Military

EXTRA! EXTRA!


Reading time – 1:57  .  .  .

This is a special edition for a special reason. A regular Sunday feature will be posted tomorrow.

——————————–

In a well researched essay in The Atlantic which has now been well vetted by other news agencies including Fox News, Jeffrey Goldberg has detailed some of the most hurtful, disqualifying, reprehensible things the President of the United States has said. Goldberg detailed Trump’s own words and they uncover his true contempt for our military personnel and his mind-numbing, boundless ignorance of even the most basic national history. Here’s what we learned about the president’s beliefs and values:

That the boys who stormed the beaches at Normandy, especially those who died there or who left an arm or leg there, were losers.

That the 1,177 sailors who are still aboard the USS Arizona submerged in Pearl Harbor were suckers. It was revealed in Phil Rucker and Carol Loennig’s book A Very Stable Genius that Trump barely understood the obvious meaning of the memorial for the ship and those men.

That the 10 crewmen aboard each WW II bomber that went down in flames were losers. Some days hundreds of men were lost that way. All losers, according to the Commander in Chief.

That my dad and his band of brothers who flew cover for the bombers in their fighter aircraft were suckers, especially the ones who were shot down.

That the over 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood in 1918 were suckers for getting killed.

That he thinks that the over 58,000 of my contemporaries who died or just disappeared in Viet Nam were losers and suckers, too, because they were “too dumb to get out of” serving in the war.

That the Commander in Chief doesn’t know who the “good guys” were in WW I and he hasn’t a clue why we would intervene on the side of the allies.

That John McCain wasn’t a war hero and was a loser. And President George H.W. Bush was a loser for getting shot down.

That the men and women who currently wear the uniform and voluntarily serve our country, who will willingly put their lives on the line for us, including for this disdainful, disrespectful President of the United States, all 1.3 million of them are losers and suckers.

That Trump revealed his utter cluelessness while standing over the grave of Marine First Lt. Robert Kelly, son of General John Kelly, who was present to hear the president say, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

This is the same U.S. President who learned many months ago that Vladimir Putin is paying a bounty to the Taliban for every Ameican troop they kill and Trump continues to refuse to confront Putin about that.

This is what we have learned about the Commander in Chief and his utter contempt for our military. If there were no other reason to remove this man from office, this reason alone is reason enough.

——————————-

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.

It’s About the Dog


Reading time – 5:41; Viewing time – 8:22  .  .  .

The political circumstances and the prospects for the future quality for life for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are becoming increasingly shaky and he is becoming more and more unhinged. Even desperate.

He knows that if he is removed from office he will immediately face criminal charges. That’s why he must stay in the White House bunker, hiding behind the Justice Department memo – not law – that says a sitting president cannot be indicted on criminal charges. That’s a very handy memo for a presidential perp to have. But the walls are closing in, driven mostly by self-inflicted errors and blatant cruelty.

It was only a matter of time before his complete bumbling of the coronavirus catastrophe would take a huge bite out of him. After all, the American public has a way of becoming very cross, as friends and family die alone with tubes down their throats, and the rest of us live knowing there are ventilators with our names on them in a parking lot being used for hospital overflow. Tens of millions have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their children and we don’t know when children will be allowed back in school. Still, that occupant lies to us that the global pandemic will magically go away. About 1,000 Americans are dying every day waiting for that magic. And this American story gets worse.

People of all colors have at last figured out that Black lives actually do matter. Who would have imagined that? And these people picked a time to make a statement which was quite convenient for the aforementioned occupant for his use as a reelection scheme.

The videos of the murders of unarmed Black men at the hands of police and vigilantes went viral and they called people out of their homes and into the streets to grieve those losses and so many others, and to wail their sadness and their anger. Some became violent.

Federal goons in Portland. Click for the Washington Post story.

At least we think some of them became violent. We don’t know who lit the matches and many wonder if violent right wingers staged the violence to make the demonstrators look bad, even un-American, and thereby incite a backlash. Not surprisingly, the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue occupant turned out to be Backlash Individual #1 and he’s making the most of it. However bad things have been for the past 401 years, he has made them incendiary and continues doing that today.

I’ve written many times, predicting that Trump would wag-the-dog (here, here, here and more) in a desperate move to stay in power and now he’s doing it, lying about the protests and starting the wag using his private thug army.

