Leadership

This Isn’t The Time


Instructions

Study this material. There is a test at the end.

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Click me to view the Gun Violence Archive

I know that this isn’t the time, because after each horrific mass shooting in America Mitch McConnell tells us that yet again. He said that after Sandy Hook. He said that after Parkland. He said that after the Pulse Nightclub and Sugar Land and Mother Emanuel AME Church and Aurora and Poway and Tree of Life Synagogue and El Paso and I’m pretty sure he’s going to say it now, after the Buffalo and Laguna Woods church shootings last weekend.

Yesterday, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), third-ranking Republican in the House, said, “It is not the time to politicize this tragedy,” yet she paid for ads pushing the replacement lie. Just another day in HypocrisyLand.

It seems that it’s never time to talk about doing anything to stop our American massacres. And it’s not because they happen infrequently. In fact, there have been 27 mass shootings this month alone and it’s only the 18th. Actually, we’re pretty good at murdering one another and we’re steadfast in doing nothing to make us safer.

For decades over 80% of Americans – that includes over 72% of NRA members – have wanted strict, universal background checks prior to the sale of any firearm. The vast majority of us want assault weapons to be prohibited. Same for large capacity magazines, bump stocks and both concealed and open carry. How’s that working out for We The Majority?

It was just a short time after those twenty little 6- and 7-year-old kids and their six teachers and staff were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School that Wayne LaPierre of the NRA began to insult this country with, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I have to admit that was a most excellent, chest-thumping marketing ploy for selling more guns.

There are way more guns in this country than people, so there must be a lot of good guys with guns. But how many bad guy murderous rampages have been stopped by a good guy with a gun? Can you think of even one? Neither can I.

Can you imagine a good guy with a gun at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in a shoot out with the bad guy as the halls were full of kids between class periods?

I’m not running for office and I don’t care who I upset by saying this:

  1. I want universal background checks before the sale or transfer of any firearm. That includes Grandpa giving his favorite hunting rifle to his grandson. That grandson just might be named Dylann Roof or Nicholas Cruz or  Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold or Omar Mateen or Robert Gregory Bowers or Adam Lonza. He might be mentally ill or he might be a White Supremacist, hate-filled homicidal maniac like the Buffalo murderer. I don’t want that grandson to get his hands on any firearm.
  2. I want assault weapons to be illegal. These are so-called “man guns” with which our over-testosteroned, angry, under-educated, morally deficient people get their “man card reissued.” Yes, that was the advertising for the Bushmaster assault rifle, the murder machine used at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  3. I want absolutely no large capacity magazines or bump stocks or automatic firearms of any kind to be allowed anywhere. Alternatively, Americans to have the right to own as many muskets and musket balls as they want, just as the Founders intended when they wrote the Second Amendment.
  4. I want all new firearms sold to have an interlock so that only the owner can fire it. That will help to stop the theft of guns and their subsequent use to kill you and me. If technology makes it possible, I want all existing firearms to be retrofitted with that same technology.
  5. I don’t want any civilian walking my streets carrying a firearm, whether concealed or open carried. And I don’t want anyone to have a gun in the passenger compartment of their vehicle, just like we don’t allow open containers of alcoholic beverages in cars. We don’t need homicidal road rage any more than we need drunk drivers.
  6. I want a full semester of civics taught to every 8th grade school kid, whether in public or private school. Then I want every high school senior to take two semesters of civics classes. Graduation should be contingent upon successfully completing those classes. Maybe that will help to establish a sense of responsibility in our young citizens. They might even grow up to be responsible older citizens. That would be a refreshing change for our country.

Until I’m in charge you better make your voice heard. Otherwise, you’ll once again hear McConnell tell us this is not the time to talk about ways to stop the bleeding and the dying. You’ll have to endure chorus after chorus of “thoughts and prayers” from our jellyfish elected officials. You can identify them as those occasionally somber looking people with special lapel pins and who haven’t the courage to sneeze without first getting permission from their Party leaders, from the hate spewers and from the gun crazies.

If you and I don’t stand up and speak up there will be lots more dead fellow citizens who did nothing worse than go to school or go to an outdoor concert or go to church or have the audacity to go grocery shopping while Black.

Test

Answer each question to the best of your ability. If you find yourself stuck on any question, go on to the next one. When you circle back to the unanswered questions, if you find you still need help, you may use the Hint and the Explainers below.

Questions

  1. Why isn’t this already fixed?
  2. How is it possible that our circumstances have become far worse?
  3. What have we become?

    Click for the video – but be prepared with some tissues.

  4. Story Problem:

    On Monday Victor Blackwell of CNN interviewed survivors of the slaughter rampage in Buffalo last weekend. Two women he talked with had been on their way to the Tops supermarket. Their aunt was already there and was killed by that White supremacist gunman. One of the women was entirely distraught and the other was, as she described herself, devastated. Their pain was so palpable that Blackwell could barely keep himself together.

    At last he turned to the camera and to his anchor in the studio and said,

    “I was counting in the car, talking with my producer  .  .  .  I’ve done 15 of these – at least the ones I can count. And we keep having the conversation about Democrats will say guns, Republicans will say mental health, and nothing will change.

    “And I’ll probably do another one this year. Family after family, having nowhere to go with their grief.

    “We’ll get into a political conversation later, but is this the way we’re supposed to live? Are we destined to just keep doing this, city after city? Have we just resigned that this is what we’re going to be?”

    Q. What are your answers for Victor Blackwell?

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Hint

   The answer to questions 1 – 3 (and maybe #4) can be found in one word: Apathy.

