Money in politics

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This


The violent far right people with AK-47s and AR-15s and basements full of ammunition don’t see themselves as domestic terrorists. They don’t think January 6 was an attempt at insurrection and they see the desecration of the Capitol Building and their causing 5 deaths as righteous fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson’s dyspeptic rant about the refreshing of the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants. That works well, of course, unless it’s your blood. Or your daughter’s or your son’s or that of anyone you care about.

Bear in mind that Jefferson had been reacting to the very real cruelty of a mad king, not to a democracy doing what democracies always do – feeling their way forward with the pendulum swinging back and forth. In other words, blood refreshment of liberty is not a solution for today’s democracy challenges. Tantrums venting a violent temper over either real or imagined wrongs is not legitimate patriotism. In a functioning democracy, seeking blood refreshment for the metaphorical tree of liberty is delusion. It’s tyranny while waving an American flag.

Which is exactly what OAN is doing.

From The Independent (be sure to click the link and watch the OAN video):

A host on the far-right cable channel One American News Network, which has amplified a fabricated narrative fuelled [sic] by Donald Trump and conspiracy theorists that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him and his supporters, has suggested “traitors” who “tried to steal power” by defeating the former president should be executed.

The OAN host is Pearson Sharp, who later claimed that he wasn’t calling for executions. Then he doubled down on calling for executions.

This is not 1776. The British aren’t coming. We pay taxes not to enrich a king, but to do together the things we cannot do individually, like building highways and providing for our national defense. We actually count ballots because that is how we determine who won our elections and we have gobs of safety procedures to ensure our elections are clean. That way no amount of reality denial based on outrageous lies and vaporous evidence can upset the will of We the People. Pretty cool, eh?

Yet we have millions – yes, millions – of our fellow citizens who believe in violent rebellion because of taxation (that’s what they say), because of those cheating Democrats and because of other awful, horrific but unspecified, fact-free government outrages. Mostly, though, they seem to be upset now because they didn’t get their way in the last election. So they endorse the Big Lie, they believe in conspiracies of sex trafficking and drinking of children’s blood and they create vast armories of real life, death creating weaponry. This isn’t a paint ball exercise. They intend to kill.

They really think they are going to instigate armed conflict against unarmed civilians (that would be you), the police and our military and then secede from the Union. They think they’re the patriots and that the rest of us are either tyranny drivers or ignorant puppets of the tyrannicists. Red, white and blue, baby, unless it’s a Trump flag. Is there a difference in the minds of these deluded people?

There are always malcontents – tyrants in metaphorical high chairs, screaming, kicking and pounding their spoons and forks on their trays. We can thank decades of power grubbing liars and cowards in government and on the airwaves for our ever-escalating passions of anger and carefully stockpiled and curated resentments. What is new is our total failure to discipline these people by telling the truth. We have instead allowed their grievance sickness to metastasize.

Our First Amendment that enshrined freedom of speech was a marvelous invention and it remains a spectacular tool of freedom. But where have the freedom of speech sane voices been for most of the past half century, as voodoo economics and Tea Party tantrums and air head stupid stuff were visited upon us? Did we think the manipulative, power clawing calls to fear and hatred by the malcontents would magically vanish? Did we think that those unimaginably rich donors funding usurpation of our democracy didn’t matter?

To quote from the trash compactor scene (at 1:37) from Star Wars, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

And this time I don’t think a cute R2 unit will come along to save us.

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From Common Cause

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is doing all he can to destroy the Postal Service. Last year, he was a major player in ex-President Trump’s plot to silence mail-in voters by sabotaging the USPS — and even now that President Biden has taken office, DeJoy is still trying to gut this vital public service.

I signed a Common Cause petition urging the USPS Board of Governors to fire and replace DeJoy — and I hope that you will, too – a couple of clicks starting right here will get the job done.

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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.

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

.

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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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.

Fairness Triple Crown


1. Tax Fairness

Everyone likes government programs that benefit themselves; we just don’t want to pay for them. Consequently, President Biden’s tax plan is hugely popular with we common folk, because it calls for somebody else to pay for the goodies. Good for us!

Not so good for the proposed payers.

On the other hand, those proposed payers are the very people who have consistently benefited from government policy and programs that for many decades have filled their piggy banks with massive wealth. It seems to most of us that turnabout is fair play.

