Small Thinking

Willful Ignorance


Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in a congressional hearing as he berates and attempts to humiliate Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dear Mrs. Jordan,

It is with regret that I write to tell you about your son, Jim.

He lies so very often, like repeating Donald Trump’s Big Lie. He lies about the attack on our Capitol Building. He lies by promoting conspiracy craziness. He says mean things about Democrats and liberals with almost every breath. His behavior is so bad that now Nancy Pelosi has had to shoo him from the committee investigating the insurrection because of his pugnacious attitude toward democracy. He just doesn’t play well with others.

I told him that if he kept on being so mean and dishonest that I’d tell his mom on him, but he said he didn’t care (sorry if that’s hurtful). Then he said some really horrible things about Dr. Fauci in a committee hearing. That’s the kind of thing he does all the time and it’s why I’m writing to you now.

It appears Jim knows the difference between right and wrong, so his bad behavior isn’t caused by accidental ignorance. Still, he chooses to do wrong. Is that how he behaved when he was a wrestler and a wrestling coach?

I’m sorry to send him back to you, Mrs. Jordan, but it seems he hasn’t grown up at all and needs discipline from his mom and dad. Surely, you didn’t raise him to be so mean and dishonest and I’m guessing he’ll be in loads of trouble now that you know about his bad behavior.

If there is ever anything I can do to help you to administer his punishments, please let me know. Actually, there are a lot of us who will be glad to help.

Sincerely,

Jack

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From the New York Times – On Politics newsletter of July 17, 2021:

After Sherri Tenpenny, a Cleveland-area doctor, falsely suggested during a hearing last month in the Ohio House of Representatives that Covid vaccines leave people “magnetized” and can “interface” with 5G cellular towers, Republican lawmakers thanked her for her “enlightening” testimony.

During her testimony Dr. Tenpenny told Ohio lawmakers that vaccinated people, ” .  .  .  can put a key on their foreheads. It sticks.” Download a PDF of a recent report on the FaceBook Dirty Dozen spreading anti-vaxx propaganda and self-serving lies here – there’s something in it for Dr. Tenpenny to spout this idiocy. And read The Markin Report here.

People magnetized?

Do you remember your 5th grade science class when you were taught that only iron and some of its alloys respond to magnets? Apparently, this doctor doesn’t remember her science class. She says – with a very serious look on her face – that a few cc’s of vaccine can produce strong magnetism in iron-free humans.

Nope. Not on this planet Earth. Maybe on hers. Plus, most keys are made of some version of brass and are non-magnetic under any circumstances. So, if there are any keys sticking to the forehead of Dr. Tenpenny or others, I suggest they make a date with some soap and warm water.

And interfacing with 5G cellular towers?

Can we vaccinated ones really listen to YouTube videos via the fillings in our molars? Will Bill Gates make us update Windows? Will we be able to use our noses as divining rods to find water in the desert? Puleeze!

Here is a critical alarm we should be ringing: That nut bag, Dr. Tenpenny – quite a few pennies short of a dollar – is providing medical care to Clevelanders. Woe be unto them because of her disdain for science and her willful ignorance.

Far worse than that, Republicans are taking her seriously and enthusiastically embracing yet more ignorance. That’s what passes for a political party representing Ohioans and Republicans across the nation.

Please, please DO NOT give me false equivalences or “both sides” blabbering. There are no Democrats or Independents saying such idiotic things. They are instead trying to ensure voting rights for all Americans, beat this pandemic, rebuild our infrastructure and – who knows? – maybe do something to stop the insanity of unchecked global warming.

The old saying is that there is no cure for stupid. I think that remains true. More important now, though, is a question about a variation on that sentiment: Is there a cure for willful ignorance? Because we have an epidemic of willful ignorance in our country and it is destroying lives, driving people to take up arms against fellow citizens, to attack our democracy itself and even more.

There is a virus going around that lodges in lungs. It has killed over 626,000 of us, yet people willfully deny its existence. Instead of taking the proven protection against the pandemic, they refuse it, claiming that the disease is a hoax. 99.5% of such people make up our current dead victims list, which is increasing by over 260 per day. There is a price for willful ignorance and sometimes it’s the ultimate price.

The willfully ignorant are also denying the crisis that is destroying this planet. In the face of the obvious reality of massive storms, droughts, fires and hurricanes they say things like, “Global warming is a hoax.” As far as I know, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is still doing a dance about the reality of global warming, even as the ocean level rises to engulf his state.

But you can ask anyone in our incinerating west or anybody in the devastating floods in Germany or in coastal and even central China right now if, unlike magnetizing vaccines, global warming is a real thing. They’re quite clear that it is, but the willfully ignorant still deny it. For some crazy reason, our willfully ignorant don’t seem willing to connect the dots, even as they see that both the sun and the moon are now red all across the nation due to smoke from our western fires. Once again, there is a price for willful ignorance and sometimes it’s the ultimate price.

