Taxation

For The Hand Wringers


Note: No post on Sunday. We’ll reconnect in a week.


We have hand wringers on the right .  .  .

.  .  .  complaining that all Democrats are socialists, that Biden is a useless wimp, that a Congress controlled by Democrats hasn’t and can’t accomplish anything for real Americans and that Biden is a pitiful Lex Luthor who will be slain by some right wing Superman. Plus, he’s too old now, much less for a second term. Besides, he stutters.

We have hand wringers on the left .  .  .

.  .  .  complaining that Biden is timid, that he always falls short of the progressive desires of the majority of Americans, that he isn’t a strong leader, that he has accomplished a lamentable not much, that he’s an inept presenter and that he’s too old now, much less for a second term.

That’s just a small sample of the wailing. Doubtless, you can add to one or both of those recitations of hand wringing material. But there’s just one thing:

The record of Biden and the Democrats in Congress is shockingly, fantastically stellar.
.

Here’s a partial list of what’s been accomplished in just 23 months. This list is lifted directly from Biden-Harris Accomplishments:

  • Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act – to bring down costs, reduce the deficit, and take aggressive action on climate – all paid for by making sure the largest corporations and billionaire tax cheats finally pay their fair share in taxes. Yippee! And no, your taxes won’t go up even a penny if you make less than $400,000 per year. Plus it lowers health care costs for millions of families and allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time*, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year and ensures no senior on Medicare will pay over $35 per month for insulin. Thirteen million Americans, covered under the Affordable Care Act, will see their health insurance premiums reduced by $800, plus this act takes the first steps to fight global warming.
  • Biden passed the PACT Act – the largest single bill in American history to address our service members’ exposure to burn pits and other toxins. Can you believe that it took Biden’s leadership and an act of Congress to take care of our poisoned vets? Note that 11 Republican senators and 174 Republican representatives voted against this bill. Hey wait: that’s the same number of Republican extremists who tried to clog up the electoral college vote certification on January 6 after they and the Constitution had been threatened by the January 6 mob.
  • Biden passed The CHIPS and Science Act – this bill will accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. That means that we won’t have to count on a possibly hostile foreign government for the microchips that control our smart munitions. Plus it brings thousands of manufacturing jobs back home.  Biden did that.
  • Biden passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – breaks a 30-year streak of reprehensible federal inaction to deal with gun violence. Requires people under 21 to undergo enhanced background checks, closes the “boyfriend loophole,” provides funding to address youth mental health and takes a step to curb “ghost guns.” Plus Biden issued numerous executive orders to curb gun violence. Makes me wonder how many more Sandy Hook, Parkland and Club Q massacres we’ll need before we all rise up in furious demand for a crackdown on weapons of death. Still, this is a step in the right direction.
  • Biden has revitalized our alliances and restored America’s position of leadership on the world stage – Trump had undermined our alliances and our influence in world affairs. Biden has restored our relationships with allies to the point that they are all in supporting Ukraine in its battle for freedom and democracy against Russian oppression and the United States is the leader. Plus he’s gotten tough with China.
  • Biden ended our longest and arguably our dumbest war – Three presidents refused to take the dirty, messy, horrible but necessary step of ending that unwarranted 20-year war in Afghanistan. There was never a remote possibility of ending it cleanly, but Biden had the courage to do it. It will take years to meet our obligations and keep all of our promises there – that’s the dirty, messy part – but the plug needed to be pulled. American troops are no longer in harms way thanks to Biden’s leadership.
  • Biden passed an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act, now reauthorized through 2027 – 172 Republican representatives and 22 Republican senators voted against this bill. How could it be controversial to protect women from domestic violence and sexual assault? Trump let the original act expire. Biden set it right again.
  • Biden got the American Rescue Plan through Congress – delivered 500 million shots in arms to protect Americans from COVID-19 and put a few bucks into citizens’ wallets, too, this at a time when people were hunkered down and income was constricted. Plus this act expanded the Child Tax Credit to put a few more bucks into the wallets of parents.
  • In 2021, the U.S. economy added over 6.5 million jobs – the greatest year of job growth under any President in history. At the same time, we saw the largest annual decline in unemployment ever recorded and the strongest year of GDP growth since 1984. Biden’s hands were in the reins for all that.
  • Biden passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – It’s finally infrastructure week! We’ve been waiting for this for decades. Provides funding for critically needed repair of bridges and roads, replaces every lead pipe in America, upgrades our ports and airports and expands broadband access to all. It also includes the largest federal investment in public transit ever and the biggest investment in Amtrak since its creation.
  • Passed the Omnibus Spending Bill – keeps the government in business, funds support to Ukraine, reforms the Electoral Count Act to prevent another coup like January 6th and far more.
  • If you have a problem with any of that you are in the minority of people most likely to be dedicated to misery.
  • Key Rule: Misery is optional. So is happiness.

