Leadership

Memorial Day In Two Parts


Arlington Cemetary

This essay was originally posted on Memorial Day, 2012 and is offered today (with some updating) as a reminder of what this holiday is about. For more, have a look at Fred Rasmussen’s article in The Baltimore Sun. Some of his data is different from mine; no matter, though, as the meaning is consistent.  JA

————————————————————————————

1. Our War Dead

It was originally called Decoration Day, a formal day of remembrance of the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. The refreshing of their graves was the order of the day. It became known as Memorial Day in 1967 and was declared to be in honor of the American dead from all of our wars. That federal re-naming packaged all of the individual honoring ceremonies for our war dead and all the individual traditions practiced around the country into a neater package, something that apparently was important in 1967. In addition, the date of remembrance was shifted from May 30 to the last Monday in May so that there would be a 3-day weekend.

We no longer conscript our young into military service and instead rely upon a voluntary corps of warriors, leaving the rest of us to follow the imperative of our former president in time of war, that we go shopping. That’s handy, as shopping is more pleasant than thinking about our young crawling through the desert and being shot at.

Then we see a soldier in desert fatigues walking through the airport, wearing his boots, the color of desert sand, his camouflage backpack hung from his shoulders, and we know he’s either on his way to or from trouble and war becomes real to us. It’s already quite real to that GI in desert fatigues.

Memorial Day is not for that soldier. It is for those who have died. What is poignant is that the soldier in the airport might be one of those whom we remember next year.

Memorial Day is intended to be a somber event, a Decoration Day for refreshing graves. It is not about parades with circus clowns to entertain us or political clowns to promote themselves. It is about the renewal of our individual and collective memory of those who can no longer march, lest we forget them.

2. Making More War Dead

If we care to think deeper, Memorial Day is also an opportunity to ask if what we want is to be in a near-perpetual state of war, as has been the case since the Korean War began in 1950. After all, war is what creates the dead women and men whom we remember on Memorial Day.

Keeping our military busy shooting bullets and rockets has been very good for business for the war matériel companies and they would be financially much worse off if we stopped expending ordinance in foreign lands.

Having our Defense Department spend more than do the next 15 industrialized countries combined doesn’t seem to enhance our safety. To be sure, we need a robust national security, but angering the rest of the world with our heavy-handed military response to all conflict doesn’t help us, so why would we keep doing what we’re doing?

If you want an answer to that question, heed the advice offered by Deep Throat: Follow the money. When you arrive at clarity (it won’t take long), decide if that’s the America you want. If it isn’t, you better stand up and speak out, because if you don’t, that’s the America you’ll get.

Silence will make certain that we continue to fill far too many graves with our young and then remember them on the last Monday in May. Too bad they won’t be here to know they are appreciated.


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

NO! v2.0


We Americans routinely let tragedy happen to school children, as at the Covenant School in Nashville and at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and now at a Dadeville, AL sweet 16 party. Children are powerless to stop the murdering, so they count on we adults, we good people, to speak up and say “NO!

This truly is a political issue, because stopping the murders will require our national collective will. Those who say we shouldn’t “politicize” our mass shootings are effectively saying we shouldn’t prevent the next ones. The result of that is that the mass shootings continue to happen and more children die.

Our politicians are dedicated first and foremost to self-preservation, which to them means staying in office. Some may have a strong moral backbone, but too many do not. That leads directly to “thoughts and prayers” and “This is not the time” and “We must not politicize this” and all the other miserable, spineless, self-serving blather of (mostly) Republicans beholden to the gun industry and Second Amendment extremists. And they get away with it because too many good people fail to speak up in the voting booth to say “NO! and vote out of office those who refuse to take action to protect our kids.

We aren’t the only country with wretched politicians, but we’re the only country with politicians who allow the murder of little kids to effectively be our national policy.
.

Read that last sentence again.

Following their horrific trauma, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School survivors declared “Never Again,” but the echo of their call to action fades until the next slaughter. Too many of we good people have allowed that declaration to be just words.

We’re 113 days into the year and already we have had 169 mass shootings, including murders of little school children and teens. That’s 1.5 mass shootings per day and that doesn’t include drive-bys, gun suicides and the rest. We kill about 45,000 of our citizens with guns every year. “Never Again” has devolved into “Ever Again and Again,” because nothing substantive has changed to alter our course.*

How is it that we don’t seem to get it? I’m wondering seriously whether to mobilize this nation against gun violence it will be necessary for us to be shown photographs and videos of the bodies of murdered little school children, pictures that show how savagely, brutally ripped apart their bodies are from bullets designed for war. Maybe the words “We had to do a DNA test to determine who that kid was” will mean more to us once we see with our own eyes why that was so wickedly true.**

Here’s a note to the millions of good people who don’t vote:

You’re letting this carnage happen.
.

The same comment goes to those who vote for politicians who puff themselves up with their man badge AR-15s, as though that attests to their being true Americans or courageous or some pitiful version of Don’t Tread On Me. Meanwhile, they refuse to do anything to protect our children.

Do you think that it’s just a handful of Americans who are affected by gun violence, maybe just the ones you hear about on TV? See the chart and comments at bottom of this post and be sure to click through and read the linked report. You don’t have to be ripped apart by a bullet to be affected by gun violence.

Far too many of us have already been maimed by injuries that will not heal, like Trayvon Martin’s mom. And the Sandy Hook and Parkland and Uvalde and Sugarland and Covenant School moms and dads. And the people who loved all the drive-by victims, the innocents like that little girl doing a puzzle on her living room floor who was killed by a random bullet from a random gun fired by a random thug just because he could get a gun. It’s all the people who live with the pain and the horror for which there are no words. They are forever affected by gun violence.

We the majority don’t get what we want on this and so many other issues. Some of them are deadly, like gun violence. And maternal mortality. And immigration cruelty. And death  by poverty. That is entirely because the extremist minority votes and too many of we good people have refused to speak up with our votes.

Signing petitions is nice and protesting in the streets can be helpful and can feel empowering, but

ALL OF THE POWER COMES FROM THE VOTING BOOTH!
.

It’s long past time for our voices to be heard from that powerful place saying, “NO!” Mark your calendar to do that on November 5, 2024.

Quote of the Week

Watch for “NO!” v3.0 this Wednesday, April 26.

_________________________________

* Even as Republicans like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) love to have accusatory tirades over violence and murders in blue big cities, 21 of the 22 states with the highest rates of gun deaths are red states. Jordan’s district in Ohio has a murder rate far higher than that of New York City.