“The Stone Age was once the future,” said my 15-year-old grandson. Our task today is to keep the accuracy of his statement in the past tense. It’s on us to make damn sure we fix global warming because – and I say this without any keys stuck to my forehead – global warming is coming for us unless we take bold action to stop it. It’s the same with the pandemic.

So, here’s my question for your comments: What is it that drives otherwise sensible people to embrace willful ignorance and consequently imperil all of us?

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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.

That Guy


Upton Sinclair said,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (Thanks go to MG for the quote.)

That’s a powerful observation about human nature and motivation, but when I read it I instantly shifted to our national cultural and political divide. If you’ve had or even overheard a conversation between two people on opposite shores of that divide you likely have wondered how the other guy – let’s say the guy you’d describe as a Trumpy – can possibly believe the unreal things he’s been told and which he’s proudly trumpeting.

Even with various attempts to get “that guy” to see reality, to accept truth, he steadfastly clings to his stated beliefs. Perhaps you’ve metaphorically or literally rolled your eyes and asked yourself some version of, “What’s the matter with that guy? Is he crazy?”

Back to Upton Sinclair.

Suppose we adjust his quote a little so that it reads,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his very sense of himself depends upon his not understanding it.”

Fonzie

Fonzie was one of the main characters in the TV sit-com Happy Days. He was a pseudo tough guy and he had a limitation of not being able to admit he was wrong. Indeed, he was unable to even pronounce the word “wrong” if applied to himself. That made for some funny TV, but what made Fonzie unable to admit he was wrong is the valuable part. Admitting being wrong was antithetical to how he saw himself. Admitting he was wrong would negate his tough guy self-image.

Back to “that guy.”

Presenting proof that the January 6 insurrection was instigated by the President and far right-wing agitators and not by lefty groups would likely fall on deaf “that guy” ears. The same applies to his inability to let go of his belief that Jewish space lasers caused California wild fires and his belief that Democrats run sex trafficking rings. To acknowledge such errors would mean “that guy” would have to admit he was wrong. Yet, like Fonzie, he may well be limited by his self-image so that he’s unable to change his thinking.

Noodling through that brought me to an unexpected place. What, I wondered, does my self-image keep me from understanding?  What if I’m “that guy?” Taking this one step further, what if you’re “that guy?”

Have a look at this TED talk.

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Speaking of That Guy

Paul F. Campos makes an enormously compelling case for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to resign. If he doesn’t do so promptly, we run a great risk of repeating the Ruth Bader Ginsberg Supreme Court justice replacement debacle. Click here to see why Justice Breyer should step down.

Click me

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Wiped Out

I’m still amused by The Great American Toilet Paper Hoarding that began one year ago. Covid wasn’t and isn’t a GI disease, but we grabbed all the TP we could until the shelves were wiped out. We humans are so entertaining.

Has your home stockpile been consumed down to a more normal level by now? If not, what’s up with that?

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

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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Trump’s Future, Dead Politician and Curmudgeon Corner


The Future of Trump

Memo to DC, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, New York State, New York City, SDNY, the Justice Department and all the women he raped:

Indict the crook for inciting a riot, election interference, bank fraud, wire fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering, incitement to insurrection and sedition, bribery and the rest.

Indict Jr. and Giuliani for incitement to riot, insurrection and sedition.

To the women Trump assaulted, abused and violated: full steam ahead, all guns blazing.

Memo to broadcast and cable news organizations:

Continue to refuse to give that circus sideshow barker any air time. You made the mistake of giving him free, almost constant advertising in 2016, including wall-to-wall broadcasting of his campaign rallies, obsessing over his tweets and televising his every public word for five years. Don’t do it again. Ever.

Memo to all:

Bow your head and join with me in the Accountability Prayer:

Constitutional Fathers, we pray that He-Who-Should-Have-Been-Convicted will spend the rest of his life defending against civil lawsuits and criminal indictments. We pray that he is relocated permanently to federal and state penitentiaries. May he there make new acquaintances with the kinds of people he has diminished, insulted and discriminated against for decades, that he may learn the error of his ways through their traditional teaching methods. Amen.

Dead Politician Walking

Memo to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX):

Perhaps your four years of being a Trump suck-up have combined with your lifelong self-absorption and self-righteousness to cause you to believe that you can jawbone the entire state of Texas into submission. From your various mea culpas it appears that you think you can blame your behavior on your daughters and spin your way out of this. But here’s the thing.

Texans are cold now, desperate for water and sanitation and electricity and Covid-19 vaccinations and they are semi-homeless due to bursting water pipes. They were lied to by their state government, even as the loss of power, heat, water and the rest rolled on, but they didn’t lose their sense or suddenly become stupid. They can identify the difference between you actually caring about them, doing whatever you can for them, and your complete abandonment of them. You went on vacation to Cancun in their hour of greatest need.