You get the point. And you get the benefits. So, please, America, stop wringing hands because things aren’t getting done or done fast enough to suit you or that they aren’t perfect. Lots of really good things are getting done, plus, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Thank you, Barack Obama for the reminder. He was right then and he’s still right.

President Biden has accomplished an astonishing list of great stuff for America and Americans in a very short time. As important is our sense of ourselves. Read David Brooks’ comments following President Zelinskyy’s address to Congress, Biden’s America Finds Its Voice. Many thanks to reader and friend David Lindgren for his pointer to Brooks’ piece.

We’re just starting to crawl out from under the oppression of unreality and intentional cruelty that has afflicted us for so long. At last we have an opportunity to feel proud once again. It’s time to recognize the reality of what President Biden has accomplished.

Not everything is fixed. We have much work yet to do and that will always be true. So, use those wringing hands to instead roll up your shirtsleeves and let’s get to work in this new year.

Here’s to a better America this year and every year – that “more perfect union” thing.

Most important
Happy Birthday Beautiful Marilyn!
.

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Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), income maximizing expert.

* “[Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA)] crafted a[n amendment to the] bill to provide prescription drug access to Medicare recipients [Part D], one that provided major concessions to the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare would not be able to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs and reimportation of drugs from first world countries would not be allowed. A few months after the bill passed, Tauzin announced that he was retiring from Congress and would be taking a job helming PhRMA for a salary of $2 million.”

PhRMA is the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry. That $2 million salary was a 7,110% bump in pay for Tauzin. Now you know how he earned it. Yes really.

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  • 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.

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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.
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JA


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

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This


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

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

Which is exactly what OAN is doing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From Common Cause

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

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

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Performance of Our Economy


We all know that the Republican Party is no longer the Republican Party. It has become a mob dedicated to obstruction, hate mongering and voter suppression, all in pursuit of clinging to White supremacy and power just a little longer. Minority rule. Anti-democracy. Gone is the party promoting small government and low taxes, conservation of traditional norms and fidelity to the intentions of the Founders. No news there.

The Republican mantra chanted mechanically for decades has been that the evil Democrats were the tax-and-spend party, the socialism devils who will bring down our economy. Perhaps that’s a relic of conservative opposition to the New Deal nearly a century ago. They were against pretty much everything proposed by FDR and have never let go of that reflexive, unexamined opposition. You can check with Barack Obama for verification of that. He’s the president toward whom the Rs dedicated 100% of their effort to make him a one-term president, the needs of the people be damned. All opposition, all the time.

But were the Rs’ predictions of Democrat-driven job killing, economy destruction and a slide to socialism accurate? Do we suffer more economically when Ds have the reigns of power? Let’s check with the Office of Management and Budget and some other sources for data – you know: facts – to help us understand what has actually happened.

Here are four bar graphs comparing how we’ve done under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations from when Truman took office in 1945 through Trump. See if you can spot a pattern.

Graphic courtesy of David Doney and Karl Faulstich of NWSOFA-Indivisible

Because these charts use data over such a significant span of time they pretty well neutralize the impact of spikes, like the high tech expansion of the 90s and the bust of 2008-9 and any of the tax rate adjustments.

We all get that pat political phrases are useful for bumper stickers and they’re great for frothing up true believers at political rallies, but sometimes they bear no resemblance to actual happenings on planet Earth. While saying that is not much of a revelation in our post-truth era (and that goes back way before Trump was lying and leading his cult of personality), what’s important is that those of us still within shouting distance of reality understand the empirical data: Democrats deliver a far better economy and all the goodies attendant to that, including jobs.

If you are a Republican and are choking on this information, please respond in the Comments section below about how Republicans are more fiscally responsible or more advantageous to the American people. For example, show us how George W. Bush started two wars and also reduced taxes twice, making it impossible to pay for his wars and how that was somehow good for us. Help us all understand how we’ve been duped by Democrats and why we should believe the Republicans’ bumper stickers.

That’s especially important to keep in mind now that Mitch McConnell has announced that he is “100 percent” focused on opposing all Biden initiatives, the needs of the people be damned. How’s that going to work for us and our economy?

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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.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 

 


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

Biden’s To-Do List – The Short Form


Mom said, “When someone does something nice for you, say. “THANK YOU!” – this time to Dr. Fauci. This is Sheila Markin’s idea. Click here for her posts.

Reading time – 2:52  .  .  .

This list of President Joe Biden’s To-Dos starting in the afternoon of January 20, 2021 is offered in no particular order of importance except for the COVID-19 section, which is urgent. Be clear that these items are solely about recovering from Trump destruction. The obvious point here is that this is only a partial list. Please provide your additions in the Comments section below.

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Provide strong, clear leadership for scientific, tough minded practices to deal with the pandemic and end it:

– Restore public faith and confidence in national leadership by consistently telling the public the truth. No denials of reality, no anti-science fantasies, no demonizing of those with differing views.