Brendan Bechtel, CEO, Bechtel Corporation

But not to poor, picked on Brendan Bechtel. He runs Bechtel Corporation. It’s the same company that was happy to get those no-bid contracts from the George W. Bush administration for construction work in Iraq and still more no-bid contracts following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. That Bechtel Corporation.

Mr. Bechtel recently said of the Biden jobs program funding proposal, “it doesn’t feel fair.”

“Fair” is an interesting concept. From my observation post as a behavior geek it appears that “fair” usually means, “That isn’t what I want for me.” In other words, there is no link to the concept of even-handedness or a reasonable distribution of responsibility and obligation. “Fair” is solely about “I get what I want.” Let’s add one more piece of information and then test the concept.

Here’s a chart reported by The New York Times, sourced from Gabriel Zucman of UC Berkely.*

The graphs represent average federal tax rates for top earners, like Mr. Bechtel. Note how low taxes have been in recent decades relative to most of the last century. Note, too, that these are nominal rates, not what anyone actually paid after their highly expert accounting ju jitsu was applied.

Please tell us again, Mr. Bechtel, about how unfair (meaning “not even-handed”) a relatively slight increase in your taxes will be. You and your family and your top executives have been bathing in the flood tide of money that you’ve been able to amass for half a century. And you’ve been able to keep ever more of it for yourselves, because special tax loopholes and lower top rates have sent your actual, send-IRS-a-check tax bill on a near-constant downward trajectory. So has the employee attrition from the IRS that has minimized scrutiny of tax returns of those at the top of the wealth distribution pyramid.

Another way to say that is that the 99% of the rest of us who don’t have those tax loopholes available to us or the cash to pay high priced tax attorneys have borne a higher burden to support the commons because you’ve skated. I’m talking about the roads, bridges, schools, national defense, emergency services and the rest of the things we do together in this country. You haven’t paid your fair share for a really long time. So, “It doesn’t feel fair” is just too much for we common folk to hear.

You could take a page from Warren Buffett’s book and demand higher tax rates on the ultra-rich. It won’t affect your lifestyle a bit and the next generation Bechtel lucky sperm club winner will still inherit enough money to buy a small country.

So, go ahead and publicly demand our legislators and president raise taxes on the ultra-rich so we can fix the bridges, provide pre-K for our little ones and all the rest of the vitally needed actions in the commons that are decried so absurdly by Republicans.

Your gesture would be a most patriotic thing. It still won’t be what you want, but we’ll be most grateful for your having progressed to something that looks a lot more fair – as in “even-handed” – to the rest of us.

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2. A Jonathan Swifty Solution for Pandemic Fairness

Extremists have taken full control of the Republican Party. These people are angry and vocal and violent and they show up in huge numbers to vote. They openly carry guns, they like to intimidate others, they refuse masks and vaccines and they’re certain they’re the true patriots. That’s a problem for the rest of us who prefer boring negotiations to settle differences, rather than mob violence. And we’d rather not be infected by the mask and vaccine refusers. Fortunately, I have a modest proposal to tame all of that.

Caution: snark follows.

Let’s give them their own country. We’ll cede the Dakotas, where they can refuse masks and vaccines and embrace their Second Amendment remedies with wanton abandon. The Dakotas should be enough space, as they’ll kill one another in gun fights and die of Covid pretty quickly, so they’ll cull their own herd. Tucker Carlson will fit right in.

More immediately important is the issue of the pandemic, as it’s estimated that over 905,000 Americans have already died from it and the extremists overwhelmingly refuse masks, social distancing and vaccines. That imperils our ability to achieve herd immunity, which means their stubborn refusal puts the rest of us at risk. Here’s how to fix that.

By late summer we will have had sufficient vaccine supply and the distribution network for all of us to be vaccinated. Anyone not vaccinated by then can be considered a refuser. These are the people most likely to wind up in hospitals, then on ventilators and finally in the morgue. These are the people who will put our healthcare workers at risk and overload them. They’ll tie up our entire medical system, which compromises everyone else’s access to healthcare. Indeed, it’s been reported that 94% of cancer screenings over the past year were not done due to the pandemic. Our refusers threaten to make that permanent, which imperils all the rest of us.

I propose that after August 31 that we refuse to deliver medical service to anyone who contracts Covid and can’t produce a vaccination card.

It’s their choice to refuse to be vaccinated and that choice, like every choice, comes with consequences which shouldn’t be dumped on the rest of us. They made their bed; now they can lie in it – at home in the Dakotas, where they can’t infect the rest of us with the Covid variants they carry.

