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Finding Optimism


POST 1069

Third in a series (see Ignorance and Lies and The Underlying Disease)


Stand Up
I asked [my friend] what we would do if 150 crazy people — a mix of deranged narcissists, political extremists, weirdos, conspiracy theorists and other assorted friends of theirs — showed up suddenly on the perfect deck [where we sat overlooking the ocean]. I wanted to know if he thought we’d fight with them or leave.
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“Obviously,” I told him, “we would leave.” He agreed. Crazy people make normal people want to leave.

That’s exactly what we must not do if we hope to provide a cure for our terrible national disease and exit the craziness. Leaving would guarantee a ramping up of the crazy, the vitriol and the siege against the design of the Founders. They had lived under the thumb of despotic King George III and they knew the perils and the pain of autocracy. Our leaving would be capitulation to the forces seeking to undermine the very strength of our nation, our democracy.

So, don’t leave. Stand and fight back. Fight forward. Fight in every direction for your freedom, your rights and for everyone and everything you hold dear. That means standing up to the ignorants and the liars, like Ron Johnson, Jim Jordan, J.D. Vance, MTG, and all the rest of the extremist crazies. Stand up for equity and justice. Stand up to the 50-year-long war to disempower you, make rich guys richer and impoverish the rest of us. Stand up.

A Parallel

Today’s shrill voices and the violence, the threats and the chaos, the crazy and the stupid are all around us with propaganda and lies and visions of doom. Those voices aim to scare good people into capitulation. Those who give up – who leave, to use Steve Schmidt’s term – are today’s version of Neville Chamberlain and his capitulation to Hitler and tyranny.

Click me

Having given away the Sudetenland (then part of Czechoslovakia) to Hitler, Chamberlain came back to England from Munich in 1938 claiming, “Peace for our time.” Less than one year later Germany invaded and overran Poland and a year later began bombing London in the Battle of Britain. Here is the message, the learning:

  • Capitulation never works. It never brings peace. Never.
  • It only emboldens the bullies to do yet worse.

On October 29, 1941 things looked overwhelmingly dark for Britain. Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited The Harrow School, which he had attended years before. Here, in part, is what he told the boys that day:

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” .  .  .  this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Steve Schmidt is right: “Crazy people make normal people want to leave.”

But we aren’t going to do that. We’re going to stay and stand up to protect our democracy and our self-rule. We’re going to stay and stand up to the hatred and thwart the cruelty. We’re going to stay and stand and fight. We must not – we will not – leave.

We will never, never, never, never give in.

Optimism

I received a private reply from very long time friend Frank Levy to a recent Disambiguation, Ignorance and Lies. He’s given his permission to post some of his comment – many thanks to him for that..

My experience living among these American ethno-fascists [he lives in a deeply RED state], seeing their racism, watching them legislate for destructive and terrible policies for anyone that does not look, vote, pray, or love the way they do, watching them commit crimes of violence and hate against those very same people, watching them live out their misogyny and need to subjugate and humiliate women, and experiencing their virulent anti-Semitism leads me to two truths.
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One, these people are who they are and they do what they do because they have been taught by their mommies and daddies to hate all the people their relatives hate (thank you South Pacific), and who [they believe] their religion teaches them to hate (thank you Christian Bible and Quran).
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Two, they are who they are and they do what they do because they fear losing their privilege and power to the very people they despise and hate. And they hate democracy, while at the same time proclaiming themselves true patriots, because they know that they are a minority and that in a fair election they and their ideas are losers.
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So, here is why I think your optimism is misplaced: you can’t undo this kind of hate and fear through conversation and education.
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I believe Frank is right, that conversation and education won’t make a dent in the certainties of the fearful, the haters and the dispensers of cruelty, so I replied,
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Our national salvation doesn’t lie in conversions of the BillyBobs and the vitriol droolers – as you put it, the ethno-fascists. Rather, it lies in activating everyone else.
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We cannot wipe out the hatred and thuggishness in those who feel the imperative to hate and to be thugs. Their identities are wrapped up in that cruel package, making change for them impossible. What we can do is to overpower them at the ballot box and in legislatures, making their institutionalized bigotry and mania for domination of others a powerless thing, perhaps no more than an artifact.
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Maybe the more remote polling places and mail-in ballot drop boxes will be returned to North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Maybe millions will have their names restored to the voting roles in Georgia, Virginia, Arizona and Texas. Perhaps an overwhelming defeat will make Kari Lake shut up.
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It’s entirely up to us to make that happen. That’s the reason for optimism.

Obstacles to Optimism

Last Thursday a chunk of the MAGA extremism cult (please forgive the redundancy) came to Manhattan to parade themselves as brainless suck ups to Trump. They violated the gag order that

Judge Merchan placed on Trump and, in effect declared that they renounce justice.

Matt Gaetz (R-Young Girls) announced that he’s with the Proud Boy felons, saying, “Standing back and standing by, Mr. President.” Having already created chaos, these cheaters are attacking our justice system for being chaotic and broken. That’s what the extremists do: they break government, then blame Democrats for the ensuing chaos.

Also on Thursday, the news of Justice Sam “The Insurrection Man” Alito and his upside-down distress flag crashed into our Constitution. Is there nothing that is below him and Justice Clarence “Free Vacations Man” Thomas? Oh wait .  .  .  never mind.

The Republican pollution of the Supreme Court by insurrectionist sympathizers has driven disapproval of the Court to well over half of Americans. A few decades ago being a Supreme Court justice was the most highly respected profession. Now it doesn’t even make the top 20. It’s pretty hard to be optimistic about that.

Since impeachment isn’t going to happen and the Court’s newly drafted ethics guidelines have no teeth, perhaps now it’s time for Biden to pack the court with four additional justices, each of whom, refreshingly, has a moral compass. That would give us something to be optimistic about.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Underlying Disease


POST 1068


Second in a series (see Ignorance and Lies).

The Diagnosis

The slavish devotion of so many to worshiping ignorance and lies is baffling and the translation of that into violence is fraught with grave danger. It has been easy to criticize, saying those people are voting against their own interests, which is a high-minded way of pointing fingers and ridiculing. That’s only useful until the reality of the true danger lands with the force of an asteroid.