Explainers

  1. The behavior we tolerate is the behavior we get.
  2. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got.
  3. Unless something changes, nothing will change.
Joke of the Week

This is humorous, but it’s sadly related in style to our present reality, including our domestic terrorism.

Fox News anchors stole engines #3 & 4 from the right wing of several large airplanes, then blamed it on a left wing conspiracy.

Many thanks to MA for this.

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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.

Here’s Why


Take a look at this downloadable PDF map of NATO countries – they’re the ones in BLUE and follow along.

Putin has made it clear that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was not WW I, WW II or the 1918 influenza pandemic, each of which killed millions of people. No, he’s certain that the fall of the Soviet Union was the very worst thing that happened over those 100 years. He has dedicated his grandiosity to reconstructing that paragon of repression and cruelty or perhaps creating something even more dreadful. I’m sure that in his dreams he hears the sound of Soviet tanks crushing the pavement of the streets of downtown Budapest and has visions of Khrushchev pounding his peasant shoe on a lectern at the United Nations, where Putin hopes to pound his Gucci loafers.

He claimed there are lots of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which means, he says, that Ukraine isn’t a real country, but rather, it’s part of Russia. Using that logic, San Francisco should be ceded to the Chinese, Montreal should become the property of France and Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should surrender to Mexico.

In 2014 Putin grabbed the entire Crimean peninsula and large swaths of the Donbas, the southeastern part of Ukraine. That’s where you can find the rubble that was the city of Mariupol. That’s where you can still find Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, with its hundreds, perhaps thousands of wounded fighters and noncombatants who can’t get food or medical supplies, who can’t get out and who the Russians bomb every day.

When the brutalizing of Ukraine started I said that the Moldovans must be shaking in their shoes because surely they would be next. Sadly, Putin is proving me to have been right. He has announced that he will sweep up the entire east and south of Ukraine all the way to Moldova, where he’s already dropped bombs. Moldova has no army, although they do have a few traffic cops, so stopping Putin’s thugs will be more than difficult for them.

Go back to that NATO map and look at the countries in GREEN that border Russia. These are nations that are not NATO member countries. Looking north from Ukraine and you’ll find:

Belarus

Finland

Sweden

Counter-clockwise from Ukraine there are:

Georgia

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Kazakhstan

The southern “-stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Left off this list are Mongolia, China and Afghanistan. Surely, not even Putin is dumb enough to invade China or Mongolia. Or Afghanistan – again.

Finland and Sweden are likely to become NATO members by June. But the rest of the GREEN countries would be easy pickings for Putin. Belarus is already a vassal state and he can gobble up the rest without fear of a direct confrontation with NATO.

If you were the leader of any of these GREEN countries, what might you be thinking about NATO membership right now? Maybe that you’ve waited a bit too long to request membership?

Putin thinks that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are legitimate parts of Russia, just like his claim about Ukraine, but they are NATO member countries. I suspect that it’s in these Baltic states where the inevitable Russian confrontation with NATO will occur. Putin and the world will quickly learn whether Article 5 of the NATO Charter means anything. Meanwhile, here’s the reason for this geography lesson.

The U.S. is in the process of authorizing another $33 billion of aid to Ukraine and some are asking why we would spend our treasure this way. After all, they say, this is Ukraine’s war, not ours. That’s where I and many others disagree.

Set aside the humanitarian imperative to help people who are suffering or the important need to right a wrong. It’s more solidly connected to self-interest than that.

Putin’s actions threaten the entire world. He’s upsetting the carefully crafted and tended political peace and economic order that have lasted since 1945. That threatens America.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their democracy, their freedom and their independence. Those are the same reasons every one of those GREEN countries will resist. But they can be picked off one at a time by Putin’s inept but numerically overwhelming forces and his threats of chemical and nuclear war. So, the world either stops Putin in Ukraine or we will have to fight him in the next country and then the next and the next. There will be no appeasement of this monster. Reference: Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement of Hitler in 1938. That didn’t work out too well for the Brits or for the world and attempting to appease Putin would be a similar disaster.

The Ukrainians’ struggle is an existential fight for all democracy and freedom in the world and if Putin isn’t stopped there this will eventually become our own fight. We can either help to stop Putin in Ukraine or we’ll have to stop him later as he directly threatens our own shores.

That’s why.
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And that begs the question of why Representatives Biggs (AZ), Taylor Greene (GA), Bishop (NC), Gaetz (FL), Gosar (AZ), Norman (SC), Massie (KY), Perry (PA), Tiffany (WI) and Davidson (OH), all Republicans, voted against the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. They and others also voted against the resolution of support for Moldova. Just guessing that they’ll vote against the additional $33 billion of aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. And they’ll do so with the enthusiastic support of the supreme, authoritarian loving, Putin and Viktor Orbán suck up, Tucker Carlson.

Here’s the key question:

If all those Ukrainians are doing the fighting and dying so we don’t have to, why would these elected officials oppose supporting them?
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President Biden’s Call To Action
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“We’re calling on all Americans to pony up all the necessary military and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for all freedom loving people. That’s good, and it isn’t enough.

“Because of Putin’s war, there will be precious little agricultural output from Ukraine this year. That country was formerly the supplier of 10% of the world’s wheat, and that’s just a placeholder for all the disruption of food supplies the world will see this year. That’s why I’m calling on all of US agriculture to maximize production. No fields lying fallow. Find ways to produce more. This is your patriotic duty.

“European nations are already moving to get off the Russian gas and oil umbilical cord and move to renewables. We need to make similar changes here to maximize pressure on Putin.

