Politics & Democracy

Gerrymandering and Self-Neutering


Gerrymandering

Here are results from the 2020 U.S. House of Representatives elections* in some “swing states.” Have a look.

Texas

Republicans won 53.43% of the popular vote, but have 63.9% of the House seats.

Wisconsin
Republicans won 51.43% of the popular vote, but have 62.5% of the House seats.
North Carolina

Republicans won 49.4% of the popular vote (they lost the popular vote!), but have 61.5% of the House seats.

Missouri

Republicans won 57.98% of the popular vote, but have 75% of the House seats.

Oklahoma

Saving the best for last:

Republicans won 67.31% of the popular vote, but have 100% of the House seats!

This is what gerrymandering does to elections and to the will of We The People. It is what causes constant obstructionism in Congress. In the states, it is what produces the most draconian, evil, voting suppression laws, the “we promise to steal the next election” laws, the Texas “we love vigilantes” law and Mississippi’s attack on Roe v. Wade.

If this looks okay to you, there’s no need to do anything. But if this looks to you like a corrupt assault on democracy and an undermining of the will of We The People and like your vote is being tossed into a dumpster fire, contact the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (former A.G. Eric Holder’s shop) and tell them you want to help to repair this hideous abuse of our democracy.

Self-Neutering

Democrats are wimpy. Their words are too nice and they speak with the confusion of different messages, all with way too many words to remember and all at once. They get steam-rolled every day by strong, anger-inducing and unified messages from Republicans, who have the benefit of not being constrained by truth or reality.

Democrats are talking about the cost of the BBB bill, which at best causes eyes to glaze over and at worst scares the hell out of voters. Instead, they should consistently be talking about the benefits of their program, the stuff that voters will feel and love, the stuff that polls at around 80%. Instead, their time is used to bicker among themselves. I don’t know what they are seeing, but I’m seeing a party in disarray that can’t manage to walk across the street without creating a traffic jam. Do they think they’re convincing voters?

Democrats continue their insanity and while that’s happening the Republicans are picking the pocket of our democracy. The theft is going on in plain sight and most of the Democrats most of the time are squabbling with one another, insisting on their version of perfect, instead of protecting our country from the insurgents. What are we to do with this?

Sheila Markin addressed ways to stop the theft of our democracy in her recent post, but I tell you that I am not encouraged. Here’s a point from that essay.

Congress could pass the new Manchin inspired Voting Rights Act that outlaws PARTISAN gerrymandering but to do so Congress would need to carve out an exception to the filibuster and that looks like a pipe dream right now.

Anybody have time for a pipe dream?

I get that a complete end to the filibuster would make it impossible to stop the barbarian hordes when they are once again in the majority in the senate. Fine. Just do a carve-out for voting legislation. I do not understand the Democrats refusing to do that.

What do you think draconian Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader would do were he faced with a situation like this? Right. And he would get what he wants. What is the point of the Democrats self-neutering? Somebody explain that to all of us.

It seems to me that the only way for us to have free, fair elections and to ensure the continuation of our democracy is for Democrats to find the courage to modify the filibuster with a carve-out for voting rights legislation. Then pass both pieces that are ready to go and DO THAT RIGHT NOW.

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* Charts are from Wikipedia

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

So Many Crises, So Little Time


Fiddle (or golf) while America burns?

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

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

The pandemic

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

Attacks on civil rights and voting rights

The obvious and looming climate crisis

Our decrepit infrastructure and lack of preparedness for the future

Our incendiary immigration dysfunction

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

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

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

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

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

Nero Destruction Award – NOT a Trump non-disclosure agreement

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

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

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

We Have a Democracy To Save

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

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

Thomas Paine

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

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

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

Resources – a Wake Up Call

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

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

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

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here. by Robert Kagan

Anything by Anne Applebaum

How Democracies Die, by Sam Levitsky and Daniel Zieblatt

How Fascism Works, by Jason Stanley

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

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

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

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

September 27 Twitter thread by Mark Jacob

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats


Becoming a senator or representative was not intended by the Founders to be a career. It was meant to be a temporary post, one of taking a turn at representing one’s neighbors and making decisions for the nation. After a stint doing that a person would return to whatever they were doing before, like farming, and a newbie would come along to continue the legislative work. But now most of them dig in and stay (see point 7 below). They’re rather like a persistent allergen: it’s hard to get rid of them.

