Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

National security

What Should We Do About That? – v 1.0


Sun Tzu

The great soldier, leader and philosopher Sun Tzu offers wisdom from 5th century BC China that is valuable even today. Here’s a case in point.

Donald Trump has shown repeatedly that he doesn’t care a bit about America, democracy, the law, truth, reality – this list could be quite long. All he cares about is enhancing his power and wealth and he doesn’t care what he has to destroy to get it. Here’s Sun Tzu on this:

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We have millions of our fellow citizens behaving badly. They weren’t always hostile and ready to believe the unbelievable, but with charismatic leadership from a sociopath, they’ve gone reptilian. They want nothing less than to vent their rage in destruction and in dangerous and anti-American ways. And they take their direction from Donald Trump.

What do you think we should do about that? I mean before Donald Trump and his mobs burn our own nation to the ground.

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress:
Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t
condemn what happened on [January] 6th.
For God’s sake, whose side are you on?”
President Joe Biden, August 30, 2022, Wilkes Barre, PA
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Yes, there are sides. You know the right side to be on and it surely is NOT the “burn it to the ground” side.

What Do You Think We Should Do About This?
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Trump is the brat who threw the board game all over the room when it was clear that he was going to lose. He broke pieces and stomped on the board. If he couldn’t win he was going to make sure that nobody else could win, either. He’s still behaving that way, but today the game is a dire one, because the stakes are life and death.

There were more than 11,000 documents or photographs found at insecure Mar-a-Lago that were not classified. There were also 31 documents marked CONFIDENTIAL, 54 marked SECRET, and 18 marked TOP SECRET.

Among the materials stolen by Trump and recovered by the FBI are 48 folders marked at some level of classification like those in the picture above, but the folders are empty. The secret documents are gone.

Some folders are labeled TOP SECRET; some are SECRET/SCI, the most closely guarded information. That designation means that the information in such a folder is critical to our national security. And the super secret information in the documents those folders used to contain is missing.

This isn’t about some love note from a malicious despot. It isn’t a picture of Trump with some dignitaries. What’s missing is likely information concerning our nuclear arms, strategic plans, secret agreements with allies and more. That information may well no longer be secret.

The documents and information that belong in those folders were where they belonged, in those folders, on January 20, 2021. That’s when Trump metaphorically sneaked out of the White House and smuggled the classified documents out with him by hiding them under his overcoat. And now that we know those super secret folders are empty, we are faced with some existential questions:

–  Who has the contents of those folders now?

 –  What have they done with the documents?

–  Who and what are now imperiled because Trump has released the information to unknown persons and nations who may well be our enemies?

Trump lost the game of President and, because of that, has repeatedly tried to prevent Joe Biden from winning and keeping it. But this isn’t a board game. This is the most serious game in the world. It’s the game where informants are killed when they’re found out. It’s the game that, when nations lose, the worst happens.

We cannot afford to let Trump break alliances, out the very people who feed us critical intelligence and throw the moving pieces of this game all over the world, but he may well have already done just that. To mix metaphors, this time it may not be ketchup on the wall. This time it might be blood.

What do you think we should we do about that?

Related: For a clear and valuable take on “the soul of our nation,” have a look/listen to this. Many thanks to JA for the pointer.

Watch for What Should We Do About That? – v2.0 on Wednesday, September 7.

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Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
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Fire the bastards!
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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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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. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Here’s Why


Take a look at this downloadable PDF map of NATO countries – they’re the ones in BLUE and follow along.

Putin has made it clear that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was not WW I, WW II or the 1918 influenza pandemic, each of which killed millions of people. No, he’s certain that the fall of the Soviet Union was the very worst thing that happened over those 100 years. He has dedicated his grandiosity to reconstructing that paragon of repression and cruelty or perhaps creating something even more dreadful. I’m sure that in his dreams he hears the sound of Soviet tanks crushing the pavement of the streets of downtown Budapest and has visions of Khrushchev pounding his peasant shoe on a lectern at the United Nations, where Putin hopes to pound his Gucci loafers.

He claimed there are lots of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which means, he says, that Ukraine isn’t a real country, but rather, it’s part of Russia. Using that logic, San Francisco should be ceded to the Chinese, Montreal should become the property of France and Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should surrender to Mexico.

In 2014 Putin grabbed the entire Crimean peninsula and large swaths of the Donbas, the southeastern part of Ukraine. That’s where you can find the rubble that was the city of Mariupol. That’s where you can still find Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, with its hundreds, perhaps thousands of wounded fighters and noncombatants who can’t get food or medical supplies, who can’t get out and who the Russians bomb every day.

