Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

National security

So Many Crises, So Little Time


Fiddle (or golf) while America burns?

The vast majority of Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired.¹ ² We’re sick of the things about which we disapprove and we’re tired of them being tolerated. We’re sick of disrespect everywhere we look and tired of fighting it. We’re sick of self-righteousness and tired of its mob. We’re sick of assaults on what we hold dear and tired of those attacks being countenanced. We’re sick of selfishness and tired of hoping for something better. We’re sick of helplessness and tired of despair. We’re sick of attacks on our democracy and tired of finding yet more vicious attacks on it.

And all of this is happening as we are besieged by impatient crises that simply cannot wait.

The pandemic

The horrendous wealth gap and the misery of our poor and middle class people

Attacks on civil rights and voting rights

The obvious and looming climate crisis

Our decrepit infrastructure and lack of preparedness for the future

Our incendiary immigration dysfunction

The idiotic, dishonest Republican brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. See the graphic to the right, courtesy of JN.

The crises pile atop one another and we get only partisan warfare instead of serious action – and we tolerate that. In short, we’ve stopped believing in ourselves. This is how democracies die.

The drumbeat of the daily report of Covid infections and deaths has faded into elevator music that we no longer hear. After all, “just” 1,625 people are dying of it every day and it isn’t you or someone you knew, unless you know more than 500 people. Its easy not to feel it.

The mobs that swarm our state capitols and the thugs who make death threats against public officials and volunteers at polling places are remote and impersonal for over 99% of us, so it’s easy to fail to react. Besides, all of that has become background noise because of a perverse familiarity.

Congress has been set in rigor mortis for decades, with intransigence the norm, as the system is gamed. We’re desperate for leadership that is worthy of our trust. Disappointingly, our politicians have proven to be mere humans after all, focused on self-interest first, last and always.

Nero Destruction Award – NOT a Trump non-disclosure agreement

Absurdly, our search for better brought us Donald Trump, the most totally self-interested of all. Indeed, the fires burning our democracy had been smoldering for decades, yet Trump golfed and, to complete the metaphor, continues to throw gasoline on those fires. He was and is worthy of a Nero Destruction Award.

We have millions who believe that cheating is not only acceptable, but that it is good, that the end justifies the dishonest means. They believe that “Don’t tread on me” and that “.  .  .  the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants”³ are calls to arms against fellow citizens, and all the while they believe they are the true patriots. There is nothing so destructive as a holy war and that’s what they think they’re waging.

All of that angers and either energizes or deflates us. But wallowing in our being sick and tired of being sick and tired simply isn’t an acceptable option. We either do what needs to be done or both we and this democracy will be interred in permanent despair.

We Have a Democracy To Save

That is, by far, our most urgent need, the crisis that overwhelms them all. And it can’t wait another moment, because if we fail to stand and be counted in this challenge, the other crises will soon look quite small.

We distract ourselves with our sports. They’re our modern gladiatorial contests. We exhaust our powers of attention on the trivialities of Facebook and designer eyebrows and Britney Spears and pointless Zoom calls and deleting emails and washboard abs and more. But those all-too-abundant dilutions of our focus are what allow for the destruction of our democracy.

Thomas Paine

So many crises, so little time, yet be clear that we have to focus on the overriding issue, the most important and most urgent: saving our democracy. Both history and the future of our children require that we set aside our distractions and rise to this occasion.

We start by ensuring voting rights for all, fairly accepted and impartially implemented as the will of We the People. That’s why those two voting rights acts need to be passed into law immediately.

“`These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls.” Again.

Resources – a Wake Up Call

I’m no Democrat — but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy, by Max Boot

We are Republicans With a Plea: Elect Democrats in 2022, by Christine Todd Whitman and Miles Taylor

This Is Why We Need to Spend $4 Trillion, by David Brooks

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here. by Robert Kagan

Anything by Anne Applebaum

How Democracies Die, by Sam Levitsky and Daniel Zieblatt

How Fascism Works, by Jason Stanley

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

How the South Won the Civil War, by Heather Cox Richardson (on recommendation – in my reading queue now)

How Far Down the Road Towards Fascism Has America Gone?, by Thom Hartmann

I Know This Is Crazy, But Maybe We Should Live Under Majority Rule, by Jamelle Bouie

September 27 Twitter thread by Mark Jacob

IMPORTANT: Book links to Amazon are for informational purposes only. Please see Note #4 below.

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¹ From the Merriam-Webster dictionary: thoroughly fatigued or bored; also: fed up

² As quoted from Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH and candidate for governor.

³ Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Stephens Smith, son-in-law of John Adams, 1787.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

The No Surprises Taliban


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click me for the story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nonsense!
.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something Special For Our Partisan Critics

This is from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

E Pluribus Unum


Perhaps you heard that in the face of the Texas winter nightmare Republican Governor Greg Abbott blamed the breakdowns and suffering on the Green New Deal. Of course, the GND is only an idea; nothing has been done to create its physical reality, so Abbott’s pronouncements were most perplexing. Besides, the wind and solar renewables that have been in Texas for years kept working as the fossil fuel plants shut down. His gubernatorial leadership seemed rather QAnon-ish and unhelpful.

Former Republican Texas Governor and former head of the Department of Energy Rick Perry said that “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” He also said that the current disaster shows that we have to double down on burning natural gas.

Perry made these claims even as climate scientists explained that the jet stream was altered by global warming and that the resulting redirection drove the frigid air that far south, all the way to Texas and northern Mexico. It’s incontrovertible that burning more gas won’t prevent the next arctic blast and it’s unlikely Texans want to experience yet more days without power. Like Governor Abbott, former Governor Perry’s comments were detached from reality and notably unhelpful at a time when help was needed.