“I’m calling on our fossil fuel companies to stop drilling and start building a carbon-free power infrastructure. I’m calling on Prime Minister Modi of India to do the same.

“And I’m calling on all Americans to support the switch to electric transportation, with all the infrastructure implications that means. This is war and we must lead the way for the world to end its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Hey, It’s Just a Draft

Yeah, but if its provisions become law, as it appears likely they will, we’ll take a giant leap back to women dying from complications of back alley abortions, women dying in childbirth, women delivering their rapist’s child – or their father’s incest child – ruined lives and more. It takes us back to brain-free, iron fisted patriarchy. It opens the door to making birth control measures – even within a marriage – illegal. Having a miscarriage could result in murder charges. And this draft opinion opens to door to reversing marriage rights and more. The Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court stand steadfastly in their Dark Ages ignorance and will use their legal spears to kill everything they fear.

All of this is the proud result of the extremist, control freak Republican minority and of Supreme Court justices lying, dissembling and snow jobbing through their confirmation processes, falsely claiming that they believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Plus, there’s Mitch McConnell’s cheating, refusing to even hold a hearing for Obama’s SC nominee following the death of Antonin Scalia. The depth of their dishonesty is breathtaking.

So, congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard for so long to force their misogynistic way to control others. They think they should be in charge of making decisions for we lesser people, much like the result of the Dred Scott decision that said that Blacks had no rights and which put all power into the hands of White supremacists. Those 1850s guys really liked being in control of others, just like today’s Republicans.

But, hey, it’s just a draft. Who knows? Maybe between now and June one or two of the justices who now favor witch burning will relent. But don’t count on it. Instead, get to work making sure that all the people who otherwise would stay at home on November 8 learn what is being done to them. Inspire them to get off their butts and vote for Democrats, unless, of course, they want some primitive, rich old White guys controlling their lives.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

Stop The Steal


What about We The People? When is it our turn? Here’s what’s going on.

—————————-

Elections

You already have some idea of the massive voter suppression being visited upon millions of our fellow citizens in Republican controlled states. Voters have been and are having their voter registrations removed without their knowledge for the heinous crimes of not returning a post card within 2 weeks or not having voted in the last several elections or not having a specific identification card or attempting to vote while Black, young or poor. And mail-in voting and even in-person voting are being made onerous, especially in areas of largely Democratic voters.

Every bit as bad is the distortion of who controls elections. Radicals are replacing nonpartisan election officials with Republican Party operatives. Some are double agents declaring their candidacies for secretaries of states.  They intend to ignore the will of the people and will instead declare Republican candidates winners even when they’ve decisively lost. So much for the will of the people, the rule of law and majority rule.

Schools

Public schooling continues to suffer assaults done by those who want to abolish it in favor of for-profit private schools. If they get their way your children’s education will be at best secondary to the maximizing of profit for school owners. And some bureaucrat with an attitude will determine what your kids will be taught and, more ominously, what will not be taught.

They’re banning and burning books in many of our states. They are preventing our children from getting an education that’s based in reality. These thought police want your kids taught only what they, in their supreme myopia, want taught. Children will be protected from the knowledge of actual history, and will be taught some manipulative revisionist history. It is setting up to be far worse than George Orwell imagined in his dystopian novel.

The old saying was, “Save your Confederate money, boys. The South will rise again!” Judging by the number of Confederate battle flags being waved by delusional pseudo-patriots it might be rising right now. So are the Nazi Germany book burning hate fests. Good luck getting your children a full, honest education.

Good luck, too, having a school board of civic minded, dedicated parents. Today’s school board meetings are fraught with hateful screamers yelling idiotic demands, accusations and only slightly veiled threats at board members. At home these school board volunteers are getting death threats.

Congress

Denial of what is plainly in front of them is standard for Republican senators and congresspeople, even when what is in front of them is a mob promising to murder them. Their only purpose is to be in power and deny anything and everything that Democrats propose. They have no policies other than that. Literally, no other policies.

Recall Mitch McConnell pledging that making both Obama and Biden one term presidents was job number 1. That makes preventing Supreme Court justice nominees from even getting a hearing justifiable to them. So does issuing a blanket rejection of any Black woman as a candidate before she’s been selected. So does voting to acquit a clearly law breaking, insurrection inciting, impeached president – twice. So does filibustering everything sent to the Senate by the House. There are no moderates. Only spineless people who long ago sold out their integrity and abandoned their oath of office.

Patriotism

How does it happen that Republican lawmakers and alt-right blabbers are siding with Vladimir Putin and Russia as they lay waste to a sovereign nation? It used to be that partisanship stopped at the water’s edge. Now, though, partisanship and the continual grubbing for minority control of our nation trumps everything for them. Patriotism is only important, it seems, if it serves the narrow, discriminatory purposes of Republicans.

How can Rick Scott (R-FL) resurrect and get away with Mitt Romney’s hateful “47%” rhetoric? How do Trump and the blabbers get away with their racism and antisemitism? This stuff is designed to divide us, to weaken our nation. These and so many other tropes used by Republicans are against both the intent and the letter of the Constitution.

I keep wondering where the bottom is, but we find once again that there is no bottom to which these radical people won’t sink.

Mobocracy

Our millions who threaten, attack and spew the lies do so because they’ve been convinced they’re doing the right thing. They believe that the end justifies the means and they get a fine power trip doing their bullying, too. So did Hitler’s millions and Stalin’s and Pol Pot’s and the followers of warlords everywhere. All of them thought they were doing the right things. As I’ve said often, it’s so easy to manipulate people into doing horrific things. All it takes is a lot of frustrated, angry people and a charismatic leader to stoke their anger and hatred and all can be lost.