So I continue to try to understand the appeal of absurd and hateful conspiracy theories, the popularity of a con man with people who used to follow their common sense, and the anger and hatred that infect so many in our nation. At root it is all about trying to understand what seems, on the surface, to be both self-righteous and self-destructive. It is an existential challenge of our time.

It was in this quest that I came upon an interview in The Atlantic of Walter Kirn, my first brush with an outspoken and successful author, thought leader and iconoclast. The title of the piece is The Blindness of Elites: Walter Kirn and the empty politics of defiance, by Thomas Chatterton Williams. Kirn seems to speak for the people in “flyover country” who feel betrayed by, blown off by our “elites.” Note that even our use of the term “flyover country” declares our contempt for those who live there and demonstrates our elitist attitude.

I’ve written about the drivers of this sense of betrayal and have come to believe that there’s something there that, even after so many years of knee-jerk anger, we’ve hardly done more than knee-jerk right back. That’s not helpful to anyone, other than for momentary self-satisfaction. In other words, and to mix metaphors, all we’ve done is to repeatedly kick the hornets nest, never dealing with the the reasons for the swarm of angry hornets. Little wonder that we keep getting stung.

Try these short, non-sequential quotes from the essay:

Today [Kirn] regards Trump’s supporters not as the proverbial basket of deplorables but as more or less reasonable citizens with valid concerns. The movement around Trump, Kirn told me, is “an expression of American frustration on the part of people who feel like they got a really raw deal.” [i.e. betrayal]

.  .  .  his resentment against the tastemakers and gatekeepers is so unrelenting because it’s fueled not simply by dislike but also by real affection—a sympathy for Americans in unimportant places, people without power or influence, whose opinions and lifestyles he believes are often dismissed as retrograde or irrelevant.

.  .  .  the government’s attempts to manage the pandemic were a “behavioral-engineering enterprise, no longer having much to do with the truth, no longer having much to do with your right to desire what you wish or not desire what you don’t wish.”

Everyone, he suggested, was in on the game. “This group of legacy media institutions, along with a whole array of academic—what is called ‘civil-society organizations’—and frankly, Homeland Security, clerks of the government, got together and … ganged up to preserve this preferential cartel status for those [elite] groups and start shooting down the rebel ships.” [a reference to Kirn’s “Star Wars” metaphor}

You get the idea.

And even if at times Kirn seems to be contrarian only for the purpose of being a contrarian, he provides an insight into what America looks like and feels like from a non-elite perspective. The danger is that makes for easy pickings for a charlatan huckster promising to be the “retribution” for people who feel aggrieved.

The point is that what seems to be devilishly absurd actually has a sound footing in the realty of millions of Americans. It led to a first Trump presidency and over 74 million votes cast for him in the 2020 election. That’s bad news for democracy, but our collective ignoring of real grievances is leading to the possibility of a second Trump presidency and our continuing threat of dysfunction and violence.

If grievances based in reality are the underlying driver of otherwise sensible Americans electing a megalomaniac sociopath, what else are those grievances causing? Thom Hartmann put his finger on that recently, identifying inequity and inequality as the drivers.

So how does inequality provoke criminality? The research on the topic is pretty exhaustive, albeit poorly publicized, and the simplest explanation is among the most easily understood: humans are wired to rebel against unfairness. Unfairness thus destroys social trust.

Inequality causes crime because it destroys social trust, the core fabric of any society. It essentially makes us crazy. Without social trust, empathy and shared values weaken and culture begins to disintegrate. [emphasis original]

So, inequality provokes our social unrest, often called our “political divide” or “cultural divide” and that drives criminality. It drives our us-them animosity and makes us distrust our neighbors, demonize and attack all the “others” we can identify and in all ways rip apart our social fabric such that people are outright warning against and even promising a civil war.

Bernie Sanders is flamboyant and has crazy hair and a crazy manner, but,

He’s right about the inequity and unfairness baked into our American cake for decades.

For at least 50 years our poor and middle classes have been sending their wealth to the very rich via tax schemes that make golden promises for everyone but only benefit the rich. In 2010 our Supreme Court, rife with billionaire backed justices outright wrote legislation – they made it up themselves. Citizens United has allowed billions of big money bucks to buy our government and enrich already rich people. And that exacerbates our outrage over unfairness.

That is the diagnosis. Wealth inequity. Unfairness. Legalized cheating.

That is the betrayal, the rot. That is the primary source of so much of our social unrest. And that betrayal leads to anger and cruelty. From Mother Jones:

The relentless rot is exactly why huge swaths of the electorate do want [Trump] back. As it’s been said, the cruelty is the point.

The inequity and unfairness is tearing our country apart – that’s our national sickness.

Trump has already told us that if he wins the election he will further enrich the already fabulously wealthy. He will do this at the expense of everyone else and of our future generations.

We better get about moving past our swatting at symptoms – those angry hornets – and deal with the underlying disease. Our present abdication of that is what is driving this existential moment.

Your mandatory assignment: Read Hartmann’s post.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Law And Order: Special Hush Money Unit


POST 1062


Headline of the Month

From Politico of 4/14/2024

“A porn star, a president and a publisher named Pecker:

“The key potential witnesses at Trump’s criminal trial”


The Hoped For End of the Hush Money Trial

It’s the conclusion of jury deliberation in the Donald Trump hush money/criminal fraud/election interference, multiple count felonies case. The courtroom is silent in anxious anticipation, as the jury solemnly returns to Judge Merchan’s tense courtroom. The defendant has awakened from his courtroom nap and is focused on the jury with a sneering stare.

Judge Merchan: “The defendant will rise.”

Trump rises slowly, belligerent and hostile in rebellion against authority.

           Judge Merchan:   “Jury foreman, have you reached a verdict?”

Jury Foreman:     “We have, Your Honor.”

Judge Merchan:   “Regarding 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a crime, what is your verdict, guilty or not guilty?”

The jury foreman reaches into a pocket, pulls out a pitch pipe and blows a note. The entire jury turns menacingly toward defendant Trump. They furrow their brows in obvious distaste and snarl in unison,

“YOU’RE FIRED!”