The state with the lowest rate of gun deaths is blue Massachusetts, which also has the strictest gun laws. Do you suppose there’s a message in that, some guideline for what we good people can do to protect our kids and ourselves? See this post.

** From this New York Times Magazine piece:

After each new mass shooting, the question, the debate, returns. Would seeing the crime-scene photos have an effect on the gun crisis in the same way images of Emmett Till’s body in an open coffin had on the civil rights movement?


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.

    JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

NO! v1.0


In Sam Adler-Bell’s essay The One Thing Trump Has That DeSantis Never Will, he makes distinctions between the manipulative governor and the unscrupulous Trump. He identifies their bets on campaign donors and which sections of the voting public each seems to think he can attract. Adler-Bell writes,

If [Trump’s] wager pays off, it will be a sign not just of his continued dominance over the Republican Party but also of something deeper: an ongoing revolt against “the best and brightest,” the notion that only certain people, with certain talents, credentials and subject matter expertise, are capable of governing.

A blinding flash of the obvious jumped off the page with the words “capable of governing.” It suggests that Trump is, was or would be in some way associated with the act of, the idea of, the possibility of governing.

We’ve seen the chaos for years, as he careens across his always-on performance stage, always grifting. Trump has no more relationship to governing than did Caligula. He has more in common with anarchists, who, by definition, abhor governing and government.

Many thanks to JN for this

DeSantis has no more regard for our traditions and institutions than does the twice impeached, disgraced and indicted former president. He is as narcissistic as Trump, but he does know how to push and pull the levers of governmental power, although only for his own benefit, a la Trump. Think: his ban on/prevention of actions to limit Covid deaths, which gave Florida the 12th highest death rate during the pandemic.* He’s very dangerous to those who prefer to remain alive.

Meanwhile, in this era of proxy war with Russia, mounting tensions with China, a soon to be nuclear Iran and a completely unpredictable and nuclear North Korea, this is a really good time to have the best and the brightest at the helm of this ship of state. That’s far better than to have our country controlled by short-sighted, grievance stoked, self-serving, autocracy loving faux populists.

Signing petitions is nice and protesting in the streets can be helpful and can feel empowering, but

ALL OF THE POWER COMES FROM THE VOTING BOOTH!
.

It’s long past time for tens of millions more of our voices to be heard from that powerful place saying, “NO!” Mark your calendar to do that on November 5, 2024.**

Watch for “NO!” v2.0 this Sunday, April 23.

_____________________________

* Nine of the eleven states with worse Covid death rates than Florida are solid red states. Are you seeing a picture?

** Two million registered Democrats in Florida failed to vote in 2022. Had they voted, Charlie Christ would be the governor now, having won 52.5% of the vote. We wouldn’t be facing book bans and art bans and war on Disney and the end of abortion rights. There would be no Don’t Say Gay law or immigrants shipped to Martha’s Vineyard in the dead of the night and with no preparation for them upon their arrival. All that would have been required to stop the DeSantis insanity was for we good people to say “NO!” to the crazies.


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.

    JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v18.0


Silence
This is for those Republicans quietly whining in their closets about right wing extremists: you really should be speaking up.
.
You should have voted for a Democrat to be Speaker of the House instead of voting for spineless Kevin McCarthy. You should have been speaking out against Trump’s outrages and those of the alt-right for years, maybe for decades, because you know the difference between right and wrong. Right?
.
Your closet whining instead of speaking up probably helped you keep”the base” votes,  I suppose, but at what cost to your integrity, your legacy and our republic? What will you tell your grandchildren?
.
From Heather Cox Richardson:
.

That today’s Republican leaders have not condemned any of [Trump’s] attempts to cheat speaks volumes about the party. As Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) pointed out [on March 22], when “[Michael] Cohen was arrested, indicted, convicted, and went to prison for participating in an illegal hush money payment scheme to Stormy Daniels, not a single Republican leader complaining now said a thing about what happened to Michael Cohen.” So why the rush to defend Trump in the same case?

From Ella Wheeler Wilcox, author, poet and activist, 1850 – 1919:

To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

Democracy

I’m not partisan by nature, but the past 40 years have made me a non-Republican, as that party ran headlong into autocracy mania. Even so-called traditional Republicans have ducked and run from what is actually conservative, leaving Democrats the only ones to vote for if we still want a democracy.

Yoda

I get that keeping our democracy is far too ethereal to be sufficiently motivating to most Americans to get them out to vote. We prefer not to expend the effort to be aware of anything not in our immediate lives. It’s just a human being thing. But here’s the real deal: Keeping our democracy is the only way to preserve what we call our American values. “On that everything depends,” said Yoda.

Accountability

What if we actually believed what so proudly we hail about our virtues, values and beliefs – like accountability?

Last week was the 20th anniversary of George W. Bush’s second faithless war. We lost 4,400 Americans in Iraq. More important, they lost everything. We saw 32,000 of our people wounded. Nobody knows how many of our returning vets committed suicide or are still living on our streets two decades later. And, of course, nobody knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed or how many millions are still refugees.

Bush looked for an excuse to invade Iraq as far back as 1999, two years before he took office. He wanted to be seen as a strong “commander in chief.” That would ensure his 2004 re-election, and, of course, that was what was most important. Pay no attention to the dead bodies in his wake.

All that death and suffering was based on Bush’s quicksand foundation of lies, fear mongering and his reprehensible swagger. Here’s just a tiny sampling.

Lies

Lie #1: Saddam was a really bad guy and had to be removed. Actually, it isn’t a lie to say Saddam was a bad guy. What was a lie was that Bush contended that was enough of a reason to topple him. There are a lot of other bad guy leaders in the world, but, oddly enough, we don’t depose them for being bad guys.

Lie #2: Saddam was in cahoots with al Qaeda, the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11. Actually, the al Qaeda group was fanatically religious and Saddam was entirely secular. They hated one another. Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.

Lie #3: The Iraqis will receive us as liberating heroes and will pay us for the war with their oil. Except those Iraqis who were killed or tortured or forced to become refugees – we’re not heroes to them. And their oil was never ours to take.

Lie #4: Waterboarding isn’t torture and torture is legal. No point in elaborating – you already know.

Fear Mongering

Bush told us that Saddam Hussein is “this close” to having weapons of mass destruction (“WMDs”). Actually, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission was continuing its search for WMDs in Iraq before our invasion and had found nothing to indicate that Saddam had any such weapons or was working to acquire them.

From Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice: “.  .  . we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Seriously, she said that over-the-top, scare everyone into compliance outrage.

Covert CIA operative Valerie Plame was outed by Dick Cheney because her husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, unmasked Bush’s and Coliin Powell’s lies about yellow cake and aluminum tubes. That didn’t even momentarily pause the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld march to war. And our almost entirely lapdog Fourth Estate, our press, forgot that it was supposed to be a check on government.

Our Congress bought the lies and fear mongering and voted an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which Bush was all too eager to use. Congress is only now moving to end that authorization.

Swagger

Bush swaggered across the aircraft carrier flight deck wearing a flight suit, flight helmet under his arm, following his being nothing more than a passenger for the aircraft carrier landing. He stood in front of his false and embarrassing MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, even as our troops were being blown up by roadside bombs, IEDs and more. The war dragged on for years after that. I guess that mission wasn’t quite accomplished after all.

There weren’t any WMDs. There never were. There never were going to be. The WMDs existed only in the fraud perpetrated on millions of duped people so that Bush could be commander-in-chief in wartime and get re-elected. Plus, Cheney could acquire no bid contracts for Halliburton, but that’s another story. The key story is the death, the wounding and disfigurement and the miserable displacement of millions, all for a fraud.

Two decades later not a single Bush administration liar has been held accountable. Dick Cheney sneers on, without a heart, both figuratively and literally. Bush paints bad portraits of veterans, dogs and world leaders and sells them for ridiculous prices. Condoleeza Rice is the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Cushy for all, except for an America without accountability.

Here’s the truth about what happened. And watch Rob Reiner’s movie Shock and Awe.

Healthcare Capitalism

Let’s give credit where it’s due: Trump’s childishly named “Operation Warp Speed” worked. We gave vaccine producers the up front money to create new vaccines to protect us from the new, not well understood SARS‑CoV‑2 coronavirus that was killing people at a devastating pace. Indeed, we gave Moderna $12 billion for research and development of their vaccine. That has earned the company over $40 billion over just the past two years. In other words, we paid for the risky up front costs and Moderna has reaped the benefits. Now Moderna has a surprise for us.

Said Senate Health Committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT),

“Here is the thank you the taxpayers of this country received from Moderna for that huge investment: They are thanking the taxpayers of America by proposing to quadruple the price.”

The part I loved best is that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), former CEO of a private investment firm, said that Moderna is an example of capitalism at its best.

Moderna has just one successful product, the mRNA coronavirus vaccine, the R & D for which We the People paid. Our government funding of Moderna to produce that vaccine was not a fine example of capitalism.

It was pure socialism!
.

Remember: that vaccine socialism was powered by chief socialist, Republican Donald Trump. O’, those evil socialist Republicans!

Debt Ceiling Update

That’s Congress as Dastardly Whiplash, who tied the U.S to the tracks. Click the pic

“Good” Republicans dither while others (the suicidal crazies) continue to threaten to default on and extinguish the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They’ve tied the country to the tracks and we can hear the locomotive coming. It’s just a few months off and the crazies continue to behave as though future spending negotiations have something to do with paying the bills for what Congress itself already bought. Read this explainer to understand that our debts must not only be paid, but that they must not even be questioned. Better yet: send the link to your representative in Congress.

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going”

     – Irwin Corey (American Stand-up Comic 1914-2017)

Many thanks to friend and futurist David Houle for the reminder.

A Question From The Future

“Hey Mom and Dad – is it really true that a while back people could be denied health insurance and healthcare just because they had a pre-existing condition? No way, right?”


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.

    JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Banking Crisis and Words


Of course, you thought we had wrung all the stupid out of the banking system back in 2009 following the banking meltdown and the bailout you and I paid for. We passed Dodd-Frank to prevent a repeat performance. We pointed fingers. We threatened prison terms. And nobody was held accountable.

Glass-Steagall had been designed to prevent another Great Depression. That law separated commercial banks from investment banks and was intended to prevent banks from being market speculators – wild-eyed gamblers – with your bank deposits and it worked really well for decades. Then Congress cut off its legs.

Dodd-Frank had been designed to protect us from another crash like the Great Recession, but shortly after its passage Congress once again went on a leg chopping spree.

Then, in his mania to be maniacal with regulations, President Shoot-Our-Foot and his Congress passed a law in 2018 that effectively ended the last vestiges of Dodd-Frank, to the point that all that is left of it is a recipe for spaghetti sauce.

With that protection gone, banks were once again allowed to grab the handle of sketchy investment slot machines in search of huge profits for executives and stockholders. Too bad about your deposits when they lost big.

Here’s a piece that will help you to understand how we create global crisis with our anti-regulation craziness. And here is a comment that was posted to that article:

“JPM” is J.P. Morgan Bank. “Derivatives” are the key evil buggers that caused the 2008 – 2009 crash. They’re also called credit default swaps. Insightful people call them crap. Almost nobody actually understands them.

They are essentially an aggregation of phenomenally risky subprime mortgages. The banksters stuffed a huge number of these risky mortgages into a sack, called that sack an asset and then traded it or pieces of it to other investors and investor banks. They sold lots of those sacks of non-assets and created an entirely unstable house of cards.

it doesn’t require any banking insight to know that committing banking sleight of hand with risky mortgages doesn’t make them any less risky. Just ask anyone at Lehman Brothers or Washington Mutual Bank. Oh, wait: you can’t ask them because they invested in those stinky things and they crashed and burned in the Great Recession.

Nevertheless, that crazy, phony “asset” idiocy is what the banksters did in 2008. They’re gambling big time now, too. Indeed, the big banks are now too bigger to fail than they were in 2008.

That leaves me wondering yet again why Congress seems astonishingly unable to learn from the past or, really, from anything.

