Manipulation

Counting Just For Fun


Reading time – 97 seconds  .  .  .

I received a Trump fundraising letter today – no clue how I got on the Trump/RNC mail list. Perhaps they read these posts. Nah, not likely.

This packet is like so many, in that it includes a clumsily skewed questionnaire designed to appeal to the confirmation bias of true believers. To be fair, the Ds send the same kind of thing and for the same purpose: fundraising.

What’s special about this one is how genuinely Trumpian the RNC has become and how Trumpian the letter is. That’s where Counting Just For Fun comes in.

Have a look at the letter. Ignore the completely out of date complaints about impeachment as though it were still ongoing and topical today – I counted 3  instances of that. And also ignore the equally out of date claims that people are, “getting back to work and they are starting to believe once again that America’s best days are ahead of us.” And ignore the declaration that Trump will be traveling across the country to hold rallies, too, because that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Just read the letter to see if you can spot more instances than I did of:

    • Claims of victimhood (total 13), including from Democrats in general (4) and as socialists (2), those with demonization of Chuck Schumer (1), Nancy Pelosi (2) and Adam Schiff (1), plus general “they hate me” and “it’s not fair” whining (3).
    • Whining about the biased, liberal fake news (all their words – I counted 4 instances)
    • Claims of winning – so much winning! – laced with great fantasy (7)
    • Appeals to “real Americans” (2) and desperation over the future of the country if Trump doesn’t win (1)
    • Begging for money (5), not counting the begging in the manipulative survey.

Go ahead and download the Trump/RNC miserable manuscript of manipulation here. That’s when the fun starts. See if you can you find more examples than I did in my once-through. What are your counts? Put ’em in the Comments section.

The winner of this first ever Counting Just For Fun contest will win an all expense paid trip to your mailbox to see if you receive the next flagrantly dishonest fundraiser from the Whiner in Chief. If you do, please send a copy to me at [email protected] and we’ll all have another round of contest fun.

Extra Credit Opportunity!

For extra credit see how many outright lies you can spot. I found 12.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and the home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry. That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

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Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering economists or law professors or self-serving politicians) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (daily 9/11s, a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses, employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Absolute Power


Reading time – 4:36  .  .  .

It’s plain to see that the President of the United States is, at best, severely dragging feet to deal with our national health emergency. He was warned repeatedly (over a dozen times) in his President’s Daily Briefs as far back as January that this pandemic would happen. The CDC had reports from China and their own on-the-ground evidence of the imminent danger and they issued warnings as early as November of the catastrophe that was headed our way.

We have known all along that continuing, extensive testing was and would be mandatory to minimize suffering and death, yet Trump has done everything possible to avoid our having the capacity to do what is needed to protect us.

Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act, but hasn’t taken any of the actions it enables except for forcing meat producers to continue operations. That means that our formidable manufacturing capabilities remain idle or focused elsewhere. Why would Trump choose all this and so much more counterproductive behavior? Here’s what I see.

1. Trump never shoulders responsibility, never admits mistakes, never acknowledges errors and always prefers a fatuous lie over simple truth. In a larger context, this sets up Trump to blame anyone and everyone else when things go bad.

In refusing to mobilize a massive national testing program and deflecting all responsibility to state governors, he allows himself to blame excess death on those same governors. And he helps to diminish governors in the eyes of the public by having the federal government snatch up PPE. That makes PPE unavailable to many states and their hospitals and doctors. That makes governors appear to be unsuccessful and they go to the bulls eye of Trump’s blame target.

If you want more power for yourself, undermine others who have power.

2. Trump has consistently removed the most qualified and effective people from positions of power, having fired most experts, and replaced them with Trump sycophants. A recent example is the removal of Dr. Rick Bright from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Removing the smartest, most capable people is a very effective way to ensure sub-optimal results, but that’s not Trump’s concern. He’s after something much bigger and more personal to him.

His next step was to place Brian Harrison in the position of senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. Harrison is an expert in his field. The problem for us is that his field is breeding Labradoodle dogs. Harrison replaced Peter Urbanowicz, who had decades of experience of healthcare leadership.

If you want more power for yourself, get rid of all expertise.

3. Trump has consistently demeaned allies who lead democratic nations, like Trudeau, Merkel and Macron and has consistently praised murderous, tyrannical dictators, like Putin, Xi, Duerte, Erdoğan and Kim. He’s told us repeatedly how beautiful it would be if he had absolute authority and has even claimed it for himself.

