbest war – Three presidents refused to take the dirty, messy, horrible but necessary step of ending that unwarranted 20-year war in Afghanistan. There was never a remote possibility of ending it cleanly, but Biden had the courage to do it. It will take years to meet our obligations and keep all of our promises there – that’s the dirty, messy part – but the plug needed to be pulled. American troops are no longer in harms way thanks to Biden’s leadership.
  • Biden passed an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act, now reauthorized through 2027 – 172 Republican representatives and 22 Republican senators voted against this bill. How could it be controversial to protect women from domestic violence and sexual assault? Trump let the original act expire. Biden set it right again.
  • Biden got the American Rescue Plan through Congress – delivered 500 million shots in arms to protect Americans from COVID-19 and put a few bucks into citizens’ wallets, too, this at a time when people were hunkered down and income was constricted. Plus this act expanded the Child Tax Credit to put a few more bucks into the wallets of parents.
  • In 2021, the U.S. economy added over 6.5 million jobs – the greatest year of job growth under any President in history. At the same time, we saw the largest annual decline in unemployment ever recorded and the strongest year of GDP growth since 1984. Biden’s hands were in the reins for all that.
  • Biden passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – It’s finally infrastructure week! We’ve been waiting for this for decades. Provides funding for critically needed repair of bridges and roads, replaces every lead pipe in America, upgrades our ports and airports and expands broadband access to all. It also includes the largest federal investment in public transit ever and the biggest investment in Amtrak since its creation.
  • Passed the Omnibus Spending Bill – keeps the government in business, funds support to Ukraine, reforms the Electoral Count Act to prevent another coup like January 6th and far more.
  • If you have a problem with any of that you are in the minority of people most likely to be dedicated to misery.
  • Key Rule: Misery is optional. So is happiness.

You get the point. And you get the benefits. So, please, America, stop wringing hands because things aren’t getting done or done fast enough to suit you or that they aren’t perfect. Lots of really good things are getting done, plus, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Thank you, Barack Obama for the reminder. He was right then and he’s still right.

President Biden has accomplished an astonishing list of great stuff for America and Americans in a very short time. As important is our sense of ourselves. Read David Brooks’ comments following President Zelinskyy’s address to Congress, Biden’s America Finds Its Voice. Many thanks to reader and friend David Lindgren for his pointer to Brooks’ piece.

We’re just starting to crawl out from under the oppression of unreality and intentional cruelty that has afflicted us for so long. At last we have an opportunity to feel proud once again. It’s time to recognize the reality of what President Biden has accomplished.

Not everything is fixed. We have much work yet to do and that will always be true. So, use those wringing hands to instead roll up your shirtsleeves and let’s get to work in this new year.

Here’s to a better America this year and every year – that “more perfect union” thing.

Most important
Happy Birthday Beautiful Marilyn!
.

———————————

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), income maximizing expert.

* “[Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA)] crafted a[n amendment to the] bill to provide prescription drug access to Medicare recipients [Part D], one that provided major concessions to the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare would not be able to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs and reimportation of drugs from first world countries would not be allowed. A few months after the bill passed, Tauzin announced that he was retiring from Congress and would be taking a job helming PhRMA for a salary of $2 million.”

PhRMA is the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry. That $2 million salary was a 7,110% bump in pay for Tauzin. Now you know how he earned it. Yes really.

————————————

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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 or neighborhood vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2024 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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What We Can Do


I’ve been a fan of Art Friedson for a while and he recently posted 5 great tips for making change that we need. He’s given me permission to reprint his essay and you’ll find it below (ever so teeny-tiny edited). It’s a refreshing change from worrying and wringing hands.

As you read you’ll notice that Art is a genius. You’ll know that because he agrees with you and me. The trick lies in our putting that genius to work.

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What Art Friedson Has On His Mind

It seems like the sequel to Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day came out last week and it starred President Joe Biden. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but I’d rather focus on what we can do to turn things around.