Right now we have a most dangerous pollen collection in Congress. In the House is Republican Kevin McCarthy, who only once spoke truth on January 6 and who has lied ever since. Leading the Senate Republicans is diabolical, 78-year-old Mitch McConnell (he’s been there 36 years – a very mucilaginous pollen). He’s diabolical because his words and actions make it painfully clear that Mitch only cares about Mitch. He’ll throw under the bus whoever and whatever gets in the way of his maniacal grab for more power. He’s even pleased to dishonor our nation before the world by threatening to cause us to default on our debts. And his Senate caucus members seem to have lost their spines, as they do whatever he tells them to do, regardless of how damaging his orders are for the country.

Most dangerous are the Trump robots who will repeat any absurd, outrageous thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth. They will make imbecilic, evidence-free claims against science and about non-existent election conspiracies. And they repeat imaginary connections to pedophile blood drinkers, socialists and, of course, George Soros. He’s a touchstone for foamy-mouth Republicans, who will invoke Soros’ name whenever they’re soliciting contributions. Such demonizing of opponents is standard stuff of fascists and authoritarians. Some of them are in Congress and it’s hard to get rid of them (see point 7 below).

All of that is extremely dangerous, because these people are attacking our very democracy from all sides. They contort themselves into cerebrum-free pretzels to whip up their authoritarian-loving “base.” That’s a code name for angry people being played for fools, who will believe any rageful thing, whose votes can be had and whose dollars can be separated from them. The point is that those politicians are on a swamp march to gain absolute power for themselves as authoritarians. Worse, they’re doing so in a fraudulent costume of patriotism.

The rot is everywhere that is red – red states, red politicians, red cable and radio blabbers, red online trolls and liars and the red, big money turncoats willing to sell out our country to have a slightly fatter wealth portfolio. Get your expectations in line with the likelihood of a vengeful dictator instead of a president if the Rs win in 2024. That election will be your last chance to vote.

What makes this even more frustrating is that the Democrats have good ideas for desperately needed projects and services that have been neglected for over 40 years. They have the opportunity to do what’s needed to make that stuff happen, as well as to blunt the Republican march to the bottom of the swamp. But instead of doing what’s needed, they’re having sibling fits of obstinance.

Another sad DNC bumper sticker – GET MESSAGING HELP!

There are moderates (two senators) and progressives each insisting on getting all of what they want. In President Obama’s terms, they are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the process, they are ensuring that nothing gets done to make things better and that the Republicans won’t even have to break stride on their swamp march.

This is an exercise in self-destruction and an undermining of trust in government.

To restore faith in government and hold off the would-be fascists, we’re going to have to stop doing the things that undermine our form of government. The Republicans are the problem, so the Democrats are going to have to learn to be bold and take on the challenge themselves. Here’s a message to them.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats
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  1. Compromise on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill to get the ball rolling so that voters get the feel-good of it well in advance of the 2022 election. They need a visceral sense of the benefits of Democrats being in charge. You can revisit the rest of what you want to do after that election, assuming you don’t screw up the election and wind up in the minority.
  2. Carve-out an exception from the Senate filibuster rules, to allow legislation pertaining to voting rights to pass on a simple majority vote. Then pass the two bills that will ensure full voting rights for all Americans and will block Republican thefts of elections. Do that now so that political gerrymandering can be prevented from distorting the 2022 election. If you aren’t willing to do all that, you will perpetually be played by a vicious minority and you will lose forever. This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up. Here’s a reference, just in case the reality isn’t obvious enough.
  3. Start playing hardball for House and Senate seats (ref: points 4 and 9). Make the Rs squirm by highlighting their cowardice, their dishonesty, their anti-American attacks on our democracy and their almost homicidal behavior that has allowed and encouraged Covid-19 to kill over 715,000 Americans. They’ve pulled the plug on granny. Hey, that’s a bumper sticker you can use! See point 10.
  4. Stop using typical Democratic Party wimpy tactics and instead hammer these guys in the knees. Fog out the message next year about how the Republicans voted like goose steppers AGAINST the programs that the overwhelming majority of voters want. Rub their noses in it. If you’re not willing to do that and more, drop out of the race to make room for someone who actually intends to win.
  5. Expand the Supreme Court with 4 new centrist-to-left justices after the 2022 election to offset the McConnell bastardization of the Court (see the chart below). And fill every open federal bench with similar people. Caution: This will require you to grow a pair.
  6. Fix Congress and the Supreme Court – Say it with me: “Term limits.” This is a requirement for survival.
  7. Offer statehood to Puerto Rico and DC in 2023, both to improve Democrat headcount in Congress and because it’s the right thing to do.
  8. Treat rural and non-college educated citizens with respect. It will be a refreshing change. Start by fielding really good congressional candidates in red states and fund them well so they can connect with voters just as though they’re human beings, not elitists.
  9. Aggressively attack the blabbers who indirectly kill people by lying about Covid, those online, on cable and in Congress. Call them mean names that they so richly deserve. Call out the “stop the steal” liars in Congress. Do it in the well of the Senate and House. Do this aggressively. Translation: Grow a pair.
  10. Get help with messaging. The Republicans came up with “Stop the Steal.” However dishonest, it’s a great bumper sticker and rallying cry. What’s yours? “We’re working on a Build Back Better compromise and maybe we’ll have something in a couple of years or so”? “Gosh, Mitch is a meanie?” Will Rogers said it best: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” It’s time to both end such self-defeating stuff – it isn’t cute anymore – and present a compelling message to the country that people can remember and champion.

