Manipulation

The No Surprises Taliban


It didn’t start with imaginary WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). Our national war of insanity began years earlier.

The Supreme Court decision following the 2000 election was led by Republican Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who stopped the vote count in Florida. He disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters and gave the election and the presidency to the candidate who actually lost the state by 537 votes and who would have come in second in the Electoral College vote had all Florida votes been counted.

That got us the silver spoon cowboy, an illegitimate president. He was the same guy who managed to avoid service in Viet Nam by joining the Texas Air National Guard. He spent his active duty having a good time flying jets around Texas. Nobody ever shot at him, so he didn’t know the first thing about the horrors of combat. He later declare that he wanted “to be a wartime president,” as though war s just a toy for his self-aggrandizement.

I don’t recall Bush ever expressing a believable concern for those who would prosecute his wars, leaving us to speculate that he saw it like a movie, where everyone goes home after a day’s shoot or like a video game and it’s just pretend. But it doesn’t work that way in real wars.

He went on to ignore warnings of 9/11 and then, having failed that national security test, declared he’d get the varmint what done us wrong.

After 9/11 the CIA had Osama bin Laden bottled up in the caves at Tora Bora and asked for additional resources to smoke him out, but Bush refused. The Taliban offered to arrest bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S., but once again Bush refused. Instead, he lied to Congress and the American people. He asked for and received the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which amounted to Congress ducking its Constitutional responsibility regarding declaring war. They chickened out and gave that power to Bush, exactly as the Founders DID NOT intend, because they knew full well what such power could lead to.

Bush got his authority and sent American troops to invade Afghanistan to capture or kill bin Laden and his band of terrorists. He managed to disrupt al Qaeda, but never got bin Laden. Bush could have ended the invasion then, but, of course, he didn’t.

The goal in Afghanistan was changed to eliminating the Taliban, not bin Laden. Bush failed at that, too. Later the goal of that war was to set up a central government and modern democracy – nation building – something we had failed at again and again elsewhere. We used to say that the goalposts kept getting moved, but it’s probably more likely that there never were any goalposts.

A strong central government and democracy are things the Afghans had never had, didn’t understand and were culturally unable to accept, so there was never even a remote possibility of creating a modern democracy in that place where empires go to die. All the world knew that except Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. But the failure of that unwinnable war is what all the lies about that war and the one in Iraq, the hypocritical Mission Accomplished banner and all the pseudo-patriotic chest thumping got us. There was just war so that a cowboy could be a wartime president.

The one positive outcome of the Viet Nam war was Colin Powell’s Powell Doctrine. According to the doctrine, all of these questions must be answered in the affirmative before going off to war.

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Click me for the story

Decide for yourself whether any thought was given to any of those questions before sending our military into harm’s way.

We spent 20 years, thousands of American lives, trillions of American dollars and an unknowable number of Afghan lives pursuing that no-goalpost war. We were lied to for 20 years about what was really going on there, as we refused to heed the obvious and painful lessons from our debacle in Viet Nam.

To be clear, we got bin Laden, but that had nothing to do with our war in Afghanistan.

A year and a half ago Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that said that we would leave Afghanistan. All the Taliban had to do was to promise to not attack U.S. troops as they depart and not allow al Qaeda or other extremist groups to operate in Taliban controlled territory.

Trump left the Afghan government completely out of the discussions and kept them out of the deal. The message to the Afghan security forces was clear: the Taliban now had tacit approval from the U.S. government to take over the country. Plus the Taliban almost immediately began to assassinate Afghan provincial leaders.

As bad, we have absolutely no way to ensure the Taliban won’t let al Qaeda ramp up again in Afghanistan, leaving us exactly where we were on September 10, 2001. The common notion among our talking heads and many politicians seems to be that this end was unforeseeable.

Nonsense!
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We saw this exact thing happen in Viet Nam, another unwinnable war and failed nation building, and there was yet more foreseeable evidence.

The speed that the Taliban would retake that country was clear from the moment Trump announced we’d be out by May 2021. Were you in the Afghan military, what would you do, as leaders of province after province cut deals with the Taliban or just cut and ran? The central government dissolved in hours and fighters trained by us shed their military garb, hoping to look like civilians. The Taliban overran what was left of the Afghan security forces and secured all the major cities in that country in just days.

As of this writing the process of evacuation continues. We can hope that we didn’t manage to drag feet long enough to avoid keeping our word to those to whom we pledged our undying loyalty and our sacred promise of protection. The fate of any Afghan who collaborated in any way with western forces, be they interpreters, workers with NGO agencies or anything else will be death. The fate of women who had the audacity to become educated or who educated their daughters will be cruel, dehumanizing and eventually lethal.

Survivors will be relegated to a medieval life in the tribal feudalism the area has always known. Its main export will still be opium. In the end our efforts will have accomplished nothing but death and destruction. We knew all of this because that is what the Taliban did in the 1990s before we showed up to make war under false pretenses.

So, you can stop listening to anyone who says that the disaster at the end of our 20-year invasion and occupation of that country was unforeseeable. Anyone with two eyes and a memory has known all along that this is exactly what would happen. The Taliban holds no surprises

Once again, the only surprise is our boundless and willful ignorance.

