Race

The Through-Line


Last Sunday’s post dealt with the goal of extremist Republicans: destruction. They want to destroy democracy and replace it with autocracy – fascism. They want to destroy the Constitution and replace it with some tool of absolute power only for themselves. They want to destroy facts and truth and replace them with propaganda and self-serving fictions – “alternative facts” – which, as you know, are lies wearing an enemy uniform.

And they don’t care who gets hurt. That was perfectly captured by Trump’s soon-to-be-indicted lawyer, John Eastman, who, at the rally of insurrection on January 6, 2021, proudly declared, “We’re kicking ass and taking names!” I guess that works happily for the kickers, but not so much for the kick-ees. The bad news is that you are intended by the extremists to be one of the kick-ees.

This post is my promised through-line offering to help to explain this behavior, why the self-righteous extremists would want destruction.

I believe this is driven by a primitive, tribal fear of “others.” It is intentionally exclusionary of those not of “our clan.” It is a defense against anything different, anything that might upset what is familiar and feels safe. It is existential tribal warfare.

We pick up a major thread of this to use as example: our 400-year habit of persecuting Blacks. They are different, as White supremacists will have you know. We have bounced around hating many “others” over the centuries, too, including indigenous people (happily misnamed “Indians”), Asians, Irish, Italians, Jews, Catholics and more – really any group that isn’t Anglo-Saxon Protestant and even some who are. The problem now is that Whites are losing their place as our majority racial group and – gasp! – some of those other people have already secured some rights for themselves. Even women! If this is a zero sum game as so many believe, what’s a frightened White supremacist to do?

My stab at understanding this is aided by the pages of Andy Borowitz’s Profiles in Ignorance (see Fine Print #5 below):

“In 2020, Stuart Stevens, who worked on both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, published It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump. Stevens points out what few Republicans have acknowledged: the views that people find abhorrent in Trump make him not the antithesis of Reagan but his rightful successor. “What happens if you spend decades focused on appealing to whites and treating nonwhite voters with, at best, benign neglect?” Stevens asks.

“You get good at doing what it takes to appeal to white voters. That is the truth that led to what is famously called “the southern strategy.” That is the path that leads you to becoming what the Republican Party now proudly embraces: a white grievance party .  .  . Today, in the age of Donald Trump, the most openly racist president since Andrew Johnson or his hero Andrew Jackson (to the extent a know-nothing narcissist is capable of having a hero), many Republicans who find Trump repulsive or at least consider him abrasive and uncouth hark back to Reagan as the standard compared with whom Trump is woefully inadequate .  .  .

But in the area of race, there is a direct line from the more genteel prejudice of Ronald Reagan to the white nationalism of Donald Trump.”

“As for Reagan’s ‘civility and personal grace,’ as Peter Wehner put it, which Reagan, exactly, was he describing? The one who used racist dog whistles like ‘states’ rights’ and ‘welfare queen’? The one who said, of student protesters, ‘If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with’? The one who wished that California’s hungry would contract botulism? The one who permitted his press secretary to turn AIDS into a joke? The one who called African leaders cannibals and monkeys? The Party of Reagan seems pretty recognizable to me [now].”

The through-line also picks up grievances against government. “Government is the problem,” declared Reagan at all campaign stops and at his first inaugural. It moves that line through Trump’s efforts to undermine all government, leading the way to today’s Republican Rabid Rabies Caucus. They amplify America’s original sin in order to appeal to White voters. They pick at the scabs of both real and imagined grievances, giving people something to use to justify their tribal fear-turned-to-anger-turned-to-hatred.

It didn’t start with Reagan. He was hundreds of years too late to have begun that. What he did do is to pick up the ball that Richard Nixon had carried (his “Southern Strategy”) and run way downfield with it. That was “Saint Ronny,” as the myopic, “O’ for the good old days” folks call him, but there was nothing saintly about him.

Pogo was right

Be clear that this post looks mostly at the issue of race being used to polarize our citizens. The important part is that this and more were used to lead to a violent attempt to end our democracy, commit murders and subjugate our people. Worse, some of our elected officials participated in this attempted coup to destroy our country. Here’s a list of the 147 Congressional dishonorables who violated their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. They instead chose to surrender their honor and integrity to a would-be tyrant in order to serve their petty selfishness. And they’re still doing that.

History is full of examples of self-serving dishonorables who stoke fear and hatred in order to seize power for themselves. Our challenge today is that many of our dishonorables are still in positions of power and influence. They stoke amygdala stimulated fear and hatred of “others” – that primitive tribal thing – and seek to crush E Pluribus Unum.

That is the through-line.

I’m not sure that John Lewis was right when he declared powerfully, “We’re better than this.”

But we could be.

Finally, this Great Trampling of Rights is well underway by these tribal terrorists. That’s what all the destruction is about. If a right is to endure, there must be a mechanism to ensure it against these assaults. So, here’s a question for us and for our rights:

What is a right without a remedy?

It seems to me that the remedy is up to us.

  • __________________________
  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.


    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

“This Is An Issue For All Of Us.”


First Thing

Congratulations to Sen. Rafael Warnock (D-GA), Georgia activists and the voting public on his election win for a full 6-year term. Well done! All it took to accomplish that was 4 elections for that seat over the course of 2 years. That’s a mind numbing amount of campaigning (and massive activism) while, by the way, doing his job in the Senate. This is a moment of joy.

And it has been interrupted by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (now I-AZ). Yes, she bailed from Democrats as soon as there was a substantive impact on them in doing so.

She’s spent the past two years flicking off Dems, blocking key legislation they championed and being the voice of unreason. Her behavior makes me desperate to explain what goes on inside such a person, but it would just be a guess that she didn’t get enough of daddy’s love and attention.

Aw, don’t get me started.

“This Is An Issue For All Of Us.

Because we’ve seen this before. This is how it started 70 years ago. So I don’t want it to feel normal.”

Those are the words of Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who was comparing anti-Semitism in America today to anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and -40s.

It started there with Hitler’s election in 1933 shortly after the very suspicious Reichstag fire. He was appointed chancellor after garnering just 33% of the vote and he immediately began violence against communists, trade unionists and, of course, Jews. He blamed them for essentially all the ills the German people were suffering and many that didn’t even exist. He needed an enemy on whom to focus his nation’s anger, a scapegoat, and he found an easy target rooted in nearly two millennia of bigotry.