Start playing the right game. This ain’t beanbag; this is hardball. If at any time you’re unsure what to do, ask yourself what Mitch McConnell would do were he in your circumstances.

I repeat: This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up.

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Approval Rating of Supreme Court Drops to Lowest Level – EVER
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Our approval of the Supreme Court has plummeted 18% this year alone.
Expect it to get worse, unless we do something about it.

Click the chart for the Gallup report.

Resources

Hungarian-Style Soft Fascism Is the GOP’s Ruthless New Brand, by Thom Hartmann

Do Democrats Have the Courage of Liz Cheney?, by Tom Friedman

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, by Robert Kagan

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

Protests Are Taking Over The World. What’s Driving Them?, by Zachariah Mampilly

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

The “This Didn’t Have To Happen” File – v2


Click me for the This Didn’t Have To Happen story from the CDC

The teacher did what teachers do: she stood in front of the class in 70%-vaccinated Marin County, CA and taught. She read something to her class of elementary school kids, as usual. The only problem was that she was unvaccinated.

Well, there was one other problem. She had been Covid symptomatic for two days before then. Oh, and she wasn’t wearing a mask.

She infected half her class, more kids at the front of the class – those within spit-spray distance – than at the back. Those infected kids brought the virus home to their siblings, who then became infected. Gotta wonder how many others were infected by those kids before their symptoms began and they tested positive.

Of course, elementary school kids can’t be vaccinated, which makes them unwitting targets of this disease, as it’s passed to them by infected people, whether or not those passers have symptoms, which this teacher did.

The CDC report on this episode of Pandemic Roulette is an easy read and I recommend it to you. Just click the graphic above, read the report and then say it with me: “This didn’t have to happen.”

Neither Did This

Florida is the place where over 23,000 people per day are testing positive. That’s over twice the national rate. They’re running out of oxygen for Covid patients. Over 260 people are dying every day and the rate is soaring. The hospital morgues are stockpiling corpses in refrigerator trucks out back.

Florida is where Gov. Ron DeSantis has effectively mandated escalating infections and deaths from Covid with his anti-mask temper tantrums. As he continues to thwart the efforts of those fighting this disease, he is idiotically criticizing President Biden for not having ended the pandemic. That’s right: DeSantis is doing all he can to encourage the spread of the disease and at the same time is criticizing Biden for not having eliminated it.

“Breathtaking” is an appropriate term for DeSantis, as he points a finger at Biden. “Breathtaking” also fits the victims of his pandemic who can’t breathe. Somebody please twist DeSantis’ hand 180° so that he points his finger at himself.

Click me

I highlight Florida because it is perhaps the most egregious example of “This Didn’t Have To Happen” in the nation, but anywhere the stupid stuff is going on deserves as much scorn.

We have more kids in hospitals with Covid right now than at any time since this pandemic began. These are little kids and Mom and Dad aren’t there to hold their hands because these sick kids are in quarantine.

I’m wondering how they became infected. Could mask and vaccine refusers have done this? Might the Freedom Fools have infected these kids? Are the self-important Freedom Fools’ rights more important than whether those kids live or die? Sadly, I know the answers to those questions and so do you.

To our Freedom Fools: Go ahead and refuse masks and vaccinations for yourself and your kids. I have just two requests. First, please pre-pay all of your medical costs. I don’t want them shifted onto me through the insurance labyrinth when you get sick and die because of your pig-headed refusal to do the simple things that would keep us all safe.