“Don’t mess with Texas” is an attitude of fierce independence and pride in the Lone Star state and those politicians have used that attitude as their political tool. But the experts have made it clear that this stand-alone bravado and a mania for deregulation are key drivers of the Texas lack of preparedness for cold weather and the suffering it spawned this month.

In the face of our obvious interdependence, neither Texas nor, indeed, any part our country can go it alone in facing our deepest, most difficult challenges. It’s time to get over our self-puffing swagger, our self-serving pronouncements and leave the failed policies and attitudes behind.

We cannot “burn natural gas” our way out of our power and climate messes. We cannot “deny medical care” our way to health. We cannot “austerity” ourselves out of poverty. We cannot bootstrap ourselves out of natural disasters. We cannot suppress our way to security. We cannot hate our way into patriotism. It’s time – really, long past time – to deal with reality.

One reality is that everyone likes the idea of small government and low taxes. The companion reality is that we like that first reality only until the moment when disaster hits and we have to pull together. It’s called government. The Commons. It’s how we band together to do the things we cannot do alone. It’s why impoverishing government ultimately doesn’t work for us.

Philosopher and heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That’s when the old plan shows its weaknesses and we realize that we are in a fight for our lives and that we’re in it together. That’s when we drop the pretenses and get about doing what we should have been doing all along.

Like aggressively fighting Covid-19.
Like rebuilding our infrastructure before everything falls apart.
Like admitting that we really need some things to be regulated.
Like standing up to bullies.
Like ending our ongoing un-civil war.
Like educating all of our young.
Like preparing for a tomorrow that is going to look very different from our yesterday.
Like acknowledging that not everything is a zero-sum game.
.

That means that we must be an E Pluribus Unum, because without it we are self-defeating. Just ask anyone on our Gulf Coast who has dealt with frequent and ever-more powerful hurricanes, or any former homeowner in the burned out wreckage of California, or survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 or most any Texan right now,

Our being composed of such large numbers of people today make the E Pluribus Unum part difficult, because we humans are more comfortable in small numbers. But we’ve solved that puzzle before, once at our beginning and at other times since then, and we can do it again.

All we have to do is to deal with reality like an E Pluribus Unum.

From ES:

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. – Robert Fulghum.

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American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

People are bowing before a golden image of Trump at CPAC. It is the ultimate graven image of our time, today’s Biblical-political tale of debauchery and willful human debasement. That kind of idol worship over the last 4 years got us January 6. And now these people have their real Golden Calf to worship. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

This time for sure!

Said Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” Here it is again in perfect verse.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt the CPAC worship perversion, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

.

To the attendees at CPAC

You booed the woman calling for wearing face masks and shouted “Freedom!” in protest of her outrageous proposal to suppress virus transmission. What was she thinking?

Hold tight to your liberty to refuse to wear a mask. Breathe, cough and sneeze to the point of hypoxia in your asymptomatic self-certainty. Exercise your freedom by sharing your disease with your family and friends.

Just keep your cooties the hell away from me and everyone else who knows they have the freedom to not be infected by you. Freedom!

And no, I won’t visit you in the hospital when that respirator is shoved down your throat. Neither will anyone else. You’ll have the freedom to die alone.

Random Fact of the Week

Barbie Doll’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Now you have all you need for a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Many thanks to grandson JG and his Fact of the Day calendar for that.

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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.

How It Works


In the first Star Wars movie there is a scene with Darth Vader and the officers of the Imperial star ship. The commander says,

 

“The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the old republic have been swept away  .  .  .  Fear will keep the local systems in line.”

That’s pretty much how Hitler did it. He didn’t actually make the Reichstag go away. He just neutered it into becoming a lap dog by means of The Enabling Act of 1933, which the council members passed due to fear for their lives.

It’s pretty much the same in Putin’s Russia, Erdoğan’s Turkey, Xi’s China and Duterte’s Phillippines. Eliminating legislative oversight is what authoritarians do to hoard all power for themselves. Most often it’s done with thug tactics. Just ask Putin opponent Alexei Navalny about his experience with Putin’s nerve poison. The message is always to do what the leader wants or be killed.

Shift to January 6, 2021, Washington, DC. It was a violent mob dispatched by Trump, a riot of Jesus-bannered, cross carrying thugs, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other militia hoodlums. They were there to overthrow the government – to eliminate Congress – so that Trump could take over the country.

Does that sound so extreme as to be preposterous? If so, you need to pay closer attention, because that’s exactly what those thugs said they were there to do, all at Trump’s bidding. They were there to murder any House or Senate members they found. They brought a noose to lynch Mike Pence. Those aren’t things people do in order to preserve their government.

Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick

And killing Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick isn’t what people do to protect and defend the Constitution.

Sicknick died defending 535 members of Congress and the symbol of America that is the Capitol Building. He was killed by Bible-thumping American terrorists, who most certainly weren’t promoting law and order or doing what Jesus would do.

Honoring Officer Brian Sicknick

Both before and since the insurrection, members of Congress have received death threats* to themselves and to their family members. As that is happening, Trump and 140 Representatives, 45 Senators, right-wing blatherers and all of those extreme hate groups are continuing to promote the Big Lie to overthrow the will of the people; i.e. to put a stake through the heart of democracy.

For any remaining skeptics: If not to overthrow the will of the people and democracy, what do you think that election fraud Big Lie is about? Surely, you don’t think those rioters are play acting when they attempt kill those in Congress. Surely, you don’t think they believe in democracy when they attempt to trash the votes of millions of Americans.

Click me

This is how democracies die. A cult leader exhorts fanatics, the thugs terrorize all opposition and incrementally people surrender to death threats and violence. And that’s advanced when 199 of our legislators give a standing ovation to the Qanon conspiracy nut case spewing fascist hatred. Yes, fascism can happen here in America.

