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Smart, Educated, Experienced and Skilled


POST 1058


Sheila Markin posted a fine explainer and updater of what has happened to Trump’s lawyers. Her piece caused a sociological question to bubble up to top of mind.

I’ve wondered many times about all those attorneys, every one smart, highly educated, experienced and with considerable skill at their craft. The wonder, of course, is why they allowed themselves to be lured to crash onto the rocks by the siren song of the Orange Siren.

Of course, Trump deserves legal representation, as any dirt ball con man would. He deserves the presumption of innocence, too, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of his guilt. But,

Why would these smart, educated, experienced and skilled people aid and abet Trump in breaking the law?

Why would they associate themselves with Trump’s defamatory statements and invitations to violence?

Why would they file idiotic motions, like an absurd claim of absolute and permanent presidential immunity and why would they in good conscience attempt an inversion of the Presidential Records Act?

Why would they risk their law licenses aiding or defending illegal actions, lying to authorities and saying the most obviously idiotic things?

Why would they do such abhorrent things, knowing that the stink of Trump will be all over them and it won’t wash off for the rest of their professional lives?

Indeed, why would they do anything for Trump, knowing that there is a better than even chance that they won’t get paid for their work?

These Trump lawyers paid a huge price in dollars, work effort, time, hopes and dreams to get JD appended to their names. Then they betrayed their integrity and threw it all away – but for what?.

In her courtroom statement regarding her Georgia RICO plea deal, Trump attorney Jenna Ellis declared with great contrition, “If I knew then what I know now . . .”
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Really? She didn’t know that Trump would do with her what he does with everyone, including all of his former lawyers? She didn’t know that loyalty with Trump is a one-way street leading only to Trump and that at the first sign of an advantage for himself he would discard her like a used motor oil rag? She hadn’t a clue that she was joining a team that was conspiring to violate the law and the Constitution, working to overthrow the will of the people? It never occurred to her that the infamous Green Bay sweep was nothing less than a traitorous conspiracy, a coup plot?
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I have the same questions for all the rest of the lawyers who schemed to replace electors chosen by the people with phony “alternate electors”; lawyers who cajoled Mike Pence to violate his duty and the Constitution; who demanded pointless vote recounts and filed over 60 evidence-free lawsuits. Eastman, Giuliani, Chesebro, Powell, Habba, Navarro and more – there just doesn’t exist a remote possibility that they didn’t know in advance what they were getting into and, once there, that they didn’t realize that they were violating the law. So please, Jenna Ellis and anyone else with an, “Oh golly, I really didn’t know” claim, just shut up.
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I think I’m right – that this legion is of lawyers who are are smart, educated, experienced and skilled. And I believe that they are also boundlessly foolish at best and perhaps far worse. That will be confirmed when we find more of them censured, some imprisoned and later, some selling insurance because they’re no longer allowed to practice law.
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Meanwhile, I suspect that I’m not the only one wondering why these smart, educated, experienced and skilled people would do what they’ve done. And I wonder why some of them are continuing to promote and defend Trump’s dishonesty, when the obvious truth is almost blinding. So please, if you have some insight, even just a flicker of light to shine in this dark cave of the undermining of everything we claim to value and believe in, please share it in the Comments section below to help all of us understand.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Consequences v2.0


POST 1057


A Baltimore Bridge Collapse Question

As you know, on March 26 a mammoth container ship, the Singapore flagged Dali, crashed into a pylon supporting the Francis Scott Key Bridge that spans Baltimore Harbor, the country’s 11th busiest port. The ship is 984 feet long (over 3 football fields in length), weighs over 116,000 tons and was traveling at 9.2 mph, so the force of the collision was enormous and it took out a huge portion of the bridge. Six people died, two were saved and both land and sea transportation in Baltimore are severely hampered. The loss of life would have been much greater had first responders not quickly blocked access to keep others off the bridge. And had this collision happened at 1:30PM instead of 1:30AM, losses would have been far worse because the bridge would have been full of cars and trucks.

I had Joan Esposito’s radio program* on for the first few minutes of her program the day after the disaster and she asked an intriguing question. First, some background on what happened.

The ship impacted the pylon around 1:30AM. By 2:00AM Maryland Governor Wes Moore had been alerted, briefed on what had happened and had declared a state of emergency. By 3:30AM Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg had called the governor pledging whatever support was needed.

From C-Span:

“NTSB investigators, who are leading the investigation, arrived at the bridge scene at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday [just 4-1/2 hours after the collision]. Twenty-four NTSB staffers were on site, including several specializing in nautical operations, human performance and engineering.” – NTSB chairwoman Jennifer Homendy

All of that is a really fast whole-of-government response.

A little later that morning President Biden said, “This is going to take some time. The people of Baltimore can count on us, though, to stick with them, at every step of the way, ’til the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt,” and he vowed to send federal funds. Later that day Secretary Buttigieg was on site in Baltimore and reiterated President Biden’s commitment.

