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The Problem Isn’t Woke


“Florida is where woke goes to die.”

Governor Ron DeSantis, (R-Cruelty) loves to say that in his devoid-of-personality way. It’s obvious that it tickles him to declare stupid things that elicit favor from the base. He seems to revel in encouraging exclusion, intimidation and authoritarian, anti-American behavior. He knows what makes him happy.

I tuned in to a bit of the CNN town hall with Nikki Haley and was immediately smacked in the face by her own pandering to the base and constant focus on applause lines, rather than saying anything that actually means something of value to non-extremists. She’s pretty much like DeSantis.

For example, she criticized Biden’s climate initiative to get us off our fossil fuel diet. Electric vehicles are heavier, she told us, and our bridges can’t handle that, so we’ll have to rebuild a gazillion bridges, a cost that Biden omits from the projected cost of transportation conversion.

Heavier? And if they are, is that a barrier to taking action to save the planet and ourselves? Okay, that sounds stupid, but let’s check, shall we?

Here are three popular 4-door sedans, each with room for 5 passengers:

The 2023 Tesla Model 3 has a curb weight of 3880 lbs.

The 2023 Chevrolet Malibu has a curb weight of 3159 lbs.

The 2023 Toyota Camry has a curb weight of 3340 lbs.

Okay, Nikki, you nailed the key problem. it looks like we have as much as 721 pounds of excess, bridge-crushing woke in the electric car. The mindless audience applause still rings in that auditorium.

Jake Tapper, usually a reliable interviewer who doesn’t let interviewees get away with dodging questions or giving dodgy replies, let Haley get away with her practiced, intelligence-free statements. That went on the entire time I was able to tolerate watching the spectacle.

It was very disappointing, much like the misnamed Trump town hall. That’s where CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was powerless to stem the tide – the tsunami, really – of Trump’s fact-free, self-serving delusions in the form of applause lines. The entire event, complete with no audience members who were not faithful Trumpers, was nothing more than a Trump Rally. No news or informed, intelligent ideas were to be found anywhere in the vicinity.

All of Haley’s, Trump’s and DeSantis’ anti-woke pandering is nothing more than bumper sticker fictions that call extremists to hatred and domination of unacceptable “others.” These presidential candidates are world class inciters with the finest of reality-free applause lines.

There is no “woke.”
.

That’s just a label used inflame the base, much like they use the label “Antifa.” The panderers like to call out Antifa as though it is an invading army, a threat to our country, rather than an informal collection of Americans who refuse authoritarianism and fascism. Those who identify as Antifa don’t riot, they don’t intimidate other Americans, they don’t make death threats and they do think democracy is a good thing. Imagine that!

The problem we in America have is not woke. Our problem is the haters and manipulators who try to make people afraid of their boogeyman du jour. They pander for voters’ support by inciting hatred and violence using their cruel fictions about other Americans. They are the ones who least resemble what we used to call American values and who stand in the way of our recapturing them.

There is no woke that goes to Florida to die. There is just a cadre of liars creating an incentive to hatred and violence and, perhaps, causing others to die. That’s the real threat and they put it into law, like this:

Definition: “Stand Your Ground” law. A mechanism to boil testosterone and create dead bodies. It is much beloved by haters and other insecure, cowardly people and embodies the true essence of anti-woke.

Woke Clarity From Another Source

Retired attorney and thoughtful person Ralph Bernstein leads a weekly political discussion group via Zoom. In his agendum (yes, he uses that term correctly) for yesterday’s session, he offered this discussion teaser:

Repub [sic] legislators, judges who are said to be right-wing judges, and MAGA activists have set out to trample on free speech and individual rights in the name of battling “wokeism.” If they don’t like what teachers say about history, they gag them. If they don’t like certain books, they ban them. If they don’t like a corporation defending LGBTQ rights, they retaliate against it. Their crusade has become an expression of not only white Christian nationalism but of contempt for the Constitution and the First Amendment.

If you’d like to attend and participate in Ralph’s no-charge discussions, drop him a line at [email protected].

Woke Must-Read of the Week

From the John Pavlovitz essay, Woke Will Win, June 5, 2023 (click through and read this excellent post in full):

The leveraging of irrational fear is nothing new.

Throughout history it has been the go-to tactic of the worst of politics and religion.

When you lack substantive ideas, you need an encroaching enemy to move and motivate people.

When you have nothing redemptive to offer, you have to create a violent adversary for them to run from and push back against.

When vulnerable people are placed in your path, you need to somehow turn those people into a threat to be exterminated.

If you can’t or won’t engage in difficult conversations about complex issues, you turn words into monsters:

Illegals.
CRT.
Plandemic.

The jab.
Groomers.
Woke.

Anti-Woke Book Ban Selection of the Week

If sex, adultery, slavery, sex trafficking and murder are forbidden topics, this according to the anti-wokers, then we absolutely must ban the Bible. That is a nasty set of human debauchery tales if ever there was one. These books quite obviously don’t belong in libraries, schools, homes and other places where impressionable children might come upon them.

In fact, I don’t think you should be reading such salacious material either. As Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” So do you.

If you are to be a flamer who burns those awful books, you better start gathering them and tossing them into a dumpster right now. Otherwise, Ron DeSantis and those 11 crazies responsible for so much book banning are going to have all the puritanical, witchy fun, as well as the ego rush that comes from bullying.

A Peculiarity

Yesterday was June 6. On that day in 1944 we and our allies made the Normandy invasion, the major push to defeat the Nazis and bring WW II to an end. What is peculiar now is the lack of recognition of the date in the news and elsewhere. D-Day used to be a major event in the public consciousness, but apparently no longer.