I’ve exhorted readers to see what Vice President Wallace had to say about fascism in America. If you believe in democracy and have not yet read his essay, please read it now.

These violent, angry thugs won’t simply melt away if Trump disappears or if this current insurrection fails – and no, it isn’t over yet. You can expect acts of terrorism, including mass shootings and bombings and perhaps political assassinations over the coming years, as highly armed, angry, hateful, bigoted, self-righteous thugs continue their war against America.

Note that violence is only being conducted by right wing fanatics. Any attempt at “whataboutism,” any attack on the center or left to somehow justify this terrorism isn’t only a false equivalency; it’s a religiously bigoted  threat to the life and safety of every American and it is an assault on our democracy.

There have been ongoing efforts to bridge our massive national divide. The truth is that I haven’t a clue how to make piece with the guys wearing Auschwitz t-shirts or the Naples, FL supermarket owner who claims 400,000 deaths are a lie and that the pandemic is “total hogwash.”** Perhaps worse, I don’t feel compelled to make peace with them.

Their baseless certainties represent the kind of reality denial that drives American terrorists to violence. Besides, the supermarket guy is allowing his mask-free store to be a super spreader center for Covid-19 infection. That’s another act of American violence.

I’m all for our learning to talk with one another constructively, to make peace, perhaps to have a truth and reconciliation commission. But that can only happen after violence is no longer a threat and democracy is secure. Reference: South Africa.

Now it’s time for all of us to stand and be counted in support of the FBI and whatever resources they need to stop the barbarians, including identifying the January 6 criminals. It’s imperative that we eliminate the clear and present danger that these home grown killers and desecrators are.

The terrorists have already breached the gates of democracy and are buoyed by their treasonous actions because they see January 6 as a victory for themselves. If we are to continue our bold experiment in self-rule, we better get some victories notched against the barbarians damned fast.

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Finally,

From Morgan Freeman as Judge Leonard White in the closing scene of the 1990 film, The Bonfire of the Vanities:

 

“I’ll tell you what justice is. Justice is the law. And the law is man’s feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency!

“And decency is not a deal. It isn’t an angle or a contract or a hustle. Decency – decency is what your grandmother taught you. It’s in your bones.

“Now, you go home. Go home and be decent people. Be decent.”

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*For spewers of death threats, we all know that your anonymous threatening  brands you a coward. It’s the act of people with such low self-esteem and sense of impotence that it’s the only thing they can find to help them feel powerful. With that in mind, I offer you a wish:

I wish you a pony in your back yard and a new bike to replace the one you ruined. I wish you unicorns crossing your path and pink, heart-shaped candies on Valentine’s Day.

Then, when you’re feeling all sweet from the candy, my real wish is for you to call or write those you threatened, apologize to them and beg for forgiveness as an act of contrition. It will be your first step back into the embrace of democracy.

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**That isn’t a hypothetical example; it’s what the guy said.

In fact, many people are claiming that Covid-19 is a hoax, even as they see death all around and see our over-maxed hospitals with exhausted, weeping staff and even as these deniers themselves gasp their last breath. I don’t understand that and have asked for an explanation, but none has been offered, so I’m asking again. If you can explain that, please do so in the Comments section below to help us all to understand.

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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.

Stampeding Dishonesty Is Trampling Everything In Its Path


This is about people who are knowingly saying things that are false. It’s called lying.


It’s not just that the dishonesty is present. It’s about its tentacles spreading malevolently and the speed of its corrosive march.

Trump’s blatant dishonesty was on full display when he called for the execution of the Central Park Five after they had been fully exonerated by DNA evidence. He moved on to the birther lie, then “Lock her up!” Then he proceeded to tell over 30,500 lies while in office, nearly one per hour for four years.

But the biggest pile of dishonesty is that of the senators, congressmen/women, pundits, talk show blatherers, TV fake news outlets*, governors, sycophants and cowards. They both have and are supporting Trump’s  Big Lie of a fraudulent election.

I have labeled other Trump lies as the Big Lie but I was premature in awarding the label. There is no bigger lie than to lie in order to overthrow our democracy and replace it with fascism. Trump proclaiming his fraudulent election Big Lie is a traitorous affront to our nation, but 140 Republican congressmen/women and 8 Republican senators have not only promoted his lie, but they have voted in favor of it, endorsing the Big Lie.

Look at that list of Big Lie promoters two paragraphs up. Every one of the people represented by those titles is getting something for themselves by promoting the Big Lie. Politicians are getting donations and votes. Pundits and talk show blatherers are getting ratings and advertising dollars. Sycophants are getting jobs and promotions. It is a whirlwind of self-serving, sell out greed as they shred the pages of the Constitution with their dirty shoes and spit on the flag.

This is going to get uglier, as we incrementally learn why warnings issued days before the January 6 insurrection were ignored and why the National Guard was prevented from being properly armed and called in to quell the rebellion – indeed, why they weren’t in place before the traitors arrived at the Capitol Building.

We’re going to learn about various conspiracies to promote the insurrection and its violence, their intent to murder members of Congress. It won’t be surprising if it’s found that government officials themselves were involved in facilitating the whole thing. Think: reconnaissance tours of the Capitol Building given to traitors led by elected officials the day before the attack.

There is nothing conservative in promoting, supporting and excusing sedition. These people are not conservatives.

Now we find this headline:

Republican Attorneys General Dark Money Group Organized Protest Preceding Capitol Mob Attack

Even as the majority of the nation was horrified the night of November 8, 2016, we didn’t hear Democrats claiming Trump didn’t win. We don’t have Democrats spouting QAnon conspiracy lies, like Jewish lasers in space starting California wild fires or that Hillary has a child sex trafficking ring (or was it child killing in order to drink their blood?) operating out of the basement of a pizza shop in DC.

