Trust

Lessons


The Playground Lessons

When I was a kid the grown ups let me know when I behaved improperly and the messages were always very clear and compelling. That didn’t mean that I never did whatever-it-was again, but it did mean that I knew the rules and did whatever-it-was less and less often. I saw other kids learning that same hard way, too. “Betcha grown ups don’t get in trouble that way,” I thought, because, well, they’re grown ups.

Wrong.

Some didn’t learn their lessons,

like the huge community of Trumpist liars who never quite got the message that it isn’t okay to lie.

like the self-certain conspiracy theory followers who use their self-righteousness to bully others, even though they were taught on the playground not to bully.

like the rule benders who victimize others with their barely legal discrimination and hateful suppression.

like the shameful cowards who don’t stand up for what they know is right and don’t stand against what they know is wrong.

There are lots more, of course, but the point is that becoming an adult doesn’t guarantee anyone will leave childhood wrongdoing behind, even though we all know that it should. Some carry around their brattiness like a badge of honor all their lives and hone their skills with pride. They refuse to learn their lessons and you can see that any day in Congress and hear it constantly from the mouths of political blatherers. They all wear adult bodies, but inside some are just bratty kids from the playground.

Go tell their moms on them. Then they’ll be in trouble.

The Government Lesson

President Ronald Reagan famously and repeatedly said, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” That was an odd thing to say for a guy wanting to run government.

Surely, Reagan found a useful campaign tool in making government a boogie man. He gave people something to blame for their problems. He stoked the fires of discontent for his own benefit and left the resulting carnage to others. We are living in that carnage right now.

In contrast, President Biden now has our vaccination program humming along at over 2 million poked arms per day. We’re rapidly on our way to beating this horrible virus and restoring our more normal lives, all because government is the solution.

There are some things that even rugged American individualists cannot do on their own. That’s why we have government. Government is why we’re able to roll up our shirtsleeves and get vaccinated. That’s why Biden is decisively proving Reagan wrong. Because it turns out that government wasn’t the problem; Reagan was.

The Texas Lesson

Governor Greg Abbott issued an imperial proclamation that mask wearing is no longer required and all businesses in Texas are free to open fully as of today. That’s more than odd, given that it’s obvious that we have not defeated the coronavirus pandemic.

Worse, there are multiple mutant strains of the virus that are accelerating infections across the nation. They are more efficient in their transmission, meaning that we infect one another with even less exposure than from the original coronavirus. Worse yet, they are more serious and perhaps more deadly to humans. Surely, Governor Abbott knows this. So, why would he put Texans at mortal risk? I think I know.

Abbott knows that eliminating the mask mandate and opening up the state for full interpersonal viral transmission will result in massive numbers of Texans becoming gravely ill and many will die. I’m guessing that will affect fewer Democrat voters, as they are likely to wear a mask, Abbott proclamation or not. His order, then, will result in fewer Republican voters, thus helping purple Texas go Democrat for years to come. I think Abbott is a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Well done, Governor Machiavelli!

The Rights Lesson

Click the pic for a more legible view. Scroll down to the “Feminism vs Corporate Rule” article.

The Politics Lesson

If you want clarity about the realities of your political choices and the future of America, read Sheila Markin’s post here.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

E Pluribus Unum


Perhaps you heard that in the face of the Texas winter nightmare Republican Governor Greg Abbott blamed the breakdowns and suffering on the Green New Deal. Of course, the GND is only an idea; nothing has been done to create its physical reality, so Abbott’s pronouncements were most perplexing. Besides, the wind and solar renewables that have been in Texas for years kept working as the fossil fuel plants shut down. His gubernatorial leadership seemed rather QAnon-ish and unhelpful.

Former Republican Texas Governor and former head of the Department of Energy Rick Perry said that “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” He also said that the current disaster shows that we have to double down on burning natural gas.

Perry made these claims even as climate scientists explained that the jet stream was altered by global warming and that the resulting redirection drove the frigid air that far south, all the way to Texas and northern Mexico. It’s incontrovertible that burning more gas won’t prevent the next arctic blast and it’s unlikely Texans want to experience yet more days without power. Like Governor Abbott, former Governor Perry’s comments were detached from reality and notably unhelpful at a time when help was needed.

“Don’t mess with Texas” is an attitude of fierce independence and pride in the Lone Star state and those politicians have used that attitude as their political tool. But the experts have made it clear that this stand-alone bravado and a mania for deregulation are key drivers of the Texas lack of preparedness for cold weather and the suffering it spawned this month.

