Supreme Court

Domestic Terrorism and Your Ancestors


Likely, the first part of the title of this post makes you think of the kid who killed 4 classmates in Michigan’s Oxford High School last week. Maybe you also remember the Las Vegas shooter, the Tree of Life Synagogue and Mother Emanuel AME Church shooters and the murderer in Charlottesville and the insurrectionist murderers at the Capitol Building. You’d be right using that title for all those murderers. But I’m thinking about our terrorist elected officials.

Like the terrorists who made it a felony to give a bottle of water to someone waiting in line to vote. And the ones who made it legal for thugs carrying Glocks and assault rifles to patrol the grounds right outside polling places. What could possibly go wrong there?

And like the terrorist legislators who use minority rule to make second class, powerless citizens of those who likely wouldn’t vote for them.*

And the terrorists in Congress who regularly threaten to shut down the U.S. government whenever a Democrat is in the White House. They’re the same terrorists who threaten to cause our country to default on its debts. They do that every year a Democrat is in the White House, too.

“Hey, world, we just decided we won’t pay you what we owe you. Too bad for you and goodie for those of us who refuse to pay our national credit card bill, ‘cus we just stuck it to the President and our opponents in Congress. That’s how you know that we’re very tough guys. You’re just collateral damage and honestly, we really don’t care what happens to you or our standing among nations, as long as we get our way now.”

There was a time when terrorists putting a gun to the nation’s head to get their way wouldn’t have been tolerated. Back then the idea of claiming that an election was stolen, this in the total absence of any evidence to support the claim, would have earned censure, rebuke and ridicule. Storming the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power wouldn’t even have occurred to anyone. But all of that and more have gone on and much is still going on right now, energized by a constant fire hose of lies. We’ve always had politicians who lie, but there are few if any other examples of a coordinated, extremist attack on reality.

If we’re to deal with this domestic terrorism we’ll have to figure out some things, like:

How is it that ignoring the will of the people is standard and lying to the public every day is both commonplace and smart politics?

How is it that we wring hands and then move on as though nothing has happened every time some whack job guns down kids, shoppers, concert goers and worshipers? Then we refuse to do anything to prevent the next murderer wannabe from getting his hands on a gun.

And how is it that the extremists, the radical terrorists, have manipulated the Supreme Court into a being a mob of partisan hacks that,

– invites huge money into our politics so the rich can buy their legislators (Citizens United). Worse, they exaggerated that harm with an issue unrelated to that case (“legislating from the bench”) that gave full human rights to corporations

– blocks gun safety legislation at every opportunity (Heller) and snuffs countless other attempts to obey the will of We The People – NOTE: a minimum of 80% of us want those gun safety laws.

– is now almost certain to ignore established law, decisions and the precedent of generations (no more stare decisis), leading to mistrust of the rule of law and making Supreme Court justices nothing more than political hacks**

– is now almost certain to tell women that they are not full citizens with the right to make decisions for themselves and that the government will be their daddy for life**

– is now almost certain to stimulate huge growth in the back alley abortion business, leading to otherwise preventable sterilizations, sickness and death – we’ve seen this movie before**

How is it that we tolerate such wanton disregard of decency and responsibility and we abandon the most fundamental rule of democracy, majority rule?

What has happened to us such that we allow all of this to go on?

Those aren’t idle or rhetorical questions. I want your insight on how we came to allow our values to be desecrated, because I surely don’t have answers. Here’s something to stimulate your thinking.

About your ancestors

Imagine for a moment that you could talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents for an hour or two, people of the Greatest Generation and perhaps the generation before them, born in the late 19th or the earliest part of the 20th century. You’d tell them what is happening in today’s America. What do you suppose they’d say? Here’s my guess.

It would take most of that time for them to begin to believe you, because they’d be shocked and horrified. Your report would be of an America that is unimaginable to them. Much of the story you’d have told them would describe some of the very reasons we went to war against countries that did the things we’re doing right now.

That’s how far we’ve strayed.

Look for a clear call to action on Wednesday, December 8.

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* From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson:

“After 19 Republican-dominated states have passed election laws suppressing the vote and gerrymandering districts, a reactionary minority controls them. Although Biden won Wisconsin, for example, the state supreme court today left in place districts that likely will enable Republicans to control 60% of the legislative seats in the state (and 75% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives). Ending federal protections for civil rights means handing to these reactionaries power over the majority of us.”

**  From Dan Rather:

“The issue of abortion is one on which fair minded people, honest to their own beliefs and moral codes, can disagree. But today was not about personal choice. It was about the law of the land that will make no exceptions other than those carved out by the states. And if the history of a time before legal abortions is any guide, and there is no reason to suspect otherwise, today will beget many personal tragedies, ruined lives, hardship, and despair.

“What transpired in the marbled halls of the Supreme Court was not genteel, even if it was wrapped in the ceremony and vocabulary of polite legal discourse. It was a traumatic reckoning. First and foremost for the rights of women to have control of their bodies and their lives. And secondly for a nation of laws, where precedent is supposed to matter. Instead, we saw a fixed legal right, enshrined in jurisprudence for half a century, likely shredded by a handful of unelected and unaccountable arbiters of what our nation of more than 300 million souls can and cannot do.”

“There are many subplots to this drama. We can talk about how a majority of the justices on the reactionary side of the ledger were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and what that means for the health of our democracy. We can talk about how many of the justices were less than truthful, or outright lied, in their confirmation hearings when they acted like they would judge an abortion case on precedent and the law instead of having their minds made up. We can talk about the politics of the court and whether Democratic voters slept-walked on the issue for too long.”

