Manipulation

Cherry Picking


POST 1075


Under Attack

There is a cynical and dangerous checklist that is a playbook for the destruction of America. It has been festering for decades in plain sight and has somehow been tolerated, this to our peril. Here’s a piece of Sheila Markin’s post of May 19 detailing some of that checklist.

CAN OUR LEGAL SYSTEM SURVIVE TRUMP and the MAGA MOVEMENT?

Since he came on to the political scene, Trump has attacked every system in America: the press, our FBI, CIA, government institutions, the electoral system, checks and balances, the peaceful transfer of power, and now the judicial system is being tested and attacked. When you understand how autocrats (dictators) get into power, you understand what Trump is up to. The way it works is that you take over a political party (check), create ever greater cynicism in the voting public for institutions that uphold democracy (check), get your state party members to suppress the vote, limit vote by mail and drop boxes, purge voter rolls to get an advantage for your party (check), use propaganda networks like conservative media to create and sustain the alternate universe in which you are the only trustworthy person left (check). Once in power you never leave. The next election will tell us if Americans can see what Trump is up to and reject it. [emphasis mine]

This check list was obvious as far back as the Reagan administration, when they largely defunded higher education, putting millions of students into lifelong debt, at the same time beginning the destruction of our labor unions that are so expensive for our suffering Big Biz and Billionaires.

From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s post of May 21:

Trump’s refusal to take the stand [in his hush money trial] encapsulates the MAGA approach to politics. Since the 2020 presidential election, he and his surrogates have made repeated accusations and statements about how the system is rigged against them and alleged there is evidence that proves them right.

Crucially, they make those arguments only in front of television cameras or on podcasts and radio. They refuse to make them under oath in a court of law, where there are penalties for lying.

And on May 22 Richardson wrote,

There is indeed a sense of power and entitlement coming from MAGA Republicans as they impose new limits on their fellow Americans and call those constraints freedom.

Exactly so. That is what minority rule does.

Well, actually, most do know – just not what you think, T-Shirt guy.

Whether it’s a politician, an ordinary citizen or a podcast/talk radio/TV/cable blabber, when they declare that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, that the justice system is rigged, that non-citizens are voting, that the rights and freedoms of true Americans have been stripped from them by Democrats. leftists, the elite, space lasers or some imaginary cabal, they haven’t even a shred of evidence for their claims. None.

The best they can offer is a wimpy “everybody knows” or a promise of retribution, as they thump their chests. They conveniently fail to mention that they’ve lost all of the lawsuits they filed trying to prove their phony claims. Still, they try to take your freedom and rights.

There are lawsuits in the pipeline now waiting to prosecute the liars and cheaters. Be sure to have a BS cancelling headset so you won’t hear them declare how unfair our justice system is to them, like the sociopaths wailing now over convict Trump’s conviction.

From David Corn’s Our Land of May 21:

.  .  .  Trump spoke in Dallas at the annual convention of the beleaguered National Rifle Association—which in February was found liable in a civil corruption case—and accepted its endorsement. He said many idiotic things. As music tied to the bonkers QAnon movement played, Trump wailed that the United States was a “failing nation” with an economy that’s becoming a “cesspool of ruin.” He called the insurrectionist rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6 “hostages” who have been “unfairly imprisoned” for merely mounting a “protest.” He pledged to withhold federal funds from any school in the nation with a vaccine or mask mandate. (Make Measles Great Again!) He claimed he was a “better physical specimen” as president than Barack Obama. He referred to himself as “a freakin’ genius.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Donald Trump’s “Black Individual”

Yeah, it was the usual megalomaniacal and dishonest crap from Trump. What caught my attention was this comment, which drew applause from the audience.

And honestly, there’s been no president since Abraham Lincoln—and perhaps, in a certain way, including Abraham Lincoln—but there’s been no president since Abraham Lincoln that has done more for the Black individual in this country than President Donald J. Trump. There’s been nobody. Not even close. [emphasis original]

Of course, the most curious thing about all of that is that so many Americans swallow that evidence-free poison. How does that happen?

From Why do so many Americans support a neofascist? | The Coffee Klatch with Robert Reich:

When people feel like the game is rigged against them and they feel like there’s nothing really to lose, and they’re angry and frustrated and anxious, they will be fodder, exploited by a demagogue.

That’s how it’s done. You get ordinary people with “issues” to fall for an orange, comb-over con man, a liar, cheat and philanderer, a supermarket tabloid bombast phony and, as Robert Reich says, a demagogue, one who will steal the rights of those ordinary, chest pounding people to make himself a tyrant dictator.

From Ed Gurowitz’s post of May 20:

Here’s my question: if you knew that by withholding your support for Biden, by supporting the Kennedy headcase or Jill Stein, or Marianne Williamson, or “none of the above,” you were guaranteeing a Trump victory AND emboldening Trump in his authoritarian agenda, would you feel the same?

In the next six months, whether you’re pro-Biden or anti-Trump, or just pro-democracy in America, I’m asking you to get your head out of whatever dark place it is in and stand with and for Biden. He’s not perfect, but right now, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s our only hope.

That’s because we really are under attack. We are being pummeled by cowards posing as tough guys who care about only what is in their own interests and who have wholly abandoned their oath of office and obligation to you and to our country. Almost as bad, they don’t even try to disguise their hypocrisy. They parade it in public like they’re wearing a Joker costume on Halloween, confident that we are too stupid to see these very worst criminals, the ones right in front of us. More on this on Sunday.

America stands with a gun to its head and about a third of our citizens are pulling on that trigger with all their suicidal might.
.

So, heed what Master Yoda teaches us:

“Always the opposite of truth the Trump and his Storm Troopers say. Always the way of the Dark Side they pursue.

“Arm yourself you must against this danger, young Jedi. Use the Vote. Reach out with your finger and feel the force bringing you to your ballot on November 5. If this path you do not follow, the vote will not be with you always.”

Today’s Quotes
  • From Aaron Sorkin’s wonderful movie The American President, but now in the context of MAGA:

“How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

From Simon Rosenberg of The Hopium Chronicles on how we can prevent a Republican destruction of America:

“The magic pill is us.”

Use the vote!


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

The Ultimate Con


POST 1056

CAUTION! Contains snark!

The content below touches on sensitive issues, willful ignorance and deeply held hypocrisies. It implies widespread gullibility and faith-free faith. Proceed if you dare, but follow the Surgeon General’s recommendation to wear an N95 mask while reading and to squint your eyes against the glare of nearly believable satire. Note that injections of bleach following reading are not recommended, but hydroxychloroquine injections are recommended, but only on a doctor’s orders and if you have malaria. Also recommended are to brush and floss daily and to hold hands when crossing the street.


The King Grifter Version – Click me

Donald, you’ve been a con all your life, including conning your father out of hundreds of millions of dollars and your relatives out of their inheritances. You’ve conned contractors and lawyers and even 1/3 of the American public. You’ve conned people by promising a university education and delivering nothing and by assuring them of vast riches by following your get-rich-quick scam. You’ve conned people with steaks and bottled water, vodka, a fraudulent charitable foundation, gold painted sneakers, perfume and now a Bible. Poor, easily influenced people have already been conned into buying a copy, as well as sending you donations for your ever-mounting legal bills to defend your felonies.