For now we can ignore the instantaneous Republican demonizing, finger pointing and vows to help only if they can get other unrelated things they want. So much for whether Republicans give a damn for the people of Baltimore, the people of Maryland or some guy in Alabama who won’t be able to get his new pickup truck because the ship carrying it was supposed to dock in Baltimore but now is stuck at sea.

Now on to Joan Esposito’s question.

Imagine that this exact event had instead happened four years ago on March 26, 2020. How would President Trump’s team have responded? Try this.

Trump didn’t trust Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. After all, she’s married to Mitch McConnell, who by then had greatly distanced himself from Trump. Plus she’s Asian. He didn’t invest her with any significant power to take action, so she wouldn’t have responded to the governor at 3:30AM like Pete Buttigieg did. She would have been reduced to going to Trump for a “Oh leader, may I?” conversation much later in the morning because Trump always watched TV looking for coverage of himself until nearly noon every day.

Trump certainly would not have wanted Chao to get attention when there was an opportunity to snare it for himself. He likely would have called a press conference in the White House to declare how we were going to build the greatest bridge – greater than anyone has ever seen. After grandstanding for as long as he could, he would have left the podium. He wouldn’t conference with then-governor Larry Hogan, a Black man, and he would have promptly forgotten the people of Baltimore. After all, what would be in it for Trump to bother with them? They wouldn’t vote for him, so there was no upside for him. Besides, it wasn’t infrastructure week. It never was.

Esposito asked, “When did Trump ever do the right thing? When did he ever, despite all of his false words, do anything to help any part of the country that was in need?” You know the answers.

The main point of the answer to Esposito’s original question is that elections matter – there are consequences to them. Competence matters. Clarity and dedication to our nation and to our people matter. The present administration is packed with extremely competent people in whom the President vests great power, so they are wonderfully effective and quick to respond. It would devastate our nation to go back to the all-about-Trump unreality show.

Mifepristone

Dear ethically challenged Supreme Court justices,

There are just a few things for you to keep in mind in this case, now that you’ve heard oral arguments on the attempt to ban this FDA approved drug.

  1. The doctors and scientists of the Food and Drug Administration are qualified to determine if a medication is both safe to use and effective. They are slow in their approvals because they are very deliberate in their work. Justices who are neither doctors nor scientists are not qualified to make such determinations. Second guessing the FDA from a position of ignorance is foolish at best and dangerous at worst. As Ruth Marcus put it, “[Alito’s] job is to interpret the Constitution. Would he rather run the FDA?” Supreme Court, you should drop this case and never again enter the realm of judging executive branch agency actions.
  2. The plaintiffs in this case have experienced no harm from Mifepristone. They have no standing to be bringing this case. Supreme Court, you should drop this case and never again accept a case where the plaintiff has no standing.
  3. The district court judge decided to ban this drug based on, 1) nonsense written in random, non-medical blogs by people ignorant about the drug and the field of medicine, and, 2) discredited studies that were withdrawn because they were false. Supreme Court, you should drop this case and never again accept a case that is based on zero evidence and the religious beliefs of a district court judge.

The points above were well known in advance of the Court agreeing to hear this case. The really important question now is why the Court would agree to hear this obvious loser of a complaint. I’m hoping it wasn’t to further advance the desire of 6 members of the Court to move us to become a terrifying 15th century theocracy. Think: both Dobbs and the comments of Thomas and Alito wanting to ban all birth control other than abstinence and the rhythm method. Like in the 1400s. And you know how well those work.

There remain significant consequences of Trump having won in 2016. His having seated three extremist Supreme Court justices is a crucial one. We continue to suffer from that and his other punitive actions, like $7 trillion in additional debt. On November 5, think about consequences.

One More Consequence

If you were a real enthusiastic Trump sucker and bought into his Trump Media merger scam, this past Friday was a nasty day.

Lets say you dug into your retirement money and bought $100,000 of stock at the offering price of  $79.38. Two days ago the stock was trading at $40.59, making your investment now worth $51,134. Congratulations: You lost $49,000 in just 12 days. You’re now just like Trump: a loser. And you’ve been conned – grifted – again. There are consequences to refusing to learn.

__________________________________________

* Click on the link and select the March 27 recording. Listen to the first 11 minutes.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

The Ultimate Con


POST 1056

CAUTION! Contains snark!

The content below touches on sensitive issues, willful ignorance and deeply held hypocrisies. It implies widespread gullibility and faith-free faith. Proceed if you dare, but follow the Surgeon General’s recommendation to wear an N95 mask while reading and to squint your eyes against the glare of nearly believable satire. Note that injections of bleach following reading are not recommended, but hydroxychloroquine injections are recommended, but only on a doctor’s orders and if you have malaria. Also recommended are to brush and floss daily and to hold hands when crossing the street.