In the face of our obvious interdependence, neither Texas nor, indeed, any part our country can go it alone in facing our deepest, most difficult challenges. It’s time to get over our self-puffing swagger, our self-serving pronouncements and leave the failed policies and attitudes behind.

We cannot “burn natural gas” our way out of our power and climate messes. We cannot “deny medical care” our way to health. We cannot “austerity” ourselves out of poverty. We cannot bootstrap ourselves out of natural disasters. We cannot suppress our way to security. We cannot hate our way into patriotism. It’s time – really, long past time – to deal with reality.

One reality is that everyone likes the idea of small government and low taxes. The companion reality is that we like that first reality only until the moment when disaster hits and we have to pull together. It’s called government. The Commons. It’s how we band together to do the things we cannot do alone. It’s why impoverishing government ultimately doesn’t work for us.

Philosopher and heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That’s when the old plan shows its weaknesses and we realize that we are in a fight for our lives and that we’re in it together. That’s when we drop the pretenses and get about doing what we should have been doing all along.

Like aggressively fighting Covid-19.
Like rebuilding our infrastructure before everything falls apart.
Like admitting that we really need some things to be regulated.
Like standing up to bullies.
Like ending our ongoing un-civil war.
Like educating all of our young.
Like preparing for a tomorrow that is going to look very different from our yesterday.
Like acknowledging that not everything is a zero-sum game.
.

That means that we must be an E Pluribus Unum, because without it we are self-defeating. Just ask anyone on our Gulf Coast who has dealt with frequent and ever-more powerful hurricanes, or any former homeowner in the burned out wreckage of California, or survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 or most any Texan right now,

Our being composed of such large numbers of people today make the E Pluribus Unum part difficult, because we humans are more comfortable in small numbers. But we’ve solved that puzzle before, once at our beginning and at other times since then, and we can do it again.

All we have to do is to deal with reality like an E Pluribus Unum.

From ES:

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. – Robert Fulghum.

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American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

People are bowing before a golden image of Trump at CPAC. It is the ultimate graven image of our time, today’s Biblical-political tale of debauchery and willful human debasement. That kind of idol worship over the last 4 years got us January 6. And now these people have their real Golden Calf to worship. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

This time for sure!

Said Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” Here it is again in perfect verse.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt the CPAC worship perversion, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

.

To the attendees at CPAC

You booed the woman calling for wearing face masks and shouted “Freedom!” in protest of her outrageous proposal to suppress virus transmission. What was she thinking?

Hold tight to your liberty to refuse to wear a mask. Breathe, cough and sneeze to the point of hypoxia in your asymptomatic self-certainty. Exercise your freedom by sharing your disease with your family and friends.

Just keep your cooties the hell away from me and everyone else who knows they have the freedom to not be infected by you. Freedom!

And no, I won’t visit you in the hospital when that respirator is shoved down your throat. Neither will anyone else. You’ll have the freedom to die alone.

Random Fact of the Week

Barbie Doll’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Now you have all you need for a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Many thanks to grandson JG and his Fact of the Day calendar for that.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Sent to a Libertarian Friend on 9-11