All of these liars and traitors are Republicans.

There are no equivalencies. Any “they all do it” rationalizations, “they’re all liars” justifications or ways to blame George Soros are all just the refuge of liars and the willfully self-deluded.

Did you see the messages of the traitors on January 6? They were carrying Bibles and crosses and chanting “USA! USA!” and waving American flags, even as they nearly killed a Capitol cop with their flag poles. It was exactly as predicted by Henry Wallace, FDR’s second vice-president. Please download and read his clear explanation. He knew a lot about fascism, as we were in the last year of the war to defeat fascism when he wrote his essay.

It is exactly in line with a quote often attributed to Sinclair Lewis:

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

We have galloping, stampeding, cowardly dishonesty, now supporting the Big Lie to end our democracy. That’s why we need our senators to put on their big boy and big girl pants and convict Trump for his sedition.**

Trump was defeated, but those fighting his battle to end our democracy are full of self-righteous anger and hate and they aren’t going away.

Wake up, America.

——————————-

And yet more dishonesty

Rudy Giuliani has come down a long way since he was marketed as “America’s Mayor” and has debased himself repeatedly by promoting every Trump lie, fraud and fantasy, including the Big Lie. To make the point starkly, he is a lawyer who has promoted sedition in pursuit of his client’s megalomania.

Giuliani has made defamatory statements about The Lincoln Project, so he has now received Nasty Letter Number One from their lawyer. You want to read this, not just because of the Giuliani smack down, but because it describes at least metaphorically, the last four years.

We’ve been wondering what Putin has on Trump such that Trump lapdogs at every opportunity. The same question can be shifted to wondering what Trump has on Giuliani to make him do and say the most idiotic things.

Many thanks to JHA for the link.

——————————-

Quote of the Week

“Sometimes I think that the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”

Calvin and Hobbes

——————————-

*On February 1 as our Covid-19 Response team gave its thorough update to the nation, both CNN and MSNBC televised it from start to finish. Fox News instead reported on snow in New York, including one scene of a fellow picking up snow and throwing it into the air. Gotta wonder if Fox News refused to present the Covid update live in order to avoid angering its base of pandemic deniers.

**Q: Why are Republican Senators calling on us to look forward, not backward, exhorting the nation to put Trump’s sedition behind us and not hold him accountable?

A. They don’t want to stand up and be counted doing the right thing because they will lose the votes of the radicals, which might cause them to lose their next primary. That’s more important to them than our democracy.

—————————————-

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.

Three Questions, One Answer and A Snow Job


1. Question

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was widely praised for standing up to President Trump by refusing to “find” 11,780 votes for Trump.

Question: When did the bar get set so low that just refusing to commit a felony was cause for praise and celebration?

2  Question

The end of Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution reads:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the end of their next Session. [emphasis mine]

Question: Trump has been allowed to appoint “acting” secretaries of Executive departments and avoid Senate scrutiny for nearly all of his presidency. Why weren’t his unconfirmed picks challenged when their clocks ran out?

3. A Question and An Answer

How is it that thousands of Americans rioted, defacing and violating the people’s seat of government and threatening murder, yet they see themselves as true patriots, even as they were clearly violating the Constitution and the law?

I have at least a partial answer for that one: These people have grievances that are very real to them. You might not like or agree with all of them, but they are powerful for these people.

For example, they really dislike being insulted and dismissed as “deplorables” by “elites.” They respond to that dumping of humiliation exactly as you would. And they most certainly don’t like being lied to, especially by people with a lot of money, which includes members of Congress, as they see it.

For decades politicians have been promising to bring back good jobs, the manufacturing jobs that pay well and allow for a solid middle class life for them and their families. Instead, they’ve watched as town after town lost their strongest employers and their towns became boarded up shells of what they once were.

It’s a huge impact on them to have their economic security undermined. They’re just like you in wanting to be self-sufficient and not needing to be dependent on others. I was reminded of that recently when I delivered a neighborhood collection of groceries to the local food bank. One of the workers told me how humiliated people feel when they have become dependent on handouts to feed their families.

You won’t like the next example.

Over their lifetimes these angry people have seen the increase in power and status for non-whites, women, religious minorities and concessions made to immigrants. To white men viewing everything through a zero-sum lens, that means less power, status and opportunity for them. They see the superior position that they believe is rightfully theirs being compromised and incrementally being taken away.

Yes, that’s racist, misogynist and xenophobic. But it’s threatening to these people and a powerful inducement to rebel. For additional clarification, refer to The American Civil War, which, clearly, isn’t over. We have to find better ways.

There’s far more, of course. Just get that people only act as they did on January 6 for powerful reasons and those reasons don’t include their being stupid. I urge you to read Thomas Edsall’s compilation of insights from expert thought leaders in his piece, “White Riot“.

As much as I insist on accountability, we urgently need to deal with our realities in more ways than just locking up the perps. We need to deal with the root causes of the anger and desperation that drive people to act in this most unpatriotic and dangerous way. Otherwise, we will be condemned to a never ending cycle of hate, violence and suffering.