  1. It was the financial Wild West in the 1920s and that led to the Great Depression. Congress passed laws which were designed to prevent a crash from happening again (Glass-Steagall). Then they let that Wild West thing happen once more and we got the Great Recession. Congress created Dodd-Frank to prevent that crash from happening again. But later the geniuses in Congress began to chip away at those protections until in 2018 they effectively removed all the safety guardrails, leaving nothing but the aforementioned recipe for spaghetti sauce. What could possibly go wrong?
  2. They authorized George W. Bush’s idiotic land wars in Asia, this in the face of centuries of examples to tell them not to do that because we were certain to fail. And, of course, there was the then-recent example of Russia’s failure there. How could Congress fall for Bush’s lies and authorize those wars?
  3. We had years of the President of the United States inciting division and violence, accompanied by members of Congress doing the same and that led to a bloody insurrection on January 6. Now members of Congress are gaslighting an entire nation, claiming the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection. They say it was just a bunch of tourists visiting the Capitol Building. Those same members of Congress are still inciting. Do you suppose these insurrection stokers think the results will be different the next time? Maybe they think We The People need to purge our nation of the evil of democracy. Or they think that Jefferson’s comment about the blood of patriots means that we should start shooting one another. Oh, wait: we’re already doing that.

This is not Monday morning quarterbacking. All of this was plain to see at the time and it’s still plain to see. None of it requires any special understanding of complex issues. All it requires is a copy of a high school history book, the ability to learn and the clarity that George Santayana was right when he said,

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And so we are led by our Congress, which apparently hasn’t a history book in their entire building and too many members of Congress refuse to learn. Consequently, we continue to repeat the past.

Now Marjorie Taylor Greene and others are calling for a “national divorce” and “Second Amendment remedies.” Maybe we should try that again, because we only killed 600,000 of our fellow citizens the last time we tried a national divorce. Note that if we express that number as the same percentage of our population today as then, a national divorce would murder more than 6.3 million Americans, or two of every ten people you know. Still want to listen to that woman?

To understand our current banking craziness, please read Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (R-MA) explainer, as well as Paul Krugman’s slightly different take. And here’s a piece to explain some of the global implications of our self-destruction.

Definitions

The far right loonies are all about culture war: Demonization-R-Them. Maybe it’s a power trip, but it sure isn’t an intellectual exercise.

Take, for example, their attack on “woke.” Florida Governor Ron DeSenseless proudly tells anyone standing still for more than two seconds that “Florida is where woke goes to die.” We understand the braggadocio, the chest thumping, but we’re left with a hollow spot where meaning should be.

What is “woke?” Click and watch. You’ll be left where you started, in your present state of not knowing because there is no definition.

What is the “deep state?” Click and watch the first idiot squirm trying to avoid the question and then doing the standard off-topic attacks. We’re left with no clarity at all.

Same question about “elites.” And what does “own the libs” mean. Are they talking about bringing back slavery or is it just another power trip grounded in cruelty?

Does it mean anything when terms don’t mean anything? I think it does, because all these terms are calls to division and hatred and sometimes violence. Words matter, even when they don’t mean anything.

And while we’re checking definitions let’s have a look at the false and idiotic claims of equivalencies.

The alt-right, focus-group-named “Freedom Caucus” is populated by renegades, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Josh Hawley, Louis Gohmert and more. They call for truly awful things, including the aforementioned “national divorce” and “Second Amendment remedies,” insurrection, civil war and more. Truly awful and dangerous stuff.

There is no equivalent on the far left. Nobody, not “the squad” or socialist Bernie Sanders or anyone else is calling for assaulting others or trashing the Constitution. The far left legislators might promote policies some don’t like, but none of them is trying to suppress the rights of others, harm people or do anything anti-American.

Journalists and pundits often look to balance what they say by invoking a “both sides” comment, but most often there isn’t a “both sides.” If you think I missed a real world equivalence, educate all of us in the Comments section below. Otherwise, the terms “both sides” and “equivalent” used in the political arena are meaningless. Don’t fall for them.


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.

    JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Bumper Sticker


While taking a road trip recently we were amazed by all the billboards for personal injury attorneys. We saw the same billboard posted three deep. We saw not only repeated cycles of multiple billboards for a single firm, but even two identical billboards stacked one on top of the other.

These advertisements were in the farm fields among the acres of winter wheat. Some were near wind generators. They were in the cities. They were nearly everywhere. Sometimes they were for any kind of injury and sometimes they were for specific injuries, like the attorney who apparently specializes in cases of injury related to over-the-road trucks. Lots of them were for medical injury cases. All of that made me wonder,

What does this endless solicitation for victims say about us?

Are we so clumsy or careless or unlucky that we’re constantly being injured? And if we are, how does that translate to someone else having to pay for our clumsiness, carelessness or misfortune?

We have over 70 years of Republicans training Americans to be angry and to see themselves as victims of some great global cabal or of the anti-American Democrats or of some supposed coastal elites or of some swamp. We’ve been instructed to see awfulness stoking grievance behind every tree, disrespect in every word and deed and a violation of our values and principles by anyone who disagrees with us. Our discontent has been validated constantly over those decades to the point that millions of us are now more dedicated to being angry and resentful than to anything else.*

We have a former President to whom this nation has listened for many years and who cannot get a full thought out of his mouth without accusing someone of wronging him. Worse, he has taught an entire generation of politicians and ordinary citizens to mimic his invented victimization. Woe be to these hapless victims for the terrible wrongs visited upon them by “others!” (That last is sarcasm.)

Now we the public have ramped up our victim-hood, to the point that nothing can assuage our pain until someone else pays for it and even then we’re still pissy. So, the ambulance chasers keep posting their come-on billboards and we keep them in business, seeking payment for the ills of our lives at the cost of 30% of a settlement, plus expenses.

Clearly, some people wrong others, whether intentionally or accidentally. When that happens, they should be held responsible and made to pay to clean up their mess.

But there isn’t always a bad guy. Sometimes it’s just the embodiment of the bumper sticker:

Next time be more careful.

The Train Derailment

It took a while for Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, to show up in East Palestine, OH. I don’t know anything about that timing, but a lot of people are pretending to be inside his head and are ascribing fantasy reasons for it. Those reasons are of absolutely no value, other than that these people have something to whine about, someone to blame and something to use to crank up the anger of listeners. Instead, let’s do some digging into substantive things we can learn.

During the Trump administration when conscious reasoning by governmental officials was a cause for being fired, there was a mania to eliminate government regulations. The mania was based on the evidence-free notion that all regulation is bad.

Trump demanded that any new regulation be counter-balanced by the elimination of three existing regulations. Pick three, any three. Doesn’t matter which ones. Doesn’t matter their relative merit, whether they have anything in common with the proposed new regulation or whose pockets would get lined by removal of the regulations. That ought to work, right?

That brainless adherence to a goose stepping mantra has started to come home to us. The NTSB** will investigate and issue a final report on the cause of that train derailment. I’ll bet the report will include that a key cause was the elimination of railroad safety measures that were part of the regulations that were thrown away during the Trump administration. That’s an easy one to predict, because that actually happened.