Gang-Greene

You’ve known all along that Marjorie Taylor Greene is cruel and dishonest, vulgar and infantile and constantly inappropriate (ref: any Biden State Of The Union address). Her foaming-at-the-mouth refusal to help Ukraine leaves European nations and the U.S. at risk from the war mongering new iteration of megalomaniac Josef Stalin. That’s why she has earned a special title from Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), who said, “that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene . . . should be appointed as Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy to the United States Congress.”

In one of her most desperately cloying, grabbing, begging, pleading for attention idiocies, Marjorie Taylor Greene threatened to call for Speaker Mike Johnson’s removal from his speakership for his impudence to bring to the floor a bill for support of Ukraine. Putin didn’t want that to happen, preferring the continuing depletion of Ukraine’s war matériel so he can succeed in his invasion. Greene and her extremist conspirators in un-American activities, the Gang-Greene, are brain-free suck-ups to Donald Trump, who is completely captivated by Putin and proudly wears the title Putin has given him: Useful Idiot. That title goes for Greene and her abominable Gang, too.


Boomer Corner

From a recent post by my friend Ed Gurowitz:

It is this thoughtlessness that worries me. I have many German friends and family, and I’ve asked some of them what their parents told them it was like during the rise of Nazism. Even allowing for a people providing exculpatory explanations, what I have heard overwhelmingly is that people just let it happen – whether through apathy, feelings of powerlessness, or secret sympathy, it doesn’t matter. As Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

That is what I’m afraid of – good people doing nothing when the opportunity to vote is there.

Me, too. Which is why I offer the following.

From Wikipedia – Click the pic

We Boomers did some good work in the 60s when it was our asses on the line in a senseless war, our values were being assaulted by a continuation of centuries of cruelty that seemed like it would never stop. It was our time to respond to Abigail Adams, who expected her husband John to come home with a Constitution that guaranteed women the right to vote – he didn’t do that. And it was even time to (gasp!) guarantee non-Whites all the rights of citizenship. Crazy, right?

But those days are gone.  Our job was largely done, so we left the protests and went about our lives. The world moved on, only not always in a good way. Some of what we accomplished was tragically reversed and now we face a very bad threat.

We never thought we’d have to fight this fight again, but right now the forces of destruction are shaking our world, this time with an even greater threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The bad guys have been plotting this since we left the protests behind and they are organized and well funded by billionaires, who plan to be our fascist overlords.

You know what that means:

It’s time for us to saddle up again and fight for what is right.
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It’s time for we Boomers to once again make our voices heard in a deafening thunder to say that we’re not going back. We will never back down. We will stop the forces of destruction. We will protect our sacred democracy.

READ THIS: An Urgent Call To All Boomers.
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Then take action. You’ll know what to do.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Civil War


Post 1,052


A blogger friend recently posted, “A few years ago, CNN reported on a survey indicating that over 40% of Americans believed that a civil war was ‘somewhat likely’ in the next ten years.” He mentioned globalization as at least part of the cause. I assume that means that it has caused disruptions leading to angry citizens.

There are a lot of people who believe they remember better times, regardless of whether the “old days” actually were better. Think: false message MAGA hats.

To be fair, there is some truth to their grievances. There has been off-shoring of jobs, “right-sizing” (i.e. massive layoffs) and the rise of the big box stores that decimated whole towns and more. Their frustration is being amped up by those who would accrue power and money to themselves by keeping people enraged.

Today millions hate the “elites,” which I suppose means anyone wealthier or more educated than themselves. One or two generations ago big company CEOs made 35 times what a regular wage earner made. Now it’s 320 times. Corporations often demonstrated a sense of duty to their communities. Now most obligation has shifted to serve only shareholders and C-level officers, who are, by definition, elites. And thanks to creative legal manipulation we have ensured that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer through the magic of legalized bribery (see Citizens United). Roughly $50 trillion has shifted from the bottom 99% to the top 1% over the past 50 years. That carries enough power to infuriate a lot of people.

If there is to be a civil war, it will probably look like guerilla warfare, not cavalry on horseback or infantry in trenches. It will look like attacks on elected officials, churches (Blacks), synagogues (Jews), grannies in supermarkets and children in schools. Anyone who is vulnerable and perhaps blame-able will be a target. We already know what that looks like* and it may well get far worse. The fires are stoked every day to keep the angry people agitated, like Trump declaring at his rallies that if he doesn’t win the election that there will be “a blood bath” and “bedlam.” He specifically enourages his followers to commit violence. Just like January 6.

Bottom Line

We need leadership to grow this nation instead of fracture it. We need a new clarity of purpose, which is now looking like dealing with existential threat. It could be a foreign threat, but at the moment it appears to be more like home grown terrorism encouraged by self-serving extremists.

Coming together for such a challenge is the job of each of us, of course, but most of all it is the job of the leader to bring us together. Anyone listening to and following those seeking to divide us against ourselves** is willingly seeking to destroy America. Don’t fall for the hypocrisy or let those you love fall for it. Then maybe, just maybe, we won’t have a civil war.

Key Reads of the Week

See Note #5 below – then click the pic.

See Note #5 below – then click the pic.

Prof. Timothy Snyder teaches history at Yale and is the author of On Tyranny and other books. If you have not read this brilliant, pamphlet-sized book (rather like The American Crisis by Thomas Paine), do so immediately.

The idea of a strongman leader has become quite popular, having been promoted over and over by Donald Trump to his largely uninformed audience. Having lived in, studied and understood strongman leaders in many countries, Prof. Snyder offers a most helpful post to explain what having such a leader always means and what profound and terrible consequences would descend on Americans should we choose such a path. Read Snyder’s post here.

Next, you must read Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s clarification of the 2025 Project. Perhaps you already know that project is the product of the ultra-conservative (i.e anti-democracy) Heritage Foundation and is 1,000 pages of anti-American, dictatorial drivel. They think we should have a pharaoh or fuhrer, Stalinist, Viktor Orbán or Vladimir Putin, the far right’s BFF, to control our country and to control and minimize you. They believe that all power should go to the 1% wealthy minority and that there should be subservience and few rights for everyone else. They believe that all men are created equal except themselves, who are created superior and entitled.***

That’s what a civil war would bring us.