Reading time – 2:44  .  .  .
·
This was sent to a friend on 9/11. The message informs our present moment.
·
I’ve been thinking about what you labeled my “way too much certainty of how events would have played out if something had happened that didn’t happen.” I understand your skepticism of my views, yet consider the likelihood of these “didn’t happen” events:
·
1. The Florida election in 2000 requires no speculation, because the full count has been done multiple times. Gore won. Not by much, but he got more votes than Bush. Then there was Bush’s slimy lawsuit.
·
2. If Gore had been president, I really don’t think he would have blown off the intelligence on an imminent terrorist attack as Bush did, like dismissing the FBI agent who warned him of an attack. He told the agent, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass,” then did nothing to protect our nation.
·
3. There isn’t a remote possibility that if 9/11 had happened on Gore’s watch that he would have conflated religious extremist al Qaeda with secularist Saddam, who never attacked the U.S. in any way, so there would have been no invasion of Iraq and no war and thousands of our troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive. Plus, a major piece of the middle-east would not be in ongoing chaos, so there wouldn’t have been a crush of refugees into Europe.
·
4. If the 9/11 attack had occurred during a Gore presidency, Gore would have captured bin Laden at Tora Bora, where our CIA had him trapped. They needed the military to finish the job, but Bush refused to send help, allowing the bad guys to escape, which led to a war in Afghanistan. And yes, the protracted mess in Afghanistan was predictable. Just ask the British, the Soviets and others about their experience there. Seventeen years later we’re still trapped in that country. Stunning how we could be so blind and foolish.
·
5. Trump cheated his way into office. Had Hillary won instead (i.e. had she not been a terrible campaigner, had she not used a private server, had there not been 11 Benghazi hearings, etc.) she would have been president. I don’t think it’s even a remote possibility that she would have blown off the pandemic, so a lot fewer people would have become sick and died.
·
What all that has in common is fallout from cheating and it continues, as you know.
·
Trump’s constant cheating, starting with his birther slime to his “Russia, if you’re listening” to his begging China to interfere in the 2020 election and his abandonment of We the People in this pandemic have brought us nearly 200,000 dead Americans [ed. note: 34 days later there are over 217,000 dead], and you and I are in the center of the bulls eye for this disease. Plus, his “good people on both sides” has encouraged vigilantes in our streets. Plus, he’s promoting – even arranging – voter intimidation. None of this would have happened absent Trump’s cheating, lying, fraud and the rest.
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Is there a certainty that these events that didn’t happen would have happened absent the cheating? Of course not. But this looks pretty likely to me. And just maybe 3,000 people wouldn’t have died suddenly 19 years ago. And about 3/4 of the people who have died from COVID would still be alive – see the Oxford study. All of that and more is why our upcoming election is so very critical. As in: clear and present danger.
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We probably can’t stop all the cheating but we can overwhelm the bad guys with votes.
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Watch this space this Sunday for “This Most Consequential Moment.”
·

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Fact Checking And What It Means


Reading time – 3:51  .  .  .

In his presser of March 19 Donald Trump said things that are factually untrue. Sad to say, they have enormous impact. For example,

From STAT:

Trump ”  .  .  .  said a new drug for Covid-19, yet to be proved safe and effective, was now ‘approved or very close to approved.’ Another, also not approved for coronavirus, would be ‘available almost immediately,’ in part because using it is ‘not going to kill anybody.’

“Then, minutes later, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, took the dais in the White House briefing room and delicately walked back each one of Trump’s statements.”

So much for treatments for our COVID-19 sufferers.

Trump announced from that same podium that millions of hospital masks are on the way. When asked for specifics he barked, “We aren’t a shipping clerk.” He’s probably right about his mean-spirited shipping clerk blurt, because hospitals and clinics aren’t receiving shipments of masks. And they aren’t just running out of masks, they’re begging people to sew masks for them at home. Because of that, our healthcare workers are at heightened risk of becoming hospital patients themselves. So much for millions of hospital masks on the way. That’s the kind of harmful impact Trump’s lies have in this crisis.

Here’s the big one: He said that we knew nothing about COVID-19 until very recently because the Chinese hid the information.

FACT: The Chinese did hide information, which is why we didn’t hear about it in November 2019.

FACT: A World Health Organization epidemiologist sent warnings about COVID-19 on January 9; the CDC got the word out on January 6; the Canadians announced the coming of this pandemic in December 2019.

Everyone knew this was coming.

The result of this administration and President Fantasyland ignoring the international warnings and all the data is that WE ARE TWO MONTHS BEHIND IN TAKING ACTION. Whatever we’re doing in March could have been done in January and hospitals would have masks by now, and doctors might even have test kits.*

Well in advance of the arrival of this disease we knew plenty and increasingly knew more about it. We knew it was potentially deadly, that it spread from person to person in much the same manner as the flu and that if we didn’t take strong, positive action that very bad things would happen. And we knew that we had to protect our healthcare workers or it would become a double whammy of them becoming yet more sick people and fewer healthcare workers available to provide care.

We knew that significant respiratory ailments were part of the symptom package of this disease, so we knew we would need way more masks, respirators, ventilators, oxygen generating equipment and hospital beds. And we would need hundreds of millions of test kits. But as late as last Friday we were still getting magical thinking from President Fantasyland that this disease would suddenly, magically disappear. And the fictions keep on coming.

We’ve had the data from China and South Korea for a month and a half and from Italy since February. We know how this disease is passed, how fast this virus spreads and we know what these countries have done to tame it and the effects those actions have had. We’re not flying blind, except for the willful ignorance of this President and our federal government. And it’s not just the White House making things worse.

The House passed a bill on March 14 to help people affected by this disease with both cost coverage for testing (if the test kits ever show up) and for treatment (if that ever arrives) and economic help to offset reduced incomes. The Senate knew this bill was on the way, but Mitch McConnell put the Senate in recess so they couldn’t even have a look at it until 4 days later. In other words, they wasted half a week in protecting Americans.