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

Whoa, Cowboy!


“Cowboy” – Frederic Remington, 1908

Texas SB8 seeks to enlist vigilantes to sue the Constitutional right to abortion out of existence.  This is a novel and sneaky scheme to escape jurisdictional limits imposed by the Constitution. They do this by deputizing vigilantes to stand in for and do the dirty work of the state. And it’s more than passing irony that this law was created in Texas.

It is the “Don’t mess with Texas” state. It is where a Lone Star is required to be blended into infant formula and where The Eyes of Texas is sung everywhere because it’s more important to them than the National Anthem. It is ground zero for demands for freedom from the federal government.

And it is where the governor both preemptively and reflexively prohibits even local ruling bodies from requiring protection from the pandemic. He does this on grounds that make it clear that individual freedom trumps the general welfare, even in the face of nearly 70,000 Texas COVID deaths, many of them preventable. Let’s unpack all that.

The wailing about individual freedom may be understandable, but SB8 specifically and aggressively attacks the freedom of anyone even remotely associated with an abortion. For example, under that law, if a friend counsels a woman regarding her obtaining an abortion, that friend can be sued by any random individual, even someone completely unconnected to that friend or the patient. That will dump expensive legal defense costs on the friend. If the friend loses the case, s/he can be hit with penalties of $10,000 or more, plus be required to pay the legal expenses of the unconnected plaintiff – let’s call him/her a bounty hunter. And that friend can be sued by yet more random bounty hunters and be penalized $10,000 or more by each one of them, plus have to pay the legal expenses of all the pile-on bounty hunters.

The standard in civil cases seeking damages is to show some kind of harm done to the plaintiff, such that monetary compensation is appropriate. It’s instructive that in the oral arguments to the Supreme Court on Monday the attorney for the state of Texas claimed that the harm done to that previously mentioned, unconnected individual – the bounty hunter – is

“emotional upset”
.

That’s it. Anybody claiming that they were distressed by someone they had never met, nor even previously heard of, can file a civil suit and collect damages for angst caused by that unknown person – the friend. That’s the state’s logic, as explained to nine Supreme Court justices.

So, with the weaponization of Texas vigilantes – bounty hunters – the friend counseling the woman seeking an abortion will effectively have his/her First Amendment right to freedom of speech terminated.

Wait, what?

A random freedom wailer in Texas – the bounty hunter – is now allowed to end another person’s freedom of speech? Yes. So much for the primacy of individual freedom in Texas. Apparently, freedom only exists for those citizens favored by the state government, like vigilantes. And the irony expands from there.

Under questioning from the Supreme Court justices, the attorney for Texas proudly stated that if Texas were to enact a law that made ownership of AR-15 assault rifles illegal, any random vigilante/bounty hunter could file suit against such a gun owner. They could claim emotional upset over a fellow Texan owning that weapon and win cash and prizes, like the termination of the gun owner’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. In Texas! Like I said: irony.

Texas prides itself as one of the leaders in flicking off the federal government. It’s an ongoing blustering of, “You can’t tell me what to do,” a demand for individual independence and freedom, consequences be damned.

Apparently the geniuses in Austin believe they can slice off any piece of the Constitution that’s a burr under their saddle. Happy Trails to whatever is left.

Now Texas Governor Greg Abbott has attacked local school boards, cities, counties, private businesses and more in his fight for yet more COVID death in Texas and against defeating the pandemic.

Wait, what?

The governor has unilaterally stripped power – freedom – from all other governmental agencies in Texas, as well as from private businesses and all the people in any of those places. He’s stripped rights from parents to decide what’s best for their kids, too.

When parents, through their duly elected school board, say that kids have to wear masks in school so that they don’t infect one another and cause sickness and death, parents now have a big problem. The rights and freedom of those parents have been usurped by the Governor of Texas through his mandating that there be no mask mandates. So much for individual freedom.

Red state freedom irony is all around, including in those states where the legislature and governor seek to nullify citizens’ voting rights, this being done – hypocritically – in the name of free and fair elections. We better do more than just hope for federal legislation and Supreme Court decisions to stop the raping of the Constitution, or soon we won’t have any rights or any freedom or a Constitution at all.

Note that there are no Democrats or Independents curtailing freedoms or wailing air-headed Marxist/socialist or Critical Race Theory lies. All of the anti-democracy il-logic is coming from Republicans, so I have lovingly and accurately labeled their sky-is-falling idiocy “Republicrap.”

Read Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s piece and note especially the inside-out, upside-down contortions and mentally ill projections of Republicrappers. Example: With his essay in The American Conservative, Republicrapper Sen. Marco Rubio shows that he has completely jumped the track and submerged himself in the un-drained swamp Trump left behind.

Yes, the metaphors are mixed. Deal with it.

In case you need something to give you nightmares, read this from The Washington Post. It’s about sheriffs who think they’re kings, able to pick and choose which laws they’ll enforce and which to ignore. They think they’re uncontrollable by local, state or federal government. It’s putting “Don’t tread on me” into a police cruiser. It’s making law enforcement a tool of right wing extremists. It’s institutionalizing individual freedom mania and, in the process, chopping away still more at freedom for the rest of us.

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

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

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

JA


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

You Can’t Tell Me


I’ve heard it so many times and early on I realized something. It starts by them declaring, “You can’t tell me that .  .  .  ” fill in the blank. What I realized is that they’re right: I can’t tell them.