Take the pledge and internalize it deeply. Then click the pic.

Watch for the post this Sunday’s for some ideas of what we must do if things are to get better.

___________________________________________

We are less than 22% through the year and already have over 12,000 dead from guns.

** It isn’t just Trump. Aaron Rogers thinks that 9/11 and the Sandy Hook murders were both staged by actors. He believes dumb and potentially homicidal theories about vaccinations, too. That’s why Rogers is on Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s short list for a running mate for the presidency. So is former pro wrestler Jessie Ventura. They are all dividers. And delusional.

If you want our nation to follow people like them, it’s possible you’ve sustained as many traumatic, brain injury bashings as Rogers.

*** Psst! Do you think you’re “more equal” than others? Most important, do you love to hate? Boy, oh boy do we have a tip.

This may not be the best country for you. Give Russia, Hungary, Sudan and Uganda a look. Those guys know how to suppress and murder “others” – they’re your peeps! Pick one and go there soon. Please.


Today is a good day to be the light

  • _____________________________
  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.
  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

There Are Two Kinds of People


Post 1,051


Comedians say that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who laugh and there are people who make people laugh.

I, too, say that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who see nuances, shades of gray as well as of color; and there are people who only see black-and-white.

The black-and-white vision people are most fond of absolutes. Something is either good or bad, black or white, up or down and there is only one way to see things – their way. There is something satisfying in such simplicity. It’s the absence of troublesome “yeah-buts” and a lack of discomfort from uncertainty. Plus, there is the ease of never having to expend the energy to understand others. These people haven’t the rods or cones or whatever it is that allows some to see complexities and other possibilities. For these folks, there is no need for others’ conflicting opinions because those opinions are wrong.

We have many people in positions of authority who are black and white absolutists, unable to see anything but their own certainties. We saw that in the in vitro fertilization decision from the Alabama Supreme Court recently. The judges’ decision was supported by absolutist biblical understandings and beliefs. They included biblical quotes and invoked God multiple times in their written opinion. Apparently, they believe that everyone should believe as they do. That’s the law. Just ask them.

The First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion .  .  .  ” If that prohibition against establishment of religion is the real deal, then that Alabama Supreme Court just violated it with their religious justification for their decision.

The absolutist judge who wrote that opinion effectively mandates, “You have to follow my religion just as I see it.” He is both wrong and dangerous.

He’s a threat to our Constitution, our democracy, our freedoms and what the Revolution was all about. Whatever his personal feelings about in vitro fertilization or religion, none of that belongs in this legal issue.

This is compounded by a U.S. Supreme Court which likely will affirm that decision when a case is brought to it, because they seem to sing, “Gimme that old time religion.” Today’s Supreme Court seems to have difficulty understanding plain language and has made clear that settled law isn’t settled at all. Pay no attention to their having sworn fidelity to stare decisis (leaving settled law alone) in their confirmation hearings. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Which brings us to my favorite West Wing scene. Watch it here. But before watching it decide if you believe that learning stopped several millennia ago. Because if we are limited to what pre-science, largely ignorant people believed and the fanciful stories and rules they made up about their universe in a hopeful but vain effort to explain what they could not understand, you won’t like that clip. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy a view of human foolishness.

You Need To

Last weekend the New York Times Opinion Today newsletter ran this headline:

Humanitarian aid should be a bipartisan issue. Congress needs to unlock the needed aid funds. There’s no time to lose.
.

It was linked to the author’s guest essay on famine.

We all should stand and applaud that, just as Mike Johnson and his fellow smug Republicans should have stood and applauded at the SOTU after Biden said there should be no violence in politics and that we should make sure every kid can read by the time they’re in the third grade. But, of course, they didn’t applaud or stand and the Republicans are proudly resisting aid to starving people.

Gotta hand it to Republicans for their consistency of doing anything and everything to ensure that no Democrat, especially one residing in the White House, is ever allowed to have even the smallest win. It doesn’t matter to Republicans who gets hurt by their intransigence.*

The Republicans cling to their small-mindedness and their lack of care for anyone other than themselves and their monomaniacal lust for power and money. With each mean spirited, foolishly proud event we learn more about their adherence to the Dark Side and these lemmings march ever closer to the cliff. One can hope.

Which brings me to the words above from the Times. The troublesome part is “Congress needs to.” Does that mean that all in Congress have that need? Because if the Times does mean that, I think they should double check their sources. I think rather that we’ve picked up the “need to” phrasing as a weenie, chickening out of what is really meant: “Millions of Suffering People Need Congress to Unlock the Relief Funds.

It’s much like the very popular phrase following a statement of opinion, “Just sayin’.” It’s a way of trying to avoid responsibility for taking a stand. Both phrases – “they need to” and “just sayin'” – chicken out of standing upright and making a clear declaration.

Here’s the thing: We don’t need any of that chickening out in Congress. Indeed, we need straight talk and sticking to what we know is right. Like ensuring that third graders can read.

So, in keeping with the theme, there are two kinds of people in the world: people who can think beyond themselves, who care about others and whose word means something. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. Then there are people who are weenies.

This is my shot across the bow of the USS Weenie. And no, I’m not just sayin’.

See Note #5 below

Today’s Quote

From Cassidy Hutchinson’s book Enough, page 354:

“I had seen how fragile democracy is, and my conscience recognized our duty as citizens to attend to it for its survival.”

There are two kinds of citizens in this country. There are people who believe in the Constitution, democracy and the rule of law. Then there are people who want to tear everything down and cause us to devolve into a brutal, feudal existence ruled by a despotic tyrant. On November 5 we get to vote on which we will be. Choose wisely.

Hint: You can do more than vote like a real American. You can encourage others to do the same. Click here.