If you want more power for yourself, attack everything democratic and align yourself with autocrats.

4. Trump began his campaign to be president with racial and nationalist slurs and foreign policy lies. He repeatedly attempted a Muslim ban, in violation of the First Amendment. He has cruelly treated asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, such that we are now housing over 1,500 children in cages, kids for whom we have no method to reunite them with their now-deported parents.

He spent years taking counsel from Steve Bannon, who unequivocally promotes that we “tear it all down,” meaning our institutions that make for a solid society and a stable nation. It appears that Trump learned well.

He has demolished the guardrails of our democracy everywhere and has used his constant Twitter feed to intimidate those with the power to stop him. And he has made a mockery of our most cherished values and institutions.

If you want more power for yourself, tear down everything else.

5. This pandemic is not just a national emergency, but a worldwide emergency. Paraphrasing Rohm Emanual, autocrats never let a pandemic go to waste, and Trump certainly isn’t wasting this one. Envision this.

With the world in crisis and our country medically, economically and militarily hobbled, grabbing extra executive powers to deal with the crisis may play well with millions of Red state, MAGA hat wearing Americans. Anyone in charge who had megalomaniac tendencies would do exactly that. This is a moment made for someone who thinks he should be President for life, an idea he has suggested more than once.

He would declare a national emergency. Checked that box. Stronger still would be to wait for the next domestic attack, like a white supremacist attacking a temple or mosque or church, or a deranged, angry loser gunning down children in school, or a sicko in a hotel window murdering concert goers. That’s all going to happen again, and in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, that will be the opportunity to declare martial law. He’ll claim it’s for the protection of the American people, but that won’t be true. What will be true is that our democracy will officially be gone.

If you want absolute power for yourself, use a crisis to grab all of it.

Does all that sound unbelievable? If so, you better have another look at the obvious tracks on our national path. The place to look further is George Packer’s remarkable essay in The Atlantic, “How to Destroy a Government.” It is a frightful and accurate narrative of what has happened and is continuing to happen to our country and is a must-read.

And read Sheila Markin’s post to see what President Nero is doing. It’s all about aggregating power for himself. The question for us is whether we are and will be ready to do whatever it takes so that our democracy endures.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Get Real


Reading time – 2:21  .  .  .

The Gallup Organization published a new poll looking at how we view the performance of various groups responding to coronavirus. The information is, well, a bit nuts.

Have a look at the chart below and note that roughly 4 out of 5 of us approve of the job being done by pretty much everyone except for the federal government and the news media. High state government approval is spot on, except for the 9 state governments, all with Republican governors, that don’t have the cojones to take a stand that will be unpopular with some of their constituents but which would save many lives. Perhaps that’s the 17% disapproval number.

The roughly 60% of Americans who approve of what Trump, Pence and Congress are doing must not be paying full attention. As I wrote here, in a time of crisis, people latch onto the leader, even if he’s a buffoon.

The Congressional disapproval rating makes sense, if you read that to be a report card on “Who Cares Mitch” and the spineless Republicans. Meanwhile, kudos to the people who disapprove of Pence, the Plastic Drone, as well as the 38% who see plainly that Trump is the biggest obstacle to healthcare solutions. He’s the only one who can do the big things we so desperately need and about which he lies every day. He simply refuses to do the big things. We continue to need millions of kits to test us for coronavirus and the number of tests performed so far would be laughable, were it not tragic. Same for our need for ventilators, so,

Q. Why doesn’t Trump aggressively pursue testing?

A. More tests would show the reality that we have much higher infection numbers than we’ve recognized, which would be bad for Trump’s public image and approval ratings.

Q. Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act (DPA), which allows him to compel manufacturers to immediately shift production to the things we urgently need to fight this plague, but he hasn’t made them do that. Why not?

A. Because if he were to take action he’d have to accept responsibility for the terrible things that are happening and will continue to happen and he wouldn’t be able to blame others.

The most disappointing numbers on this chart are those for the news media. Only 44% of us approve of how those folks are handling this crisis, with 55% disapproving. If those saying they disapprove are Fox watchers and New York Post readers, that’s understandable. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble.

The news media is called The Fourth Estate because they are the watchdogs over the Constitutionally mandated 3 estates, the Executive, Congressional and Judiciary Branches of our government. If we collectively lose faith in our news media, there will never again be accountability in government and, unless you are a rich donor, you can expect to be ignored and even abused by government.