The result of all of that is that thousands of people are infected and some will die who might never have contracted the disease at all, had we taken proper precautions early on.

Trump has spent his life in self-promotion and is using COVID-19 to do more of that. He is now calling himself a “wartime president,” perhaps for the cachet he think it bestows upon him. He always deflects and blames others, so he’s calling this a “foreign virus” and the “Chinese virus,” which are handy names to use so that people blame the Chinese and not him for the rapid spread of this disease.

Indeed, he always invokes an enemy, like caravans and Muslims and the press and immigrants and Democrats and Nancy Pelosi and more. That keeps his followers from focusing on his ineptitude and culpability and engenders undeserved sympathy. And now all his victim-hood, flights of fancy, finger pointing, magical thinking, and outright lying are producing only four things:  a more devastated economy; more fear; more sick Americans; and more dead Americans.

One of the key reasons people voted for Trump in 2016 is that he wasn’t a politician. This was at a time when the Congressional approval rating was just 13% (it’s only 21% now). We’d had it, or, in Bernie-speak, we were sick and tired of politics as usual. So, we brought in a circus barker. And we sure didn’t get a politician.

A politician would have known to get in front of this disease before it became a pandemic that would destroy political careers. In the process of covering his own ass, a politician in charge during this crisis would have covered ours.

But no such luck for us. We’re stuck with brainless magical thinking and quarantining ourselves, with millions laid off and disaster at the doorstep of every hospital in the country.

So, if this sounds like an angry post, you damn well know why.


P.S. #1: 20 – 25% of Americans don’t trust experts. What do you suppose that will mean for our national fight for heath measures to stop COVID-19 when these people are fed a continuous stream of hateful, anti-expert lies by the President?

P.S. #2: Click here to watch the Trump version of P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Freak Show On Earth.

* P.S. #3:

Q. Why doesn’t President Trump order the construction and supply of massive numbers of COVID-19 test kits?

A. Because we’d find out how dramatically worse our situation is, how many more people are sick and his numbers won’t look good. Always remember: It’s all about Trump looking good. The hell with sick people and their needs.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? v2.0


Reading time – 1:21  .  .  .

Trump drives ever more lawlessness; then career people resign in protest. I get it. Makes sense. They don’t want to be a part of his criminal activities or the destruction of our democracy, so they both make distance from Trump and make a public statement. The concern I have is for what happens when all the good guys are gone.

At that point the government will be run by nothing but toadies, criminal conspirators and the nothingness that is left when critical positions aren’t filled. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s bad enough when there’s a coal industry lackey running the EPA and a fossil fuel lobbyist heading the Energy Department. Now, though, we’re looking at a Justice Department headed by William Barr, Donald Trump’s “Roy Cohn.” Cohn was a sleazy attorney/fixer for Trump’s father. Barr has abdicated his role to protect and defend the Constitution in favor of protecting and defending President Trump; i.e. Barr is Donald Trump’s personal attorney/fixer.

With his own bag of nefarious activities, Barr is inducing good guy attorneys to quit. Three withdrew from the Roger Stone case and one disappeared altogether last week because of Barr’s interference in the sentencing recommendations for Stone, Trump’s long time dirty tricks guy and advisor.

There were others who left the DOJ in disgust before that and, considering the thumbs – no, make that bowling balls – Trump and Barr are putting on the scales of justice, there will be many more good guys who will protect their integrity by resigning. And for the good guys who remain a little while longer, it’s likely their efforts to enforce justice will be compromised. Who does that leave to ensure justice in America?

Whatever positions are refilled, keep an eye focused on who shows up. Given what we know from the last three years of this sordid Trump administration, we just might get some sketchy people who will administer sketchy justice. That’s what could possibly go wrong.

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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!

Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Go Back To The Pawn Shop


Reading time – 3:49; Viewing time – 5:02  .  .  .

Critical Alert – Pass this along to at least 3 others. You’ll see why at the end.

The FOIA triggered disclosure of Mike Pompeo’s involvement with the sliming of Ambassador Marie Yovanovich was only the first end-around of the subpoena stonewalling of the Donald Trump administration. More FOIA requests will be granted and it’s safe to say there will be smoke and perhaps at last a raging fire to see. In addition, yet another court case has slapped the wrist of our king wannabe president, this time declaring officially how idiotic his claims of “absolute immunity” are.

All of this is good news for our democracy, but it isn’t enough. In the absence of full Congressional oversight – that’s Congress asserting its stature and full powers as a co-equal branch of government – executive overreach will continue to corrode our country. We need Congress to put on its Big Boy and Big Girl pants, and right now that means only one thing. The explanation of that requires a short story.