About that Bible. There is no American Bible. While we revere the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Bill of Rights, they are not holy documents and they were not inscribed by the finger of God – or even Lee Greenwood’s. Indeed, nowhere in any Bible other than your King Grifter Version is America mentioned. For effectiveness moving forward, we recommend that you not mention that you’ve broken most of the 10 Commandments repeatedly (Think: Access Hollywood tape), or that you don’t know anything that is between the covers of that book. And while most people don’t mind that you hoisted a Bible upside down in front of St. John’s Church after tear gassing peaceful protesters, it’s still not a good idea to mention that.

You have used The Big Lie repeatedly, even before the 2016 election, then claiming that if you were to lose that election that it would only be because of Democratic fraud that stole victory from you. That was a fine con, Donald, and through diligent practice over the years you’ve perfected The Big Lie, making claims not just of stolen elections, but Big Lies about judicial decisions you didn’t like and fantabulous lies about people, even about the daughter of the judge presiding in one of your cases. Because you adhere to the Big Lie principles so well, you’ve conned millions.*

But facing the facts of actuarial tables, Donald, you’re near the end of your run. Given your sedentary lifestyle and your diet of fast food junk, it’s probable that the only thing holding your body together is a massive clod of cholesterol glue. You’ve always been certifiably crazy, but now you babble incoherently, so dementia is right around the corner. While you still have the capacity to con on a grand scale, Donald, it’s time for supreme action.

You’ve tickled around the edges of claiming to be sent by God, saying things to your followers like, “I am being indicted for you,” and talking about your “divine purpose,” hinting not very delicately that you are Jesus himself, but that isn’t enough. You have to boldly transcend to The Ultimate Con.

You must take to the stage at your next big rally, with thousands of adoring dupes carrying Trump signs and Trump flags, wearing red, white and blue shirts and MAGA hats. You will speak (even to “my Negro”) and you’ll raise your hands pontifically. You’ll strongly – because you are a strong man – and with absolute conviction declare that you are not just a god, but the God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – all of them. You’ll tell your faithful that you sent yourself to save America, to make it a Christian Nationalist place the way it was intended to be.** You’ll say that you are God, which means you can smite your godless opponents. You are The Law and all power and vengeance are yours, thus sayeth The Donald.

The Via Delarosa – Jerusalem

They will play deep, moving organ music and a great chorus of angelic voices will rise to the heavens strongly, as you solemnly labor from one side of the stage to the other, your hands grasping for purchase, your face in self-reverence, as though you’re struggling painfully and victimly along the Via Dolarosa. You will absorb the adoration of your people and all will bow their heads in maximus supplicationus. Many will weep.

The pundits will declare that to be against you is blasphemy. Pastors will pound pulpits in theocratic fervor and no Republican elected official will dare to utter even a single discouraging word, although that’s nothing new.

Yours will be the kingdom, the power and the glory of the Ultimate Con.***

This Ultimate Con hasn’t been tried since the first century AD/BCE when the incestuous Roman emperor Caligula grabbed that turf. He was a deviant, but that might appeal to you. Note, though, that his grab for god status didn’t work well for him, as he was assassinated not long after making that claim. Still, it was a great con.

Who knows? You might get away with it. If you can make this work and get yourself elected, your self-serving truth may be known and it will set you free (from prison).***  As your truth is said in the Book of Donald, “I say unto you, and this is true, it’s a witch hunt, a hoax. I won bigly and strongly. Stop the steal!” These moving words are for monks to ponder by candlelight in dark, damp monasteries for centuries.

Donald, this will be your greatest con ever.****

This Next Is No Con

Many thanks to Sheila Markin for this:

Below is a [link to a] letter written by a concerned American who wants to pressure Justice Roberts to ask Justice Thomas to recuse himself in the upcoming case United States v Trump. Take a look and see if you want to sign on. You do not have to be a lawyer to sign it. Pressure on Roberts to try to get Thomas to do the right things is probably worthwhile even if it doesn’t keep Thomas from doing the wrong thing.
.

https://ldad.org/letters-briefs/justice-thomas

I signed the letter and urge you to sign it, too.

________________________________________

* In a fine post by Thom Hartmann, he offers an audio clip of President Roosevelt during the 1944 presidential campaign, with FDR explaining The Big Lie masterfully. Scan down to the bottom of Hartmann’s post to hear the short clip. Important for your understanding is that Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover had been in charge for the 12 years before Roosevelt won the 1932 election. Those Republican men brought us the Great Depression. So, it isn’t just today’s Republicans howling The Big Lie. There were Republican Big Liars in 1944, too.

** Regardless of the somewhat vague references to God in our founding documents, the Founding Fathers were adamant that this is not a theocracy, that this is not a Christian nation. CNN published a most accessible review of this. Better, albeit far more ambitious, would be a review of the Federalist Papers.

*** With apologies to The Lord’s Prayer and John 8:32.

**** Donald sent out a blizzard of 77 Truth Social ALL CAPS messages on Easter. His messages were about himself, attacking his opponents, attacks on judges and members of their families and comparing himself to Jesus. More specifically, his primary Easter message contained 7 words about Easter and 161 words attacking his enemies and whining about the legal system. Likely, his White Christian (in name only) minions ate it up. Great lead-in to The Ultimate Con.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Civil War


Post 1,052


A blogger friend recently posted, “A few years ago, CNN reported on a survey indicating that over 40% of Americans believed that a civil war was ‘somewhat likely’ in the next ten years.” He mentioned globalization as at least part of the cause. I assume that means that it has caused disruptions leading to angry citizens.

There are a lot of people who believe they remember better times, regardless of whether the “old days” actually were better. Think: false message MAGA hats.

To be fair, there is some truth to their grievances. There has been off-shoring of jobs, “right-sizing” (i.e. massive layoffs) and the rise of the big box stores that decimated whole towns and more. Their frustration is being amped up by those who would accrue power and money to themselves by keeping people enraged.

Today millions hate the “elites,” which I suppose means anyone wealthier or more educated than themselves. One or two generations ago big company CEOs made 35 times what a regular wage earner made. Now it’s 320 times. Corporations often demonstrated a sense of duty to their communities. Now most obligation has shifted to serve only shareholders and C-level officers, who are, by definition, elites. And thanks to creative legal manipulation we have ensured that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer through the magic of legalized bribery (see Citizens United). Roughly $50 trillion has shifted from the bottom 99% to the top 1% over the past 50 years. That carries enough power to infuriate a lot of people.

If there is to be a civil war, it will probably look like guerilla warfare, not cavalry on horseback or infantry in trenches. It will look like attacks on elected officials, churches (Blacks), synagogues (Jews), grannies in supermarkets and children in schools. Anyone who is vulnerable and perhaps blame-able will be a target. We already know what that looks like* and it may well get far worse. The fires are stoked every day to keep the angry people agitated, like Trump declaring at his rallies that if he doesn’t win the election that there will be “a blood bath” and “bedlam.” He specifically enourages his followers to commit violence. Just like January 6.