He’s sent federal storm troopers to Washington DC and to Portland, Oregon to crack down on (read: attack) protesters, whether they’re peaceful or otherwise. He’s showing what a tough guy he is. It’s his desperate political play to be the law and order candidate and thereby garner white votes, because “law and order” is a dog whistle for “whites keep their power over those horrible, savage Blacks.”

It’s unconstitutional to send our armed forces into our cities, so Trump found another way to have thugs do his thuggery. It turns out that the Department of Homeland Security has its own policing force, created to protect federal property, not city, state or private property. It is composed mostly of “contractors.” That doesn’t mean plumbers and carpenters working a second job. It means mercenaries. Guns for hire. Eric Prince’s Blackwater/Xe Services army.

Trump has used these as his private army, not to protect federal property, but to violently attack peaceful protesters in order to distract us. That’s how he’s using these protests to his advantage. Doing so keeps voters from focusing on his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, his failure to confront Putin over paying bribes to kill American troops, his blatantly illegal commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence, his ongoing violations of the Emoluments clause, his multiple obstructions of justice and more.

He’s wagging the dog not against a foreign nation, but against our own people, our friends and neighbors, claiming he is the law and order president who will protect us and the Constitution from socialist mobs.

He consistently stokes hatred and violence, thereby inflaming racial tension and division. Then he presents himself as the hero who will save us from the violence he stokes. It’s classic wag-the-dog. This miserable, dangerous cartoon character of a dictator is wrapped in erasable red, white and blue and is carrying a bible upside down as he sends thugs to our cities to make himself look tough.

Make no mistake: He’s brutally cruel to our people and he’s destroying our democracy. There’s danger coming soon to a city near you, especially if your mayor is a Democrat. The dog of tyranny bites selectively at first. Then things get much worse.

Read Tom Friedman’s piece for more.

————————

Resource Materials

Here are some book recommendations to explain more fully what this post is about and the danger we face.

First, read Professor Timothy Snyder’s small book, On Tyranny. Read it as a foundation piece, a context setter to understand our reality. It’s a quick, if scary read, as it’s not much bigger than a small pad of paper.

Next, read Jason Stanley’s book, How Fascism Works. That will put meat on the bones of Timothy Snyder’s work, but I warn you that you’ll be frightened for your children, which is why you need to read this book.

As long as you’re reading Stanley, get a copy of How Propaganda Works. From the first page you’ll recognize the political manipulation that has been and continues to be aimed at you.

No list like this would be complete without How Democracies Die. Levitsky and Ziblatt lay it out for you to see how brick-by-brick democracies are torn down, including our own.

I’m only a third of the way through Anne Applebaum’s brand new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. The lessons are clear and powerful and you need to see them. Get this little book.

Finally – and this is prompted by the behavior geek in me – if you want to know why you in your progressive bubble are afraid to talk to your neighbor who wears a MAGA hat and he’s not too crazy about talking with you, either, why last Thanksgiving devolved into a shouting match with Uncle Bob across from cousin George’s wonderful green bean dish and why those “other people” just don’t seem to get it, read Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. You’ll instantly understand why it’s so easy for politicians to divide us.

In addition, read any of Thomas Edsall’s essays in the New York Times.

Go buy and read these books. If you’ll only actually read one, get Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. Plus, read Edsall.

I have not provided links to purchase these books on Amazon or from any big box store. That’s because I want you to buy your books from your local Ma & Pa bookstore to help keep your neighborhood vibrant.

Now, go do your homework. There absolutely will be a test.

——————————-

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 Most Important


Reading time – 2:12  .  .  .

Let’s see if we can zero in on what’s most important about the Russian bounty on the heads of American military personnel in Afghanistan.

What’s most important actually isn’t that Vladimir Putin set up this incentive to the Taliban to murder our troops. And it isn’t a bit surprising that Putin has denied what our intelligence people have found and about which they are 100% certain. Lying and killing is what Putin does. Just ask his political rivals. Oh, wait; you can’t do that because he killed them.