I can’t tell them that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen (this in contrast to the 2000 election, which actually was stolen).

I can’t tell them we should have gun safety laws.

I can’t tell them there wasn’t widespread voting fraud.

I can’t tell them that the mainstream media isn’t biased against true Americans.

I can’t tell them that immigrants we allow into our country aren’t rapists, murderers and drug mules.

I can’t tell them that there weren’t young girls being sex trafficked from the basement of that DC pizza restaurant or that the building doesn’t even have a basement.

I can’t tell them that Hillary isn’t a puppet of a global cabal of Satan worshipers.

I can’t tell them that Barack Obama was born in this country.

I can’t tell them that the forest fires in the west weren’t ignited by Jewish space lasers.

The list is long, but that’s a good representation of what I can’t tell these people. They are quite right that I can’t tell them. I can say the words, but the point is that their minds are closed, so I can’t reach them.

And I was so very surprised to discover that I had my own list of what you can’t tell me.

You can’t tell me that the January 6 insurrectionists were patriots, regardless of the self-justifications they told themselves, like that Blue Lives Matter, as they stomped the life out of cops.

You can’t tell me that the various efforts to chip away at Roe over the years aren’t the efforts of some to have their religious beliefs forced upon the rest of us. No way that doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause.

You can’t tell me that the Roberts court didn’t write law from the bench in the Citizens United case, deciding to give large corporations all the rights we actual humans have. They unlocked hundreds of millions of dollars for corporations to buy their very own senators, congressmen, state legislators and president with a ruling that wasn’t in contest in the case before the Court.

You can’t tell me that McConnell didn’t steal a Supreme Court seat from Obama using twisted, false logic, and then reverse the logic when Trump was in office so he could get his far right judicial cranks installed there and in the lower courts.

You can’t tell me that the Republican Texas governor and legislature care about the Constitution or the rights of the vast majority of Texans.

This group is a reasonable start of what you can’t tell me. And I’m right about that – you really can’t tell me. The difference between me and those to whom I can’t tell anything is the difference between fact and fiction.

Plus, I really will listen to someone with a fact-based argument that counters my views. Give me your best shot to challenge my notions and I’m eager to hear you. Maybe you really can tell me.

Here’s one more, “You can’t tell me.”

You can’t tell me that the terrible storms and the resulting floods that repeatedly inundate the eastern parts of the U.S. and the Gulf Coast aren’t from the Framers, mad as hell at what we’ve done, and spitting on us from above. Maybe worse.

Disingenuous Comment of the Month

Click me for the story. Better yet, use your time more wisely than that.

Gruden got caught spewing cruel, macho, put down stuff, trumpeted in order to feel tougher, more testosterone-y. The point of including this is the last sentence in the blurb. Gruden says, “I never meant to hurt anyone.”

YES HE DID! Hurting others was the whole point of his saying those vile things.

Sadly, this is the kind of thing that today passes as an apology. It’s a non-apology apology, a disingenuous, cowardly attempt to avoid responsibility. It’s a refusal to own up to the harm he’s done to others and to begin to make amends, just as though he actually cares about those he’s hurt. Which, it’s obvious to say, he doesn’t.

This is now standard sleaze from public officials who get exposed as sexual predators or harassers or idiots who wore blackface back when they were young and stupid, in contrast to what they do now, when they’re old and stupid.

Back to the main theme, You Can’t Tell Me.

You can’t tell me that Gruden didn’t mean it. He passed out his cruelties like they were candy. His hate was meant to harm others. You can’t tell me he didn’t mean it, because he did and he does.

Same for officials who get caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. You can’t tell me they’re sorry for anything other than getting caught, like two indignant Supreme Court justices who got away with it.

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The End


Hanging from the rear view mirror of the car parked next to mine.

If you’ve never attended a soccer game played by six-year-olds then you’ve missed the practicing of cartwheels, playing of rock-paper-scissors and spacing out while twiddling hair, all while on the field. It’s something of an athletic and sociological miracle that goals are scored.

When our granddaughter’s game was over we headed back to the car and spotted this rear view mirror hanger in the car in the next space. At first I thought this little forward-vision-impairment item (in lieu of fuzzy dice) was a nice little feel-good.

It is, indeed, that, and its simplicity is appealing, but it has a major flaw. That’s because the end can be catastrophic if we allow that. The simple feel-good must not distract us from the important work we have to do if we’re to craft what must come about, the OK end.

For example, read this from a recent post by Dan Rather:

This idea of conservative and liberal becomes even more strained when we try to apply it to the courts, particularly the current Supreme Court. We talk about the “conservative” justices, as if they are holding back the mobs to protect the sanctity of the Constitution. In reality they are laying waste to settled Constitutional rights and condoning attacks on our democratic process. Doesn’t seem very conservative to me.

Me either. It’s really important that we do something to stop “conservative” justices from trashing the Constitution and our democracy. Complacency on our part just won’t do.

Here’s another example from a recent Paul Krugman essay focused on the Republicans voting not to raise the debt ceiling, this via filibuster. That’s pretty much like you refusing to pay your credit card bill. If you did that you wouldn’t be extended credit anywhere and even worse things would happen. Same for the United States. Here’s a good explainer for that. Now on to Krugman’s comments.

Make U.S. debt unsafe — make the U.S. government an unreliable counterparty [trading partner], because its ability to pay its bills is contingent on the whims of an irresponsible opposition party — and the disruption to world markets could be devastating.