Bottom Line

We need leadership to grow this nation instead of fracture it. We need a new clarity of purpose, which is now looking like dealing with existential threat. It could be a foreign threat, but at the moment it appears to be more like home grown terrorism encouraged by self-serving extremists.

Coming together for such a challenge is the job of each of us, of course, but most of all it is the job of the leader to bring us together. Anyone listening to and following those seeking to divide us against ourselves** is willingly seeking to destroy America. Don’t fall for the hypocrisy or let those you love fall for it. Then maybe, just maybe, we won’t have a civil war.

Key Reads of the Week

See Note #5 below – then click the pic.

See Note #5 below – then click the pic.

Prof. Timothy Snyder teaches history at Yale and is the author of On Tyranny and other books. If you have not read this brilliant, pamphlet-sized book (rather like The American Crisis by Thomas Paine), do so immediately.

The idea of a strongman leader has become quite popular, having been promoted over and over by Donald Trump to his largely uninformed audience. Having lived in, studied and understood strongman leaders in many countries, Prof. Snyder offers a most helpful post to explain what having such a leader always means and what profound and terrible consequences would descend on Americans should we choose such a path. Read Snyder’s post here.

Next, you must read Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s clarification of the 2025 Project. Perhaps you already know that project is the product of the ultra-conservative (i.e anti-democracy) Heritage Foundation and is 1,000 pages of anti-American, dictatorial drivel. They think we should have a pharaoh or fuhrer, Stalinist, Viktor Orbán or Vladimir Putin, the far right’s BFF, to control our country and to control and minimize you. They believe that all power should go to the 1% wealthy minority and that there should be subservience and few rights for everyone else. They believe that all men are created equal except themselves, who are created superior and entitled.***

That’s what a civil war would bring us.

Take the pledge and internalize it deeply. Then click the pic.

Watch for the post this Sunday’s for some ideas of what we must do if things are to get better.

___________________________________________

We are less than 22% through the year and already have over 12,000 dead from guns.

** It isn’t just Trump. Aaron Rogers thinks that 9/11 and the Sandy Hook murders were both staged by actors. He believes dumb and potentially homicidal theories about vaccinations, too. That’s why Rogers is on Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s short list for a running mate for the presidency. So is former pro wrestler Jessie Ventura. They are all dividers. And delusional.

If you want our nation to follow people like them, it’s possible you’ve sustained as many traumatic, brain injury bashings as Rogers.

*** Psst! Do you think you’re “more equal” than others? Most important, do you love to hate? Boy, oh boy do we have a tip.

This may not be the best country for you. Give Russia, Hungary, Sudan and Uganda a look. Those guys know how to suppress and murder “others” – they’re your peeps! Pick one and go there soon. Please.


Today is a good day to be the light

  • _____________________________
  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.
  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Now You Know


Post 1,032


Maybe you remember the early days of the Republican War Against America, like during the reign of Saint Ronny I, when he bamboozled the nation with his “trickle-down” voodoo economics scheme to send your money to the 1%. We used to wonder why otherwise sensible people would vote against their own interests. Since Trump came on the scene they have not only voted against their own interests, but they  appear to have abandoned their claimed bedrock values. They follow like sheep. Or lemmings.

There are many reasons for this, some explored in these posts, like striking out at “The Man,” and fear/hatred of others. A part that had eluded me was why evangelicals, people who see themselves as Christians (as in: following Jesus) would flock to an amoral, non-religious violator of pretty much everything they declare they believe in. A recent Sheila Markin post provides clarity.

“In his recent Apple podcast interview with Shumita Basu [Tim Alberta] talks about the two word phrase you hear over and over again from evangelicals today that helps us to understand their shift to the extreme right.

“The two words are ‘under siege.’

“Evangelicals believe they are under siege and ‘the barbarians are at the gates.’ A wicked, godless, hostile culture connected to secular government is coming to get them. This persecution, which they really believe is coming for them, is predicted to intensify. Evangelical pastors are also getting into the act by pushing this “replacement” idea and proclaiming Trump as their savior. Literally. Evangelicals are told they must vote for Trump because he will save them from the barbarians. As Tim Alberta points out, if you feel your culture and faith are about to be obliterated you are more willing to bend your beliefs to accommodate someone as morally bereft as Trump and think of him as your savior. It is remarkable that Trump, a man without religious faith or ethics, a man who is more of an antichrist than a second coming of Christ, has been anointed as the blessed savior of a culture that Trump could not care less about. Trump is simply using the evangelical base as his get out of jail free pass. He needs them to vote for him so he can avoid going to prison.”

Now you know why evangelical extremists do what they do. I’m referring to extremists like:

self-professed uber-Christians

the “Believe as I believe or there’s no God for you” absolutists*

the self-deluded moral high ground grabbers

the Jesus freaks who don’t follow Jesus

the people who want the Ten Commandments posted and recited in schools and courthouses but who don’t believe Trump has to follow them and maybe they don’t have to follow them either

the Fahrenheit 451 mob

the ones who so quickly believe violent lies and embrace racist taunts

the people who wrongly believe this nation was intended by the Founders to be a Christian nation and that non-believers should be expelled from our shores

the ones who so easily sell out themselves and are eager to sell out you and our country, too, all in the name of some imagined purity

These people actually believe they are “under siege” and so, too, is their White privilege. They are frightened and they let the Great Manipulators turn them to hatred.

That’s why Iowa voted for Trump. That plus only 110,298 out of 2,083,979 registered voters (5.3%) bothered to show up at the caucuses.

The evangelicals and the other deluded ignorants are very much afraid, so they are reliable voters who will check the boxes next to the names of the BS spouters.

Many millions of Americans are clamoring for autocracy. Some think they’re in the special, favored group and will gain vast power for themselves by stealing it from you. They want to control what people can say and even what they are allowed to think.

They want a strongman leading an autocracy to fix all the ills that they imagine rain down on them like the plagues on Egypt. It’s that “under siege” thing. They imagine under the leadership of a strongman they will be protected from those unwashed, unwelcome “others,” the “vermin” who are “poisoning our blood” and that at last life will be made right. There’s just one thing.

Autocracy doesn’t work that way. However they begin, they always become brutal and oppressive and they create massive suffering.

The Axis powers of WW II are too easy to name as examples. How about the ancient Roman autocracy? How’d that work out for early Christians or for the people of any of the conquered lands or for their own Plebeians and slaves?

How’d that work out in the Spanish Inquisition, which tortured and murdered tens of thousands of people? Or Pol Pot’s Cambodia (over 2 million killed) or the Balkan Wars (over 120,000 Albanians killed) or Milosevic’s Czechoslovakia (200,000 dead in Bosnia, 2 million homeless and 800,000 Albanians ethnically cleansed). How’d that work out in Stalin’s Russia (over 6 million murdered – over 28 million by the communists 1917 – 1987) or for the Uyghurs in China right now or in any of the ethnic cleansing atrocities like Darfur (over 400,000 dead).

The hoped-for nirvana via strongman/autocracy never appeared for people on those murderous trips into autocracy. They never will.

It’s often said by Americans needing validation that the United States is exceptional and it surely is in some respects. But there is no reason we should expect autocracy in the U.S. to be better in any way than it has been anywhere else throughout history. Indeed, we are already exceptionally good at anger, violence, discrimination and at fooling ourselves.