We have about six months before voter opinions for 2022 are baked in. Lest you think things don’t change much over six months, let me remind you that Omicron was first listed as a Variant of Concern in the United States on November 20, 2021. Yep. Just two months ago. We’ve got three times that long to change the narrative for the midterms, so let’s get started.

Scanning the punditry over the past two weeks, here are five things the Biden Administration and Democrats across the ideological spectrum can do to create real change:

1. Just stop talking. WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin, always a sane voice, urges us to stop talking about mega-bills that have stalled. And while you’re at it, stop talking about the filibuster and all the other things we can’t change right now. It is not only unhelpful, it actually hurts us by making it look like not achieving the impossible is a failure.

It’s also not helpful to keep bashing Manchin no matter how richly he deserves it. He’s a Democrat from the former guy’s second-strongest state (after Wyoming). Without Manchin, we don’t have a majority in the Senate. Period.

2. Accentuate the positive. 529,000,000 Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. since Joe Biden became president. 63% of the population is fully vaccinated representing 208,000,000 Americans. 96% of K-12 schools are open for in-person learning today, versus 46% a year ago. All of that happened in one year, despite a well-organized, highly motivated (and astonishingly stupid) opposition. That’s a BFD.

The $1.8 Trillion American Rescue Plan was passed without a single Republican vote. Not one. Yet, pretty much every American – Republican or Democrat – benefited directly. The economy didn’t tank thanks to payments to American families. Restaurants, hotels, small businesses, churches, synagogues and mosques survived the shutdown thanks to it. Poverty rates were slashed at the very moment employment was at its nadir.

The largest investment in infrastructure since the 1950s was passed (with a handful of R votes, no less!) and is being implemented even as we speak. It will repair our roads and bridges, improve our ports and rails, and bring broadband to the farthest reaches of our country.

This is an astonishing list, my friends. If we could focus on what we accomplished rather than what we’re lacking, we’d be doing a whole lot better politically.

3. Draw the contrast. Like the Obama Administration, the Biden White House has been 100% free of the corruption and constant chaos of life under the former guy.
.
Want to throw out Democratic control of Congress? Get ready for non-stop Jim Jordan, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert. Is that what you really want, America? I don’t think so.
.
Remind everyone endlessly that every single infrastructure project they see was done almost solely by Democrats.
.

4. Play small ball. The Administration has been swinging for the bleachers for 12 months, and while it worked in the beginning on the wave of the election, it has not proven sustainable. But singles and doubles can score runs as well. He can probably get enough Republican support to protect what happens after elections which is crucial. Of course, we care about what happens with voting itself, but don’t sacrifice a crucial election reform because we can’t get more. Go for it. He can get two or three very big-ticket items packaged in a new Build Back Better bill that Manchin and Sinema will sign on to. Do it. Find the wins, and make the R’s force the losses to establish the contrast in the midterms.

5. Pursue the Abundance Agenda. Derek Thompson has a great piece in The Atlantic that very effectively argues for increasing the supply of essentials America needs. We need to increase the supply of healthcare, housing, college, transportation, clean energy, and I would add, legal immigrants in order to create a sustainably strong American economy. Let’s go for it.

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The Infrastructure Plan will do all of what Art said PLUS it will put millions of Americans to work in good paying union jobs with good benefits and will give them the dignity that comes from working.

If you’d like more from Art and some other insightful commentary, subscribe to Nancy Kohn’s NKC Occasional Update. Guaranteed to get your thinking machine lubricated.

Meanwhile, the days are counting down and we’re all counting on us.

Stop the Presses!

From Indivisible Illinois Voting Rights Gazette, January 25, 2022:

DeSantis Proposes Creation of Police-like Office to Hunt Out Suspected Voter Fraud

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing spending $5.7 million to create a new Office of Election Crime and Security, a first in the country.

Envisioned as an investigative unit, it would be authorized to look for violations of state election law and supposed election irregularities and would have the power to take control over any investigation conducted by local police or prosecutors.