He went on to say,

What is new is the complete ruthlessness of the modern Republican Party, which is single-mindedly focused on regaining power, never mind the consequences for the rest of the country. [emphasis mine]

So ask yourself: If a party doesn’t care about the state of the nation when the other party is in power, and it knows that its opposition suffers when bad things happen, what is its optimal political strategy? The answer, obviously, is that it should do what it can to make bad things happen. [emphasis Krugman’s]

That kind of behavior is now commonly done by Republicans. And similar to the point about Rather’s essay, that’s just not okay and complacency on our part just won’t do.

There are plenty of other examples where complacency won’t do, like the continuing Covid homicides in Red states, White supremacist hate and threats of violence, the efforts to steal elections, the foot dragging on dealing with the climate crisis and more. I think that little mirror hanger sign we discovered following the soccer game, the one that assures us that things will be okay in the end, is accurate, but that won’t – it can’t – happen through complacency. This is going to take a lot of work for a long time.

Final Question

It’s my belief that Mitt Romney, for all the disagreements I have with him over policy, is a sensible man with a clear moral compass. There are other Republicans in the Senate who can be described the same way. But if that’s true, how in the world could they filibuster against raising the debt ceiling, essentially threatening to severely harm the United States and even the the entire world? How would that be okay in the end?

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Primitive Fixes to Complex Problems


I knew a man who was born in the 1930s and who was raised on the south side of Chicago in the South Shore neighborhood. It was a thriving area and parts were quite wealthy, with grand boulevards and fabulous houses. By the 1960s it was blighted, often an urban war zone. Drugs were everywhere, as were many unhappy, unwed mothers, and the racial make up had turned upside down, This guy was angry – livid, really – at what had happened to his world.

He blamed it all on “the Blacks.” He told me they were the cause of the demise of his neighborhood. He said all men who committed rape should be castrated. When I heard him say that he was talking about “the Blacks” and I intuited that he meant for this cure to be applied to Black rapists.

He said that the welfare system was encouraging wanton promiscuity. I don’t recall if he said that his castration idea should apply to all men involved in out-of-wedlock pregnancies, but it might have. He would utter such things with barely contained fury.

Of course, his cure was never adopted, but he wasn’t alone in imagining diabolical cures for what he saw as the societal ills and the wrongs of others. There was nothing new in such tyrannical beliefs.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem How The Women Went from Dover details the repugnant punishment of three women for speaking publicly about their Quaker beliefs, religion and morality in 1662 Dover. For their crimes, these women were stripped to the waist and lashed 10 times each, then dragged behind a wagon from town to town where the whipping process was repeated. Over and over their flesh was ripped open. Surely, that would cure the societal ill of women speaking up and challenging male supremacy and authority.

Gov. Abbott signs the Texas vigilante powered anti-abortion bill, surrounded by 7 women and over 50 men. Click the pic

Now the Republican governor and legislators of Texas have instituted a cure for what they think of as our societal ill of abortion. It’s the same problem of insecure men wanting to impose their will and their position of dominance over others. To be fair to Texas, theirs is simply the most current and blatant attempt at this. Mississippi’s anti-abortion law will be tested in a gerrymandered, far right Supreme Court in the next session. Other cases are sure to follow, as they have repeatedly since 1973.

Patriarchal rule has been the norm throughout recorded history. So has clan dominance and fear and hatred of “others.” We’ve made inroads toward equal rights, but the pull of ancient ignorance is a powerful force, now dressed up in certainties of self-serving, chest-thumping, disingenuous language.

Simplistic, myopic thinking invariably leads to simple, draconian fixes to imagined ills that serve only a frightened, angry minority. People always pay a heavy price when these ancient prejudices are  allowed to succeed.

Speaking of Primitive Fixes

Florida, our leading unofficial clinical trial for spreading Covid infection and death, may expand the range of products available to treat patients suffering from the virus. A commissioner of Polk County, Florida, Neil Combee, composed a letter to that state’s governor proposing a game of medical Russian Roulette for stricken Floridians. In it he requested that Gov. DeSantis (R-Wuhan) promote a “Right to Try” law for treating Covid.

Think: ivermectin, a livestock de-wormer, and hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, neither with any efficacy data to support their use in treating Covid or any other virus.

The full county board put the kibosh on sending that letter, invoking the Bat Shit Crazy clause of the county procedural rules. Nevertheless, Combee may be on to something in promoting alternative treatments. Here’s why.

Two days after the Trump inaugural balls in 2017, the ones Trump financially skimmed, Kellyanne Conway stood on the lawn of the White House and defended against Chuck Todd’s interview question. He had asked why brand new press secretary Sean Spicer had blatantly and repeatedly lied at his first press briefing. She poured out a torrent of words, including saying that Spicer had given “alternative facts.” Many of us know those by another name: “lies,. But “alternative facts” sounds better to the true believers.

Indeed, the administration and the entire Republican Party gave us an ongoing tsunami of alternative facts to push their reality into an alternative universe. Oddly enough, those alternative facts are still pouring out from right wing alternative humans.

Alternative facts seem to have worked for those people, so alternative treatments for Covid, why not?

Given the possible expansion of Covid treatment options in Florida and the apparent success of alternative facts, here’s the email I sent to my friend Bob in Miami:

Hey, Bob, sorry you got the Covid. No worries, pal. I heard that Tucker Carlson and a couple of radio guys say that a shot of hemlock with a Jack Daniels chaser will get Covid off your mind.* You’ll have a right to try it, buddy. The commissioner wants you to have options and Gov. DeSantis is for it, right? Go for it!