Dan Rather wrote a piece about Trump in his post of January 23, 2024 and how he has changed us.

“He has changed what was until recently considered unacceptable behavior for our leaders. He has normalized bigotry, misogyny, racism, ageism, ableism, sexism.”

“He has changed our relationships with facts. Now there are phony “alternative facts.” .  .  .  Rational discourse is a thing of the past, because how can you argue with someone who, in effect, refuses to accept that two plus two makes four. [sic]”

“He has changed how we show our discontent, unleashing long-held furies and granting permission to behave badly.”

Be clear that Trump didn’t do that change thing by himself. Millions of Americans cheered for his 2 + 2 = 5 nonsense because the anger made them feel powerful or they felt like Crusader champions or like delusional super patriots or even holy.

Go. Read Rather’s post. Bring with you the understanding that Trump and his lies, his brutish cruelty and his hatred has given permission for people who consider themselves to be good Christians to unleash their long-held furies and to behave badly. He does it, so they do it, too.

Regardless of rants by evangelicals or anyone else, Trump wasn’t sent by God.** Watch this from The Lincoln Project.

Now you know.

ACTION STEP:

Send this to 5 people so that they know, too.

Our existential charge is to Stop Hateful Idiocy Today. You work out the acronym.

________________________________

* From a quote by C.S. Lewis, declaring that he wasn’t of that crowd.

** Said by a woman being interviewed by a reporter outside a polling place in New Hampshire on primary election day:

“Trump is a divine intervention from God. I really believe that.”

I wonder how she justifies her belief, knowing that Trump thinks he can grab women by their private parts; that he can rape them, then defame them; and that he can do all that to her.


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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Seven Wonderings


Post 1,028

___________________________________

Wondering #1

Over 116 IDF troops have been killed and many injured in Israel’s efforts to silence Hamas in Gaza, in the West Bank and in fighting to hold back Hezbollah in Lebanon. Of course, these numbers are dwarfed by the number of Palestinian casualties. Still, where are the demonstrations of support for those brave men and women risking and some losing their lives to protect their country and their countrymen from terrorists? Same question regarding the Israelis being injured or killed by Hamas rockets that continue to rain down on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and on other cities.*

Oh, right – the world has fallen for the Hamas trick of making victims of Palestinians in order to gain world sympathy. That allows Hamas to unleash terrorism on Israelis and effectively excuse it, or at least allows the world to ignore it. So, people demonstrate on college campuses in the U.S. and in European cities against Israel for the crime against humanity of Jews protecting themselves from murderous Hamas terrorists, the very people who set up civilian Palestinians for death.

Big surprise

There aren’t many protests against Hamas and the complicit Palestinians who are the true instigators of the death and destruction in Gaza.

The useful idiot demonstrators are demanding an Israeli ceasefire, as though they think that there would be no self-destructive consequences to Israel of that.

NOT SO BREAKING NEWS!
.

A ceasefire would allow Hamas to rearm, regroup and resume killing Israelis. They’ve promised repeatedly to do exactly that, to attack Israel over and over.

To the street protesters and to the appeasement spewing world leaders: Do you still think a ceasefire is a good idea? What would your answer be if you lived in Tel Aviv and every day you have to dodge incoming rockets?

Important safety tip

You don’t have to be Israeli or Jewish to be killed or gravely wounded by a Hamas rocket.

It’s so easy to manipulate people who want simple solutions to complex problems, people who cannot fathom that there is something other than whatever propaganda and manipulation has been put before their eyes. Hamas is very good at that manipulation.

Steve Sheffey offered this worthy challenge:

A New York Times investigation uncovered new details showing a pattern of rape, mutilation, and extreme brutality against women in the Hamas attacks on Israel. Read this article if you support a ceasefire that would allow Hamas to remain in power, armed and dangerous.

Many people have been duped into believing that Israel is some sort of devil, the bad guy perp, and that Palestinians are hapless good guy victims of Israeli cruelty. That simple binary view sells well. But what if things are not as as simple as you’ve been made to believe?

Just wondering.

Wondering #2

From The Tennessean:

“There are 1,582 Americans still unaccounted for [from the Vietnam War], according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.”

I’m wondering if the words on the POW/MIA flag are still true: “You are not forgotten.”

Wondering #3

I’m wondering something else about our military people.

The Wounded Warrior Project provides support for our wounded and disabled veterans. It is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is sustained solely by donations. That’s what started my wondering.

We send our military people into harms way. They stand a post for us all over the world, protecting our nation and our national interests. They are volunteers – every one of them – who knew when they put on the uniform that they were putting their lives on the line for the rest of us.

Some of them return to us terribly damaged. These are the people who are served by that private organization. The thing I wonder about is why we send our people into harms way, perhaps to be killed or become wounded and beset with long term disabilities, but then we make them have to rely on private organizations and donations to get the treatment and support they need.

Why isn’t full support a standard that We The People provide as part of our obligation to those who protect us?

I assume the VA is helpful, but apparently what they do isn’t helpful enough. Said another way, we train our military men and women to fight and when they come back to us damaged we give them their first Band Aids and then abandon them. Are our military people no longer of value to us after they’re wounded, so we refuse to fund their rehabilitation?

Just wondering.

Wondering #4

There is something similar going on in our schools.

We always under-fund some of them. That isn’t a problem in affluent areas, where property taxes provide plenty of money for schools, teachers and various support services. But that doesn’t work so well on the other side of the tracks, where property taxes are small. That’s where our “under-performing” schools can be found. How come we abandon those kids to a mediocre education?

Oh, right – the parents on the poor side of town aren’t big donors to political campaigns and they aren’t reliable voters, so we leave kids in lousy buildings with half the number of teachers they need, learning from beat up, 20 year old textbooks. We abandon these kids just like we do our wounded military.

For the moment, never mind the injustice in that. Instead, be selfish. If given the schooling s/he needs, one of those kids on the other side of the tracks might find a cure for the cancer you’re going to get in a few years. Maybe we should provide him/her the same great education that the kids on the affluent side of town are afforded. Doing that would be good for your health.

I’m wondering if that might be a good idea.

Wonderings #5 & 6

Here’s another couple of wonderings.

I received an email call for help from Moms Demand Action for their Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service. The local MDA is soliciting donations of basic hygiene products and assembling them into kits to be “distributed to over 80 schools facing economic challenges in the Chicagoland area.”

I’m Wondering (#5) how it is that we have to hold metaphorical bake sales for these kids to have basic hygiene. And I’m Wondering (#6) why Jeff Bridges has to go on TV and beg for money to feed hungry kids. **

Wondering #7

I’m wondering who we are.

________________________________

* From Haaretz:

Instead of fireworks, air raid sirens inaugurated the new year for a swathe of central Israel. Launched one minute after midnight, the rockets from Gaza were a crude if salient reminder that Israel and Hamas are heading towards three months of war.

** From Annie Gowen of the Washington Post on January 10:

Republican governors in 15 states reject summer food money for kids

Republican governors in 15 states are rejecting a new federally funded program to give food assistance to hungry children during the summer months, denying benefits to 8 million children across the country.

Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming

States in RED also “.  .  .  have not fully extended Medicaid eligibility to low-income individuals.”