And second, keep the hell away from my kids and my grandkids because you don’t have to happen to us.

Afghanistan Didn’t Have To Happen, Either

It is vitally important that we be clear about the truth of what happened and why. Read this piece and cry for the This Didn’t Have To Happen, sad déjà vu story.

The years of deceit are related by perfidious blood to a Kevin McCarthy Lie-A-Thon last week. CNN’s headline reads,

Fact check: Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy makes at least 5 false claims in 7-minute Fox News interview

.

It seems we get lied to a lot by political leaders. Sometimes those political lies start wars and lots of people die. Sometimes those political lies accelerate pandemics and lots of people die. Sometimes those political lies savage the Constitution and large chunks of democracy die. In every case, This Didn’t Have To Happen.

“At this point, to be a conservative in good standing you have to pledge allegiance to blatant lies — Democrats are Marxists, the election was stolen, basic public health measures are sinister assaults on freedom.”   – Paul Krugman, August 31, 2021

Krugman is right. Check the Election Countdown below. We have work to do and a decreasing amount of time to do it. It’s time to dig in.

We Chant “USA! USA! USA!” And Break Records, But This Didn’t Have To Happen
.

The 1,180 dying daily are actually gone forever. This isn’t just a horror movie. This is horror reality.

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

It Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

The first real test of the [National Voter Rights Act of 1993] came in 2018, when Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, went on a voter-purge binge (that hit Black, student and elderly neighborhoods particularly hard) and was sued by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for violating Ohio citizens’ right to vote.

In a bitter 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled in Husted v Randolph that purging voters because they failed to return a junk-mail-like postcard was entirely legal.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

It’s a practice once called “caging” back when Karl Rove’s guy [George W. Bush] was allegedly doing it and it was illegal but that has, since that Court ruling, spread to pretty much every Republican-controlled state in the nation.

Justice Alito’s decision was particularly biting, asserting that the arguments made by the citizens who’d lost their right to vote were “worse than superfluous” and their argument that they shouldn’t have to regularly check  in with the Secretary of State’s office to stay on the voter rolls represented logic “no sensible person” could agree with.

Justice Alito’s comments fly in the face of the multiple declarations of the right to vote prominently displayed in the Constitution. That document doesn’t say anything about the need to send in a post card or “check in” with any government or agency in order to retain the right to vote. We just have to be citizens.

If Alito wants autocracy, minority rule and race and class oppression, he might consider moving to another country with just such a foundation. Maybe I missed something, but I thought that all justices took an oath to the Constitution of this country.

In acting to suppress the right of citizens to vote, Alito pushed back on democracy itself. Given that Alito’s Supreme Court vote and his comments are in opposition to both the Constitution and democracy, it begs the question of why he’s on the Supreme Court.

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

The State of Florida continues on its path to become the place most intentionally disinterested in the welfare of its citizens. In the face of stiff competition from Texas, Arizona and several other states, Florida has codified its refusal to allow schools to protect students from Covid-19 and its variants by issuing an Emergency Rule.* Please download it. You’ll be amazed at the lengths to which the Florida Board of Education goes and the tortured un-reason it uses to attempt to make their prohibition of mask mandates sound like they’re delivering safety from this deadly virus.

Their logic is forehead-slappingly illogical, sort of like saying they are promoting good by ensuring bad.

Almost as shocking is that the state’s Board of Education offers an alternative to mask mandates. It invites students and public money to go to private schools. This smells very bad, like the public schools in the south in the 1950s and 60s that suffered because white students left for private, expensive (read: segregated) schools, as did the public money for education, leaving nearly nothing for Black kids.

And the Florida Board of Education is doing this under the banner “Hope.”

Here’s a startling headline from the Tallahassee Democrat on August 9 showing DeSantis’ disregard for Floridians:

Florida Gov. DeSantis to school officials: Enforce mask mandate, get your salaries withheld
.

I have no clue how that could be legal. It’s much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott declaring that he’s going to arrest the Democratic legislators who left the state to prevent horrid voter suppression laws from being enacted. He proudly boasted that he would arrest and hold these Democrats in the state capitol building In Austin for the duration of the special legislative session. That’s quite a statement from the Texas Governor, in that the Democrats have broken no laws and he has no power to incarcerate them in the capitol building or anywhere else.