When the brutalizing of Ukraine started I said that the Moldovans must be shaking in their shoes because surely they would be next. Sadly, Putin is proving me to have been right. He has announced that he will sweep up the entire east and south of Ukraine all the way to Moldova, where he’s already dropped bombs. Moldova has no army, although they do have a few traffic cops, so stopping Putin’s thugs will be more than difficult for them.

Go back to that NATO map and look at the countries in GREEN that border Russia. These are nations that are not NATO member countries. Looking north from Ukraine and you’ll find:

Belarus

Finland

Sweden

Counter-clockwise from Ukraine there are:

Georgia

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Kazakhstan

The southern “-stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Left off this list are Mongolia, China and Afghanistan. Surely, not even Putin is dumb enough to invade China or Mongolia. Or Afghanistan – again.

Finland and Sweden are likely to become NATO members by June. But the rest of the GREEN countries would be easy pickings for Putin. Belarus is already a vassal state and he can gobble up the rest without fear of a direct confrontation with NATO.

If you were the leader of any of these GREEN countries, what might you be thinking about NATO membership right now? Maybe that you’ve waited a bit too long to request membership?

Putin thinks that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are legitimate parts of Russia, just like his claim about Ukraine, but they are NATO member countries. I suspect that it’s in these Baltic states where the inevitable Russian confrontation with NATO will occur. Putin and the world will quickly learn whether Article 5 of the NATO Charter means anything. Meanwhile, here’s the reason for this geography lesson.

The U.S. is in the process of authorizing another $33 billion of aid to Ukraine and some are asking why we would spend our treasure this way. After all, they say, this is Ukraine’s war, not ours. That’s where I and many others disagree.

Set aside the humanitarian imperative to help people who are suffering or the important need to right a wrong. It’s more solidly connected to self-interest than that.

Putin’s actions threaten the entire world. He’s upsetting the carefully crafted and tended political peace and economic order that have lasted since 1945. That threatens America.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their democracy, their freedom and their independence. Those are the same reasons every one of those GREEN countries will resist. But they can be picked off one at a time by Putin’s inept but numerically overwhelming forces and his threats of chemical and nuclear war. So, the world either stops Putin in Ukraine or we will have to fight him in the next country and then the next and the next. There will be no appeasement of this monster. Reference: Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement of Hitler in 1938. That didn’t work out too well for the Brits or for the world and attempting to appease Putin would be a similar disaster.

The Ukrainians’ struggle is an existential fight for all democracy and freedom in the world and if Putin isn’t stopped there this will eventually become our own fight. We can either help to stop Putin in Ukraine or we’ll have to stop him later as he directly threatens our own shores.

That’s why.
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And that begs the question of why Representatives Biggs (AZ), Taylor Greene (GA), Bishop (NC), Gaetz (FL), Gosar (AZ), Norman (SC), Massie (KY), Perry (PA), Tiffany (WI) and Davidson (OH), all Republicans, voted against the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. They and others also voted against the resolution of support for Moldova. Just guessing that they’ll vote against the additional $33 billion of aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. And they’ll do so with the enthusiastic support of the supreme, authoritarian loving, Putin and Viktor Orbán suck up, Tucker Carlson.

Here’s the key question:

If all those Ukrainians are doing the fighting and dying so we don’t have to, why would these elected officials oppose supporting them?
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President Biden’s Call To Action
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“We’re calling on all Americans to pony up all the necessary military and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for all freedom loving people. That’s good, and it isn’t enough.

“Because of Putin’s war, there will be precious little agricultural output from Ukraine this year. That country was formerly the supplier of 10% of the world’s wheat, and that’s just a placeholder for all the disruption of food supplies the world will see this year. That’s why I’m calling on all of US agriculture to maximize production. No fields lying fallow. Find ways to produce more. This is your patriotic duty.

“European nations are already moving to get off the Russian gas and oil umbilical cord and move to renewables. We need to make similar changes here to maximize pressure on Putin.

“I’m calling on our fossil fuel companies to stop drilling and start building a carbon-free power infrastructure. I’m calling on Prime Minister Modi of India to do the same.

“And I’m calling on all Americans to support the switch to electric transportation, with all the infrastructure implications that means. This is war and we must lead the way for the world to end its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Hey, It’s Just a Draft

Yeah, but if its provisions become law, as it appears likely they will, we’ll take a giant leap back to women dying from complications of back alley abortions, women dying in childbirth, women delivering their rapist’s child – or their father’s incest child – ruined lives and more. It takes us back to brain-free, iron fisted patriarchy. It opens the door to making birth control measures – even within a marriage – illegal. Having a miscarriage could result in murder charges. And this draft opinion opens to door to reversing marriage rights and more. The Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court stand steadfastly in their Dark Ages ignorance and will use their legal spears to kill everything they fear.