With a proposed staff of over 50 investigators, the agency would have a larger staff than most police departments have to solve murders, even though only five Floridians have been arrested for alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election. It would be the first in any state dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election-related crimes. https://bit.ly/3Ib7cD0

Not to be outdone, a bill in the Arizona legislature would authorize the state’s auditor general to investigate state and local election administrators’ performance of their election duties. Normally the auditor general investigates financial practices, and has no election law expertise. Now, that office would be investigating voter registration and mail voting processes at the state and local level. 

The bill would also give the Legislative Audit Committee, another entity with no experience, the task of shaping the auditor’s investigations. https://bit.ly/3IDkoAX

Arizona legislature proposes funding for an entity with no expertise in election law to investigate voter registration. ” [all emphasis original]

That’s $5.7 million and 50 investigators to deal with 5 Floridians accused – NOT convicted – of voting irregularities. Nothing draconian and fascist to see here, folks. Move along. Same “no worries” for Arizona – the Brownshirt thugs are on duty!

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Domestic Terrorism and Your Ancestors


Likely, the first part of the title of this post makes you think of the kid who killed 4 classmates in Michigan’s Oxford High School last week. Maybe you also remember the Las Vegas shooter, the Tree of Life Synagogue and Mother Emanuel AME Church shooters and the murderer in Charlottesville and the insurrectionist murderers at the Capitol Building. You’d be right using that title for all those murderers. But I’m thinking about our terrorist elected officials.

Like the terrorists who made it a felony to give a bottle of water to someone waiting in line to vote. And the ones who made it legal for thugs carrying Glocks and assault rifles to patrol the grounds right outside polling places. What could possibly go wrong there?

And like the terrorist legislators who use minority rule to make second class, powerless citizens of those who likely wouldn’t vote for them.*

And the terrorists in Congress who regularly threaten to shut down the U.S. government whenever a Democrat is in the White House. They’re the same terrorists who threaten to cause our country to default on its debts. They do that every year a Democrat is in the White House, too.

“Hey, world, we just decided we won’t pay you what we owe you. Too bad for you and goodie for those of us who refuse to pay our national credit card bill, ‘cus we just stuck it to the President and our opponents in Congress. That’s how you know that we’re very tough guys. You’re just collateral damage and honestly, we really don’t care what happens to you or our standing among nations, as long as we get our way now.”

There was a time when terrorists putting a gun to the nation’s head to get their way wouldn’t have been tolerated. Back then the idea of claiming that an election was stolen, this in the total absence of any evidence to support the claim, would have earned censure, rebuke and ridicule. Storming the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power wouldn’t even have occurred to anyone. But all of that and more have gone on and much is still going on right now, energized by a constant fire hose of lies. We’ve always had politicians who lie, but there are few if any other examples of a coordinated, extremist attack on reality.

If we’re to deal with this domestic terrorism we’ll have to figure out some things, like:

How is it that ignoring the will of the people is standard and lying to the public every day is both commonplace and smart politics?

How is it that we wring hands and then move on as though nothing has happened every time some whack job guns down kids, shoppers, concert goers and worshipers? Then we refuse to do anything to prevent the next murderer wannabe from getting his hands on a gun.

And how is it that the extremists, the radical terrorists, have manipulated the Supreme Court into a being a mob of partisan hacks that,

– invites huge money into our politics so the rich can buy their legislators (Citizens United). Worse, they exaggerated that harm with an issue unrelated to that case (“legislating from the bench”) that gave full human rights to corporations

– blocks gun safety legislation at every opportunity (Heller) and snuffs countless other attempts to obey the will of We The People – NOTE: a minimum of 80% of us want those gun safety laws.

– is now almost certain to ignore established law, decisions and the precedent of generations (no more stare decisis), leading to mistrust of the rule of law and making Supreme Court justices nothing more than political hacks**

– is now almost certain to tell women that they are not full citizens with the right to make decisions for themselves and that the government will be their daddy for life**

– is now almost certain to stimulate huge growth in the back alley abortion business, leading to otherwise preventable sterilizations, sickness and death – we’ve seen this movie before**

How is it that we tolerate such wanton disregard of decency and responsibility and we abandon the most fundamental rule of democracy, majority rule?