They see you for what you are, which is why you are now officially a dead politician walking.

Impeachment Final

The supreme rule, the imperative of imperatives for Republican representatives and senators was, with just a few exceptions, the protection and preservation of one’s own ass. Refusing to act out of integrity was an integral part of the process.

It’s an easy swipe to make at these legislators, but the unavoidable predicate is that We the People put them in Congress. To paraphrase the snake story, we knew what they were when we voted them into office.

Curmudgeon Corner

Flint, Michigan water poisoned thousands of children and adults with lead as a result of the actions of the local dictator appointed by former Governor Rick Snyder, who now faces criminal indictment. There isn’t a lot that can be done for those kids medically.

Other than some immediate liberal outrage and hand wringing, the poisoning happened and kept on happening both there and elsewhere, but our nation as a whole isn’t paying attention. Do you suppose things might have worked out better if this had started in Bloomfield Hills instead of in Flint? I mean, those Flint kids aren’t White.

Same issue for our schools in non-White areas. Mold, 12 year old text books with pages missing, leaking roofs, mice and rats and the rest of the low income education wretchedness goes on and on and never gets fixed. Meanwhile, in White areas the schools and text books are just fine and the roofs don’t leak. Really, if we gave a damn about non-White kids, would we tolerate this?

A large percentage of the people in this country cheered as Trump imposed his Muslim ban. In a First Amendment smack down, the Supreme Court declared that religious discrimination was legal. But, hey, it was against Muslims, so no problem.

QAnon supplies news to many Republicans, which is how they know that Jews funded by George Soros are operating a laser from space, the very laser that started the California wildfires last year. But we don’t care about the harm these pea brains cause with their idiotic conspiracy theories because, after all, they’re only hurting Jews.

There are still children in cages at Tornillo and there are concentration camps just across the Rio Grande packed with refugees fleeing terrorism. They are effectively imprisoned by our Catch-22 immigration system. These prisoners have faded to almost nothingness for most Americans, so there they stay, out of sight, out of mind. But, no worries; they’re just Hispanics.

I propose that we get over our hypocrisy and admit that this nation only cares about White Christians. The rest are only of value as they serve their betters. I mean, somebody has to pick the lettuce and do the landscaping and pick up the garbage and clean other people’s houses and those White Christians won’t do that work.

For decades we’ve allowed minority rule to serve power hungry White Christians, AKA Republicans. Doubt that? The majority of the popular vote has gone to the Democrat in all but one of the last 8 presidential elections, but we still moved Republicans into the White House. That was accomplished thanks to the Electoral College, a vestigial remnant of government having surrendered to low population slave states to give them outsized power. It was then and it still is a racist practice, but it serves White Christians well.

The same can be said for the filibuster, another racism leftover that was created for and historically was employed by Senate segregationists. They used it to oppose civil rights legislation and other racial equity issues. Now the minority Republicans use it to oppose anything Democrats like or that hints at moving toward racial equality. That’s all done by power hungry White Christians for the benefit of White Christians.

Right now thirty-three Republican state legislatures are finding ever more outrageous ways to prevent non-Whites from voting. We elect extremists to Congress who effectively poison the air with racial dog whistles. We tolerate all of that.

From a recent essay by Fahreed Zakaria:

According to a recent American Enterprise Institute survey, 56 percent of Republicans believe “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” Thirty-nine percent backed an even stronger statement: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”

These are White Christians who are fearful their superiority might be slipping. You can see clearly what they’re willing to do to keep their superiority. Too bad for everyone else. And for the Constitution.

If we were actually against these injustices we’d be outraged and would take action, but we don’t. So, let’s just get over that “liberty and justice for all” business and the self-congratulatory “land of the free and home of the brave” declaration, because we really don’t mean it. We really don’t care. Perhaps it’s time to wordsmith the Pledge of Allegiance into something that approximates the truth.

Or we can at long last do something about our perversions of integrity.

If my comments have ruffled your feathers because the words don’t describe you, then good for you and good for all of us. But be sure to pass this along to your crazy Uncle Bubba. He has different feathers.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Learn Something


Just back from the demonstration / counter-demonstration in Northbrook Friday night. Did you make it? Good on you. If not, see you next time.

There was a good turnout on both sides of the street but the crowds were very different from one another.

I was good to my word in promising to do my part to engage in civil discussion and avoid name calling. It proved to be quite a challenge and that’s the learning, even as it may come to no surprise to you.

One female Trump supporter crossed the street and was near me, so I approached her, asking if she would talk with me. She agreed, so I asked her about her support for Trump and did she have concerns because of Trump’s behavior toward women? Her answer stunned me.

She said she is from Montenegro, part of the former Yugoslavia. It’s a totalitarian state, she said, which is why she came here.

“Okay, but you’re a woman and Trump has a very bad reputation with women.”