That sounds suspiciously like our time, as Trump vilified Mexicans, Muslims, and Blacks, but with ear splitting dog whistles, he targeted Jews. Surely, you remember his “good people on both sides” comment about the Neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville, where they chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” His recent attacks  blew another dog whistle, saying “Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough,” while suggesting that they have compromised American loyalties.  Whatever his self-serving blabbery, clearly Trump needs scapegoats on whom to focus citizen anger – that of our grievance-stoked citizens. That’s the source of his power.

He claims that he couldn’t be anti-Semitic because his daughter converted to Judaism, which leaves us aghast at the hollowness of his denial. It’s just another example of the standard weaseling, “Some of my best friends are Jews” and his base, the grievance-stoked haters, metaphorically goose step behind him. Now, of course, he’s even more blatant in his discrimination, as he palls around with anti-Semites and Holocaust denial creeps at his Mar-a Lago Wolf’s Lair.  But that’s just Trump.

Except it isn’t.

His behavior gives tacit permission and even guidance to his millions of followers to hate Jews.

America has always had a virulent strain of anti-Semitism. It was so strong that President Roosevelt wouldn’t allow German Jews safe harbor in our parochial, self-protective country. Making room for Jews would have lost Roosevelt public support for what was coming. So, instead of providing asylum, he left those people on ships to be returned to Europe where they were murdered.

Anti-Semitism is a key force behind White supremacists and Christian Nationalists. And it is a trigger for murders – hate crimes.

On a personal note, it is the reason I was repeatedly attacked and got into fights during grade school and high school. Like Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue, I had to get tough or die, so I learned to fight well. But of course, the victims at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and those at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, CA didn’t have a chance to fight. They were gunned down by murderers inflamed with hatred fed to them from an intentionally  polluted stream.

I was in high school during the Second  Vatican Council when Jews were officially cleared by the Pope of having murdered Jesus. I was acquitted of having personally committed the crime, but I felt no relief, as nothing in my life changed. The bad boys apparently didn’t get the message about my exoneration. I suspect that they still haven’t heard and, dangerously, that they’ve taught their children to hate. Some of them or their grandchildren could be mass murderers now.

Sadly, the words of Douglas Emhoff notwithstanding, this is normal in America. What was always smoldering is now a blazing fire in the open. It is trumpeted every day in social media, with all the old tropes and many new ones flung from that sewer. Republican elected officials and pundits, fearful of the reaction of “the base” – our grievance-stoked citizens – don’t dare to speak out against it and many encourage the bile.* All of that is triggering murder.

Humans have always been tribal and quick to reject “others.” We’re no different in this country. What we do exceedingly well – better than any other country – is to weaponize hatred and trot it out at the slightest provocation.

That’s especially dangerous in a country that has enough guns in private hands for 1.25 guns per person. That figure includes infants, children, terminally ill patients and the institutionalized, none of whom have guns. Separating them out, as well as those who have no firearms by choice, leaves a lot more guns per person for those who do have them in this national shooting gallery of a country.

All of which doesn’t make any of us safer. Those of us with a racial, ethnic or religious bulls eye on our back know that well. That’s our normal, Mr. Emhoff, and it is, indeed, an issue for all of us.

————————————–

* “The sooner we stop pretending that this is a “both sides” problem, the sooner we can start taking the fight against antisemitism seriously. Antisemitism exists on the left, but while the Democratic Party condemns and marginalizes antisemitism in its ranks, the GOP condones and supports it.”

  • ————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Dracula Today


Now it’s your turn.

Bad Moon

John Fogarty and Credence Clearwater Revival sang about it decades ago, perhaps prescient about the dangers that surround us today.

I see a bad moon rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightning 
I see bad times today
    
Don't go around tonight 
 'Cause it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise

I always needed an interpreter to understand Fogarty’s words. For example, I thought he said that there’s a bad moon “on the right,” not “on the rise.” If he had sung it the way I heard it, he’d be exactly right for today’s America, although his way is pretty accurate, too.

That bad moon on the right brings hatred, lies, hypocrisy, lost integrity and an imminent threat to our very democracy and threats of violence and death to our fellow citizens. But you know that, just as Fogarty seems to have known it in my misinterpretation of that line in his song.

We have 6 days left to stop that bad moon on the right and make the difference that must be made.

American Psychosis

Yes, of course we’re psychotic. That’s what explains all the reality denial and our pronounced sociopathy, like that self-deluded thug smashing Paul Pelosi’s head with a hammer. We’ve been down this Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole many times and somehow we’ve survived it. All we had to do was to tolerate the death and destruction and voilà! everything was just fine again.

Like the Civil War, when half the country violated its sacred word, violated its oath and attacked the other half of our country. We only had to tolerate over 600,000 dead and many times that number wounded, hobbled, disfigured for life or insane.

Like over 86 years of Jim Crow lynchings – 4,743 of them according to the NAACP – and those are just the documented lynchings. And, of course, there was the terrorizing of millions.

Like the hatred and violence unleashed on various immigrant groups, like the Catholics, Irish, Italian, Chinese and Jews.

That’s just some of what we’ve tolerated.

See Note 5 and the final graphic below.

In David Corn’s book American Psychosis he recounts the cruelty and flagrant dishonesty of America’s alcoholic senator, Eugene McCarthy (R-WI). A fellow senator, Millard Tydings (D-MD), described McCarthy’s claim about the State Department being infested with communists, saying his charges were “a hoax perpetuated on . . . the American people” and “perhaps the most nefarious campaign of half-truths and untruth in the history of the Republic.”

Nevertheless, Republicans back then “viewed McCarthy as a potent weapon to deploy against Democrats.” McCarthy supported “a popular revolt against the upper classes,” and “accused the Truman administration and Democrats of being traitors to America. He had no evidence, only accusations.” Put a bookmark in that: no evidence, only accusations.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was campaigning for the presidency in 1952 and was to give a speech in Milwaukee. Included was a paragraph excoriating fellow Republican McCarthy, the insanity of McCarthyism and the spinelessness of the followers of his hatred. That paragraph said that to believe McCarthy was to believe that the government was being run by “men whose very brains were confused buy the opiate of this deceit,” meaning the deceit of McCarthy.

But Eisenhower needed Wisconsin votes, so he never spoke those words in public. In fact, even as he deplored McCarthy, he remained silent for years about McCarthy’s hypocrisy and the cruelty he set upon good Americans and the very fabric of American values. Even the Supreme Court took a swing at what we profess to be our values by ruling that the First Amendment did not cover communists. Surely you’re seeing the parallels to today.