All of this is the proud result of the extremist, control freak Republican minority and of Supreme Court justices lying, dissembling and snow jobbing through their confirmation processes, falsely claiming that they believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Plus, there’s Mitch McConnell’s cheating, refusing to even hold a hearing for Obama’s SC nominee following the death of Antonin Scalia. The depth of their dishonesty is breathtaking.

So, congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard for so long to force their misogynistic way to control others. They think they should be in charge of making decisions for we lesser people, much like the result of the Dred Scott decision that said that Blacks had no rights and which put all power into the hands of White supremacists. Those 1850s guys really liked being in control of others, just like today’s Republicans.

But, hey, it’s just a draft. Who knows? Maybe between now and June one or two of the justices who now favor witch burning will relent. But don’t count on it. Instead, get to work making sure that all the people who otherwise would stay at home on November 8 learn what is being done to them. Inspire them to get off their butts and vote for Democrats, unless, of course, they want some primitive, rich old White guys controlling their lives.

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

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

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. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

You Were Taught This


Whatever your holy book, somewhere in those pages you can find some directives – perhaps they’re instructions, possibly Commandments – that tell us how to behave.

For example, the Exodus story is a stunning message about freedom. The story is retold every year at the Passover Seder. It’s like all traditions, in that it’s reinforced through repetition so that we both remember its lessons and educate new generations.

At the Seder we are admonished to, “Remember, you were slaves in the land of Egypt.” That’s “you” as in: each of us today. The message isn’t about some quaint, obscure people who had 430 horrible years as slaves those thousands of years ago. Those people were just like us and they craved and loved freedom as much as we do. That’s why retelling the story is critical for us today, lest we forget and recreate those horrible years for ourselves or others. That’s why we are admonished to welcome the stranger, because once we were strangers. Think: Immigration reform.

We are also directed not to curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling block before the blind. I’m confident you can see through the metaphors about refusing to be cruel to others or influencing others to do harm. Think: Rage at school board meetings; death threats; and conspiracy theory hatred. Seriously, we’re not supposed to do that stuff.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Try this.

Some years ago my friend Tom was going through a difficult period and was facing it head-on. He came across the term “loving kindness” and explained some of what he learned about it.

It’s a solitary term, he said; nothing else quite captures the essence of its meaning. My best guess is that somewhere in your past you were taught the concept and the sweetness, generosity and purity of its meaning. Somebody told you that this is something important, something we’re supposed to do. Perhaps you remember.

Maybe it was offered this way.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” For those of us who have difficulty getting beyond ourselves, that makes the recommended treatment of others easier to understand. Just love them, the directive says, and we understand, because we, too, want to be loved.

The word “loved” might cause some confusion, given that our definition today may vary from what it meant thousands of years ago. And the message has been filtered through multiple language translations, too. So, try “care about” instead, or “care for.” Regardless, we have clarity about how we want to be treated as the benchmark, a True North for how we are directed to treat others. It’s about caring. *

The problem is that we moderns aren’t doing a great job of following those simple, clear directions from our Human Being Manuals. We haven’t managed to stop enslaving one another. We still refuse freedom to others and refuse to welcome strangers and we inflict cruelty or we condone it. The concept of loving kindness enters our consciousness far too infrequently and we’re afraid of our neighbors, so it’s really hard to care about them.

Click me for the story.

You’re seeing horrific pictures from Ukraine every day. All of its cities are being reduced to rubble. People are being murdered, and yes, it’s first degree murder, because it’s premeditated. There are people there who spend their days dodging missiles and bombs, who are sleeping in the cold and have little or nothing to eat. There is no fresh water, so they’re drinking pond water and melting snow. Your internal meter that monitors your sense of right, of justice and of humanity has been pegged out and flashing red for weeks and you know you have to do something. But what?

I looked into getting a flight to Warsaw, figuring to find ground transport to the Ukrainian border to help refugees there somehow, but I’m afraid I’m past my sell-by date for such things. There must be another way to help.

In a short presentation to our local village board, a senior in high school offered a couple of simple ideas.  And really, this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Her family came from Ukraine and, as you will surely understand, she has strong feelings about what is happening to her ancestral homeland and its people. She named a couple of agencies doing relief work for Ukrainian refugees. Have a look at UMANA and Razom.

Look at what World Central Kitchen is doing. They are providing hundreds of thousands of hot meals for those very cold refugees. Kick in something so that stomachs get warmed and filled.