Russian Federation flag

For the decades of the cold war Republicans wrapped themselves in the red, white and blue of the stars and bars and stood in lock-step against Soviet aggression. Now, though, they seem to have stopped at a pawn shop and traded in the American flag for a cloak of Russian Federation white, blue and red.

They act as though they no longer believe in the rule of law. Think: supporting the stonewalling of subpoenas; tolerating obviously criminal actions; attacking U.S. military officers, Gold Star families and distinguished foreign service officers.

Far worse, though, is their mouthing of the disinformation of former KGB officer and murderer, Vladimir Putin. He is working tirelessly to destabilize democracies around the world. He’s spew-vomiting Russian disinformation in the United States, including trying to get Ukraine blamed for the illegal Russian hacks of the DNC and Hillary Clinton email servers in 2016. Amazingly, the Republicans are brainlessly mouthing Putin’s disinformation. They are knowingly doing Putin’s work for him.

As Paul Krugman explained it, “.  .  .  by and large Trump, unlike previous presidents, is backed by a party that sees and hears no evil whatever he does.” That’s because Republicans fear Trump and his MAGA hat wearing followers, so they say and do astonishingly stupid things to stay off Trump’s angry Twitter feed.  And that has caused the Republican sell out of America.

That’s why it’s critical that the GOP put on its Big Boy and Big Girl pants and head back to that pawn shop to get their American flag back.

You can help to make that happen.

We need two dozen Republican senators to wake up and smell the Constitution. Every senator already knows the truth and 30 of the 53 despise Trump. What’s needed is for them to do the right thing. That’s where you come in.

If you have a Republican senator, call his/her office and tell them to vote to remove Donald Trump from office. Here’s an analysis of who the critical senators are.

You can find your own senators here; just use the pull-down at the top left of the linked page to find their contact information.

THEN CALL THEM; don’t email, because voice contact is more powerfully received.

    • Tell them not to support a president who violates the Constitution by trying to get a foreign nation to interfere in our election.
    • Tell them Trump acts solely for his own benefit and sells out our national security in the process.
    • Tell them that you know that they know.

Then tell them what you want them to do. And let them know that you can see their votes.

If either Joe Manchin (D-WV) or Jon Tester (D-MT) is your senator, call them. They’re both under heavy pressure from the right in their states and they need to hear your support for doing the right thing.

To quote Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal winning U.S. Hockey team, “This is your time. Now, go out there and take it!”

Send your senators back to that pawn shop for their American flags. This is your time. Now, go make those calls. Do it now.

Critical Alert – Pass this along to at least 3 others.

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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!

NOTES:

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

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

What Are We Missing?


Reading time – 3:20  .  .  .

The daily outrages and incessant infantile furies create a barrier to focusing on important but non-urgent issues. Indeed, this post is being written just 10 days after the weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton. This is during the ongoing intransigence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On full display are his dual betrayals of, 1. refusing to bring legislation to the floor of the Senate for a vote to defend against foreign invasion of our democracy, and, 2. refusal to bring any gun safety legislation to a vote. Happening at the same time is the President’s lying and misleading about both issues. But his behavior is so consistent that it’s hardly worth a yawn. Still, he’s the president, so his narcissism-on-display does suck up our national focus.

We have to make time to shine a light on the important but non-urgent issues. These things beg for answers, so let’s look at one as a placeholder for all: our gargantuan healthcare complex and changes we don’t notice.

STAT, the daily briefing from The Boston Globe focusing on healthcare related issues, reported on August 12,

“A new report from UnitedHealth Group finds that hospital prices increasing at current rates could end up costing $250 billion over the next decade. The report says that prices set by hospitals for services  — and not physician salaries or how much hospital services get used — are what’s driving up patients’ spending. Between 2013 and 2017, for instance, hospital prices increased by 19% while the cost of physician services increased by half that amount.”

To put that into perspective, healthcare accounted for 17.9% of GDP in 2017 and inflated 3.9% that year to a total of $3.5 trillion, or $10,739 per person. We spend a crazy amount of money battling injury and disease and this report says the cost to do that is getting far worse.

The un-examined tidbit that seems like a throwaway in this report is that over that same 4-year period the cost of physician services increased by almost 10%. Did we receive 10% greater value? Why should we pay the extra 10%?

