Patriotism

What Have We Done?


Reading time – 5:29; Viewing time – 9:32  .  .  .

[Ed. note: Be sure to read the “Finally” section at the bottom, which was added after the video was recorded.]

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The White House announced (love that phrase – as though a building could talk) that it won’t update economic projections this summer. Think about that for just a minute.

Trump and his economic geniuses have proclaimed proudly and often that our economy would be chugging along at over 3% annual growth rate, what with Trump having ridiculed President Obama for his 2-something rate following our total economic collapse of 2008-2009. Now we’re in a [soon to be officially declared] depression, which is not compatible with Trump’s puffery. He can’t brag as the economy contracts 5.6%. So, to combat the impossibility of such bragging, the president will go on a Trump victory offensive: he’ll just refuse to talk about it. Forget that the President’s review of the economy is required by law. This is the Trump administration and he don’ care ’bout no stinking law. And who would hold him accountable anyway? That’s a problem.

7 Days of Trumpcrap

Trump’s standard playbook is to constantly throw crap at the wall and see what sticks as a distraction. He does this both to keep everyone else off balance so that he feels in control and to make you look away from his obvious failures. Most common are character assassinations, eye-googling innuendo, baseless accusations, outrageous policy shifts, stupid proclamations, repetitions of phrases as though he’s not sure he said them, and of course, general air head stuff with no apparent meaning. He never backs down from anything he says, no matter the idiocy he’s initiated or how harmful it is to others.

Here are some of the Trumpcrap distractions from just the past 7 days.

  1. Trump baselessly accused Joe Scarborough of having murdered a Congressional aide in 2001 at a time when Scarborough was 900 miles away from the aide. The aide was known to have had a serious medical problem and she fell, hit her head and died. That is in the coroner’s report. However, that did not prevent Trump from trying to smear a tough Trump critic with odious Trumpcrap lies and the media focused on that for days.
  2. Trump didn’t like that Twitter appended to his Scarborough smear several links to fact checks. He immediately threatened an Executive Order to attack Twitter, Google and FaceBook and released the EO on Thursday. He wants to regulate speech on the internet so that it’s to his advantage, an obvious violation of the First Amendment. For this president, violating the Constitution is commonplace. Doing so always manages to attract major attention and redirects eyeballs from his ineptitude and criminal behavior.
  3. Trump has commenced a full-mouth-press against mail-in ballots. He makes the same false claims that Republicans have been spewing for at least two decades, whining that our elections are rife with voting fraud. It does happen – about once in every 125,000 votes cast. See my upcoming post on Wednesday, June 3 for more on that. He claims that allowing voting by mail will exacerbate this non-existent problem. That Trump himself votes by mail doesn’t seem to him to be evidence against his claim, nor do the years of clean experience of mail-in voting in many states make a dent in his baseless accusations. But the Trumpcrap does distract.
  4. Trump called for an expansion of his useless border wall – he wants another 500 miles of it. You do the guessing about which Congressionally mandated programs will get cut to pay for his ego project.
  5. He reiterated his total ban on immigration, or at least his blatherings about it. He has been consistent in his disdain for non-white people who want to come to America, including those from “shit hole countries” and Muslims from anywhere. That’s always good for shifting eyeballs away from his failures and crimes.
  6. In the aftermath of the brutal murder of fellow citizen George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and that officer’s indictment on 3rd degree murder charges on Friday, the president held a press conference. He spoke from a Tel-e-Prompter about the China/Hong Kong situation. He had no comment whatsoever for the family of the murder victim, the aggrieved citizens of Minneapolis or the nation, for the police, the mayor, the National Guard or the Staties who arrived to help. Nothing for any of them. And he took no questions from the press. Just another distraction, a blow off of Blacks and perhaps a concession to the “good people on both sides.”
  7. From “Stat”: “President Trump said Friday the U.S. would halt its funding of the World Health Organization and pull out of the agency, accusing it of protecting China as the coronavirus pandemic took off. The move has alarmed health experts, who say the decision will undermine efforts to improve the health of people around the world.” And that Trump idiocy has citizens distracted by yet another bright, shiny object of Trumpcrap.
  8. Trump issued a vague invitation to AR-15/Glock carrying “MAGA nation” to protest the protests across the nation over the murder of George Floyd. When these thugs show up, what could possibly go wrong?

All that and more in just 7 days.

This pile of Trumpcrap certainly does distract us from keeping an eye on the over 102,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths and that over 30,000 of them were caused by Trump’s bumbling. It takes a big pile of Trumpcrap to cover that many corpses.

All of this is a huge problem that can be distilled by answering the question,

What Have We Done?

Donald Trump is the problem, for sure, but it isn’t just Trump.

Yet another unarmed black man has been murdered by police, this time in Minneapolis (again). The old semi-joke was about the crime of driving while black. That seems to have devolved, what with Breonna Taylor having been gunned down by police while she was asleep in her bed and Floyd having succumbed to a cop’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes. Now it seems the crime has shifted to breathing while black. Nationwide, we consistently refuse to do anything to make things better, so this story continues to repeat itself. That’s the driver of the protests in nearly every major city.  And some wonder why people riot.

We have allowed Donald Trump to break laws and we have not only let him get away with them, but we have allowed a corrupt attorney general to make outrageous claims of power for the president, to lie repeatedly to protect Trump and to use the power of the Justice Department to undermine justice in order to favor Trump’s felonious friends. Compare that to the justice for George Floyd and Eric Garner and Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin and the rest. Cops killed 1,099 people last year; 24% of them were Black, even though Blacks make up only 13% of our population. Still wondering why some people riot?