4. A Snow Job

In the debate over the article of impeachment in the House of Representatives on January 13 I heard Republicans oppose it by invoking:

    • The Wright brothers (yes, really)
    • There is grievous harm being done to Republicans when they are confronted in public by meanies.
    • There was violence and vandalism done at BLM protests.
    • A list of imagined Trump good stuff was recited.
    • There were meanies who wanted Trump impeached from the beginning of his presidency.
    • Moon landings (yes, really)
    • Claims that Trump was cleared of conspiracy and extortion in the Ukraine affair (not true).
    • Claims that Trump was exonerated by the Mueller Report (not true).
    • Nancy Pelosi is a meanie.
    • Republicans are poor victims of a double standard. Woe is them. So unfair. They’re victims. Feel sorry for them. (Yes, they pretty much said those things.)
    • Swift justice is unfair.
    • This is a great country.
    • The economy.
    • Yeah, but Democrats are bad guys, too (the “false equivalence” and “dirty hands” defenses).
    • Trump didn’t conspire with the Russians.
    • Trump didn’t incite violence because all he did was to decry election fraud.
    • The bill of impeachment is a fraud against the people of the United States.
    • Impeachment will be divisive.
    • Trump wanted peaceful protest.
    • The protesters were peaceful. (Seriously, a duly elected congressman said this just days after the rioting mob was looking for him in order to kill him.)
    • There is illegal immigration going on.
    • BLM was founded by Marxists.
    • Democrats have encouraged and endorsed violence.
    • Democrats support defunding the police and taking everyone’s guns.
    • Republicans are victims.
    • We’re in a race to the bottom and we need to do better.
    • The president didn’t incite violence.
    • It’s time to put people over power.
    • This isn’t due process. (Actually, that’s correct, although dumb to say. Per the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, due process happens in the Senate.)
    • Can’t we all just get along? This needs to be a time of healing.
    • Democrats are hypocrites.
    • Impeachment will start us down the path of cleansing political speech.
    • Democrats have just realized that riots are bad.
    • We shouldn’t waste time on this and instead should get to work on issues for the American people.
    • There are only 7 days left in Trump’s term.
    • Impeachment will offend the people who voted for Trump.
    • This is just an effort to divide the nation.
    • Democrats are hypocrites.
    • None of the rioters has been asked if they rioted because the president told them to do so.
    • Impeachment is a political act.
    • Democrats are hypocrites – seriously, we really mean it, which is why we repeat ourselves.
    • Two wrongs [impeachments] don’t make a right.
    • Democrats oppose free speech.
    • Trump is pro-life and America First. Democrats hate that.
    • There is a double standard regarding people committing violence.
    • The other side only wants to attack and demean.
    • It’s not fair.
    • Democrat committee chairs lied; Republicans didn’t.
    • The assault on the Capitol was pre-planned, but that isn’t included in the articles of impeachment.
    • Trump did a lot to make America great.
    • We need to tone down the volume and heal the nation.
    • The Capitol police deserve our applause. (Actually, that line got applause.)
    • Many Lincoln quotes were quoted. (Nevertheless, he did not make an appearance.)
    • We should seek higher ground.

The old saying is that if the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If neither the facts nor the law is on your side, pound on the table.

The list above, all from Republican congresspeople, is nothing more than pounding on the table. A few statements might be true; still, they miss the point.

THE ONLY ISSUE before the House in this hearing was whether Donald Trump urged violent insurrection and sedition against the Constitution of the United States and whether he should be impeached for his actions. It was not about any of the distractions listed above.

Not even a single Republican congressman/woman opposed the impeachment on the merits. Not one.

With the exception of the 10 Representatives who stood strong for the Constitution, these whining Republicans haven’t the courage to call out the traitorous acts that put lives and our democracy at risk. Again. They violated their supposedly sacred oath of office to protect and defend. Again. They put on display their profound moral incompatibility with truth. Again. A 2016 word comes to mind to describe these representatives: deplorable. And I’m no elite.

Now conspiracy hangs in the air, as we begin to uncover evidence of members of Congress giving tours – reconnaissance missions – to insurrectionists the day before the insurrection, and of Capitol police opening doors and removing barricades for the intruders. As ugly as things are now, they are going to become far uglier.

———————————–

Best Quote

Thanks to NK for offering this:

“[2020 was] like looking both ways before crossing the
street and then getting hit by a submarine.”


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.

Insurrection


Reading time – 2:49; Viewing time – 3:49  .  .  .

Updated 1/9/21 – see Last Question above the end photo.

Hatred and distrust of government didn’t start with Ronald Reagan saying, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” There was plenty of ill feeling about government long before then, but he did a great job of fanning the flames to ensure there were a lot of pissed off people who would vote for the Republicans who fed their biases.

That pattern has continued all the way to today, but there are stark differences. Now there is no facet of reality that is safe from attack and denial if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there is no lie too obscene to tell if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there are politicians lying their asses off in supplication to the Insurrectionist-In-Chief. They do that because that’s how they think they’ll keep their jobs, retain a sense of power and inflate their egos.

And their refusal to stand up to what they know with certainty is wrong encourages more and worse destruction of our democracy and our national safety.

Hate-filled, angry mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. The felons trespassed, rioted, vandalized, threatened, disrupted democracy, planted at least one bomb in the Capitol Building and four people died in their insurrection. I just have a few questions about all that.

  1. Trump invited angry mobs to show up that day, including the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. Their arrival was no surprise to anyone. The authorities had days – perhaps weeks- to prepare. Why were they totally unprepared and grossly short of manpower to deal with the lawbreakers? Note that this happened on federal property, so it wasn’t a DC Police issue. Somebody in the federal government failed us all.
  2. Why wasn’t the DC National Guard stationed around the Capitol Building by 6:00AM? Everyone knew an angry mob was going to show up.
  3. Where were the Homeland Security thugs who terrorized Portland, Milwaukee and other cities last summer? The excuse given for sending them to those cities was to protect federal property. By that logic, there was no better place for them to be on January 6 than at the Capitol Building, but they were nowhere to be seen.
  4. Why were there so few arrests made? Most were for curfew violations, not insurrection. Why aren’t the DC jails jammed full of perps?
  5. What do you think would have happened if that same number of protesters showed up, but instead of being right wingnuts they were Black Lives Matter protesters, like the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park last summer that Trump brutalized and excoriated?
  6. Where are the cops in riot gear with the scary black SWAT vehicles to intimidate the bad guys?