Trump is our McCarthy, the liar, the manipulator, the hatred spewer, the accuser of wild conspiracies without evidence. So, too, are his imitators, suck-ups and opportunists for votes who are doing the same thing, just as happened in the 1950s.

Were Sen. Tydings alive today we surely could show him what a real hoax on the American People can look like. He’d have a new take on “perhaps the most nefarious campaign of half-truths and untruth in the history of the Republic,” the Nazi-MAGA scourge.

Like the Civil War, lynchings and McCarthyism, our present psychosis – our blood sucking Dracula, in Halloween-speak – will not go away on its own. We’ve already tolerated too much death and destruction and America’s Dracula will continue to attack us and suck the life out of this republic until we take action.

This national vampire must be fought into a coffin and a stake driven through its foul heart so that it can’t drain all the blood from America. That’s what you’re going to do next Tuesday.

From Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) yesterday:

But I’m also sad this violence [against Paul and Nancy Pelosi] isn’t more surprising — just as I wasn’t surprised by January 6th.  This is what happens when we’re taught that those who disagree with us are existential threats to our survival; when we label our own tribe good and the other evil; when we fail to call out the bad behavior of our own “side” out of loyalty or denial.

We’re hearing calls of sympathy, empathy and caring for the Pelosi’s from Democrats. The Republicans are made of other stuff and prominent individuals are making up horrible conspiracy stories, they’re blaming the victim and refusing even a hint of concern for the Pelosi’s. Likewise, they haven’t concern for any of the Democrats or their families who receive a near constant stream of death threats prompted by Republicans’ dreadful demonizing. Republican politicians can’t even muster a, “Sorry that happened to you.”

Think about that when you go to vote on Tuesday. Think, “A stake through its heart.”

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

MAGA Time and Time For A Moon Shot


I was thinking about what the term “MAGA” means. I don’t mean the words; rather, the reference point.

If the goal is to make America great again, the construct requires an antecedent when America was deemed to be great, a glory from which we’ve foolishly slipped. That’s what the MAGA folks want to restore, it seems. Okay, when was that?

Could they be thinking about the Revolutionary War period, when the inhabitants of the Colonies were all engaged, shoulder to shoulder, in the great quest for freedom from King George III? If so, that’s misguided, because about 20% of the colonists were loyalists to the King and the vast majority were fence sitters. The revolutionaries were a small minority. That’s why Thomas Paine had to exhort colonists to enlist in the fight. Was America great then? There were heroics, to be sure, but probably not overall greatness.

It’s hard to imagine the Civil War period as great, as we killed 620 thousand Americans. Or perhaps that was a great time for some, proudly enslaving others and reaping the benefits and when poor Whites were pretty much our national trash. The White land owners were the undisputed kings of their realms. Maybe that was when America was great.

I’m not confident that the Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods qualify. Not a lot great there, if “liberty and justice for all” means anything, although we did manage to kill and displace uncounted numbers of Native Americans in our westward expansion and lynching was a semi-national past time.

Same problem with Freedom Summer in 1964, when Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were tortured and murdered in Philadelphia, MS. They were there for the very American activity of registering citizens to vote. Their murders still stand as a symbol of the period. Was that a proud epoch in our history – a MAGA idealized period – when brutality ruled over civics and basic decency?

Maybe the MAGA folks think of the 1950s as the time when America was great. It did work pretty well for Whites. Ours was the only industrial economy left intact after WW II. Jobs were plentiful and wages were good. It was a time when “others” knew “their place.” And it was well before the radical Blacks and college kids were making trouble with all those pesky protest marches for civil and voting rights and against the Viet Nam war. Yeah, that was a great time to be White in America. That must be the MAGA reference point.

It seems to me that when the almost completely White* MAGA crowd spouts “Make America Great Again” what they really mean is to make the country great for them. Just them. This is the very definition of White supremacy, selfishness and the refusal of equal protection. It’s all for me and who cares about anyone else?

That’s what the enslavers said until the Civil War. They continued to believe all their lives that “The South will rise again!” touting their “Lost Cause” totem, and it seems to have done just that with our current insane far right populism. That’s what the Jim Crow South enforced. That’s what hundreds of years of cruelty and broken promises to native Americans were all about. That’s what Reagan worked to create, albeit with carefully written and highly choreographed terms that made selfishness sound patriotic.

And that is what Trump and all the ideological, far right extremists in Congress and elsewhere want to create. It’s about the absolute right of the individual over the common good. All for them and who cares about anyone else?

I should have told you that there will be a pass-fail exam. To prepare, you must watch the history lesson from Professor Heather Cox Richardson, as she digs into the deeper meaning of the Roe-killing Supreme Court Dobbs decision. It’s likely much farther reaching than you now realize. So, grab your cup o’ joe and listen up.

To close this section, here’s a fine and insightful, pre-massacre comment from the July 4th weekend:

“Even though our politics is toxically polarized right now, we don’t need fewer arguments right now; we just need less stupid ones.”

  • Eric Liu, CEO, Citizen University
  • PBS News Weekend, July 3, 2022
Time For A Moon Shot

Picture credit: NASA and Wikipedia

Surely, there can’t be many doubters left that we are at the whim of the fossil fuel industry. The craziness of U.S. gas prices that have gone over $6 per gallon is actually dwarfed by what customers are paying in Europe. So, let me say this with as much clarity as I can muster: We travel about and stay warm in the winter at the pleasure of and discretion (if any) of oil producers, and many of them have no interest at all in what works best for us. Think: Russia; Saudi Arabia; Iran – and even the myopically focused, shareholder and  C-suite-centric U.S. fossil fuel companies, still selfishly thinking Milton Friedman got it right. **

Add to that the actual, real life fact that we are in the process of cooking our planet, making huge areas uninhabitable, reducing crop yields, killing people in freak storms that are so common that they aren’t freaks anymore and incrementally drowning coastal land areas. It’s possible that the smart move is to let go of our petty insecurities and short term thinking that lead to nothing good and instead do something about what matters. Like staying alive.

Apparently, Coal State Joe doesn’t care about his grandkids.

This just might be the moment to rally the U.S. and perhaps the world to a moon shot, a dramatic shift from fossil fuels to renewables that won’t kill all of us. This just might be the time to create incentives for solar panels on every roof, for far more fields of wind generators, for the development of power from tides and all the rest of the things that we will eventually do anyway. The only question is when our circumstances will have become sufficiently dire and scary for us to break out of our denial and do the obvious.