Further, Trump knows how to exploit distrust in our news media for his own benefit and can get away with homicidal negligence, as in the case of response to COVID-19. And he has used that distrust to undermine both our Constitution and national security, as in the cases of the Ukraine scandal and Russian subversion of our elections, with Trump even protecting the Russians from our intelligence agencies.

So, get real. We’re at risk, sick and dying because of Trump’s lousy federal action to deal with COVID-19. And our democracy is at risk and sick because of fake Fox news and Donald Trump’s lies.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

How We Became This Way


Reading time – 4:52; Viewing time – 9:15  .  .  .

This pandemic showed up and we citizens had two different takes on it. Some of us saw a clear and present danger, so we followed the directions of the medical professionals, the governors and the mayors to hunker down.

Others heard the claim of pandemic and were certain that it was liberal whiny-baby carping at best and a political ploy to undermine President Trump at worst. “What risk?” they asked. “Grow up!” they said.

Then the virus infiltrated the home ground of the deniers and at last most of us figured out that this thing is real. So, finally there seemed to be – dare I say it? – a consensus.

Writes McKay Coppins in The Atlantic,

“The consensus didn’t last long. President Trump, having apparently grown impatient with all the quarantines and lockdowns, began last week to call for a quick return to business as usual .  .  .  [T]he comments set off a familiar sequence—a Democratic backlash, a pile-on in the press, and a rush in MAGA-world to defend the president. As the coronavirus now emerges as another front in the culture war, social distancing has come to be viewed in some quarters as a political act—a way to signal which side you’re on.”

Social distancing – staying clear of people in order to avoid a deadly virus – is now a political act? Strangely, disappointingly, yes, it is. This anti-medical craziness is just another casualty of our national war on fact and reality that some are waging, and it’s a deadly casualty, too.

Lawrence Glickman, professor of history at Cornell University, asks,

“How did we get to the point where ministers, the president, many Republican politicians and a variety of media outlets are calling for people to risk death to save the economy?”

How, indeed!?!

I am of an age that places me firmly into the edge of the coronavirus bulls eye of those who will die if they contract the disease. Apparently, according to the aforementioned ministers, the president, many Republican politicians and a variety of media outlets, I should stop being such a wimp. I should be willing to risk death for the sake of the economy. So should all the older boomers. If you’re a WW II generation holdout, please just go die, because as Trump tweeted on March 22, “THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (BY FAR) THAN THE PROBLEM.” Read Glickman’s piece linked above. It’s an astonishingly clear reveal of the idiotic reality of misplaced, misused testosterone.

Dick Altschuler, 1943

My father risked death on each mission he flew in WW II. Everyone understood then that our millions of fighting men lived in that world of risk and danger and that anything else was suicidal for all of us. It seems that now some Americans, including some with a big megaphone and an even bigger mouth, see protection of the economy in a similar way. That means that they believe that older Americans are now expendable in pursuit of an election-worthy economy. That’s quite a homicidal opinion.

Every president has a bully pulpit, that big megaphone, the loudest voice. Just the job position gives heft to his words and persuasion power affecting millions. Dangerously, Trump has used his position to say and do things with lethal implication for innocent people. So, to be clear and to paraphrase Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, I am not expendable. I will not go quietly into that dark night for the sake of Trump’s investments or his reelection. Neither should anyone else, including those wearing MAGA hats.

How in the world did we ever allow ourselves to become this way?

BTW: Once in the ICU with ventilator tubes shoved down their throats, it’s hard to tell the difference between MAGA hat wearers and never-Trumpers.


Threats

I wrote here about possible long term threats caused by this coronavirus and the associated economic toll that would weaken this country. Now we find that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, has over one hundred sailors with coronavirus. They put in at Guam to get these people to a shore hospital for treatment and immediately overwhelmed it. The rest of the crew members still on board that ship have likely been exposed. That has to impact the ready condition of the ship. What does that say about the likely ready condition of any of our military, living as they do in close quarters?

By implication, we have to wonder what our world adversaries are thinking about as they see us weaker now. Let’s hope that people in the Pentagon are focused on that and that they’re making appropriate plans and taking appropriate action.

To be clear, something put us in this compromised condition and there’s an historical pattern.

George W. Bush and his National Security Advisor were warned repeatedly by our intelligence community that a major Islamist attack was coming. They were told that commercial airliners might be involved. They did nothing and 9/11 happened. Then that pattern repeated itself.