There is a lot to learn and there are new procedures to establish, but the most urgent, critical action is:

Impeach Donald Trump immediately so that
he can never again hold federal office.

Oh, wait: that would require Senate Republicans to find a spine.

Never mind.

In a different moment of far right hate and bile spewing, John Lewis implored, “We’re better than this.”

In his address yesterday Joe Biden said, “This is not who we are.” I have news for both of them.

We are not better than this. But we could be.

And this is exactly who we are. But we don’t have to be this way.

Last question (for now)

Just suppose that Russia participated in this insurrection and had agents in the crowd. Given their years of cyber invasion, that seems likely. On a lower level of the Capitol Building are vaults containing some of America’s most critical and vital secrets. So,

Did the Russian bad guys access our national security information? And if so, what would you like to say to the flag waving insurrectionists who assaulted democracy, made way for the foreign spies, yet who stunningly believe themselves to be true patriots?

“When fascism comes to America it will be wearing a flag and carrying a cross.” – Henry Wallace, FDR’s second Vice President

—————————————-

—————————————-

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.

Anthem


Reading time – 1.38  .  .  .

It is the morning of the Electoral College report to Congress. Donald Trump has encouraged militants like the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to demonstrate in the streets of DC, knowing full well that they will bring their anger and their firearms. As of this writing it is unknown if violence will erupt, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has called out the National Guard. We have a real live political and cultural divide that has the capacity to explode.

Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington DC

This kind of contentiousness, this threat to our national welfare and safety has happened before, most notably and disastrously in the Civil War. And during the 1960s we were torn apart over the concurrent crises of the Vietnam War and a renewed fight for civil rights.

It was mostly young people in opposition to an entrenched conservative power structure. That makes sense, in that it was young people being sent off to fight people they did not recognize as an enemy and perhaps to die for no good reason. They faced down generations of people who had been taught to do as they were told and who expected the 60s young to do the same.

That generational struggle also made sense because while young Blacks certainly had suffered racism, they weren’t yet beaten down by a life of racial discrimination and they refused to live with that injustice. So, they stood up to the entrenched conservative power structure, too, and were joined by white activists.

All that opposition led to violent confrontations and a lot of people were injured and some were killed. Some were assassinated by police, like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leaders of the Black Panthers. The Chicago Police didn’t knock, didn’t announce themselves, but simply started shooting, firing nearly 100 bullets into their residence late one night as the men slept. Some were killed by National Guardsman, like the student demonstrators at Kent State in 1971. Some were clubbed mercilessly by Chicago Police in what the Kerner Commission labeled a “police riot.” The times were indisputably violent and deadly. People in power don’t willingly give up their power.

There were calls by some for moderation and many tried to find a way forward that avoided violence, but passions ran high and Americans were polarized. Does that last sentence feel familiar? Isn’t that what is going on right now?

It’s clear that we didn’t resolve that basic conflict 50 years ago. George Santayana told us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and surely we’re doing that right now. Mark Twain told us, “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Take your pick. Either way, our national divide isn’t new and it has all the capacity for delivering terrible results just as before, especially when so many on one side seem to act as though violence is the the best solution. Plus, they’re very well armed.

I have some suggestions for an anthem for our time. Both of these are from the late 60s and even if you know them well I encourage you to listen with fresh ears. Perhaps the messages from these can provide some sane direction.

Maybe you have a notion for how we can move forward safely. Maybe you have a suggestion for an anthem to guide us through these very dangerous times. Please share them in the Comments section below.

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield – 1967

Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

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—————————————-

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.

Potporri – v 13.0


Reading time – 5:44  .  .  .

Culture Wars

I vacillate. I go to boiling anger over what Republicans are doing, like voter suppression, stoking of hatred, flagrantly lying and supplicating themselves in spineless obeisance to the immoralities and anti-democracy molestation done by Donald Trump. In contrast, in my more enlightened moments I look for how we will move forward together in this country, even in the presence of millions who would rather make war than peace. So, if reading these posts gives you a bit of whiplash, that vacillation probably explains it. Send me your chiropractor bill.

Culture clash case in point

Read this from the Washington Post report on violence at the numerically misnamed Million MAGA March last weekend (the actual number of attendees was 1/100th of the claim):

“On stark display in the nation’s capital were two irreconcilable versions of America, each refusing to accept what the other considered to be undeniable fact.”

We’re bedeviled by divisions that run deep, fueled by our moral certainties, such that compromise feels like  an affront against God. In the face of these dueling, absolutist convictions, how will we find a way forward with one another?

I wish I had an answer to that question. Actually, I wish that anyone had an answer. Perhaps the Braver Angels folks can give us some direction.

I do know that hate begets hate and won’t help anything beyond a momentary but illusory jolt of feeling powerful. Maybe we can find some clarity from a review of this essay. It was offered by Jeffrey H. Smith, who recently found a letter his father wrote to him in 1945. It contains great wisdom and I recommend it to you.

Donald Trump had been in office almost one year when I penned my first post about our embattled culture. It’s worth another look, as we plunge headlong into a new administration that has pledged to begin to heal our vexing national divide. Our healing will be no small task and will not be for the feint of heart.

——————————

Race In America, Year 401

Do you think you understand race in America? I think I do, yet I most certainly don’t.

Caroline Randall Williams is an author and writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. She has penned yet another stunning essay which I wholeheartedly recommend to you if you want to learn about race from someone who lives our national conundrum every day. Find it here.

As well, read her highly acclaimed op-ed, ‘My Body Is a Confederate Monument’: Slavery, Rape and Reframing the Past. She begins her essay,

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.”