And what’s most important isn’t that Trump wasn’t told what has been happening. There isn’t even the remotest possibility that our intelligence people, including the DNI, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, director of the CIA, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense and others weren’t aware of Putin’s incentive to murder months ago. And their being aware of it and understanding the lethal implications for our troops and our national security means that there isn’t a chance that this slightly indirect act of war wasn’t brought to the president a long time ago.

It was in the PDB – the President’s Daily Briefing – but, of course, Trump doesn’t read and rarely reviews any PDB and refuses to hear bad things about Russia. However, our security types know that he doesn’t read and would have brought this critical issue to this president in various other ways that would get his attention and focus. There would have been walk-in meetings; short PowerPoint presentations using only single-syllable words; crayon and coloring book narratives; and Choose-Your-Own Adventure comic books. They would have had a beautiful model in a tiny bathing suit and heels parade past the Resolute desk waving pictures of dead American personnel with captions reading “PUTIN’S BOUNTY.” Our national security people would have used whatever it might take to get this president to absorb the key information.

In other words, there isn’t even a small possibility that Trump didn’t know about this until the past few days, as he has hollowly claimed.* Even that isn’t what’s most important.

Here’s what’s most important about this scandal:

Our military people are being murdered and Commander in Chief Trump has done nothing about it.

Click this pic and watch the video. Then  send this to independents and Trump supporters you know.

No threats of military action. No sanctions. No “Back off!” call to Putin. No coordination with NATO partners. No counter measures at all. Trump has sold out our military people.

I really don’t care what Putin has on Trump – pictures and videos, evidence of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, whatever – except when it results in traitorous actions against our people and our country by the President of the United States.

Our people and our country are what’s most important and Trump is betraying both.

————————-

*From Congressman Brad Schneider’s (D, IL-10) newsletter of June 30, 2020:

“.  .  .   yesterday it was reported that as early as April, 2019 [emphasis mine – ed.] U.S. officials were aware of evidence of a Russian effort to pay bounties for the killing of U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan. Further reports indicate that President Trump received written intelligence on the Russian actions as far back as February. I spoke about this issue on the House floor this morning.”

Finally, a curious comment

The mayor of Tampa, Florida reported on Juiy 1 that they are experiencing a significant spike in coronavirus cases among 20- & 30-somethings. This comes just a few short weeks after the bars and restaurants in Tampa were re-opened.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

——————————-

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 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.

———————-

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, know-nothing politicians, economists or law professors) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (a daily 9/11; 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.

——————————-

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
——————————-

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.

Against Their Own Interest – and Syria Stupidity


Reading time – 3:47  .  .  .

A lot of barrels of ink have been emptied in an effort to explain why some American voters – largely rural people – consistently vote against their own interests. This predates Donald Trump, although he has been a beneficiary of it and has exploited it masterfully. My understanding of what appears to be a key driver of self-destructive behavior has largely been focused on the betrayal so many Americans feel. It’s borne of the obvious abandoning of promises made to them by various levels of government officials, especially those in our federal government.

Do you remember all those years of John Boehner, then Speaker of the House, declaring that the number one priority was, “Jobs, jobs, jobs”? The only bill passed to create more jobs while he was speaker was specifically for military veterans, and Boehner had to be shamed into passing that. Where did that leave the rest of our forgotten Americans?

They feel used for their tax money and abused by the system, so they’re angry. They’re naturally attracted to the angriest voice with the simplest solutions. They fear “others” who may be as far away as another country or as near as the closest big city.

And they don’t like immigrants, fearing they’re here to freeload off our public assistance programs. There are yet other ways Trump voters feel ripped off, because they don’t get a benefit from government programs – or at least they don’t believe that they do. Turns out, not surprisingly, that their disaffection is more elaborate than that.

Monica Potts wrote a stunning piece in the New York Times entitled “In the Land of Self-Defeat“. If you’ve ever puzzled over why people do what looks to you to be self-destructive, you’ll want to read this piece.  Potts quotes Katherine J. Cramer, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison:

“The way these folks described the world to me, their basic concern was that people like them, in places like theirs, were overlooked and disrespected,” she wrote in Vox, explaining that her subjects considered ‘racial minorities on welfare’ as well as ‘lazy urban professionals’ working desk jobs to be undeserving of state and federal dollars. People like my neighbors hate that the government is spending money on those who don’t look like them and don’t live like them — but what I’ve learned since I came home is that they remain opposed even when they themselves stand to benefit.”