Note that both of these governors are threatening opponents with exactly the same kind of king-of-the-hill bravado as despots and cruel dictators who imprison political opponents (think: Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Xi in China). The same goes for all the rest of the “I’ll show you!” tough guy governors and legislators. Tough guy stuff plays well with the alt-right, the MAGA hat wearers. Normally, that’s a “who-cares?” but in the face of Covid and civil unrest, it’s deadly.

Expect stupid litigation to follow DeSantis’ tough guy announcement. The reason that’s important is that we have an epidemic of people in power doing similarly anti-welfare-of-the-people things, as well as taking anti-democracy shots.

This Florida Board of Education Emergency Rule and DeSantis’ threat of withholding educators’ salaries are just the most recent actions that beg the question of why Gov. Ron DeSantis has been allowed to be anywhere near public office.

While DeSantis is the poster boy for selfishly bad governing, for our purposes he is a placeholder for all the governors, legislators and bloviators who chest thump and try to position themselves for more MAGA votes, even at the cost of the health and the lives of our fellow citizens. Future generations will look at our time with puzzlement and derision, because we voted for this. And that begs yet more questions.

Actual Hope

Dr. Chad Gestson, Supt. Phoenix Union High School District

A refreshing contrast to knuckle dragging governors like DeSantis and Abbott is Dr. Chad Gestson, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, AZ, with 32,000 students. He is a profile in courage, defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s “no mask mandates” order by requiring masks for students, teachers and staff in his schools. Apparently, the superintendent thinks the health of everyone in his schools is really important, a concept not comprehensible by certain elected officials.

What’s truly, self-destructively weird is that a teacher in his district is suing Gestson over his mask mandate, claiming it’s an infringement of his freedom to become infected, then infect others and finally to gasp and die (the sarcasm is mine – JA). Nevertheless, Gestson is standing strong. I bet he’d appreciate a note of support from you. [email protected]

Meanwhile, the Florida Board Of Education Emergency Rule, the various governors’ no-mask-mandate orders and the teacher’s lawsuit all beg the question of when self-serving temper tantrums replaced good sense.

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

– 18% of the world’s total Covid-19 cases – 36.8M/204.3M

– 14.7% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19 – 633K/4.3M. Before the vaccines that number was closer to 25%, but 71.9% of seniors are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have over 633,000 total deaths and the two week moving average is now 480 per day – and rising. See the STAT chart below.

– The distinction of being the only country in the world where mask mandates can be prohibited.

20% of new U.S. Covid cases are children – see here and here. Babies and young children are dying.

A new case of Covid-19 in the U.S. is reported every 0.7 seconds. The two-week moving average is a new case every 1.2 seconds. See the STAT chart below.

The U.S. has the largest supply of Covid vaccines in the world, but

– Only 58.1% of vaccine-eligible citizens in the U.S. is fully vaccinated.

– The U.S. is the only country where citizens have to be bribed to be vaccinated, even as citizens of other countries beg for vaccines.

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

All of this Covid information begs so many questions, like,

What has happened to us and why did we let this craziness happen?

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

How did so many of us become so shockingly angry that our good sense has left us?

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

Why aren’t we shocked by a Covid death equivalent of the crash of a jumbo jet every day?

It begs these questions and so many more.

  • ————————

* Thanks go to JN for forwarding the Florida DOE Emergency Rule.

————————————

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

This is a proud JaxPolitix moment, as we have officially received our first vile, disgusting and politically inane troll message.

To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

————————————

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

What We Need From the House Select Committee


Ed. note: Read through to the end and click the link for a stunning piece you must read.

The House Select Committee has a tough job. They are tasked with getting to the bottom of the traitorous terrorist insurrection that has come to be known simply as January 6. Notable is that this committee is operating in the presence of a well coordinated campaign of denial, obfuscation, fraud and attempts to discredit the committee itself and everything it does, and that’s just from elected members of Congress. In addition are the blabbers, bloggers and blowhards in the hot air media bubble hoping to defeat democracy.

Did you hear the gut wrenching testimony of the four police officers who presented to the committee on the 27th? Their testimony stands as both declaration of their own experience and as a placeholder for the horrific ordeals of so many Capitol and DC Metro Police officers that day. Here’s the thing to bear in mind:

These cops were protecting the Capitol Building and all those within it. As they were being beaten, maimed, tortured, race-hated and killed, there were insurrectionists proudly and hypocritically parading both inside and outside the Capitol Building with Blue Lives Matter flags.