Williams gives a clarity about race that can help us to understand – or at least more fully appreciate – the truth. She is so bright and so clear that I would listen to her read the phone book – if we still had phone books.

——————————

  • A Covid Vaccine and You

    Trump doesn’t get this, but you do: The problem won’t go away without taking the cure. Even if the cure is painful, at least it’s temporary. Without it, the pandemic is permanent.

    There was a time when education, knowledge and learning were considered good things. We believed in science, evidentiary facts, research and other things. President Kennedy told us that college is America’s best friend and we believed him. It was a time when we trusted science to eradicate diseases like smallpox and polio. We’re there on smallpox and nearly there with polio.* When experts talked we listened and we usually followed their advice because they knew a lot more than we did. Now, though, it seems we have no need for such expertise or education, knowledge, learning or even facts, which leads to vaccine refusal.

  • The recent announcements by Pfizer and Moderna of fabulous protection by their vaccines from COVID-19 are public announcements that make shareholders happy. But their products aren’t ready for prime time because we need our FDA to review them before these products receive approval for use. Therein lies the stumbling block.
  • Take a look at the chart below. It tells us that even if a vaccine were to cut the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 90%, fewer than 70% of Americans would get vaccinated and that would allow the pandemic to continue. What do you suppose is behind that apparently self-defeating attitude?
  • Confidence in a vaccine has been undercut by Trump’s politicization of the process, corner cutting and general dishonesty about medicine and science, as well as his months of promises of vaccines coming “very soon.” (Side note: If you wait long enough, “very soon” becomes accurate.)
  • The problem Americans have with vaccines now is that we have reluctance to believe in the efficacy of any vaccine, and we’re not sure we’ll be safe from potentially lethal side effects, all due to Trump having compromised the FDA with his pressure to take shortcuts. In other words, we have to hope our fine FDA folks will refuse to succumb to Trump’s pressure and instead do their usual excellent work. (See the sidebar below.)

Click me for the story

Of course, vaccine refusal will be exacerbated by millions of people refusing to wear masks, socially distance or do much of anything to curtail this pandemic. That intransigence has made us #1 in the world in infections, hospitalizations and death, which seems to be our official national policy. Here’s what is behind that.

Trump’s coronavirus expert is neuro-radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas, a true blue coronavirus ignorant. Atlas hasn’t practiced medicine for over 10 years, but he has frequently opined on Fox News, which was enough for Trump to hire him. That wasn’t snark; it’s literally true.

Click the sidebar and read at least the first paragraph of the Times article.

When Atlas was a practicing doctor his expertise was in reading CT and MRI scans. He had no training in and knew nothing about dealing with viruses or pandemics. He still doesn’t.

Until vaccines are widely available to all 320,000,000 of us (and they are proven to our satisfaction to be both safe and effective, such that we’ll take them), Trump and Atlas want to force us to rely on herd immunity for protection. That’s the coronavirus fighting strategy of giving up. Playing and then being dead.

Sweden initially tried this surrender technique, but they realized fairly quickly that all they were accomplishing was the eradication of the population of their country. Since then they’ve stopped that craziness and they are (don’t get ahead of me) wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

The experts (in contrast to Trump and Atlas) tell us that seeking herd immunity in the U.S. will result in 2 – 4 million dead Americans if allowed to run its course. Honk your horn if you love that plan. If you don’t love that plan, put on your damn mask.

No vaccine will arrive in time for the 1,300 healthcare workers who have died trying to save others. They died because of the official White House policy of foot dragging to achieve herd immunity. That denied these healthcare heroes sufficient PPE to protect themselves. What should we call that? Words like “betrayal” and “accessory to homicide” come to mind. Come up with your own descriptors.

Our dedicated healthcare professionals give their all – literally – in overlong shifts, working every overlong day trying to save us from ourselves. Have no illusions about this: We’re still denying them what they need in order for them to be safe.

Here’s a quotation from Abba Eban, former Israeli politician and ambassador. It seems perfect for our time of inept pandemic leadership:

“Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”**

——————————
Divided Government

If you like it, no need to read further, except for the footnotes.

If you don’t want divided government, if you want the Ds to be marginally in control of the Senate, you better not sit on your hands.

I wrote about why Biden won while at the same time the Rs gained ground in state governments, the House and held their seats in the Senate. The Rs will win the two Georgia Senate seats still in contest if Democrats play their cards the same way for the January 5 run-off elections as they did for the general election. If you’re aligned with the Ds and want a better outcome, you must do three things:

  1. Don’t scare the poo out of moderate voters. Just shut up about far left policies and notions (Green New Deal, Defund the Police, etc.) because those extreme ideas are repugnant to moderate voters and they are the ones who are going to decide who gets those Senate seats.
  2. Contribute to the D candidates. This is going to be a stupidly expensive campaign. The most money spent doesn’t always win (ask Jamie Harrison in South Carolina), but it sure helps a lot when the other side is blanketing the airwaves, social media, billboards, bumper stickers and knocking on every door in the state multiple times. Either Ossoff and Warnock will have the weapons to win this battle or they will lose. Be a passive observer at your peril. Way better is to help out.
  3. Reach out to register and remind Georgia voters.
——————————

*Except for a number of American anti-vax knuckleheads who have refused to protect their children from polio and who have consequently managed to give polio a resurgence in America. Be sure to ask someone who survived polio what they think of those people.

**I had originally heard a version of this identified as a Winston Churchill quotation and have subsequently learned that both the attribution and the quotation itself are incorrect. Since Churchill never said it, I’ll modify it slightly and claim it as my own. Feel free to quote me thusly:

“We Americans always do the right thing – after we’ve tried everything else first.”

  • —————————————-

    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. 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.