President Nero is at least 2 months behind in every positive action he might take to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because he was fully briefed by the NSA in January that the epidemiologists had the facts on this looming disaster, but he did nothing. He still isn’t forcing manufacturers to make critically needed PPE (personal protection equipment) for our medical workers or the test kits that are mandatory if we’re to get ahead of the virus by knowing who’s infectious before they infect others (click here for a report on that). He still hasn’t issued a national shelter-in-place order. Again, he was told in January that the coronavirus pandemic was imminent and he did nothing. Now thousands are dead.

How in the world did we ever allow ourselves to become this way? Oh wait  .  .  we didn’t elect either of them. Both Bush and Trump lost their elections.


Now, For a Welcome Bit of Hope

President Nero has stopped fiddling long enough to call out the reliable guys, our military.

The Army Corps of Engineers has put its shoulder to the wheel and is setting up hospitals all across the country. They’re fitting convention centers with beds and equipment, populating sports fields with tents, beds and HVAC hardware. They’re converting hotels and barracks and stadiums and everything else that can be used to care for our sick, hobbled and wounded. Gen. Todd Seminite and the Army Corps of Engineers are the right people for this assignment and they are at last on the job.

The Navy’s two massive hospital ships were hauled out of maintenance berths with lightning speed. The USNS Mercy is now docked in Los Angeles and the USNS Comfort is docked in New York, each bringing 1,000 surge capacity beds to care for non-coronavirus patients. That will free beds in full service hospitals to focus on those with the viral infection.

Once the Comfort was docked in New York, Rear Admiral John Mustin spoke to a welcoming public and finished his remarks with words to make us all stand a little taller. Watch the 4-minute video to the end. Then feel free to salute.

It is utterly astonishing what we can do when we make the decision to be our best.


Oh Wait  .  .  .  I Just Got It!

I figured out how we became this way.

Like millions of us, I’ve been trying to understand why Trump has been so dim-witted, so counter-productive, so consistently focused on himself as Americans are dying. Now I have an answer.

Trump spent 14 seasons on The Apprentice, where contestants were incrementally eliminated. That’s how the game was played.

He would sit in his big, expensive chair, puffing himself up and demeaning others, and always he was leading a parade of people competing with everyone else to win. He never did anything to help.

That sounds idiotically like hospitals now competing for ventilators and PPE. Trump could help, but he doesn’t because to him our hospitals are nothing more than the current set of contestants vying for survival.

HE THINKS THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS JUST ANOTHER ELIMINATION COMPETITION REALITY SHOW,

BECAUSE REALITY SHOWS ARE ALL HE KNOWS.

And that’s how we become this way.


Finally, the Quote of the Week
“We have this thing ass-backward. Putting the economy first instead of the people is what got us into this mess.  Fix the pandemic first. Then it will be possible for the economy to rebound.” – DZ
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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fact Checking And What It Means


Reading time – 3:51  .  .  .

In his presser of March 19 Donald Trump said things that are factually untrue. Sad to say, they have enormous impact. For example,

From STAT:

Trump ”  .  .  .  said a new drug for Covid-19, yet to be proved safe and effective, was now ‘approved or very close to approved.’ Another, also not approved for coronavirus, would be ‘available almost immediately,’ in part because using it is ‘not going to kill anybody.’

“Then, minutes later, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, took the dais in the White House briefing room and delicately walked back each one of Trump’s statements.”

So much for treatments for our COVID-19 sufferers.

Trump announced from that same podium that millions of hospital masks are on the way. When asked for specifics he barked, “We aren’t a shipping clerk.” He’s probably right about his mean-spirited shipping clerk blurt, because hospitals and clinics aren’t receiving shipments of masks. And they aren’t just running out of masks, they’re begging people to sew masks for them at home. Because of that, our healthcare workers are at heightened risk of becoming hospital patients themselves. So much for millions of hospital masks on the way. That’s the kind of harmful impact Trump’s lies have in this crisis.

Here’s the big one: He said that we knew nothing about COVID-19 until very recently because the Chinese hid the information.

FACT: The Chinese did hide information, which is why we didn’t hear about it in November 2019.

FACT: A World Health Organization epidemiologist sent warnings about COVID-19 on January 9; the CDC got the word out on January 6; the Canadians announced the coming of this pandemic in December 2019.

Everyone knew this was coming.