What have we done?

We have decided that Black lives really don’t matter.

We have normalized Trump’s petulant tweeting and treated his rages as official presidential communication – even as policy proclamation.

We have tens of thousands of Americans so upset over having to stay home for a couple of months that last weekend they just had to race to a pool, a beach, a bar, a resort town and restaurants, leaving their face masks at home. Clearly, these weren’t destitute people who were desperate to get back to work to earn a paycheck so they could feed their families; these were people who had money to spend and who were aggrieved over having to endure a period of home confinement, what with their having had to order out pizza and play video games. Where did the American backbone go? Oh, right. Our leadership encouraged us to behave stupidly.

We have a government that is the very embodiment of George Orwell’s nightmare, where lie equals truth, up is the same as down and manipulation to benefit the few is taken for granted.

Big money interests have taken control of our governments (federal, state and some local) to the point that they can buy massive voter suppression and laws to their liking.

Roughly 40% of our country thinks Trump is just fine and they don’t at all mind his racism, his admitted violence against women, his law breaking, his abandoning of our poor, his cruelty toward anyone who isn’t a suck up, his having made us the laughing stock of the free world and his continuing demolition of our own democracy. It’s blind obedience leading us to self-destruction.

We did all of this, you and I and all the rest of us, either through ignorance or apathy or self-indulgence. Now we are paying the price in huge numbers of avoidable deaths, massive wealth inequality, such that millions more live on an economic precipice and we no longer trust ourselves to govern ourselves.

What have we done?

We better get to work to fix this stuff before it’s too late.

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Finally,

In that vein – we have to fix this stuff – try this thought experiment.

If the vast majority of protesters in our cities are peaceful as they vent their fear, their sadness and their rage, and if “outsiders” are burning down buildings, inciting looting and violence and inviting police crackdowns, who are those “outsiders?” To identify them, consider who benefits from their violence. Who benefits from inciting police and military action against civilians? Who benefits by being able to claim the need for crack downs? Who benefits by having an excuse to demonize Blacks?

There’s nothing random going on.

From reader and opinion writer Steve Sheffey:

If you don’t channel your anger into political action, if you don’t understand the nexus between rhetoric and reality, between politics and policy, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

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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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Who Will Lead?


Reading time – 2:43  .  .  .

It has been clear from the start that the leadership of Donald Trump is of himself, for himself and by himself. Where does that leave the remaining 328.2 million of us in this time of worldwide pandemic?

Many of our governors are doing a good job with the limited tools they have. I’m thinking of Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsome (CA), Jay Inslee (WA), Mike DeWine (OH), J.B. Pritzker (IL), Gretchen Whitmer (MI) and more. Some others are brainless tools, like Kay Ivey (AL), Pete Ricketts (NE) and Doug Ducey (AZ). Regardless of their competence, purity of intention (if any) or skills, these governors are unable to do what a president can do. Our problem is that this president isn’t doing those things either.

He lies about all facets of dealing with this pandemic, including denial that it exists and later denying his denial. Worse, he recommends dangerous remedies, like ingesting disinfectants and taking hydroxychloroquin, which has a proven potential to kill people. More worse is his absolute refusal to do the critical things needed to combat this killer disease, including (but not limited to) fast response, massive testing, tracing and quarantining and securing abundant PPE for our healthcare workers. And most worst, his total abdication of proactive leadership has led us to 100,000 dead Americans, 30 – 60% of whom were avoidable fatalities of his self-absorbed failure of leadership. He has disgraced the office of the Presidency to the point of our deaths.

Meanwhile, we hear messages about dealing with coronavirus from various other leaders, often couched in terms of criticism of Trump. What we don’t hear is clear, consistent leadership to get through this crisis. Who is beating that most important drum? Who is showing up on podcasts, in automotive plants, in press conferences, in meat and poultry plants and more with the exquisite focus and the clarity of vision we need right now?

My notion is that Joe Biden should be leading that parade and I wrote about it here. But Biden and we are months past prime time for this. And, no, a one-off statement doesn’t come remotely near to satisfying the requirement for the consistent message of leadership we need.

I’m in the “anybody but Trump” camp. Well, nearly so. I require a candidate who wasn’t fabricated in a plastics factory, and flamers need not apply. But if I am to put my faith in whoever runs against Trump, I want some demonstration of ability and worthiness to lead right now when we need it.

My pal John Calia writes a leadership post with the overarching message and title, “Who Will Lead?” and I think he’s spot-on with that question.

We are suffering nationally from the better part of a few decades of inept or counter-productive leadership both in the White House and in Congress. The reasons are as dispiriting as they are complex, but in the final analysis it comes down to things like integrity, accountability and actually giving a damn about this country and its people.

Trump is killing us and Biden is essentially AWOL.

Back to Calia’s question: Who will lead?

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

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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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Update to Consequences


Update to Sunday’s Consequences post:

From author John Scalzio in an interview for the New York Times Book section, May 17, 2020:

“Maybe people might look at me askance for “Atlas Shrugged” [being on my bookshelf], since I’ve written about how Ayn Rand valorizes a genocidal sociopath in John Galt, and I think it’s a really bad sign when ostensible adults take her “philosophy” seriously (and even worse when they’re elected to office). But I’ll tell you what, Rand could make a pot boil; there’s a reason her brand of nonsense sells.”