No need to let me know how that worked out for you, Bob. Pretty sure I’ll know.

This is called the “So Long, Bob” Covid cure. Not available in most states. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may very, but not much. Just ask Socrates. Oh, wait – you can’t, because he died from drinking hemlock.

* DISCLAIMER:

I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but .  .  .

DO NOT take medical advice from this or any other Jax Politix post. For medical advice, always consult your doctor, rather than anyone focused on their own political career or cable ratings or online Likes. 👍

Friday, September 17, 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters

From Sheila Markin:

Angelo Carusone will talk about what Media Matters does and how they do it. Super smart guy. He talks really fast and thinks even faster. [He’ll tell you where disinformation comes from and how they track it and tell reporters and lawmakers about their findings, how they are getting Fox News hosts removed and [how they’re] fighting disinformation elsewhere. I know you will enjoy meeting him and asking him questions. It should be a lively discussion.

You’ll want to stream this FEEEBIE session. To do so, email Sheila at

[email protected]

and let her know you want in.

Make this even better: Pass this along to your friends and family and invite them, because a key to fighting disinformation is to be informed and smart about it. I mean, really, you can’t fight disinformation without having information.

Finally

I hope you used a little of your Saturday to remember and honor those directly impacted by 9/11, as well as our nation. There are plenty of lessons to be had, but now it’s a time to simply remember and honor.

I find myself deeply affected still by those who lost someone in the Towers, the Pentagon and in Shanksville. Their loss was and is compounded so painfully by our national shock. And I still cannot fathom the torment of that awful choice so many had to make between being burned alive or jumping to their death.

Perhaps the most profound for me are the firefighters who charged up the stairs of the towers and the military and first responders who went into the Pentagon to rescue those injured or trapped, this at a time when every survival instinct was screaming at them to get out. Hundreds paid the full price for their selfless courage. Although most wouldn’t like the title, they are heroes, all.

I was at Ground Zero just a few short weeks after. It was stunning and penetrating in so many ways. Remind me to tell you about it some day.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Do You Smell What I Smell?


In another effort to quash the will of the majority of its citizens, the state of Texas passed a draconian anti-abortion law that effectively outsources law enforcement to vigilantes. The Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction to stop the law from taking effect before a full review of its breathtakingly unconstitutional provisions could be examined.* Effectively, abortion has been criminalized in Texas and enforcement of the law has been handed to bounty hunters, who have been offered cash prizes for spying on neighbors.

Historian and Professor Heather Cox Richardson puts it this way:

“The Republican Party is empowering vigilantes to enforce their beliefs against their neighbors.”

Ordinary citizens with nothing more than greed, strong opinions and with no training are now allowed to file lawsuits against anyone even remotely associated with an abortion, even those just having a conversation with a woman who may be thinking about it. They don’t even have to show harm to themselves to have standing to sue others for $10,000 or more, others who are doing Constitutionally protected things, even just having a conversation. That effectively makes these vigilantes the Thought Police** and trashes the First Amendment.

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, the worst part of this law is not that, even as harmful to women as this Texas hypocrisy is. It is about empowering vigilantes to perform the duties of the state in order for the state to avoid judicial review. Now, think about what that could mean.

Texas could enact another law that outsources collecting tax penalties to vigilantes, that encourages armed, ignorant citizens to pursue those they imagine have broken the law, that can allow extremists to sue journalists and news organizations to penalize their adverse reporting of politicians. The state can just turn everything over to crazed vigilantes and effectively do an end run around the courts.

You know, like in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Like in the communist Soviet Union. Like in all repressive states. Neighbors turning on neighbors.

We already know what mobs of impassioned, self-important people can and will do. We saw that on January 6 at our Capitol Building. Now imagine such people up close and personal. They’re delusional about their patriotism and notions of godliness. They’re untrained and uninformed greedy bounty hunters rampaging through your neighborhood pretending they’re trained police officers and looking for you to sue you into bankruptcy.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that the extremist Republican Supreme Court justices could have stopped this plainly unconstitutional lunacy with an injunction, but they refused to do so. They allowed this law to go into effect without even having heard the case against it, which is coming before the court soon. They have abandoned the rule of law. Clearly, something needs to be done about this extremist court, because they aren’t done “legislating their ideology from the bench.”

Another Texas law makes it legal for gun toting vigilantes to roam around polling places – inside – and intimidate voters. The Texas hits just keep on coming.

These laws are sure to be copied by other minority rule, extremist Republican controlled states and we’ll have Wild West, blatantly unconstitutional actions all across our nation.

Let’s see: The Republicans have given us legally sanctioned vigilantism; minority rule; measures to encourage the infection of citizens with a deadly disease; horrific voter suppression; abandonment of the rule of law; refusal to hold cops accountable; refusal to extend healthcare to poor people; encouragement of insurrection; concealed carry and stand your ground laws that make murder legal; lies and cruel fictions replacing facts and truth; a rejection of science and a celebration of ignorance; bloated enrichment of the already wealthy and the impoverishing of our poor and middle class citizens; the destruction of trust in our electoral system; the teaching of religion in our public schools; the promotion of White supremacy and the glorification of racism; the denial of global warming in favor of enriching their wealthy donors. What else?