You can go here and see what AirBnB is doing to provide housing, or here or here or here or scroll through the slides on this New York Times page to find various agencies helping these suffering people. Check them all for veracity here.

At very least we can support the do-gooders so that they can do the good that so desperately needs to be done.
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If donating money isn’t how you want to do it, that’s okay. Find another way. Here’s some creative thinking from my friend, futurist David Houle.

He has committed to buying 10% less gasoline. He can do that and so can you and I with just a little brain work, like combining trips instead of being wasteful. That 10% reduction in consumption by lots of us will take pressure off gas prices, our climate crisis and the pressure to import Russian fossil fuels, which we don’t want to do ever again. Read David’s post. Then commit and tell others about it.

You know well the messages about freedom, welcoming the stranger, loving thy neighbor and loving kindness. That’s why your internal meter is flashing red and screaming for your action. You were made to right this wrong and you know in your bones that you have to do something.

You were taught this.

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* Tucker Carlson doesn’t care, nor do millions who listen to that anti-American fool. Mother Jones revealed how Putin is using the drivel that comes from Carlson’s mouth. He’s stuffing it into his propaganda to control the Russian people and continue his Ukrainian genocide.

Tucker Carlson is helping Putin to murder Ukrainians right now.
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I don’t think his Human Being Manual instructed him to do that. His is free lance apostasy.

Be sure to read that Mother Jones piece, as well as John Pavlovitz’s explainer, I’m Sick of Pretend Patriots and the Phony Faithful. This is the time for real patriots and lovers of liberty to stand and be counted.

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

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

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. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Same Song, Next Verse


What Will We Do Then?

The largest invasion of a sovereign nation since WW II is occurring, It’s the current iteration of European wars ignited by a narcissist who thinks he’s going to rule the world. People have died and more will continue to die in urban warfare. Meanwhile, Putin has gone cynical and fully delusional.

He’s using the same blitzkrieg tactics against Ukraine that Hitler used to invade Czechoslovakia, Poland and France. He’s claimed this is to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Wait a second: Nazi tactics to de-Nazify Ukraine? That’s such miserable crap that I don’t have words to describe it.

What Putin has said he wants is as disingenuous as it is homicidal. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not because it’s a traditional part of Russia. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not for its wheat and industrial capacity. What this ex-Soviet KGB thug actually wants more than anything is a new world order with Russia and himself at the center. Crushing and owning the entirety of Ukraine is the next step on his megalomaniac rampage.

Putin believes that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Not the 20 million killed in WW I or the 80 million killed in WW II or the 12 million killed in the Holocaust. All of those happened right where he could see them, but those catastrophes pale in comparison to the end of the Soviet Union, according to Putin. So, he wants it back. We make a strategic mistake if we think he wants anything less or that there is some hard stop in tactics or geography that he won’t exceed. That must be our clarity of what we must stop.

Look at a map (enlarge it to 100% for easier viewing) and it’s plain to see that Moldova and Belarus will be next in Putin’s incremental land grab plan. Belarus is already a Russian vassal state and Moldova is not a NATO member nation. Easy pickings for Putin. So will be nearly any of the -stans and he already has Georgia. How hard would it be for him to grab Azerbaijan and Armenia?

The international push back might be strong enough that Putin would pause before invading neighboring Finland, a non-NATO country. While he’s pausing he’ll contemplate how to “get back” the Baltic states, Romania, Hungary, and Poland, all of which are NATO member countries.

Here’s the key question: If NATO must face Putin and Russia on the battlefield, it will be the start of WW III. What will we do?

I hope the planning for that was done a long time ago. And I also hope that the plans are being updated right now by very smart, well informed, insightful people.

It Used To Be .  .  .

.  .  . that politics stopped at the water’s edge. When it came to international matters, we wouldn’t want any adversary to have any ambiguity about our national resolve, especially in the face of hostilities. Apparently, Republicans, opportunists, conspiracy wackos and self-promoting narcissists didn’t get the message. Apparently, their selfish little aspirations are more important than  our national security. Apparently, they aren’t patriots.

There is traitorous talk from Republican mouthpieces speaking in support of Putin. They are anti-democracy, anti-American useful idiots.

Would that I had a second version of this pic with Tucker Carlson’s face on the little brat. Many thanks to JN for the pic.

Trump has declared Putin a genius, that he’s smart and savvy and his words are being used in Russia to inflate support for Putin. And Trump is not alone in his submarining of American interests.