This is fair to the rest of us who don’t want to deal with the extremists and their Covid threats and their constant threat to our democracy. It provides freedom of choice, a true American value. It’s in line with the absolute freedom demands of our rugged individuals. And it gets all of us what we want.

This is another in an ongoing offering of simple Swifty solutions for complex problems and for fairness in our country. Please sign the petition at www.ExtremistsGoAway.com.

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3. Fairness Quotes of the Week

From David Brooks in the New York Times:

“That [WW II] victory required national cohesion, voluntary sacrifice for the common good and trust in institutions and each other. America’s response to Covid-19 suggests that we no longer have sufficient quantities of any of those things.”

That’s observationally accurate and fair to say.

From John Pavlovitz on vaccine refusal:

“Conservatives: you’ve been brainwashed. You are afflicted with partisan politics and bad theology, and you are unable to think clearly because of it. You are so intent on validating your vote that you will do anything to feel that way.”

Pavlovitz’s words actually apply to Trump brain slaves. True conservatives would be demanding that we all get vaccinated, this as a patriotic duty. It’s entirely fair to say that.

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* Click the link on Zucman’s name and download any of his papers – say, the top one: Tax Evasion at the Top of the Income Distribution: Theory and Evidence. Just read the abstract. Then give some thought to how the Trump administration’s IRS focused on middle income taxpayers and didn’t even glance at most of the wealthy.

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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.

RepublicanLand


This is not just another rant about anti-democracy, anti-fact, anti-truth, anti-progress Republicans. Sure, this is a rant and it’s fun to bash the bullies, but what Republicans are doing is amplifying their ingrained dishonesty to the point of imperiling our national bedrock. So, this is a semaphore signal or perhaps the ride of a descendant of Paul Revere. The turncoats are coming! The turncoats are coming! No, wait, it’s worse than that: they’re already here.


Let’s see what’s going on in RepublicanLand.

  1. Republican legislatures in at least 43 states have passed or are in process of passing at least 360 laws to make voting more difficult specifically for people of color, poor people and anyone else likely to vote for Democrats. Read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on this here.
  2. The House passed the For the People Act (the Voting-Rights bill) with zero Republican votes. This law would negate most of the pernicious state anti-voting laws. The Senate has promised similar opposition. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
  3. Republicans voted unanimously against the American Rescue Act, the bill that allows us to dramatically crank up the fight against Covid-19 and to help Americans who have been hit hard economically by the pandemic. This is a bill that has a 70% approval rating by Republican voters and even greater approval numbers from Democrats and independents. And all Republicans voted against it. They are trying to keep Democrats from having any wins to brag about and it’s painfully clear that they don’t care who – perhaps you – gets hurt by their scorched earth actions.
  4. They have vowed to vote in lock step against the American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure building/rebuilding initiative that is already supported by 52% of the electorate and that number is growing. Same reason as #3 above.
  5. The proposed funding for the American Jobs Plan is an increase in taxes on corporations from 21% to 28% (it was 35% prior to the Trump tax giveaway) and on people making over $400,000 per year. This is an overwhelmingly popular idea, but Republicans in Congress oppose it. Same reason as #3 above.
  6. Gun safety has once again come to the front burner and Republicans oppose any form of legislation to curb our ongoing massacre. They continue to do that even as 90% of Americans want universal background checks on the transfer of all firearms and that number has been a constant since Sandy Hook in 2012. Think: campaign contributions and yet again, #3 above.

What all of these and even more Republican manipulations have in common is that they are efforts by a minority of Americans to hold on to power, control, money and a frail, fragile self-image. They either refuse to or are unable to create policies to attract more voters in order to win elections, so,

their sole efforts are to protect themselves at the peril of our nation through obstruction in Congress and obstruction at the ballot box.

.

I bash Republicans regularly because they offer virtually nothing that is praise-worthy. The party has been taken over by a rage-filled mob and traditional Republicans, unable to deal with the craziness, are exiting. Would that this were not so, but this is what passes for the Grand Old Party today. Perhaps that acronym should keep its letters but now mean Grand Obstruction Party.

And that is exactly why we must be vigilant and active. Absent our involvement, this underhanded minority will steal our entire country.

The April “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks” Award

This month the awarding of this most sarcastic honor is (so far) nearly a toss up.