What has happened to us such that we allow all of this to go on?

Those aren’t idle or rhetorical questions. I want your insight on how we came to allow our values to be desecrated, because I surely don’t have answers. Here’s something to stimulate your thinking.

About your ancestors

Imagine for a moment that you could talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents for an hour or two, people of the Greatest Generation and perhaps the generation before them, born in the late 19th or the earliest part of the 20th century. You’d tell them what is happening in today’s America. What do you suppose they’d say? Here’s my guess.

It would take most of that time for them to begin to believe you, because they’d be shocked and horrified. Your report would be of an America that is unimaginable to them. Much of the story you’d have told them would describe some of the very reasons we went to war against countries that did the things we’re doing right now.

That’s how far we’ve strayed.

Look for a clear call to action on Wednesday, December 8.

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* From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson:

“After 19 Republican-dominated states have passed election laws suppressing the vote and gerrymandering districts, a reactionary minority controls them. Although Biden won Wisconsin, for example, the state supreme court today left in place districts that likely will enable Republicans to control 60% of the legislative seats in the state (and 75% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives). Ending federal protections for civil rights means handing to these reactionaries power over the majority of us.”

**  From Dan Rather:

“The issue of abortion is one on which fair minded people, honest to their own beliefs and moral codes, can disagree. But today was not about personal choice. It was about the law of the land that will make no exceptions other than those carved out by the states. And if the history of a time before legal abortions is any guide, and there is no reason to suspect otherwise, today will beget many personal tragedies, ruined lives, hardship, and despair.

“What transpired in the marbled halls of the Supreme Court was not genteel, even if it was wrapped in the ceremony and vocabulary of polite legal discourse. It was a traumatic reckoning. First and foremost for the rights of women to have control of their bodies and their lives. And secondly for a nation of laws, where precedent is supposed to matter. Instead, we saw a fixed legal right, enshrined in jurisprudence for half a century, likely shredded by a handful of unelected and unaccountable arbiters of what our nation of more than 300 million souls can and cannot do.”

“There are many subplots to this drama. We can talk about how a majority of the justices on the reactionary side of the ledger were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and what that means for the health of our democracy. We can talk about how many of the justices were less than truthful, or outright lied, in their confirmation hearings when they acted like they would judge an abortion case on precedent and the law instead of having their minds made up. We can talk about the politics of the court and whether Democratic voters slept-walked on the issue for too long.”

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Performance of Our Economy


We all know that the Republican Party is no longer the Republican Party. It has become a mob dedicated to obstruction, hate mongering and voter suppression, all in pursuit of clinging to White supremacy and power just a little longer. Minority rule. Anti-democracy. Gone is the party promoting small government and low taxes, conservation of traditional norms and fidelity to the intentions of the Founders. No news there.

The Republican mantra chanted mechanically for decades has been that the evil Democrats were the tax-and-spend party, the socialism devils who will bring down our economy. Perhaps that’s a relic of conservative opposition to the New Deal nearly a century ago. They were against pretty much everything proposed by FDR and have never let go of that reflexive, unexamined opposition. You can check with Barack Obama for verification of that. He’s the president toward whom the Rs dedicated 100% of their effort to make him a one-term president, the needs of the people be damned. All opposition, all the time.

But were the Rs’ predictions of Democrat-driven job killing, economy destruction and a slide to socialism accurate? Do we suffer more economically when Ds have the reigns of power? Let’s check with the Office of Management and Budget and some other sources for data – you know: facts – to help us understand what has actually happened.

Here are four bar graphs comparing how we’ve done under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations from when Truman took office in 1945 through Trump. See if you can spot a pattern.