Something Special For Our Partisan Critics

This is from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

Some of the same people worrying about the slowness of our evacuation of our Afghan allies voted just last month against providing more visas for them, and others seemed to worry very little about our utter abandonment of our Kurdish allies when we withdrew from northern Syria in 2019. And those worrying about democracy in Afghanistan seem to be largely unconcerned about protecting voting rights here at home.

Most notably to me, some of the same people who are now focusing on keeping troops in Afghanistan to protect Americans seem uninterested in stopping the spread of a disease that has already killed more than 620,000 of us and that is, once again, raging.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

This is a proud JaxPolitix moment, as we have officially received our first vile, disgusting and politically inane troll message.

To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s Going On?


First, Something Personal

Parkinson’s Disease is a miserable critter. It strikes famous people like Michael J. Fox, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond and it hits we little folk as well. Nobody knows what causes it, so nobody knows how to prevent it. It’s progressive (it gets worse over time), so all that can be done now for those stricken with Parkinson’s is to manage symptoms. There’s no cure – yet.

There are ongoing medical trials and much research happening, so hope continues, The research and trials take a long time and are very expensive. That’s why son Scott and Wendy and the boys have dedicated their hike of the John Muir Trail this month to raising money for the cause. If you click on their picture you’ll find a donation page for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Your joining in this battle in any amount will be greatly appreciated by my family, others who suffer from this disease now and for the millions in the future who will have more hope because of your help. Thanks.

And please pass this along to folks you know. Post on FB, Twitter  .  .  .  you get the idea.

Kudos to all who make the extra effort to raise funds for worthy causes. We’re way proud of this particular extraordinary help-the-cause people. You rock, kids!

Now, On To What’s Going On

I reported last Wednesday about the State of Texas proudly committing itself to denial of facts and reality and ever more firmly embracing Texas myths. The governor himself tweeted proudly that Texas children should be taught that those who died at the Alamo are heroes. No facts need be presented to impressionable minds about the real motivation of these men to fight. We wouldn’t want them to learn that Mexico prohibited slavery, so the actual (not mythical) truth about the battle at the Alamo was that Texas independence from Mexico meant free labor in Texas cotton fields.

And that’s why Texans wanted independence from Mexico. Now I get it!

But Governor Greg Abbott doesn’t want Texas school children to get it, so he’s stifling education. Pay no attention to the fact that those heroes were only heroes to slave owners. Ignore that this is the state that took two extra years to tell its slaves that they were free. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The governor also doesn’t want to allow today’s Texans to be free. He’s promised to arrest all the Democratic state legislators who left Texas to prevent a vote on his draconian voter suppression laws. There is no law that those Democrats have violated by leaving the state, but Abbott wants to arrest them anyway. He intends to incarcerate them in the state Capitol Building until the end of this special session of the legislature.

And he did more.

Abbott dictatorially vetoed funding for the legislature the first time Democrats fled his inquisition to prevent his voter suppression from becoming law. That stiffing of legislators is being challenged in court, but what can’t be challenged is that Abbott is a dictator wannabe. He thinks he’s a candidate for the presidency in 2024. If so, he’s heading the Anti-Democracy ticket.

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This was part of the TN Department Of Health Covid vaccine promotion. It’s gone now.

“The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but for all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers,” reports the Tennessean. The geniuses in the state legislature are also stopping all Covid-19 vaccine events on school property. Plus they’re ending mailed vaccination reminders to teens. All that and only 38% of Tennesseans have been vaccinated. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, and they also fired Michelle Fiscus, the state’s top vaccination official. The hollow heads in Nashville are even talking about eliminating the state Department of Health altogether. Yes, really.

Vaccine hostility at CPAC, a brain-free hate fest. Click me.

Halting outreach for ALL vaccines means that the State of Tennessee is now allowing – even encouraging – the elimination of vaccines for measles, chicken pox, smallpox, hepatitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, HPV  and more. Who cares about epidemics that maim and kill children? Apparently, not the Republicans in the Tennessee state house and in the governor’s mansion.*

Perhaps they think we should revert to the medicine practices of hundreds of years ago, like leeches, blood letting, driving out evil spirits and purification by fire. Remember, this is the state that refused to allow children to be taught evolution. It looks like they’re on the way back there again. Maybe they can burn some witches and thereby Make America Great Again.

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As reported last Wednesday, the new members of the library board in Niles, IL want to cut back hours, programs and pay for librarians by 23%. I guess the Enlightenment is so far back in our rear view mirror that we can now ignore its teachings and proudly go back to mass ignorance. Maybe the new library trustees will burn books and smash printing presses. Then they can cut the library budget by 100%.

As said about Nazis by Dr. Jones, Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,Goose stepping morons.”

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Tying It Together

All of this is being led by Republicans, who seem to be engaged in a frantic race for us to become mentally medieval. They are appealing to our most base animal instincts and would dumb us down to pounding drums in the forest. At the same time, they are scrambling for power in the most dishonest, anti-democracy ways possible. Here’s what happens when we put those two things together.

We get minority rule by autocrats – despots – dictators – leading an ignorant, uniformed public that can be manipulated into anything. We get theocracy and all its vile perversions, cruelties and suppression and a complete elimination of freedom. There has never been a theocracy that did not devolve into that and we have no reason to believe anything different will happen if the bible thumping, chest pounding, democracy smashing Republicans get their way.

Be clear that this isn’t about conservatism. There is nothing that today’s Republicans are doing that is even remotely conservative. They are anti-democracy radicals.