On the one hand we have Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Hypocrisy) wailing his objections to corporations that are weighing into politics, like voting rights. He says that’s “stupid.” How awful and inappropriate, he tells us, that MLB took the All Star Game from Georgia and Coca-Cola, Home Depot and more big corporations have offered public criticism of Republican voting suppression laws. McConnell waves his political purity for all to see, even as he gleefully solicits and accepts corporate campaign contributions. He doth, indeed, protest too much.

On the other hand we have Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pluto) and his alleged sex scandals and whatever else the Feds are investigating about him. He’s a purist, a Trumpian blowhard of Olympian caliber who apparently engages in the same or similar practices as Trump himself, including howling his integrity and his victimhood in incoherent rants. His only two supporters are Rep. Marjory Taylor Green (R-QAnon) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Wrestling Scandal). I guess the congressmen to whom he showed pictures of his female conquests in the nude couldn’t speak up on his behalf. Perhaps they liked the pictures and maybe their giggles echo yet in the House cloakroom, but they’re kinda busy just now, it seems. Still, Gaetz caterwauls his abusive indignation to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear about his untaintedness. He doth protest too much, too.

Whom to choose  .  .  . ?

I can’t help but recall televangelist Jim Bakker, who was a fire and brimstone preacher against dishonesty of any kind, right until he was indicted and convicted of fraud and conspiracy. Same for all preachers who extolled purity, then were caught in sex scandals, like Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart and more.

And all the Catholic priests preaching against sin while sexually violating children.

Really, it’s all the holier-than-thou types whom we at last learn have feet of clay.

Like today’s Republicans in Congress and state houses, protecting the sanctity of voting by preventing citizens from voting. And it’s all happening in the land of minority rule, RepublicanLand.

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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.

We’re Still Not Free


Can you believe we’re still having conversations about basic Covid stuff? I mean, we’ve known what to do to defeat this pandemic for most of a year and the rising availability of vaccines has greatly enhanced our ability to fight it, but still over 60,000 Americans test positive every day and our hospitals are filling up once again.

Through most of the past year we sat on our hands and allowed a lot of people to get sick, and a lot of people to suffer very long duration horrible symptoms and we’ve stood by and watched over half a million of our fellow citizens die. Dr. Deborah Birx recently said what you know to be true, that about 450,000 of our 550,000 Covid deaths were preventable. Early on in the pandemic a study at Oxford University said that 70 – 99% of U.S. Covid deaths were due to poor national leadership; i.e. they were preventable, but for self-serving you-know-who.

Given that,

How is it that so many millions of Americans still refuse to wear a mask? Yeah, I know it’s a terrible infringement on their individual freedom, poor babies.

How is it that Republican governors like DeSantis (FL), Abbott (TX) and Noem (SD) are doing everything possible to prevent any requirement for mask wearing in their cities, at work and inside retail stores? Of course, they’re doing it to suck up to their flagrant and vocal constituents in order to collect campaign donations, but they harm those very constituents because they, like so many others, continue to get sick and die.

How is it that the vast majority of White Evangelicals oppose vaccines on self-righteous religious grounds?

How is it that way too many of our citizens are both anti-science and conspiracy believers who refuse vaccines for staunchly held, anti-fact reasons? No, vaccines don’t cause autism, as proven conclusively and repeatedly by – guess what? – science. And Bill Gates isn’t packing nanobots into vaccines so he can track and control you.

In all cases – mask and vaccine refusers, political contribution suckers and science and reality deniers –  these are people ruled by self-serving confirmation bias and a drive for power and control.*

Why are we treating this deadly disease like it’s an optional game of volleyball in the park, where refusing to play is no big deal? There are milliions of our people doing that, and that is why we’re still not free of this awful disease.

Here’s a parallel to that.

President Biden is initiating a series of Executive Orders aimed at curtailing our gun slaughter, but those will only be temporary fixes, subject to the whim of the next President. We need Republicans to act, but they’ve proven to be intransigent on this issue, as they are to most challenges.

Here’s my view about gun safety reform:

We’ll have strong gun safety legislation and the beginning of curtailing our national carnage when we and our legislators at last decide that we love our children, our relatives and our friends more than we love our lust for power and control.