Silly question. We pay it because healthcare isn’t like deciding which car to buy or whether now is a good time to install an energy efficient furnace. There isn’t a marketplace of cost competitive choices for doctors and when you need healthcare you need it now, regardless of your ability to pay.

That’s compounded by most of us getting a major portion of the cost of our healthcare from a third party – an insurance company – so we may only see the co-pay and be ignorant of the true cost. The result is that doctors and hospitals can charge what they want. There will be some moderation of the cost as the insurance companies arm wrestle with doctor and hospital office managers over their invoices, but that’s pretty much it.

We are so accustomed to the price of healthcare going up, reflected in our insurance premiums that may right now be getting deducted from your paycheck, that we don’t even squawk any more. Millions are so accustomed to the ever-escalating cost system that they won’t even look at alternative ways to fund our healthcare or ameliorate its cost.

Extending our willful blindness about our pockets being picked begs an answer to how many other ways we’ve allowed ourselves to become numb, as others eat away at our financial well being. That stuff is bankrupting us, so the question begging for an answer is, “What are we missing?”

Bonus Section

In that same edition of STAT they report,

“President Trump announced late last month a plan to import drugs from Canada to help lower Americans’ prescription costs, and Canadians are not happy about it.”

Just think for a moment about the multiple crazies of this. First, most of those drugs are made in the U.S. and exported to Canada at substantially reduced cost, where they are sold for somewhat more sane prices to consumers. Trump wants to create a massive importation of those same drugs back into the U.S., thus effectively swatting at symptoms and refusing to deal with the root cause. And it’s worse than that.

The predictable Canadian backlash to this vacuum-headed idea is driven by shortages of drugs in Canada. Reports STAT,

“You are coming as Americans to poach our drug supply, and I don’t have any polite words for that,” said Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa. Read more here.

This is just another of Donald Trump’s strategy-vacant ideas without any thought to consequence to others, especially to our strong ally and second biggest trading partner.

————————————

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!).
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Thanks!

NOTES:

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

JA


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

Venezuela and Existential Threats


Reading time – 5:07; Viewing time – 7:30  .  .  .

First, my only comment on the topic of the cherry picked, sentence fragmented Mueller report is that I want the full report – all of it including the appendices – both for the complete, un-predigested information so that I can draw my own conclusions and so that we won’t imagine a Justice Department cover up engineered by Trump’s hand-picked protector.

As of this writing Attorney General Barr has indicated he will release the complete Mueller report by mid-April. There will be redactions, perhaps lots of them. Some will be to protect ongoing investigations. Some redactions will be for national security reasons. Some will be to avoid causing embarrassment to “peripheral innocent people.” I have no clue why that’s more important than instilling confidence in the report for a skeptical public. Absent such confidence, we’re facing an existential threat to our democracy.

If you need insightful commentary on the entire Russia issue, including Mueller’s report, read pal Dan Wallace’s comments. Now to the issue of Venezuela.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story about Russia’s power play in Venezuela. Putin sent 100 troops there to prop up dictator Nicolás Maduro. In reaction to that, reader JC asked if there was anyone left in Washington who understands the Monroe Doctrine or remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis. My answers: no and no.

As you’ll recall from high school American history class, the Monroe Doctrine prohibits further European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev was cultivating Cuba as a client state, effectively making it a colony of the Soviet Union, the very thing prohibited by the Monroe Doctrine. Soviet missiles armed with nuclear warheads on that island made it an existential threat to the United States.

While President James Monroe couldn’t have imagined nuclear weapons, he and his contemporaries were clear that the presence of European military might this close to home was an existential threat to our nascent country. The Monroe Doctrine was and is about our national security.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were thoughtful, careful men in charge who insisted upon best intelligence and carefully considered approaches to the challenges we faced. They had the strength of character to resist knee-jerk military actions and they prevented a catastrophic war.

This time there’s a reality TV personality in charge who doesn’t read, who is incapable of assembling complex thoughts, who doesn’t review the President’s Daily Brief, so he doesn’t know what’s going on, who doesn’t have sufficient self-control to resist temper tantrums and who needs to be seen as the biggest, baddest tough guy. He is supported by Secretary of State John Bolton, who never saw a conflict he didn’t want to escalate into war. As bad, we have a horrendous record of starting conflicts without any plan to end them.

For example, George W. Bush dim-brain/lied us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with phantom promises of quick success and happily-ever-after flowers tossed at our troops by Iraqis. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared Iraqi oil would pay for the whole thing. None of that happened.

What was foreseeable but which they refused to foresee was the global refugee problem they triggered and which the world lives with quite unsteadily now. It is a key outfall of Bush’s lies and we still don’t have a plan to end those wars.