The actions in Texas and Tennessee and Niles, as well as children having been ripped from the arms of their parents at our southern border by the prior administration look cruel because they are, but John Pavlovitz cautions us that cruelty isn’t the point. Power is. And when some are grabbing and hoarding power, others are losing power. Others like us. Read David Frum’s Atlantic essay, There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is becoming.

The Founders didn’t have in mind that We the People should be ignorant peons enslaved by a cruel autocrat. Those conditions are exactly what led to our revolution. I sure as hell know those conditions are not what I have in mind for us and our country.

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* I recently had a nightmare about Nazis. Being an early Boomer I was raised in the aftermath of WW II when Nazi atrocities, the capture of Adolph Eichmann and so much more were commonly discussed. It’s likely I’m not alone in occasional recollections or even nightmares of those things. When I awoke I wondered if people born, say, 20 years after me – the late Boomers and those born after them – have such dreams. It’s probable they have no memories of talk of Nazi terror during their childhoods.

That’s a kid’s head poking out of that machine – an “iron lung”. It’s doing his breathing for him, because he can’t breath on his own. This was a common sight in the 1950s during that awful polio epidemic. I wonder if that kid survived.

Then my head scratching latched onto the Tennessee Republicans and their actions to cripple medical protection for children. I’m guessing that these politicians are young enough to have no memory of children in iron lung machines, measles epidemics, whooping cough ravaging the nation and the rest. Perhaps the same can be said for our Covid-19 vaccination refusers who simply refuse to understand.

They can “OK, Boomer” all they want, but there is so much being done in our country that suggests that we’ve lost individual and collective memory of enormous suffering and death. It seems that all that is left is a knee-jerk reaction to any public policy that contacts rugged individual freedom. And it seems they now want to force their automatic rejections onto helpless others – children.

Very strange. And very dangerous.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

We’re A Very Entertaining Species & BHB


Here’s a Fourth of July message, because this is how we define ourselves. This is how we do things. This is how we plan for the future. Be advised that we can be a very entertaining species.

Read this from Wikipedia:

The oil depletion allowance in American (US) tax law is an allowance claimable by anyone with an economic interest in a mineral deposit or standing timber.[1] The principle is that the asset is a capital investment that is a wasting asset, and therefore depreciation can reasonably be offset (effectively as a capital loss) against income.

The oil depletion allowance has been subject of interest, because of the relationship of big oil with the US government, and because one method (percentage depletion) of claiming the allowance makes it possible to write off more than the whole capital cost of the asset.[2][emphasis mine]

The oil depletion allowance applies to most extraction commodities – anything pulled from the Earth, like fossil fuels. The allowance is basically a subsidy to those industries and to those who profit from them.

Once we’ve sucked all the oil out of the ground it’s gone. We don’t have another 60 million years to wait for more supply. So we pretzeled our tax code to give the industry billions of dollars in tax reductions so the oil barons would have a soft landing when all the holes are dry a long, long time from now. We surely wouldn’t want to burden them with the awful mental labor of figuring out what’s next. They just want to go on cashing their checks.

It was a simple jump to taxing the profits of the oil companies – income tax – to make governments beholden to the revenues they received from Big Oil, Coal and Gas. That made politicians and the public protective of the fossil fuel industry because of all the services they funded. It also relieved our leaders of that same burden, the terrible entrepreneurial mental labor of figuring out what’s next. They, too, just want to go on cashing their checks.

So, congratulations to all of us for setting ourselves up for sclerotic brain functioning about what comes next. We aren’t in immediate danger of running out of fossil fuels. But we are in danger of running out of a survivable place to live, because we’re cooking ourselves in our own juice, even as we defend the source of what’s cooking us. It’s good for individuals and local, state and federal revenues to protect the status quo. Pay no attention to the people dying of heat in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, or the water reservoirs going dry and agricultural fields drying up.

This is just another chapter in the Book of Reality Denial. Like most of the other chapters, you can get to the root of the foolishness by following the directive of Deep Throat: Follow the money.

We humans can be bought at such a low price. Every day there’s a blue light special in aisle seven and we stampede to it, heedless of our own coughing and wheezing. And that’s the BHB – Basic Human Behavior* – we have to overcome if we’re to save ourselves, because the Oil Depletion Allowance won’t grow food, provide water, stop mega storms or un-foul our air.

Be sure to wave your flag at your town’s Fourth of July parade (if it isn’t cancelled due to the pandemic). Watch for my traditional red, white and blue flag shirt as you pass by.

And wake up to the reality that a few more bucks in our pockets at both individual and governmental levels will be worth nothing if we’re scratching for existence. It’s time for us to see red, white and blue in a new way so that those colors will still be flying for our children and grandchildren.

Because ready or not, what’s next is coming.

If you’d like to have a look at our century-long subsidizing of and our squishy love affair with Big Oil, have a look at this piece from Mother Jones.

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* BHB – Basic Human Behavior

Be clear that we humans have a nearly infinite capacity for self-delusion. Even today we see Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) pledging to complete Trump’s border wall, at least in Texas, and he’s pledged $250 million of Texas tax payers’ money to do it. I guess Mexico just isn’t going to pony up any cash for a wall and, clearly, Abbott’s paltry fund won’t buy much wall, so he’s soliciting private donations. Abbott received $459,000 from duped donors in just a week. To learn why they’re duped, take this math test:

Trump’s border “wall” – sometimes it’s just a fence – cost over $22 million per mile. This was accomplished through the magic of Trump’s no-bid contracts awarded to his donor friends.