That, of course, pairs perfectly with the hypocrites who carried various versions of American flags as they broke American laws, disrupted the proceedings of The Congress of the United States and attempted to kill Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence and any other members of Congress they could get their hands on. These people smeared excrement in the Capitol Building and vandalized whatever they got their hands on. They declared they were the true patriots, as they attempted to destroy democracy, but these people are today’s Nazis.

The Washington Post had this take on questions the House Select Committee should answer:

Top of the list is precisely what then-President Donald Trump did before, during and after the attack. How did he prepare his speech preceding the insurrection, in which he told the crowd to fight? What did he anticipate his audience’s reaction would be? When did he know the pro-Trump mob was threatening the Capitol? Why did he offer only mild statements long after the danger was clear? Did Trump-affiliated rally organizers coordinate with extremist groups?

Investigators should hear from extremist-group leaders at the center of the violence. How did they prepare? What was their goal? The committee should hear also from Justice Department and Capitol Police officials who failed to anticipate the riot. Why did intelligence officials across the government seem unaware of warnings that were all over social media? To what extent did law enforcement discount or ignore warning signs about right-wing extremists because federal and local officers did not want to cross Mr. Trump and other Republicans? Why did the National Guard take so long to arrive?

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) sits on the House Select Committee and did so with tears in his eyes listening to the words of the four cops who gave testimony. Here’s what he wants the committee to answer:

“How did this happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and any members of Congress, or with staff?

“We need answers and we need accountability, and the only way to get that is a full investigation and understanding of what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Such an investigation should include a serious look at the misinformation campaigns and their origins, the lies being perpetuated by leaders — including by former President Donald Trump — and what impact such false narratives had on the events leading up to and following Jan. 6. We need to be fearless about understanding the motivations of our fellow Americans, even if it makes us uncomfortable about the truth of who they are and the truth of who played what role in inspiring them.”

There are many people to be held to account; however, people at the top commonly get away with their wrongdoing. Think: Ronald Reagan and his Iran-Contra crimes, even as some of his underlings went to prison; and Richard Nixon and his Watergate cover up, even as his underlings went to prison. The underlings must be held to account, to be sure, and it’s imperative that we hold accountable everyone at the top, too. If we fail to do that we will be inviting the next insurrection fueled by lies and an atmosphere of impunity.

Here’s what Liz Cheney (R-WY) had to say to start the committee’s work:

“Until January 6th, we were proof positive for the world that a nation conceived in liberty could long endure. But now, January 6th threatens our most sacred legacy. The question for every one of us who serves in Congress, for every elected official across this great nation, indeed, for every American is this: Will we adhere to the rule of law? Will we respect the rulings of our courts? Will we preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?”

This committee is about identifying whether we will adhere to the rule of law and whether “we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution.” That’s why we must have answers to our questions, especially in the face of the maddening, lying opposition to truth and to democracy.

———————–

Notable and Quotable

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) spoke to the mob at the Ellipse shortly before the terrorists headed up Constitution Avenue to ransack the Capitol Building and kill whomever they found there, saying,

“[W]e are not going to let the Socialists rip the heart out of our country. We are not going to let them continue to corrupt our elections, and steal from us our God-given right to control our nation’s destiny.”

“Today Republican Senators and Congressmen will either vote to turn America into a godless, amoral, dictatorial, oppressed, and socialist nation on the decline or they will join us and they will fight and vote against voter fraud and election theft, and vote for keeping America great.”

“[T]oday is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!” He asked if they were willing to give their lives to preserve “an America that is the greatest nation in world history.”

“Will you fight for America?”

That’s the quotable part. Here’s the notable part.

First & second paragraphs: Absolutely everything he said or implied is false. A lie. All of it. That’s been the through line of Republican speech for decades. They hurl such a flood of fecal matter that it’s next to impossible to refute it. Plus, this is incitement to riot.

Third & fourth paragraphs: This is both an incitement to riot and a direct, blatant call to mob violence. Can’t wait to see the dance Brooks does before the House Select Committee and also when he attempts to defend himself in the lawsuit brought by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

What are we to do about such people? In the words of Aaron Sorkin from the movie The American President:

.

It’s time to speak up.

———————–

Congratulations to the 55,373 new cases and 266 deaths from Covid on Thursday, nearly all of whom were NOT VACCINATED.

Click me – and read the comments

Be sure to watch the walk of the defiantly maskless Congressional representatives who had just been instructed to mask up because of the horrifically increasing number of cases of Delta variant Covid. They were on their way to infect the Senate. Click the pic to the right.

I long held the belief that as people became older they matured and stopped acting like playground brats. I was wrong.