The result of this administration and President Fantasyland ignoring the international warnings and all the data is that WE ARE TWO MONTHS BEHIND IN TAKING ACTION. Whatever we’re doing in March could have been done in January and hospitals would have masks by now, and doctors might even have test kits.*

Well in advance of the arrival of this disease we knew plenty and increasingly knew more about it. We knew it was potentially deadly, that it spread from person to person in much the same manner as the flu and that if we didn’t take strong, positive action that very bad things would happen. And we knew that we had to protect our healthcare workers or it would become a double whammy of them becoming yet more sick people and fewer healthcare workers available to provide care.

We knew that significant respiratory ailments were part of the symptom package of this disease, so we knew we would need way more masks, respirators, ventilators, oxygen generating equipment and hospital beds. And we would need hundreds of millions of test kits. But as late as last Friday we were still getting magical thinking from President Fantasyland that this disease would suddenly, magically disappear. And the fictions keep on coming.

We’ve had the data from China and South Korea for a month and a half and from Italy since February. We know how this disease is passed, how fast this virus spreads and we know what these countries have done to tame it and the effects those actions have had. We’re not flying blind, except for the willful ignorance of this President and our federal government. And it’s not just the White House making things worse.

The House passed a bill on March 14 to help people affected by this disease with both cost coverage for testing (if the test kits ever show up) and for treatment (if that ever arrives) and economic help to offset reduced incomes. The Senate knew this bill was on the way, but Mitch McConnell put the Senate in recess so they couldn’t even have a look at it until 4 days later. In other words, they wasted half a week in protecting Americans.

The result of all of that is that thousands of people are infected and some will die who might never have contracted the disease at all, had we taken proper precautions early on.

Trump has spent his life in self-promotion and is using COVID-19 to do more of that. He is now calling himself a “wartime president,” perhaps for the cachet he think it bestows upon him. He always deflects and blames others, so he’s calling this a “foreign virus” and the “Chinese virus,” which are handy names to use so that people blame the Chinese and not him for the rapid spread of this disease.

Indeed, he always invokes an enemy, like caravans and Muslims and the press and immigrants and Democrats and Nancy Pelosi and more. That keeps his followers from focusing on his ineptitude and culpability and engenders undeserved sympathy. And now all his victim-hood, flights of fancy, finger pointing, magical thinking, and outright lying are producing only four things:  a more devastated economy; more fear; more sick Americans; and more dead Americans.

One of the key reasons people voted for Trump in 2016 is that he wasn’t a politician. This was at a time when the Congressional approval rating was just 13% (it’s only 21% now). We’d had it, or, in Bernie-speak, we were sick and tired of politics as usual. So, we brought in a circus barker. And we sure didn’t get a politician.

A politician would have known to get in front of this disease before it became a pandemic that would destroy political careers. In the process of covering his own ass, a politician in charge during this crisis would have covered ours.

But no such luck for us. We’re stuck with brainless magical thinking and quarantining ourselves, with millions laid off and disaster at the doorstep of every hospital in the country.

So, if this sounds like an angry post, you damn well know why.


P.S. #1: 20 – 25% of Americans don’t trust experts. What do you suppose that will mean for our national fight for heath measures to stop COVID-19 when these people are fed a continuous stream of hateful, anti-expert lies by the President?

P.S. #2: Click here to watch the Trump version of P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Freak Show On Earth.

* P.S. #3:

Q. Why doesn’t President Trump order the construction and supply of massive numbers of COVID-19 test kits?

A. Because we’d find out how dramatically worse our situation is, how many more people are sick and his numbers won’t look good. Always remember: It’s all about Trump looking good. The hell with sick people and their needs.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Brats and Beer


Reading time – 1:47  .  .  .

On March 8 I gave a heads up about what we can expect from Republicans in the upcoming general election campaign. I wrote,

The Democratic nominee can expect filth, lies, false associations, fear mongering, muck making, more lies, voter suppression, plus nonstop lies.

And it has already begun.

Do you remember the six (yes, SIX!) House investigations of Hillary Clinton over the Benghazi incident? And the other four? We wasted millions of dollars investigating an evil Republican fantasy. Every one of those gratuitous hearings found Hillary guilty of nothing – NOTHING! What the dishonest Republicans managed to do was to keep a very sad incident before the public for years, sliming Clinton with implied guilt. We don’t know if or how many voters were turned against Clinton by that wretched performance of deceit, but the Republicans are doing it again.

Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has been investigating Joe and Hunter Biden and their connections to Ukraine for months. They have been doing that in spite of the fact that the proper agencies have investigated and found absolutely nothing untoward was done by either Biden – NOTHING! But the Republican smear campaign is already rolling and in high gear.

What is clear as can be is that the Republican toadies for Trump want to keep the Biden-Ukraine connection in the public eye until, say, November 4 with the goal of smearing Joe Biden as they did Hillary. As abhorrent as that is, there is good news embedded in it.

Ron Johnson is running for re-election this fall. The good people of Wisconsin don’t like dishonesty and are already less than crazy about him (approval rating of 28%). They may very well send him packing. In Wisconsin, after all, they know when the beer has gone flat and the bratwurst is rotten.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v10.0


Reading time – 4:31; Viewing time – 7:49  .  .  .

First, some stories you may have missed because of the torrential downpour of coverage of the primary elections and COVID-19. And don’t miss the BREAKING GOOD NEWS at the end.

First Story: Drugs

It is notable that our government is at least putting on a show of wanting to help people hooked on opioids. What makes it notable is that this is the polar opposite of the way we dealt with people hooked on heroin, cocaine, crack and other drugs. Those were commonly (but mistakenly) believed to be primarily a devil in communities of color. Instead of helping those people, they got locked up. But today opioids are slamming white people, so now we go all goodie two-shoes and they get help. Like I said: notable.


Now, A Justice Update

It was easy to miss the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC chickening out Friday before last. Nevertheless, chicken out they did, by refusing to rule on the House of Representatives’ lawsuit to force Don McGahn to testify. They chicken-clucked that they don’t have jurisdiction to consider the case.

You may recall that McGahn was the White House Counsel who twice refused Trump’s order to fire Robert Mueller. He resigned his post over that conflict. Regardless, he was caught in the net of Donald Trump’s baseless, unconstitutional assertion of absolute immunity.

Trump ordered everyone who could so much as spell “Executive Branch” to refuse to testify before House committees. McGahn received a subpoena from the House, ordering him to testify in committee hearings. He defied that subpoena and obeyed He Who Just Makes Stuff Up In Order To Serve Himself and the House sued to force McGahn to show up and testify. The District Court declared the obvious, that there is no absolute immunity and ordered McGahn to testify. The appellate court is the one that chickened out.

By saying that they didn’t have jurisdiction to consider the case they abdicated a primary role of the judiciary. They left no way to resolve disputes between Congress and the Executive Branch. All that’s left is a showdown on the National Mall at high noon between the House Sergeant at Arms and the Secret Service. It’s insanity.

And how very cowardly a way that is to refuse to hold the President accountable. The DC Court of Appeals has enabled this President to vastly expand executive power all the way to authoritarianism, and that’s exactly where he wants to go.

Thanks a lot, D.C. Court of Appeals, for your cowardice in selling out our democracy and the Constitution. Because of your refusal to bring Trump’s stonewalling to justice, you are, indeed, chickens. Buck-buck.

Have you noticed how pervasive is cowardice when it’s time to stand up to this lawless President? It has now infected all three branches of government and has allowed the continuing destruction of Constitutional protections.

On to the Elections

Here Are Three Take-Aways From Super Tuesday

First, it is impossible to overstate the importance and impact of Rep James Clyburn’s (D-SC) endorsement of Joe Biden. His passion, his gravitas and his clarity drove thousands of South Carolinians to the polls to vote for Biden. That tsunami of a win influenced voters across the country, as did the endorsements of Biden from Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke. But it’s more than that.

It’s also the highly energized, impassioned hordes of Bernie supporters who didn’t bother to vote. Sure, they show up at rallies for the sugar high, but when it counts, they’re nowhere to be seen. Further, their volume is out of proportion to their numbers. So much for the dramatically increased turnout of young people Sanders has promised. That’s the second point.

Third, and most powerful, this is a Watergate moment.

By the time the break-in, the cover-up, the investigations and hearings were over and Richard Nixon had resigned in disgrace, our country was reeling from Watergate. Passions ran high, nearly every other issue had been put on a back burner and the country was in pain and exhausted. We needed a way to calm down. Enter Gerald Ford.