– Fully fund nationwide testing and contact tracing and authorize lock downs where they are needed.

– Restore full status to the CDC.

– Restore funding for the WHO.

– Provide dependable financial support for workers displaced by the pandemic. No more leaving Americans on the brink of disaster because action was delayed by Congress and the president until the last second.

– Apologize to Dr. Anthony Fauci and the people of the CDC.

– Provide funding for schools to create and fully implement the dramatic evolution in teaching made necessary by COVID-19.

– Create childcare for children of working parents for whom school was their resource before COVID-19.

– Restore COVID-19 funding to public schools from the private schools to which it was diverted by Betsy DeVos.

Rejoin JCPOA – the Iran no-nuclear agreement – if it can be resurrected.

Withdraw support for Israel to annex West Bank areas.

Call out Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Bin Salman individually for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Consider sanctions.

Expand Obamacare to cover all Americans.

Restore the full Voting Rights Act.

What could possibly go wrong? Click the pic for the story.

Rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership – “TPP” – so that we don’t cede half the planet to the Chinese.

Start rebuilding infrastructure. Do you remember those “shovel ready” projects Congress refused to fund during the Obama administration? Trump has done none of it.

End the attack on the Postal Service and initiate legislation to remove the 75 year pension funding requirement that hamstrings that service.

Unwind Trump and Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy and create sensible tax reform.

Immediately remove all “acting” officials and replace them with qualified, Senate approved people

Enact laws to prohibit federal “goon squads” from showing up in any state or city unannounced, unrequested, unidentified, unwanted, unconstitutional and unlawful:

– Require all federal policing individuals and vehicles to be fully badged and tagged for easy identification when used for crowd control or for protection of federal property. This is not intended to apply to undercover agents.

– Require federal officers to declare a clear statement of cause when apprehending protesters; e.g., “You’re under arrest for ___________ .”

– Require all federal officers to fully Marandize those they apprehend.

– Prohibit federal policing individuals from all actions other than directly protecting federal property while on federal property.

– Make it mandatory to secure a request and agreement from an appropriate state and/or local official for the deployment of federal personnel and equipment in any state or city for any purpose except when a state and/or city itself is violating the Constitution or acting illegally (Think: Little Rock Central High School in 1957; University of Alabama in 1963).

Biden’s Attorney General action list:

– Prosecute William Barr for whatever comes to mind.

Had to change a couple of words from the original for more accurate labeling. Many thanks to AR for the pic.

– Investigate all Trump Department heads, including Betsy DeVos, Sonny Purdue and all the rest for featherbedding and other illegal behavior.

– Indict Trump for his obvious criminal behavior, including many violations of the Emoluments clause, extortion in the Ukraine scandal, multiple counts of obstruction of justice, abuse of power and all the rest.

– Prosecute everyone responsible for the actions of the federal “goon squads,” actions that include kidnapping, beating, shooting, tear gassing and flash banging peaceful protesters in Washington DC and in Portland, OR.

– Review Trump’s commutation of the sentence of Roger Stone for illegality, specifically because the commutation was part of covering up Trump’s illegal behavior. Restore punishment for Stone if possible.

Review Trump’s federal judge appointments for conflicts, ineptitude and anything else that can be used to remove those who don’t belong. This is solely about bad appointments, not their political views.

Create law that will prohibit a future Attorney General from becoming the president’s Roy Cohn; i.e. the president’s attorney instead of ours.

Remove the conspiracy theorists from top positions in the Pentagon.

Challenge the DOJ memo claiming that a sitting president can’t be prosecuted for crimes while in office.

Apologize to our 16 intelligence agencies for 4 years of Trump’s insults, undermining, devaluing and for his jamming unqualified cronies into positions of power in these organizations.

Remove all former lobbyists from the Executive Branch and create law that prohibits former lobbyists from participating in any part of government where the industry they lobbied for is involved.

Replace the Trump/Barr suck up district attorneys and set these offices free to prosecute Giuliani, Lev & Igor, Trump family members and, of course, Trump himself.

Undo foreign policy unforced errors, including:

– Mend fences with allies, including NATO member nations, South Korea, Australia, Israel, Mexico – who else?

– Apologize to Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, the Kurds, Volodomyr Zelensky and the leaders and the people of all the “shit hole countries” for Trump’s insults, rudeness and harm.

– Apologize to Duško Marković, former President of Montenegro, for Trump shoving him aside for a NATO photo op in 2017.

– Apologize to our present and former State Department professionals, including Lt. Col. Vindman, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Dr. Fiona Hill, Gordon Sondland, Mr. Kent, Ambassador William Taylor, and all those who put their careers on the line to tell the truth at the impeachment hearings. Honor them publicly.

– Give a firm, face-planted stiff arm to Xi, Duerte, Putin, Erdoğan and Kim. Make our opposition to their tyranny clear.