———————–

Late Addition

Attorney Joseph Welch put the first nail into the coffin of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s reign of cruelty and abuse. Perhaps the siblings of a cruel and dishonest member of Congress can do the same. This is a must read. Many thanks to MZ for the pointer.

————————————

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Golden Calf


Trump’s endless string of lies at the July 2021 CPAC convention was not just boring; it was old news boring. New day, same old lies.

On the other hand, his supplicants applauded and made the proper guttural noises for him in response to his calls for adulation. They did the same for the rest of the lying and outraged victim presenters. All of that, though, was secondary to the February CPAC supplication.

Golden Trump at CPAC, February 2021

That’s when the circle became complete, with people literally bowing down to an actual golden image of Trump. It is the ultimate Golden Calf of our time, today’s version of the biblical tale, this time focusing on our very own political debauchery and wilful human debasement.

The Evangelicals sold out for a promise of ending Roe, seating extreme conservative judges and having marriage strictly defined as between one man and one woman. They slimed their souls by tolerating the lying, cheating and moral degradation they actually got, and they did it with their eyes wide open. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

The White supremacists and hate groups sold out our country in the hope of moving their hate show to the main stage. They got that, and now everyone is clear that the haters are the real victims, poor babies, that it’s good and right to suppress the lowly “others” and that the haters are the meanest badasses in the country. In support of their sell out of our country and their beating of cops as they waved Blue Lives Matter flags is a human hot air balloon encouraging their wreaking national carnage.

The rest sold out for flimsier reasons, like, “I’ve always voted Republican and could never vote for a Democrat.”

And now all the sellouts have their very own golden idol to worship. Millions voted for him and continue to chant, “Stop the steal!”

Many thanks to JN for this graphic.

So do the Republicans in Congress, even the ones who at first finger-shamed and blamed Trump for his January 6 treachery. But then they chickened out. Back pedaled. Re-instituted their sucking up. Revved up their inner jelly fish and puckered their lips to match Trump’s ass.

They lie about everything that isn’t self-serving and, most awful, are trying to whitewash the insurrection against our country, even as they know that doing so is the path to the destruction of our democracy. That’s what passes for the Republican Party today.

The Tiananmen Square student protests of 2001 in Beijing were an illustration of the constant human struggle for freedom, this time played out on the world stage. It was also a demonstration of the unbridled lengths to which those in power will go to crush opposition.

That’s what autocracies do.

As those bloody events unfolded, one student summoned the courage to stand in front of army tanks and speak truth to power. He would not be silenced by the brutality of leadership. He would not allow the lies and cruelty to go unnamed.

We’re still looking for Republicans with that same kind of courage. Okay, I’ll give you Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. That’s two Republicans out of 263. Name another.

Strangely, we humans love to keep doing the same thing and then expect different results, but there are consequences to Einsteinian insanity. It’s time for Democrats to figure out that their opponents have been playing by different and draconian rules for decades, which is why Democrats have been overpowered in most state houses and governorships and manipulated into insignificance in Congress.

From The NKC Occasional Update of July 23, 2021:

Progressive think tank Future Majority is out with solid research that shows Dems are not getting credit for their achievements #ForThePeople. Their advice? Play offense on legislation, focus on message discipline about “Delivering” Democratic solutions for American families, and employ similar discipline in defining R’s as “For Q and Not for You!”

Democrats, the traditionally tongue-tied, slogan challenged, inept communicators, better figure out a smarter, more effective way fast, because terrible Republican stuff is afoot.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt Republican Golden Calf prostration and the killing of democracy it can cause, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

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I’ve written many times to and about our vaccine refuseniks. I’ve answered their reasonable concerns, offered doses of truth to counter the disinformation and propaganda they’ve been fed, used patriotic duty persuasion, offered snarky comments and ridicule and I’ve also washed my hands of them. Still, they insist upon endangering themselves and others, especially our first responders who have to risk their own lives to treat them in hospitals. Many still proudly declare their right to be stupid and die, which they are doing at the rate of about 260 per day.

(Darwin Awards alert: We have some solid contenders in this bunch.)

I’ve come to the point where it’s clear that Emmanuel Macron, President of France, has it right. Read his comments that start this edition of The Markin Report. Then read the rest of the report. It’s time for plain talk, setting limits and accountability. The reason it’s time is because this is an immediate life and death issue that is on the way to becoming far more threatening.