Ford had been a congressman from Michigan forever. Everyone knew him as a really nice guy, a decent guy, an honest guy, a count-on guy. His big dream was to one day become Speaker of the House. Then suddenly he was President of the United States following Watergate. Perhaps his pardoning of Nixon was his notion of a first step toward calming the nation. Regardless, his calm voice was what the nation needed. But because he was tainted by association with the Watergate scandal, it wasn’t enough.

So, in 1976 we elected a preacher-style peanut farmer. Electing Jimmy Carter President was a complete divorce from everything Watergate and was what the nation most needed. We’re in that kind of moment now.

Beyond the well-earned anger over the destruction of so much of what we hold dear and our horror over the ongoing violation of our values, beyond a desire to set all of that right, we have a hunger for order to replace the chaos. We want an end to the vile language and the abhorrent behavior. We’d like to feel safe and just breathe normally once more.

And that is why so many people voted last Tuesday for Joe Biden instead of pugnacious Bernie Sanders. It wasn’t about policies at all.*

And Finally, The General Election

From this President, his supporters, SuperPACs promoting Trump, SuperPACs denigrating the Democratic nominee, the 501-c4s, slimy Republican operatives, foreign countries’ infiltration and infestation of social media to subvert our election, attempts to misuse parts of government, like false criminal investigations and all the rest  .  .  .

.  .  .  the Democratic nominee can expect filth, lies, false associations, fear mongering, muck making, more lies, voter suppression, plus nonstop lies.

The Democratic candidate will have to stand up to all that and more. He will continually have to focus the election to be a referendum on Trump, his lies, betrayals, incompetencies, his law breaking, his imperiling of our national security and his destruction of our democracy. The candidate must not become defensive or inappropriately angry as lies are spread about him, lies about his record, his qualifications, lies accusing him of illegal acts and personal lies designed to gouge out his heart. He’ll require a backbone of steel to stay focused on attacking Trump again and again. There will be no rest until November 4.

Oddly, people are fighting to get that job. Now, though, it’s our turn.

People are standing in line for up to seven hours to vote in their primaries. The wait is largely because of Republican voter suppression caused by the closing of so many polling places. Good on those voters for their fortitude and their insistence on doing the right thing in the face of Republican voter suppression.

When it’s your turn to vote in your primary and in the general election, get in line and stay in line, no matter how long it takes.

Do it to honor those who went before you, who stood in line all day to do a most American thing. Do it for yourself. Do it for your country.

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Quote of the Week

Elizabeth Warren was “incredibly competent, pragmatic, intelligent and well-spoken — in other words, she never had a chance.” Seth Meyers


BREAKING GOOD NEWS!

Thanks to the untiring work of the good foiks at www.Represent.US, the Virginia state legislature has put on the November ballot a proposed amendment to END GERRYMANDERING. The citizens of Virginia will at last have the opportunity to stop this politically manipulative practice that effectively robs the people of fair representation. Quoting Joe Biden as he described to Barack Obama the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, “This is a BFD.”

Click the pic to the left to have a look at the FaceBook page detailing this wonderful achievement. As well, go to their website and watch the video narrated by Michael Douglas at the top. And have a look at this most informative video Jennifer Lawrence narrates. I promise you’ll learn plenty

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* See Bret Stevens’ column here. Many thanks to J.C. for pointing it out.

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s The Difference?


Reading time – 1:59  .  .  .

Following Amy Klobuchar’s announcement that she was dropping from the presidential nomination race and indicated that she intends to endorse Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders was asked for his reaction.

Reporter’s Question:

Are you concerned about the moderates consolidating behind Joe Biden?

Bernie Sanders:

Look, it is no secret. I mean, the Washington Post has 16 articles a day on this. That there is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That’s not a secret to anybody in this room.  The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.

His answer gives us insight into Sanders, perhaps in ways he did not intend. Here are three points:

  1. He talked about himself in the third person. It’s a demagogue’s self-serving construct used to promote himself, this time posing as a poor victim. Apparently, we’re supposed to feel sorry for him.
  2. He cites imagined action by “the corporate establishment” and “the political establishment” as though there is an agreed definition of who “they” are and what “they” are doing. His claim that “they” will “do everything” is suggestive that those “others” will cheat, lie and do whatever bad stuff “they” would do, all this without any evidence whatsoever.
  3. He claims (without evidence) that “they” are “really getting nervous because working people are standing up.” In that one claim he makes up motivation out of nothing. He makes it sound like efforts to stop Bernie are the same as efforts to suppress working people, all this without evidence. In addition, he makes “working people” victims, promoting an us-versus-them construct.