Right now is the time for that moon shot. We can start with a Presidential call to action and by firing all politicians who refuse to accept reality. I’m thinking about you, Joe Manchin (D-WV), as you abandon any concern for your grandchildren (see the graphic to the left). You, too, Marco Rubio (R-FL), as you mealy mouth about climate warming, while the Mayor of Miami Beach is on Highway A1A and the sea water is over his ankles. Read a related CBS story here.

In the face of Manchin’s Luddite refusal to support fighting global warming and the Supreme Court having hamstrung the EPA’s power to regulate, read Four Ways the United States Can Still Fight Climate Change. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

——————————–

* Don’t let a few Black faces in the audience behind MAGA speakers fool you. They’re placed where they are to make these hate rallies look more inclusive for TV viewers, but there are actually very few non-Whites attending. If you want to test that, watch any video of the January 6 insurrection and count the non-White faces.

** Friedman Doctrine: “An entity’s [corporation’s] greatest responsibility lies in the satisfaction of the shareholders.” Friedman’s tortured logic said that focusing solely on maximizing return to shareholders would result in the best outcomes for all stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, the community, etc.).

Today’s era of high inflation is caused, in part, by whimsically puffed up prices (whatever the market will bear) for energy, transportation, food and more. Per corporate reporting, this has resulted in greatly inflated corporate profits and, therefore, a far greater return to shareholders.

Is that resulting in the best outcomes for all stakeholders, as Friedman predicted? How is Friedman’s notion working for workers and small businesses? How is that working for you, as you stand at the gas pump and watch the numbers climb?

I really don’t think that Gordon Gecko (“Greed is good“) was entirely right. Self-interest is fine, but not in the absolute and certainly not to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. If we’re to keep this planet habitable, it’s going to require us all to work for the common good, irrespective of shareholder satisfaction.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Actually, We Will Replace Them


Click me to watch & listen to President Biden’s complete presentation.

“Silence is complicity.

“We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit.

“We must all enlist in this great cause of America.

“This is work that requires all of us—presidents and politicians, commentators, citizens. None of us can stay on the sidelines. We have to resolve here in Buffalo that from .  .  .  this tragedy .  .  . will come hope and light and life. It has to. And on our watch, the sacred cause of America will never bow, never break, never bend. And the America we love—the one we love—will endure.”

”President Joe Biden, May 17, 2022, Buffalo, NY

That’s all about countering the purveyors of and the bad actors for White Supremacy, and Replacement Theory in particular. It’s the old, hate filled notion that “others” are coming to replace the deserving ones, the White, European ancestry Christians, especially the males. Those “others” include Blacks, Browns, Muslims, Asians, Native Americans and more, all of this orchestrated by Jews, they proclaim. The haters are motivated by their fear and rage and that leads to violence. These are the people against whom the rest of us must enlist in this “great cause of America.”

Whites in America will soon be in the minority due primarily to a differential in birth rates, plus some (but not much) immigration. So, it might be understandable for White Supremacists to be afraid and to hold their hateful views, because they know how shabbily we treat minorities in this country. It makes sense that they might fear how they will be treated once they are in the minority.

Just imagine if Black police hassled, beat and killed unarmed Whites at the rate of about 1,000 per year, 3 killed per day. It would be terrible for Whites to be removed from a place of power and be replaced by “others” and treated as Whites have treated those “others” for over 400 years. That just wouldn’t be right, right?

So, they’re chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “You will not replace us.” How very testosterony of them. These people, their leaders and their elected officials are who my friend Sheila Markin calls the Rabid, Religious, Right-wing Republicans.

There is nothing at all about today’s Republicans that resembles traditional Republicans. They are fear and anger stoked tribalists after only two things: power and money. And they are pleased to stomp on anyone and anything that stands in their way, including democracy, the rule of law and food shoppers in Buffalo.

So, we’ll replace them. Here’s a feet-on-the-ground example of why we must.

On May 18 the House voted on a bill to provide emergency funds to deal with the infant formula crisis. If you don’t believe there’s a crisis, check with any parent of an infant whose mom isn’t breastfeeding her child or a parent of an infant with medical issues who cannot tolerate any form of milk. Those kids need to eat; otherwise, they go hungry, and that’s very bad for infants.

Note that these babies are the same individuals that Republicans and Replacement Theorists and White Supremacists and Bible thumpers were vehement to protect when they were fetuses. Now that they’re born, these people just don’t seem to care too much about these kids any more.

So, 192 Republicans (and 1 Democrat) voted against the bill to keep these kids fed and alive. So much for their being pro-life.

It isn’t so much that the 192 Republicans hate babies, although that’s possible. It’s that they are slaves to the most hateful, extremist voters – like the ones who spew Replacement Theory and stolen election lies – and these legislators don’t have the spine to be a leader and stand up for what’s right. Welcome to HypocrisyLand.

But wait! There’s more!

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 was brought to the floor of the House on the same day as Republicans voted to starve babies.  This is an act which is designed to combat domestic terrorism. Every Republican voted against it.

So, have a relaxed shopping experience, fellow citizen, at the mall or at Walmart or at the supermarket, knowing there may be a domestic terrorist waiting for you because 203 Republicans voted to do nothing to ensure your safety.

Republicans will not replace us. We’ll replace them. We must replace them. Our democracy cannot stand unless we replace them.

So, we end this piece where we began: “Silence is complicity.”

The Lies Have Been Here a Long While

Watch George W. Bush momentarily tell the truth here.

From Inae Oh of Mother Jones:

“George W. Bush—whose administration, lie by lie, sold a deeply fraudulent and immoral case for invasion—apparently sees a bit of himself in Vladimir Putin. I wonder why:

“Former President George W. Bush: ‘The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of Ukraine.’ pic.twitter.com/UMwNMwMnmX

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 19, 2022

“I’m 75,’ Bush quickly offered, prompting laughter from the crowd.

“The gaffe, which came during a speech in Dallas on Wednesday, is sure to launch a bunch of thought pieces this morning. For some, it was cute, another Bush giving Michelle Obama candy moment. Others, like me, will recall his historic bait and switch that killed upwards of 200,000 civilians. Well, wherever you land, here’s your ever-relevant reminder that George W. Bush is still bad; please don’t let his never ending supply of dumb endear you. Now watch this drive.

DO NOT give this guy a pass because he’s a cute old man or because you’ve forgotten most of his horribles, like failing to heed the warnings about 9/11 and ordering torture. This guy lied when he inhaled and he lied when he exhaled and hundreds of thousands died because of him.