Click the graph

Tennessee Update

As reported here, the Great State of Tennessee proudly announced its cancellation of all outreach to promote all vaccines for kids. Not just Covid; all vaccines. As reported by The Tennessean, after receiving pressure from national condemnation of that decision, Gov. Lee announced a reversal, with the exception of continuing to refuse to use social media to reach teens, where they might actually be able to connect with them and encourage them to be protected. Apparently, they’ve also decided not to eliminate the Tennessee Department of Health, which they had threatened to do.

The Covid vaccination rate in Tennessee is just 39% and new cases of Covid have quintupled in the past month. There is no word on whether they will attempt to rehire Michelle Fiscus, the state’s former top vaccine official, whom they fired when they caved to GOP pressure and had their health damning fit of insanity on July 13.

Bear in mind that Tennessee is the state that proudly attacked and denied science in the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

.

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“The blameless became the victims of the feckless.” *

.
  • * feckless – adjective
  • lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible. In this usage, Republicans.

————————————

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The American ISIS – Part Two


This is Part Two of The American ISIS. Part One was published on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. You can find it here.

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Kurt Andersen’s 2017 book Fantasyland is a remarkable journey through our 5 century endeavor to perfect our ability to believe almost anything. It’s about how we blind ourselves to obvious reality and embrace outrageous explanations and fantasies to fill our gaping ignorance and feed our passions. We may be reaching perfection in that right now and could achieve escape velocity.

I recommend Andersen’s book to you but caution that you may find some of his views objectionable. Should that happen, simply focus on the basic American manias of belief in whatever puffs our bubble and our need to be wowed by ever more spectacular wow. There are hard consequences to those vulnerabilities. Our enthusiasm to believe the otherwise unbelievable is especially true when we live in fear of the ground shifting farther away from what feels solidly familiar. We clutch after vaporous memories of an imagined better time that never happened and we demand that it return.

He concludes his book quoting Hannah Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933, came to America and became a leading political philosopher. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism she wrote, “The essential conviction shared by all ranks [in a totalitarian movement], from fellow-traveler to leader, is that politics is a game of cheating.” Consider that in the context of our fellow-traveler mobs chanting “Stop the steal!” and their dear leader having whined, accused and lied incessantly since 2015 about rigged elections and who now donkey brays about how the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his mobs.

Back to Arendt:

“A mix of gullibility and cynicism have been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true  .  .  .  Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable truth of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Her references were to Stalin and Hitler but she could as well have been writing about 21st century America and Donald Trump. We’re not a different species from any other people at any other time and this story is a recurring one. The difference is that it is being played out on us today and it is our democracy that is in danger.

The Nazi Brown Shirts and Stalin’s Death Squads and Pol Pot’s Kymer Rouge were each absolute followers of an absolute, tyrannical leader. They were constantly infused with propaganda. So, too, were and are the al Qaeda and ISIS vengeful mobs.

Right here at home our American ISIS is propagandized by Trump. He is yet another megalomaniac who will get his way or he will burn it all down. His followers have promised death to whomever he points a stubby finger at, including the Vice President of the United States. There are over 300 million guns in private hands in America and most are owned by a relative few, meaning that we have propagandized militias with over-stocked arsenals and barely contained rage. Even some of our military and police are fully propagandized.

These American ISIS members have promised ongoing violence fueled by their self-righteous certainties of patriotism and their imagined unity with 18th century revolutionaries. They have demonstrated their eagerness to inflict their violence on others. In fact far right extremists are the biggest perpetrators of domestic terrorism in America – by far. Now consider what will happen when their tyrannical leader, their Caligula, is indicted and convicted of his crimes.

Consider, too, how critical it will be to pass S.4263, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and H.R.1, the For The People Act to stop a Republican steal of our upcoming elections and of our democracy.

The facts are before us, so expecting the American ISIS to make good on their threats is an exercise in reality. Believe your eyes.

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Good News!

On Friday President Biden fired the Trump appointed head of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, and solicited and received the resignation of his chief deputy, David Black. Saul spent the past years doing everything he could to deny benefits to seniors, our disabled and others for whom the system is supposed to work. He tried to bust the employee union and more.

Saul’s firing is a fine start to removing all the Trump toadies who have their jobs due to campaign donations and blatant conflicts of interest with the agencies they lead, like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who spends his days hobbling the post office system and slowing your mail.

Well done, President Biden. Keep purging!

————————————

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This


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

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

Which is exactly what OAN is doing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From Common Cause

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

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

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Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
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