The King Grifter Version – Click me

Donald, you’ve been a con all your life, including conning your father out of hundreds of millions of dollars and your relatives out of their inheritances. You’ve conned contractors and lawyers and even 1/3 of the American public. You’ve conned people by promising a university education and delivering nothing and by assuring them of vast riches by following your get-rich-quick scam. You’ve conned people with steaks and bottled water, vodka, a fraudulent charitable foundation, gold painted sneakers, perfume and now a Bible. Poor, easily influenced people have already been conned into buying a copy, as well as sending you donations for your ever-mounting legal bills to defend your felonies.

About that Bible. There is no American Bible. While we revere the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Bill of Rights, they are not holy documents and they were not inscribed by the finger of God – or even Lee Greenwood’s. Indeed, nowhere in any Bible other than your King Grifter Version is America mentioned. For effectiveness moving forward, we recommend that you not mention that you’ve broken most of the 10 Commandments repeatedly (Think: Access Hollywood tape), or that you don’t know anything that is between the covers of that book. And while most people don’t mind that you hoisted a Bible upside down in front of St. John’s Church after tear gassing peaceful protesters, it’s still not a good idea to mention that.

You have used The Big Lie repeatedly, even before the 2016 election, then claiming that if you were to lose that election that it would only be because of Democratic fraud that stole victory from you. That was a fine con, Donald, and through diligent practice over the years you’ve perfected The Big Lie, making claims not just of stolen elections, but Big Lies about judicial decisions you didn’t like and fantabulous lies about people, even about the daughter of the judge presiding in one of your cases. Because you adhere to the Big Lie principles so well, you’ve conned millions.*

But facing the facts of actuarial tables, Donald, you’re near the end of your run. Given your sedentary lifestyle and your diet of fast food junk, it’s probable that the only thing holding your body together is a massive clod of cholesterol glue. You’ve always been certifiably crazy, but now you babble incoherently, so dementia is right around the corner. While you still have the capacity to con on a grand scale, Donald, it’s time for supreme action.

You’ve tickled around the edges of claiming to be sent by God, saying things to your followers like, “I am being indicted for you,” and talking about your “divine purpose,” hinting not very delicately that you are Jesus himself, but that isn’t enough. You have to boldly transcend to The Ultimate Con.

You must take to the stage at your next big rally, with thousands of adoring dupes carrying Trump signs and Trump flags, wearing red, white and blue shirts and MAGA hats. You will speak (even to “my Negro”) and you’ll raise your hands pontifically. You’ll strongly – because you are a strong man – and with absolute conviction declare that you are not just a god, but the God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – all of them. You’ll tell your faithful that you sent yourself to save America, to make it a Christian Nationalist place the way it was intended to be.** You’ll say that you are God, which means you can smite your godless opponents. You are The Law and all power and vengeance are yours, thus sayeth The Donald.

The Via Delarosa – Jerusalem

They will play deep, moving organ music and a great chorus of angelic voices will rise to the heavens strongly, as you solemnly labor from one side of the stage to the other, your hands grasping for purchase, your face in self-reverence, as though you’re struggling painfully and victimly along the Via Dolarosa. You will absorb the adoration of your people and all will bow their heads in maximus supplicationus. Many will weep.

The pundits will declare that to be against you is blasphemy. Pastors will pound pulpits in theocratic fervor and no Republican elected official will dare to utter even a single discouraging word, although that’s nothing new.

Yours will be the kingdom, the power and the glory of the Ultimate Con.***

This Ultimate Con hasn’t been tried since the first century AD/BCE when the incestuous Roman emperor Caligula grabbed that turf. He was a deviant, but that might appeal to you. Note, though, that his grab for god status didn’t work well for him, as he was assassinated not long after making that claim. Still, it was a great con.

Who knows? You might get away with it. If you can make this work and get yourself elected, your self-serving truth may be known and it will set you free (from prison).***  As your truth is said in the Book of Donald, “I say unto you, and this is true, it’s a witch hunt, a hoax. I won bigly and strongly. Stop the steal!” These moving words are for monks to ponder by candlelight in dark, damp monasteries for centuries.

Donald, this will be your greatest con ever.****

This Next Is No Con

Many thanks to Sheila Markin for this:

Below is a [link to a] letter written by a concerned American who wants to pressure Justice Roberts to ask Justice Thomas to recuse himself in the upcoming case United States v Trump. Take a look and see if you want to sign on. You do not have to be a lawyer to sign it. Pressure on Roberts to try to get Thomas to do the right things is probably worthwhile even if it doesn’t keep Thomas from doing the wrong thing.
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https://ldad.org/letters-briefs/justice-thomas

I signed the letter and urge you to sign it, too.

________________________________________

* In a fine post by Thom Hartmann, he offers an audio clip of President Roosevelt during the 1944 presidential campaign, with FDR explaining The Big Lie masterfully. Scan down to the bottom of Hartmann’s post to hear the short clip. Important for your understanding is that Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover had been in charge for the 12 years before Roosevelt won the 1932 election. Those Republican men brought us the Great Depression. So, it isn’t just today’s Republicans howling The Big Lie. There were Republican Big Liars in 1944, too.