The Texas-Mexico border is 1,200 miles long.

How much would it cost to construct Gov. Abbott’s border wall?

Hint: $26,400,000,000

.

So, no, Gov. Abbott is not going to build that wall. You can be confident that the money he collects will go to the governor’s favorite campaign fund. And don’t be surprised if all that gets erected along the border is a weather beaten post with a bullet-riddled stop sign.

Politicians will fund raise on anything that tweaks donors. Stoking fear of immigrants has repeatedly proven to be an excellent stimulus for the emptying of citizens’ wallets into politicians’ piggy banks, exactly what Abbott is doing right now. Our BHB – Basic Human Behavior – allows us to be duped in this way over and over. And it gets even crazier than that.

Somehow Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem thinks it makes sense for her to send South Dakota National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. Yes, seriously.

And Tennessee (not South Dakota) billionaire megadonor Willis Johnson has pledged to fund Noem’s spectacle of trying to look patriotic. Yes, seriously.

VSQ (Very Serious Question): What do you suppose megadonor Johnson expects to get back as a return on his investment in Noem? Hint: Noem thinks she’s a 2024 presidential candidate and Johnson might want to be on Noem’s favorite donor list to get whatever it is he wants. He’s just another grifter and we allow ourselves to get duped by the megadonor 2-step nearly every time.

Click me

Like I said, we’re a very entertaining species.

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More BHB

We Americans are making great progress in refusing vaccines. And we’re doing it just in time for the arrival of the Delta variant which is 140 times more contagious than the “that’s so 2020” Covid-19. Here’s a great summary.

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Chutes & Ladders, Knives & Guns and Karma


Most of us are taught to play by the rules from a very young age because human relationships and even civilizations require rules in order to prevent chaos and the breakdown of society. So we play Chutes and Ladders pretty much according to the rules.

Robert Frost said it best:

Good fences make good neighbors.

So we make sure that we agree about the fences, just as we agree on the rules of Chutes and Ladders.

But now we have a national problem: one side isn’t honoring the fences. It isn’t playing by the rules. It’s playing with wanton disregard for order, truth and the law. It is actively breaking down society. That is what bullies and insurrectionists do. That is what “all about me” types do. They play dirty. They cheat. They act without regard for others. They throw sand in the sand box, to invoke yet another metaphor, so they can own it.

When Democrats play by the rules, honor the fences and don’t throw sand they keep themselves at a very dangerous disadvantage. As Nicolle Wallace put it, “Democrats continue to bring a knife to a gun fight.” Wallace is right.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has repeatedly vowed to block all Biden initiatives – he has 100% focus on that. Sadly, that leaves no focus for America and the American people. His message could not be plainer: “We want all the power, so screw you, We the People.”

And Republicans are pleased to do any and everything to make that happen.

They lie, claiming a stolen election.

They enable and lie about insurrection.

They run a spy ring to sabotage our electoral processes.

They project their wrongdoings on Democrats.

They create and encourage conspiracy thinking to stoke fear and hatred.

They filibuster nearly everything.

They enact onerous, unconstitutional laws to prevent those likely to vote for Democrats from voting.

They put partisan conspiracy nut cases in charge of elections.

They enact laws to enable Republicans to overturn the will of the people.

They remove hundreds of thousands of voters from state voting registers.

Those are just some of the dishonoring of fences and throwing of sand – the “guns” – Republicans are firing in this gun fight.

Democrats respond by saying things like, “That’s awful,” and somebody gives a speech from the well of the Senate that nobody hears. That’s the knife Democrats bring to this gun fight. It’s way past time for Democrats to arm themselves properly.

Democrats need to get serious about messaging that will change the minds of the American people. We need talking heads to be everywhere calling out Republican lies and power grabs. We need elected Democrats and pundits telling Americans that Republicans don’t care about We the People and that all they care about is stealing all the power and money for themselves  We need bumper stickers that say:

“Republicans are picking your pocket and breaking your legs.”

“How do you like being lied to by Republicans?”

“Republicans are coming for you next.”

“If you like being a peon, you’ll love Republican rule.”

“You can’t love America and vote Republican.”

“Republicans are why you can’t get what you want.”

“Rs want your rights, so we stand and fight.”

We need talkers pointing fingers at cameras and scaring the hell out of voters by telling them the truth about the horrible dystopian future the Republicans are creating. Failure to fully engage, all rhetorical guns blazing, will lead to nothing less than vigilante terrorist murders and the end of democracy.

So, pass this along to your senators, representative and elected state officials. Tell them to stop playing nice, to put some starch into their spines and go on the offensive. This is not a contest against an opponent in a board game. This is a rhetorical and legislative gun fight against a well armed enemy of the We the People. Lock and load.

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A New Balance

Vaccine refusers have their reasons. Some of those reasons might even be rational and based on something real on planet Earth. I can’t think of any, but let’s assume that not everyone who refuses to be vaccinated is a conspiracy nut.

My guess, though, is that most believe in some sort of conspiracy, like the Bill Gates nanobots-in-vaccines believers and the autism wailers. My favorites, though, are the freedom screamers, the people who are certain that having to wear a mask is a tyrannical government’s abridgement of their freedom. They believe there’s no pandemic, that COVID is a hoax and it’s no worse than “strenuous flu,” as a mentally ill former president described it.