– Rebuild our Department of State. Lure back the wonderful people who were forced out or quit out of conscience. Trump’s actions are a George W. Bush déjà vu nightmare and they harm us internationally.

– Examine support for the Kurds and do what must be done to reverse our betrayal of this ally.

Restore Lt. Col. Vindman to active status, rank and post if he desires it. Restore his brother to his former post if he desires it.

Levy stronger and more painful sanctions on Russia for invading the Ukraine, their meddling in our 2016 election, their 2020 election meddling, attempting to steal vaccine research and offering/paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill Americans.

Create and quickly implement a U.S. war on climate warming:

– Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.

– Join the international agreement to combat deforestation.

– Establish federal incentives for installation of renewable energy.

– Establish federal incentives for clean energy innovation.

– Establish a path for re-education of coal miners – no, they won’t all become coders. Then end the use of “beautiful, clean” coal for energy production.

– Establish emission control policies, such as fuel mileage requirements.

Lead fundamental police policy change.

Install Supreme Court Justices who aren’t conservative – create balance.

Formalize the elimination of state sponsored voter suppression. Reverse the abuses of the past.

Create gun law reform, like 100% background checks and limits on the size of personal arsenals. Make illegal high capacity magazines, assault weapons and bump stocks and repeal the right of concealed carry, etc. These measures are overwhelmingly supported by the American people.

Do comprehensive immigration reform – finally!

– Enshrine DACA into law so that the next Republican hate monger can’t undo it with an Executive Order.

What’s missing? Post your notions in the Comments section below.

– Open our system for prompt handling of asylum seekers.

– Reunite detained immigrant children and parents and close the concentration camps.

– Establish clear criteria for immigrating into the U.S. that is actually Constitutional.

Many thanks to brother Mike for starting this discussion.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Best Way Forward


Reading time – 3:59; Viewing time – 6:28  .  .  .

Ronald Reagan is remembered for declaring the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” He first said that during the campaign for governor of California in 1965. It was and remains a pretty good directive.

The Democrats’ job now is to name the person most likely to win the November 2020 election and that won’t be accomplished with more circular firing squads like we’re witnessing in the debates.

Democrats have to stay focused on beating Trump, not on beating up one another. They diminish their case to the American people with nit-picky carping about whose program is a smidgen better, not only because of the discord it sows, but also because that in-the-weeds talk makes everyone’s eyes glaze over.

And Democrats, wise up about extreme plans. The word “radical” seems to evoke sensations of power for many on the left, but radical ain’t gonna sell in the general election. Even the Wall Street Journal has warned how self-defeating extreme lefty stuff is. So has Bret Stevens at the New York Times. Stop giving the election to Trump.

So, candidates, state your case (not the negatives about other candidates) and prepare to beat the snot out of Trump. Thou shalt not speak ill of any Democrat.

That’s a campaign best way forward. Now it’s time to examine the key question of our time and the best way forward with it.

Long ago I had had enough. A bellyful. It wasn’t just the outrages and the spewing of hate and the non-stop assault on reality and truth. It wasn’t just the flicking off of our allies and the cozying up to tyrants and murderers, or the denial of science and intelligence itself. It was the blatantly illegal stuff that came into plain sight. That’s when the line was permanently crossed.

I was right there: impeach the criminal bastard. Then I thought about it some more and the issue wasn’t quite that clear or simple.

If Trump were successfully removed from office, Pence would become president and he’d pardon Trump and his family of all their federal crimes. Definitely not good.

If Pence were to become president we would have a smarmy, self-righteous bible thumper telling lies in the Oval Office every afternoon following attempts at gay conversions in the Reflecting Pool in the mornings. Definitely not good.

If Trump were impeached in the House but protected by the spineless Republican Senate that has completely lost its true conservative way, that would give him a flag to wave to help him get re-elected. Very definitely not good.

All of that and more are why the issue hasn’t been that clear. Here’s what is that clear now.

Trump has committed multiple felonies, has stonewalled the rule of law and has flagrantly assaulted the pillars of our democracy (scroll down to The Real Reason For Impeachment). This hasn’t been mere misdemeanor stuff; these are high crimes.

The House should start impeachment hearings – an investigation to determine if they should start formal impeachment proceedings. They should do that because it’s the right thing to do to protect our democracy and the rule of law, and because I don’t think our democracy can withstand another four years of Trump’s lawlessness and assaults on what we hold dear.

It will take months to go through all the material they can subpoena. If Trump and his team stonewall subpoenas, the courts will slap them down every time. Besides, if they stonewall, it will stretch out the process even longer so we can keep the wrongdoing of Trump and his crime family in public view all the way to election day. Think: Benghazi.

The Republican Congress held seven sequential hearings into the tragic events in Benghazi, each one repeating all the same information. They found absolutely no Hillary Clinton guilt or wrongdoing. But the Republicans kept her in the center of the bulls eye with shame-on-you fingers pointed at her and snarls of disgust super-glued to their faces for so long that the public forgot about her exoneration and just assumed she was guilty of something.