** Regardless of the somewhat vague references to God in our founding documents, the Founding Fathers were adamant that this is not a theocracy, that this is not a Christian nation. CNN published a most accessible review of this. Better, albeit far more ambitious, would be a review of the Federalist Papers.

*** With apologies to The Lord’s Prayer and John 8:32.

**** Donald sent out a blizzard of 77 Truth Social ALL CAPS messages on Easter. His messages were about himself, attacking his opponents, attacks on judges and members of their families and comparing himself to Jesus. More specifically, his primary Easter message contained 7 words about Easter and 161 words attacking his enemies and whining about the legal system. Likely, his White Christian (in name only) minions ate it up. Great lead-in to The Ultimate Con.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Fear Is A Terrible Thing


POST 1055


People Are Saying

There is frightful peril, we’re told by those with their eyeballs bulging, and they say there is great suffering to come. They  swear on oath that their terrible prognostications of grave danger and ghastly harm, of apocalyptic doom and deeply intense pain and suffering are before us. People are saying.

Except for the heinous acts of the godless elites, all of our problems are caused by those dark skinned immigrants, the non-Anglos, the non-Aryans who have slithered into our Christian nation to defile us, people are saying.

Our blood is being poisoned, they tell us. We are infested with vermin and the diseases that everyone knows these invaders carry and spread to we legitimate Americans. It’s time we rid ourselves of this threat to our pure America, people are saying.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on March 26 when a Singapore flagged ship crashed into a pylon supporting the bridge. The entire crew is foreign – Indians! Little wonder that happened, people are saying.

Similarly, the only deaths and injuries from this disaster were of workers fixing potholes. They were all foreign born and some were here illegally. Too bad – they shouldn’t have been here at all, people are saying.

Worse, it’s obvious that those injured or dead had taken jobs from good White Americans. They replaced our countrymen, taking food from the mouths of our children. This is yet another example of why we have to close our borders to seal out the vermin who would come here and steal from us, people are saying.

Okay, enough of the insane far right hysteria over immigration. The point is that such things really are being said, and said with great passion, with flashing angry eyes and with great spraying of spit. I can’t let this vicious stuff stand without a rebuttal of truth.

First, I haven’t a clue how anyone can poison our blood. Nobody else does, either. It’s just another vitriolic Trumpy hateful dog whistle to which the haters come running.

Getting past the absurdity of that, we’ve had waves of anti-immigrant lunacy over our history. Oddly, much of it has been aimed at various groups eventually identified as White and therefore welcome, like the Irish and the Italians. We’ve somehow managed to remain intact and haven’t suffered poisoning, making me wonder if the hate and rejection are actually based on Whiteness or even on Christianity.

It’s true that the Dali is a Singapore flagged ship and none of its crew is American. But suggesting that foreign incompetence was the cause of the disaster infuses an extra dose of stupid into the inquiry, because the ship was being piloted by a licensed American Pilot, a White American.

The six men who died and the two who were injured, whether here legally or not, were doing jobs that Americans won’t do. Seriously, would you work all that long, cold night filling potholes on the roadway of that bridge? Do you know of any native born American who would do that? No, you don’t, and neither do I.

Those bridge worker immigrants didn’t take jobs from Americans. Neither do agricultural field workers or any immigrants doing hard manual labor at subsistence wages. They do work Americans won’t do but which must be done. So much for the hateful, cruel and idiotic replacement theory and fie on the fools who spread it. Substitute your own word for “fie,” if you’d like.

Today’s immigrants are here for the same reason your ancestors left “the old country,” leaving behind everyone and everything known to them. They departed on the fragile hope of making a better life in America. It’s captured by the comments of a Honduran nephew of one of those killed on the Key Bridge, as recorded by an Associated Press reporter:

“The kind of work he did is what people born in the U.S. won’t do. People like him travel there with a dream. They don’t want to break anything or take anything.”

Our immigrants, including the abused and suffering but still hopeful people at the Rio Grande River, the people sliced by Gov. Gregg Abbott’s razor wire, want what our great-grandparents wanted: a better life. Immigrants who come here aren’t looking for a handout; they’re ready to work for that better life. You know this story and you know it’s true. So do the hystericals who wail those awful and untrue things about immigrants. Why do they do that hateful demonizing?

Some measure of that is a crass and cruel grab for power accomplished by appealing to the fear in others.

Some measure of it, though, may be because people really do fear others, those not known to them, those who are in some way different from them. Fear of the unknown is a staple of human beings, whether it’s a child’s fear of dragons in the basement or fear of being on a dark street or fear of people with unfamiliar cultural ways.

The truth is that our fears about immigration are self-imposed barriers to our own growth and prosperity. Read Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s piece about this – it’s where I got that quote from the nephew of the Key Bridge worker who died.

Two Key Points

First, there is a sensible middle ground between allowing completely open, un-monitored borders and completely closing our borders. It should not be required to say that, but this is an age of extremism, cowardice and unfettered idiocy, making it necessary to state the obvious.