In the 2020 general election campaign the Republican Party had no platform. They offered a single page of rah-rah. That’s it. They offered no declaration of what they were about or of their vision for America. Sadly, now we know what they’re about. Now we know their dystopian vision for the destruction of our democracy.

I smell tyranny. I smell authoritarianism and dictatorship. I smell fascism and it stinks.

Do you smell what I smell?

Wanna Fight This Insanity? Here’s How

Sheila Markin is a friend, the publisher of The Markin Report and she smells what’s burning, just as you do. If you haven’t yet subscribed to her posts, you truly need to. She just emailed me with news about a couple of Zooms I’m certain you’ll want to attend.

As you can see from the destructive laws being enacted in Texas and elsewhere to assault our rights and our democracy, there’s much we have to learn and much we have to do. To that end, Sheila has put together two educational 1-hour Zooms for us. These are being offered at no cost and there will be no requirement to donate. This is about making a critical difference. Here is the schedule.

September 17 at 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters will help us understand how they fight disinformation. Did you ever imagine that there would be a need to fight a constant tsunami of disinformation? Well, there is and you’ve known it for a while. We need to get smart about dealing with that.

September 24 at 2:00PM CDT – The 314 Project will explain how they are working to get doctors and scientists elected to Congress, as well as to state and local positions of leadership. Take just a moment to consider what it would be like if doctors had legislative input on medical issues and if scientists had input on issues of science, instead of such things being handled by self-serving, ignorance-loving, know-nothing  politicians. Breathtaking!

Note that in order to attend you need to email Sheila at [email protected] and let her know you’ll be there. That way you’ll be on the approved good-guy list for the presenters and the Zooms.

Please invite your friends, your network of contacts who are concerned about our country, who insist that our democracy survives these assaults from the radical right wing.
.

I’ll be there and will be looking for you.

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* You must read Justice Sotomayor’s blistering dissent. Download a copy of all the justices’ opinions. Sotomayor’s comments begin on page 7.

In reading her comments I was reminded of a college football cheer, paraphrased thusly:

“Rip ’em up, tear ’em up, give ’em hell, Sotomayor!”

** From Wikipedia:

“In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate Oceania, who discover and punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by Ingsoc‘s regime. The Thinkpol use criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens, cameras, and microphones, to monitor the citizens of Oceania and arrest all those who have committed thoughtcrime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.”

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

It Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

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

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

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

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

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

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

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

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

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actual Hope

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

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

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

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

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

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

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

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

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

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

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

It begs these questions and so many more.

  • ————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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,

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Minority Rule


Reading time – 3:52  .  .  .

NOTE – read to the end for the key message.


60%  of Americans want stricter gun safety laws and regulations.

61% of Americans support a woman’s right to choose.

66% of Americans want a government health insurance plan for all.

70% of Americans believe most undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

That’s just a very small sample of what the majority of Americans want. But they either don’t have those things or they now realize these issues are mortally threatened by the new composition of the Supreme Court, as manipulated by Mitch McConnell. It can all be traced to the decades-long push for minority rule by monied interests and the Republican Party.

There is a huge story to tell and it is much too big for a 1,000 word post, but you already know some of the basics. For example, you know that in White areas of many of our cities the wait time to vote is about 15 minutes. In the poor and Black parts of town the wait time can be eight hours due to the closing of polling places, a limited number of voting machines and insufficient staffing.

In the 2018 election Democrats in Wisconsin got 205,000 more votes than Republicans, but the Republicans wound up with a 27 seat advantage in the state Assembly. It has been the same in North Carolina for many years.  And in those states, as in about 2/3 of the rest, it allowed the state houses to restrict voting rights for massive numbers of Americans. Say it with me: Gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering allowed states to remove a voter’s registration if the voter didn’t return a post card within 14 days. And those post cards were targeted at poor and minority people.

Gerrymandering allowed states to impose ID requirements in order to vote, something that is both relatively costly and burdensome to obtain for poor people. Note that the Constitution only requires citizenship to vote.

Gerrymandering allowed the secretaries of state of these discriminatory states to close polling places, locate polling places in difficult to reach areas, restrict voting days and hours and more.

Gerrymandering is what reduced mail-in ballot drop boxes to just one in all of Harris County, Texas (that’s the entire Houston metropolitan area).

Minority rule has also given us Republican governors who suck up to Trump and who have by fiat denied mandatory face mask wearing in their states – places like Iowa, South Dakota, Florida, Nebraska, Texas and more – this as the cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing, with more than 70,000 new cases every day.

Republicans want very much to restrict voting rights. That’s because they will become an extinct species if We the People actually have a democracy – i.e. majority rule. Paul Weyrich, founder of the self-righteous Moral Majority and other right wing manipulation machines said it plainly, clearly and publicly in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

The leverage Weyrich was referring to is that of Republicans, not conservatives. There’s a difference, as exemplified by there being nothing conservative in most of what Donald Trump does or says. He’s all about not conserving what the Founders intended.

Weyrich was right. If the roughly 100 million eligible voters who typically don’t vote, many of whom are unfairly prohibited from voting, suddenly showed up to vote, no Republican would win, because most of those 100 million citizens aren’t rich people. They are minorities and poor people and, of course, tens – perhaps hundreds – of thousands of disaffected, frustrated middle class people. Most of them would vote for Democrats, which is why Republicans don’t want them to vote.