Do you suppose making kids go hungry is what people in those 15 states really want?

Just wondering #6


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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA

 


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

Welcome


Post 1,010

—————————————

I’m making a mental health separation from the heartbreak in the Middle East, from the insanity in the House of Representatives and from the promise of the end of our democracy engineered by what passes for today’s Republicans and Der Fuhrer. Let’s talk about something else. Ed.


Immigrants

Should you take the ferry to Liberty Island to visit the Statue of Liberty be sure to wander inside the base to see the plaque with the poem by Emma Lazarus. She penned it in 1883 to help raise funds for the completion of the pedestal upon which Lady Liberty stands.

Here is what she wrote for new immigrants arriving at our shores.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Of course, new immigrants weren’t able to read those words as their ships glided into New York Harbor. It seems to me, though, that Lazarus’ message wasn’t for those desperate souls. It was and is for all of us. Here’s why.

Not many arrived in the New World with wealth and power. Most arrived nearly penniless, clutching not much more than hope. It’s highly likely that your ancestors arrived just that way. I know that mine did.

We in America have consistently been challenged by how to deal with immigrants. There has always been a fearful, angry faction afraid that poor immigrants would take whatever position in society present Americans thought was their own, perhaps because they were here first or because the new immigrants were somehow “others.” They imagined that immigrants would be different and dangerous, that they would be criminals and wopuld rape the women and the land.

This is embodied today by those fearful and power hungry souls spouting so-called “replacement theory,” their voices screeching and their fingers pointing at imaginary caravans from the south. They chant, “Jews will not replace us” and they carry their primal call to fear and hatred.

I have questions for you about this.

  1. If your ancestors were arriving in this country today from wherever their Old World was, should we as a country write a letter of welcome to them? Should we include a snapshot of the Statue of Liberty and the words of Lazarus’ poem?
  2. What if they were my ancestors instead of yours coming from wherever their Old World was? They would arrive poor and “other” than your people who are already here, Should we write a welcome letter to them, too? What about the picture and the poem?

Think about it.

A Better Way

Niles West High School is just another suburban Chicago high school – except it isn’t. It’s one of the most racially, ethnically, nationality and religiously diverse schools in the nation. Surely, you can imagine blood running hot in this time of Israeli-Hamas conflict and the awful Palestinian suffering. It does, and the staff regularly deals with hate speech. They’ve heard lots of talk about walkouts and protests.

Nevertheless, groups of students in their clubs worked together to craft the statement below. It was written entirely by the students and is printed here exactly as they posted it. As you’ll see, they are far better than most of the angry, misguided reactionaries we see around the globe today.

Joint Solidarity Statement from Our Niles West J.S.A., M.S.A., and M.E.N.A. Student Leaders and Sponsors

In collaboration with the Niles West Youth Activism and Leadership Club

October 11th, 2023

On behalf of the Muslim Student Association, Middle Eastern and North African Club, and Jewish Student Association, we believe it is essential to come together at this moment to express our collective commitment to and desire for peace, dignity, and the basic human right to live without fear of violence or persecution for every member of our shared human family. What we share in our humanity takes precedence over any political or religious differences we may have. We recognize that the loss of life, casualties, and escalating conflict bring pain and distress to our community, especially those with family members or other loved ones in Israel and Palestine. Our main goal in sharing this joint statement is to promote compassion, unity, love, and mutual respect for our fellow Niles West community members in the face of horrific events and violence abroad. One group’s pain should not cancel out another group’s pain; these tragedies hurt everyone in our community, including but not limited to our Palestinian, Jewish, Israeli, MENA, and Muslim students and staff. We are committed to doing this work together and ask for support and kindness as we strive for peace at Niles West.
.

Yes, they are youthful idealists and things are never as simple as Rodney King asking, “Can’t we all get along?” Things are always far more complex and change is fraught with fear. Nevertheless, let’s hope these students can keep their values and their focus. We all need hope and they are our future.

Okay, Boomers

Just heard a song from the Way Back Machine. From Aquarius by the Fifth Dimension:

Harmony and understanding,
Sympathy and trust abounding.
No more falsehoods or derisions,
Golden living dreams of visions.
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation,

Aquarius.

I guess we Boomers lost some of that sentiment along the way, as we became investment bankers, salespeople or just entered the slog through the realities of life. Some became absolutists with a permanent chip on their shoulders and taught their children to fear and hate, which they learned well. They’re now making death threats and shooting innocent people.

The sun that was supposed to shine in. Where did it go?

We better find it fast.

Question of the Week

Until recently Donald Trump labeled all Democrats, RINOs and everyone who didn’t buy Trump’s Big Lie such things as pedophiles, child traffickers, socialists, communists and more.

On Veterans Day last weekend he called the same people “vermin” and vowed to put them in concentration camps after he’s elected.

Here’s the Question of the Week:

Is “vermin” better or worse than pedophiles and the rest?
.

Compare and contrast, referencing Nazi Germany, the American Confederacy, the shooter of Pizzagate notoriety and Trump’s claim that only he can prevent World War III and that it will be “very easy.”

You can get 10 extra credit points each if you can tie into your answer:

Trump holding a bible upside down and quoting “Two Corinthians”

Judge Aileen Cannon’s obvious crush on Trump

Proof that Trump had the biggest inaugural crowd “ever. Period!


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Precedented


Post 1,009

—————————————

Precedented I

Republican Warren G. Harding was our nation’s 29th President of the United States. His administration was infested with scandal. He died two years into his presidency, thus preventing him from doing even more damage. He was long considered the worst president ever, an impressive achievement, given some of the dopes who have held that job.

But then came Nixon to lower the bar.

Then Dubya.

Then Trump.

Even before they came along with their scandals and criminal behavior there were extremists who promised division, chaos and nothing to solve our national problems and challenges.

In the early 1960s the Republican Party was a groundswell of extremism, proudly led by Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). He was famous for saying chest-thumping, stupid absolutist things, like,

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
.
He ginned up “the base” with such stuff, along with promises of nuclear annihilation. Goldwater and other far righties made fearful advances toward taking over the Republican Party and caused moderates more than a little worry. On July 14, 1963 Governor Nelson Rockefeller (R-NY) gave a speech addressing this very issue. Sections of it are below. I’m confident this will feel uncomfortably current.
.

I am now convinced that, unless the vast majority of Republicans who subscribe to these [extremist] principles are aroused from present inaction – whether this inaction stems from complacency, from fear or from a fantastically short-sighted opportunism – the Republican party is in real danger of subversion by a radical, well financed and  highly disciplined minority.

For it has now become crystal clear that the vociferous and well-drilled extremist elements boring within the party utterly reject these fundamental principles of our heritage. They are, in fact, embarked on a determined and ruthless effort to take over the party, its platform and its candidates on their own terms – terms that are wholly alien to the sound and honest Republican liberalism that has kept the party abreast of human needs in a changing world, wholly alien to the broad middle course that accommodates the mainstream of Republican principle.

This cannot be allowed to happen. The continuing commitment of the Republican party to its historic principles including its fundamental dedication to equality of opportunity for all men cannot and must not be betrayed. No temptation of political gain through cynical expediency can be permitted to becloud our commitment to principle and purpose.