Given the overwhelming public support for gun safety laws, it’s our Second Amendment thumpers and our political contribution suckers whom we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

And so it is with masks and vaccinations. The refusers are the key obstacle to our resuming full personal and national health and are the ones we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

Meanwhile, we know what to do to defeat this pandemic – really, both pandemics. The trick is getting people to do the right thing.

Jennifer Rubin explains why it’s so hard to do that here.

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End Note

Each year the local high schools combine their singing and orchestral talents into a marvelous spring concert of about 500 very talented kids under wonderful direction. It’s held in the cathedral of Techny Towers, a massive and beautiful sanctuary, the acoustics of which compel music to sound. It is a singer’s and musician’s delight.

The programs are new each year, but the closer is always The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it is a prayer for a time when we were ripping ourselves apart, not unlike today. If you have not heard this majestic piece in full, you need to – it’s attached below. As you listen, imagine that you’re surrounded by singers and musicians. They’re in front of you, along both sides and even along the sides of the balcony above and around you. You’re surrounded by a message.

The point of bringing this into the conversation is a line from the Hymn. It is inherently Christian, so feel free to take this in that way. But also read and feel these words as a compelling message for us in these dark times of civil strife.

As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free

That’s free, like: Our people healthy and free from pandemic; You and I free from the danger of firearms in the hands of those who would harm us; Our citizens free and with full and equal rights – all of them. Feel free to add to this list.

Let us live to make men – and women – free.

  • Glenbrook Festival of Music, March 13, 2016
  • Glenbrook High Schools, IL D-225, Choirs and Orchestra

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* Indeed, I believe that lust for power and control was the gut level driver for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. Life and death is the ultimate power and control.

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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.

Sing It With Me


A video of this post is inlne below.

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Our national mania for freedom (“You can’t tell me what to do!“) and  our desire for retribution for both real and imagined wrongs, combined with our obsession over firearms (click for the truth about “Second Amendment remedies“) is a potent combination that is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: it’s killing people.

15 were killed and 24 injured at Columbine High School

9 were killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church

17 were killed at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School

11 were killed and 6 wounded at Tree of Life Synagogue

58 people were killed at the Las Vegas music festival

49 people were killed and 53 were injured at the Pulse Nightclub

20 little kids and 6 teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School

8 people were killed in Atlanta spas

10 people were killed in a Boulder, CO supermarket

Click me

You know that this list could go on and on and you’d recognize the names, like Poway and San Bernardino and El Paso and Aurora and Sutherland Springs, Virginia Tech and Ft. Hood. We’ve already had 25 mass shootings in March alone, over one per day, and here’s the key point: most or all were done with legally purchased and carried weapons. Some of the killings were done by mentally ill people. Some were done by delusional angry people. Doesn’t matter much. The victims are still dead.

President Obama stood before the nation after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of those little 5 and 6 year old kids, wiping away tears as he spoke. He prayed that we would come to our senses and enact gun safety legislation that would begin to put an end to the murdering of so many of our innocents, but that still hasn’t happened. We still don’t have universal background checks. We don’t prohibit concealed and open carry. We don’t prohibit ownership of assault weapons. We don’t limit the size of ammunition magazines or the number of firearms and the amount of ammunition anyone is allowed to own. We do nothing – literally nothing – to stop the bleeding and dying.

A lot of our politicians have had a backbone-ectomy and have refused to do a thing about preventing our national carnage, even as 90% of us want universal background checks and more.

Exactly who do you think is doing all that shooting: lefties? Get real. In fact, get so real that you’ll read the unclassified version of the Intelligence Community assessment of domestic violent extremism. You can download a copy here.

No time to read? Okay, I’ll make this quick. Things are terrible and they are rapidly becoming even worse.*

Here’s a lovely set of statistics. There are enough firearms in private hands in this country to equip every man, woman and child with a gun and still have millions of firearms left over. That’s the first statistic.

Here’s the second: 50% of all those firearms are in the hands of just 3% of the population and a lot of those people are very angry. Worse, they think they’re the true patriots and the proper arbiters of justice and that violence is a fine solution.

We live in the lunacy of unrestricted firearms in the hands of angry people who think a stop sign is an abridgement of their freedom. Or they think that somebody else is the cause of their problems and unhappiness and that all the somebody else’s should be made to pay. Better hope you’re not a somebody else. Meanwhile, sleep well and have a nice day.

Which is hard to do right now if you live in Boulder, CO or Atlanta, GA or even Newtown, CT. And who knows? Maybe your town will make the news just like theirs, so that the name of your elementary school or your high school or your favorite supermarket or spa will be known across the nation.