That’s what Ken Starr did to Bill Clinton. He investigated all things Clinton for over four years. All he accomplished legally was to catch him lying to avoid being found out an adulterer. But he did keep his shaming finger publicly pointed at Clinton all that time.

That’s what the Democrats in the House should do – non-stop investigation into all things Trump.

Let Trump and the Republicans hypocritically howl at the unfairness, the abuse of the system and all the rest of the (did I mention “hypocritical?”) whining they can conjure over an impeachment inquiry.

An impeachment inquiry is both the politically useful thing to do as well as the morally, Constitutionally right thing to do. You just can’t beat that combination.

So, I’ve evolved over this issue. From impeach to don’t impeach, now at the sensible middle ground of impeachment inquiry as the best way forward. File those contempt of Congress charges, Jerry Nadler, and let the subpoenas fly!

From the New York Times:

Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday, conceding that he could no longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration.

That is what a million people in the streets can do. It’s a critical step in creating the change you want to see. Maybe you belong in the streets demanding an impeachment investigation.

Late Addition

The third mass shooting of the week took place in El Paso, TX on Saturday. The young gunman with an AK-47 assault rifle killed and injured dozens of shoppers in a mall.

94% of Americans want there to be required background checks for the sale of all firearms and a large percentage of us want a ban on assault weapons and extended magazines. Meanwhile, our politicians steadfastly refuse to take any action whatsoever. The good news is that our politicians have an inexhaustible supply of thoughts and prayers to spew ineffectively.

Once again the murderer in a U.S. mass shooting is a white supremacist. We ignore those guys at our peril and instead focus on Muslim extremists.

“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.” – Eric Hoffer. Thanks to M.G. for the quote.

Clearly, the best way forward is to start to deal with the real problem – angry white guys – and stop blaming others. That shouldn’t take enlightened leadership, but in the U.S. today, it will. Find and elect those people.

Final thought:
As on 9/11, thousands of people were running out of the Cielo Vista Mall fleeing the threat of imminent death. Our first responders – police, fire, EMTs and the rest – ran into those buildings to save lives. They did what every cell in their bodies told them not to do and they did it for you and me.

Go thank a first responder.


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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

This Isn’t About Trump – It’s About What’s Important


Reading time 5:02; Viewing time – 6:59  .  .  .

Trump politicized the Fourth of July.

There were M1A2 Army tanks and Bradley armored vehicles in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Not content with just stationary vehicles, Trump ordered the military to have airplanes and helicopters pass overhead, saving the Battle Hymn of the Republic to blare over the loudspeakers as the Navy Blue Angles did a fly-by.

The military was there because Trump won’t get his military parade to one-up President Macron of France. Such a massive show of hardware would rip up Pennsylvania Avenue and cost more than he could scam through Congress. And they were there because the violent machines of war make him feel powerful and self-important.

He gave a speech written by others which included concepts he doesn’t understand, interspersed with self-serving grandiosity. He anchored it to the military because his base would thrill to that; but of course that was only a fraud to justify focus on himself.

“It’ll be like no other – it will be special  .  .  . ” Trump had promised of his spectacle. Of course, that turned out to be true – it was like no other. But not in the way he meant. (Just for fun you can review his speech here.)

For this Trump “look-at-me” event using our military for political purposes, only big Republican donors and pols were offered tickets. No Democrats were invited. He refused to disclose how much the event actually cost, but we already know that he robbed $2.5 million from our national parks as partial payment.

And all of that is the problem.

Trump made our national birthday party all about Trump instead of all about America. It is the perfect exemplar of what has happened to our country since the craziness began, as foreign affairs, immigration, trade policies, the wall, threats of war, healthcare, taxation and all the rest are solely about Trump, not about America.

That is why we have to do absolutely everything necessary to get the hands of this dangerous person off the levers of government. Because it’s not supposed to be about Trump; it’s supposed to be about you and me and 320 million of our country-men and -women.

I’m not an “all Democrats all the time” guy. I am a democracy guy full time and it matters that a huge percentage of our democracy has been demolished by this would-be tyrant. It needs to be rebuilt before we lose it all. I’ve written about that in many ways, including how We The People aren’t getting what we want. A part of what submarines rule by the people is a Republican Congress that is dedicated to chest-thumping fictions and obstruction.

The Republican mantra for the last two Democratic presidents – that’s 16 years of government – has been opposition to everything those presidents promoted. That was true regardless of how sensible the policies were and even if Republicans had supported those policies before there was a Democrat in the White House.

That produced hyper-partisan warfare and gridlock. It’s why we don’t have even a plan to rebuild our infrastructure, yet politicians tell us in every election cycle that they’re going to fix it. It’s why we don’t have common sense gun laws, even as over 90% of us demand them. It’s why Roe v. Wade continues to be attacked, while 76% of Americans want it left alone as settled law.