“Well, Kennedy did bad things  .  .  .” I stopped her and reminded her that Kennedy is not on the ballot in November. She went on with other politicians’ names, claiming they all do it. Then she attacked Jill Biden and her morality. I pointed out that she, too, is not on the ballot, which she dismissed, indicating that I just don’t get it.

“All powerful men do those things,” she told me.

Things went on a while longer, but everything she said was some form of whataboutism. She’s a Trump supporter and justifies her support with the rationalization that “They all do it.” She made it clear that she is stuck where she is. And she likes it there. She seemed for all the world an angry woman who simply wanted to lash out at something. Anything.

A fellow across the street was wearing an olive t-shirt, camo pants and a ball cap turned backward. He had a loud electronic megaphone and talked incessantly. What he said was inflammatory toward Biden, liberals (“go take your meds”), anyone standing across the street and more. That paired nicely with the flyer for the Trump demonstration naming the opposition “socialist morons.”

There was anger and hatred coming from Mr. Camo nonstop, so I approached him and, like the Montenegran woman, I asked him if we could talk and could I ask him a question?

I told him my name is Jack – what’s yours? “George,” he said. “George McGovern.” He and his friend shared a snarky smile.

“As you know, you’re saying things that are inflammatory to the people across the street. My question is why are you doing that?”

“Because I can.”

“Yes, of course, but  .  .  .”

“First amendment. Because I can.”

“Right, but you can say anything. Why are you saying these things?”

He went off on what sounded like a cocaine-fueled rant, becoming indignant, defensive, threatening, demeaning and more, so I walked away. He continued spouting accusations, schoolyard bully name-calling and more (“China, China is for Biden”) until I left the scene an hour later with his continuing rant fading away over my left shoulder. He wasn’t alone among the Trump supporters in behaving that way.

And the point – the learning – is about the power trip these Trump supporters are on. It’s about dominance, venting their rage, demeaning others, taunting, braying their real or imagined grievances and their victimhood and deliberately ignoring reality.

It’s the aphrodisiac of feeling powerful.

These are the people who are supporting Donald Trump. These are the people who want him to get away with subverting our election – anything for him to stay in power. They wave their flags even as they support Trump’s destruction of our democracy. That their bullying works against their own interests doesn’t seem to enter into their thinking.

We love to claim American exceptionalism. We love to proudly announce that we are the greatest nation in the world. If all that is true, then why do we need all the hatred?

I was interviewed by a couple of news agencies at the demonstration and was asked why we were there. Here’s what I told them.

This is a fight for the life of our democracy and it falls to us, we the people, to win this fight. It always falls to us. It’s just that we’re so perilously close to rule by thug now.

Better vote early.

And read Dana Millbank’s essay here. Many thanks to JB for pointing me to it.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Real GOP


Reading time – 1:51  .  .  .

President Trump signed an executive order on August 8 to temporarily delay the withholding of employee contributions to Social Security payroll taxes from September 1 to December 31 for people making less than $2,000 per month. I have just two comments about that executive order.

First, this is no gift. Gotta wonder how that EO helps people to pay the rent or mortgage or feed their kids or pay for their meds or repair the car, because they’ll have to pay back every cent soon. And because people are likely to spend those extra bucks, they’re going to be in a nasty bind in January. But, of course, that will be after the election. That temporary extra few bucks is just more Trump smoke and mirrors to get re-elected.

Second, it took 3 months for Trump to do even this hollow BS executive order. (To be fair, he signed 4 executive orders which, in the aggregate, amount to nothing.) That includes his refusing to do good faith negotiating with the House and the complete absence of Mitch McConnell’s Senate from negotiations. Where’s the concern for the people? Oh, right; Trump and the RNC aren’t about the people.

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The Republican National Convention started of with an  impressive parade of lies, misleading statements and a massive airing of grievances, most of which refer to things that don’t exist on planet Earth. There were reality-free attacks on Joe Biden, a continuing hatefest (easy for them – think: children in cages), never-ending claims of America as dystopia and a brainless fealty to Trump. We knew about the brainless fealty in advance of the RNC–Trump reality show, partly because the Republican Party flatly told us that’s where they stand.

This Republican Party literally has no platform for the 2020 election and they will be creating no policy statements at all. Nothing to tell us about their values. No way for us to know where they stand on anything. Their entire statement is a one-pager.

Well, there is one thing they’ve told us about where they stand. It is that they exist solely to serve Donald Trump. Here’s a direct quote from their 1-page non-platform:

RESOLVED, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention;

RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda;

That’s it. All Trump, no brain, all the time.

Download the entire 67-page non-platform here and see for yourself. You’ll only have to look at the first page, because pages 2-67 are the 2016 platform. Perhaps the RNC included those outdated pages to make the document thicker so we’d think there’s something of substance there. Of course, there isn’t.