After branding these extremists “the radical right lunatic fringe,” Rockefeller went on to say,

These people have no program for the Republican party or the American people except distrust, disunity and the ultimate destruction of the confidence of the people in themselves. They are purveyors of hate and distrust in a time when as never before, the need of the world is for love and understanding.

They have no concern with and offer no solutions for the problems of chronic unemployment, of education and training, of housing of racial injustice and strife, of all the other problems which must have answers if our democratic ideals are to be translated into living reality.

So much of what has happened over the past 50 years has been labeled “unprecedented,” including anything from the falsely named Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus to nearly everything Donald Trump has done or said over the past 9 years, perhaps foreshadowed by his fraudulent Birther defamation. But in fact, there is precedent for much of what we’ve seen, perhaps excluding Trump’s over 30,000 lies and his blatant attacks on the rule of law and his denial of actual reality.

It’s sad to say, but extremism never fully disappears. It waxes and wanes with new appearances of those who covet power for themselves above all else.

This stuff is precedented, including by the Confederates in the 1800s all the way into the 1900s; Nazis in the 30s and 40s; by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, both of whom thought they were above the law; and by the dastardly far right today using perversions of our laws to steal the vote from whole swaths of our citizens and to mount a multiple front assault to steal an election from our nation. It’s plain that these attacks on freedom, democracy and our Constitution come along regularly to torture our nation.

Fortunately, our justice system is now applying the proper elbow to the solar plexus of law breaking extremists. The political elbow blows, though, are left to us to deliver to make extremism wane before permanent damage is done.

Precedented II

Likely you remember those pictures for kids about which you’re asked to name what doesn’t belong, like a carrot in a tree. It’s more difficult to identify what’s missing from a picture.

It’s right that we have empathy for Palestinian civilians who have been wounded or killed and for their loved ones who are suffering. They are our fellow human beings in terrible circumstances, largely through no fault of their own. The media coverage of that is front and center. We are fed those images every day, but there’s something missing from that picture.

The only victims of the October 7 massacre to which the world media seems to be paying any attention are the hostages. The focus is largely on what happened next.

There is footage of injured Palestinians, but where is the coverage of the 3,300 injured Israelis? We see awful funeral processions for dead Palestinians, but what about the funerals of the 1,400 Israelis killed and the wailing of their loved ones? We see the destroyed Palestinian homes and apartments, but where are the stories and video of the thousands who had to flee their homes in terror on October 7 and who then came back to devastation? Even as so many Palestinians suffer, there are tens of thousands of Israelis suffering, too. Why the stark empathy disparity?

This is not unprecedented. This is standard unbalanced world attention orchestrated by Hamas and we’ve seen this time and time again. Hamas, like Yassir Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Army before it, uses the suffering of Palestinians to twist world opinion in their favor. They keep their own people hostage in areas they know Israel must attack in order to stop Hamas, so Palestinians suffer, making Israel look like the bad guys. It’s such an obvious PR scheme and the world falls for it every time.

People are calling for a ceasefire in the name of mercy, but it doesn’t work that way (see this). Were the IDF to simply pack up and go home now they would leave Hamas its weapons, its mob of terrorists and time to rearm. That would hasten the next October 7 style massacre of Israeli civilians. More brutally said, the lopsided empathy of the world, calling for a ceasefire, seems to prefer Israeli corpses over Palestinian corpses. Where is the mercy in that?

This manipulative PR stunt is not unprecedented. It is old and predictable and cruel.

Just For Fun

Here’s are five golden rules for spotting an idiot, this from Arwa Mardawi of The Guardian.

  1. Beware of anyone who describes themselves as a “proud non-reader of books.”
  2. Similarly, avoid anyone who thinks that every book should have been a six-paragraph blog post.
  3. Remember that wealth isn’t directly linked to intelligence.
  4. Dropping “AI” or “ChatGPT” into every second sentence is a major idiot red flag.
  5. Keep a wide berth from people who obsess about their IQs.

Here’s my favorite, linked to #3 above:

Click the pic for the source. Many thanks to JN for the pointer.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Connecting Dots


Post 1,005

—————————————

Congressional Republicans have pseudo-patriotic, brain damaged explanations for not supporting Ukraine. Of course, they’re either making up “alternative facts’ or clutching their boundless ignorance to their chests, the place where courage should reside but obviously does not. The reality is that Ukraine is fighting our fight for us. It is the fight for Western civilization, for our values and for democracy everywhere. Now why would these elected congresspeople oppose fighting for our values and our democracy? The answer to that question is the first dot for making a picture.

There was an active shooter at a middle school in the Milwaukee suburb of Germantown, WI on Monday the 23rd. The only casualty was the shooter, killed by police, who arrived quickly and acted immediately. We sure could have used those folks at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX last year.

On Wednesday the 25th there were what the experts call “spree shootings” at a bar and grill and at a bowling alley in the towns of Lewiston and Auburn, ME. The suspect, now dead by his own hand, was a former military firearms instructor. He had been committed to a mental health facility last summer. He is reported to be “hearing voices” and made threats against others, including against the National Guard base in Saco, ME.

He was in possession of a military style rifle designed not for deer hunting or target shooting, but to kill lots of people at a really fast rate. Plus, he was apparently carrying a large supply of ammunition. The shooter killed 18 people, injured 13 others and broke hearts throughout the state and our country.

The alleged shooter legally owned that assault rifle, all that ammunition, a hand gun and whatever other killing implements he carried. Why do you suppose he was able to do that?

One of the senators representing the people of Germantown, WI is Ron Johnson (R-WI). He’s a steadfast opponent of any and all legislation that might have kept a gun out of the hands of both of those alleged shooters. There are many dozens like him in Congress. Now, why would so many of our nation’s senators and representatives oppose safety in that way, especially when the overwhelming majority of We The People want it? The answer has nothing to do with originalist Constitution notions or even bravado and chest thumping about the Second Amendment. The answer to that question is the second dot for making a picture.

It took the majority Republican House 22 days to find a replacement for Kevin “Cut Mine Off’ McCarthy. He gave away nearly everything, so it took only eight flaming radical congresspeople to dump him. Matt Gaetz (“he who partied with under-age girls”) led that attack on McCarthy, pretty much only because after McCarthy gave away everything to become Speaker for less than 10 months, Gaetz wanted what was left of his dignity, this in order to please Trump. That’s the third dot.

The extremists supporting their second nominee for speaker, Gym Jordan (R-Hell), threatened other Republicans and their families with violence if they opposed his nomination. That’s thugocracy. Those threats deeply divided the Republican caucus and resulted in a complete standstill in the House during a worsening crisis in Ukraine and the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Without the Republican paralysis of Congress they would have been able to take action. But the flamers blocked that and all other congressional action for over 3 weeks. Some are promising to ensure that the government is made to shut down just before Thanksgiving. Now, why would they do any of that? Consider that the fourth dot.