__________________________________________

* Read Thom Hartmann’s post, How Come Everything the Republican Party Stands for Involves Other People Dying? The horrible part is that Hartmann is right.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Hope


Post 1,049


Thomas Paine

248 years ago the slightly known young patriot and freedom zealot Thomas Paine* penned the first pamphlet of The American Crisis, a series of 13 pieces published periodically over 6 years. This first was written as Washington and his army were retreating across the Delaware River and was published in the Philadelphia Journal on December 19, 1776.** That dispirited army then had to endure a dreadful winter, with many freezing or dying of disease at Valley Forge.

Click me

Paine wrote Crisis because we in the Colonies were at a flex point of either knuckling under to a capricious and abusive king with his greatest army and navy in the world, or standing up and saying, “No more!” That decision looked to be anything but certain.

The American crisis was, indeed, most real. Paine sought to reach the masses with his pen, hoping to inform and inspire. He opened his work with words familiar to us even today.

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” [caps original]

Of course, Paine was right then – and he’s still right. Today we rebel against no unstable monarch across the sea, yet we are in danger of creating our own home-grown capricious despot, eager to steal our highly revered and celestial FREEDOM.

Here’s how Professor of History Heather Cox Richardson closes her 2023 perspective,  Democracy Awakening – Notes on the State of America:

Click me – and read Note #5 below.

“[Lincoln] called on his neighbors to defend equality before the law and the right of everyone to consent to government under which they live. They must reclaim the history of America so that it would have ‘a new birth of freedom.’

“When Lincoln said those words in 1863, it was not at all clear his vision would prevail. But he had hope because after decades in which they had not noticed what the powerful were doing to destroy democracy, Americans had woken up. They realized that the very nature of America was under attack. They were divided among themselves and at first they didn’t really know how to fight back, but ordinary people quickly came to pitch in however they could, using the tools they had. ‘We rose each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach – a scythe – a pitchfork – a chopping axe, or a butcher’s cleaver,’ Lincoln recalled. Once awake, they found the strength of their majority.

“In Lincoln’s era, democracy appeared to have won. But the Americans of Lincoln’s time did not root out the hierarchical strand of our history, leaving it there for other rising autocrats in the future to exploit with their rhetoric and the fears of their followers.

“So far, the hopes of our Founders have never been proven fully right. And yet they have not been proven entirely wrong.

“Once again, we are at a time of testing.

“How it comes out rests, as it always has, in our own hands.”

I’m grateful for the optimism in Richardson’s title, Democracy Awakening, and hope beyond reason that her optimism is well founded. But, as many have said, hope is not a strategy. Hope by itself is allowing inertia or others take over direction and, ultimately, inertia concedes the battle. Hope needs action and awakening requires effort. That’s where we find ourselves today.

The current assault on our democracy isn’t a sudden event. It was concocted through decades of scheming and incremental undermining of our institutions and our culture to make it possible to take away our rights and FREEDOM. The schemers learned how to inflame Americans to fight against America with false claims unmoored to facts. Nevertheless, the usurpers didn’t just sit with their hope of conquest. They took action and oddly, in that way, they offer us a message, a road map for stopping them, for holding fast to our values and promoting our true American hopes and dreams.

Our task as patriots is to hear the call, that these are, indeed, the times that try men’s and women’s souls. Ours is not to grab “a scythe – a pitchfork – a chopping axe, or a butcher’s cleaver.” It is to awaken and to stand a post with a voter registration clipboard to register new voters. It is to canvass and make phone calls and send postcards to voters in battleground states, reminding them that their FREEDOM is on the line, that their American dream is at stake, that their children’s future is in peril of collapsing beneath them before they’ve even started. It is to show our people that they and we can win the days to come by standing for the America that Lincoln taught us we are meant to be.

As Richardson makes clear, “How it comes out rests, as it always has, in our own hands.” It’s time for us to put our hands to work, to stand and say to those who would crush our democracy, “No more!” Then we will have put hope to work and we will be worthy of it.

Speaking Of Hope

Photo credit: Al Jazeera

Hey Bibi!

We know that you feel like you can’t make peace in Gaza because there would immediately be an election in the Knesset which will throw you out of office and into court to stand trial. And we know there is validity to wanting to demolish Hamas before it demolishes Israel, as it has promised to do. But you cannot kill an idea.

Really, Bibi, does this little kid look like a threat to you? Or does the bubbe standing behind him? Or any of the people in any of the Al Jezeera photos here?

Shocking truth #1: Regardless of the destruction you rain down on Gaza, Hamas will not surrender. Ever. And they will only release the hostages when they feel they no longer need them. Bombs won’t set the hostages free or protect Israel for more than just a short time.

Shocking truth #2: This is not all about you. You’re not the center of the universe. You’re just a guy bombing helpless people. The world needs you to wake up. Step over to the right side. Call yourself a mensch if it helps you to do so. Regardless, turn off the attacks. You know: like a statesman. Or a mensch.

You liked Ronald Reagan, right? To paraphrase him,

Mr. Netanyahu, tear down your attacks.

______________________________________

* For a glimpse into the world in which Paine wrote his charged missives, read this fine piece on that history by Steve Schmidt.

** The first pamphlet of The American Crisis was, by order of the Commander – Washington – read to his troops at Valley Forge. It provided sufficient inspiration so that shortly thereafter Washington and his little army re-took Trenton.

The final pamphlet of The American Crisis was published on April 19, 1783 on the 8th anniversary of the first shot of the war, the one “heard ’round the world” from Lexington and Concord. I invite you to link through and read Emerson’s short poem out loud. In a surprising and metaphorical way, we today are required to be the embattled farmers standing by that stream.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Joe, Ya Gotta Listen To This Guy


Post 1,047


The Message

Joe, here’s former Republican, former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) on Nicolle Wallace’s program, March 5, Super Tuesday (lightly edited). He has a message for you.

“There’s a healthy suspicion that the Biden camp has been relying on Donald Trump as a [flawed] candidate to do a little bit of the work for them, to help close the gap. And Joe Biden has to do a couple things at the same time.

“He has to defend democracy, whether or not that informs voters’ opinions. I don’t think that informs a lot of voters’ opinions today.

“But then he also has to take the role of a traditional president and candidate to say, ‘This is what I’ve been doing for the country all along.’

“And I think what ties those together is:

“Only in a healthy democracy are your fundamental rights protected.