Trump and his supplicants roll the same way and 40% of our citizens want to follow him to oblivion.

So, one more time: “Silence is complicity.”

Quote of the Week
    • “The racist, antisemitic Replacement Theory espoused by a right-wing extremist who murdered ten people in Buffalo might as well be the Republican Party platform.”
    • Steve Sheffey

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

States’ Rights and Drowning


Just a few years ago I heard quite a few southerners claiming in sincere and strongly felt terms that the US Civil War wasn’t about slavery. They claimed it was not started by the southern states to protect their lucrative way of life made possible solely through the use of free, involuntary labor. it was, rather, a highly principled fight for states’ rights. Any limitations coming from the federal government, they were certain, constituted tyranny.

Georgia Senator Alexander Stephens was the provisional vice president of the Confederacy in 1861 and he gave what was labeled the Cornerstone Speech. Apparently, those claiming today that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery were absent from school and missed the field trip to learn about Sen. Stephens.

Here’s how history Professor Heather Cox Richardson reports Stephens’s comments:

“Stephens spoke in Savannah, Georgia, to explain the difference between the United States and the fledgling Confederacy. That difference, he said, was slavery. The American Constitution was defective because it based the government on the principle that all men were created equal. Confederate leaders had corrected the Founding Fathers’ error by basing the Confederate government on the idea that some people were better than others.

“In contrast to the government the Founding Fathers had created, the Confederacy rested on the ‘great truth’ that ‘the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.’”

Click me to buy one.

Stephens himself pretty much put the BS sticker on any claims that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, but instead was about states’ rights. After all, he was there and helping to lead that treasonous insurrection, so I’m confident he knew what he was saying. Sure, anyone can claim that there was a huge component of “You can’t tell me what to do – or not do – federal government!” and that is surely true. But at the end of that argument, the Civil War was about,

greed, control and power over others and the abhorrent belief that some people are naturally superior to others.

And we’re still having that argument.

Today, 19 states, each with a dominant Republican legislature, have passed onerous, discriminatory voting restrictions designed to prevent from voting every citizen who doesn’t look like their ancestors came from Europe, like Black people and Brown people. They also happily extend their discrimination to young citizens of voting age and to poor people. These laws and the over 100 additional proposed laws in those 19 and other states are about,

greed, control and power over others and the abhorrent belief that some people are naturally superior to others.

Building on the morally repugnant foundation of Sen. Stephens, these Republican controlled states aren’t content with simply preventing citizens from voting. It may be fairly claimed that they have perfected their quest for greed, control and power over others by enacting legislation that gives Republican dominated state legislatures the power to ignore the will of the people. They get to claim that a Republican loser of any election has won.

So much for majority rule, democracy, rule of law, integrity, all men are created equal and a bunch of other things we commonly call fair, moral and honest.

Which is why it is critical that the Senate passes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act. These will have the power to stop the Republican states’ decapitation of democracy. They are the the true “Stop the Steal” acts.

Professor Cox Richardson goes from Sen. Stephens’s immoral Confederate rant to the importance of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson being confirmed and sent to the Supreme Court. Read her essay and note the similarity of today’s efforts at human suppression to that of the 19th century.

Drowning

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings regarding the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court were what we should have anticipated. The Republicans spewed demagoguery, false accusations and hypocrisy so thick you could drown in it.

This is how we now vet candidates for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. It’s a confidence builder, but not confidence for what is best for our nation. It’s confidence that yet worse toxic tribalism and threats to democracy are on the way, and we’re already drowning in those, too.

Be sure to send a note to the mothers of Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, advising each of them that their son tells huge whoppers that disrespect and demean others and that he is very rude, interrupting other people when it’s their turn to talk. Let her know that her son is focused on creating sound bites in order to get on Hannity’s show, instead of doing his proper job. Suggest to them that they wash out their son’s vile mouth with laundry soap to clean out the dirty lies and that they once again teach them to take turns.

In contrast, send Sen. Cory Booker’s mom a note of thanks for raising a clear, bright, heartfelt son who hangs out in public what he knows to be right and good. True, he didn’t interrogate Jackson – he gave fawning praise. Still, if you didn’t hear his remarks to KBJ, watch here. If you did, watch again. He speaks to America about being America, about a more perfect union. And if your eyes stay dry as you listen, see your cardiologist immediately.

Finally

Have a look at this. It’s a Les Misérables flash mob in Adelaide, Australia. It’s all wonderful, but more important, consider the second song the anthem of Ukraine today.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Guest Essay: It’s The Right Question


My friend Ed Gurowitz is an insightful guy. He recently had something to say that connects Black History Month with a larger picture. His post speaks to how easily we can lose our democracy or, harder, keep it and spread it to all we men/women whom we long ago declared are created equal.

Ed gave me permission to share his essay with you. Read it and be prepared to nod your head in agreement. Then do what he says to do.

——————————–

Black History Month: Who is an American?
by Ed Gurowitz

Published February 1, 2022

As you probably know by now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the following in defense of his party’s stand against the John Lewis voting rights bill:

“The concern is misplaced because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

While McConnell attempted to walk the statement back the next day, what he said is what he said and, I believe, what he meant.

Many thanks to JN for this

For opponents of voting rights, African-Americans are not “real” Americans. Neither are Native Americans, and for some on the Right, neither are Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Asian-Americans…the list goes on and on.

For me, having participated in the civil rights battles of the 1960’s and since, this is profoundly disheartening. For a while there, it looked like things were moving, however slowly, in the right direction – the direction of Dr. King’s famous statement that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

So what happened? I believe that the election and presidency of Barack Obama, with a Black man at the head of the government and a beautiful Black family in the White House uncovered the racism that every Black person knows was always there, and the execution of George Floyd and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and so many other Black men and women exposed the structural or systemic nature of that racism.

In a recent article in Medium [required reading – JA], Peter Burns talked about a centuries-old theory first articulated by a 2nd Century Greek historian called Polybius. The theory, called anacyclosis, says that societies go through a cycle of stages:

Monarchy

Tyranny

Aristocracy

Oligarchy

Democracy

Mobocracy

So, the United States was established under the British monarchy. As detailed in the Declaration of Independence, the monarchy became tyranny, and a group of men, all white and mostly enslavers, got together and, from their position of profound white male privilege, created an aristocracy – rule by an elite few – which became abusive in its own right, so (white) people demanded and got a kind of democracy. Democracy in the United States in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries was still largely restricted to white men, but there was some evolution as women and Black people exercised the right to vote. (It’s worth noting that even US “democracy” was based in the Constitution on protecting the rights of white men and, until the Civil War, enslavers.)