Now they’ve elected Mike Johnson (R-LA) as the new Speaker of the House. He’s the guy who led the effort in the House to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He’s an election denier. A Big Lie guy. A Trump toady. A fanatic. A legislative insurrectionist. Yes, every Republican voted for him.*

“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox (Many thanks to MG)

He’s a God-invoking hypocrite who is guilty of attempted destruction of our democracy and our Constitution. Perhaps you remember the Constitution as that thing to which Johnson swore his solemn oath, hand on the bible he thumps, to protect and defend our Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Then he enthusiastically led Republican representatives to violate it in legislative insurrection. Consider Mike Johnson guilty of dereliction of duty, a breaker of his word, unfit to serve and the fifth dot.

We could go on, but all the dots inevitably become a picture of destruction, of American terrorist attacks on our nation. These people are robotic acolytes of Trump and Steve Bannon. Doing what is best for America is not their motivation. What they want is to “tear it all down.” They want to demolish our government, our institutions, our rule of law, our notions of equality, our Declaration of Independence and Constitutional guarantees that no person, no race, no nationality, no religion is above others. Our 234 years of laws make clear that White Christian men have no claim of dominion and power over the rest of us. But that’s no obstacle to these extremists. Doubt that?

Those better-than-the-rest-of-us straight (they claim), White Christian (they claim) men – no women – would be pleased to enslave you if you are not one of them. We know that, because that was the very essence of the South before the Civil War and that is what the present day domination seekers promise. They want to dominate you. They want to own you.

The Republican picture is one of destruction, domestic terrorism, hatred, fear mongering and subjugation of the great masses of us by a privileged class that believes they are above us.

That’s what people voting Republican are voting for.
.

When the dots are connected they reveal a democracy and freedom apocalypse, a picture that you and I will deeply dislike.

Quotes Of The Week

From Sheila Markin in The Markin Report of October 27, “The Coup Caucus Won:”

The extremists don’t want government to work. If government doesn’t work then Biden can be blamed and democracy can be seen as a failed form of government. The goal of GOP extremists is to trash the system and crash our government .  .  .  For them, chaos IS the goal.

In a webinar on Friday Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL-6) answered my question about what the magic pill is to get the right people into Congress who will pass legislation that delivers what We The People want, like democracy. He made some insightful comments and ended by focusing on hope. It’s not in robust supply in these politically dark times. Here’s his final comment:

“The magic pill is us.”

That rather smacks of then-candidate Barack Obama declaring what was so plainly true:

“We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

They are both right. It’s up to us.

_____________________________________

* From Steve Schmidt’s The Warning on October 26:

Perhaps the best way to understand this point [of difference in Speakers] is by appreciating how cynicism can fuel fanaticism. Kevin [McCarthy} believed in nothing but power, while [Mike] Johnson sees power as a means to impose his fanaticism.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Idiotica – Part 2


“You Never Thought This Could Happen” Idiotica

You already know that lots of Republicans champion autocrats (read: dictators) Putin, Erdoğan and Orbán. These Americans wildly cheer these strongmen who have killed democracy in their countries. It’s shocking to recall that just a few short years ago Republicans were the hardliners against such despots and their brutal regimes. Consider that we invaded Iraq using various fictions as rationale, but the best was that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy and had to be deposed. I guess we no longer disfavor bad guys.

You also know that Republicans are wailing about what they are calling the “weaponization of the Department of Justice and the FBI.” According to them, if justice is served, it’s really Democrats that are misusing the power of our Constitution and our laws to victimize “true Americans” (read: Republicans).

Question: Will will they sing that same stupid song now that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has been indicted?

The ones making this idiotic, un-American claim used to demand tough enforcement of our laws. Republicans were the ones who claimed theirs to be the party of law and order, always advocating that we lock up bad guys. Not so much today. Now, they coddle Republican bad guys.

A while back Trump announced that after he wins the 2024 election that he will pardon the convicted January 6 insurrectionists. Two other Republican candidates have weighed in on the sentences given to the poor, mistreated insurrectionists and have suggested that they, too, if elected, will pardon the traitors who killed cops and tried to end our democracy.

The thumping of chests, neck veins throbbing and fingers in the air in patriotic fervor that these guys do is just performative patriotism. They’ve abandoned any real patriotism for this country.

Just a few years ago you couldn’t have imagined that these turncoats would betray the red, white and blue and embrace the Confederate flag of treason and the Trump flag of the middle finger but they have. They are strong, disgusting and contemptuous. They have infected 25 – 40% of our fellow countrymen and are festering in the party that used to be for law and order and was tough on crime.

That’s what a constant torrent of lies and cowardice can do. That’s why this is

You Never Thought This Could Happen Idiotica
.
Authoritarian Idiotica

Writes Prof. Heather Cox Richardson,

Today’s Republicans have abandoned the Reagan-era Republican plan to gut the federal government and are instead determined to capture it, replacing nonpartisan civil servants with Republican extremists who will carry out the ideals of Trump or any candidate like him who can defeat Biden in 2024. Their nearly 1,000-page plan, called “Project 2025,” calls for politicizing the Department of Justice and law enforcement officers and giving far more power to the president.

If it matters to you to prevent such a thing, read this from Sheila Markin:

There is only one way to burn out the MAGA movement and using a process argument such as the disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment will not do the trick. Voters need to rise up and vote in large numbers to reject the movement .  .  .

Trump and Trumpism has to be repelled over and over and over again by voters, by the legal system and by voices from rational respected GOP leaders until the fever breaks.

Breaking that fever won’t happen because we have at last infused our angry, mistreated-by-lies citizens with something connected to reality. We need to understand thoroughly that breaking that fever won’t happen even if Democrats sweep the 2024 election or the 2026 or 2028 elections.

The MAGAs are so invested in anger and distrust of government, they’re so desperate to retain their White Christian hegemony and afraid of anything not familiar to them that breaking that fever won’t take just years, but generations. So, we must saddle up for the long campaign, the battles to inculcate reality and democracy as core tenets of our nation. Expect glacially slow progress. Expect the struggle to never end, because it won’t.

Expect to hand off this struggle for America to your children and be glad to do that. This is a worthy, if never ending, task that we in America are privileged to do. Thank your lucky stars, if you believe in such things, that you can.

Blatant Lies Idiotica

From Thom Hartman:

One particularly egregious tweet says: “Joe Biden and his party shuttered schools, forced masks on their faces, and put vaccines in their arms, all while holding our children back in ways that will have long-lasting impacts on their educational future. Joe Biden and the Democrats put power over our kids.” The only problem is that all of those things happened in 2020 and were done by Trump.

The RNC has gone so far as to use pictures and video from 2020 to attack Biden. Kevin McCarthy and Iowa Congressman Feenstra have both tweeted that, “President Biden not only paid people to stay home at the expense of American taxpayers, but under his watch $191 BILLION in unemployment benefits were also misspent and wasted.” Again, that was Trump. But their tweets are still up: clearly, they believe Republican voters are mindbogglingly stupid. [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House have decided they’re going to try to impeach President Biden for “accepting bribes.” The only problem they have is that there’s absolutely no evidence — not a shred or even a hint of a shred [of evidence] — to back up that claim. That said, there was also no evidence that after Republicans in Congress refused the CIA’s funding request to harden Benghazi and the station was attacked that Hillary Clinton had anything to do with it. That didn’t stop them from spending two years and tens of millions of dollars trying to convince Americans she was responsible.