It’s just my speculation, but perhaps that is happening because of the rapid loss of those of our Greatest Generation who fought for our democracy, now dying at the rate of about 180 per day. That number used to be many times greater, but, of course, there are so few left.


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

The Canary plus The Good Old Days


This Is a Get Smarter Opportunity

We are sometimes given a gift – a chance to see into the future, if only we will look at what is before us. That’s what we have right now.

You’ve heard of the many democracy, freedom and rights abuses Ron DeSantis and his rubber stamp Republican Florida legislature have inflicted on the citizens of Florida. He has sucked up to as many White supremacist grievances, fears and hatreds as he could in order to get extremists to support his bid to become an authoritarian president.

His assaults represent far worse than oppression of Floridians: DeSantis and his extremists are normalizing fascism.

DeSantis’ actions leave us with an obvious clarity about what he would do to our entire country were he to get his hands on the reins of power. That is why I believe that

Florida is the canary in the fascist infested coal mine.
.

If you’re skeptical about this, read Thom Hartmann’s take. You won’t be skeptical anymore.

You don’t have to be a Floridian to be worried about this, because we see similar things happening elsewhere. That’s why I’m encouraging you to get smart about this, wherever you are.

My friends Jim and Karen Nathan have co-founded Floridians For Democracy, a group dedicated to protecting democracy in Florida and, by extension, where you live. It is to that end that they are inviting you to two informative Zoom sessions:

    • White Supremacist Activities in Florida: A brave sheriff and a state representative
    • Jun 7, 2023, 7:00PM EDT. Co-Sponsored by SWFL Voices for Racial Justice
    • and Concerned Citizens of Lower Lee County
    • “Saving Democracy” with Author David Pepper
    •                                                          June 15, 2023, 5:30PM EDT. Co-Sponsored by Floridians for Democracy and SWFL Voices for Racial Justice

Here’s a link to full program descriptions and the Zoom link to each session. Note that these sessions come to you without cost and they are not fundraisers. They are education that is offered because you need to know.

Make no mistake: this is not just about DeSantis attacking minorities or even just about Florida. This is about all the anti-democracy bullies all over America stealing education from our children, cheating Americans of their voting rights, reducing women to second class citizens, refusing gun safety and all the rest.

This matters to you because one day DeSantis and the bullies will be coming for you and you’re going to hate it when they crash through your door.

The Good Old Days

As the default/budget bill was being readied for a vote in the House last Wednesday, Ron DeSantis was pontifi-whining about it, stupidly saying that we’re going to go bankrupt. Other idiot extremist Republicans were saying similarly stupid, apocalyptic things.

They all long so dearly for the good old days when fiscally responsible Republicans were in charge and they never added to our national debt. That made me wonder which days those were, so I dug around and the chart below is the product of that digging.

The numbers represent the total each president added to our national debt over the course of their administrations. Harding and Coolidge delivered surpluses. All the rest gave us more debt.

Most notably, each administration added billions of dollars of debt until Reagan came along and ratcheted that up to trillions. He put six times more debt on the U.S. than his Democratic predecessor did. In fact, he added just shy of twice the debt of all preceding presidents combined!

You can blame his supply side economics for much of that. He truly was Saint Ronny the Reverse Robin Hood, patron saint of giveaways to the rich. Republicans still genuflect at the sound of his fiscally larcenous name.

Simple fact: In large measure our national debt is a function of both low and lowered taxes matched with increased spending. Somehow such debt, while a big DUH! to the rest of us, is not easily understood by supply-siders, who believe Tooth-Fairy-like that we will have increased revenue by means of decreased revenue.
.

George W. Bush dramatically lowered taxes while starting two “off balance sheet” wars. I still don’t know what that term means. He doubled our national debt over all previous presidents combined, including Reagan! Oddly, that failed to impress voters.

The debt Dubya left for us is hardly a surprise, given his wars and his tax cuts. What is surprising is how Trump managed to increase our national debt in one term even more than Dubya did in two terms.

The Dubya and Trump tax cuts for the rich cost the U.S. nearly $10 trillion and included tax breaks for yachts and private jets.* We’re left with the glow of enhancing the lives of rich people and with the bill they left for us.

Someone please tell me which are the Republicans’ good old days when they were in charge, were fiscally responsible and didn’t add to our national debt.

Take a look at the chart and see if the “tax and spend” label that Republicans like to staple to the chests of Democrats makes sense to you. Or the Republican claims of fiscal responsibility. Or the moronic belief in supply-side economics. If any of that makes sense to you, you will immediately be sent to a 3rd grade remedial math class to see if you can keep up with 8-year-olds doing flash cards.

Source: The Balance

________________________________

* It’s heartwarming to know that the new budget just squeezed out of the Congress cuts $21 billion in funding from the IRS. That was a critical thing for Republicans. Two points about that:

  1. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that hobbling the ability to go after tax cheats will result in $40 billion in lost revenue, resulting in an increase to the debt of $19 billion.
  2. Gotta answer this question: Why was it so important for the Republicans to inhibit the IRS from chasing down rich tax crooks? Hint: Can you say “donors” boys and girls?

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

Thugocracy


In a stunning cave-in to thugs, Target, the retail department store, chickened out and pulled some of its LGBTQ-friendly merchandise from its shelves. The company has been offering such things for 10 years, typically in June, which is Pride Month. But stores have received threats of violence from LGBTQ haters, which puts both employees and customers at risk.

In a PR scrubbed statement, company spokeswoman Kayla Castañeda said, “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” That is to say, they surrendered to the thugs. This all came shortly after Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, had bragged about company actions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

I’ll say it differently: Target self-censored not because of law, but because of fear. Score one for the thugs.