COVID doesn’t care if you’re in New York City or rural Missouri. All that’s required to contract the disease is to be un-vaccinated and in close proximity to an infected person who is still able to exhale on his/her own. And yes, that happens even in rural Missouri. Just ask the people in rural South Dakota what happened last winter. Oh, wait – you can’t do that because so many of them are dead.

Last winter South Dakota had the highest rate of death from COVID in the world. “Who needs a mask?” they said. The rest of us know the answer to that question, but the governor of SD still proudly stands for the right to contract COVID and die. And the face mask and vaccine refusing mania has become yet more perilous, as the Delta and Delta Plus COVID variants have made their way into the lungs of lots of Americans.

What’s significant about these variants is how much faster and efficiently they spread to others’ lungs and that they are far more deadly than yesterday’s COVID-19. Let’s consider what that might mean.

I bet that a huge percentage of vaccine refusers are rugged individuals and Trump supporters. Imagine what would happen if tens or hundreds of thousands of them manage to get themselves infected with the new ultra-deadly COVID variants. Without their being vaccinated and with anti-viral drugs largely ineffective in people with these variants, the die off this winter will be ghastly.

Here’s the Machiavellian craziness of it all: That die off might be great enough to counter-balance the Republican purging of black, brown and young people from voting rolls in swing states.

Not hoping for any such thing, but karma always has its way.

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Commissar DeSantis announcing re-education camps for Florida students and teachers. Click me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not DeSantis’ mother – but the words fit. This was originally targeted at unruly airline passengers. I’m aiming it at an unruly governor.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Legislation Republicans Will Champion – The KBL Act


It seems so obvious that I just don’t understand why no member of Congress and no state legislature officials have proposed this. It comports perfectly with today’s Republican Party and its policy of having no policy other than obstructing all progress and stoking cultural wars to aggregate power for itself at the risk of our democracy. They find unconstitutional laws to be very attractive, so I have one for them. First, the substantiation for it.

It has yet to be judicially established that Republican members of Congress and/or their staffs took January 6 insurrectionists on tours of the Capitol Building – scouting missions – on January 5. However, other members of Congress witnessed these “case the joint” expeditions, so we can safely believe they occurred. These reconnaissance operations were critical to the insurrectionists if they were to have a chance of finding Mike Pence in order to hang him and to find Nancy Pelosi in order to murder her. That’s wrong.

After the bloody destruction and vile befoulment of our most symbolic building happened, the confirmation of the Elector’s votes took place, as proscribed by the Constitution. But even after the insurrection that put the lives of all members of Congress and their staff members in peril, 8 senators and 140 congressmen/women voted to reject the will of We the People. They succumbed in subservience to the Jackass-In-Chief, who constantly brayed lies about election fraud. Only a single example of voting fraud could be found. It was a guy in Pennsylvania who tried to cast his dead mother’s vote for Trump. That near-total lack of evidence of fraud (one in 160,000,000 votes cast = 0.0000006%) is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. Still, the 148 cowards voted to undermine our democracy. That’s wrong.

Those 148 legislators and more also blocked the formation of a special commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Some of these investigation refusers are the same people who were insane fanatics for investigating the Benghazi tragedy TEN TIMES OVER! But this time, when our entire democracy was threatened, they refused to look even once. Whatever their reasons (feel free to suggest your views on that), they voted to continue their attack on the Constitution. That’s wrong.

Captain No

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has done to Biden what he did to Obama: he vowed to block any and all things promoted by the President and has pretty much made good on his obstructionist promise. That subverts the will of the people and threatens our democracy. That’s wrong.

Our Senators and Congressmen/women have said some dazzlingly, on-the-face-of-it blatantly false things. Call them stupid, if you want, for saying that the January 6 insurrectionists were ordinary tourists visiting the Capitol Building (on a day when it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic), but they saw what you saw and they aren’t stupid. What they are is dishonest and cowardly. That’s wrong.

Republican state houses and Republican governors are stampeding their voting suppression laws through their legislatures to make sure that they can maintain minority rule. They’re even attacking their own structure and processes in an effort to remove impartial election officials and replace them with Republican/QAnon operatives. That’s wrong.

That’s a lot of wrong going on and defeating that at the voting booth level will take a very long time. Actually, it may be impossible to reverse the damage. We must do something far more expeditious, so I propose my unconstitutional act of democracy restoration and protection. Its very unconstitutionality should be like mother’s milk to Republicans.

The Kibosh Illegal Lying Liars Babbling In Government and Legislatures Idiotically Eliminating Self-government
(“Kill Big Lies” ) Act

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Provisions of This Act

Section 1: It shall be illegal to promote small or big lies whenever the aim is to undermine our democratic processes and/or our democracy.

Section 2: All federally elected and appointed officials, as well as all their staff members shall be held personally responsible for any and all harm to persons and/or property caused directly or indirectly by their efforts to aid or abet insurrectionists or democracy threatening actors. Liability shall be determined based on the stupidity of statements uttered, actions taken and obstructions attempted. Penalties shall be doubled for obviously self-contradictory claims.

Section 3: All state level attempts to prevent or limit voting shall result in the immediate removal from office of perpetrators, be they legislative, executive or judicial, and the permanent removal of voting rights from them. In addition, they will be required to deliver pizza and bottled water to voters waiting in line to vote.