The Republican Party has formally declared that it is de facto a cult of personality. They have terminated all of their higher brain functions in favor of robotic declarations of Trump fantasy and blind support of Dear Leader, Mein Fuhrer, His Majesty or whatever is today’s groveling object title. They are formally no longer conservative. They stand for subservience. They are the Door Mat Party. And they’re proud of that.

This quote from the1997 movie The Rainmaker seems to fit for today’s members of the Republican Party:

“Do you even remember when you first sold out?”

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

A View From The Other Side


Reading time – 5:01; Viewing time – 6:41 .  .  .

Kevin Dowd

Maureen Dowd is a liberal opinion writer for the New York Times. Her brother Kevin is a Trump supporter. She gives him her column space every Thanksgiving and I urge you to read his current piece. I have tried to explain Trump voters several times, but Dowd does a better job by declaring his views, so let’s let him provide the clarity.

As you read his essay, think about whether his views and attitudes seem familiar, perhaps similar to what you’re seeing in Congress as they wrestle with impeachment.* And consider where leadership for this comes from. My notion is that it’s all of a piece.

Here are a dozen of Dowd’s claims (in plain text) and my comments (in italics). I’ve done my best to stick to naming Trumpian reality, rather than demonizing it. If I’ve failed, it’s on me.

  1. Dowd says that Trump is better than the alternative (Hillary). That is (or at least was) a reasonable view for nearly half of all voting Americans.
  2. He claims that liberals sneer at religious conservatives. That’s a profound and completely unsubstantiated, victim-y claim.
  3. He gives all credit for the improved economy to Trump, even though it was set up by 8 years of continuous economic expansion under Obama.
  4. In a “support the police” context, he says that Michael Bloomberg should stop apologizing for his stop-and-frisk policy when he was Mayor of New York. In doing so, Dowd unmasks his attitude of white privilege, which doesn’t sound too good to those who live with black privilege.
  5. He thinks Trump has done a great job with North Korea and Iran, this offered in a sweeping, unsupported claim. Note that Trump has done so well with those countries that Iran is now preparing to enrich uranium again and North Korea is set to test fire its first intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.
  6. He likes Trump’s court picks, especially for the Supreme Court. Fair enough. Except for the long list of district court judges who were determined to be profoundly unqualified by the American Bar Association and who now have an appointment to the bench for life.
  7. He defends Trump by claiming no harm, no foul because the military aid for Ukraine was released without a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens or a search for the fantasy Ukrainian/Crowdstrike 2016 server. This defense ignores the salient facts, such as that the release of aid only happened after Trump was caught and publicly outed. And it ignores the facts that the months long withholding of aid was illegal and using it to pressure Ukraine to smear the Bidens was illegal and soliciting foreign interference in our upcoming election was illegal.
  8. He baselessly attacks Adam Schiff solely with snark. He attacks yet others solely with snark – no facts. Then he attacks all of the Democratic presidential candidates with – you guessed it – snark. It’s playground bully name calling used as a political tool to smear opponents. I think I know where he learned that.
  9. Dowd claims the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings were full of second- and third-hand information. He ignores the mountain of firsthand testimony and the stonewalling by Trump to prevent still more firsthand testimony.
  10. He hopes the I.G. report is devastating to Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper; i.e., he wants Trump opponents to face legal prosecution. That reminds me of an acquaintance who, shortly after Obama was elected said, “I hope he fails.” That’s deeply disturbing and can reasonably be called unpatriotic. How come Kevin Dowd and other Trump supporters wish for such things?
  11. He’s clearly anti-abortion. Okay, that’s where he’s at.
  12. He attacks the press, although his claims are almost entirely fact-free. Because of the enormous reach and impact of demeaning the press, I can think of few things as unpatriotic.
Short Summary:

Some of Dowd’s views are legitimate, since we’re all entitled to our opinions on such issues as abortion, judicial appointments and political preferences. Some of this is just plain meanness, treating those who disagree as though they’re sub-human. Some of this is corrosive to democracy itself.

Specifically, there are sweeping assertions that are absent of fact. There is attacking of our basic institutions. Victim-hood is interlaced with almost everything and there are unwarranted assaults, both verbal and legal, on political opponents.

Life must be simpler in that stridently black-and-white, exclusionary world. The only problem is that a lot of people get hurt in it and so does our country.

Here’s what is most important about this right now: some members of Congress, Trump supporters and some independents will be judging the impeachment proceedings through this alternate reality, victim attitude lens.* That doesn’t bode well for America.

Finally, a Snark Thing Of my Own  .  .  .

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Hunger

Once more the Trump administration has cut food stamps from nearly a million people. Apparently, we’ve become lax and allowed a lot of lazy freeloaders and welfare queens to stick a hand in our wallets. Well, that stops right now.

This bold new program should teach those seasonal workers, impoverished rural people and their lazy children a lesson. And the really good news is that this will eventually stick it to two million more of those losers. The really fun part is that we’re effectively using the billions these cuts will save to increase welfare payments to corporate farms.