“Only in a healthy democracy does an economy work for all people and reproductive freedoms are protected.

“Only in a healthy democracy can we give equity to communities that Republicans want to punish.

“And I think part of that is Joe Biden and the Biden administration has to take control of the narratives that they’re losing on. Don’t avoid issues like the economy and the border. Own them and re-frame them.

“It is morning in America again. More people will go to work tomorrow than ever before. Home ownership is at historic highs. The stock market is breaking records. Retirement accounts are at an all time high. Inflation is coming down and real wages are going up. Joe Biden has led a bipartisan border security package and families have better access to healthcare and to education than they have ever had before.

“The threat and danger is Republicans.

‘Instead of rooting against the economy and instead of rooting for chaos at the border, join us and try to fix it and try to move America forward.’

And you saw Joe Biden do that at the border last week. He said to Donald Trump, “Come help me.” And I suspect at the State Of The Union address we will see that again.

“This is a guy who played rope-a-dope on Rick Scott on Medicare last year [and won]. If Republicans think they can just walk into this election making it about the economy and the border, it’s up to Joe Biden to say, “Okay, let’s talk about those issues, because I’ve got something to say on them, too.”

Joe, this sounds a lot like Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984. And Reagan won.

Give this to your campaign people, Joe. Tell them to stop moping and find a new attitude – like this from David Jolly. Then distribute this to all your surrogates and make sure We The People hear this message of success and hope over and over.  Start at the SOTU tomorrow.

The Vote And You

This is from Steve Schmidt’s post of March 5:

“The hour of crisis imagined by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison has fully arrived. The simple truth is that a man like Trump could never have risen when the World War II generation was here. They would have been collectively revolted and [would have] discharged him from public life in a manner appropriate for a dime store Mussolini, who can’t speak in coherent sentences, yet somehow captivates his cult with flourishes of inanities and slurred non-sequiturs. He would have been laughed out of the room, but now they are all gone.

“It is up to us. The question at hand is very simple: do you see what is looking back at us through the night from the edge of the woods? It is a malevolence, and it is coming. Thankfully, the generation that recognized it left us monuments and museums to memorialize it so we wouldn’t forget.

“2024 will be a year during which the proverbial hand will be called.

“It will be time for America to show the world our cards. The deficiency of the choice at hand is not what will be remembered. The choice of Trump will be. It will change everything. Forever. Nothing good will come from it. When fascists take power societies get poisoned. It is exactly what will happen to America.”

And THAT, my fellow American, is the reality of what is going on. It is existential. It is why you and I are going to vote and encourage others to vote in November. Check the clock below, counting down our opportunity to keep the dream alive.

And that’s the thing about clocks: They keep on counting down until there is no time left.

And just in case you need more clarity about how dire things have become, read this Times editorial.

I Support Donald Trump

– for incarceration in the Attica Correctional Facility in New York for criminal fraud and election interference

– next for imprisonment in a Georgia State Penitentiary for election interference, racketeering and conspiracy

– then for federal imprisonment for the theft of classified and other government documents, lying to the FBI and for defiance of a subpoena

– then, if he’s still alive, I support him going to another federal prison for his blizzard of crimes surrounding the insurrection

All sentences to run sequentially. He should be eligible for parole by the time he’s 167 years old.


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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Is It Time to Surrender?


Post 1,043


CAUTION!

Contains both snark and sarcasm. Sensitive readers are advised to be holding both Teddy and blanket prior to reading further.


It’s time to give up. Wave the white flag. Throw in the towel. Nothing left to do but for Trump to kneel before Putin and surrender the ceremonial Presidential Sword.

MAGAs keep saying how they love Putin; how America is a failed state; how democracy is over; how a strongman American ruler allied with murderous international despots should be our future. They show their muscle by refusing aid to Ukraine, allowing Putin to continue his megalomaniac genocide in that country.

We know MAGAs will let him rampage through eastern Europe because Trump has already invited him to do so. Putin plans to invade and annex Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova and all of Eastern Poland. Belarus is already a vassal state. Viktor Orbán in Hungary would immediately prostrate himself before Putin, as would Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey. Go look at a map and you’ll see that at that point Putin will have effectively reconstituted the Soviet Union, the long term goal of his KGB thug heart. Why shouldn’t we let him do that? Like, who cares?

The MAGAs align with brutal leaders in many ways, like by refusing aid to Taiwan, leaving those people to wonder when Xi’s communist hoard will cross the Taiwan Strait and crush them. They cheer as Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei of Iran further emboldens Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen and more. He threatens to invade Iraq and he murders Iran’s citizen protesters. Not our fights – why shouldn’t we let these dictators do what they want to do?

The MAGAs in the House are once again holding up aid to Israel, just as Sen. Rand Paul likes to do in the Senate. Their delay, of course, emboldens and supports Hamas and Hezbollah, which in turn strengthens the tyrants running Iran.

So, MAGA supports what Pres. George W. Bush called the Axis of Evil and they denigrate America. So what? Even though these might-makes-right people once declared themselves to be the tough guy party, ready at a moment’s notice to stand up against what Reagan called the Evil Empire, that was so yesterday. Instead, their leader has vowed to take actions that will end NATO and the peace and economic welfare it has promoted and guarded for 75 years. Perhaps that is what we need to do. Maybe we should get out of the way. Besides, the MAGAs can more easily roll over non-MAGAs if we just sit in the stands instead of getting onto the field of play. No bloody noses that way.

Our American love affair with macho men is long standing. The toughs in our own South went to war against our nation in the 1860s, quite happy to demonstrate their love of domination of others, to the point that 620,000 soldiers died. No problem, they say. Even these 159 years later they still mourn their “lost cause” of cruelty and subjugation and they even threaten another civil war if they don’t get their way. We don’t want a war, so maybe we should hear their saber rattling and let them have their way.

Nearly 1,000 Americans in Nazi uniforms marching in New Jersey in 1937. Click me.

There were the toughs of the German American Bund of the 1930s, when red, white and blue Americans, their goose bumps a-popping, seig heiled swastikas and the likeness of Adolph Hitler. Clearly, a lot of us really like tough guys. It would be a shame if something were to happen to our nice little country, they tell us, like another Civil War, so we ought to just give in to their demands.