I’ll also bet that those regulations that were dumped a few years ago were eliminated at the behest of the railroad industry. Now the people of East Palestine are suffering the consequences of that.

For a better understanding, watch the video of Pete Buttigieg speaking at the crash site, as well as the commentary by Brian Tyler Cohen. I like Cohen’s commentaries, but he’s particularly wound up over this issue and talks quite rapidly. You’ll be rewarded by hanging in there for the full 9:22.

It’s About The Kids – Of All Ages

Click the pic and watch the 59 second sheriff’s video of violence in a Florida high school. This is what we’ve taught our kids to do. Want to work in a school?

First read this from the National Education Association. It details the violence our teachers and school staff face every day. This dysfunction is driven in part by the massive increase in mental health problems in our nation and in school kids in particular. I believe it’s what we’ve created by means of our national pastime of adults behaving like brats on the playground. You know: role models.

Our national promotion of violence is key. We can throw money at schools for support of student mental health, training for staff and more (although the public doesn’t want to pay for any of that), but if kids are getting messages outside of school that violence is good, justified and right, fixing this is a mountain that cannot be climbed.

We need major cultural change. We need moms & dads, politicians, everyone in any position of leadership to stop acting like a brat. If we stop teaching kids to be violent, they’ll stop being violent and magically, so will the rest of us. If we provide the money required to do what needs to be done, it will get done. This whole thing is a painful exercise in avoiding the obvious, the forehead slap we all know we need. And no, teachers unions aren’t the problem. We are.
.
We’ve been under-funding our schools for decades, possibly forever. But if you think taxes are high, think about the cost we’re already paying with half-way measures to prevent school shootings and mass murders in countless venues. Ask any Sandy Hook mom about that cost. Think about the cost we pay when we let yet another kid slip through the cracks into a hopeless life. Think about the stupid stories we tell ourselves about how great we are, even as millions are suffering and we’re doing nothing about it.
.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Top Stupiditude of the Week

Click the pic for the stupiditude story. Many thanks to Jim Nathan for the pointer.

‘Nuf said.

See Note #5 below

____________________________

* From David Corn’s American Psychosis, page 120:

” .  .  .  the New Right feeds on discontent, anger, insecurity, and resentment, and flourishes on backlash politics.”

Jack’s comment to that: The New Right isn’t new. The Right has been nurturing discontent, anger, insecurity and resentment for well over half a century.

** For a forehead slapping look at self-embarrasing Republicans in the House Oversight and Accountability Committee majority, read Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters From An American of February 25. It will make you glad you aren’t a Republican or it will drive you to leave that party, looking for signs of intelligent life elsewhere.

______________________________

  • 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

S**t Spewers Flooding The Zone and A Letter to Kevin


Caution: Those sensitive to nasty words Mom told you not to say should skip to the second section of this post.


Richard Nixon couldn’t remember sending his goon squad to break into the Democratic National  Committee Headquarters at The Watergate to steal opposition documents. Later he couldn’t remember his mob boss style cover up of his crimes. Now, that’s a poor memory. Or a load of Presidential shit.

Later Ronald Reagan told us he couldn’t remember sending his goon squad to sell arms to Iran (a crime). He also couldn’t remember giving the proceeds of those sales to the Contras in Nicaragua (a crime). Apparently, the theory was that the Iranians would be so grateful for getting their hands on American weapons that they would then somehow convince Hezbollah to free the 7 Americans they were holding hostage in Lebanon. That whole thing went on for 5 years and, like Nixon’s, it was a tall pile of Presidential shit.

Once in the Oval Office George H.W. Bush issued presidential pardons to all the Iran-Contra hands-on perps, which was only sensible, since he as Vice President had been the architect of the plan. That pardoning was a fine setting of precedent, too, because it was done again when Trump pardoned convicts Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. And Trump’s reasons for doing that were very much like Bush’s. That’s yet more Presidential shit.

George W. Bush lied us into two wars and into torturing prisoners at black sites. He lied us into mindless tax cuts and off-balance-sheet wars and so much more. He was a master Presidential shit spewer.

Now Sen. Rick Scott (R-Prevarication) says he didn’t really mean that he wanted to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare. However, his policy document says he wants to do exactly that. He’s a really tall shit spewer.

To be fair, though, all of that is a load of shit, but not exactly shit spewing.

It’s over two years later now, but Trump and his brainless acolytes are still saying that the 2020 election was rife with fraud and the accusations come in a torrent, claiming that poor little victim Trump was cheated. Key word: “torrent.”

Steve Bannon counseled Trump in order for him to win the 2016 election and “tear it all down.” He told Trump to “flood the zone with shit.” An ongoing torrent of shit was the key strategy. Bannon said to babble easily disproved “alternative facts” so rapidly that response would be impossible. Trump trained his press secretaries and his advisor Kellyanne Conway to do that very thing. Betcha Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer still claim that Trump had the biggest inauguration crowd ever. Period! The far right crazies do the same thing every day. That’s a huge amount of shit spewing.

Please ignore the complete absence of evidence for Trump’s claims of voting fraud or anything else. Pay no attention to the dozens of court cases he filed claiming fraud, all of which he lost, and his multiple illegal power grab attempts that have been unmasked. Irredeemable shit spewing for selfish gain is what these people are about.

Where have you gone, Merrick Garland? We need someone to clean up all the shit spewed in aisle 45.

It’s the same shit spewing when it comes to insane actions, like stocking cabinet positions with obviously incapable, dishonest, sycophantic people. This works quite well to crush the opposition through the sheer volume of the shit they spew. It’s that torrent thing.

Logistics and shipping company owner Louis DeJoy is still the Postmaster General in charge of hobbling the Postal Service. And Bill Barr is now out peddling his revisionist history book, detailing his fantasy about the integrity that he knowingly abandoned decades ago. His is an entire self-promoting career of working to crush our system of checks and balances by spewing shit, like his summary of the Mueller Report. Barr is totally full of shit that he spews with perfect conceit.

See Note #5 below

Mehdi Hassan has written a brilliant piece in an Atlantic essay lifted from his forthcoming book. The essay is focused on how to deal with the shit spewers and is entitled How To Beat Trump In a Debate. Do read his piece, because he will teach you what to do when faced with people for whom

– truth means nothing

– machine gun speed lying is the greatest of skills

– stealing your power is their holy quest.