Penalties for Violation

Section 4: All violations of this law shall be deemed a felony with penalties of not less than 1 year nor more than 112 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines. In addition, violators of any provision of this Act shall immediately be placed in stocks in the public square of the municipality where they live, to be ridiculed by the citizens as the laughing stocks that they are. This public humiliation shall continue for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 112 years.

Attempts to Avoid Compliance With This Act and Penalties

Section 5: No state shall be allowed to declare a states rights objection to this federal law. Each and every attempt to do so shall cause the proscribed penalty to be doubled and one Republican congressperson or senator of that state per attempt shall be removed from office. If, due to prior penalties, there are no longer any federal representatives or senators from a state which has again violated this provision, the penalties shall shift first to the governor of said state, then sequentially to members of the state legislature. Should all of those have been removed from office for their attempts to violate or circumvent this law, random registered Republican voters in the state will be selected for prosecution, including eliminating their right to vote.

Period of Applicability of This Act

Section 6: This law is retroactive to January 20, 2017 and there is and shall be no statute of limitations on any act of dishonesty or unconstitutional manipulation to which this law applies.

Severability

Section 7: If any part of this Act should be found to be unconstitutional, it shall be considered severed from the Act, leaving all other provisions intact. So there.

Who Is Eligible To Vote For This Act

Section 8: All members of the duly constituted voting public shall be eligible to vote for this bill in the Comments section below. No onerous voter ID is required. Early voting has started. Black, brown, poor and young people, high school seniors, college students and naturalized citizens are all eligible to vote – always. Plus old white guys and angry young white guys (“guys” is gender neutral here), as well as Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jesus freaks, droolers and both conspiracy nuts and sane people. Also white collar, blue collar and no collar workers, as well as unemployed non-workers, the physically challenged and all convicted felons, whether they’re now free or still in prison. Urban, suburban, rural and wandering citizens are eligible and encouraged to vote. Gun ownership is not required for voting privileges, nor is an Armageddon hiding place, nor is a facility with the English language required. Those under the physical care of a Republican are encouraged to grab a laptop when the obermeister isn’t looking and register their vote. Polling places are everywhere internet electrons can reach, so no worries about a long journey to vote or a long wait in line or threats from Republican intimidation thugs. Bring your own pizza and bottled water.

Republicans like this kind of heavy-handed, blatantly unconstitutional legislation. It’s their style, their M.O. to promote anti-democracy things, so we might expect them to champion this Act.

On the other hand, this proposal puts the sting to them, so I don’t expect to hear a chorus of “D’OH!!!” from the Capitol Building and all Republican state houses, nor do I expect to see pictures of these Republicans posted on their FaceBook pages showing them slapping their foreheads. Still, we know who and what they are.

They are so busted.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crap! A Friday Extra


One of the features of watching a YouTube video is the line up of additional videos presented to tantalize us. YouTube captures what we’ve watched before and provides links to videos with some similarity to them in order to keep us watching. As you know, what commonly results is an enormous time suck.

I haven’t a clue how it happened, but somehow I got tagged for pseudo-science conspiracy crap videos. I know this because I clicked on a video and watched a very well produced documentary of idiotic, serious face “experts” claiming idiotic, seriously meant possibilities, like, “Only a handful of astronauts have seen the far side of the moon, so there could be massive construction there.” And there are crackpots spouting provocative, idiotic questions, like, “Can it be that the Moon is actually hollow?” *

To support their hollow Moon theory they quote a United States Geologic Survey study of radar pings to the Moon that supposedly have penetrated the surface. They report that the USGS determined that the moon’s crust is only 20 miles thick; past that it’s hollow. To fact-check their claim I went to the USGS site and did a search. The closest I could get to validating the claims of this YouTube video was a piece published in 1991 entitled Demography and Natural History of the Common Fruit Bat. I, for one, believe the fruit bat information confirms their claims of a hollow Moon, but that’s just me.

That information is especially powerful when paired with multiple claims by multiple no-name talking heads in this video. They say that NASA has banged on the Moon, which has resulted in echos lasting for hours. Perhaps that means that the Moon is actually a celestial bell awaiting a galactic clapper.

YouTube has lined up other crackpot videos. There’s one asking if the Soviet Union discovered aliens in the deepest lake in the world. Another tells the story of a pilot who survived the Bermuda Triangle and who will tell you what he saw. There’s some guy who was pronounced dead for 20 minutes and he’ll tell you what he saw, too. And there’s a video telling what would happen if Yellowstone National Park were to blow up. It sure is a good thing that someone is thinking about that.

There’s a video about a massive LA disaster you’ve never heard of and another where Apollo 11’s “third astronaut” Michael Collins reveals secrets from the far side of the moon. But if you were to watch that video you’d learn that there are no secrets and Collins doesn’t reveal anything. Fact checking ruins all the fun. Nevertheless, there is no end of provocative, pseudo-science crap just waiting for our clicks. Enjoy. Better yet: don’t.

The point of this is captured by a single statistic: The hollow Moon video has been viewed 2.1 million times. Clearly, people believe this crap and they share it with their airhead friends, who believe it, too.

Literally millions of Americans believe that the January 6 insurrection was just an ordinary group of tourists visiting the Capitol Building. Never mind that the building was closed to visitors due to Covid-19. And when you watch the videos again just ignore the chants to hang the Vice President and pay no attention to the bear spray, the Auschwitz tee-shirts, the beatings of Capitol police, the vandalism and the rest. Bear in mind that, “15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds ‘are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation’”.