These folks have a “prevailing sense of scarcity,” so spending tax dollars on what to them are non-essentials is craziness. Indeed, Potts’ article was triggered by a hotly contested county issue about a proposed pay increase for a new librarian to $25 per hour. It was defeated. These folks contract their view to a very individual focus – you might call it extreme libertarian – which leaves them wondering why they should pay for that librarian if they and their family aren’t going to use the library.

The comments about immigrants particularly caught my attention and left me with a stark clarity that I’ve had for a long time: Too many of us have forgotten where we came from. By that I mean our immigrant forebears – our grandparents or great-grandparents who came here penniless and unable to understand English. We’ve forgotten their struggles and don’t seem able to glue our ignored past onto the plight of today’s refugees.

And another thing  .  .  .

Many thanks to S.S. for pointing to the tweet. Click the pic

Eliminating ISIS (or ISIL) has largely been accomplished except for a couple of strongholds in northern Syria. It has been done with American money and technology and Kurdish blood and lives.

As of this writing, President Trump has pulled all of our troops out of Syria. The decision was made following only a single phone call with President Erdoğan of Turkey. He didn’t consult with anyone who actually knows something about the situation in Syria. And he made the decision with no consideration of the likely outcomes of U.S. withdrawal.

The Turks hate our allies, the Kurds, and see them as their blood enemy. The U.S. pulling out of Syria will leave the Kurds without protection against the modern army and air power of the Turks, who will almost certainly swoop in and slaughter the Kurds – it’s already begun. And it will leave Syria firmly in the hands of our adversaries, Russia and Iran, and ISIS will be free to rebuild.

Have you noticed how many things Trump does that help Putin and Russia and simultaneously hurt our friends and allies?

This is so bad that even Republicans in Congress are pushing back. It’s a shame that they’re so late in finding their backbones.

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

  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 or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

Funding the Wall


Reading time – 3:15; Viewing time – 5:04  .  .  .

In reviewing my posts of the past couple of years I find that there’s a lot of “This ain’t right” stuff and a much smaller offering of “Hey, this is cool!” or “Aren’t we humans oddly interesting?” Sadly, the reason is obvious: the dangerous and harmful Trumpian outrages are all around us and push-back is critical.

So, once again I long for our country to be “re-saned” (no, that’s not a word, but you get it) so that we can get back to being America and stop playing defense against the full time Trumpian assaults on reality. Meanwhile, it’s our duty to attend to these outrages in order to minimize damage. Here’s just one from this past week.

Mark Esper was a vice-president of government relations for Raytheon, a defense contractor. Apparently, being a lobbyist was just the right experience to make him the very best person to be Secretary of Defense under Trump. He brought the lobbying skills he honed at Raytheon to his present gig at the White House in order to be an official Trump Swamp Cootie.

Trump insists on building his useless vanity wall on our southern border, the one we were told that Mexico was going to pay for. Not so strangely, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said, “Nuh-uh” to Trump’s ridiculous demand of payment.

After that Congress also refused to fund his (did I mention?) stupid wall, so Trump declared a state of national emergency in order to undermine Congress. He got Esper to agree to give him $3.6 billion from the Defense Department budget for his wall. The money will come from much needed construction projects for our military, including readiness projects in support of our NATO allies.

Vladimir Putin likes that we’ll be one step behind. That gives him the opportunity to seize yet more eastern European nations. And Putin continues to pursue his nuclear explosion producing, Mach 8 nuclear powered cruise missiles. The complete lack of U.S. push-back means that he faces no international condemnation for the radiation from his exploded folly that’s poisoned the area next to Finland.

If you’d like to see which national defense needs will be abandoned, click here. Be sure to look for the idiotic comments of Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), which he said in support of Trump’s Defense Department thievery, including this contorted gem:

“It is important that Congress now restore the military construction funding diverted for border security. Failing to do so only forces our troops to pay for political discord in Washington.”

It may have hurt your brain to read that. That’s because it’s bat-shit crazy.

Trump also is diverting emergency funds from FEMA in order to build his purposeless wall. He’s specifically withholding disaster relief from Puerto Rico, which hasn’t recovered from Hurricane Maria two years ago, largely because – wait for it – Trump has withheld about 80% of the funds that Congress allocated for disaster relief for those people.