Three cheers for Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture, one cheer for each million people he makes go hungry!


* President Trump has been offered the opportunity to take part in the House Judiciary Committee hearings. Counsel to the President Pat Cipollone sent a rant of a letter in response that apparently means that the offer is rejected. What’s important to see is his string of fact-less claims and accusations. It is typical of Trump and Trump supporters. Download it here and see for yourself.

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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

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NOTES:

  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 or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

Time to Chill?


Reading time – 3:47; Viewing time – 5:19  .  .  .

For at least three years some have been saying to ignore what he says and to focus instead on what he does.  Pay attention, they say, to policy stuff, actions that have impact, and ignore the stupid – even false – things he says. Just chill.

That sounds like good counsel and I’ve tried to follow it. Alas, there is no escaping that words have power to drive people to action. And some actions are brutal and even murderous.

Michelle Goldberg wrote in the New York Times, “.  .  .  Trump is a racist. This should be clear to all people of good faith, given that Trump was a leading figure in the birther movement, defended white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville, and claimed he couldn’t get a fair hearing from a judge of Mexican heritage .  .  .” Be clear that his messages are heard loud and clear by people who revel in hate.

There really weren’t “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville. It may have been just words the President spoke, but his message to haters, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and thugs of all stripes was that they’re just great folks spewing hate and doing harm to others.

The President showed up at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, even though he was specifically asked by the Rabbi and the mourners to stay away. His words were exactly what the mourners didn’t want, but he spoke anyway. His message to his fanatical followers was that it’s okay to disrespect some people, even those in the midst of the profound pain of loss. Gotta wonder how much his constant disrespect motivated the shooter.

What we’re clear about is that the President’s disrespect extends everywhere, including his hateful comments about John McCain, and his acceptance of the torturing and murder by tyrants abroad, with whom he tells us he has great relationships and he and Kim Jong-un “fell in love,” however gag-able that may be.

He doesn’t care about Otto Warmbier, who endured torture and beatings by the North Koreans that led to his death. He doesn’t care about Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who the Saudis killed, butchered and cremated. And he clearly doesn’t care about Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who were poisoned in a nerve agent attack in London. Trump takes the tyrant dictators at “their word” and finds no fault in them. What do you suppose is the message his fanatical followers get from that?

He at last got part of his Muslim ban. Then he tweeted hatefully toward Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) about her handful of anti-Semitic comments, for which she had already apologized; but he had nothing at all to say about decades of racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric from Christian Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who remains unrepentant for his hate. Got any doubt about what one religion is okay with the President and how he feels about other religions in America? That gives the cover of righteousness to the haters, making virtually any atrocity acceptable.

Click through and read this important essay.

He continues to vilify brown skin people from south of the border and blacks everywhere, while at the same time inviting more immigrants from “Norway.” Got any doubt about what color skin the President wants all Americans to have and how unwelcome others are? I wonder if his racism motivated the murderer at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston?

His words incite fear, hate and anger and he dog whistles violence at every rally. He drives division and hatred every day. And he’s managed to get 40% of Americans to listen to him and some to emulate him. That puts the rest of us at risk and you already know that sometimes people get killed. So, no, I will not ignore what he says.

All of what he says and does sends a tyrannical message of exclusion, of “us versus them.” It’s a small view of America from a small, cowardly man, but some of his followers like that and want to exclude others using violence to do so. That’s what happens in cults of personality.

Before someone starts waving their red, white and blue at me, proclaiming in righteous voice that this is the land of the free and we’re entitled to our views and opinions, even if they’re based in hate, just get this one piece: this country was established by the Founders in absolute opposition to a tyrant. This is no time to succumb to one.

Do you know someone who tells you to chill, to just get over it for the hateful and stupid things that come out of this President’s mouth? If they want to know the true value of that chill notion, click here and register to hear the expert speak on the subject. And bring that friend along – the one who tells you to chill.

Watch this now. This is no time to chill.

Click to join me on March 23 for this fascinating and informative event.

                ————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Hypocrisy


A partial compendium of Trumpian distractions designed to keep your eye off the ball. Click the image for a larger view.

Reading time – 2:51; Viewing time – 4:13  .  . .

I keep wondering when the hypocrisy, the slimy self-serving and the blatant dishonesty will quiet enough for the nation to take a breath, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY), majority leader of the Senate, is the leader of the mob, all members of which seem to be able to make almost any nonsensical, self-focused thing come out of their mouths on command.

McConnell’s refusal of so much as a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, lasted for 293 days. McConnell based his judicial roadblock on his fact-less claim that no President had ever had a Court nominee reviewed in a president’s last year in office. That McConnell’s favorite, President Reagan, nominated Anthony Kennedy in his last year in office and that Kennedy was vetted and voted to the Court by a Democrat controlled Senate seemed to have escaped McConnell’s attention. When it was pointed out to him, he continued to deny a hearing for Garland and continued to base his intransigence on his original lie.