We all understand the decision to pull merchandise that extremists apparently think warrants threats of violence. Both such threats and even violence itself are not uncommon experiences in the LGBTQ world. And make no mistake: threats of violence are themselves violence. But, Houston, we have a problem, because the thugs have figured out how to get their way using violence. And it’s worse than that.

Leaders in politics, religion, punditry and those performing public temper tantrums have instructed Americans to fear and hate LGBTQ people. People like Ron DeSantis, governor of the hate state of Florida, uses words like “indoctrinate” to make parents afraid of the existence of people who are different from them. With all that stoking of passions of hatred it’s little wonder that extremists have amped up both their violence and their threats of violence.

After all, we have politicians publicly encouraging the extremists to hatred and violence. Ask Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss about that. All they did was to be election workers and they were besieged with threats from the haters. The thugs banged on their doors, parked their lookout cars in front of their houses for hours in stakeouts and did even more to intimidate these women, to the point where they could no longer keep their jobs or even feel safe shopping for groceries. The thugs threatened them because Republican politicians lied, claiming a stolen election. Now those women live in fear all the time because the street thugs were incited by the Republican political thugs to threaten violence against innocent people.

Thugocracy. That’s what we have and as far as I can tell, nobody has a fix for this unless the inciters can be redirected or muzzled. But that’s a First Amendment problem that the haters deftly use to continue to stoke hatred.

And all the while they tell us they’re Christians. They hate and threaten and do violence just the way Jesus taught them, right?

No, not right! Jesus didn’t give any such instruction.

These false Christians do the kind of thing that Bill Maher warns us about. Some of the very worst atrocities in history have been religious wars or violence justified and incited by religion. Think: 9/11; The Crusades; our violence against indigenous people; hundreds of years of slavery.

Self-justification using religion is just the thing to justify getting one’s way and now it’s being used against LGBTQ people and Target by today’s thugs. If fascism comes to America – thugocracy – these guys will make great Storm Troopers.

If this progresses, expect lots of murders and your own self-censoring, as  you succumb to thugs, just as Target has done. Today’s nearly bare library shelves in some Republican controlled states have been made that way by self-appointed, ego-puffing guardians of extremist, delusional versions of correctness. The shelves will be restocked with new publications that have been scrubbed of anything that isn’t strictly White and Christian. The new books will contain nothing that even hints at actual history.

Just understand that this thugocracy business is real. It is vexing and it will not go away until we as a society demand that it go away and some strong and determined people strand up for truth, justice and the professed American way. You know: values, like democracy, human rights – all that messy stuff that makes our way of life possible. It’s quite unlike thugocracy.

Thugocracy Is The Official Platform

Thugocracy is the formally sanctioned, enthusiastically practiced, democracy crushing policy of the Republican Party. It smells a lot like fascism. See the next section of this post for more.

Their so-called negotiations with President Biden were in actuality designed to ensure that we will become the world’s biggest driver of economic and political pandemonium and its biggest economic cheat. Republicans tried to make this more likely by proposing to dump all the pain of budget cuts on low income Americans, which is now Republican dogma.

David Corn of Mother Jones, reports of their proposal that:

“The GOP position literally was this: We will allow the US government to pay its bills—which includes those run up by the Trump administration and a Republican Congress—and avoid an economic calamity, if you stick it to Americans who need help.”

But that’s just a bleeding heart liberal saying that, right? Not so fast.

Matt Gaetz, (R-Sex Trafficking Accusations) openly described Republican “negotiations” as hostage taking. And the budget proposal Republicans have offered refuses tax increases for the wealthy, cuts the ability of the IRS to go after high wealth tax cheats and it cuts programs for poor and middle class Americans.

And it is all done under the watchful eye of 20 ultra-extremists (not conservatives), any one of whom can bring down McCarthy’s speakership and all of whom want to bring down our government and our democracy.

That’s thugocracy in action by a Republican minority that has been given enormous leverage by a public minority of haters and grievance whiners.

Can you spot the thugs in this picture?

The Must Read of These Fraught Times
Thugs are working their fascist best to crush all you hold dear.
.

History Professor Heather Cox Richardson has found a way to get the message through to all of us. Her clear explanation is sourced from a U.S. government War Department pamphlet distributed to our troops in 1945, Army Times, Orientation Fact Sheet 64. It is titled:

FASCISM! [emphasis original]
.

Click me

There is chaos all around us, including the ongoing assaults on our freedoms and our rights and the minority control by thugs who refuse what We the People want. What do you suppose that’s really about?

Read Prof. Richardson’s piece quoting the original publication. If you would like to read the full, original 8-page pamphlet just the way our fighting men and women did when they risked their lives in 1945 to save our lives, you can find it here.

Course Note

To pass today’s course in citizenship and save our democracy for your children and grandchildren, you must know this material!

There will be a test.


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

Cut The Crap – Part Two


Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted – This Time

Reports last night said that President Biden and the Republican hostage takers had come to an agreement such that the world economy will not crash next week. I’m glad, of course, that the sky will not fall, but I find it abhorrent that extortion has been rewarded. Again.

I would have been far happier to learn that the President was invoking the 14th Amendment, which would retire forever our foolish requirement to secure permission to pay our bills.

Immigration Crap

It isn’t about Title 42. It isn’t about Biden. It isn’t even about Trump. It’s entirely about Congress.

Dubya tried to get things inched along toward immigration reform, but Congress killed that. Reagan did a little, but it was a spit in the ocean of what was needed.

It’s Congress’ job to create immigration laws and rules and it has steadfastly refused for decades to do anything to make things better. Indeed, Congress can’t even deal with our Dreamers in any way other than to make them political pawns. That has allowed a huge train wreck of a mess to pile up and has stifled our national growth.