Idiotic, false-on-the-face-of-it crap is gobbled up by otherwise capable humans who are commonly able to feed themselves, fill their own gas tanks and utter intelligible sentences in a single language. But now due to cowards in our government, these conspiracy gobbling, gullible people have outsized influence on our democracy. Fantasy rules. Rationality, logic and good sense be damned.

To use the suggestive question format of the conspiracy world, “Could this be evidence of alien life forms eating the brains of Americans?” Perhaps if NASA were to bang on their heads we would hear the echos.

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  • * Full disclosure: these are not verbatim quotes. They are the substance of such statements repeated throughout the idiotic video. My life has great value to me and I won’t waste it on crap, so I am unwilling to watch the video again in order to perfect the quotes.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

If It Feels Right


This is a special time. It is a time when magical thinking has washed over the land, drowning our world in hyperbole, fiction and venom, and leaving so very little grounded in the observable. The waste of the neocortex imperils the people like oxygen deprivation, with hypoxia choking the rational.

Left behind is rigorous critical thinking, the very thing of the Enlightenment that brought such freedom and progress to mankind. It has been displaced by, “If it feels right to me, then it is right.” No need for evidence. No need for observation of any kind. No need for the bother of accuracy or the effort of thinking.

There is no need for testable theory, because that space has been taken over by the subjective satisfaction of, “If things are as I like them then all is fair. If not, someone cheated and stole from me.” So, fair becomes unfair if I don’t like outcomes, and accusation is the same as proof. Opinion is the same as fact and judgment is a prize unto itself. To quote Professor Scott Galloway’s commencement address, “We optimize for short-term emotional satisfaction rather than long-term prosperity,” and “[t]he prioritization of victimhood. The belief that to be offended is to be right.”

We are through the looking glass and opportunities to make the movie Back To Reality are incrementally, relentlessly turning to vapor. The portal to the world where lies are not the same as truth, where up is different from down, where knowledge, wisdom and learning are valued and where science is a real thing is closing. That is why there are so many calls for action right now, because absent our action, we won’t like the albatross we’ve placed around the necks of our children. They won’t like it either, although that won’t matter to the brutes, liars and manipulators in charge.

Our choices are: to ignore what’s going on; to sit at home and wring hands; or to take action – do something about it.

The first two options won’t help our children, so they’re unacceptable. Here are some ideas for the third option.

  1. Attend The For the People Act: A Conversation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn at 5:00PM on June 22. Register here. Go ahead: learn something that is Earth-based and useful. It will be a refreshing contrast to the ever-present magical thinking that assaults our ears.
  2. Do some phone banking to West Virginians to twist Joe Manchin’s arm back to where it belongs.
  3. Help the experts do what we don’t know how to do well ourselves. Donate to Focus4Democracy. These are the folks who know how to turn the crank of progress. And we surely need progress right now.

If this feels right to you, it’s because it is right. It’s right to fight for what you believe in. It’s right to do good and to fight the bad. And that stands in stark contrast to the magical thinkers, because you have evidence from the right side of the looking glass.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Continues To Be True


A while back I wrote:

It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means. It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means prove to be.

Then this:

It is truly frightening that millions of people are demanding authoritarianism in America. They want an end to our self-rule, our long and noble experiment in democracy. Christopher Ingraham spells out the truth that has been so difficult to define in his Washington Post article, “New Research Explores Authoritarian Mind-set of Trump’s Core Supporters.” Key takeaway: We practice apathy at our collective peril.

This continues to be true.

Texas Republican lawmakers and their governor continue their battle against rampant voter fraud in the Lone Star State. These brave warriors of the ballot are at the pointy end of the spear to prevent a continuation of the cheating that threatens our elections. Indeed, the Texas Tribune reported last December that,

“As of election week, the Texas attorney general’s office had closed cases on just over 150 defendants prosecuted for election offenses since 2004, according to the attorney general’s office. That’s out of nearly 90 million ballots cast in Texas in statewide primary and general elections since 2004  .  .  .  “

Or check it out in the Houston Chronicle.

That’s 150 prosecutions, not convictions, which amounts to 0.00017% (that’s 17 one-hundred-thousandths of a percent) of total votes cast which were found to be questionable. Not fraudulent; questionable. It’s a really good thing that Texas is crafting the most draconian anti-voter, anti-voting laws in the country to stop this stampede of non-fraud. Kudos to the state Republican Ballot Warriors for their courage to battle the near-complete absence of voting fraud in Texas. I believe they should be awarded a trophy of a windmill mounted in a jail cell.

Clearly we are indebted to Mike Coudrey for his sharp-eyed reporting from Wisconsin. He told us that Wisconsin had more votes cast in the November 2020 election than the number of registered voters in that state. Clearly, voting fraud is a pestilence upon the dairy state.

Except for one thing: The actual numbers supplied by the Wisconsin Election Commission show that there are roughly half a million more registered voters in Wisconsin than the number of votes cast in November. Guess we dodged that pestilence thing and the cheese is still safe to eat.

Mike Coudrey is an activist and promoter of all things Trump. What we don’t know is how to explain his false claim. We don’t know whether he’s a terrible – as in: inept or lazy or evil – elections researcher or just another Trump liar. But, really, does it even matter?