What is scary about all this is these are exactly the things that Donald Trump does all the time.

We’ve complained about and been sickened by the divisiveness Trump creates and the painting of some as hocus-pocus enemies, like “fake news” and the “deep state,” whatever that is.

We’ve become weary of the demonizing of “others” that separates us, too, yet here’s Bernie, the front runner for Democrats, and he’s just as manipulative as Trump.

Pete Buttigieg was right at the last debate, saying that a battle between Sanders and Trump would be nothing but chaos. Worse, regardless of who would win such a contest, our norms, our decency and our democracy would be torn down.

Far right or far left – is there a difference to us which extremism we dump on ourselves?

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v9.0


Reading time – 3:19  .  .  .

I haven’t done the research, so I don’t know if William Barr is the most morally corrupt, Constitution flaunting Attorney General we’ve ever had, but surely he’s a strong contender for the title.  How proud his mother must be.

Lest we forget, Roger Stone was convicted on seven (7) felony counts, including witness tampering (intimidation) of Randy Credico. Credico recently said, “If Stone goes to jail I’m a walking dead man.” That is the type and the path of justice preferred by Donald Trump and William Barr. And this is just one case they want to tamper with. There are others, including the sentencing of double-dealing National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

A couple thousand former judges have lodged their vehement disapproval of Barr interceding in Justice Department cases in order to bend things to Trump’s benefit. We have to assume that their condemnation will mean nothing more to Trump than another opportunity for him to brat-call opponents some carefully selected scandalous names and claim he’s a victim. On the other hand, their prodding might have a significant impact on Barr.

Click me

I don’t imagine Barr will cave to pressure from the legal community to step down from his post; he doesn’t have sufficient integrity to do that. However, if the American Bar Association were to disbar him (can they do that?) or censure him for his lying and attempts to manipulate justice, that might do the trick. Perhaps the ABA will align with all those judges and take such a stand. We can only hope.

Actually, we can do more than hope. We can send the ABA our demands that they disbar or censure William Barr immediately. Click the ABA logo link above and make your voice heard.


Click me

I told you in a recent post that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s book Running Against the Devil and promised a report, so here are a few things about it:

  1. This book is THE PLAYBOOK for Democrats in 2020. This race is not about education, economics, healthcare or foreign affairs: if we want to evict Trump and begin to repair all the damage he’s done to our country, then this race is entirely a campaign against Trump, and for all the reasons you already know and likely some others, too.
  2. My friend Sheila Markin writes a fine political blog and you must subscribe to it. Her recent post is focused on Wilson’s book and her review will tell you much of what you need to know. After reading her comments, buy and read Wilson’s book for yourself.
  3. Nominating a socialist is like shooting yourself in the head just before getting into a street fight with the bad guys. Sadly, that’s probably true if the nominee is a gay man. Use your imagination to see the oppo ads (“In the Lincoln bedroom?!!!”). You’re right: it isn’t fair. More to the point, it just won’t play well for a great many otherwise persuadable voters and will give the election to Trump.
  4. Democrats, stop the circular firing squad. Stop doing Donald Trump’s work for him. Stop trying to lose this election.

The White-Collar-Criminal Pardoner-In-Chief just commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the 40th governor of Illinois. Yes, it’s true that we in Illinois have a long and proud tradition of sending our governors to jail, but this one is particularly interesting. I promise that the story ties back to Donald Trump’s insecurity and temper tantrums, despite the fact that Blagojevich was sent away in 2009.

He was convicted of soliciting bribes for political appointments, including trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after Obama moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Quoting Blagojevich,

“I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f***in’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”

There are plenty more Blagojevich potty-mouth quotes like that. Makes all we Illinoisans proud. Here’s how that connects to today.

The U.S. Attorney who vigorously and successfully prosecuted Blagojevich is Patrick Fitzgerald, now the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald is a long time good friend of (drum roll, please) James Comey, former head of the F.B.I. and perpetual neurotic response generator in the psyche of Donald Trump. Trump commuted Blagojevich’s sentence yesterday, cutting short his prison time by 6 years.

You don’t suppose that in doing so that Trump was trying to stick it to Comey, do you? I mean, Trump can’t manage to smear Comey with an investigation and indictment, so all that’s left to Trump is name calling and screwing Comey’s friend by commuting slime ball Rod Blagojevich’s well deserved prison sentence.

Please pass a barf bag.

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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