Even John Wayne was a fictional construct and he wasn’t as tough as the movies made him seem. When he was no longer young, strong and healthy he succumbed to disease. Lucky for him that he was rich, so he got great healthcare along the way. For the rest of us Ayn Rand’s “we’re all on our own” craziness really doesn’t work well. Few of us can tolerate being prevented from getting basic needs met just because we’re not young, strong and healthy. There has to be a better way.

Here’s how our present system is working, this from the Economic Policy Institute:

With the jobless tally rising quickly by the millions, as businesses struggle to keep people employed during the pandemic, the absurdity of having our health care linked to jobs becomes painfully clear.

EPI research determined 16.2 million Americans have likely lost their health care due to pandemic job losses. Linking health insurance to employment has always been problematic. The pandemic is highlighting and exacerbating those issues. Medicare for All, while a hugely ambitious policy undertaking, could be one way to remedy this situation.

Watch their 2-minute explanation of how Medicare For All would affect jobs. It isn’t what the naysayers tell us.

Apologies, but I don’t remember who posted this. Nevertheless, good on you!

This pandemic has made it abundantly clear that our highest-cost-in-the-world medical system isn’t providing the best care for most of us. And the layoffs/furloughs/firings/loss of employment caused both directly and indirectly by this disease have illustrated the folly of healthcare tied to employers and employment.

Perhaps you’re high on Maslow’s heirarchy and you’re asking the question, “What is it that we are supposed to learn from this pandemic, the lesson that we have steadfastly refused to learn any other way?” Here’s the answer:

It’s all about how we care for and care about one another.

It’s plain that this is no time for “rugged individualist” thinking to prevail. Embrace the “together” part of “We’re all in this together,” because if we refuse that, all of us are condemned to suffering that doesn’t have to happen, as though we plugged our ears when the answer to the question was given to us.

You don’t know it yet, but you want to read “9 ways Covid-19 may forever upend the U.S. healthcare industry.” The intense pressure that’s been brought to bear on every part of our healthcare system by this pandemic, including how we pay for it, is going to change everything about it. Let me know what you think.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Rights


Reading time – 4:11; Viewing time – 6:20  .  .  .

There are small mobs clogging our streets, attacking our state capitol buildings and protesting inside those buildings with menacing assault rifles in their hands. They are carrying Confederate flags and Nazi flags and they’re egged on by the President of the United States. They are yelling and frothing and spitting – no face masks. They are demanding their rights, dammit. What’s theirs is theirs. No stinking governor or healthcare professional can tell them what to do.

Others are protesting less pugnaciously, like the Cleveland barbershop owner who’s shop is in financial peril, who needs to provide for his family and wants his workers to have paying jobs so they can care for themselves and their families, too. He has a right to earn a living, he tells us. And he, like the violence threatening protesters, is willing to risk contracting coronavirus in pursuit of financial stability and personal independence. It’s impossible to argue with the barber’s motivation or his willingness to take that risk. Except for one thing, which I hereby offer first to the swaggering, gun-carrying protesters, and then to all self-quarantine protesters.

The right to own firearms has been expanded greatly from its original intent, greased by the lubrication of the NRA’s millions of lobbying and campaign contribution dollars. What is true concurrently with Second Amendment rights is that while you may have the right to bear arms, I have a right to not get shot by your guns, whether they’re concealed or menacingly brandished. Your right stops at the tip of my nose. And, silly me, I think my right to safety and staying alive supersedes your right to own killing machines.

It works the same way in dealing with this worldwide pandemic. Your right to get out and protest – even with your AR-15 in your hands – or open your barbershop or any other shop seems clear, and your willingness to risk illness and even death in pursuit of whatever it is you’re pursuing is your decision to make. Where your right stops is at that same tip of my nose: I have a right to not be infected by you and that supersedes your right to ignore the dire health warnings that are all around. I have a right to not get sick and die of the coronavirus that you contracted during your protests and that you could pass along to me. It doesn’t matter whether you took that risk of illness solely because of your financial needs or because you were having yet another temper tantrum against authority. Either way, you’re unfairly putting me at risk.

I feel for that barbershop owner. But while he may clear-headedly embrace the risk of contracting coronavirus by opening his shop too soon so that he can feed his children, when he’s in an ICU with a breathing tube down his throat and then dies, exactly who is going to feed his kids?

I’d rather not have to admit that I don’t feel for the gun toting protesters, but there it is. Right now I can’t find room in my heart for those who threaten others so they can feel powerful for a few moments.

My heart instead is focused on the front line troops, the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and EMTs and the people who clean and disinfect our hospitals and clinics so that they’re ready to care for us, as well as the restaurant workers bringing your takeout to the curb for you, the delivery people and grocery store staffs who bravely show up and work so that we can get the things we need. All of them are risking their lives for the rest of us, risking even for the angry, gun-toting protesters who at last show up at our hospitals with coronavirus drowning their lungs. That’s why all those front line troops are in my heart. And the people who are suffering financial deprivations due to this pandemic, like that barbershop owner, are in my heart, as well. That doesn’t leave much room for the threatening AR-15 mobs.

For both groups of protesters my message is simple: There are hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t want to be infected by you or by others whom you infect and who unknowingly pass it along. Those who have survived the disease don’t want to learn that you’re setting it up for others to suffer the way they suffered. And if the dead could talk, they’d say, “Your selfishness is going to kill my family and my friends.”

So, grow up. This is not all about you. And you don’t get to wave the red, white and blue until you learn to behave as a patriot.