You know the words of the mass murder song, so sing it with me: Thoughts and Prayers.

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ADDENDA

From Giovanni Russonello in the New York Times – On Politics newsletter of March 24, 2021, wherein he directs a fictional stage play.

“Senators, assemble, stage left and stage right, and face the audience. Now, express your outrage and frustration. Demand change. Or, if you’re standing on the right, direct your outrage at those across from you, ridiculing them for suggesting that changing the laws might even address the problem.”

This is, in fact, a constantly recurring drama that played out yet again the day after the Boulder, CO massacre. This is why things never get better.

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Click through the graphic below to the Mother Jones “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America.”

The Geography of Mass Shootings in America – Click the pic

  • ——————————–
  • * 2020 was a great year for gun murders in America. We’re number one and certain to stay there. Read about it here.

—————————————-

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

  1. 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.
  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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I’m No Anti-Vaxxer


Reading time – 6:14  .  .  .

Conspiracy theories about vaccines abound. As well, reasonable, science based objections have made solid challenges to vaccines, too. Regardless, history tells us that blind acceptance of vaccines probably isn’t a good idea.

Take, for instance, the recent comments of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. He insisted that any Covid-19 vaccine would have to “adhere to standards” for safety and efficacy. Perfect. We want to know that a vaccine or med we take to protect us both works and is safe. That’s especially important reassurance now, given the enormous political pressure being applied to develop a vaccine by election day. That’s where this story grows dark.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner, FDA

Trump is making fantastical claims that we’ll have a vaccine by the election. Sometimes he makes solid promises – “We’ll have 100 million doses by November.” Sometimes they’re typical Trump vacuous teasers – “might be,” “very soon,” “like you’ve never seen before,”  “I think in some cases, yes possibly before [the November election], but right around that time,” “It will be unbelievable,” etc. Side note: He uses the word “unbelievable” like a circus sideshow barker to describe nearly everything he is promoting or claiming as a victory for himself. When he does that I know that he is at last speaking truth: it probably is unbelievable; i.e. not worthy of our belief. Back to the main point.

Nearly every time Trump speaks about the pandemic, fiction comes from his mouth in an avalanche, as he struggles to paper over his abject failure to meet the challenge. Note that when he at last admitted in March that the pandemic is here and is a big deal, he said we’re fighting a war and that he’s a wartime president. If that’s so, then it’s fair to say that he’s lost nearly every battle and the enemy is winning this war decisively. That’s why he’s desperate to have a vaccine before the election. His eagerness has nothing to do with your health.

So, Trump is leaning hard on the doctors, scientists, epidemiologists, researchers and pharma company CEOs to bail out his sinking wartime command ship. The good news is what Hahn said about adhering to standards. What you probably didn’t hear is that he left the door open to “emergency use authorization” of vaccines that haven’t yet “adhered to standards.” It’s a bit like chancey, off-label use of a drug; for example, hydroxychloroquine.

As you likely know, it’s a drug used to treat patients with malaria. That, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are the sole FDA authorized uses of this drug. Fairly early in this pandemic somebody decided to try using it to treat Covid-19. In fact it was given FDA off-label authorization for that use – right up until our VA hospitals realized that they were killing our vets with hydroxychloroquine. That’s when the FDA rescinded the off-label use of the drug.

To be fair, there are reputable criticisms that suggest that hydroxychloroquine wasn’t used properly, in that it wasn’t used in conjunction with medically significant adjunctive treatments. Regardless, it was the government/FDA’s authorization that caused the problems.

Oddly, our president continued to recommend the use of hydroxychloroquine. He even said that he was taking it prophylactically, although he didn’t use that big word. The result was that there was enormous demand for the drug. People stockpiled it in case they got sick. There were two problems with that. First, people who had malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis couldn’t get their meds on time because production couldn’t keep up with the Trump-caused, artificially inflated demand. Second, hydroxychloroquine just might kill the stockpilers if they were to use it to treat their Covid-19 and did so improperly. Nevertheless, Trump continues to either promote the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 or allows his prior nonsensical rah-rah for it to linger because he is incapable of admitting he made a mistake. And we pay the price for his limitations with our health and our lives. The key point is that the FDA allowed off-label use of hydroxychloroquine and that killed people.