As of this writing the southeast coast of the U.S. is taking a pummeling from Hurricane Dorian following the devastation it caused to the Bahama Islands. The Bahamians endured almost two days of cat 5 winds – over 185 miles per hour – torrential rain and hurricane ocean storm surges.

In addition to the Puerto Rico money he plans to steal, Trump is going to further deplete FEMA in order to fund his vanity wall, making relief and recovery for those were hurt worst anywhere from difficult to impossible. We might have enough left in FEMA’s piggy bank for the Carolinas. As for the Bahamians and Puerto Ricans, I’m sure those people can wait until next fiscal year for funding to help them. Just tell the Bahamians to take a number and get in line behind the Puerto Ricans. It’s really no problem, because most of those people aren’t from Norway, anyway.

Sarcasm aside, Trump is preparing to build 175 miles of unneeded wall by sacrificing desperate hurricane survivors, NATO, our 3-branch governmental structure, national defense, our military people and world order. This isn’t just more of his stupid lies. We can ignore what he says, even his idiotic Sharpie-modified hurricane map. But we better pay attention to what he does, because he is intent upon assaulting American values, our safety and our democracy itself.

That’s why we pay attention to his outrages.

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

  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 or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

How Did We Get Here? and “The Wag”


Reading time – 3:58; Viewing time – 5:40  .  .  .

  • How did we get to the point:

– where ripping babies from their mothers’ arms is tolerated?

– where we refuse those kidnapped kids soap and a toothbrush and there isn’t universal outrage?

– where disrespecting our allies and cozying up to adversaries is thought to be good foreign policy?

– where allowing fossil fuel exploration in Monument Valley is considered a good idea?

– where pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement is deemed sound policy for our children and grandchildren?

– where there could be a discriminatory citizenship question on the national census? The Constitution calls for no such thing.

– where Russia could invade and disrupt our national election and the president refuses to confront, much less punish the offender?

– where the president refuses to do anything to stop further cyber assault on our country and even invites it – and somehow we aren’t all enraged?

– where we yawn when yet another Cabinet Secretary resigns in disgrace?

– where birthright citizenship – you know, the 14th Amendment – would be under attack? Note: The 14th Amendment is probably why you are a United States citizen.

– where we tolerate reversing EPA standards, such that fossil fuel extractors no longer have to report or reduce methane emissions? Methane is 84 times more powerful at global warming than carbon dioxide.

– where picking fights with other countries is considered a good negotiating strategy?

– where a continuing presidential attack on freedom of the press is somehow held to be patriotic?

– where defying subpoenas is in any way a debatable thing?

– where arbitrary tariffs slapped on friends is tolerated?

– Where witnesses before Congressional committees can avoid testifying by claiming “absolute immunity,” an immunity that doesn’t exist in law?

This list could be far longer and likely you can add to it.

We’ve always had divided government, with impassioned politicians at times saying stupid stuff.* This isn’t about that. This is about the amazing reality that we got to the point where, for example, ripping babies from their mamas as a tool to discourage immigration is open for debate.

KEY POINT: Not one of the items on this list is a whine about Trump being crude, disrespectful, ignorant and an assault on decency. They aren’t even a complaint about his well over 10,000 lies since taking office. And every one of them has substantive impact on Americans – like you – and on our nation as a whole.

KEY OTHER POINT: It’s so very easy to pin all that on Trump, but he only has the power to do those things because of a supportive – or at least compliant – citizenry and, correspondingly, a meek and cowardly Republican Congress.

KEY QUESTION: In order to get out of this craziness we have to be able to both define it and identify what brought us here. What’s your notion? Post it in the Comments block and we’ll help one another learn.

FUN FACT: Roughly 63 million people voted for Trump (or they voted against Hillary) in 2016. On that same day, over 90 million voting age Americans stayed home.

FUN FACT QUESTION: Can you think of something you can do so there isn’t a repeat of that in 2020? I knew you could.

Late Addition

I’ve warned repeatedly (here and here, for example) that we are at risk of Donald Trump pulling a “wag the dog” scam to ensure he gets reelected. Now it appears that he’s doing it.