The abolition of government-sanctioned enslavement after the Civil War began a process of degradation of democracy, a degeneration that culminated in the naked racism of the reaction to the Obama presidency, the “populism” of the Right (which was thinly disguised mobocracy), and the full-blown mobocracy of the past five or six years. What, after all, were Charlottesville, MAGA rallies, the Mother Emanuel murders, synagogue and mosque bombings and desecration but mob rule.

The danger of anacyclosis is that it is cyclical – mobocracy is unstable and leads back to monarchy (rule by one person) and then tyranny and there we go. Trump and his followers are angling for a monarchic second term for their leader in the 2024 elections.

Here is hope: If Dr. King was right, then each time through the anacyclosis cycle moves us along the moral arc of the universe toward greater justice, but the cost in lives lost and people’s suffering is too high. The alternative is to rededicate ourselves in this Black History Month to breaking the cycle of anacyclosis and moving the US toward a democracy that is sufficiently stable to not degenerate into mobocracy. This will require all the tools we have – speaking out, demonstrating, demanding justice, and the most powerful tool – the vote, starting with this year’s mid-term elections. So here is how to honor those who, like John Lewis, dedicated their lives and sacrificed for democracy:

VOTE!

Master Coach, Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist, Strategy Consultant, Executive and Leadership Consultant & Coach

—————————————-
Final Comments

Ours is the current iteration of our schizophrenic national story, the one that both embraces and rejects whomever and whatever is not exactly the same as “us.”

Quoting Lincoln,
.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation
so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Many thanks to AT for this

.
I submit to you that Ed is right about what needs to be done. And if we are to keep our democracy, if we are to answer Ed’s question properly, and if we are to pass Lincoln’s test, then Ed’s direction needs a couple more steps.
.
We must both make it possible for all voting age Americans to vote (Read: eliminate voting suppression laws and practices) and then provide the motivation that gets people to show up and vote. That’s on all of us, because we want to – we must – long endure.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Root Causes


Regular readers will likely recognize that over the years I have tried to understand why citizens on the far right portion of our politics consistently vote against their own interests. I’ve dabbled in guessing why they’re willing to believe fantastical fantasies and why they are so violent in spirit and in actions. Perhaps most important, I’ve scrambled for a foothold of understanding of why they gladly do unpatriotic things, yet consider themselves patriots. I think I’m coming to a more complete answer. Let’s start with a little walk through history.

Seattle Hooverville, 1932

Republican Herbert Hoover was elected in 1928. He had been a mining engineer, a business oriented fellow. Eight months after he took office the economy began its greatest crash and Hoover sat on his hands and watched as the savings from lifetimes of work evaporated and 25% of Americans wanting work were out of work. Their families were in terrible distress. Hoover told Americans to carry on, that things would get better, but in his complete absence of vision he did nothing to help, which led to Hoovervilles all across the country. By 1932 things had become far worse. That’s when ordinary Americans decided that a wealthy patrician understood them and their challenges better than the Republicans did and they elected Democrat FDR to be president. It turned out that they were right.

FDR invented the WPA and the CCC and mounted massive infrastructure projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Hoover Dam that brought electricity to millions of people. More important than that, those projects brought honest work and good pay to Americans, which brought with it the dignity of being able to care for one’s family and oneself. FDR was so popular that he was elected to the presidency four times, with his last victory coming even as the nation knew he was dying. He was that popular.

And that’s why Republicans hated him and his projects that put Americans back to work. They have been trying to kill all social and commons programs since then. And preventing that kind of success for Americans is exactly why today’s Republicans want Joe Biden to fail.

Several Republican presidents wanted to get Social Security privatized to benefit fat cats, like the ones who brought us the Great Depression and the Great Recession. When President Johnson created Medicare, Medicaid and his Great Society Program, Republicans were apoplectic and they have tried to kill all of those programs, too. I don’t know what they want to do about President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System – maybe they want to privatize them and let the fat cats charge tolls. Here’s the thing:

Republicans hate anything that smacks of work done in the commons and things that directly benefit the people. But the people love that stuff. And people become very angry and feel betrayed when things they’ve counted on are taken away. Think about what Republicans have to do, then, to get elected.

That’s right: they lie.

Reagan told lies about non-existent Black welfare queens living like actual queens. He told of “young bucks” – his term – meaning young Black men scamming the welfare system. His doing that makes sense, because it appealed to White fear, which brought him support. Bear in mind that Reagan opposed not just welfare, but also the Brown v. Board of Education decision. How convenient it was for him to latch onto welfare lies and appeal to White supremacy, not bothering to mention that the majority of welfare recipients were White. He just threw out hateful dog whistles that appealed to the fearful and the haters.

Then he stoked distrust and hatred of government itself, even as he was leading the government. He told Americans that, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” It was a new verbalization of opposition to all social programs. Surely, we wouldn’t want to support anything that helps those lazy, shiftless “others,” right?

As I said: lies.

Bush II was a lie spewing machine, corrupting the Constitution every day and calling it patriotism. And the patriotic thing played well. He told us, “You’re either with us or you’re against us,” and Americans lined up, not wanting to be left behind and thought of as unpatriotic. Republicans are still playing that card. They do that even as they ended programs that would help Americans.

Manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas and citizens were left with nothing. They were betrayed by their own government. (Full disclosure: Clinton was complicit in that.) They call that patriotism and rugged individualism, “right sizing” and freedom and a lot of other fine sounding names. They use their superb propaganda machine to get people to believe their fantasy, just like a circus sideshow barker. It turn out they really can fool some of the people all of the time, even as they are being betrayed.

All the propaganda and all the betrayal has stoked the anger of the people. Plus, it’s plain that Whites will no longer be a majority in this country in just a couple of decades, so Whites fear their hands will slip from the reins of power. The knowledge of that has brought more levers for Republicans to manipulate the people, like gerrymandering, the filibuster and voter suppression.

People are left in quite a confusing and simplistic mess.

Their anger is so great that they’d rather infect and kill their loved ones and die themselves, than follow simple government health guidelines crafted by doctors and scientists.

They’re so blinded by their distrust of government that they believe conspiracies too loony even for a cartoon and they agitate for autocracy that would make them serfs to the ultra-wealthy.