Graphic courtesy of David Doney and Karl Faulstich of NWSOFA-Indivisible

Because these charts use data over such a significant span of time they pretty well neutralize the impact of spikes, like the high tech expansion of the 90s and the bust of 2008-9 and any of the tax rate adjustments.

We all get that pat political phrases are useful for bumper stickers and they’re great for frothing up true believers at political rallies, but sometimes they bear no resemblance to actual happenings on planet Earth. While saying that is not much of a revelation in our post-truth era (and that goes back way before Trump was lying and leading his cult of personality), what’s important is that those of us still within shouting distance of reality understand the empirical data: Democrats deliver a far better economy and all the goodies attendant to that, including jobs.

If you are a Republican and are choking on this information, please respond in the Comments section below about how Republicans are more fiscally responsible or more advantageous to the American people. For example, show us how George W. Bush started two wars and also reduced taxes twice, making it impossible to pay for his wars and how that was somehow good for us. Help us all understand how we’ve been duped by Democrats and why we should believe the Republicans’ bumper stickers.

That’s especially important to keep in mind now that Mitch McConnell has announced that he is “100 percent” focused on opposing all Biden initiatives, the needs of the people be damned. How’s that going to work for us and our economy?

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 

 


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s Next?


Chinese pictograph for crisis: danger plus opportunity

Earth’s tectonic plates have been put on notice that they are likely to be pushed back to where they belong.

Perhaps there are many who didn’t pay attention or who even boycotted the inauguration, so they did not hear the words that were spoken or feel the integrity behind them. Nevertheless, the world has been told that a new banner is flying. Beneath it is another banner containing this pictograph:

The night when President Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 election, mixed with the joy and renewal of hope of that night, I felt the weight that was about to fall on that man’s shoulders. We were headlong into the Great Recession, the likes of which few living Americans had experienced. It was a financial hole so deep that it affected the entire world. Perversely, within his first month in office Senate and House Republicans were daftly criticizing Obama for having failed to fully fix the financial crisis by then.

At the same time, we were enmeshed in two wars, both of which had been avoidable and which now were intractable, with no foreseeable exit. And it was clear that Obama would face nothing but fierce opposition from Republicans.

Perhaps you recall the reports of the Republicans who met at a restaurant on the night of his election and decided that their number one job was to “Make Obama a one-term president.” Their focus wasn’t to restore our national economy and get Americans back to work. It wasn’t to end the wars and bring our troops home. It wasn’t to form a more perfect union. Their celebration of our most recent exercise in democracy was to commit to obstructing progress and to regain power for themselves.

Obama passed the Affordable Care Act in his first two years, but not much more over the following 6 years, as a blizzard of Republican filibusters and dead letter legislation hampered any progress to overcome our enormous national challenges. Now, the challenges are even greater for President Biden.

There is the pandemic, our cratered economy, damaged international relations, compromised national security, the global climate threat, domestic terrorism and, oh yes, two intractable wars, plus much more. Biden’s first two years better be greatly productive and felt strongly by the American people, or his remaining time in office could be stifled in the same way as Obama’s. Refer again to the pictograph at the top right of this post.

From Ezra Klein’s brilliant essay, Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It:

But now Democrats have another chance. To avoid the mistakes of the past, three principles should guide their efforts. First, they need to help people fast and visibly. Second, they need to take politics seriously, recognizing that defeat in 2022 will result in catastrophe  .  .  .  And, finally, they need to do more than talk about the importance of democracy. They need to deepen American democracy.

Our nation is terribly sick, both medically and culturally. Not much, especially the economy, will get better until we stop the pandemic. Biden has rightly put that at the top of his to-do list, and doing so will meet Klein’s first imperative of fast and visible benefit to the people. To accomplish that he and his team will have to do something Trump’s team failed to do about the pandemic: deliver on the promise. No more bumbling. Making things more difficult is that Biden will have a lot of obstacles to overcome to get that or anything else done, and the Republican obstruction machine has already cranked up.