Now we’re offered the spectacle of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings focused on Judge Brett Kavanaugh as President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. We witnessed Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) discharging his duties by refusing to make available to Democrats on the committee 90% of the documents pertaining to Kavanaugh. Included in the withheld documents are all those pertaining to his service in the George W. Bush White House, where he was part of the legal team and where torture was declared not to be torture, and other various legal atrocities were committed. Grassley refused parliamentary motions by Democrats to access that information and motions to delay hearings to accommodate a proper review of documents. He was ably assisted by Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX), who sprayed fatuous lies about the room.

In June, attorney Cyrus Sanai sent a letter to Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) detailing the rampant sexual misconduct of Kavanaugh’s mentor, Judge Alex Kozinski. Sanai claimed this was important, pertinent information regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He and his information were ignored.

Currently, there is an accusation of sexual assault committed by Kavanaugh. Without an independent review of the facts, a confrontation before the committee between the accuser and Kavanaugh would degrade the hearings into a “he said/she said” session, much like the debacle of Anita Hill’s accusation of sexual misconduct by Justice Clarence Thomas in his 1991 hearings. That’s why Kavanaugh’s accuser has requested an FBI investigation, as well as asking that the committee hear witnesses testifying under oath about this alleged crime.

President Trump is the only one who can order an FBI investigation and he has refused to do that. Chuck Grassley is the only one who can call witnesses to testify before the committee and he has refused to do that. Apparently, the President and the Republican leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee believe that rape allegations aren’t pertinent to decisions about a lifetime appointment to the highest court in America.

The American people are left with the painfully obvious fact of partisan politics and self-serving actions being the only concerns of our Congress and President. Truth and integrity don’t matter, nor does what is best for our country.

The public approval of Congress is now at 17%; you do the math for the disapproval rating. Can you think of a reason why we would view these elected officials with such disdain?

I knew you could.

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Ed. note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people, so:

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!


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

Monopoly – The Game


Reading time – 2:49; Viewing time – 4:03  .  .  .

You’re 12 years old and you’re playing Monopoly with a few friends. One of them is “that guy” – the one who nearly always wins. You’ve played your best, but you’re watching your pile of cash disappear, as you land on yet another of his hotel properties. Your frustration grows and you find you have an urge to wipe everything from the board with both hands, sending houses and hotels, tokens and the Chance cards flying. Been there, done that. And we have a national case of that same frustration.

Many of us watched in horror last November when a thoroughly unqualified narcissist won the election to be President of the United States, commander of the nuclear codes. It took a while for the reality of events to fully register and the press has been chock-a-block with attempts to explain how this could have happened ever since that most fateful of days. How, indeed, could Americans have elected a schoolyard bully, a misogynist, a liar, an adulterer, a know-nothing, a destroyer of things? Last week I found a likely explanation.

I’ve written several times about the enormous impact of globalization and the profound upset it’s causing people in the industrialized world. We haven’t come close to figuring out what to do about this and not long ago it led to Brexit, a knee-jerk reaction by millions of displaced and angry Brits who responded to the uninformed, visceral calls of a braying bully. Just wipe the board. Smash what is. Vent the frustration. There’s a connection of that to what happened here last November.

Jill Filipovic provided insight in her recent essay in the New York Times. Here’s the Monopoly and Brexit connecting paragraph:

Resentful of the changing order of things, some men have simply leaned in to chaos. If the system no longer serves them, it will at least be fun to blow it all up. Which is exactly why the old rules of political engagement don’t work with Mr. Trump or his base.

There are millions of frustrated, angry Americans for whom the American Dream, the bubble idea of the way things work and will be, has burst. It’s a bit like teens who rebel when they at last learn that the world doesn’t remotely correspond to the fairy tales they were told to believe in. There is a mountainous, “IT”S NOT FAIR!” resentment and the echoes of that primal scream get reinforced every day.

There is no question whether the system is equitable; it’s not. For example, you already know about the great productivity gains of the past few decades and how nearly all of the wealth from those gains has gone to the rich, while workers have stagnated or moved downward on the economic ladder. All those globally displaced workers know it, too, and they’re living with the consequences of both globalization and economic unfairness. Little wonder they want to “wipe everything from the board with both hands, sending houses and hotels, tokens and the Chance cards flying.”

Steven Bannon may have left the White House staff, but he continues to be one of Trump’s advisors. Frighteningly, Bannon is specifically dedicated to bringing it all crashing down. Just look at what has already happened to our dramatically understaffed State Department and the other agencies of government that make this country function. We don’t have people in place to do what needs to be done.