The Greatest Generation suffered rationing, 405,000 deaths, about 8 times that number of injuries and far more deprivations. All we’re being asked to do is to stay home for a while. Have we become so soft that we can’t do even that? Have we become so self-centered that we can’t sacrifice for others? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then it’s long past time to drop the self-congratulatory platitudes and our certainties about exceptionalism and do a national gut check and recommit.

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Follow up report

In a recent post, Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition, a reader lamented that a lot of the money from the Payroll Protection Program intended for small business operators had instead gone to large corporations. Turns out he was right and The Washington Post reported on that.

The money from the Payroll Protection Program was supposed to provide money to small businesses to enable them to retain their employees, to pay them, even as our economy is “shut down” due to this pandemic. Instead, more than $1 billion went to large public companies. The result: “After the first pool of [money] ran dry, [that left] more than 80 percent of applicants without funding,” WaPo reported. This happened even as the CEOs of some of the large companies that received money from the Program are being paid millions of dollars.

It’s truly astonishing that in a time of national crisis the greed machine of the already wealthy keeps spinning along. Download a PDF of the WaPo article here, or read it online here.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


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

Here’s Why We Don’t Do Widespread Testing


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 5:28  .  .  .

We continue to bumble along, seemingly unable to develop a reliable test to use in large quantities throughout the country to fight this awful disease. It isn’t because we don’t have access to the needed resources. Here and here are reports on testing options that have been available for months.

In contrast to our stumbling, Germany has the lowest death rate from coronavirus anywhere and it’s hard to understand why we don’t use what has been proven to be the best available testing technology and practices.  Here’s an excerpt from a report by The New York Times on how Germany is achieving relative success:

In mid-January, long before most Germans had given the virus much thought, Charité hospital in Berlin had already developed a test and posted the formula online.

By the time Germany recorded its first case of Covid-19 in February, laboratories across the country had built up a stock of test kits.

“The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said Dr. Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Charité, whose team developed the first test.

By now, Germany is conducting around 350,000 coronavirus tests a week, far more than any other European country. Early and widespread testing has allowed the authorities to slow the spread of the pandemic by isolating known cases while they are infectious. It has also enabled lifesaving treatment to be administered in a more timely way.

To test in the U.S. at a rate comparable to that of Germany we would have to do a minimum of 1.4 million tests every week, but we don’t have a sufficient supply of test kits even for as little as 10 days; then we’re out of kits. Further, the reliability of our tests has been suspect, although claims are being made that some are now reliable. Nevertheless, our ineptitude exists and continues in spite of three facts:

  1. The World Health Organization had test kits available for our use months ago, but for unexplained reasons, our government refused to use them and relied instead on a CDC test that proved to be faulty.
  2. The formula for the reliable test that Germany is using was posted online in January and was available for everyone to use, as were other kits, but we refused those, too.
  3. President Nero invoked the Defense Protection Act and could have forced many manufacturers and labs to ramp up to produce as many  millions of tests as we need. BUT HE HASN’T DONE THAT.

On May 5 Trump made things worse by having Vice President Pence announce that he is disbanding the coronavirus task force by the end of the month. He essentially said that he is giving up without firing a shot. We would be left to suffer and many to die due to a complete lack of coherent leadership.

One day later, and in typical Trump flip-flopping fashion, he reversed that. He had been stung by the very negative public response to his disbanding decision, so he announced that now the task force will continue. But we’re left exactly the same as before, wondering if Trump and his team of incompetents will ever actually do something to help the people. Here’s why they haven’t and why they won’t.

If Trump were to take clear, decisive action, like organizing massive, national testing, he would be putting a stake in the ground, making himself accountable for results. If the results don’t turn out to be good – and it’s obvious that outcomes from this coronavirus are dreadful and will only become worse – Trump’s culpability would be on display for all to see. But Trump never accepts responsibility for anything unless he can claim victory, so once again he’s set things up for him to skate,

and he’s doing nothing.

 

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You can depend upon Trump to continue to do nothing to fight this killer disease. You can depend upon him to continue to blame others when things go wrong. You can depend upon him to care nothing about the suffering and dying that is all around. You can depend upon him to focus solely on what’s good for Trump.

Turns out that’s a multiple whammy.

The lack of a robust testing protocol is why we don’t have accurate, targeted quarantines to prevent the spread of the disease. Lacking that testing information is why we’re all quarantined and why the disease continues to spread and why millions are out of work and out of money. And that financial nightmare for millions of Americans is why we are in a financial depression from which it will take years to recover. And that financial depression is why we will be at far greater risk from international bad actors for a long time.

In other words, our human carnage catastrophe, our economic peril and our future foreign vulnerabilities are largely self-inflicted injuries that are due to the cowardice, ineptitude and total self-focus of Donald Trump.

That is why we don’t do widespread testing to control coronavirus and protect the people.

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If you’d like to learn about the kind of leadership we truly need, my pal John Calia recently penned a post that provides that clarity. Read it here.

And watch this ad from The Lincoln Project. The message from these traditional conservatives has Trump apoplectic, so instead of focusing on our  dire national circumstances, he’s using his presidential time to rage tweet. Decide for yourself if someone telling truths he doesn’t like is justification for him abandoning his post.

NOTE – be sure to click the SKIP ADS button on the right side of the YouTube video.

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Looking for a way to make a difference? Check out the One Minute Activist list right here. Not in the Chicago area? Just substitute organizations in your area as appropriate and go make a difference. Yes, today.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and the home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry. That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

———————-

Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering economists or law professors or self-serving politicians) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (daily 9/11s, a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses, employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

——————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Absolute Power


Reading time – 4:36  .  .  .