One hundred years ago the United States’ most hated immigrants were the Irish and the Italians. Plus the Chinese. And always Jews. Really, anyone who wasn’t both White enough and Protestant. Now the favorite whipping boys and girls are Hispanics from – gasp! – across the Rio Grande River. They’re – what are the words? – not like us. Most of them aren’t either White or Protestant. They are so easily Evangelically objectionable.

Sadly, immigration memory is short enough for most Americans to forget the hard, hard path of their own families and why their forebears came here. That makes it difficult for therm to empathize with those seeking something better for their children or fleeing death in their home countries.

There’s only one way to fix this: Congress has to do its job and

CUT THE CRAP!

Speaking of Immigration, Here’s A Crazy Idea

It’s so easy to claim the stupid and hateful replacement theory as a powerful tool of bigotry, but try this on for size.

We have an enormous shortage of labor in the U.S. and a tiny 3.5% unemployment rate. At the same time, we have an enormous number of people wanting to enter the U.S. to work. Maybe there are ways to fix this craziness.

What if we allowed immigrants to enter our country? We’ll give them green cards and let them work. What if we set them up with Social Security numbers and they were to pay taxes, just like you do?

We can hire immigrants for laborer jobs to aid in the projects that are the rebuilding of our infrastructure. They can build parks in blighted urban areas, build and renovate housing, plant trees in our tens of thousands of acres of burned forests and more. We’ve done this before. It was call the WPA and CCC, the CWA and NIRA and other agencies that put Americans – and immigrants – to work building America.

And under a formula to be determined (perhaps the one that allowed your ancestors to become citizens of the U.S.), we’ll give them a path to citizenship.

Maybe some of these new immigrants will start business. Maybe you’ll find a terrific job there. When we peal back the layers of fear and protectiveness and hatred, this is the story of America.

You get the idea. In doing such things we don’t just improve our physical existence. We also restore our national soul by ending the cruelty we condone and restoring the American Dream. And we gain new, patriotic Americans.

Too many believe that everything is a zero-sum game, where one person beginning a climb to a better existence means someone else is knocked down. But that just isn’t what happens. That’s never been what happens. Immigrants help to build our economy. All we need is the national will to face reality and for Congress to do its job and

CUT THE CRAP!

THE Major Case

There is grave danger in Raleigh.

Harper v. Moore is the North Carolina case now being decided by the Supreme Court. The substance of this anti-democracy case is whether states have the right for their legislatures to override the will of the people.

If the Supreme Court gives the green light, the Republican super-majority North Carolina legislature (not it’s Democratic governor) will be able to completely ignore its citizens. It will have the power to stuff all the ballots voters cast into a dumpster, set it on fire and send its own hand-picked, extremist slate of electors for president to be counted in Congress on January 6.

Yes, really.

This is as corrupt as Vladimir Putin’s elections. Instead of counting ballots he just makes up his winning percentage.

Effectively, that’s what the North Carolina far right extremist legislators want to be able to do. That paved road to dictatorship could have the blessing of the Supreme Court via its six far right extremist, lied-to-the-Senate-Judiciary-Committee justices.

Did I mention “anti-democracy?”

Here’s a short summary of the case from Wikipedia:

Moore v. Harper is an ongoing United States Supreme Court case related to the independent state legislature theory (ISL), arising from the redistricting of North Carolina‘s districts by the North Carolina legislature following the 2020 census, which the state courts found to be too artificial and partisan, and an extreme case of gerrymandering in favor of the Republican Party.[1][2]

It’s so hard to imagine that the Republican North Carolina legislature might do something so outrageous, so undemocratic, so despotic.

NOT!

It’s easy to imagine that because it’s what they always do.

Have a look at what conservative federal judge Michael Luttig has to say about this.

Now imagine that not only North Carolina, but all the Republican controlled states, tripping on the hallucinatory drug of authoritarianism, did the same thing.

The Court’s decision is expected soon. So, “Hey, Supreme Court:

CUT THE CRAP!”

BTW

There is a lot of criticism and hand wringing over Biden’s 40-something percent job approval rating. To put that into perspective, at this point in his first term, Ronald Reagan had an approval rating of just 35%. Trump’s approval rating never got out of the 40s.

Read of the Week

Of course you’re sick of hearing about the debt ceiling and the certainty of economic and democratic doomsday if we default via the fecklessness* of the insane Republicans in the House. They and this stupid, self-inflicted crisis over whether we’ll pay the bills we’ve already run up should never have happened. It began as lies and continues now in a master class of greed and deceit.

Read Thom Hartmann’s excellent explainer The Debt Ceiling is just “Two Santas” in Drag. You’ll see how We The People have been terminally duped by self-serving Republican dishonesty. Then let me know how you feel about it.

Quote of the Week

“It’s important to remember that the global autocratic movement is not solely about creating a traditional religious society; it is about destroying democracy to concentrate wealth and power in a small group of men, usually white men, who will dominate the rest of us.”

  • Prof. Heather Cox Richardson,
  • Letters From an American, May 21, 2023
  • You can find Cut The Crap – Part One here.
  • _________________________________
  • * feckless | ˈfekləs | adjective
  • lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible
    • – Apple dictionary

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

Cut The Crap – Part One


Broken News

In a stunning display of muscular, applause sucking fantasies, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) announced that he is a candidate to become his party’s nominee for President of the United States.

He dutifully blamed President Biden for all problems, stopping just short of blaming Biden for mosquito bites. As significant, he claimed credit for everything that has gone well, including the things that most or all Republicans voted against, like the infrastructure projects they tried to kill, then went home and bragged to constituents about how they had brought home the bacon for them.

Cut the crap, Tim.