See Note #5 below

NOTE: Stealing your power is what the shit spewing is all about.
.

Consider yourself having been cautioned long ago by the Jefferson Airplane about how to deal with insanity and untruth from shit spewers. Back then the spewers were the ones piling up lies about the war in Viet Nam, which got 58,000 Americans killed, many times that number wounded and nobody knows how many Vietnamese were killed.

Here’s the last stanza of the song White Rabbit:

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head
Remember what the doormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

We’re living in perilous times, as shit-spewing, self-serving voices of anarchy and authoritarianism are trying to steal from you every day. In a sense, nothing has changed, because the shit spewers today are just like those of generations before, although today’s spewers spew much faster. They’re still trying to steal your power. That’s why you have to feed your head every day, although that isn’t enough now, any more than it was enough in 1967 when that song was released and the parade of body bags was underway.

Here’s Newton’s 7th Law of Motion:*

You must take action or you will be acted upon.
.

We have elections coming up – we always do – and some of these are critical, like the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat I told you about.

Did I mention that you must take action or you will be acted upon? Check out The States Project for some of the best actions to deal with the assault on you and your power. This stuff matters if we’re going to stop the shit spewers from stealing from us.

An Open Letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy – Snail Mailed February 23, 2023
.

Many thanks to JN for this – click me

Speaker McCarthy:

it’s widely reported that you have released to Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson over 44,000 hours of U.S. Capitol video records of the January 6, 2021 insurrection. You claimed that in giving Carlson access you were delivering “truth and transparency over partisan games.”

As a most interested citizen of the United States and a political commentator, and in the spirit of truth and transparency over partisan games, I’m requesting that you release all the same materials to me that you gave to Carlson, this for my review and commentary. Speaking Speaker-to-Speaker, you know it’s the transparent thing to do.

I await your reply.

Regards,

.
  • Jack Altschuler
  • Chief Disambiguation Officer and Part-Time Speaker of My House
  • Looking For Help
  • Lots of bad stuff goes on. There are many murders every day. People lie, cheat and steal.
  • What I have not been able to understand is why the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh is being treated as national news, elbowing out everything in its path. There is gavel-to-gavel coverage on CNN, MSNBC, Court TV and other outlets.
  • I remember the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart and the overwhelming coverage that received. Same for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. The one thing I’ve found in common in those cases is that these were or are about wealthy White families.
  • Somebody please explain the why of the Murdaugh spectacle.

_____________________________

* You’re right: he only had 3. Check it out here.

______________________________

  • 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Cluelessness


Struggling to Understand

New York Times Senior Opinion Staff Editor Alexandra Sifferlin wrote a piece on Monday triggered by the Covid-19 death of sports journalist Grant Wahl while covering the World Cup in Qatar. Her story was not about his death. It was about the “anti-vaxxers [who] were quick to blame his death on the Covid-19 vaccine.”

Questions pop off the page, like why would people believe fact-free conspiracy rumors about the vaccines, canards that were spread by non-doctors and non-scientists and hateful rumor generators? Think: injecting bleach. And why would anyone invade the grief so many are feeling and dump cruelty on these innocents? Wait: this gets worse.

Sifferlin continues, “Céline Gounder is an infectious disease doctor and epidemiologist [i.e. a doctor and a scientist] and has been a prominent voice on the Covid-19 pandemic. She is also Wahl’s widow and has been sent numerous emails and voice mail messages blaming her for his death because of her support for vaccines.” Cruelty amplified.

Let this stand as a placeholder for so many forms of anti-social behavior that have become commonplace, like:

neighbors yelling vitriolic slurs at school board meetings

bullies making death threats to citizens doing patriotic things, like being poll workers

thugs committing murder – mass shootings or otherwise – that are encouraged by people broadcasting loathing in order to inflame anger and hatred

I’ve just begun reading Andy Borowitz’s new book, Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber (see Fine Print #5 below). In his introduction he writes,

“We’ll retrace the steps of the vacuous pioneers who turned ignorance from a liability into a virtue. By relentlessly lowering the bar, they made it possible for today’s politicians to wear their dunce caps with pride. Gone are the days when leaders had to hide how much they didn’t know. Now cluelessness is an electoral asset and smart politicians must play dumb, or risk voters’ wrath. Welcome to the survival of the dimmest.”

The standout part of that is that cluelessness is mandatory or politicians will “risk voters’ wrath.” That means that the driving force of politicians’ proud ignorance is a public that wants them to be clueless. What’s going on with us that we rejoice in being uninformed and, worse, dumb? And why wouldn’t we want our leaders to be smart – smarter than the average bear – so they can make good choices for us?

We must want to be clueless and dumb in order to believe absurd conspiracy idiocy, like that there are giant Jewish space lasers igniting wild fires in California, that the moon landings were faked, that there is a Hillary Clinton sex trafficking operation in a non-existent basement of a DC pizza restaurant and all the rest.

Surely, there’s more to this than cluelessness. Ignorance doesn’t explain the ongoing undermining of our democracy by people proclaiming themselves to be patriots. (See: “oxymoron” with emphasis on the “moron.”) It doesn’t explain thousands trashing the Capitol Building and preparing to lynch the Vice President and Speaker of the House and defecating in the Rotunda. It doesn’t explain thugs in camo carrying AR-15s strutting around the entrances to polling places. Love of ignorance is a prerequisite for all of that, but it doesn’t explain the fear and rage and cruelty.

I’m a Boomer and distinctly recall President Kennedy declaring, “College is America’s best friend.” Of course, there were practical reasons for that, such as that we were in a cold war against a belligerent Russian bear and we needed smart, well educated people to be technical geniuses so we could defend our nation. Nobody argued for cluelessness. Nobody declared war on wisdom and learning, but that’s changed.

What’s going on that we cram theocracy into our public schools and steal public school tax money and give it to fund parochial schools? Why did we let George W. Bush get away with his attack on the First Amendment by shifting government education funds to “faith-based initiatives?” What’s going on that some opportunistic politicians are Big Brothering our schools to limit what children can learn and they’re burning books? How come some seem to want us to return to the massive ignorance that existed prior to the Age of Enlightenment?

Somehow a great deal has changed and we have a profound disdain for wisdom and learning. Far more dangerous is the anger toward people who think. We’re in an age of visceral primacy, where “Me getting what I want is all that matters and I’m pleased to stomp on anyone who sees things differently. Fie on education, learning and critical thinking!”