And we’re losing.

We’re incrementally and very rapidly losing our democracy, our societal norms and the dream that is America.

The day will come, perhaps decades from now, when people will be recorded saying that they were just doing what they were told to do. Those who knuckled under will say that they feared for their lives in the face of a murderous mob. Some will say they didn’t know what was really going on. The excuses will be the same litany of self-justifications as always, but the harm they inflicted, condoned or hid from will have been done and many will have suffered terribly from our mobocracy.

There are so many attacks coming from so many sides that stopping the legalized insurrection via the courts is next to impossible. That’s why we need Congress to enact laws to stop the theft. The power to do that comes from protecting voting rights. With the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act we’ll be able to negate much of the election tampering now happening in many states. And that will give We The People the power to deal with the rest.

We cannot get that or anything else done when senators like Rand Paul will filibuster and 49 other Republican senators refuse to stand for what they know is right. That means only one thing.

Stop The Steal

We have to stop whining and declaring our helplessness over the coming 2022 election. We – that’s you and I, not some amorphous somebody else – have to get to work now to elect Democrats who will save our democracy.

That’s “now” as in:

NOW

P.S.

Wing nut Marjorie Taylor Green has announced articles of impeachment against President Biden. That’s going nowhere in this Democratic majority House. However, all she and her unhinged co-conspirators need to do to turn our Constitution into a bad joke is to win the House this November.

What are you going to do about that?

————————————

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.

Falling For It


This Is First Because .  .  .

From Reuters. Click the map for the full story as of 3-5-22 and for a full size, easy-to-read map.

.  .  .  it’s the very most important. By far. it’s life-or-death.

You know what’s going on in Ukraine. The spirit and courage of the Ukrainians to fight for their freedom is inspiring the world. So is the generosity and friendship of the neighboring Poles, Hungarians and others who are feeding, clothing and ministering to hundreds of thousands of cold Ukrainian refugees – mothers, children, babies, grandmas and some grandpas. You’ve seen the videos, so you know that all of these people need help, especially as Putin’s army bombards and strangles the Ukrainian cities.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger (you know him – one of the last Republicans with a spine and a sense of integrity) has put together a vehicle to help the Ukrainians, so go to this page on his website and give all you can to the Stand With Ukraine Fund. 100% of your donation will go toward supporting the Ukrainian people. Just read the short description and you’ll understand.

Yes, I know you are bombarded by people and causes vying for your contribution. I’ve received 15 solicitations just from Val Demings in the last day-and-a-half. But this is different and you know in your bones that it is. Click through and separate some bucks from your wallet for the sake of these desperate people. Now is a really good time to do that. I just did it myself. *

What’s In A Name?

George W. Bush started two unprovoked wars. That is a fact, not an opinion. He justified the attack on Iraq by falsely conflating Saddam Hussein (fiercely secular) with the 9/11 attack by al Qaeda (fiercely religious). And he also told us that, by golly, Saddam just wasn’t a nice guy, so he had to go.

He justified a wholesale attack on all of Afghanistan by saying that Osama bin Laden was hiding there. He wasn’t.

But that wasn’t enough for this president, so he marshaled through legislation to give him special powers to prosecute these wars. Most notorious was the Patriot Act.

It’s common for legislation to be named for the purpose of garnering support for it, and what red, white and blue American wouldn’t be in favor of a Patriot Act? There’s just one thing: it wasn’t patriotic.

One of the Patriot Act’s key provisions was to allow illegal, warrant-less wiretapping of Americans’ communications. If you’re okay with such lawlessness, we’re going to send you to remedial civics class.

The point of presenting that is to highlight that the same thing is being done in the states right now to disenfranchise Americans through disingenuously named legislation. Here’s an example.

Texas passed its Election Integrity Law. Great name. Here’s what it does:

  1. It prohibits 24-hour voting, which was really important for shift workers.
  2. It bans drive-through voting. That was really popular because of the pandemic.
  3. It makes it a felony (i.e. jail time) for any public official to send a mail-in ballot that wasn’t specifically requested.
  4. Partisan poll watchers can spy on voters as they vote and snoop on election officials following an election.

That’s just a sampling. Does any of that sound like greater election integrity to you? Me neither. It sounds much more like ways to stop citizens from voting. And that’s just Texas.

Here’s a link to a summary compiled by the Brennan Center of new laws in lots of states designed to prevent American citizens from voting, especially Black, young and poor citizens. Every one of these laws carries a chest thumping patriotic name in order to garner support for doing unpatriotic things.

Who’s doing this stuff?

The GOP

From former Republican, former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), speaking to Ali Velshi on MSNBC, February 28, 2022:

“I think the greatest casualty of the last 10 years for the GOP is that it’s no longer a serious party. What I mean by that is, look, a serious party and a serious Congress and, honestly, regardless of Republican or Democratic, in the initial days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, would have said in concert, together, that Congress stands ready to provide Joe Biden and the western alliance every resource that is needed to stop the aggression we’re seeing from Russia. That’s it.

“‘We’re here to do our job to provide resources to protect the security of the world.’

“That’s not today’s Republican Party. It is no longer a serious party.” **

To be fair, the Republican Party, the one which recently declared that the January 6 insurrection was ‘legitimate political discourse” and which Mike Pence declared was “misunderstood,” is serious about one thing: promoting its minority power.

Here’s Thom Hartmann’s detailed look at the poverty, disease and death the GOP brings to us with its disingenuousness and its sole focus on having power instead of meeting the needs of our country.