Their sense of betrayal is so overpowering that they refuse simple and obvious realities and reject as cheating anything that doesn’t go their way.

Their fear and anger are so great that they metaphorically have a middle finger extended at all times just to feel powerful.

All of that is orchestrated and overheated by big money puppet masters who manipulate fears and anger, so that the people blindly follow leaders and a party that literally have no policies other than to obstruct and disempower everyone but themselves.

So, the people cheer and send contributions to politicians who stand against the very things that would help the people, like the infrastructure bill and the good jobs that will bring; like voting rights, gun safety, reasonable cost pharmaceuticals, child care, medical insurance and broadband. With every vote or obstruction to voting on those issues and with every manufactured barrier to voting and with every appeal to fear and anger, the manipulators appeal for donations to Trump-fearing GOP sycophants in congress and in the states and municipalities. Those dollars are then used to further diminish the future of the voters and the voters’ children.

But the people don’t see that, because they are so angry. Worse, they don’t realize they’ve been hoodwinked for generations. And that is why our citizens on the far right of the political spectrum consistently and unknowingly vote against their own interests, leaving them nothing but their rage and whatever weapons they own in order to feel powerful and in control of themselves.

It’s all about anger, fear and hopelessness and how easy it is to manipulate people who feel that way.
.

Do you doubt that? Watch Adam Kinzinger’s short video and his appeal for Country First.

A Tale of 4s In 2021

Unemployment dropped from 6.2% to 4.2%.

– Wages rose approximately 4% – the final annual numbers aren’t in yet.

– The economy is so strong that there are 4 million more job openings than Americans seeking employment.

– We added 4.6 million jobs. Or is it 6.2 million? Not sure, but it’s a good number.

Republicans, please stop telling Americans how awful our economy is and how the Democrats are ruining it, because that’s just another Republican lie.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Year End Awards


Hypocrite of the Week

Iron Dome is a defensive rocket system that finds and destroys attacking missiles. During the Gaza war in May 2021 Israel used it against the roughly 4,400 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and knocked down about 90% of therm. This entirely defensive system is all that stands between Israeli civilians and the next barrage of rockets launched by Hamas in Gaza.

Israel’s supply of these defensive rockets was greatly depleted during that war, so Israel is looking to the U.S., the only source, to replenish the supply. There is near universal support for that in the U.S. Congress, with the notable exception of Sen. Rand Paul. He has blocked the funding bill for Iron Dome four times, leaving the security of Israel in peril for over 90 additional days as of this writing.

ImageThis is the same Rand Paul who voted against humanitarian aid for the people devastated by Gulf Coast hurricanes, but who now has pleaded for help for Kentuckians devastated by that super tornado a couple of weeks ago.

I guess if it doesn’t help Rand Paul personally, it’s just not important to him. And being a hypocrite isn’t a problem for him, either. That makes Rand Paul the winner of the Hypocrite of the Week Award for a lot of weeks.

Hypocrites of the Year

Read these examples highlighted by Steve Sheffey:

More than 800,000 Americans have died from COVID, but Republicans continue to oppose vaccine mandates. Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook, when 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered, but Republicans continue to block gun-control legislation.

Gotta add that this Valentine’s Day will mark the fourth anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, FL, where 17 students and teachers were killed and 17 more were injured by the bullets fired by a deeply messed up former student. And still Republicans refuse to pass gun safety legislation that over 80% of Americans want. These Republicans are the same people who loudly proclaim that they are pro-life. Yes, seriously.

So, it’s the same deal: If it doesn’t help these Republicans personally, it’s just not important to them. And being a hypocrite isn’t a problem for them, either, just like Rand Paul. That makes them individually and collectively this year’s winners of the Hypocrite of the Year Award, same as last year. And the year before. And next year.

Oddly, Americans selected this hypocrisy by voting these people into positions of power. Ruminate on that a bit.

The 2021 Lucy Award

The Pull-The-Football Award Committee is unanimous in awarding the 2021 Lucy Award to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for his steadfast commitment to not committing. Furthermore, the Committee’s deliberation led them to the obvious conclusion that Manchin must also receive the Goalpost Mover Citation of Excellence for his incremental “one more thing-ism.” It’s unclear as of the time of this writing if Manchin will change parties and throw control of the Senate to Mitch McConnell and the obstructionist Republicans, but experts suspect that move may be on the way. That would secure the Benedict Arnold Award for Manchin, too.

Hypocrite of the Century

The votes are in and only one candidate received votes – all of the votes. Congratulations to Donald Trump for securing the well deserved Hypocrite of the Century Award! Here’s what’s amazing about that.

There are 79 years to come in this century, yet all 7.9 billion people on planet Earth agree on the winner of this award. “People are saying,” that it will be impossible for anyone to be a bigger hypocrite. This award is bestowed upon its recipient even knowing that he is on his way to becoming the world’s biggest loser, going from the Oval Office to the Iron Bars Office. He’ll be a hypocrite there, too.

Dupes of The Year Award

Ronald Reagan began the overt demonizing of government four decades ago and it has been amped up continuously by people appealing to the frustrations of ordinary citizens. Donald Trump tapped into that and exponentially increased that anger with the very things that get people to follow him, including his lies, never backing down regardless of how obviously wrong he is, continuously circus barking promises that will not and could not be fulfilled and always appealing to victimhood. And grift.

Trump has manipulated thousands of elected officials and pundits to repeat and even expand his inflammatory lies and together they have fooled millions of Americans. Now over 60% of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen and 20 million think violence is appropriate for “taking back our country.”

These millions are once again the winners of the Dupes of The Year Award. Ensuring this honor for them were the hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans who refused to mask or be vaccinated because of the right-wing lies told to them and who subsequently died. It’s possible that they are worthy contenders for a Darwin Award, too, which each year goes to people who most improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Wrong Time Award

No, not that kind. I’m talking about Time Magazine and their poor choice for their 2021 Person of the Year. Read Eugene Robinson’s clear, compelling case that Eugene Goodman is the real deal and should have been awarded that honor and been on that magazine cover. That’s why the Wrong Time Award goes to Time.

James Webb Telescope rocket lift-off, 12/25/21

The Hope Award

If you watched NASA TV early Christmas morning you saw the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 Rocket. For we science geeks (Key requirement: you must believe in science) it was another lump in the throat success, a reinvigorater of can-do spirit and an ultimately cool way to restore a sense of pride.