Now that Russia has sent its troops into Venezuela we are in a situation not unlike the Cuban Missile threat from the Soviet Union. President Trump backs Maduro’s challenger Juan Guaidó. How will Trump stop Russia from both keeping Maduro in power and from having that military foothold in the Western Hemisphere that is specifically forbidden by the Monroe Doctrine?

In point of fact, Trump has been a disaster of a negotiator for the U.S. He’s been a patsy with nothing to show for his capitulations to Russia and North Korea. Worse, he’s been a lapdog for Putin, who is now threatening Trump’s tough guy posturing.

Trump has told Putin to back off. If Trump tries to negotiate with Putin to get him to do that, Trump’s past negotiating prowess suggests that it probably will look like hollow posturing that leaves Russian troops in place in Venezuela with an escalating military presence in the Western Hemisphere. If instead Trump sends troops in support of Guaidó, we’ll be faced off against the Russians and troops on both sides are likely to be killed. And there won’t be an exit plan from the conflict.

What could possibly go wrong?

And another thing  .  .  .

The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee called for Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign his chairmanship of the committee, based on the same kind of Republican partisan brainlessness that we’ve seen for years. Schiff replied with a kind of muscular statement rarely heard from Democrats. Watch the whole thing here.

Last thing .  .  .

Chris Hayes interviewed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”) on Friday. Here’s a link to a string of videos from that interview. I urge you to watch all of them for one reason. It’s not so that you’ll agree with or find ways to pick apart the Green New Deal or find ways to cheer or criticize her. I want you to think on a higher level.

Specifically, watch and listen in order to understand why she has so completely captured the public imagination. Our Gen X, Y and Z citizens see our politics in the way that Emma Gonzalez sees our embedded intransigence over gun safety: “We call B.S.”

AOC speaks for an overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of how much you may fundamentally disagree with her policy ideas or fear your own loss of power.

To Our Legislators:

Get on board with working with people who see the future far differently than you do. If you don’t want to do that, I suggest that you polish your résumé in preparation for entry into an exciting new career. That’s because these folks know that they’ll be the ones who will live with the consequences of what we’re creating right now, so they have a far more powerful interest in a sustainable future. We have created an existential threat to them and they won’t let us mess it up any more.

                   ————————————

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

Potpourri v8.0


Reading time – 3:41; Viewing time – 5:10  .  .  .

Exposed

You know that anything you post on FaceBook or Twitter is available to anyone, anywhere, right? And you also know that even if you remove your content it still exists in archives and will stay there and be available to anyone willing to snoop as long as electrons move through the ether, right? You’re exposed. (BTW – click here for instructions to permanently delete your FaceBook account.)

Dreamers were promised that if they signed up for DACA that their information would not be shared or used against them in any way. But then they were betrayed by the Backstabber-in-Chief in 2017. They’re exposed.

And now we learn that pharmaceutical companies are sharing your user data about their medicines through their mobile apps. That means that when you actively or passively report anything about your use of a med and its effect on you, providers can and will send it along to whomever they like, wherever they like and you have no privacy whatsoever. HIPPA laws offer no protection. Exposed again.

Nobody reads user agreements about websites or apps. They are mind numbing in the extreme. Besides, we just want the site or the app and don’t care about the legal mumbo-jumbo. But the information collectors do care. They want your information. And they share your information with others you’ve never heard of. You never intended for your information to go to others, but that’s what happens. They sell your information to others who are free to share it with still others, leaving you totally exposed.

The FaceBook, DACA and pharma exposures of your information make it clear that promises to keep your information private don’t rise even to the level of unreliability. Quite literally, no one is worthy of your trust with your private information. The only thing I see that can help you is to refuse to post any personal information. Not an easy thing to do in today’s wired environment, but it’s better than nothing. Maybe.

Dermatologist Report

In a fit of pique, President Donald Trump demonstrated his perilously thin skin by ranting about Sen. John McCain, who died in 2018. In a 5-minute rant, Trump made it clear that he resented Sen. McCain because he was everything that Donald Trump is not.

The majority of what Trump said is false (nothing new there); most of the rest is simply idiotic, like his complaining that McCain failed to thank Trump for what he did for the funeral, which consisted primarily of providing transportation of McCain’s casket from Arizona to Washington. Trump gave no indication of how McCain might have expressed his appreciation from the grave, but somehow he seemed to think such appreciation should have been provided to him. Yes really.