These are the people working every day to rig our elections so that they, the minority, can hold power over the majority of Americans. And they paper over their dishonesty using patriotic sounding labels – just like Texas and George W. Bush.

Are we dumb enough to fall for that?

Speaking of Falling For It

President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address (SOTU) on March first. He called on us to come together to solve America’s vexing challenges, including stopping a megalomaniac Russian dictator.

Naturally, the Republicans got their chance to attack Biden after his address, so Iowa Republican governor Kim Reynolds sounded off with a standard list of Republican grievances (and also non-grievances constructed to sound like grievances), false accusations and a whitewashing of Republican attacks on democracy and standard GOP appeals to autocracy. Her rant was carefully crafted to stoke cultural conflict. I confess that I was unable to listen to all of her comments due to an overload of her dumb. Here’s what was dumber.

Three different Democrats somehow felt compelled to give their own presentations following the SOTU address. They delivered messages that detracted from Biden’s and they effectively did a fine job of making it look like Democrats couldn’t even agree to hold hands crossing the street.

This is as dumb as chants of “defund the police” and the way-too-public Build Back Better Act wars within the Democratic Party.

What independent voters would embrace that chaos? Why would anyone vote for a candidate of a party that can’t agree on what day it is? And, no, “We have a big tent” doesn’t excuse this self-sabotage and relying on “We’re not Republicans” just doesn’t cut it.

Worse, they’re doing this dumb stuff at this critical time when our democracy itself is on the line. For details on that, see my upcoming post, Stop the Steal, on March 9.

This display of Democratic bamboozling earns the Party the special award displayed to the right. I’m fearful that some Democrats might think this is an honor.

From the “Hard To Believe News Department”
1.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has managed to say the most colossally stupid and self-destructive thing in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He called for someone to assassinate Vladimir Putin. Whatever daydreams you may have had about what to do about this megalomaniac murderer, you aren’t the senior senator from South Carolina braying your idiocy on Fox and in your Twitter feed.

What makes Graham’s statement so harmful is that it gave Putin propaganda to feed the Russian people that he is fighting against savage America and the west, rather than invading Ukraine unprovoked and murdering its citizens. Graham’s words undermine all that President Biden and America and the rest of the free world are doing to stop a murderer.

Your face should be contorted into a “WHAT?!?”

Maybe we should give Graham one of those awards, with him as the guy with the gun and America as the foot.

2.

From The Hill, March 2:

“The House passed a resolution on Wednesday to declare support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, while urging an ‘immediate cease-fire.’

“Lawmakers in both parties voted near-unanimously in favor of the resolution, 426-3. The only votes in opposition were from three Republicans: Reps. Paul Gosar [R-AZ], Thomas Massie [R-KY] and Matt Rosendale [R-MT].”

Over a million Ukrainians, mostly women, children and old people, have fled their country in the cold of winter with only the few things they could carry. Their sons, brothers, fathers and grandfathers have been left behind to fight Putin’s cruelty, as their cities are being bombed into rubble. Thousands have been killed, including babies and children, and many times that number have been wounded. And 3 Republican congressmen voted against a resolution in support of the Ukrainian people.

Your face should again be contorted into a “WHAT?!?” right now.

Reread David Jolly’s comments above about the not-serious party.

3.

You heard right. There was nearly continuous heckling from members of Congress during the President’s State Of The Union speech. It was Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert who blabbed their hystrionic lunacy while serious issues were being addressed. This is what unstable people do when they’ve been properly constrained from legislative work due to their destructive tendencies.

Because you know who and what they are, so sadly, your face should not be contorted into a “WHAT?!?” right now.

—————————————-

Mission Accomplished” is what he said in 2003. The war raged on for another 7 years killing an additional 4,100 Americans and unknown tens of thousands of Iraqis.

COVID was killing over 2,400 Americans per day for months. Now 1,892 are dying daily. Is it time to spike the ball in the end zone? Here’s a link to the story.


* I am taking it on faith that this fund is as presented and can offer no guarantees. Still, I kicked in $100.

** Read Robert Reich’s piece in The Guardian, Putinism is Breeding in the Heart of the Republican Party.

————————————

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.

News


There’s much going on that has dangerous consequences for us and for the world. Here’s hoping this provides just a smidgen of clarity about what must be done. Plus, there’s a  special message for Vladimir Putin. Psst – pass it on. JA

———————————-

There’s Another One On The Way

George P. Bush, grandson of one president and nephew of another, is running to be Secretary of State of Texas. That’s news. Here’s what was reported by The Washington Post about that. It isn’t news, although it should be.

“Bush tells the audience he has twice traveled the length of the Texas border and vows tofinish the Trump wall.’ He speaks about ‘massive voter fraud.’ He promises to go after human traffickers and drug cartels and to take on district attorneys in the big cities, who he says are not on the side of law enforcement. He decries ‘the wholesale indoctrination of our children when it comes to critical race theory’ in public schools.”

This marks a new generation of Republican-labeled politicians claiming hooeyfacts (I just made up that word). This calls for some fact checking.

  1. P. Bush tells us we should build Trump’s idiotic wall, wasting billions of dollars while doing little to help our immigration issues and doing eminent domain damage to farmers and ranchers. Less than half of all Americans want the (did I say it already?) idiotic wall.
  2. He claims “massive voter fraud” and has absolutely no evidence of any voter fraud.
  3. He wails about district attorneys in the big cities who are “not on the side of law enforcement,” yet he has no evidence of that at all, either. On the other hand, attacking big cities plays well to poorly informed, rural voters.
  4. He claims critical race theory is indoctrinating our children, yet there isn’t even one K-12 school in Texas – or anywhere else in America – teaching CRT.