The “Of Course I Still Love You” autonomous landing barge

An observation that I found impossible to miss is that the vast majority of NASA scientists are 20-somethings. That’s right, it was kids who put the most sophisticated telescope in the world out of this world. And it’s kids who make Elon Musk’s rockets back down onto their launching pads and onto the “Of Course I Still Love You” barge in the ocean.

And it’s largely kids protesting and demonstrating for action to battle climate warming all around the globe. It’s kids who are jettisoning racial and gender hatreds. It looks as if we Boomers and X-ers at last have done something right: we raised this upcoming generation who just might save us from ourselves and fix upon our times the label: “Hope.” That’s why our 20-somethings get The Hope Award.

Finally

God’s Tech Support – click me

We have skyrocketing infections and deaths due to the twin epidemics of COVID and American pigheadedness, and plenty more threats to send us out on the ledge. But before you climb through the window, reread The Hope Award section above and then read this from Dan Rather. He’s no Pollyanna, but he’s been around the block enough times to have a valuable perspective on the use of ledges.

In this season of wishing for stuff, I wish for us a just nation, where right matters and wins, where democracy always prevails, where we care about one another in the ways that truly matter and where we think and plan far into the future to set things on the best path for our children, grandchildren and all who will come after us. I figure it’s our job to make all of that happen, so wishing isn’t enough.

————————————

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.

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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. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Antipodean


That was a new word to me, too. From Dictionary.com:

Antipodian – adjective: 1. of, relating to, or originating from places on the opposite side of the globe, especially Australia and New Zealand

That sounds suspiciously similar to “the Orient” – meaning the East. Like Antipodean, it’s an area defined by its location relative to the West, specifically, Great Britain. Defining places relative to the Brits is so very 19th century. Seems rather self-important of them. But it’s the antipode that is the focus for us today.

The Economist reports that

Antipodean anti-vaxxers are learning from America’s far right
.

More than 85% of Australians and New Zealanders are vaccinated and some of the strictest pandemic prevention efforts have combined with that to make for pretty good COVID statistics relative to the rest of the world. But, of course, not even all Kiwis and Aussies can tolerate such good news for long and instead they balk at restrictions and being told what to do, just like Americans. Clearly, that visceral, primitive reaction isn’t continent limited. The worse news is how Australians and New Zealanders are learning from our very own anti-vaccine extremists.

The death threat spewers, those calling for reform via rifle and shotgun, the hystericals over imagined theft of their freedom are in the minority but they are loud and vocal. Reports The Economist,

“‘Protesters are taking inspiration from America’s far right,’ says Mr Spoonley. Some wave flags featuring Donald Trump, wear red hats and threaten journalists. They have started calling politicians ‘traitors’ and calling for lynchings. Placards mentioning QAnon, an incoherent conspiracy theory which is taking off in the Antipodes, are increasingly common.”

The red hat on the guy with the bullhorn in the pic to the left reads “Make Adelaide Great Again” – MAGA. I’m sure the power trip he appears to be on helps him to feel more in control; same for the sign carriers and those just yelling.

Protesters in New Zealand on November 9 chanted and carried signs reading, “Kiwis are not lab rats.” That’s a valiant effort to characterize their protest, but it’s more than a bit upside down. What they seem to be missing is that refusing vaccinations and rebelling against public health safety restrictions essentially puts everyone into a lab experiment – rats in a box with infection stalking them at all times. Indeed, the resistors are making themselves into those lab rats by openly sharing the dangerous variants of the virus. So, those Kiwis really are lab rats. They volunteered for the experiment and their rage will not protect them from sickness or death.

That’s what we Americans do in our spreader and super-spreader events, like the Harley Davidson mash up last summer in South Dakota and our football games and going unmasked indoors among strangers.

What’s at stake is life and death and our pandemic problem is made much worse by the human “You can’t tell me what to do!” riddle.  Who do you suppose has a good idea how to solve that riddle?

And That’s Related To

Hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. People who want to hate will find both a way and a target.

The example above is, on the surface at least, a tantrum over individual liberty and rage over imagined victimization. That it casts aside any vestige of good sense or duty to others is quite beside the point. People have found a way to feel wronged and they are venting their rage, hating whatever phantom bad guy they can conjure, like vaccine mandating politicians, the media, imaginary fascists or socialists or communists and more. It’s very little different than burning at the stake women imagined to be witches, this in order to cast away evil spirits or those believed to be summoning them. For some, it’s just hatred and rage for the feeling of power that their rage gives them.

So, it will come as no surprise that hatred based on race and religion is pretty much the same as any other. In America we have a multi-centuries long trail of duplicity, subjugation and violence against anyone whose ancestors were not from northern European countries or England and who were not Christian.

That has continued most proudly in what has passed as the Republican Party since the Voting Rights Bill became law in 1964. It carries on today in voting restrictions and other efforts to maintain minority control of power and money. You saw it in Charlottesville, on January 6 at the Capitol Building and in hateful, incoherent blogs and brainless attacks on people and on reality in Congress and from the twice-impeached, disgraced former president and his sycophants.

This is not new, but it has reached a critical point in this country. For clarity about this, today’s required reading is from Thom Hartmann in his piece, Revealed: The Racist Plot To Tear America Apart.

Finally

Ten Republican controlled states have successfully prohibited the President’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.

Eleven Republican controlled states have filed suit against the President’s vaccine mandate for employees of private companies with over 100 employees.

Nine Republican controlled states have banned school mask mandates.

An uncountable number of Republican legislators, operatives, pundits and TV, cable and radio blabbers have had tirades of faux patriotism against masks and vaccinations. With false propaganda – lies – they have exhorted the public to rage and to refuse to comply. Never mind the risk to health and even survival.

These are the very same people who are publicly criticizing President Biden for poor performance in combating the pandemic and, in consequence, the economy. Indeed, if their lies can maximize the pandemic suffering and death for another 11 months, that should keep inflation high and the economy doing poorly. Then perhaps Republicans can retake power in Congress.

It’s nearly all unvaccinated people who listen to that propaganda and are dying from COVID at the rate of about 1,000 per day. There are 342 days until the 2022 election, and that leads to the key question:

Is it okay for over 300,000 more Americans to die so that Republicans can rule?

Like I said, hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. And it takes a lot of Republican hatred to view 300,000 additional deaths as just collateral damage in their selfish, diabolical quest for power and money.

Here’s a question I heard posed not long ago: Are you okay with the way things are now? If not, what needs to be changed and in what way?

I’ll be posing those questions periodically, hoping to trigger your critical thinking.

————————————

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

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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