Second, there are two kinds of fear. One is rational fear. The people of Ukraine live with that every day. Their fear is well founded, because Vladimir Putin’s army is trying to kill them.

The other is irrational fear. It is based on nothing tangible or real, like the fear of dragons in the basement or a fear of immigrants coming to take your job.

Our country is filled to overflowing with fear. The odd thing is that we are not threatened by any war or famine or anything tangible. The only threat we face, the only fear that hangs in the air is the one we ourselves create and it is driven solely by our diabolical, irrational fears stoked by those who profit from stoking them. It drives us to hate our neighbors, to do violence against our country and our countrymen and to look for a new but false god to hold back the imaginary dragons we fear.

That kind of fear – irrational fear – is a terrible thing.

Finally, A Note From AOC to Elon Musk .  .  .

.  .  .  after Musk shared a right-wing, anti-immigration article and accused Dems of ‘importing voters’ to influence elections:


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Are You Better Off?


Post 1,054


Update on She Who Must Not Be Named

Wall Street Journal online, March 24:

[MSNBC’s president, Rashida] Jones told employees the cable network has no plans to have [former RNC Chair Ronna Romney] McDaniel on the channel, according to people familiar with the conversations. A number of MSNBC anchors and producers have voiced concern internally about McDaniel’s ties to former President Donald Trump and the RNC’s role in his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

The natives at 30 Rock were plenty restless and the president of MSNBC was forced to abandon the idiotic, trust bashing decision to hire McDaniel.

Here is Steve Schmidt’s March 25 update:

On Friday, NBC News was disgraced by the actions of its executives who cavalierly discarded its reputation, ethics and standards.

On Sunday, [Kristen] Welker and [Chuck] Todd turned a cynical farce into one of NBC News’ finest moments.

Ronna McDaniel won’t be back [to MSNBC]. [emphasis mine]
.

The truth won on Sunday, and both Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker are owed the gratitude of all who care about the truth. These are people who can be trusted. They earned it.

This is all about truth, honesty and trust and how critical they are to journalism.

Here’s Rachel Maddow’s March 26 comment on this betrayal of honest journalism.

Here’s a brief review of McDonald’s actual sordid attempt to overthrow our democracy – a fact check against her claims on Meet The Press last Sunday. This woman is bad ju-ju in every way.

On To “Are You Better Off?”

Writes Prof. Heather Cox Richardson,

” .  .  .  four years ago [when Trump was President] we were in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Supermarket shelves were empty, toilet paper was hard to find, healthcare professionals were wearing garbage bags [for protection] and reusing masks because the Trump administration had permitted the strategic stockpile to run low, deaths were mounting, the stock market had crashed, and the economy had ground to a halt.”

There is lots more like this terrible list so I hope that Trump continues to ask his audiences his “Are you better off?” question, because they are much better off today and we will realize that more and more with each asking. Meanwhile, I have some questions.

Trump is flailing. He cannot complete simple sentences using low syllable count words because he devolves into gibberish. He cannot cover his half-billion dollar obligation to the State of New York and Joe Biden has come from behind in the polls to match Trump. He still has multiple trials for dozens of charges ahead of him with the first criminal trial just two weeks away. It’s highly doubtful that he can grift enough cash from his takeover of the Republican Party to cover his enormous legal bills.

That he has not been able to get a half-million dollar bond, now knocked down to $175 million, is easily the most troublesome thing for Trump. His properties stand at risk of seizure by the state, while no sane American would lend money to this over-leveraged, creditor stiffing blowhard. But he needs the cash. Where will he get it?

He’s re-hired convict Paul Manafort, the grifter who stripped millions from Ukraine and Russia. Do you suppose Manafort is back to exercise his skills and get Trump money from foreign sources like Russia or Saudi Arabia, which gave Jarrod Kushner $2 billion for his “I’m clueless” investment business? Possibly it will be China, which might see a leverage angle to giving Trump money, such that they could let pass his disparaging “China virus” slurs in favor of the ability to pull his strings.

The point is that if Trump can raise the money he needs he will likely be beholden to a foreign despot. Should he win the election, that indebtedness would be a situation that is terribly dangerous for America, as it would make the President of the United States a national security risk. Would he abandon our allies upon command from his creditors? Would our intelligence services dare to give him full briefings?

Must Read

I’ve read, I’ve studied and I’ve noodled endlessly hoping to understand people who vote against their own interests, who deny reality and who believe any preposterous, anger inducing thing that’s flashed before their eyes. They have some legitimate grievances, to be sure, but they spiral down from them into believing that everything about America is horrible and dystopian and that Democrats and the “elites” are in a child molesting cabal. They are convinced that only they and those who agree with them are real Americans and that hating “others” is a good and pure American thing to do.

David Corn of Mother Jones interviewed Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman, co-authors of White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy and I think those guys are on to something valuable and clarifying.

I have not read their book yet, but intend to because the interview is so enormously valuable. Your reading assignment today is that interview.