That leaves us grappling for an explanation of why he would say stupid things (I say that charitably) that are easily proven false. I can conjure only 3 reasons:

  1. P. Bush is astonishingly ignorant and hasn’t the sense to keep his mouth shut.
  2. P. Bush is mentally deranged and can’t differentiate between reality and fantasy.
  3. P. Bush is a liar.

Were I a Texas voter, none of those explanations would be acceptable. His absence of either integrity or sense requires that we rate him as permanently unqualified for any public office. And our compassion demands that we send him back to his mother for instruction on not telling lies.

This spouting of outrageous, baseless accusations by Republican yelpers is man-bites-dog stuff, but it no longer has shock value because it’s spewed in a continuous stream of disingenuous noise. That’s a terribly sad but accurate commentary on an entire political party, so it just isn’t news,

so, take a look at this .  .  .

.  .  .  from Maria Shriver:

“I know the answers are complicated and long. I know it’s also tempting to turn away. But I hope we don’t. I’ve learned in my lifetime that trying to outrun pain is fruitless. It always, always catches up to you. Trying to numb it also doesn’t work, and yet that’s what is happening. We are becoming numb to the violence that is all around us. We scroll past school shootings. We scroll past the violence engulfing our cities. Our social media platforms are rife with verbal violence thrown at each other. Our political disagreements are violent and threatening. People are dying from drug overdoses in record numbers from their pain. There is pain everywhere—in every home and on every street corner.”

Click me

Do you remember the movie This Is Spinal Tap? There’s a scene where a punky band member is showing that the controls on his guitar amplifier don’t stop at 10 like those on other amps; his goes to 11. “That’s one louder, inn’t it?” he says.

And that’s where we are in what passes for our political discourse and our human non-relations: Louder.

For those brave people willing to quiet their volume-11 voices and get beneath their shields of anger and hatred, they’ll find out that what’s going on is frightening and painful. We’re frightened and in pain for all the reasons Shriver names. And we’re oddly sustaining our dysfunction at a critical moment that requires our dedication to one another. That’s yet more not-news.

It’s long past the time to discard those who promote lies and bray their declarations of bravado in order to promote themselves, like P. Bush and the rest – you know who they are.

We have a global existential threat in the form of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war and his not even thinly veiled threats of nuclear annihilation.
.
We have another in the form of global warming that is advancing far faster than even the most pessimistic climate scientists predicted just a few years ago. And in the face of these threats to our very survival, we’re squabbling like bratty siblings.
.

It’s time to work together. It’s time to turn down the volume. And when we do that, it will be welcome news, indeed.

Many thanks to MZ for sending the Maria Shriver essay.

SOTU

President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address last night and it’s too late to pick through it and comment. I’ll simply focus on what was needed most and was delivered: Leadership to bring us together.

Recall that in the face of international existential threats we must “discard those who promote lies and bray their declarations of bravado in order to promote themselves.” We have to “turn down the volume.” In short, ditch the self-serving lunacy for the sake of our country and for democracy everywhere.

That’s what we must do. So, Biden put a stake in the ground calling for us to stand together for our democracy. That’s news.

Finally, A Message To Vladimir Putin

The Vietnam war was enormously unpopular. Resistance to it was a challenge to “the establishment,” so demonstrations and protests were frequently met with police violence. The most notorious of these crack downs came in August 1968 in Chicago’s Grant Park. It was across Michigan Avenue from the Conrad Hilton Hotel, the site of Democratic Party headquarters. Later, the Kerner Commission would call it a police riot.

The chant of the demonstrators was a tweak to the noses of Mayor Daley, President Johnson and the establishment. It was nonetheless accurate and biting.

I offer it here to Vladimir Putin. Were he ever to see this he wouldn’t care a bit, but the Russian people care a great deal and the world needs them to stand up to the bully who is threatening nuclear annihilation. So, here’s 1968 once again, still sadly accurate:

The whole world is watching!

Psst – Pass it on.

————————————

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.

Same Song, Next Verse


What Will We Do Then?

The largest invasion of a sovereign nation since WW II is occurring, It’s the current iteration of European wars ignited by a narcissist who thinks he’s going to rule the world. People have died and more will continue to die in urban warfare. Meanwhile, Putin has gone cynical and fully delusional.

He’s using the same blitzkrieg tactics against Ukraine that Hitler used to invade Czechoslovakia, Poland and France. He’s claimed this is to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Wait a second: Nazi tactics to de-Nazify Ukraine? That’s such miserable crap that I don’t have words to describe it.

What Putin has said he wants is as disingenuous as it is homicidal. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not because it’s a traditional part of Russia. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not for its wheat and industrial capacity. What this ex-Soviet KGB thug actually wants more than anything is a new world order with Russia and himself at the center. Crushing and owning the entirety of Ukraine is the next step on his megalomaniac rampage.

Putin believes that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Not the 20 million killed in WW I or the 80 million killed in WW II or the 12 million killed in the Holocaust. All of those happened right where he could see them, but those catastrophes pale in comparison to the end of the Soviet Union, according to Putin. So, he wants it back. We make a strategic mistake if we think he wants anything less or that there is some hard stop in tactics or geography that he won’t exceed. That must be our clarity of what we must stop.

Look at a map (enlarge it to 100% for easier viewing) and it’s plain to see that Moldova and Belarus will be next in Putin’s incremental land grab plan. Belarus is already a Russian vassal state and Moldova is not a NATO member nation. Easy pickings for Putin. So will be nearly any of the -stans and he already has Georgia. How hard would it be for him to grab Azerbaijan and Armenia?