The same is true about healthcare, education, the DACA kids, global warming, Putin’s invasion of America and so many other issues. We aren’t getting what we want and our pride as Americans continues to slip almost entirely due to – let’s call it displeasure – with our politics.

We need to put the building blocks of democracy back in place and the only way to get beyond the Congressional gridlock of the past 30 years is unitary government, at least for a time.

Yes, I know that the very vocal Democrat far left is off-putting to independents and traditional Republicans and even to centrist Democrats. Read Nick Kristoff’s piece for more on that. I suspect that there will be a strong moderating force, should the Dems take over Congress, especially if Nancy Pelosi is in charge of the House. I, for one, will be lobbying for that moderation.

And I will be lobbying for democracy and for for clarity about what We The People want and the best ways to deliver that. Join me now in two ways.

First, support candidates who will create the change you want to see. Right now there’s about an 85% chance they’re Democrats, especially if they’re opposing one of the spineless Republicans who hasn’t the moral courage to stand up to Trump.

I really don’t care if you’ve never voted for a Democrat, because your predisposition to oppose Ds has no place in our teetering democracy.

The second way may appear to be just for fun, but it isn’t.

Read the hat carefully – click the pic for a larger view

Confucius tells us that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. We certainly need more wisdom in America right now. If Trump is to be removed from power in 2020 so that we can restore our democracy, we must properly name him with unmistakable clarity so that We The People make sensible choices.

What is the name that captures Trump? Put your notion in the Comments section to help expand our wisdom and make America America again. NOTE: This isn’t about venting; it’s about accurate description.

And this isn’t about Trump. It’s about Independence Day.

BTW – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted a happy Fourth of July message on Thursday morning that included a picture of the Betsy Ross 13-star flag. White supremacist and other hate groups have been using that flag to promote themselves and spread hate, likely because slavery was the law of the land when Ross made that flag. Click through and read McConnell’s tweet; then read the comments below it. They are stunning in their rebuke of him. Indeed, pass along the link to your friends in Kentucky so that they will remove this democracy killing “Grim Reaper” – that’s how he describes himself – from the Senate.

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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

 


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

Only Donald Trump


Reading time – 1:10  .  .  .

President Trump has said repeatedly that only he can do various things. As laughable as that has seemed, it recently set me to thinking about whether there might be some accuracy to his boasts. Here’s a list of what comes to mind as things only Donald Trump could have done:

  1. He’s made racist, weaselly, mean-spirited, hypocrite Jefferson Beauregard Sessions into a sympathetic character.
  2. In his mania to erase all of President Obama’s accomplishments and legacy, he double-crossed the Dreamers.
  3. In his mania to erase all of President Obama’s accomplishments and legacy, he pulled us out of the JCPOA, giving tacit approval to Iran to build nuclear bombs.
  4. In his mania to erase all of President Obama’s accomplishments and legacy, he pulled us out of the Paris Climate Agreement and is encouraging the burning of coal and the removal of pollution protections.
  5. He has criminalized asylum seekers and kidnapped hundreds of children.
  6. He has lied to the American public an average of 6.5 times per day for over 19 months.
  7. He has alienated all NATO countries.
  8. He has started multiple trade wars.
  9. He has expanded economic inequality.
  10. He has abandoned the people of Puerto Rico – Americans, every one.
  11. He has embraced white supremacists and emboldened them to ever more public hatred and violence.
  12. He has wiped his dirty boots on the First Amendment through his Muslim ban.
  13. He has negotiated away the safety and security of the United States and possibly the entire world and received nothing in return from North Korea. I have previously argued that any idiot could have done this, but no idiot would have been this idiotic.
  14. He has insulted the leaders of Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Germany – where else?

Honestly, I think he may be right. He may be the only one who can do this stuff.

What am I missing? Add to this list in the Comments section below.

  • ————————————

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

    YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

    Thanks!


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

The Republican Juggernaut Against Government


Reading time – 2:10  .  .  .

In a recent conversation, a friend wondered why working-class voters vote for politicians and support policies that are at odds with their own interests. It’s my belief that these voters don’t think through the situation. All they recognize is that a program of small government and low taxes sounds good. That’s the promise that has been lied to them. But the promised decrease in taxes means that there is less money to pay for the services that taxpayers want. That’s the part they don’t see and nobody tells them it’s coming.

George Will has said for years that Americans want about $300 billion more in services than they’re willing to pay for. That, of course, leads to politicians telling otherwise sensible Americans that they can have those services without paying for them – just, “Vote for me!”