Two more points about very proud rural Americans:

  1. From STAT: “A new study explains the rural-urban divide in cervical screening rates” Despite the rate of women dying from cervical cancer being almost a third higher in rural areas than in urban ones, screening rates are actually lower in rural communities. A new study published in Cancer found that this disparity has persisted in the country’s community health centers .  .  .”
  2. From the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: “Americans in rural areas do not live as long as their counterparts in urban areas. Americans in urban areas are living longer, on average, than Americans in rural areas, and that divide is growing wider, new research from the University of Texas Medical Branch shows. In 2005-2009 life expectancy was 78.8 in urban areas compared to 76.8 in rural areas. Then from 2010 to 2019 rural counties experienced declines in life expectancy (-0.20 years for women and -0.30 years for men), while urban counties experienced modest increases (0.55 years for women and 0.29 years for men) .  .  .”

To that we can add that 95% of Covid deaths are of unvaccinated people disproportionately from red states.

Said another way, our people are angry and dysfunctional and are suffering and dying younger, even as we have the tools to reverse that. We are left to wonder what would propel people into self-destruction. I’m thinking that their being fed a whirlwind of lies and malicious disinformation for decades is at least a piece of that. So, no, these people following Trump, continuing to ingest the poison he feeds them still, are not better off than they were four years ago.

Late Update

NBC News has cancelled Ronna Romney McDaniel from all parts of NBC. Just guessing Lester Holt is greatly relieved.


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Something For Nothing


Post 1,053


Late Addition

.
NBC News Hires Former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel
The GOP political veteran will become an on-air contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.
.

Yes, that Ronna Romney McDaniel. Be sure to click the headline and read the astonishing spin the networks put on this brainless move.

Here’s a piece of what Steve Schmidt said about this yesterday:

Ronna McDaniel is unfit to join any news organization because she is an inveterate liar. She is a chaos agent, who went fully along with Trump’s madness — right through the insurrection and beyond. She didn’t just show indifference towards Trump’s threats of violence, societal mayhem and revenge, she abetted them, aided them and raised money for them. A hard count of the documented lies she told during her tenure at the RNC would number in the tens of thousands.

I’m fine with MSNBC bringing former Republicans and traditional conservatives to their otherwise progressive team, people like Nicolle Wallace, Michael Steele, David Jolly, Joe Scarborough and more. I listen to what these honest Americans have to say because they are intelligent, insightful and worthy of my trust.

I’m very not fine with the total undermining of trust NBC News and MSNBC do by bringing in this Trump toady, this spineless coward. In it’s utter contempt for viewers and disdain for professional journalism, they present us this assassin of truth and reality, this election denier, this enemy of democracy and serial liar.

Can you imagine Rachel Maddow welcoming McDaniel as a guest analyst to her program, calling her a valued colleague? Neither can I.

To MSNBC and NBC News Management:
.

You just lost me.


Something For Nothing

If things are to get better, we’ll have to stop doing what makes things worse and start doing what makes things better. We’ll have to face up to the fact that there’s no such thing as something-for-nothing. We’ll have to invest in ourselves.

Here’s a starter list, in no particular order of importance. For most items there will be no immediate benefit, but we’ll have a beginning for the cultural shift needed to make things better for all of us.

  1. Teach 1 – 2 semesters of civics to every high school student (we used to do that), with a passing grade required for graduation, for entry into higher education and for the check box on job applications. In a few years, maybe a generation, most adults will be able to name the three branches of government and more than one president. We might even return to believing in a peaceful transfer of power.
  2. Teach American history in high school – including the parts that aren’t pretty. Two semesters minimum. Our kids are strong enough to deal with truth. It’s the parents who need an infusion of starch in their spines, the courage to look at reality and accept it. Maybe they should be required to take two semesters of American history, too – including the parts that aren’t pretty.
  3. Universal public service – 2 years minimum following high school graduation. That will throw people in with “others.” Maybe they’ll learn to get along. Plus, they’ll have a personally earned investment in our country.
  4. Enact strict firearms laws. I care far less for the tortured, twisted NRA version of the Second Amendment than I do for keeping people alive. So do you.
  5. Create policies that reward jobs and growth and eliminate policies that reward only narrow enrichment of the few, like supply side economics.
  6. Expel elected officials calling for what’s best for them and instead elect leaders who call for what’s best for our towns, our states and our country, like preparing for the next pandemic and standing up to tyrants. That election job is on all of us.
  7. Reverse all legislation and Supreme Court decisions that give non-sentient beings (e.g. corporations) the right to influence our elections in any way, like Citizens United. Severely limit the amount of money individuals can contribute to candidates. In short, eliminate the influence of big money on our politics so that only the voices of We The People are heard and represented. Mitt Romney was wrong: corporations are not people, my friend.

Add your notion of must-do items in the Comments section below.