It’s plain to see that the President of the United States is, at best, severely dragging feet to deal with our national health emergency. He was warned repeatedly (over a dozen times) in his President’s Daily Briefs as far back as January that this pandemic would happen. The CDC had reports from China and their own on-the-ground evidence of the imminent danger and they issued warnings as early as November of the catastrophe that was headed our way.

We have known all along that continuing, extensive testing was and would be mandatory to minimize suffering and death, yet Trump has done everything possible to avoid our having the capacity to do what is needed to protect us.

Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act, but hasn’t taken any of the actions it enables except for forcing meat producers to continue operations. That means that our formidable manufacturing capabilities remain idle or focused elsewhere. Why would Trump choose all this and so much more counterproductive behavior? Here’s what I see.

1. Trump never shoulders responsibility, never admits mistakes, never acknowledges errors and always prefers a fatuous lie over simple truth. In a larger context, this sets up Trump to blame anyone and everyone else when things go bad.

In refusing to mobilize a massive national testing program and deflecting all responsibility to state governors, he allows himself to blame excess death on those same governors. And he helps to diminish governors in the eyes of the public by having the federal government snatch up PPE. That makes PPE unavailable to many states and their hospitals and doctors. That makes governors appear to be unsuccessful and they go to the bulls eye of Trump’s blame target.

If you want more power for yourself, undermine others who have power.

2. Trump has consistently removed the most qualified and effective people from positions of power, having fired most experts, and replaced them with Trump sycophants. A recent example is the removal of Dr. Rick Bright from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Removing the smartest, most capable people is a very effective way to ensure sub-optimal results, but that’s not Trump’s concern. He’s after something much bigger and more personal to him.

His next step was to place Brian Harrison in the position of senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. Harrison is an expert in his field. The problem for us is that his field is breeding Labradoodle dogs. Harrison replaced Peter Urbanowicz, who had decades of experience of healthcare leadership.

If you want more power for yourself, get rid of all expertise.

3. Trump has consistently demeaned allies who lead democratic nations, like Trudeau, Merkel and Macron and has consistently praised murderous, tyrannical dictators, like Putin, Xi, Duerte, Erdoğan and Kim. He’s told us repeatedly how beautiful it would be if he had absolute authority and has even claimed it for himself.

If you want more power for yourself, attack everything democratic and align yourself with autocrats.

4. Trump began his campaign to be president with racial and nationalist slurs and foreign policy lies. He repeatedly attempted a Muslim ban, in violation of the First Amendment. He has cruelly treated asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, such that we are now housing over 1,500 children in cages, kids for whom we have no method to reunite them with their now-deported parents.

He spent years taking counsel from Steve Bannon, who unequivocally promotes that we “tear it all down,” meaning our institutions that make for a solid society and a stable nation. It appears that Trump learned well.

He has demolished the guardrails of our democracy everywhere and has used his constant Twitter feed to intimidate those with the power to stop him. And he has made a mockery of our most cherished values and institutions.

If you want more power for yourself, tear down everything else.

5. This pandemic is not just a national emergency, but a worldwide emergency. Paraphrasing Rohm Emanual, autocrats never let a pandemic go to waste, and Trump certainly isn’t wasting this one. Envision this.

With the world in crisis and our country medically, economically and militarily hobbled, grabbing extra executive powers to deal with the crisis may play well with millions of Red state, MAGA hat wearing Americans. Anyone in charge who had megalomaniac tendencies would do exactly that. This is a moment made for someone who thinks he should be President for life, an idea he has suggested more than once.

He would declare a national emergency. Checked that box. Stronger still would be to wait for the next domestic attack, like a white supremacist attacking a temple or mosque or church, or a deranged, angry loser gunning down children in school, or a sicko in a hotel window murdering concert goers. That’s all going to happen again, and in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, that will be the opportunity to declare martial law. He’ll claim it’s for the protection of the American people, but that won’t be true. What will be true is that our democracy will officially be gone.

If you want absolute power for yourself, use a crisis to grab all of it.

Does all that sound unbelievable? If so, you better have another look at the obvious tracks on our national path. The place to look further is George Packer’s remarkable essay in The Atlantic, “How to Destroy a Government.” It is a frightful and accurate narrative of what has happened and is continuing to happen to our country and is a must-read.

And read Sheila Markin’s post to see what President Nero is doing. It’s all about aggregating power for himself. The question for us is whether we are and will be ready to do whatever it takes so that our democracy endures.

——————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition


Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Yeah, I know this sounds like conspiracy craziness, but .  .  .

Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has been kicked out of his post. Reports STAT, “Bright’s career has largely centered around vaccine and drug development. His work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on influenza viruses, antiviral drugs and tests.” Sounds like the kind of guy we need right now.

But reports are that Dr. Bright and Bob Kadlec, the current HHS assistant secretary for – get this – preparedness and response, had a little conflict. In fact, Bright foolishly pointed out the homicidal stupidity of recommending hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19. That’s the drug prescribed by Dr. Trump and recommended by the prime time Fox News clueless hysterions and which hasn’t been shown to be effective against this virus but has been shown to kill patients.

Let’s see: A doctor, an expert scientist in his field, had the temerity to say something truthful and important that Trump didn’t like. Rather than listening to this guy who actually knows something, Trump and his know-nothings instead did what they always do. They always purge the best people – in this case, a really Bright one, in both senses of the word – and replace them with Trump hacks, like the know-nothing former Labradoodle breeder who is now the senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. In this hour of our desperate need, what could possibly go wrong?