Because we are constantly beset by false claims, many, perhaps most of which, are painfully, obviously self-serving lies. The Big Lie of a stolen election is, of course, the most dangerous, because it is being used as an in-plain-sight attempt to end our democracy.

This continues to be true.

It may have always been true that mere accusations are enough to establish a false claim as truth in the minds of we gullible humans. However, we have been beset by wild, false political accusations going back decades and they have led to absurd and dangerous actions.

The Gingrich Republicans hated Bill Clinton and fabricated salacious stories about him and Hillary, like their claim that Vince Foster’s suicide was really a murder done by Clinton and their claim that Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater land deal in Arkansas was somehow illegal. They had no evidence to suspect either accusation, so there was only one thing to do: appoint a special prosecutor, which they did.

They hired Ken Starr to investigate all things Clinton and he spent four and a half years and 52 million taxpayer dollars poking into their underwear drawers, metaphorically speaking. He pored over every aspect of the Clintons’ lives and came up with nothing. Literally, absolutely nothing.

Until Monica Lewinsky’s friend Linda Tripp went out of her way to betray Lewinski and told Starr about sex in the Oval Office. You may find such behavior repugnant – here I’m talking about the sex, not the ugly stab-in-the-back betrayal – but it isn’t illegal. Yet it was all Starr got out of those millions of dollars and all those years of feigned moral superiority. His prosecutorial genius was limited to getting Clinton to lie to a grand jury about the sex.

Even better was that years later, after a most tragic attack in Benghazi, Libya where four Americans died, the Republicans controlling Congress held hearings into, not the incident, but into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s culpability. Did I say hearings? They held 11 hearings over 2 miserable years of muck raking and every time found no culpability.

In both cases, Ken Starr’s investigation and the Benghazi Congressional spectacles, the true victory belonged to the Republicans who did their self-righteous crowing and tsk-tsking for years, keeping phantom Democrat wrongdoing in the public eye. They were surely the true white knights of our country, saving us from the unworthy ones. You just have to ignore their dishonesty and hypocrisy. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Just like they’re saving us from that most awful hoard of fraudulent voters. The same ones they can’t find in Texas or Wisconsin or in any other state.

This continues to be true.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Relativism and National CPR


Relativism: The idea that nothing is any more correct or true than anything else.

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I know, it sounds preposterous, but that is the prevailing assumption about reality in much of our society. Example: Kellyanne Conway did an interview from the White House lawn shortly after Donald Trump moved in. She was defending a false claim that press secretary Sean Spicer had made at his first press briefing a day earlier. He had insisted that Trump had the greatest number of attendees at his inauguration of any president, ever. When presented with empirical evidence that the claim was false, Conway announced that they (the administration) believed “alternative facts.”

Let’s be clear that “alternative facts” doesn’t mean that they were looking at other metrics, nor does it mean that they had additional information not included in the original observations. It means specifically that they believed that they were free to make up anything they wanted and that their made-up story was just as valid, accurate and true as any other. For them and for so many others, false = true, fiction = fact. Relativism.

While Trump is gone from a position of power and is now preparing for his position as defendant, alternative facts have not disappeared. We hear them every day from politicians blabbering some vacuous reinvention of history, from QAnon spouting another impossible conspiracy fiction, from yellow journalism masquerading as news and from extremists breaking the law while claiming they’re protecting the Constitution. But these conjurors of alternative facts aren’t alone. Indeed, we have a major cultural problem.

Kurt Andersen’s book Fantasyland is an historical trip through our wondrous American tapestry of belief in fantasy, in anything goes. Andersen quotes science fiction writer Phil Dick, introducing his words writing, ”  .  .  .  he wrote a perfect summary of his dread about the transformation of American society and culture as the real and unreal became indistinguishable.” Sounds a lot like today, don’t you think?

‘The problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups – and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener.  .  .  .

‘And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes.  .  .  .

‘I consider that the matter of defining what is real – that is a serous topic, even a vital topic. And in there somewhere is the other topic, the definition of the authentic human. Because the bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans – as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides.  .  .  .  Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans. It is just a very large version of Disneyland.’

And here we are in our alternative worlds, stumbling through our cultural Fantasyland of alternative fact inbreeding. We believe whatever we want to believe and then accept the mutants we’re creating, as we befuddle ourselves to death, all because relativism rules.

This is dangerous stuff. It is where people believe whatever they want to believe with no weight given to reality. They believe whatever serves their motives and fears and hopes, like believing that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump; like sending partisan know nothings to audit the last election so that they can fabricate the desired result; like people selecting themselves to attack democracy, even as they invoke the red, white and blue. It is what causes little self-inflated men and women to lie and to cling to power over others, while justifying their actions with fantastical fabrications. That and more goes on every day in America, regardless of how our detachment from tangible facts causes us to self-immolate.

Perhaps that is why President Biden speaks of fighting for the soul of America. It needs life support intervention right now and nobody else is showing up to do national CPR.

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Tweets So Far This Week

From @richardhine:

“If 53% of Republicans think Trump is still President but only 26% of Americans say they belong to the decaying Party of Trump, that would mean only 14% of Americans think Trump is still President. Which might be an accurate measure of the batshit fringe.”

From @HunaNaMeaHuna

“Vote Theft Is Your Future Denied”

Gerrymandering and sham voting audits will do that.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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