The Big Long-Term Item

We have to stop pretending this is an 18th century agrarian society so that we can overhaul education. We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot with our shortsightedness, financing education primarily with property taxes. That works great in affluent areas, where tax collections are robust and provide what is necessary for a fine education for kids. But in poor towns and in poor neighborhoods the kids get a comparatively lousy education, which dramatically limits their lifelong opportunities and cheats all of us of the contributions they might have made.

Think: When you are dying of cancer, how will you feel when you realize that the kid who would have grown up and developed a cure for your disease was instead left half-educated because we refused to fund his/her education? We’ve seen this craziness happening for most of the past century, leaving kids with poor or even destructive options. We don’t have to stay on this self-defeating path.

We can’t pay teachers a poverty wage and refuse necessary educational resources and also give our children the preparation they need to succeed in this century. There is no something-for-nothing.

Our kids need up-to-date text books; secure schools where the roofs don’t leak and the walls and ceilings aren’t mold and mildew breeding grounds. Kids need engaged, motivating teachers and proper nutrition to learn. And they need books in classrooms and on library shelves that are protected from the Nazi book banning/burning censors. If we fail at this we’ll have ignorant kids, clueless citizens and world class failure. Magical thinking won’t fix this.

Do you suppose we have a need for lots of educated people? I know the Chinese believe they do. Every year they graduate five times the number of students from 4-year universities than we do. We won’t be able to compete with them over the long term if things continue that way.

We have to stop acting as if we are both ignorant and dimwitted. We are neither. Rather, we are adherents of magical, wishful thinking or even no thinking – like the comments above about education. Here are some other examples.

  1. We can’t buy cheap consumer goods made in foreign countries and also have our living wage American jobs. Ref: Any town with a Walmart.
  2. We can’t ship our jobs overseas and also have the American Dream.
  3. We can’t allow legislators to undermine our democracy and prevent solutions to our challenges and at the same time keep our values and our way of life.

If we are to continue to be a version of America we believe in, we’re simply going to have to face up to reality.

A while back George Will said that Americans want about 1/3 of a billion dollars more in services from government than we’re willing to pay for. Adjusting for inflation, population growth and a rise in the “I want” factor, that number is probably well into the billions now. If we want better, we’ll have to pay for better.

What? You don’t like this message that there’s no something-for-nothing and we’ll have to pay to get what we want?

Of course you don’t like it! None of us does. That’s the first challenge to overcome.

Oops – I think I just disqualified myself from public office.

Coda to This Post

Kristi Noem, Republican governor of South Dakota, infamous for her dental infomercial (and here) recently, advanced her campaign to be Trump’s running mate with her declaration at CPAC saying:

“There are two kinds of people in this country right now. There are people who love America, and there are those who hate America.”

I am astonished that this airhead has at last said something to which I agree. Not in the way she means it, of course, as her notion of loving America is to renounce everything that is America and make this a Christo-Fascist theocracy. Still, she’s right – there really are two kinds of people in this country. It’s just that she’s the other, the hateful kind.

BTW: Kristi – Nice teeth!


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Civil War


Post 1,052


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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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

Key Reads of the Week

See Note #5 below – then click the pic.

See Note #5 below – then click the pic.

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

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

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

That’s what a civil war would bring us.

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

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

___________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

There Are Two Kinds of People


Post 1,051


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Need To

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Note #5 below

Today’s Quote

From Cassidy Hutchinson’s book Enough, page 354:

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

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

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

__________________________________________

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


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Delusion


Post 1,050


Not Looking Too Supreme

Yes, the ballot disqualification decision was unanimous and it may well lead to further disapproval of this ethically challenged court. We don’t know if that unanimity was because every justice dug deeply into their vault of jurisprudence and agreed or because the justices feared a violent public reaction to banning Trump from ballots and office. You know: like it says in the 14th Amendment. That is to say, they chickened out, which is exactly what bullies hope for.

Here’s what CREW, the plaintiff in this 14th Amendment case, said of this decision:

The Court had the opportunity to clear Trump of the finding that he incited insurrection, and the Court chose not to. Instead it simply ruled that states do not have the power to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment unless Congress says they can. [I.e. the Court’s decision was based on a technicality.]

It’s disappointing that the Court failed to bar Trump from the ballot. This was a test for the Court, and it failed to meet the moment.

But in this ruling, there is a win for our democracy: Trump will go down in history as an insurrectionist. [emphasis original]
.

See this for a clear explanation of what this means. Sadly, the Supreme Court effectively erased Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, essentially adding a 28th Amendment. They did it without the formal process required by the Constitution. The notion of doing that should be delusional.

American Terrorists – Constant Delusion

You’ve seen the shaved head militia crazies, AR-15s strapped to their chests, fingers covering triggers, Glocks strapped to their thighs just above their cargo pockets filled with ammo clips. This look is their macho swagger, their tattoos giving messages of death and so-called patriotism. They seig heil their leader, muscles a-popping, brows furled in intensity and they promise death to the elite scum who they say are traitors to the true America.