How did we elect pretty-face-empty-head Ronald Reagan? Why did we elect doofus frat boy George W. Bush? Why did we fall for an obvious con artist, Mr. 30,000 lies? Why don’t we want all of our presidents to be smart and well informed? Also, patriotic.

What has happened that we seem to prefer rage over everything else? Are we to return to some semblance of appreciation for learning and wisdom and of one another, or will we continue until the few of us left are living in caves? If we are to drop the primacy of cruelty that endangers us all, what has to happen? How will that come about?

I’m struggling to understand this.

Do Some Supporting

The mouse is now Speaker of the House and the legislative terrorists – the “Tear-Down Party” – are in control of him. Brace yourself, because this is going to be an extremely turbulent two years.

As those fifteen embarrassing elections were happening in the House of Representatives, I emailed my congressman, Brad Schneider (D-IL10), with a simple message:

Hang in there! Gotcher back as you fight the good fight.
.

He sent an appreciative reply.

There are a lot of people in Congress who do that every day – they fight the good fight. That’s in spite of the fact that they hear every day from people who are mad at government and mad at them. They get irrational demands thrown at them. They get hate mail. They get threats.

I figure that now and then they need to hear from the people who know they’re doing the right thing. They need to hear a thanks for standing tall in the face of cruelty and oppression and madness. They can use some validation that they’re on the right side, reassurance that they’re representing us properly.

So, I have a suggestion and a request: Call or text your senators and congressperson and let them know that you appreciate them fighting the good fight and that you have their back. https://www.house.gov/ and https://www.house.gov/

And if they’re on the wrong side, call or text them and say that you see them for what they are and what they’re doing and that you have the back of whoever opposes them.

Classified Documents Found in Biden’s Old Office

I’m shocked – SHOCKED!to learn that Fox-Never-Was-News is horrified by a revelation about a Democrat.

O’ the stupefaction of it all!

An Update On the Rotary of Northbrook Coat Drive

Ref: The last section of this post.

Text pasted from Rotary:

The Final Count.  831 winter coats plus around a dozen boxes of gloves/hats/scarves/boots.  In terms of winter coats, we are confident this is more than last year. Most have already been distributed to 9 charity organizations/locations, with the final boxes (pictured below) for World Relief Chicago, PADS, and a fifth dropoff at Connections for the Homeless all scheduled for next week.  Two Men and a Truck will donate transportation for these boxes for a fourth straight week. So far, five organizations have received at least a first installment of coats:  Refugee One, Stock the Shelves, Connections for the Homeless, Ethiopian Community Association (refugees), and Deerfield Free Store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bunch of people will be warmer now. Thanks and kudos to all who contributed!

  • ————————————
  • 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Mouse in the House*


As I watched the spectacle in the Republican-controlled House of self-inflicted embarrassment, it became clear that we’re pretty much a country of Never Kevins.

Kevin McCarthy has no principles other than a mania to become Speaker of the House. He has given away anything and everything to get that title, even as doing so leaves the speakership impotent. That makes him completely unreliable, untrustworthy, and even unnecessary.

If McCarthy had any true leadership ability, sometime around his 5th election defeat last week he would have shown that he has a spine, saying he’s had enough humiliation and that he’s abandoning his long time quest to become Speaker. He would quit his job, put his personal things in a box and go back to California. Just before leaving he would stand at the podium in the well of the House and say,

“Madam clerk and my fellow representatives-elect, we have held many elections this week for Speaker of the House and it is now clear that I will not be able to win that post. The time has come to put aside both party and personal desires and act solely in the interest of our country. To that end, I am formally withdrawing my name from consideration to be speaker.

“All agreements I have made in negotiations for votes with reluctant members of my party are terminated immediately. They are null and void. We begin again, now with a clean slate.

“I ask that this body of representatives of We the People choose the best among us to lead this House for the next two years. I ask that party not be part of the calculation, but only what is best for our country. I ask everyone to stand behind that leader to move our nation forward.

“Madam clerk, I yield the floor for the last time.”

But of course, he didn’t say that and doing so would never happen because McCarthy does not have the spine or the vision or the selflessness to do such a thing.

Click the pic or the essay

Instead, he bought his way into the speakership on the fifteenth ballot by giving away all the power of the gavel. He put the power into the hands of the arsonists, the 10% of his party who are the very ones who aided and abetted the insurrection. These are the people who moved to overturn the 2020 presidential electoral vote count even after the mob had come to lynch the Vice President, the Speaker of the House and possibly more legislators. They now have the reins of power in the United States House of Representatives. They are legislative terrorists and that is going to have consequences.

There’s nothing conservative (much less ultra-conservative or far right) about supporting an insurrection, attempting to tear up the Constitution, threatening to shut down the government, refusing to pay our bills, denying the results of a free and fair election, threatening innocents with violence, preventing people from voting, remaining silent in the face of corruption, standing as obstacles to government functioning, stealing rights from We the People and all the rest of the abhorrent things Republicans rejoice in doing. And if Republicans are not conservatives, then the crazies, these legislative terrorists, can’t be “far right.” They are in a completely different category.

Call them the Tear-Down Party, because they’re focused on “tearing it all down,” “deconstruction of the administrative state,” dismantling our government. They are out to prove that government doesn’t work by sabotaging government. They are anarchists, destroyers, the sowers of chaos, the opposition to nearly all you hold dear. They are lovers of hatred, fear mongering and domination of others. They insist on total victory all the time, leaving impossible any form of compromise, because they are all about themselves and about nobody else. They are a virulent and deadly invasion of “me-ism” that threatens our republic with destruction.

The Republican blaze of anger began with Reagan and was stoked into an inferno by Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and yet more self-inflating egomaniacs. They and today’s version of them, like Tucker Carlson, plus the people they manipulate into supporting them, are the members of the Tear-Down Party. And they are the obstacle to our common welfare and to our entire nation.

They are about tearing down our foundation as a country, so they cannot be considered conservatives. The Democrats are the true conservatives, because they stand for conserving our Constitution and our democracy.

The Tear-Down Party radicals are prepared to do nothing but destruction, including non-stop muckraking of Hunter Biden and his laptop, our exit from Afghanistan, the ongoing dysfunction at our southern border and more. We know that they won’t be searching for solutions or policy improvements, because they told us so. They just want to blame “others” and undermine our belief in ourselves.