More Broken News

THIS PICTURE IS A FAKE

The May 22 AI generated picture of a FAKE bombing of the Pentagon (to the left) isn’t even a good fake, but it was good enough for Bloomberg News to pick it up. It went viral on Twitter and elsewhere and first responders had to show up before it was announced that this is a completely FAKE picture. There was no fire or harm done to the Pentagon or to any personnel.

The technology to produce fakes is only going to get better and we stand to be fooled so often that we’ll learn to distrust news reports, government – everything. That leaves us with this core question:

Who stands to benefit from the undermining of public trust?
.

Post your answer in the Comments section below.

Pig Troughs and Justice

We’re being played for chumps by industry and by political toadies who are in the pocket of Big Money. Here’s the key to what needs to be done for We The People.

Reverse the Citizens United decision – the one that reinforced the Boston v. Bellotti decision that legalized political bribery*. And while we’re at it, impeach Chief Justice John Roberts for

– lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee in his  confirmation hearing, saying that he believes in stare decisis (honoring past Supreme Court decisions, like Roe). Same for Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito and Coney Barrett

– lying to that same committee, saying (or implying) that Roe is settled law. Same for Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito and Coney Barrett – probably Thomas, too.

– and most egregiously, for causing the lawyers to return to the court following the CU decision on the case that was presented to the court. This time Roberts directed the attorneys to argue rights for corporations, something that was not in contest in the Citizens United case. That debasement of our system of justice and the Court’s decision on it gave corporations the same rights as people like you, including the right to give huge sums of black money to PACs that distort our election system in favor of rich guys.

In his dissent from this nefarious decision, Justice Souter said that in addressing an issue that was not raised by the litigants, “ . . . the majority changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” Souter was right. This is a prime example of right wing manipulation of our laws and institutions for the purpose of destroying our democracy.

For all their wailing about spending, Republicans don’t want to touch programs that line the pockets of their big money donors. Instead, they want our poor and disadvantaged to carry the load. Here’s what that means.

McCarthy and his hollow-headed, far right extremists have figured out that the American people like Social Security and Medicare A LOT and that cutting those programs would be political suicide, so they want to cut other stuff instead, like veterans medical benefits and

” .  .  .  public health; food safety inspections; air traffic control operations; the administration of Medicare and Social Security; housing and other assistance for families with low incomes; education and job training; and scientific and medical research, to name just a few.” – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

They want to cut everything that helps actual people.

Kevin McCarthy and his co-conspirators are trying to bring down the government of the United States in every way possible. Right now they are attempting extortion using the debt ceiling approval process to get budget concessions like those listed above. “After all,” they say, “spending is directly linked to our national debt.” That’s like saying that we can’t send a rocket to the moon because there’s that gravity thing on Earth. Moronic.

If Republicans were serious about wanting to trim spending they could have done so with their congressional majorities during the Trump or the George W. Bush years. In fact. with the support of his congresses, Dubya piled up more debt than all previous administrations combined. Don’t forget there were those two “off balance sheet” wars.

Both Dubya and Trump increased spending every year while cutting taxes for the ultra rich and thereby ballooning our national debt.

So, no, the Republicans aren’t serious about dealing with spending or debt. They just want to bludgeon Democrats by cutting programs that help people in order to prove how tough they are. They want to brag about their phantom fiscal responsibility and crash our government and our democracy so that they can take over in a fascist putsch. You know: fusing industry with government in a despotic rule over We the People.

Cut the crap, Republicans.

Because these industry representatives (meaning senators and representatives in the pockets of Big Money) will not cut the crap, we’ll have to dump them and replace them with people who will cut the crap. Repeal and replace is the phrase the Republicans like to use about Obamacare, so let’s use it for what We The People want – to repeal and replace these Republican industry toadies.

The replacements will be the same people who will create sensible gun safety legislation, will restore abortion rights, will refuse to abandon our most vulnerable, will honor and keep faith with our military .  .  . you know the list. It’s all the stuff that the vast majority of We The People want. We’ll only get it when we dump the bad guys who are doing the crap – delivering minority controlled tyranny – and replace them with those who will serve We The People.

BTWs

In case you were thinking Biden would get rolled by right wing extremist Republicans who want to hold our nation hostage, take a look at this, posted last Sunday.

And here’s a love tweet for Kevin McCarthy, who still hasn’t replied to my request for all those January 6 videos he sent to Tucker Carlson.

 Watch for Cut The Crap – Part two this Wednesday, May 24.

____________________________________

* From Thom Hartmann:

“The following year Richard Nixon put [Justice Lewis] Powell on the Supreme Court, where he personally authored the 1978 Boston v. Bellotti decision that claimed corporations are persons with rights under the Bill of Rights and corporate money in politics wasn’t bribery or corruption (as it had been under the law since the founding of the republic) but merely an exercise of First Amendment-protected free speech. Money wasn’t money: it was speech.”

And that “speech” is way louder with orders of magnitude more money powering it. Citizens United took that farther and wider and has effectively silenced you.


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

What It’s Really About – Part Two


It isn’t about

banning or burning books,

or refusing to do anything to stop the mass shooting carnage

or disrupting school board meetings by spewing hatred

or restricting or eliminating abortion services and other women’s healthcare

or marching with Tiki torches and swastika flags or moronically seig heil-ing while wearing black ski masks and sunglasses and carrying swastika flags. And no, there weren’t very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville.

or inviting despot Viktor Orbán to deliver a Republican Party keynote address

or banning DEI training or banning the teaching of CRT, even when and where it isn’t being taught

or manipulation of our courts

or discriminating against LGBTQs

or the ethics outages of the Supreme Court

or the cruelty inflicted on helpless people at our southern border

or holding hostage our nation and the world economy

or any of the rest of the deranged things the extreme right wing hollow heads have done and are doing.