And we do. We all like something for nothing. And that’s what it looks like we’re getting as we vote for small government and lower taxes. It’s only later that we learn that our child’s school room has 37 kids, the books are 36 years old, the roof leaks and the walls are water damaged and the boys bathroom is out of service and the teacher has to buy the paper and markers for the kids, as well as the Band-aids for bruised knees. Then the teachers reach the point where their personally funding the education of everybody’s kids is unsustainable and they wind up in the rotunda of the West Virginia or Oklahoma state house carrying signs. That is when, in a stunning admission of failure, the governor says he doesn’t have money to pay them more or to upgrade schools.

This is what the people voted for, perhaps without recognizing those inevitable consequences. But the citizens of Kansas, the land of Gov. Brownbeck’s miserably failed experiment in state strangulation, could have told them this was coming.

We can be fooled very easily. George W. Bush sold his tax reduction plan by sending a check for $300 (or $600 if you made more money) to every taxpayer. That cash in hand – seemingly something for nothing – sold his  plan to give away billions of dollars to rich people. Slick politics, indeed. That blunder was magnified as he lied us into two wars at the same time, which meant that we not only had a bigger cost to run the country, but we had hamstrung ourselves with less revenue for the fundamental services Americans want.

Oh, wait – I forgot that the reduction of taxes on rich people would pay for itself because of the stimulus to the economy that Bush’s tax reduction would create. We’re still waiting for that windfall to reach the rest of us. Worse, our 115th Congress and President Trump just fooled us into this very same tax deceit once again with a tax plan that ensures that 83% of the tax reduction benefit goes to our ultra-wealthy citizens.

That false promise of small government and low taxes has brought us trillions of dollars of debt, a grotesque equity imbalance and our kids still aren’t getting a good education, except in high income neighborhoods.

The Republican juggernaut against government has consequences. Failing our children is one of them.

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

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

Thanks!


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

An Astonishing Ability To Do The Wrong Thing


Reading time – 75 seconds  .  .  .

Pathetic that he needed such notes. Note, too, the “45” on the cuff. Sad.

Russia invaded Ukraine so Obama put sanctions on them. Trump removed them.

17 people were murdered in Florida. Trump said congratulations to the first responders and told Jeff Sessions to look into prosecuting Hillary.

Kim Jong-Un launched a ballistic missile. Trump insulted him and indirectly dared him to do worse.

The FBI indicted 13 Russian hackers. Trump congratulated himself.

Trump bellowed that Mexico will pay for his wall. Now Trump demands payment from Congress (i.e. you and me).

Trump promised to protect the Dreamers. Trump pulled the rug out from under the Dreamers by removing executive order protection and now uses them as pawns.

Trump promised protection and even expansion of Social Security and Medicare. Trump signed a tax bill that is the first step to privatizing and limiting both of those programs.

Congress passed a law to sanction Russia which Trump signed. Proof of Russian hacking was offered (yet again) and Trump refused to sanction Russia as required by law.

Trump repeatedly meets with Russian leaders without any American present, not even a translator.

Trump promised to isolate himself from his business interests. That never happened and he continues his self-aggrandizement by charging hundreds of millions of dollars for security and transportation to Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower. And Trump gets foreign dignitaries to stay in his hotels.

Trump held a “listening session” with survivors of mass shootings. It is astonishing that he had to bring a cheat-sheet along to know what to say (see the picture). Worse, he proposed arming teachers with guns, right in line with the NRA’s solution for increased gun sales. And what could be better than crossfire in the hallway of the school?

Of course, this list could go on and on, but the most important point is that Trump is not just completely untrustworthy; he is imperiling us. His hollow words to survivors won’t bring any safety to students or anyone else. And he is imperiling the United States by failing his primary responsibility to protect and defend our country. Tom Friedman’s article on this is mandatory reading.

Unlike Trump, I’m doing something for our safety. Mark your calendar on March 24 to join the national student protest. Then review this post and send a link to at least 10 others.

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

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!) and engage.  Thanks!


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

Leadership and The Tax Bill


Reading time – 5:12; Viewing time – 8:03  .  .  .

Others, nearly everyone, really, are doing a fine job of chronicling the insane Trump administration as revealed by Michael Wolff in his “best seller before it’s even released” book, Fire and Fury, and the stupid reactions of the Temper-Tantrum-Tweeter-in-Chief. So, I’ll have a look at a different piece of the crazy.

Following the passage of the “Actually, Not The Biggest Tax Reduction in History Act”, the Republicans in Congress and the Vice President fell all over themselves praising Donald Trump and his near-magical leadership, his blinding brilliance and his deal-making wizardry. That sucking up was rekindled last week when replays of Orrin Hatch debasing himself in this way were shown following his announcement of his retirement. With their over-the-top praising, these Republicans insulted and embarrassed:

  • – Themselves
  • – The Republican Party
  • – Congress
  • – The United States of America
  • – You and me
  • – All humans with any sense of self-respect
  • Every exceptional leader throughout history – go see the current film Darkest Hour for an example of great leadership. Then compare and contrast. If you were inclined to fawn over Trump before, you won’t be afterward.