Sure, it’s a stereotype, maybe a bit immoderate, but you’ve seen these guys in television news coverage invading the Capitol Building on January 6 and in state capitol buildings in Wisconsin and Michigan and just outside polling places (here and here) on missions of voter intimidation, as though that’s their patriotic duty. Sometimes they parade in a forest of Trump flags, American flags and Nazi flags. The mixed symbols clash in a display of confusing bravado, but the testosterone, absolutism and love of violence messages are clear. And while you didn’t see all the automatic weapons they had on January 6 (many were stashed in their hotel rooms in Virginia), these are members of the army of angry people who stormed and desecrated our Capitol Building looking to murder the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House.

These people are itching for a fight and they think they are going to retake control of America (that means control of you) and establish their notion of patriotic purity by means of their might. They have plenty of would-be Rambos standing by and over 400 million guns in their arsenals.

I’m reading an old Tom Clancy novel, Dead or Alive, and it is, of course, a good guys versus bad guys macho tale. One paragraph (p. 115) describes bad guy Islamist terrorists. See if it makes you think of anyone else.

” .  .  .  they thought of themselves as Holy Warriors and sought after their seventy-two virgins but were in fact young people with few prospects, to whom religion was the path to greatness they would otherwise never achieve. It was remarkable that they were too stupid even to see that.”

Strip that description of the seventy-two virgins and replace religion with MAGA and you have our delusional American crusaders. They believe their mission is holy and they can justify it with quotations like a Jeffersonian Tree of Liberty “spilling of blood” phrase and demonization of immigrants bringing their “poisoning blood.” These are the people who will bring Trump’s “bedlam” when things fail to go Trump’s way.

We don’t need any more standoffs, like Cliven Bundy’s chest puffing idiocy. We surely don’t need a Ruby Ridge or a WacoBranch Dividian catastrophe. So, when these guys, these self-styled American crusaders, decide to provoke a confrontation, what are we going to do?

I hope our government people are working scenarios that will result in the security of our nation and that they have a notion of how to accomplish neutralizing these Rambo wannabees with minimal loss of life. But that’s a tough challenge when dealing with people who think their cause is holy and pure and who are willing, some eager, to die for their cause. You know enough history to recognize the delusional pattern.

Now, This Is Delusional So, Bless Her Heart!

Click the pic for the SNL version of Sen. Katie Brttt’s (R-AL) cringe-worthy rebuttal to the SOTU. Start at 2:26 or watch the Biden lead-in first.

Delusional Senator Endorses Violence

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) brought his usual cerebral fuzziness to the issue of aid to Ukraine, as reported by PBS:

MUNICH (AP) — A Republican opponent [Vance] of new U.S. funding for Ukraine argued at an international security conference Sunday that the package stuck in Congress wouldn’t “fundamentally change the reality” on the ground and that Russia has an incentive to negotiate peace.

Ukrainians are dying. Their cities are being destroyed by Russian bombs, artillery and rockets. The country is being obliterated. That’s Putin’s stated goal – to erase Ukraine and rebuild it as part of Russia.

What you need to know is that Vance has never served in combat, so he knows nothing about battlefield realities. He has never served in uniform, so he knows nothing about any nation’s military. And he knows nothing about any incentive for Russia to negotiate peace. He is an ignoramus lacking the sense to keep his ignorant mouth shut.

Many thanks to JN for the pic

That package stuck in Congress is designed to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend itself and to drive the Russian army out of Ukraine. Without that aid, Ukraine will run out of munitions and all will be lost. And Putin has publicly stated that he will then set his sights on the Baltic countries, Romania and eastern Poland. Happily for Putin and the Russians, Trump has invited them to do “Whatever the hell they want.

People are dying as Vance displays his boundless ignorance and cowardly fealty to Trump, who told Vance to oppose military aid for Ukraine. Decide for yourself why Trump would insist on blocking aid to Ukraine and, as a result, provide aid to Putin.

Vance is not just spineless. He is a promoter of Putin’s butchery.

Nickname Rhymes with “Tucker”

Tucker Carlson outdid himself by directly promoting Vladimir Putin and, in consequence, undermining democracy everywhere. He did so in a suck-up interview witnessed by pinheads in Red states and by some already shaky allies. That has earned Carlson a special award.

Many thanks to JN for the pic.

I wonder if MAGA Americans can remember when we were the good guys and the Russian oppressors were the bad guys, especially when they invaded another country and committed war crimes. The righties used to be good at standing up to Russian tyrants. Now they cower before Trump and his despotic pals Orbán, Erdoğan and Putin and they puff their chests as though they are brave.

Congratulations on your award, Comrade Tucker. You’re delusional.


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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

Hope


Post 1,049


Thomas Paine

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

Click me

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

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

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

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

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

Click me – and read Note #5 below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking Of Hope

Photo credit: Al Jazeera

Hey Bibi!

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

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

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

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

You liked Ronald Reagan, right? To paraphrase him,

Mr. Netanyahu, tear down your attacks.

______________________________________

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

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

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


Today is a good day to be the light

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

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

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

    Click me

    JA


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

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