Margaret Carlson reports on Fox blabber Tucker Carson in The Washington Post:

“And, in a particularly obnoxious rant, he suggested that Putin is morally superior to “permanent Washington,” some vaguely malign force that Carlson claims is manufacturing a global pandemic, teaching children to embrace racial discrimination and trying to snuff out Christianity.”

It isn’t just these two fools. The list includes Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, SD Governor Kristi Noem and more. They’re in a race to criticize President Biden in order to burnish their extremist bona fides for their runs for President in 2024, So, they praise Putin and Putin uses their words to praise himself. They are quite clearly giving aid and comfort to our adversary and potential enemy.

It used to be that Republicans – conservatives – presented themselves as the iron-spined defenders of American values. They had a  permanently cocked fist ready to punch Russia in the nose. What would those Republicans have said about Trump, Tucker Carlson and the others? Where are the staunch Republicans lining up to support the President in opposing Putin now?

From USLegal.com:

“Treason is punishable by death if a traitor levies war against his state or country or supports its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

We aren’t in a shooting war against Russia, so the term “traitor” probably can’t be used accurately for today’s conniving Republicans and blabbers. If you have a better word, please post it in the Comments section to help us all.

And Now The Adolphs

Dan Rather’s post of February 18 included this very hard-to-look-at pic of an Elon Musk tweet.

Apparently, Musk was having a hissy fit over a Canadian regulation of financial institutions concerning crypto currencies. Clearly, this regulation must have been so heinous that Musk had to invoke the murder of millions of people and the laying waste of an entire continent. Musk has taken down the tweet, but his damage was done.

This is America and Musk is entitled to whatever crushingly cruel metaphors and hateful views he holds, just like Trump and Carlson. He has the right to see his billions of dollars as proof of his superiority and his entitlement to be rude, disrespectful and detestable. But there are limits, as he should have learned from the $137 million jury award to a former Tesla employee for racism at Musk’s San Francisco area factory. On the other hand, Musk’s hateful post was put up after that jury award. Maybe Musk didn’t learn anything at all from that lost lawsuit.

We have extremists coming out of the woodwork saying false, cruel and incendiary things. We have spine-free politicians and political candidates willing to say any stupid and false thing in order to benefit themselves.

Sometimes it works in reverse, as we’ve seen from the new governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. During the campaign last year he steered clear of Trump and spoke in moderate terms, invoking moderate policies. Once elected he went full-on radical, claiming the awfulness of Critical Race Theory in K-12 classrooms that were damaging Virginia’s fragile White children. We can’t have that going on, he told Virginians, and he’s promoting a law to put a stop to the evil distortion of children’s brains done by CRT.

There’s just one thing about that: no K-12 school in that entire state was or is teaching CRT, nor was any school even contemplating teaching it. In fact, there isn’t a single K-12 school anywhere in the country teaching CRT. It isn’t even being taught in colleges or universities. It is strictly a law school discussion construct. So, invoking CRT as the evil of evils for Virginia’s delicate, can’t-handle-reality school children goes way past disingenuous; it’s hateful. And Governor Adolph DeSantis is doing the same thing in Florida, as is Governor Adolph Abbott in Texas.

The real issue is teaching the truth about race in America. Youngkin and all the other Republican politicians and far right hand wringers are playing to the White supremacists who don’t want to own any truth that doesn’t puff their chests in Confederate testosterone. It is exactly the same as stoking hatred.

Adolph Musk and the other Adolphs have the same right to free speech that you and I have. There isn’t much we can do to muzzle them and their hatred or to silence Putin’s useful idiots with their anti-American undermining of our country without muzzling ourselves. What we can do is to speak out.

We can do that with our voices, our votes and we can do that with our dollars. We can donate to the campaigns of political candidates whose feet are firmly planted on Earth 1. My love affair with daydreaming of buying a Tesla is over. My fascination with Musk’s Space X won’t thrill me again and I won’t send links to my geeky family members and friends to watch his launches. And I won’t vacation in Virginia, Florida or Texas.

I will do whatever I can to avoid supporting the haters and will actively oppose them. I’ll do that until our politics bears some resemblance to reality. Some kindness would be good, too.

Required Reading

Hillary Clinton co-wrote an essay (or here) with Dan Scherwin in The Atlantic last week that you must read if you care at all about our democracy, our global leadership and national security.

And read Thomas Friedman’s post about why the Russian invasion of Ukraine is different from any we’ve seen and unpredictable in dangerous ways.

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

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

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. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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.

________________________

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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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 2022 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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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

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 2022 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 2022 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.

** 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.

—————————————-

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 2022 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.

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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.

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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

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*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.

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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 2022 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.

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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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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