We see the cruelties they create and we naturally respond. But often we dilute our own power chasing after the latest outrage, because it isn’t about those outrages. It is entirely about them crushing anyone seen as opposition. It’s about them “owning the libs.” It’s about using whatever brutality is at hand to confuse and enrage the liberals and even the moderates. It’s about using violence and the threat of violence to terrorize people, all for one single goal:

It is all about grabing and hoarding
all the power and all the money for themselves.
.

It’s about domination.

To facilitate that, they’re driving our government to fail – as with the idiotic, self-inflicted, wholly without integrity debt limit crisis.

They’ve been doing their power and money grab in plain sight at least since Reagan was sworn in on his happy-face version of discrimination and prejudice.

During the 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter he liked to pose the question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Many people weren’t better off, as we had weathered soaring inflation, the Arab oil boycott and more.

His supply side tax windfall for rich people was supposed to be invested to create jobs and better pay for workers, but it didn’t work that way. Supply side economics has never worked that way. It just sent more money to already rich people.

Except for the recent recovery from the pandemic, wages have been essentially flat for over 40 years and the average American’s net worth has declined. While that was happening, the net worth of the top 10% and especially the top 1% has multiplied many times over at your expense.

So, back to Reagan’s (slightly modified) question: Are you better off now than you were 40 years ago?

Answer: Nope.

But the rich have grabbed ever more power and money as our middle class has been hollowed out, because it’s your power and your money that they grab. See the RED font above.

An Example of How They Grab Power

Look at this Breaking News email headline from May 3.

Wait: The Ukrainians attacked Russia not on the battlefield in Ukraine, but inside Russia? In Moscow? In a “planned terrorist attack?” Who’s crazy enough to do that?

Answer: Nobody.

This is a standard bad guys tactic. They accuse opponents and enemies of nefarious stuff – most often of things they themselves are doing – and then they claim victimhood. Think: the Reichstag fire in 1933. Click this link and see for yourself what happened. The headline above is today’s version of the same thing.

Poor Vlad claims he’s been victimized by a Ukrainian drone strike on his capitol – they’re much like Putin’s drone strikes on Kiev – so he claims the right to hit back lethally. But in this case as in so many others, there is never any evidence to support his or any other abnormal psych victimization claim.

We’ve seen over eight years of Trump doing this and before that three decades of Republican extremists doing it, starting even before the performative and falsely named Tea Party bleated out their victimhood.

It’s a highly effective way to justify abhorrent acts to grab power and money. That is to say, it isn’t about the alleged victimizing attack. It’s about using false victimization as a cover.

It is all about grabing and hoarding
all the power and all the money for themselves.
.

These poor Republican babies claim they are victims of Democrats and all their out groups, like Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Asians, Muslims, etc. You know: the non-White, non-Christians. Woe be unto the Republicans, as they suffer under the yoke of the libs! They use their phony victimization to extort our entire country, like they’re doing with the debt ceiling right now.

That is to say, they create victimization crises and then, in a massive leap of fiction, they tell us that only they can save us.

Legislators are focused almost exclusively on self-interest – getting reelected. That’s why moderate Republicans won’t stand up to the flamers – they’d only be primaried by a far right wacko. Here’s what all of this means for you.

Rallying, protesting, marching and the rest are most often exercises in trying to get elected representatives to change their behavior, which they are extremely unlikely to do. We largely waste our energy on lobbying these minor despots.

As I stated in my “NO!” posts last month (here, here and here),

ALL OF THE POWER COMES FROM THE VOTING BOOTH!
.

If you want change, stop chasing the symptoms. Instead, focus your energy on changing the legislators. As Barack Obama implored,

Don’t boo: VOTE!”
.

And work hard to get others to vote. It’s long past time for tens of millions more of our voices to be heard from that powerful place, the voting booth, saying, “NO!” to the people who want to steal your power and your money. Mark your calendar to do that on November 5, 2024, because either you’ll take action or they will act on you. And you won’t like that.

And that is what it’s really about.

  • You can find What It’s Really About – Part One here.

  • Today is a good day to be the light.

    ______________________________

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

      Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Madness


Ed. note: Due to the Moms Demand Action – Advocacy Day ’23 yesterday, “What It’s Really About – Part Two” has been moved to this Sunday, May 21.


It’s been ten and a half months since the brutal July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, IL that killed seven innocent people and wounded 48 other parade attendees. The wounded list includes 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, the kid who is now paralyzed for the rest of his life from the killer’s bullet that ripped into his back. Emotional injuries from that day were in the tens of  thousands. Many of those will never heal.

Click me

The blood stains on the pavement are gone now, as is the mountain of flowers and candles at the makeshift memorial that was created that week. Attendees long ago picked up their lawn chairs, picnic baskets, bikes and child-sized flags that were supposed to be waved at people on the floats. The ocean of tears has been rinsed away by the rain and the snow. The intersection of Central Avenue and Second Street looks normal now and you might not guess that it was a war zone last year.

A permanent memorial will replace the temporary one next to the Library on Laurel Avenue. Right now it’s just seven posts, each with an etched placard on top bearing a picture and a few words to remember each of those killed.

The memorial is alongside a small rose garden and a rock garden. About a third of the rocks in that garden have been painted by children and they are very much like those at the bases of the seven posts – you can see them in the picture – many with heart piercing words of love and loss. The children’s offerings seem to speak for all of us, saying “We will always remember you.”

Sadly, we have two such mass shootings every 3 days in America, so it’s easy to imagine many thousands of piles of rocks painted by children all across the nation.