What that means is that a small minority is ruling this country. It’s how the Supreme Court wound up looking as it does. It’s how the Republicans have controlled the Senate. It’s how the House has been largely under Republican control for decades. And it is why we are now in this insane election process that threatens to be decided by our lopsided, contorted Supreme Court, instead of by We the People.

We can’t change our current insanity instantly, but we surely can start the process and it’s up to you to do that.

Samuel L. Jackson has laid it out plainly for you. Watch his YouTube video, because he’s very smart. Do as he says.

If you haven’t voted yet, you have only 6 days left. It may be too late for mail-in voting, although you may be able to drop off your mail-in ballot at your precinct voting place, your city hall or in a ballot drop box. In-person early voting is ongoing and it’s your best opportunity to ensure your voice is heard and to vote this horrid minority out of office.

VOTE NOW!

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Resources
  1. Read John Pavlovitz’s great clarity in “No, I Won’t Agree To Disagree. You’re Just Wrong.” He’s right.
  2. This Is Not Normal, by Amy Siskind in The Washington Post
  3. The entire “Sunday Review” of The New York Times, October 18, 2020: Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.
VOTE NOW!

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Idle Speculation of the Week

Rudy Giuliani is spending his days and nights in Ukraine, digging for dirt to help Donald Trump. He’s unleashed volumes of anti-Biden, pro-Trump Russian propaganda repeatedly. Even his daughter opposes his behavior.

He tells us he’s Trump’s lawyer but that he’s not being paid. Does that combination make any sense to you? Speculate on this: What does Giuliani get out of being Trump’s muck-making slime bag? My idle speculation is that Trump has promised to make him Attorney General if Trump is re-elected.

Scientific Speculation of the Week

From STAT:

“A new modeling study finds that there could be half a million Covid-19-related deaths by the end of February next year, but universal mask use could save 130,000 of those lives.”

Just wondering which group the fiercely independent face mask refusers want to be in, the 130,000 who could live or the rest who will be dead. There’s a really big cost for them stomping feet and yelling, “You can’t tell me what to do.”

Scientific speculation: The rest of us pay a huge price for refuser selfishness.

Unintentionally Revealing Quote of the Week

From the New York Times:

”  .  .  .  Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, essentially offering a verbal shrug on CNN on Sunday: ‘We’re not going to control the pandemic.’

‘We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations, because it is a contagious virus — just like the flu,’ Mr. Meadows said.”

Mark Meadows is co-founder with insanely rabid Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of the patriotically misnamed Freedom Caucus. Apparently, Meadows wants us to be free to get sick and die.

What he’s telling us is that our top national leadership is not focused on protecting the American people. They are doing nothing to prevent our exposure to a killer virus that is most definitely not like the flu. Instead, these public servants (supposedly serving We the People) are focused on vaccines and therapeutics that don’t exist! That’s minority rule as a cruel, manipulative, homicidal refusal to act and to lead. And it’s killing us.

Watch this 1-minute video.

Did I mention,

VOTE NOW!
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Quotes for Today

From Rachel Maddow on October 27, 2020: “If you’re standing in line waiting to vote, know that you are pulling a thread through a lot of history. Stay in line.”

From Admiral (Ret.) William McRaven in his 20-minute 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas: “Don’t ever, ever ring the bell.” [i.e. quit]

From me: Get in line, stay in line and vote to change our country and change the world.

From Yoda: “On you, everything depends.”

From me again: I like Joe Biden, but if the Democrats had nominated a box of rocks to run against Trump, I’d vote for the rocks.

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There might not be time to mail in your vote and have it arrive in time, so DROP IT OFF in a drop box.

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

Gaming Out the Election


Reading time – 5:25  .  .  .

Friend Mel passed along a link to a USA Today article which reported an exercise that was conducted by both red and blue pundits who gamed out the upcoming election. The report said:

“After gaming out various scenarios, the group said its conclusions were ‘alarming:’ In an election taking place amid a pandemic, a recession and rising political polarization, the group found a substantial risk of legal battles, a contested outcome, violent street clashes and even a constitutional impasse.”

Click through and read the frightening essay after reading this post. It is guaranteed to keep you awake at night. On the other hand, it’s highly likely that nothing in the essay will surprise you.

With any luck, Biden’s team is gaming this out for themselves and is prepared both to defend against Trump’s anticipated outrageous malfeasance and to go on offense to protect the election and the nation.

Trump knows no boundaries, so expect more strategy-free actions to promote himself, like sudden and complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan with absolutely no plan for or consideration of consequences. He would do that just so that he can claim a bigly win right before the election. That’s the kind of thing that has to be gamed out by Biden’s team, because Trump would do even worse. That’s especially important in light of the 20th anniversary of Bush v. Gore. There’s a history lesson from that mess of an election that applies to today.

The question was what to do with the very problematic intermediate Florida election results, a decision that would determine the winner of the presidential election. Have a look at this piece of the dissent to the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in favor of Bush:

“What must underlie petitioners’ entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law. [emphasis mine]”

That was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, with Justices Breyer and Ginsburg concurring.

They were right. Confidence in the judiciary in general has fallen precipitously since that decision. Confidence in the Supreme Court itself dropped 15% following the Citizens United debacle in 2010. That was predicted by Justice Stevens in his blistering dissent and no amount of Justice Scalia’s arrogant certitude could stop the loss of respect for the Supreme Court. Making things worse, Trump has delivered a regular drum beat of infantile tantrums attacking the courts when he doesn’t get his way, further undermining confidence in our judiciary.*

The point of inserting the Bush v. Gore reference is concern about public acceptance of any judicial decision affecting our upcoming election. Indeed, Bush v. Gore was an enormous trust killer for millions of Americans. By extension, it raises concerns for our 2020 election if a judicial decision goes against what Trump supporters want. Indeed, in 2016 Trump predicted violence in the streets if he were to lose the Republican nomination, almost giving permission to his supporters to be destructive.