The “F” Word

For the past few weeks I’ve been promoting the talk by Professor Jason Stanley of Yale University that was delivered to a packed house in Evanston, IL on March 23, based on his book How Fascism Works. So sorry if you missed it, because he put in front of us in plain, compelling language the clear and present danger that is before us.

Yelling “Fascism!” likely falls on ears that refuse to hear; it sounds hyperbolic and is off-putting. After all, this is America and we’re a democracy.

Yet it is irrefutable that democracy is under attack. You hear the assaults on our judiciary, the press, the FBI, our intelligence community, free speech, immigrants, the right to vote and more. You’ll have to educate yourself to fully realize the depth of the assault, which means reading Dr. Stanley’s books, as well as others, like How Democracy Dies and  Do Facts Matter?

Trump floated the idea of his becoming President for life, perhaps laying the groundwork for a permanent power grab. Michael Cohen warned us at the end of his testimony before the House Oversight Committee that if Trump loses the 2020 election that there “.  .  .  won’t be a peaceful transition of power.” How many warning signs do we need before we recognize that danger is right in our faces?

Tens of thousands of Jews wouldn’t leave Germany in the 1930s, even as their neighbors were being disappeared into concentration camps. They refused to hear and they refused to see what was right before them. Then it was too late. It’s up to us in America today to be more perceptive to danger than that.

You need to get smarter on this, so read Jason Stanley’s book. It’s an easy read. I found myself underlining lots of it because there is so much valuable information. Go on – get smart.

                ————————————

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

Social Musings v 1.0


Reading time – 2:42; Viewing time – 3:46  .  .  .

This has been simmering for a long time and I know I’m not alone, because I’ve checked with many people whose experience is identical.

 

My day job is to deliver keynotes and workshops focused on leadership. Following each session I commonly receive requests to contact individual attendees to talk about what I might do for their company or because they want to connect me to an organization for which I would be a good fit. Being a simple kind of guy, when someone asks me to phone or email them, I do exactly that. That’s when the plot thickens.

The vast majority of people simply don’t answer their phone. Calls go to voice mail. That in itself is worthy of discussion, but the lack of a return call is the key point.

I’ll commonly follow up several times, which seems reasonable, given that I was asked to call. I’ll leave a series of voice mails, often including a suggested time to talk so that we don’t play phone tag. The result: crickets.

The same thing plays out with emails and text messages, almost all of which never get a reply.

To back up just a step, all of this is in an effort to contact people who have asked me to contact them. And they don’t respond. We don’t connect. And, as I said, this is commonplace stuff, all of which is leading to my question: What’s going on in our society where people are routinely blowing off one another and it’s apparently okay to do that?

I’ve noodled over this to find an explanation for the behavior and have come up with a few guesses:

  1. People are significantly more conflict avoidant than were earlier generations and they simply can’t bear the anxiety of saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
  2. People are insanely self-focused and have no conscious notion that what they do has an effect on others.
  3. It’s a control thing: “I control if an when I make contact with others.”
  4. People don’t like to be distracted, even as they are so distractible, so they try to focus on whatever is in front of them at the moment. In that scenario, a call, email or text is unwelcome. And quickly forgotten.
  5. The best game in the world is deleting emails, voice mails and texts. Don’t you feel lighter just thinking about doing that?
  6. This is really a subset of #5: People are overwhelmed with things to read, tasks to accomplish, places to be, and the deluge of information that assaults our senses every day, so avoiding is a satisfying thing and may even feel like a survival scheme.

Any of that could be true and, really, the blow off behavior may be due to a completely different set of crazies. Nevertheless, my start as an early Boomer gives me sensibilities that tell me that it’s simply rude to blow off others and rude has somehow become acceptable. If true, what does that say about us?

Finally, the president, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had a photo op in conjunction with their budget discussions on Tuesday. Right in front of the cameras they got into bickering about the wall and even with multiple invitations from Schumer and Pelosi Trump refused to remove the press and have a private conversation. So, we watched temper tantrums on display for the world to watch. I was so embarrassed seeing that behavior that I turned off the TV.

That display was courtesy of the president we call the leader of the free world. Can you imagine any world leader who would want to follow him?

Click me

A post post – During that embarrassing exchange in the Oval Office, Trump interrupted Chuck Schumer 3 or 4 times; he interrupted Nancy Pelosi 16 times. Click the pick and see for yourself. Then decide if there was any sexism – or you can call it disrespect – going on.

————————————

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 that goal requires reaching many people, so:

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!). No subscriber information is ever shared with anyone, anywhere, any time.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all be better informed.

Thanks!


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

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