I don’t know what Steven Bannon’s and Donald Trump’s psychological issues are, but these destroyers are incrementally wiping the board into chaos. Put some thought into what will fill the void. It’s a different game when you can’t even find the houses and hotels, the tokens and Chance cards that went flying and you probably won’t like what happens.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!

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

Leading By Reaction


Reading time – 4:13; Viewing time – 6:26  .  .  .

There was a lot of talk about President Obama’s “red line” regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own civilians in 2013. Obama was and continues to be scorched by conservatives for having taken no action. What is so conveniently forgotten is that at the time there was a great deal of complaining about an “imperial presidency,” about presidents taking the country to war without the required consent of Congress. So, Obama went to Congress and asked for an official authorization for the use of force in Syria. Big surprise: the Republican majority Congress refused to even bring it up for a vote.

Now, President Trump is faced with his first foreign crisis, created by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria having yet again attacked his own citizens with sarin gas. Strangely, Trump has done a turnaround from his repeated warnings to Obama in 2013 to avoid any entanglement with Syria. Trump’s cautions followed Assad having just attacked his people with sarin gas. We saw the horrific pictures then and Trump was adamant that Obama not take action. Now, Trump is all about taking action, although nothing substantive has changed on the ground since 2013. President Trump, the “don’t touch Syria” guy,  launched 59 Tomahawk missiles into the al Shayrat Airfield near Homs, Syria on April 6. The attack was only symbolic, in that it won’t significantly change Assad’s military advantage or the Syrian civil war.

The fundamental of decision making is to start by declaring a vision of a better tomorrow – the “why” you do what you do. Once that is articulated, the next step is to identify what you will do to create that vision – that’s the strategy, the “what” stuff. Last is to decide on the tactics – the “how” you will do the “what” stuff.

Somebody please tell me what Trump’s vision is. No, not the marketing slogans he spouts endlessly, but the vision. What is the better tomorrow he wants to create?

Okay, that’s too hard, so let’s go to the strategies. What are Trump’s strategies? C’mon, name just one.

Okay, that’s too hard, too, so let’s name a tactic. Oh, right, he launched Tomahawk missiles in reaction to Assad’s reprehensible behavior, with Trump claiming he was deeply changed by what he saw, which as noted, was essentially, exactly what he saw in 2013 when he wasn’t deeply moved by what he saw and he advised President Obama not to interfere in Syria. Those Tomahawk missiles were launched in direct conflict with Trump’s own policy view and that of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. “It’s America First,” they tell us, so what does a foreign civil war in the Middle East have to do with us and why should we get involved? Also, what strategy does the tactic of firing missiles serve? Betcha you can’t name one.

Try this: Trump has had failure after failure since he assumed office. He has been found to be woefully lacking as a leader and his approval rating has been in free fall. Now, instead of leading, he has become merely reactionary to external events and has fired off missiles at a Syrian airfield, an act which will change not very much in that civil war and which leads to nothing because it’s connected to nothing. Nevertheless, he will claim that the Tomahawk missile attack is proof that he is a strong leader. Listen for that at a Sean Spicer press briefing soon – maybe already.

Future events may show that attacking the al Shayrat Airfield was the right thing to do to prevent further attacks on Syrians by chemical weapons, barrel bombs and other munitions. It may become clear that this attack was necessary to protect American troops in the area and to prevent transfer of chemical weapons to third parties who might use them in the U.S. The world might prove to be overwhelmingly in favor of taking action against the atrocities Assad creates. However, it is sadly most likely that Trump’s decision to deploy our weapons was actually done to help Donald Trump rally domestic support for himself and to prop up his miserable approval rating.

As the Syrian people continue to suffer, they are still banned by this president from coming to this country for refuge from that awful war, even as Trump has puffed himself up on Tomahawk missiles.

In other news

“Morning Joe” on MSNBC, April 5, 2017

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) made quite a name for himself in 2015 by trying to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal our diplomats were working hard to create. He wrote a letter (download a PDF of it here) and got 46 of his Republican senator pals to sign it and sent it off to the leaders of Iran. The letter essentially gave a lesson about our Constitution to the Iranians, with the clear implication that they should not trust those in the American administration with whom they were negotiating.

“The Lead, with Jake Tapper” on CNN, March 20, 2017

Our national history is that partisan disputes have always stopped at the water’s edge. Only the president negotiates with foreign powers and we stand united relative to the rest of the world. Undermining the President as Cotton did could easily be described as treason.

That’s why it’s so odd to see Cotton being interviewed so frequently on cable news shows now, as though he is an honest broker. Someone please tell me why any American should listen to him.

Finally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed throughout 2016 that he wouldn’t give a hearing to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because presidents never nominate to the Court in their last year in office. Of course, McConnell was right – except for Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and more (read more about it here). Now McConnell has used the so-called nuclear option to break a filibuster and the Senate permanently so he could jam his preferred candidate onto the Court.

And some wonder why the public’s trust in government is around 19%.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

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

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