In fact, we have a sizable portion of Americans who long for a strongman ruler, who have little regard for the rule of law or for the lives of people they see as “others.” They love democracy only when they win. Shouldn’t we just let them have their way?

Some guys think everything is theirs to piss on. Original photo credit Pixabay.

The MAGAs suck up to Trump, Putin and absolutist, fundamentalist preachers and politicians who worship only power. Millions of sheeple are prepared to follow their every word. It seems many of us have already surrendered, so why shouldn’t the rest of us? These MAGAs are in charge with their minority rule because we don’t vote them out of office, so maybe we don’t care and should turn everything over to them.

The MAGAs in the Alabama state Supreme Court recently took a bold step toward Christian Nationalism – MAGA rule – by declaring that frozen human embryos from Invitro Fertilization efforts are children with all the rights of anyone. They declared that such embryos cannot be destroyed, as that would be murder.

Standard IVF practice is to fertilize many more eggs than necessary for one successful pregnancy in order to allow for various difficulties that might occur. The effect of the Bible-thumping ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court, with its imaginary, God-declared ruling, means that a couple who supplied the eggs and sperm for as many as 34 frozen embryos* would have to carry all 34 to term or suffer multiple counts of homicide. Clearly, our best move will be to let over-certain religious zealots dictate our every move, lest we face felony charges.

Finally, we now have the clarity we need, stated by Jack Posobiec at the 2024 CPAC convention. He said (begin at 0:50) that MAGAs are here to overthrow our democracy. More to the point, the crowd cheered his declaration.

MAGAs are a mutually reinforcing, self-generating engine of anger and destruction – and there are so many millions of them. Besides, there really is no need for us to stand up for what we know is right because there are no principles worth fighting for anymore. America is done. It’s over. it’s time to get on our knees and surrender.

Unless .  .  .

Unless we are willing to listen to our Founders, who knew so much about the cruelty of living under the thumb of a totalitarian.

Unless we still believe in liberty and justice for all.

Unless we know in our bones that once again Thomas Paine is right, that these are the times that try men’s souls and we hear his call to service.

Unless we are willing to give America what it needs – what it always needs – us.

If we make the decision, we can stand strong to make sure that we are and continue to be the shining city on a hill, the beacon of hope to the world. To keep our light shining will take all of us – all of we freedom and democracy loving people. Nobody left behind.

Do we still have the right stuff for the continuing battle? Does it still burn within us?

—————————————-

* From The average number of eggs retrieved during IVF:

“Generally, retrieving between five and 14 eggs is considered adequate for women under 35. For a woman who is 38, this number increases to between 10 and 34.”

I’m not at all clear how a 38 year old woman would deal with 34 pregnancies.


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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Joe Biden Has To Be Better Than Super Bowl Commercials


Post 1,042


However odd it might be, we love our Super Bowl commercials as a form of entertainment. Millions tune in just for them, not so much for the football game. And with the cost for just 30 seconds of ad time at $7 million, the ad agencies and the companies they create ads for better make you want to buy their product.

So, here’s a test: Name all the brands or products you remember seeing in the 59 commercials you watched on February 11. I’m guessing you won’t remember many of them, so let’s try this another way.

There were roughly 101 celebrities in the ads. How many can you name and what is their connection to the product they hawked? (Answer: none)

Far more to the point, having seen the Super Bowl commercials and had your arm twisted by celebrities, are you likely to buy any of the advertised products? Betcha you’re not. And there is a point to this that goes well past your product buying habits and Super Bowl commercials.

While we might have been entertained by some of these ads (whether or not we could figure out what they were for), our behavior will be largely unchanged. The reason for that is the same as for poor political messages.

For a message to cause us to take action, it has to move us. We have to feel something that lights our fire or brings tears to our eyes. It doesn’t matter if there are celebrity endorsements unless the message speaks to us deeply.

So, here’s the deal for Joe Biden. He has to stop doing whatever it is he’s doing now and speak to us from his gut to ours. He has to make us feel why we should care.

We know that the other guy is entirely bad for our country and bad for us personally. We get it and it’s okay for Joe to tell us about that. But nobody wants to vote for Joe Biden only because he isn’t as bad as the other guy.

Joe, ya gotta make us want you bad. You have to reach into us and touch our hearts and our guts. Then your gaffs and your verbal and physical stumbles won’t matter to us and we’ll vote for you.

When the message digs into our innards we remember it and we just might be moved to give the product – Joe Biden – another try, as did the best Super Bowl ad ever, the 1984 Macintosh ad.

You clicked through to watch that Macintosh ad, didn’t you? If you hadn’t seen it already you were curious and if you saw it back then, you remember it because it did more than entertain you. it moved you. It shook your world and made you think differently about what is possible. Maybe it changed you. You were hungry to see whatever that Macintosh thing was going to be and how it was going to leave behind the boring stuff the big boys had and how it would make your world not just better, but really cool, too. That feels really good and motivates us to take action.

Click me – and then see point #5 below

Simon Sinek has a wonderful TED talk and a book called Start With Why. He points out that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t tell us that he had a plan. King told us, “I have a dream today” and we were grabbed down deep by that dream. We were captivated and motivated and had tears of passion in our eyes. His message was moving and memorable through the great magic of hope and that’s just what we need right now in order to restore our democracy, revive America and heal our deep, self-inflicted wounds.

Biden has a plan to do that, and nobody wants to hear about it.

In other words, Joe, you have to be what the Superbowl LVIII commercials were not: moving and memorable. Tell us about your dream for us, Joe.

What if the people running Biden’s campaign were that good? What if his messages truly spoke to us and were more powerful than the largely ineffective Super Bowl LVIII commercials? What if Joe Biden told us about his dream?

Super Bowl Ad Clunker

Boyhood pal Frank Levy reacted in a FaceBook post to the Jesus “He gets us” Superbowl ad:

“I always thought the point of Christianity and Christians was that they are supposed to get Jesus, not the other way around.

He’s right.

Who’s Counting?