Now that a Democrat is in the White House they have suddenly discovered how awful deficits and debt are, just as they did in 2009 when Obama arrived. They didn’t seem particularly interested in such things when George W. Bush started two wars and cut taxes or when Trump squandered $2 trillion to enrich already rich people. Their now-regained fiscal stinginess is one of their favorite obstacles to progress that they love to place in front of Democrats.

Sen. Josh Hawley unconscionably raises an encouraging power fist to Trump’s mob of insurrectionists

Sen. Josh Hawley (he of the power fist salute to American domestic terrorists) objected without cause to a Biden secretary appointment. I’m not in Hawley’s head, but I suspect that he’s hoping to become the inheritor of Trump’s “base” and run for President on the White Supremacist ticket in 2024. There are plenty of other Republican senators and congressmen/women with equally overriding self-serving motives, who openly embrace extremist, hate-fueled conspiracy lies and who are just as power hungry.

With Chuck Schumer at the helm of the Senate we won’t have to worry about a pile up of ignored legislation, like the stacks of folders of House-passed legislation in McConnell’s office. Nevertheless, the filibuster remains for Republicans to use to stop necessary things from happening. Eliminating it will be difficult and doing so is a double edge sword that may prove to be harmful in the long term. But with it in place for obstructionists to use, all we’re left to count on is a sufficient cadre of Republican senators who will put country first. Bear in mind that hope is not a strategy and, by itself, simply can’t get the job done.

What can help, of course, are executive orders, many of which Biden signed in the afternoon following his inauguration. It’s a good start toward neutering the enormous list of Trump’s unscrupulous and unconscionable actions.

Ending the pandemic and embarking, for example, on a Rooseveltian infrastructure program will heal us medically and put Americans back to work, even as it will require bi-partisan cooperation. It will be a huge step toward the culture change and economic recovery we so desperately need.

That alone won’t cool off all the red hot, militant crazies, but people with money in their pockets are far less angry, not least because they feel a sense of dignity and of being in control of their own lives. Re-engaging everyone in such personal ways will be fast and visible to the public and will strengthen our entire country.

We hold the promise in our hands. It’s up to us to make that promise come alive. In the words of Amanda Gorman, “If only we are brave enough to be it.”

That’s what’s next.

For more, be sure to read Sheila Markin’s post here.

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Finally

From poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

These are hard times and it’s difficult to know what to do and where to start. What is important is simply that we start. That we ring the bells that still can ring. We will never run out of naysayers, vapid criticism and self-serving idiocy. What’s important is that we refuse to let such things impede progress.

Follow Leonard Cohen’s advice. Today is a good day 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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stomach Turning in 4 Parts and 5 Questions


Reading time – 4:49  .  .  .

1. Immigration Vile

We’re all appalled by the forced, medically unnecessary, inept and deceitful sterilizations of would-be immigrants at the hands of at least one doctor at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”),  Irwin County Detention Center. It is a privately owned (LaSalle Corrections), for-profit immigration jail in rural south Georgia. We don’t yet know if such things are happening in other ICE prisons.

First question: Why do we pay private corporations to run this and many other prisons, where they have incentives to lock up as many people as possible and perhaps perform stomach turning additional revenue enhancing acts?

The hideousness of these forced sterilizations – by some counts as many as 18 known and medically unnecessary, non-consensual surgeries – is now known and the full story isn’t out yet. This is a new chapter in American immigration cruelty. The good news, of course, is that this has never happened before.

Except it has. Many times.

In the 20th century alone (and it didn’t start there) tens of thousands of men and women were forcibly sterilized and it will come as no surprise to you who the targets were. From a report on this travesty (and here’s another report on this):

More than 60,000 people were sterilized in 32 states during the 20th century based on the bogus “science” of eugenics, a term coined by Francis Galton in 1883.

Eugenicists applied emerging theories of biology and genetics to human breeding. White elites with strong biases about who was “fit” and “unfit” embraced eugenics, believing American society would be improved by increased breeding of Anglo Saxons and Nordics, whom they assumed had high IQs. Anyone who did not fit this mold of racial perfection, which included most immigrants, Blacks, Indigenous people, poor whites and people with disabilities, became targets of eugenics programs. [emhasis mine]

But that was way in the past, right? Wrong.