They will refuse to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling this September. That means that the federal government won’t be able to pay its bills. We will officially be a deadbeat nation, unable to care for our people, meet our obligations at home or abroad, provide for our national defense or do anything else. There will be profound and destabilizing global economic and political consequences and all of them will be very bad.

These legislative terrorists of the Tear-Down Party wave the banner of red, white and blue right now, but they will wipe their dirty boots on that banner as they do everything in their power to tear down our government and put us all at risk.

I see only two sources of hope for the next two years. First is that the Presidency and the Senate are controlled by Democrats, so they can stop any legislative lunacy from the House legislative terrorists.

Second is the hope that our Department of Justice will prosecute and incarcerate the January 6 conspirators now in the House and that they will be replaced in Congress by non-radicals. You know: actual patriotic Americans.

———————————

  • * “[McCarthy’s] mistake was convincing himself that a party obsessed with dominance would reward submission.”
  • Leopards Eat Kevin McCarthy’s Face
  • by Michelle Goldberg,
  • New York Times, January 4, 2023
  • ————————————
  • 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Raison d’Être


An essay in The Washington Post arrived last Wednesday shortly after my post about Biden’s accomplishments was posted. The WaPo piece is penned by Marc Thiessen and bears the not-so-enlightened title The 10 Worst Things Joe Biden Did in 2022. To be fair, Thiessen also offered a day earlier what he calls The 10 Best Things Biden Did in 2022.

I’m a WaPo subscriber, but I know nothing about Mr. Thiessen other than what I can conjure from his essays. I urge you to read his 10 Worst piece with an open yet critical mindset. He is a master of misdirection via implication.

For example, he starts by saying that Biden’s presidency is the worst in his (Thiessen’s) lifetime. Given the national disaster that were the Trump years, that should set the stage for you on what to expect. Here are a few specifics, numbered per Thiessen’s points.

10. Thiessen begins with, “On Biden’s watch this year” and goes on to list “disasters,” like inflation, gas prices and food prices, as though those are unrelated. But aren’t gas and food prices part of inflation? Besides, they’re out of any president’s control, so hanging them on Biden is senseless.

He goes on to include, “the worst crime wave in many cities since the 1990s. Not since Jimmy Carter has a president unleashed so many calamities at once.” Thiessen deftly ignores that Biden inherited the highest crime rate in 20 years and that crime rates went down in 2022. He implies Biden’s ineptitude with his “Biden’s watch” thing and the “unleashed” bit, as though Biden were attacking the country. Nonsense.

9. He slams Biden for his Jim Crow 2.0 accusation of Georgia’s voting restrictions, saying he owes Georgia an apology. What he fails to note is that Georgia’s governor managed to get over half a million Black and poor Georgians removed from the voter roles, this for major infractions, like being Black or poor. Sounds pretty Jim Crow-ish to me.

7. He criticizes Biden for discharging thousands of our military troops for their having refused an order to take a Covid-19 vaccination. This is forehead-slappingly absurd.

We were facing an assailant of monstrously debilitating power. Were it to sweep through our military we would be unable to defend our country. Do you remember the USS Theodore Roosevelt, on which a huge percentage of the crew went down with Covid? Do you want to have to count on that ship in that condition to protect the nation? Neither did Biden.

Besides, all military people get vaccinated for various illnesses when they report for duty for just such a reason. This is a really myopic and senseless criticism of Biden.

4. “He has failed to avenge the Kabul airport attack that killed 183 people, including 13 Americans.” That happened in August 2021. George W. Bush failed to get Osama bin Laden at all and it took until May 2011, nearly 10 years, for President Obama to get him and avenge 9-11. It took over 34 years to get the guy accused of making the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The ISIS-K bad guys in Kabul will get their day of reckoning for their murderous bombing. Criticizing Biden for not having captured or killed them yet is senseless.

1. “He slow-rolled military aid to Ukraine out of fear of provoking Vladimir Putin.” Thiessen cannot be so simple minded that he thinks that military aid to Ukraine is a single issue challenge, right? Maybe I’m wrong about that.

Maybe he thinks that poking Putin in the eye over and over would never have bad consequences for us. Nevertheless, we’ve been the biggest cheerleader for Ukraine and provided far more munitions than anyone else. Plus, we supplied the leadership for sanctions on Russia. So far Putin hasn’t been provoked into using nukes. Maybe Biden’s thoughtfulness and caution are the stuff of wisdom.

Oddly, Thiessen’s headline about “slow-rolled military aid to Ukraine” sounds like a positive to me, not one of Biden’s 10 worst.

Throughout our ongoing Constitutional crisis that is Donald Trump and his extremists, posts like Thiessen’s have come in a constant torrent and most are free of critical thought. Their raison d’être (literally, “reason for being;” their purpose) is to tear down, to be cruel.

I have described such people, most often in an effort to understand and explain their behavior. To be honest, sometimes it was just to hit back. But the report of the January 6 Committee is out, so I leave it to those patriotic people of the Committee and to bright, insightful observers like Tom Nichols and Peter Wehner to give further insight into the Cruellas.

I don’t know if Mr. Thiessen is an extremist, but his knuckle headed criticism of Joe Biden suggests a commitment to outrage and cruelty, rather than to reasonable thinking and solutions. I’ll read his offerings again someday, concurrent with welcoming other extremists – when they atone for their sins as fervently and as publicly as they committed them.

The New Year

My friend Mardy Grothe publishes a weekly post focused on literature, language and thinking. Suffice it to say that I read his post first every Sunday.*

Last Sunday he quoted Zora Neale Hurston from her 1937 book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, in which the narrator says, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Then Mardy challenges us, asking, Will 2023 Answer Questions for You, or Ask Them?

Responding in the political arena, we face enormous challenges, most alarmingly from extremists who want to “tear it all down,” as Steve Bannon exclaimed. That positions those whose sole raison d’être is to grab power as little more than obstructionists at best and sideshow executioners at worst. Will their behavior answer or ask questions for/of us?

It seems to me that seeking answers must focus on the questions of how to deal with entrenched outrage and anger and still make progress on our national challenges. That makes me wonder where Democrats will focus. It’s very easy to simply be reactionary, but most commonly that’s only momentarily satisfying, while remaining unproductive of anything worthwhile.

2023: A year of questions or answers? What will be our raison d’être in this new year?

——————————-

* To subscribe, send an email to Mardy at: drmar[email protected] with “Subscribe” in the Subject area.

————————————

  • 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

1 2 3 34  Scroll to top