He has backed Iran into a corner with enough sanctions to hobble its economy and withdrawn from the JCPOA. Then Trump complained because Iran said that it would restart its uranium enrichment program, the very thing the JCPOA prevented.

So, he sent a carrier group and 2,500 troops to the area. Then on Thursday he ordered military strikes on Iran in response to Iran having downed a U.S. reconnaissance drone. He called off the attack before damage was done, claiming that killing 150 people with his attacks wouldn’t be a proportional response. We don’t know if that cancellation was actually just a stunt to make Trump seem to be a humanitarian, but since Trump is all about the theater of things, it very well could have been just that.

Recognize that Trump is constantly opaque in his dealings, leaving everyone wondering about his motives and goals, and almost certainly he sees the situation with Iran as a pissing contest that he has to win. A lot of his supporters like his kind of brainless muscular response, which drives the danger meter pointer closer to catastrophe.

You better make sure your senators and Congress people stand up to what looks like the newest Gulf of Tonkin fraud, or we’ll get involved in yet another unending middle east war and a lot of people will die.


*Stupid stuff is the blatantly obvious false or misleading statement. It’s the filibustering of a reporter to avoid his/her question. It’s the whataboutism that is designed to avoid having to deal with the truth or to denigrate an opponent. It’s the whole cloth fabrication that comes in a small throwaway line or a sweeping, dramatic denial of reality. Stupid stuff.



————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

 


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

Wag The Dog – v2.0


Reading time – 2:55; Viewing time – 4:23  .  .  .

Ed note for viewers:

Be sure to read the Late Addition Comment at the end of this post. It is material that is not included in the video.


I’ve warned of an upcoming “Wag the Dog” move by Trump (here and here) and it appears that he’s now teed that up.

The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln last month in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain. It has been rerouted to the Persian Gulf. Credit: Cati Cladera/EPA, via Shutterstock. Click the pic for the complete story

Trump and his war-drum-pounding national security advisor John Bolton, a man who never saw a place where he didn’t want to start a war, have ordered an aircraft carrier group and bombers to the Persian Gulf, “.  .  .  to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” Bear in mind that Bolton stridently promotes regime change in Iran, a policy which didn’t work so well for us in Iran’s neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “It is absolutely the case that we’ve seen escalatory action from the Iranians, and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests.” Further, he said, “The fact that those actions take place, if they do, by some third-party proxy, whether that’s a Shia militia group or the Houthis or Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranians — Iranian leadership — directly accountable for that.”

That sounds a lot like we’re on track for an iteration of the August 10,1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a response to an attack on a U.S. Navy destroyer by North Vietnamese torpedo boats which never happened. The story was a complete fraud.

That phantom attack was used as an excuse to allow President Johnson to escalate the Vietnamese civil and anti-colonial war into a full blown U.S. war without requiring Congress to put on its big boy and big girl pants and declare war. That fraud-inspired U.S. involvement killed 58,000 Americans and untold hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The important point for now is that we’ve never turned out a president in time of war. Johnson was reelected 3 months after his fraud.

Click me

Trump is highly unlikely to win reelection in 2020 without help and we already know that he has no hesitation to do whatever serves him, regardless of the cost to others or to The Constitution. So, keep your focus on his belligerence, his lies and the excuses coming from the White House for attacking Iran.

That new war will start before November 3, 2020. And our amoral president and our spineless members of Congress, most of whom have never served in war, will once again fail to honor their oath of office. They will send someone else’s kids into harm’s way. We’ll have started another war that’s impossible to end and the Air Force base in Dover, Delaware will once again ramp up its unloading of flag draped coffins.

But that’s okay, because Trump will have wagged the dog and been reelected.

And just in case Trump’s contemptible wag the dog reelection scheme doesn’t look strong enough to him next year, don’t be surprised if he declares a state of national emergency, citing his war in Iran, and cancels the 2020 election. That will be the end of our glorious experiment in self-rule. R.I.P. American democracy.

Finally,

That Trump is an enemy of democracy is indisputable, what with his blatant and flamboyant breaking of our laws and complete disregard for democratic norms. But he’s not alone and I’m not talking now about other autocrats.