Follow the money: Who benefits from the increased demand for hydroxychloroquine and why is Trump so invested in that?

Again, while Dr. Hahn promised that the FDA and manufacturers would “adhere to standards” for a Covid-19 vaccine, he left the door open for emergency use authorization of these as-yet unproven vaccines. That is expressly, intentionally not adhering to standards.

In other words, Hahn and his agency might succumb to political pressure and roll the dice with the lives of granny, your children and you so that Trump can get reelected. Wild guess: That probably doesn’t sound too good to you and you’re already doubting Covid-19 vaccines. It turns out this story gets worse.

AstraZeneca is one of the key players in Covid-19 vaccine development and their drug is in a phase 3 trial. They have selected 30,000 people to be vaccinated and then watch to see if they become protected from the virus or if they get sick and perhaps die. I’m wondering if they intentionally expose these human Guinea pigs to the virus to test the vaccine. How else would they know if the vaccine had successfully protected them against the virus unless they knew test subjects had been exposed to it? That makes me think of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

There are two efficacy problems with the trial. The first is that they are only testing healthy, relatively young people. That means that if you have any underlying health issue, especially hypertension, diabetes or obesity, or are older or a child – any condition that is substantially different from the test group  – whatever the phase 3 trial shows, you won’t know if the vaccine will work for you as it did for those phase 3 trial subjects.

The second issue is that this phase 3 trial is being run without a placebo comparison; i.e. this isn’t a blind, much less double-blind test. That means that there will be no way to determine the true efficacy of the drug – whether it actually works. And we are expected to trust this vaccine with our lives.

The FDA’s mission is to protect the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human drugs and more (taken from the FDA’s Mission Statement). That’s why they have protocols and standards. And President Trump is leaning hard on Mr. Hahn to abandon those protocols and standards in order to win his election. Frighteningly, Hahn may be willing to cave in to the pressure and issue “emergency use authorization” of these non-adhering-to-standards vaccines before the election.

“Do you feel lucky, punk?” Click the pic.

This looks to me like they’re giving the anti-vaxxers big gun ammunition at a time when we desperately need confidence in something to protect all of us and stop the Covid-19 rampage.

I’m no anti-vaxxer, but as I said, blind acceptance of vaccines – especially a proposed, new generation, emergency-use-authorization vaccine, the use of which is entirely politically motivated – probably isn’t a good idea.

Makes me think of Dirty Harry. Like the guy in the car, my answer is no. Click the pic to the right and you’ll understand.

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Post Office Update

Stopping by the post office to mail a letter just in time for the last pickup of the day brought me face-to-face with Lizzy (not her real name), a postal service worker who was emptying the collection box. We chatted for a bit and I asked her about the reported slow down of the mail system orchestrated by the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. He is a big Trump contributor and a complete postal system know-nothing. He has eliminated overtime, slowed the sorting process and done other things, which have resulted in reported mountains of undelivered mail, especially at the big sorting centers. That’s what I asked Lizzy about.

“Oh, yeah, everything’s slowed down,” she said. “We hate that – we care about service.”

DeJoy claims to be a logistics expert and declares that he’s reducing costs. Sounds good. But our most mailed-in election balloting in history is already underway and he’s clogging the system. What do you suppose Donald Trump will say about the election when it appears he’s lost big and those mountains of undelivered mail are highlighted by him on November 4? Decide for yourself how much Trump election conspiracy to assign to that and let Professor Laurence Tribe be your guide:

Key Impact Point: Go to your secretary of state’s website, register to vote and request a mail-in ballot. The clock is ticking and soon you may run out of time to do that and make your vote count. Especially with DeJoy screwing up the system, you better move on this.
 

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Conservative Corner

Have you noticed how many things have gone on in the Trump era, like what’s covered in this post, that aren’t remotely conservative? As I’ve written so many times, we need the traditional Republican party to come back, to saddle up and hit the trail for America. Where are you guys?

Another 4 years of Trump won’t bring back conservatism. In fact, Trump will crush under his heel everything that conservatives hold dear and which he hasn’t already destroyed. It goes without saying that the things liberals/progressives hold dear are terminal, too.

Have you always voted Republican and cannot even imagine pulling the lever for a Democrat (I have such relatives and friends)? Now’s the time to imagine something bigger and for you to dare to go where you haven’t gone before while you still can. Remember that Trump has repeatedly threatened to cancel elections. That ain’t conservative.