Actually, it sounds like a conspiracy to ensure things really do go wrong. Truly stupid.


No matter what the President says, DON’T drink me.

A reader wrote to me,

I’m reading about the latest bill passed to send $ to “SMALL” businesses. Every article mentions that the prior bill ran out of money in 3 weeks because the majority of money was sent to “LARGE” corporations. So, my question is: why is there no one in public office demanding that the government require the large corporations to return the $ so that it can be redirected to the smaller businesses, which were the intended recipients of the $ in the first place? What am I missing here?

If those large businesses fell within the program guidelines (guidelines that were created to support small businesses), then where was the oversight among all those professionals when the guidelines were created? Surely, someone should have been charged with assuring the money would go to the right companies. Seems like a slam dunk job to me.

Dear Reader,

And DON’T inhale me. No, really.

Thanks for your comments. I have no satisfactory answers. Nevertheless, I offer this:

  1. I have not heard of anyone in a position to do anything about it say a word suggesting a give-back.
  2. To the best of my knowledge, those larger businesses fell within the guidelines of the federal program – even the hedge fund operators who sucked cash from the trough. It’s crazy that these folks who clearly don’t need help could do that legally. Where, indeed, was the oversight?
  3. The larger companies commonly have a strong relationship with their bankers and they have the in-house professional expertise to apply for money from the program. Not so much for the mom and pop shops or small manufacturers. That effectively aced a lot of them out of the program.
  4. The whole thing was chaos, because the program was suddenly dumped on banks with very little in the way of direction to process these loans. Like so much during the Trump era, it was ready, fire, aim, only this time it was Congress that did it. They were in such a hurry to get money to businesses that they failed to be more clear in the process to ensure they’d help the little guys and not the hedge fund managers.

Gotta give Congress credit for earnestly wanting to help small businesses. But there was something stupid about the guardrails for the program. Do you suppose that’s fixed in the next tranche of funding?


In this time of crisis, we need the President standing a post on that wall. Instead he’s playing a constant game of Top That Lie.

On Thursday of last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested, ”  .  .  .  that states hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak should be allowed to seek bankruptcy protections rather than be given a federal bailout.” This was specifically aimed at diminishing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and pension obligations of the states. From reader John Anderson ([email protected]):

Today Mitch McConnell suddenly got concerned about government spending.

He was not concerned after the so called tax cut bill.

He was not concerned after the recent stimulus bill.

He was not concerned when the Senate passed another stimulus bill yesterday.

Today, he WAS concerned. He talked about the need to cut spending. For him that means cutting Social Security and Medicare. Not cutting Defense Spending. He’s said that before. Only a partial scare there.

Now the SCARY part.

He suggested that maybe, just maybe, states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. He didn’t suggest that states could default on bonds. For him, bankruptcy of the states means they would reduce or completely default on the pensions for all people who earned those pensions – millions of police, fire, state parks employees, road crews, teachers, librarians, city employees and all others drawing state or local funds. If you’re one of those people who had to forego pay increases for the promise of future income (a pension) and who kicked in their own money to the fund, THIS IS SCARY.

I mentioned this a few years ago when Illinois attempted to change the pension terms. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association sued (Quinn v. Hearon) and won in a unanimous decision. When I wrote about this, some responses to my article were hostile, but consider this.

After WWII, Stalin took care of the USSR’s war debt by declaring that the USSR was going to write those war bonds off and thanked the Soviet citizens for their contributions. That’s essentially what McConnell wants to do to those on Social Security and Medicare and clearly thinks that the states should declare bankruptcy and default on the pension obligations to their former employees.

Responding to John, per IllinoisPolicy.org, “In fiscal year 2019, state estimates of Illinois’ total unfunded pension liability rose to $137 billion.” That’s just for the state pensions and doesn’t include city or county obligations; furthermore, the state is broke. And dealing with coronavirus is digging an even deeper hole.

Of course, this is all the result of kicking the can down the road for many decades – generations, really – refusing to fund the liability and stealing from the fund when desired. This is equal opportunity stupidity, proudly done by both Republicans and Democrats and Illinois isn’t the only state where this is happening.

Nevertheless, this bankruptcy thing is stupid on a world class level. Congratulations are due to Mitch McConnell for cavalierly flipping off 50 states and their present and former employees. On the other hand, he’s inadvertently helping to turn red states blue.


© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press. Protesters gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

Finally, we have to pay homage to the many rugged individualist Americans who, with AR-15s and testosterone proudly on display, proclaim we mustn’t tread on them. They bellow in thunderous voices that we can’t tell them what to do, as they ascend the steps of our state capitols to loudly proclaim their demands.

They’re insisting on an end to our punishing stay-at-home orders and that we “open up” our economy and let them get back to work to earn their pay and re-assert control of their lives. Let us all raise a vinyl-gloved fist in solidarity with these true descendants of the original Revolution, as they wave their Nazi and Confederate flags on the sidewalk.

There is a powerful message in their behavior, as they make a mosh pit of protest, absent masks and gloves. The message is their nomination of themselves for the 2020 Darwin Awards.

These awards are given annually to people who have helped the most to improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. And surely many of these angry protesters will fall in the Battle of the Daft, having been infected by contagious fellow protesters. Sadly, we soon won’t be able to identify these COVID-19 volunteers from others, because once a ventilator tube goes down a throat and a plastic mask covers a face, everyone looks pretty much the same.