The international push back might be strong enough that Putin would pause before invading neighboring Finland, a non-NATO country. While he’s pausing he’ll contemplate how to “get back” the Baltic states, Romania, Hungary, and Poland, all of which are NATO member countries.

Here’s the key question: If NATO must face Putin and Russia on the battlefield, it will be the start of WW III. What will we do?

I hope the planning for that was done a long time ago. And I also hope that the plans are being updated right now by very smart, well informed, insightful people.

It Used To Be .  .  .

.  .  . that politics stopped at the water’s edge. When it came to international matters, we wouldn’t want any adversary to have any ambiguity about our national resolve, especially in the face of hostilities. Apparently, Republicans, opportunists, conspiracy wackos and self-promoting narcissists didn’t get the message. Apparently, their selfish little aspirations are more important than  our national security. Apparently, they aren’t patriots.

There is traitorous talk from Republican mouthpieces speaking in support of Putin. They are anti-democracy, anti-American useful idiots.

Would that I had a second version of this pic with Tucker Carlson’s face on the little brat. Many thanks to JN for the pic.

Trump has declared Putin a genius, that he’s smart and savvy and his words are being used in Russia to inflate support for Putin. And Trump is not alone in his submarining of American interests.

Margaret Carlson reports on Fox blabber Tucker Carson in The Washington Post:

“And, in a particularly obnoxious rant, he suggested that Putin is morally superior to “permanent Washington,” some vaguely malign force that Carlson claims is manufacturing a global pandemic, teaching children to embrace racial discrimination and trying to snuff out Christianity.”

It isn’t just these two fools. The list includes Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, SD Governor Kristi Noem and more. They’re in a race to criticize President Biden in order to burnish their extremist bona fides for their runs for President in 2024, So, they praise Putin and Putin uses their words to praise himself. They are quite clearly giving aid and comfort to our adversary and potential enemy.

It used to be that Republicans – conservatives – presented themselves as the iron-spined defenders of American values. They had a  permanently cocked fist ready to punch Russia in the nose. What would those Republicans have said about Trump, Tucker Carlson and the others? Where are the staunch Republicans lining up to support the President in opposing Putin now?

From USLegal.com:

“Treason is punishable by death if a traitor levies war against his state or country or supports its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

We aren’t in a shooting war against Russia, so the term “traitor” probably can’t be used accurately for today’s conniving Republicans and blabbers. If you have a better word, please post it in the Comments section to help us all.

And Now The Adolphs

Dan Rather’s post of February 18 included this very hard-to-look-at pic of an Elon Musk tweet.

Apparently, Musk was having a hissy fit over a Canadian regulation of financial institutions concerning crypto currencies. Clearly, this regulation must have been so heinous that Musk had to invoke the murder of millions of people and the laying waste of an entire continent. Musk has taken down the tweet, but his damage was done.

This is America and Musk is entitled to whatever crushingly cruel metaphors and hateful views he holds, just like Trump and Carlson. He has the right to see his billions of dollars as proof of his superiority and his entitlement to be rude, disrespectful and detestable. But there are limits, as he should have learned from the $137 million jury award to a former Tesla employee for racism at Musk’s San Francisco area factory. On the other hand, Musk’s hateful post was put up after that jury award. Maybe Musk didn’t learn anything at all from that lost lawsuit.

We have extremists coming out of the woodwork saying false, cruel and incendiary things. We have spine-free politicians and political candidates willing to say any stupid and false thing in order to benefit themselves.

Sometimes it works in reverse, as we’ve seen from the new governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. During the campaign last year he steered clear of Trump and spoke in moderate terms, invoking moderate policies. Once elected he went full-on radical, claiming the awfulness of Critical Race Theory in K-12 classrooms that were damaging Virginia’s fragile White children. We can’t have that going on, he told Virginians, and he’s promoting a law to put a stop to the evil distortion of children’s brains done by CRT.

There’s just one thing about that: no K-12 school in that entire state was or is teaching CRT, nor was any school even contemplating teaching it. In fact, there isn’t a single K-12 school anywhere in the country teaching CRT. It isn’t even being taught in colleges or universities. It is strictly a law school discussion construct. So, invoking CRT as the evil of evils for Virginia’s delicate, can’t-handle-reality school children goes way past disingenuous; it’s hateful. And Governor Adolph DeSantis is doing the same thing in Florida, as is Governor Adolph Abbott in Texas.

The real issue is teaching the truth about race in America. Youngkin and all the other Republican politicians and far right hand wringers are playing to the White supremacists who don’t want to own any truth that doesn’t puff their chests in Confederate testosterone. It is exactly the same as stoking hatred.

Adolph Musk and the other Adolphs have the same right to free speech that you and I have. There isn’t much we can do to muzzle them and their hatred or to silence Putin’s useful idiots with their anti-American undermining of our country without muzzling ourselves. What we can do is to speak out.

We can do that with our voices, our votes and we can do that with our dollars. We can donate to the campaigns of political candidates whose feet are firmly planted on Earth 1. My love affair with daydreaming of buying a Tesla is over. My fascination with Musk’s Space X won’t thrill me again and I won’t send links to my geeky family members and friends to watch his launches. And I won’t vacation in Virginia, Florida or Texas.

I will do whatever I can to avoid supporting the haters and will actively oppose them. I’ll do that until our politics bears some resemblance to reality. Some kindness would be good, too.

Required Reading

Hillary Clinton co-wrote an essay (or here) with Dan Scherwin in The Atlantic last week that you must read if you care at all about our democracy, our global leadership and national security.