That vision brought me to the Moms Demand Action – Advocacy Day ’23 in the state capitol yesterday to help make a statement that We The People want sensible gun safety laws to keep these killing machines out of the hands of the angry, the crazy, the self-deluded, the falsely patriotic, the narcissisticly aggrieved, the mentally ill and the compulsively belligerent, like the  Highland Park murderer.

Hundreds of people of all ages showed up to make a statement about the need for better gun safety legislation, both in mass and in small group meetings with legislators.

Hundreds of Illinoisans showed up to demand better, even in this state with better than average gun safety legislation. The speeches were inspiring, delivering the clear and insistent message that the progress that has already been made is just the start of what needs to be done. A couple of younger people spoke to the crowd, letting us know that the people of their generation are always wondering, “Am I next?” Imagine going to school with that every day.

An artist turned her hand to making clear the truth of what we as a society have done. Her display has over 30,000 orange flags, each representing a child murdered by guns just since Sandy Hook. Look at the picture – what you can see is a fraction of the total display. Now imagine if each flag were instead a healthy kid.

Over 30,000 orange flags should instead be over 30,000 healthy kids living their lives.

The misled guys and the tough guys believe that the Second Amendment means everybody can own any murder weapons they want. But read that Amendment – it doesn’t say anything about a right of private citizens to own AR-15s or extended magazines. In fact, it doesn’t say that anyone can own a gun for any reason other than so that we have a well-regulated militia.

And we have that. It’s called the National Guard. We don’t need private citizens to amass arsenals of weaponry in their basements. Those gun owners aren’t part of a well regulated militia. They’re just guys with guns.

There is no Second Amendment reason for anyone to do concealed carry, much less do it without a background check and safety training. Most of our state governments, though, seem to say, “Just strap one on, Bubba, and head to the bar for some beers. What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh wait: Buffalo could go wrong and a bunch of grannies shopping for eggs and bread could be murdered. Sandy Hook could happen and the bodies of 20 little kids and seven teachers could be splattered onto the school room floor.

And Highland Park could happen, making a horror so terrible, so awful, that brave, tough cops and FBI personnel had to bury their faces in their hands.

So, I went to Springfield yesterday to tell our legislators the obvious facts of what has happened and what will continue to happen if we fail to take proper action. I went to tell them that the misled guys and the tough guys are wrong and that they’re a clear and present danger to our country..

I went to tell them that We The People want the madness to stop.
.

Charlton, can we have your gun now that there are over 31,000 cold, dead hands so far just this year?

If you weren’t at the Illinois state capitol yesterday, no worries. This battle for peace and safety isn’t over and there will be many more opportunities for you to stand up for all those people who can no longer stand up for themselves and for all of us who don’t want to be shot.

The children in Highland Park left notes on those rocks to say that we will continue to stand for our fallen. They and we will speak for them and for all those who are being gunned down right now, even as you read this.


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

What It’s Really About – Part One


The Diabolical Debt Ceiling

Everyone knows that if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations that the sky will fall all over the world. We will sink into a recession that lays off over 8 million American workers, leaving them without a way to support their families. Interest rates will soar, making everything way more expensive and we will lose our place of leadership in the world.

All of that and far more is waiting for us right around the corner due entirely to the threatened Republican catastrophe scheme. Why would Republicans be taking us there? They want the same things for our country as you want, right?

Wrong!
.

As Jaemlle Bouie wrote, they don’t hate big government, at least not big government that benefits themselves. I’ll add that they really hate big government that they don’t control dictatorially.

Democracy is all that’s stands guard between us and a dictatorship.

And the Republicans prove to us every day that what they and what their cruel minority wants is absolute control. Dictatorship. They don’t want you to have a voice or power of any kind.

They worship at the feet of dictator Viktor Orbán in Hungary, holding their conferences there, and some of them even cheer Putin. Yes, Republicans are championing Russians who attack the freedom of others.

They gerrymander our voting districts to benefit themselves and to eliminate Democrats from legislative bodies, all the while taking power from those they don’t like.

They attack our press, our schools, teachers and knowledge itself.

They take rights from you time after time, including taking away your right to safety, to not be gunned down in a mass shooting.

They attack our justice system and call for impeachment of our pubic officials for no reason other than to undermine your faith and confidence in our institutions.

They manipulate the system to put ever more guns into private hands, including people who have known mental health issues.

And they work every day to dis-empower women. See the last quote in this post.

What all of that tells us is that what this terrorist minority of haters is working toward is to

bring down our government!
.

They tried and failed (barely) on January 6. But what do you suppose will happen if our economy and our place of world leadership are in tatters because we decided to stiff our creditors?

The thugs will shout from the rooftops that democracy – our government – has failed us and that only they can save us. Then all will be lost. Our delicate experiment in self-rule will be over and we will descend into a hundred years of darkness.

Kevin McCarthy isn’t bluffing when he threatens you, our country or our world. He and the crazies want a very different America than the one you want and they don’t care what rights and freedoms you lose, who gets oppressed or even killed or what injustices torment us, all in their pursuit of all the power and all the money. They want to subjugate We The People. They want Nazi Germany in America. Marjorie Taylor Greene, AR-15 in hand, will be the head of the American SS.

It is all about grabing and hoarding
all the power and all the money for themselves.
.

And that is what it’s really about.

Special note for skeptics: If this seems hyperbolic to you, I urge you not to take my word for any of this. Just look at the easily found historical models and compare them with what is happening in plain sight right now.

On-Point Must Reads

Thom Hartmann lays out with great clarity what the GOP really is, what it is doing to America and what it’s doing to you. His essay is subtitled, It’s time to call a fascist a fascist.” Hartmann references FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace and his article about fascism published in the New York Times in 1944. It could have been written today. You can read it here.