You absolutely must read Carole Cadwalladr’s post in The Guardian and watch her embedded TED talk. You’ll come to understand more deeply and clearly how the Russians bent our 2016 election, how the engineers of fraud choreographed Brexit to the detriment of all of Great Britain and how broken is liberal democracy around the world.

Click for the story

Read, then watch. Then take action, because democracy is a participation sport and, as Thom Hartmann says, “Tag! you’re it!”

Late addition  .  .  .

Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, effectively dissing our European allies in that agreement, and at the same time daring Iran to go nuclear. Now Trump’s additional sanctions on Iran will cause that country’s economy to shrink by 6% this year – that’s over last year’s 3.9% contraction –  while inflation may reach 40%. How long would any nation tolerate that?

In most circumstances, Trump does a hyperbolic, over-the-top declaration of what he will build or do and then does nothing to create policy to make anything happen. In the case of Iran, he is creating just the right policies and pushing just the right buttons to start an unnecessary war.

This is exactly what Congress is designed to prevent. Better contact your senators and representative now.

Like I said, “Tag! You’re it!”

      ————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!


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

Wag the Dog


Reading time – 3:24; Viewing time – 4:37  .  .  .

This is from the Sunday New York Times:

“At [national security advisor John] Bolton’s direction, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon last year to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran .  .  .”

Let’s put this into perspective.

Gen. Colin Powell warned us against doing military stupid stuff in his Powell Doctrine decades ago. It’s grounded in the painful lessons of Vietnam and, while it has weathered criticism for being incomplete, it’s hard to disagree with Powell’s cautionary message. Sadly, we’ve pretty much ignored it time and again.

Not stated in the Powell Doctrine is another of his admonitions, the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it. And so we do in Iraq and Afghanistan, the longest wars in our history. Now John Bolton, always eager to flex US muscle, has asked for plans to strike Iran.

Can you imagine Donald Trump being a calming voice of reason to tether John Bolton to reality? Neither can I. If Bolton gets his way we will break yet another country where we will then be in perpetual war. And this story gets worse.

We are mired in the longest government shutdown in US history. The president is threatening to declare a national emergency in order to overpower Congress and get his useless wall. You need to understand what such a declaration can mean.

In a time of declared national emergency the president has vast powers. Here’s a partial list:

Suspend the Constitution – yes, SUSPEND THE CONSTITUTION!

Redirect money in blatant conflict with Congressional intent

Declare martial law

Deploy our military in-country

Seize control of the internet

Shut down communications (telephone, radio, television, etc.)

Freeze bank accounts – including yours

Suspend habeas corpus (i.e. imprison Americans without charge and without due process of law – Think: Guantanamo in Des Moines, IA)

Control the states’ voter databases

Sanction Americans without charge and leave them without recourse

Effectively, the president can become a monarch. Perhaps Trump will prefer autocrat or generalissimo or kommisar or general secretary or chairman. Regardless of the label, it will be the end of American democracy.

This president has repeatedly shown that he has no regard for Constitutional limits, much less respect for legislative and cultural norms. He’s given us no reason to believe that he would refrain from outrageous behavior following his declaring a national emergency. And with the help of Mitch McConnell for the past two  years, Trump has packed the courts and his cabinet with people who likely would refuse to stand up to him.

A declaration of national emergency, whether for his fantasy claims of crisis at our southern border or for a pending or hot conflict with Iran or Argentina would be just the thing for Trump to consolidate power. Beyond fulfilling Trump’s bottomless ego needs, such a declaration will completely divert attention from his conspiracies with Russia. It’s the ultimate distraction and, perhaps, the negation of any investigation into his possible criminal activity.

Did I mention that this story gets worse? It does.

We never vote leaders out of office during war time and very rarely during any other national emergency. The only contrary example I can think of is Herbert Hoover, who lost the 1932 election to Franklin Roosevelt for his mishandling of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, the point for us now is to be clear that a declaration of national emergency, regardless of the justification Trump uses, would likely ensure Trump’s reelection in 2020, if, indeed, we even have another election.

And that will make Vladimir Putin very happy. His only regret will be that he won’t have any more kompromat on Trump, because exposing Trump’s money laundering, his tax fraud, his obstruction of justice and his treason will no longer matter.

Wag the dog.

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish that goal requires reaching many people, so:

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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 be better informed.

Thanks!


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

1 2 3 4  Scroll to top