Such practices are documented as occurring as recently as 2010. Over 1,400 forced sterilizations were performed in California prisons in just over 13 years. These were all state-sanctioned, non-consensual sterilizations.

To give you an idea of the cruelty of eugenics, the Nazis copied it, using the laws of Indiana and California as models for their 1930s laws that led to roughly 400,000 forced sterilizations. The Nazis weren’t the kind of people to whom we would want to be compared, and yet in this sense we can be.

Second question: Why do we tolerate this cruelty as part of our stomach turning immigration practices?

 

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2. COVID-19 Deaths

Trump’s cruelty and ineptitude remains exactly what the Oxford study said it was. Worse, he continues to do what is counterproductive to beating this pandemic and he avoids doing what would make things better. Nevertheless, there is more to this story and it’s likely not exactly what you think.

If you want to know why some countries have had relatively good results dealing with COVID-19 and why the U.S. has fared much poorer, read this.

Third question: Why have we tolerated a stomach-turning hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths?

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3. RBG’s Seat

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, progressive, civil rights icon of the Supreme Court has died. Separate from her loss and ours we must contend with Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, promising to hurry Trump’s replacement pick through the Senate. He announced that less than two hours after the news of her death broke. His was truly astonishing disrespect.

This is the same Mitch McConnell who declared from a dark corner of his manipulative, power-grabbing mind that in the last year of his administration President Obama couldn’t refill the seat left empty by Antonin Scalia’s death. It wouldn’t be fair to the voters, McConnell told us. The next president should handle that, he said. Besides, he informed us that no president had ever nominated anyone for a Supreme Court seat in his last year in office.

And he was right. Except for Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in his final year in office. And William Rehnquist and Louis Powell, who were nominated in the last year of Nixon’s first term – you get the idea. But it was really important to the Grim Reaper to prevent President Obama from having a Supreme Court pick in his last year in office, so McConnell made up precedent and put a knee on the neck of Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Now, though, we’re hearing from the other fork of McConnell’s tongue. Somehow his phony precedent doesn’t matter so much, now that Trump is the one doing the nominating. Now McConnell has promised to ram Trump’s pick through the Senate before the November 3 election.

Fourth question: What does that do to your stomach?

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4. American Wars

From Sheila Markin’s recent post:

Trump has called himself a wartime president. Yes, America is at war. Our country has been beset by 4 huge assaults at once.

First, there’s the pandemic which, because of Trump’s interference and mismanagement, has cratered our economy and devastated the lives of Americans, resulting in lost jobs, lost health care, lost health, lost homes, and food insecurity for millions of Americans.

Second, there’s climate change which has created huge raging fires in the West with smoke that turned into cyclones with their own embedded lightning, more powerful hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and ice caps melting at a rapid rate which will cause sea level rise, imperiling coastal areas.

Third, there is social unrest and mainly peaceful marches to support the Black Lives Matters movement in response to the unfairness documented by cell phone footage proving that people of color are treated horribly and are killed by police in disproportionate numbers.

Fourth, our democracy and cherished “free and fair elections” are being attacked by Russia working in tandem with Trump and Republicans to suppress the vote, discourage Dems from coming to the polls and cast doubt on the reliability of mail-in ballots.

America IS at war and Trump is not on our side.

It’s time for we soldiers to report for duty, leading to the

Fifth question: It appears that we have perfected the art of complacency. It’s time to abandon that dark art in all of these issues before our stomachs go terminal. Are you ready?

From Rosh HaShanah commentary:

“If you want to see God save the innocent, you need to get off the couch and save the innocent. If you want to see God feed the hungry, you need to feed the hungry. If you want to see God stand by while the innocent suffer, all you need to do is stand by and do nothing yourself.” (emphasis original) – by Rabbi Brent Chiam Spodek and Ruth Messinger.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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