And read Thomas Friedman’s post about why the Russian invasion of Ukraine is different from any we’ve seen and unpredictable in dangerous ways.

————————————

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

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

It’s a Feature, Not a Bug


Crime

Crime has been rising for several years, so it’s understandable that one year into the Biden presidency President Biden would be blamed for everything. That’s just how Republicans roll. But let’s set aside stupid talk about defunding the police, lousy administration job performance and the rest. Crime is a symptom, not a root cause. It isn’t a coordinated effort to keep cops employed or politicians’ hands wringing and fingers pointing, so let’s take a look at what might be driving crime.

Let’s start with two givens: first, I’m not an expert at this; second, while other kids are eager to grow up to be a fireman or doctor or a superhero, very few are eager to be criminals. There’s something that causes them to make that decision.

Try hopelessness. Try broken promises. Try the breakdown of families, perhaps broken by hopelessness and broken promises.

We swat at the symptoms, as though a crackdown will stop criminals and serve as an example and thereby prevent future crime. But if we are willing to ask how that’s working for us and we’re realistic, we’d have to answer that it’s not working too well.

What we are doing well is to provide our citizens with public examples of lawlessness and proud declarations of intent to break the law issued from the highest places. And we do next to nothing to create the things that would cause people to choose a life of non-crime. Let’s poke just a little at both pieces.

If you’re reading this (and obviously you are) you already know and have seen insurrection and lawbreaking on a breathtaking scale by elected leaders. Trump is the obvious and easy example, but we’ve locked up several from Congress in just the past few years for things like insider trading. The standard belief is that “They’re all crooks,” which may be a bit of overreach, but there is evidence to suggest that taking bribes, bent legislation that lines the wrong pockets and more is common. Clearly, that stuff happens at the local level, too, where we citizens have the most contact. That provides a not-so-fine example to follow, or at least a message that breaking the law is okay, that it’s just the way things work.

As for hopelessness, how do you think we’re doing at ensuring our people that there are prospects for economic security, a chance for a better tomorrow? We watched and even encouraged manufacturing jobs to go overseas, leaving thousands of towns and millions of people suddenly unemployed or under-employed. Politicians have given lip service to bringing those factories and those jobs back, but it’s been nothing more than hot air for decades.

They also give lip service to better education. Then they kill every attempt to make that happen, especially in poor areas. See “broken promises” above.

Said an unidentified woman participating in a focus group detailed in the New York Times,

” .  .  .  they’re not giving me any sort of ambition to feel like I have any sort of trust in the government to fix things or at least get the ball going in the right direction.”

It’s unlikely that she is prone to committing a crime, but she articulates well our general level of confidence in our self-paralyzing government. Worse, in Flint, MI government officials saved a few bucks or made them for donors by poisoning children with lead in the water. They weren’t alone in that and other nefarious behavior.

Our cities offer little hope for anything better for many of our fellow citizens, which leaves a lot of people with pockets full of empty. Answer for yourself what you would do in such circumstances. Answer for yourself what your level of anger would be – maybe substitute the word “rage.” A drive-by shooting just might help anyone to feel powerful and in control, if only for a moment. And cash stolen from an ATM or convenience store would ease economic woes a bit. Doing the robbery might even feel justifiable.

As I said, I’m no expert at this, but our national hand-wringing and political posturing don’t help a thing, and making the police force of any city the equivalent to the army of a small nation will make for yet more brutality and no progress. What if we were actually to address the root causes? What if we were to stop the hypocritical posturing about education and actually educate all of our kids well?

I’m guessing that there are experts who can tell us what to do to reduce crime. If a miracle happens and somebody in authority actually seeks such counsel, my confidence is high that we won’t pay any attention to that expert advice and that nothing will get better. That’s what we’ve always done.

What we can count on is that right wing politicians will continue using crime statistics to denigrate others and to promote themselves and their chest-thumping, faux virtuous righteousness. They’ll find more ways to blabber about freedom and responsibility. They need that cudgel for political gain, so they’ll steadfastly refuse to take action to open possibilities for those who need them most.

It’s the same logic that causes politicians to obstruct actions to mitigate the pandemic. It’s in Republicans’ interest to keep the suffering and death going, because that gives them both an ongoing pandemic and inflation as issues to use to beat on Democrats. They’d rather that people suffer and die than do anything to help. And review that focus group woman’s comment once again.

Then read Andrew Yang’s essay, The Data Are Clear: The Boys Are Not Alright. The facts and the numbers are shocking.

The design of our system creates these circumstances, which is why I say that crime is a feature, not a bug.

Death

Each is a lethal dose

Congratulations to us on our consistency. We have over 100,000 deaths from drug overdose every year – more than vehicle crashes and gun deaths combined. That number is sufficient to include someone not far from you, although, to be fair, there is a much higher concentration of overdose death in poor areas, like Appalachia, the slums of our cities and on Native American reservations. (How come we took the best land and “reserved” the worst land for them until we wanted that land and then “reserved” still worse land for them?)

Could it be that hopelessness to the point of complete resignation is involved? So, how come we don’t do anything about that hopelessness?

Oh yeah – out of sight, out of mind. Bootstraps demands. Self-induced Myopia. Those people are worth more to the suppliers hooked until they OD than alive and clean. Just ask the Sackler family of Purdue Pharmaceutical and the doctors who got kickbacks from them.*

Looks like our death from overdose is a feature, not a bug, too.

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* Read Barry Meier’s piece, Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused, as well as German Lopez’s piece A Rising Death Toll, from which the chart below is taken.

————————————

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.

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