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Finally

Leonard Cohen in 1988. Click the pic for his biography.

From poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

These are hard times and it’s difficult to know what to do and where to start. What is important is simply that we start. That we ring the bells that still can ring. Follow Leonard Cohen’s advice. Today is a good day for that.

——————————-

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

A Stroll Through Impeachment Park


Reading time – 4:21; Viewing time – 6:06  .  .  .

Contrary to his firm, clear declaration, Richard Nixon was a crook. Setting aside allegations that have a dollar sign directly attached to them, he obstructed justice. That’s a crime. He sent thieves into the night to break and enter the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, as well as to rob the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex. Those are crimes.

Nixon committed treason during the 1968 presidential campaign by urging the North Vietnamese not to conclude a peace treaty with the U.S., telling them they’d get a better deal from him if he were elected. That’s a crime.

None of these is about personal offensiveness or the breaking of norms. All of these are crimes. By any definition, Richard Nixon was a crook. And he was just short of certain impeachment and removal from office by the Senate when he resigned his office.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton’s ethics, his moral rectitude, if any, “crook” is hardly useful to describe him.

At the height of Newt Gingrich’s power as Speaker of the House he hired Ken Starr to investigate the Clintons – both of them. Starr’s charge wasn’t to focus on an indication of the commission of a specific crime. Rather, it was a target-of-opportunity witch hunt. He was to find something – anything – to hang around Bill Clinton’s neck.

Starr investigated everything both Clintons had touched, including the Rose law firm in Arkansas, the Whitewater land deal, the death of Vince Foster, various extramarital affairs and more and he found nothing illegal. Nothing. Then Linda Tripp, a confidant of White House intern Monica Lewinsky, called the FBI to disclose Clinton’s sexual relations with the young woman. Clinton’s actions, while perhaps repugnant, weren’t a crime.

Starr hauled Clinton before a grand jury and asked about the affair. Clinton lied, denying it. That was a crime – lying to a grand jury. And shaming Clinton into that was all that Starr could conjure after over four years of digging for dirt. There’s no question about the crime and Clinton was impeached, but the Senate made it clear that this was hardly treason, bribery or a high crime or misdemeanor. Stupid, yes. Worthy of removal from office? Come on.

Now, things are different. Donald Trump is guilty of either extortion or bribery and maybe both. Those are crimes. He is guilty of using funds allocated by Congress to have a foreign power give him support for the 2020 election. That constitutes at least three crimes; one is the withholding of funds directed by Congress; another is abuse of power; yet another is soliciting election help from a foreign government, one of only a handful of specific crimes listed in the Constitution.

By ignoring subpoenas and ordering all from the Executive Branch of government not to testify at the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings. Trump obstructed justice. Then there are his ongoing violations of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. These are all crimes and he’s guilty of them. We know that, not only because of the clear, direct testimony by greatly respected individuals with firsthand knowledge and through documentary evidence, but because Trump has bragged about all of these crimes.

Trump’s malfeasance is far beyond Nixon’s thievery and obstructions of justice and way past Bill Clinton’s lying about his dalliances. Trump is flagrantly guilty of bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors and everyone knows it.

All this has nothing to do with Trump’s distractions, like his continuous lying, his bullying, his violations of governmental, civic and decency norms, his ethics violations or even his dereliction of duty to our national security. For those who have spent the last few years admonishing that we ignore what Trump says and instead focus on what he does, that’s exactly what is happening right now.

The House is going to impeach Trump. It’s the right thing to do if we still believe in the rule of law and in protecting and defending the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

There’s only one question left: Do the Republicans in the Senate have even the small amount of integrity needed to do the right thing? Do they still believe in conservatism? We better hope that at least twenty of them do.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan avoided responsibility for the Iran-Contra crimes. George W. Bush skated from his having started two illegal wars. If Trump is allowed to walk, our refusal to hold high officials accountable will have been permanently erased. That is why impeachment and removal from office are the right things to do.

Finally,

From pal Allan Shuman on Friday:

November 22, 56 years ago, was also a Friday. That was truly the day that the music died. There was hardly a mention today in any of the media.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated that day and that changed a generation and perhaps the entire world. Cynicism was kindled in Boomers and trust was dealt a terrible blow. We had had belief on November 21st; not so much on the 23rd.

Now Trump’s maniacal need for attention and our national acquiescence to it has stolen even that remembrance from us.

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

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