Mom would have said to these suck ups, “Shame on you, Trump fawners. Shame on you.” But today unethical, false, phony and sleazy words and deeds go wanting for perps who will own up to their bad behavior. Nevertheless, Mom would have been right.

Perhaps you think I’m exaggerating to make a point, but I mean this exactly as stated. This is the kind of praise that Supreme Marshall and Dear Leader of the People’s Republic of Korea demands from his citizens and his goose-stepping military. This is the kind of sycophantic obsequiousness (thank you, Allan Shuman, for the words) worthy of cowards, fools and invertebrates. The suck up was so great that it’s amazing they didn’t all pass out from oxygen deprivation. Next will be a Caligula-worthy announcement of Trump-as-god.

This is exactly the kind of stupid stuff that has to stop if we’re to come together as a nation. It’s not just the polarizing “we’re so right” self-congratulations and the “Trump is my Dear Leader” sucking up; it’s that the vast majority of Americans didn’t want any of what is in that tax act and are more negative about it than we were about either the Clinton or H.W. Bush tax increases, this even as the sucking up continues.

If you want to see how bad this bill is, have a look at Thomas Edsall’s review of the analyses done by professional number crunching people, the type of resource the Republicans DID NOT call upon for guidance in writing the bill. Be sure to note the very real cruelty built into this fraud of a tax reform. If you want to see what Corporate America has announced it will do with its upcoming windfall, read this piece from Reuters and you’ll put aside any hope that this forked-tongue tax reduction was ever about job and wage growth. For context on all of this, have a look at Christopher Ingraham’s very clear piece about wealth distribution in America and you’ll understand how undemocratic and counter-productive this bill is for nearly all Americans. And to understand How Republicans Learned to Sell Tax Cuts for the Rich, read Isaac Martin’s piece.

Donald Trump and many Republicans in Congress went to great lengths to tell we Americans that the tax plan would primarily benefit ordinary Americans, yet that is untrue. Every independent study of the plan tells us that at least 80% of the tax benefit goes to the wealthiest 1% of Americans, while our poor and working class children will be saddled with an additional $1 to 1.5 trillion of debt in order to send all that money to already rich people.

Trump repeatedly told us that the tax plan will not benefit him or his wealthy friends, but that’s factually wrong, too.

There are only two possible ways to understand Trump and the Congressional Republicans telling us these false things:

  1. These guys are ignorant of the facts. They are either too lazy to learn the truth or too dim witted to recognize it and then too foolish to keep their ignorant mouths shut. Or,
  2. They know the truth and are intentionally telling us something at odds with the truth. This is commonly called lying. It’s why you got grounded. It’s why you felt ashamed of yourself and you learned not to lie. It’s possible Trump and the Congressional Republicans had a different kind of upbringing and consequently they just don’t recognize what ashamed feels like or what they’re supposed to do about it.

Let’s be clear that I think neither my judgment about the colossal fawning over Trump, nor my bashing of this miserable tax bill, nor the DC types lying about it are in conflict in any way with the “come together” message of my last post of 2017. We are supposed to discern between what is good, fair and truthful versus what is simply reprehensible. The fawning and the tax bill and the lying are reprehensible.

And another thing  .  .  .

Last September President Trump pulled the plug on DACA – The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly known as the Dreamers policy. It affects about 700,000 people who were brought to this country as children, who have known no other country, who speak English the same way you do and who are doing the same things your children do and likely you did. They’re now in school or working jobs and hoping to advance, just like you did. In every respect except for the geography of their birth, they’re as American as you.

Let’s see if we can bring the impact of Trump’s plug-pulling down to a manageable number that’s easy to relate to.

Every three minutes 2 Dreamers – maybe one them is a friend of yours – lose their protection from deportation. Every three minutes 2 more Dreamers live in fear of ICE agents banging down their door and hauling them away.

Is that okay with you? Just in case it isn’t, it’s important that you know that nobody in power listens to Dreamers because they have no political muscle, so they need you to speak up on their behalf. Call your senators and representative and tell them what you want. Tell them that if they don’t do what you want that you will fire them this coming November.

Note, too that 39% of American children – that’s 9 million kids – get their healthcare through the CHIP program, which our leader also cancelled in September. That means that state-by-state, all those kids will lose their healthcare. Add these cute but poor 9 million children to the list of people our government doesn’t care about. Go ahead and tell your legislators what you want done about that, too.

Oh, and by the way, fundamentally the same “Who cares about you?” message is still being delivered by our government to everyone in Puerto Rico – that’s 3.4 million people. 50% of the people there still don’t have electricity and many have no clean water and little food. People are still dying from the aftermath of the hurricane and we’ve pulled the bulk of our support services from the island. You might want to mention that, too, when you make your calls to your legislators.

Exactly when did the Republican Party become the “Who cares about you?” party?

Just for fun  .  .  .

from The Onion, of course!

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

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!) and engage.  Thanks!

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

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