Straight Talk For Wednesday Morning


Reading time – 5:10  .  .  .

The win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was more than a citizen endorsement of the future promised by Biden; it was a repudiation of Trump’s attempt to make a toxic waste dump of our democracy, as well as a visceral rejection of his cruelty.

For four years Trump was aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress who know right from wrong, yet refused to stand up against Trump’s wrongs. They deserved to be made available for employment elsewhere, which is why a Blue Wave election was expected.

It didn’t happen.

Most of the spineless Republicans were re-elected and the Rs even picked up a bunch of seats in the House. It is left to us is to determine how that happened concurrently with the Biden win. A divided government likely will result in Biden being encumbered by four years of the champion obstructionist, the Great Hypocrite, Mitch McConnell or, at best, a 50-50 Senate split. That split would leave blue dog Democrats always a potential threat to the progress of the Biden agenda.

How did that happen?

The saying in the TV news business has long been, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In other words, whatever is sensational gets the first and the most news coverage. In the political arena, we’ve had gobs of sensationalism for decades. The problem is that when that’s what we’re shown, we tend to imagine that extremism is mainstreamism.

For example, when Newt Gingrich was going googly-eye self-righteous against Bill Clinton in the 90s it was easy to imagine that all of America was Puritanical crazy. Surely, a lot of people figured that most of us were that way, but it was mostly just Newt and his nitwits making a lot of noise through mass media megaphones. Nevertheless, it took years and an ethics investigation to get Newt to shut up. His baseless claim, though, that America is center-right continues to be believed by millions.

The Tea Party Caucus arrived in 2009. These were the right-wing extremists who seemed to magically convince themselves they were somehow akin to the courageous protesters in Boston in 1773. And wasn’t it an odd coincidence that these bile spewing Tea Partiers announced themselves just after a Black man became president?

They stimulated self-deluded citizens to wear tricorn hats and carry “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. These are the same people who carried signs saying, “Keep your government out of my Medicare” and “Keep Government out of Medicade.”[sic] Yes, really. Righties aren’t all that way, of course, although you couldn’t divine that from the sensationalist news.

The Tea Party spawn of the devil, the Freedom Caucus, has been and is full of self-righteous accusations, proclamations and demonizations. We hear a lot of their blather, lies and distortions for reasons similar to Gingrich’s: it’s sensational. Remember: if it bleeds, it leads. It would be easy to imagine that all Rs are as extreme as Mark Meadows and as hate-mouthed as Jim Jordan.

What about the far left?

So far I’ve picked on far right extremists, but it works the same way for extremists on the far left, and this is where this stuff intersects our recent election.

AOC and some of her pals did an excellent job of creating an extremist agenda and making a lot of noise about it. They self-promoted like champions, drafting the Green New Deal (download a copy here), a litany of extreme left ideas that they promoted with the fervor of the Spanish Inquisition: convert or die.

And that led to week after week of Democratic presidential candidates brainlessly swearing during the primaries that there should be an end to private insurance, we should have open borders and provide healthcare to all undocumented people. Taxing the rich will pay for everything and butterflies will flit among ever-blooming flowers. Okay, forget the butterflies and flowers bit. The extremist lefty stuff has garnered enormous attention from our news and opinion outlets because it’s sensational. Also, counter-productive.

Do you doubt that? Here’s highly respected opinion writer Peggy Noonan in a Wall Street Journal piece explaining why voters chose divided government:

Lots of things, but one was a year of Democratic presidential debates, in which week after week the party painted itself as deeply progressive. The candidates were down with identity politics, would ban private health insurance, were for essentially open borders. I wrote wonderingly after the first debate that the entire party seemed to have picked itself up and placed itself down outside the mainstream and apart from the center.

Clearly, Noonan is a genius because she agrees with me. So does Ira Leavitt – have a look.

I watched all the debates and cringed visibly and painfully every time the candidates swore obeisance to the far left, knowing they were alienating middle America.

This story got worse.

Following the murder of George Floyd people were and still are in the streets demanding that we “Defund the Police!” Cooler heads are doing the, “What they really mean is . . . ” dance, but however justifiably impassioned people are, the words are clear. And idiotic. And off-putting to voters in the middle.

All of that has provided the manure-fertilized feed stock needed by the radical right. For example, they said that if Biden were to win, the extremist elites will force socialism on your country, your taxes will soar, criminals will pour across our borders to harm you, bloated central government socialism will dictate your children’s future, you’ll dial 9-1-1 and nobody will answer and did I mention socialism? Wait, you’re doubting that claims like these – scare tactics – were made over and over and that they terrified moderates and convinced even some informed people to vote against the Democrats? Look it up and horrify yourself.

That stuff scared the hell out of the 6 – 18% of moderate voters who decide our elections. They are – did I mention? – moderate. They don’t like extremism or extremist ideas. If you want to drive them away, tell them you’re going to turn their world upside down. They will immediately turn to whatever or whoever is familiar, however spineless they know him/her to be, because it feels stable and safe.

Adios Blue Wave.*

Democrats almost never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Biden won, but absent the abhorrent Trump, he would have lost in a landslide. Now he’ll have to figure out how to govern with one or two hands tied behind his back, thanks to the far left noisy stupiditude that kept the Senate from being blue.

If you’d prefer not to have four more years of Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism and hypocrisy in your news feed, make a contribution to the Democrats in the Georgia Senate run-off elections to be held on January 5. Here’s a link.

That Blue Wave had the potential to sweep over the shore and reshape the land. Then the Ds killed it with their extremism and it turned into just a little swell lapping at the shore. It didn’t have to be that way. So, Democrats, next time try not scaring the hell out of the people in the middle who will decide the election.

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*Read this to understand our national polarization.

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Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
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