$5M + $83.5M + $453.5M .  .  .

and the interest meters keep on running.  Plus. the threat of prison time is looming.

Accountability: It’s a good thing.

Have I ever mentioned that I love it when a bully gets punched in the nose?

Finally

There was a campus shooting resulting in murders last week. I know someone living nearby the scene. That it was nearby makes our ongoing mass murders more than horrible. It makes them very personal.

I wasn’t having an empathy outage during the Kansas City and Atlanta and Fayetteville and Claxton and Baltimore and Bronx and Jackson and Huntington Park and Chicago and Birmingham and Carson and Montgomery and Burnsville and Middleton and Indianapolis mass shootings (those are just since Super Bowl Sunday). It’s just that this campus shooting, being close to home (as in: heart) brings it into stark reality for me. It’s funny how sometimes we don’t fully “get it” until it’s personal.

Well, I don’t need that up close and personal wake up call to feel the pain and awfulness of these murders. Nevertheless, these shootings do carry more voltage for most of us when they are personal. And every one of them is personal to real live people, like you, me, our families, our friends and our neighbors, whether across the street or across the country. Now two more are dead and more families wail and grieve.

See my post about this here.


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

  • Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

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    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s Most Important


Post 1,040


The President of the United States has a lot of responsibilities, including that ” . . . he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed . . .” as required by Article II of the Constitution. The to-do list is long and demanding to the point of being inhuman. There is significant long term impact from nearly everything the President does.

He has to manage:

immigration

the economy

safeguarding our democracy

transportation, like rail and air safety and highways

the health and welfare of the American people

Enough. You get the idea.

But which job of the President is most important? The sine qua non. The one for which all others can be made to take a number and stand in line. As critically important as it is, even in this age of grift, fraud, treason, insurrection and more, it isn’t justice. Even as the cost of groceries is frustratingly high, it isn’t the economy. Our immigration system has been universally pilloried for decades, as Congresses have steadfastly refused to do anything to make it better. That has left us with the chaos we see every day. But even fixing that isn’t the most important duty of the President.

The most critical task of the President of the United States is national security. Protecting us from bad guys who would do us harm must take precedence, because if we are at risk of foreign attack, none of the other issues will matter.

The task is never ending. There is no box to check and then say “next.” On December 8, 1941 it was obvious and easy to identify what must be done. Such clarity is exceedingly rare. National security is most often devilishly complicated.

For example, consider the Ukraine war. In 2022 when Putin’s Russia invaded Ukraine in an effort to destroy that country and to make it part of Russia, it wasn’t obvious that we had a dog in that fight. But it quickly became clear that Putin’s genocidal war crimes adventure has consequences that can impact us.

It’s plain to see that this former KGB tough is trying to reconstitute the Soviet Union. That puts our NATO allies at risk and that means that war would be at our doorstep if Putin succeeds in Ukraine and then starts after our NATO friends. He’s already suggested that annexing the Baltic states might be next. Maybe eastern Poland, too.  Article V of the NATO charter would pull us into the conflict and our national security would be immediately compromised. That electric shock up your spine just now is you recognizing how close we may be to World War III. Prof. Heather Cox Richardson has more on this here.

That’s why national security is job one and why it is devilishly complicated. Let’s look at this situation just a bit more.

It’s well established that Putin kills his critics and political opponents, so it’s little surprise that he murdered Alexei Navalny. Putin had him tried and convicted on trumped up charges and sent him to a gulag in the Siberian Arctic and held there in solitary confinement. There was little Navalny could do to Putin from there. so why bother killing him? Here’s my theory.

Putin is an incrementalist. He pushes the envelope, finds that he can get away with something and then pushes some more. Ukraine is a perfect example.

After annexing the eastern section of Ukraine and the Crimea in 2014 he stopped there, waiting for world reaction. All he got were blabbers blabbing. No one came to the rescue of the Ukrainians to push Putin back, so in 2022 he went after the entire country. That’s incrementalism.

He didn’t get away with that recent invasion yet, but he may be in position to do so. Our spineless Republican Trump suck-ups have followed Trump’s demand to prevent Biden from having a win, so they refuse any further funding for Ukraine. These House cowards are leaving the Ukrainian fighters running out of munitions. They just ceded the bombed out city of Avdiivkak to the Russians, giving them a major win and a retreat for the Ukrainian forces.

That kind of battlefield advance made it time for Putin to push the envelope in a different direction, so he had Navalny murdered. Now Navalny is out of his way permanently.

Steve Schmidt wrote of Navalny:

One day, his name will be known in the same breath as Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill, Lafayette and Lincoln around the world. One day, when Russia is free, Alexei Navalny will be exalted. Today, he is simply dead, murdered for demanding that each individual human has a right to live in freedom.

Anne Applebaum wrote in The Atlantic:

Only minutes after his death was announced, I spoke with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader. “We are worried for our people too,” she told me. If Putin can kill Navalny with impunity, then dictators elsewhere might feel empowered to kill other brave people.

More incrementalism.

Now the world is howling, including freedom loving Russians, but my guess is that the howling will slowly quiet and Putin will have gotten away with his crime. The envelope will have been permanently expanded.

That devilishly complicated national security task which comes above and before all others becomes not just more difficult, but more likely murderous when our own team is in constant conflict with itself, undermining our efforts and our options. It used to be that our political differences stopped at the water’s edge. We came together as one to protect and defend our country. Now that imperative has been betrayed, over-laid by petty self-interest and the infestation of cowards. Now the MAGA crowd sides with Putin.

We have elections coming up. Many candidates will thump their chests and proclaim what true Americans they are. They will tell you that their opponent is a weenie, soft on immigration, wanting open borders and willing to let our blood be poisoned by “others.” Those alt-right people are enemies of our country because they are spineless cowards, traitors to our Founders and our Constitution and violators of their oath of office, regardless of the holy verbiage they vomit.

Vote for the other candidates. The ones who have demonstrated that they will go to the Congress or their state capitol to fight for America, to honor their oath of office and to demand justice everywhere. Vote for the candidates who believe in this America, not some dreadful replica of the murderous nation led by Vladimir Putin.

That’s what’s most important for us to do.


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

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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