How can we be this stupid?

——————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Coronavirus For Dummies


Reading time – 3:41; Viewing time – 5:30  .  .  .

Imagine that in your town nobody has smoke detectors. The only way the fire department knows to come out and battle a fire is when they can see flames shooting through a roof. But when another house goes up in flames somewhere else in town and the flames are shooting through that roof, the firefighters have to divide their forces to battle the second blaze. Then houses catch fire on either side of both houses that were already aflame, because fire is very contagious. Then those fires spread to even more houses and the firefighters are soon stretched beyond their limits.

There was no early warning of any of these fires because there are no smoke detectors anywhere in the entire town. Yet with quick notice of a small fire from a smoke alarm in the kitchens of those first two houses, all those houses could have been saved. In fact, most would never have even become warm. Too bad nobody anticipated the obvious need and purchased and installed smoke detectors.

So it is with coronavirus. We don’t have the test kits, the immunological version of smoke detectors, so the fire of COVID-19 continues to spread, our people are falling victim to this deadly disease, we’re running out of places to store the body bags and our healthcare workers are stretched beyond their limits.

On April 16 Dr. Birx was once again on the president’s nightly circus sideshow and she smiled and happily told America that we have over a million test kits. Three days later on Meet The Press Vice President Pence proudly proclaimed that we have over 2 million test kits. But go to any hospital or doctor’s office and ask them if they have test kits for their patients and you’ll find out that they don’t have any or they have only a very few to ration for special circumstances.

Even if it’s true that we have two million test kits, they aren’t where they’re needed, and there are way too few of them to test sufficiently in order to protect 330,000,000 Americans. Indeed, in a report published last week by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University they wrote,

“We estimate that steady-state testing levels that would permit replacing collective stay-at-home orders as the main tool for disease control with a testing—tracing-and-warning—supported-isolation, or TTSI, methodology will eventually need to reach a capacity to test 2 to 6% of the population per day, or between 5 and 20 million people per day.“[emphasis mine]

Please stop complaining about stay-at-home.

Simple math tells us that Vice President Pence’s proud declaration of our having 2 million test kits means that the total number of kits available in the entire country is enough to meet our national needs for between 2 – 9.6 hours. Then we’ll be out of testing capacity completely. We’ll be left solely with stay-at-home as our only prevention tool, except for those states where their governors refuse even that and, back to the metaphor, they instead encourage playing with matches.

You can read a most accessible review of the Harvard report here or download the full report here. The key point is the difference between what is actually needed in order to protect us and the pitiful efforts of our federal government.

The brother of a dear friend was in a memory care facility. He had some underlying health issues as well, so when he became infected with coronavirus, it only took a few days for him to waste away and then die alone. There had been no visitors allowed in the facility for weeks, so he must have been infected by a member of the staff. We may never learn who was carrying the virus that killed him because no tests were or are available to identify carriers, so the infecting goes on to yet others to become sick and perhaps to die.

So, I say with dripping, angry sarcasm, “Thanks a lot, Mr. President, for your intentional refusal to make coronavirus testing our national priority and available everywhere, rejecting the very thing all the experts have insisted for months was mandatory if we were to curb this pandemic. We might have been able short circuit the spread of this awful disease and spare my friend’s brother’s life had you done your job.”

Mixing metaphors, Russian roulette virus dodging is all we’re left with because of the failure of our national leadership. This has already sickened additional hundreds of thousands of Americans and killed more of us, infected by others who don’t know they’re carriers. But they would know if there were robust testing protocols in place. We would all be safer, but we aren’t safer.

This is what happens when those we count on to promote the welfare of all of us instead put on a daily circus sideshow, complete with monkeys in suits doing tricks and a magician spouting lies to distract us. This is what happens when a president abdicates his responsibilities to the American people in favor of blaming others and wailing about imagined grievances, most of which have nothing to do with our critical national need. This is what happens, back to the metaphor, as our houses burn to the ground and the president refuses to make smoke detectors available and even waits for weeks to send out the fire trucks, all this as my friend’s brother died alone.

——————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections. Refreshing when someone wants to get the facts right, eh?
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

You Need To Understand This


Reading time – 5:19  .  .  .

Sure, you’re sick of coronavirus 24/7, but it’s killing so many of our family and friends that we need to know the truth. For that, read Sheila Markin’s post and you’ll understand both what’s happened and what needs to happen.

The president can’t tell the difference between reality and a reality TV show, but you know what he doesn’t know, that when people die from coronavirus they’re permanently dead. They won’t come back for the next episode. That’s why you and I need to understand reality, including what must be done.

This is important, because even if the virus fades during our warm months, it will be back next autumn and winter and will kill many more of us unless we do the right things all along. That’s why it is not hyperbole to say that the general election this November 3 is the most important of your lifetime. It really will be a life or death choice.

——————–

Connected to that, you also need to understand the devolution of our welfare, our politics and our democracy.

In 2016 you saw enthusiastic Trump supporters chanting at every campaign rally, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” It was all about some unsubstantiated accusation that Hillary Clinton had broken some unnamed law at some unidentified time according to some unknown evidence and some unavailable accusers. Nevertheless, the hate chanting was enjoyed by all in attendance. What a power rush for them!

Now it’s back.

Click me

Nancy Kohn, Just Cause

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has Michigan on lock down against the spread of coronavirus and, of course, nobody likes being locked down. The far right hair-on-fire types don’t just dislike that: they rebel violently against anyone telling them what to do.