Republican Fascism Idiotica

No, that isn’t hyperbole. It is exactly what the Republican extremists have been working to create for five decades. It’s only in the past two decades and, more blatantly, in the past few years that this has become both obvious and an immediate threat to our democracy. A lot of super rich guys longing to be oligarchs like such things.

I don’t expect you to blindly accept the messages on these pages, so instead listen to what Robert Reich has to say about this. He worked for four presidents, is a former Secretary of Labor and now is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. His 6-minute video will properly educate you on the fascism threat we are facing.

Fascism threatens America: Quod erat demonstrandum.

They’re trying to force Republican-led fascism onto you and onto America. Our challenge as always is the BarcaLounger thing: gotta get off it. We have to vote and we must encourage others to vote for democracy. See the graphic below for the timeline.

For specificity on Republican Idiotica, see the list at the bottom of this post.

Quote of the Week

“Democracy is not restricted to voting for someone for president once every four years,” UAW organizer Victor Reuther told [Documentarian Greg] Mitchell. “It is something that you can utilize and participate in where you work eight hours or 10 hours a day.”

  • Nia T. Evans
  • Mother Jones Daily
  • September 20, 2023
Must Read of the Week

Jeffrey Goldberg has penned a sizzling page turner in The Atlantic entitled The Patriot. He details the efforts of Gen. Mark Milley in the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff working to restrain President Trump from his vilest, unconstitutional and cruel intentions during the insane last year of his presidency. However bad you imagine things might have been, however close to losing our democracy you have feared we were, I assure you that it was worse. Here’s a link to the article.

_______________________________

You can find Idiotica – Part 1 here.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

What Have/Could We Become? – Part 2


Find Part 1 here.


Letting loose the behavior geek that resides inside my skin, I’m always trying to figure out what seems impossible to figure out, like understanding why common sense people would say and do self-harming things. Let’s start. with an explanation.

The predominant and overriding passion of our time is what Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post labeled “aggrieved victimhood.” Whether you agree with the label or the primacy of it, it’s here and it’s big. I’ve been 7 years questioning where that comes from.

Here’s a piece that was stapled as a late addition onto Part 1:

Maybe you’ve heard about the song Rich Men North of Richmond. It was written and performed by Oliver Anthony, a guy with no professional music experience and who never had anything on a top 100 chart. But this piece has gone viral – over 47 million listens and over 161,000 comments in less than a month.

Anthony’s song tells the story of middle Americans – hard working people – and their suffering at the hands of (in the pockets of) rich guys. The “elite.” The cabal of thieves who have taken their country and their dream from them. I urge you to listen to his song and, as important, read the comments. You’ll begin to understand the depth of the people’s anger that infects this country owing to decades of betrayal .

Did you find yourself doing a “Yeah, but .  .  .” as you read the above or listened to the song? If so, read it again, listen to the song again, and this time imagine that every time you stand up somebody knocks you down, like in those middle America towns that used to have a major employer, but the company moved their production to a foreign country and the town and its families are failing. Rightly or wrongly, people are feeling oppressed.

They reached their Popeye point long ago.

We human beings don’t like getting screwed, which is how so many are feeling, so here’s a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) for politicians and the rich guys who buy them:

People have a Popeye point, the moment when that’s all we can stands, we can’t stands no more. That’s when the spinach hits the fan.

That’s what we’re seeing from our violent ones.

That’s what we’re seeing from the ones displaying the hateful and vile hats and signs.

That’s what we’re hearing in the incoherent insistence that the election was stolen.

That’s what the pollsters are finding, even if Trump is in prison on election day.

That’s what we’re hearing as our fellow citizens crazily insist that it was okay for boxes of stolen documents and Top Secret papers to be hidden in Trump’s bathroom, ballroom, unguarded basement storage room and in his desk. They believe it was okay because Trump says the Presidential Records Act says that the documents are his (it says the opposite) and they think that it was okay for him to conspire to defy a subpoena, too.

That’s what we saw on January 6 as true believers acted out their anger, believing they were doing a patriotic thing.

Of course, all that and more has happened because valid anger over betrayal was cleverly, deviously, fraudulently channeled inward. So, we must give this fascist devil his due. He is brilliant at mass manipulation, getting otherwise well meaning but angry people to believe lies, that he is one of them, their leader, their savior. They believe that he will lead them to upend the plotters, the conspirators, the thieves who have stolen their country from them. The “deep state.” He told them he will be their “retribution.” He is the strong man who will defeat the forces of evil and in that way make them strong.

Don’t imagine these people are stupid or that they are knowingly acting against their best interests. What they are is duped. Tricked. Manipulated. Cynically used by the manipulator. And they have no idea that a new Trump regime will mistreat them far worse because that’s what happens in all authoritarian regimes.

There is a “BUT” to this attempt to understand and it is a sulfurous and dangerous cloud that hangs over all of us. I refer you to Kirk Landers’ comment to Part 1 of this series. He wrote,

The only other point I’d add to the conversation is that to understand MAGA, I think you have to start with the concept of the anti-Christ – a religious concept that says the greatest enemy of Christianity is fake Christianity. Trump is the archetypal anti-Christ, even though he’s openly stupid and venal. More important, the MAGA hordes are exactly the anti-Christians that the concept feared and loathed.

I agree that these people have a lot to be angry about, but they’re looking for validation, not solutions. And that’s kind of how we got here – people not wanting facts, just wanting to scream their guts out or shoot off a clip of ammo.

I don’t know how you deal with that.

Nor do I. But his construct of fake Christianity echos off the hills telling us a terrible tale, over and over, as we see people doing violent things in the name of the Prince of Peace. As I wrote at the end of Part 1, ‘.  .  .  there is little as murderous and destructive as fervent religious anger.”

What We Have Become is a country where a very large minority has been brilliantly manipulated Mussolini style, Hitler style, Erdoğan style, Orbán  style – charismatic strongman style. A mob energized by the power of anger and hatred. These people feel aggrieved and victimized and they want to hit back and they do so without recognizing that they are hitting back at themselves. As Landers wrote, they want validation, not solutions.

They get their validation in a constant torrent of blood boiling lies and propaganda. That puts fingers on triggers and it’s as dangerous as can be.

What We Could Become is limitless. But it can only happen if and when the majority of us stand up to stop the steal of our country by the anti-everything mob. That means that we have to use our power to re-establish that this is a nation laws, not one of high level manipulative criminals. We have to reverse the theft of wealth from the bottom 95% and redirect it to where it belongs. We have to turn the violent, angry monster around and use that energy for what is productive for a democracy. We have to stop allowing ourselves to be used and abused. In short, we have to treat democracy as a verb.

Writes Frank Levy,

I have long since stopped trying to change people’s minds. I think the most I can do is get those whose worldview mirrors mine to take action to make the world better for their being born into it.

I think he’s talking about you and me.

What We Could Become is the embodiment of the valiant words of our founding documents. So, Teach Your Children Well through your actions, because it will take not years, but generations to set things right. History has shown this to be true. Today is a good day to start.

Need A Dose of Hope?

Read this installment of Steve Schmidt’s travelogue and meet Fred. And watch his embedded video all the way through.


Today is a good day to be the light

______________________________

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

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