Bear in mind that he has been undermining the judiciary and stoking violence since 2015. He announced that he would pay the legal fees for supporters at his rallies who physically attack protesters. He told us there were “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville, even as one side was threatening violence. And he had his goons attack Black Lives Matter protesters in 7 cities. Clearly, he encourages violence.

The point is that those dissenting justices in the Bush v. Gore case were right. Judicial decisions that are adverse to Trump are almost certain to be disrespected and rejected by his supporters. That’s driven in large measure because of the loss of confidence in our courts and the disrespect for our system of justice that has been building for years. Trump has orchestrated the worsening of this, fanning the flames of anger and violence.

Speaking to the despair, anger and self-hatred in America, Anne Applebaum wrote in her new book, Twilight of Democracy, quoting Donald Trump:

“You know what solves [this]? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have  .  .  .  riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”

And here we are with a crashed economy and so much is a mess, a disaster even, while at the same time respect for our institutions, including the judiciary and the rule of law, is at such a low ebb. Note, too, how frighteningly close Trump’s prediction of violence is to that of the folks who recently gamed out our upcoming election (see above).

We aren’t just in strange times; we are in times that may transform into physically perilous times. Whatever firmament we used to have has become a leaky boat in a hurricane.

Back to Bush v. Gore for a moment:

In a later full counting of all votes cast in that election as tracked down by numerous investigative reporters Gore won Florida by 537 votes. But Chief Justice Rehnquist had announced the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the counting of votes in Florida, which gave the state and the presidency to Bush. It is accurately said that elections have consequences. So do judicial decisions.

That Gore wasn’t sworn in as president brought us 9/11 (Bush ignored multiple warnings of an imminent attack); two continuing, fraudulently crafted wars (justified by lies too numerous to list); Bush’s refusal to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan and an episodic backward march of the goal posts; the effectively homicidal Katrina response; the financial meltdown of 2008; a decimated State Department and alienated allies; and the grossly expanded national debt through starting two wars and cutting taxes at the same time. All of that and more hinged on a judicial decision.

The conservative Supreme Court justices got their way in the Bush v. Gore case. They also got their way in disemboweling the Voting Rights Act and by supporting states’ actions to create massive voter suppression. Those decisions, complemented by Citizens United and other decisions harmful to We the People undermined confidence in the rule of law. And for the past four years that’s been joined by Trump’s cheating, lying, stoking violence and hatred and even insurrection.

All of that is why it’s so important that Biden’s team is gaming out everything so that they are ready.

We can’t change public trust in the judiciary in just the next 75 days, so there is literally only one way to ensure we protect against further deterioration of our democracy and create a hedge against violence in our streets:

We must vote to create an overwhelming defeat of Donald Trump in November.

If you doubt that, just recall the mobs of angry people who stormed the Michigan and Ohio state houses in May. Many were carrying guns. Many were brandishing semi-automatic weapons. The threat of violence if they didn’t get their way couldn’t have been clearer. And those demonstrations were just to protest efforts to stop Covid-19. In the absence of an overwhelming defeat of Trump in November, what do you think those people and others similarly inclined will do?

The pundits reported in the USA Today piece were gaming out the upcoming election. But this is no game. This is life and death for people in our streets and for our democracy itself.

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Covid Corner 1-2-3

1. From STAT, reporting on seemingly random distribution of face masks by the Trump administration:

“A 140-student charter school in Florida received 37,500 masks [from the Trump administration], for instance. A beekeeping company got 500 masks as an “emergency services” provider, and despite reports of Covid-19 cases in hundreds of facilities, few poultry producers received any masks. ‘If you can’t find a method to the madness a few months later, it may mean it’s all madness,’ Juliette Kayyem, a former Obama administration-era homeland security official tells STAT. “Where did those masks actually go?” Read more here.”

2. Be sure to print last Wednesday’s post; then cut out and tape the face mask graphic to your refrigerator and front door, per instructions.

And check out this from “STAT.” It’s a confirmation and update of what you learned from your Required Reading about the spread of the pandemic in the July 15 post.

3. Headlines of the Week

Dumb story:

‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks

Tragic Story:

Finally,

Admiral (Ret.) William McRaven was the top guy of our Navy Seals and the head of all of our Special Operations Forces worldwide when they captured Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and when they rescued Captain Phillips. He is a greatly decorated veteran and scoffs at the title “hero;” nevertheless, that’s what you’ll call him when you read his book, Sea Stories. Better yet, get the audio book and listen to him tell his stories in his own voice.

Further, click here to take in his commencement address at the University of Texas (Austin) in 2014. Then go make your bed. You’ll understand that last after you watch his 19 minute video.

Most important for right now, read Admiral McRaven’s essay in The Washington Post regarding our upcoming election. He gets this right.

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* From the apolitical University of Denver Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) blog last September:

James Lyons, a longtime lawyer and one-time diplomat, offers the view that President Trump’s attacks on our judges and the rule of law undermine the legitimacy of the legal system in unprecedented ways.

Here’s a link to Lyons’ paper, “Trump and the Attack on the Rule of Law.”

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

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  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.
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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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