They organized a rally on the steps of the capitol building in Lansing to protest and demand that Michigan be “reopened.” They invoked Revolutionary War era slogans to amplify their aggrieved insistence. Clearly, their individual wants are more important to them than that they may be killing others by passing their asymptomatic  infection – like to you or to your granny or to your children. And their self-focus stands in gob-smacking contrast to the over 2,000 Michiganders who are now dead from coronavirus, as though that never happened.

Bear in mind that LESS THAN 1% OF ALL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS. That means that WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO’S SICK AND INFECTING OTHERS AND WHO WILL INFECT MANY MORE OTHERS IF EVERYONE IS SET FREE TO COUGH AND SNEEZE CLOSE TO ONE ANOTHER. But no matter, Governor Whitmer. the Michigan protesters are telling you plainly that you can’t tell them what to do.

© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press Protesters gathered at the Statehouse on Monday in Columbus, Ohio.

Of course, there was no social distancing among the protesters as they marched and shouted, nor was anyone wearing a mask or gloves. Perhaps they think the power of their dark side is so dreadful that the virus can’t touch them. Sadly, they almost certainly have a nasty surprise coming. Some of those protesters surely were infecting others and the virus will spread among them and likely to yet others, too.

They were carrying the de rigueur symbols, the Don’t Tread On Me flag, the ultimate victim symbol, and a Confederate flag, the ultimate anti-patriotism flag. There were Nazi flags, too, yet they think of themselves as true patriots. And, as you already suspect, without any evidence of Michigan gubernatorial wrongdoing, they were chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” What a power rush for them!

This is what now passes as Republicanism.

This is what now passes as conservatism.

This is what now passes as patriotism.

This is what now threatens our lives, our democracy and our entire republic.

I believe we are reaching an inflection point, the path to which was instigated by Ronald Reagan’s intentional demeaning of government, with his repeated mantra that, “Government is the problem.” He began a cascade of attacks and criticism telling citizens not to trust government (and gave them reason with his Iran-Contra lawlessness), and led us to despise the commons. The Newt Gingrich crazies, the Tea Party crazies, the alt-right crazies and the Freedom Caucus crazies were and are ego power trips for the angry and all about destabilizing government and even overthrowing it. Steve Bannon, Trump’s anarchy whisperer, was and is all about “tearing it all down” – his words. These blatherers are all big megaphones for selfish anger.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage over perceived betrayal, tearing it all down sounds pretty good. You believe that the Second Amendment is foremost a message from the Founders to arm yourself against your own government, rather than its original meaning, to be a substitute for a then-unaffordable standing army in case the British came back, which they did. You believe that the Declaration of Independence says, “.  .  .  whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it  .  .  .” and that it means we should tear it all down because you’re not happy about some things and, of course, it’s all about what you want. In Jefferson’s 1787 letter to the son-in-law of John Adams he wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” You quote that, finding justification for insurrection and violence. Of course, it’s always about someone else’s blood.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage, you have guns, concealed carry, flag symbols so that you feel connected to some imagined noble cause of the past and you don’t play well with others. You insist that your rugged independence is more important than our collective welfare. So, you show up on the steps of the Michigan capitol building and you yell and you spit and cough and sneeze with your fellow coronavirus protesters. “You have to disobey,” you declare, with your Uzi strapped to your back and your Glock in your holster. What a power rush for you!

Just like all of us, these people want to go back to work. They want their old normal lives back. We all get it. The only thing that’s missing is their having any concern whatsoever for anyone else. It’s an astonishingly selfish stand to say, “My individual rights are more important than yours, even when I infect you and others, some of whom will die. I’m more important than all of us.”

Philadelphia didn’t cancel a parade during a 1918 pandemic. The results were devastating. Click the pic for the story.

All of that is bolstered by a president who doesn’t clearly call for individual sacrifice for the welfare of us all. Instead, he stokes division, telling us to follow the direction of our governors, then he encourages protesters to refuse to comply. Instead of leading a healthcare Manhattan Project, he seeks to set up others for blame when the whole thing explodes, as it’s doing right now. Indeed, the protesters are led by a president whose only interest is in what serves him, which is to say, selfishness is what is most important. This is the same president who has warned of violence by “his people” should he be removed from office. Read more about our ongoing “Wartime President’s” dysfunction here.

So, Reagan’s starting point has led us to where we are now, this inflection point, where mob behavior is our standard. In the 1960s conservatives contorted themselves into pretzels condemning protests against the Vietnam War, calling the protesters nothing less than a mob and other considerably less savory names. Now our self-defined patriotic conservatives are on the steps of our state capitol buildings as frothing mobs themselves, and somehow they now think that’s good.

The conservatives we elected to Congress drove our lobbyist-funded redirection of the Second Amendment, making it legal to take your AR-15 to your kid’s school or to the grocery store. After all, you never know when a threat might appear and assault weapons might be needed in the toilet paper aisle. And these protesters brought their heavy armor to the rally in Lansing, thinking they’re were making their point stronger. Actually, all they did was to threaten our domestic tranquility and make it clear that it’s their way or it’s violently their way.

This worldwide pandemic will have effects that will last decades and will impact everyone in ways not yet contemplated. An absolutist mind won’t tolerate that well. These people have been trained for decades by leaders teaching them that government is the enemy. Right now their lives, as for all of us, have been turned upside down, they’re more angry than usual and they aren’t about to tolerate that disruption, that abridgement of their individual rights, without making a lot of noise and threats. And this president has stoked their violence for years.

And they have guns.

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JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
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