Dana Milbank’s Washington Post essay, The Day Free-market Republicans Became Soviet Economic Planners is a fine exposé of Republican efforts to subvert our nation.

Quotes of the Week

From David Corn of Mother Jones:

“These days, Republicans have intensified their efforts to rig the system to help them gain and retain power, even when they attract the support of only a minority of voters. In Missouri, they are trying to pass a measure that would require a 57 percent majority to approve a ballot initiative [same in Ohio, except theirs would require a 60% majority] .  .  . a condition that favors the GOP. Republicans throughout the country are scheming to make it harder for college students to vote. In Texas, Republican state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would allow an appointee of the governor to overturn elections in Houston. And there are many other ways the GOP is striving to stack the deck in its autocratic [read: dictatorial] favor.”

  • Our Land Newsletter, May 9, 2023

In reaction to the recent spate of mass shootings (we have 2 every 3 days), Sheila Markin writes,

“Wanna Stay Alive? Don’t Vote For Republicans”

“Mother’s Day isn’t dying—mothers are.” – click here and here

  • Watch for What It’s Really About – Part Two this Sunday, May 21.

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 a lot 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.

    JA


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

Inflation


First: E. Jean Carroll Won

her civil lawsuit against Donald Trump for sexual abuse and defamation of character. She was awarded $5 million in this unanimous verdict. I hope she publishes a picture of the check.

Trump responded to the verdict on his imitation of Twitter, “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace — a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!”

Might be, but it’s sure great when a witch hunt uncovers and punishes an evil witch.

I repeat:

While it doesn’t always happen on the timetable we’d prefer, what goes around often does come around. Watch for this same sentence following each of the guilty verdicts against Trump.

Now On To Inflation

Ever since we started fighting inflation following the pandemic I’ve wondered about how this has been handled.

First there was the supply chain craziness, with container ships anchored outside our ports unable to unload because there weren’t enough trucks to move the goods, so supplies of many things shrunk. That was made worse by our decades long insufficiency of truck drivers. And all of that was just a small piece of worldwide supply challenges, including raw material shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

That was happening as we were coming out of pandemic lock downs. Those kept us from consuming as we did before Covid and that caused a pent up demand for goods – stuff we like to buy. Once the pandemic was receding and lock downs were over, demand became un-pent up and soared.

Let’s see: greatly increased demand occurring at the same time we had greatly constricted supply .  .  .  PRESTO! Adam Smith’s invisible hand shoved prices way up. That’s called inflation, but it was made worse.

At the same time those things were happening our oil industry started raising prices faster than anything propelled upward by that invisible hand. That has often been labeled “price gouging.” Gas prices at the pump rose day and night, even though there were no oil supply shortages or supply price hikes of any kind to justify those prices at the pump. The result was huge profits – some would say windfall profits – for the oil producers and a huge financial hit to ordinary people every time they filled their gas tanks. And gas was a major player in spiking inflation.

Click me

The Fed is limited in what it can do to counter inflation. Its most powerful, albeit indirect, tool is to raise interest rates. Doing so makes borrowing, and really everything, more expensive, so demand drops. That’s the theory. And that’s what the Fed has done. Over and over.

This year the Fed rate went from near zero to over 5% in short order. Sounds great for fighting inflation, but along with the decreased demand due to higher prices came job layoffs, small business disruptions and a stick in the spokes of the wheels of new construction. Workers were laid off.

In other words, the pain of fighting inflation has been dumped entirely onto the backs of we ordinary folk and the pain for some of us has been enormous. But that isn’t the only way to fight inflation.

Government can create price controls to stop the gouging by industries that are reaping huge rewards just because they can get away with otherwise unjustified price increases.

Yes, I know that’s heresy to our absolutist market economy proponents, but this isn’t a pure market economy and it never has been. Example: we have rules to prohibit monopoly. Not the board game. They’re called anti-trust laws and they are designed to protect competition, smaller businesses and consumers from unfair monopoly power.

Another example is that we subsidize fossil fuel companies with the depletion allowance, farmers with gimme money and many more. More on that in a future post. Politicians may bloviate about the free market, but they’re all too happy to deliver non-free market paychecks to their constituent corporations and benefactors.

We know that people will act in accordance with their perception of their best interests. That alone led to the profiteering of oil companies and others in different industries in this opportunistic environment of overall rising prices. In some industries that becomes moderated by buyers choosing to refrain from buying overpriced goods, perhaps switching to cheaper alternatives. But that’s nearly impossible to do in some areas. People need to fill their gas tanks for all the usual reasons, like getting to and from a job, regardless of the price of gas.

It’s much like the hospital bill for heart surgery. Nobody decides not to get life saving healthcare and instead decides to die because of the price of the service. Healthcare and fuel are examples of inelastic demand, in that demand doesn’t adjust much based on price.

So, we can impact inflation by reducing demand by means of raising costs, which is what the Fed has done. That also causes workers to lose their jobs. Or we can impact inflation by controlling certain prices, which cuts corporate profits a bit. Perhaps there are other things government can do. But I can say with certainty that even as the fat cats aren’t listening to them, the people who are shouldering the bulk of the burden to fight inflation now aren’t any too happy about things as they are.

Quote of the Fiscal Year
  • “We shouldn’t even be talking about a world in which the U.S. doesn’t pay its bills. It just shouldn’t be a thing.”
  • Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chair
  • Note: If Biden were to submit to Republican extortion over paying our debts, he would be dooming us to extortion in every year to come.
  • In Other News

There’s a test strip that can identify contamination with fentanyl in drugs like heroin. Because fentanyl is such a powerful drug and is so often lethal, being able to test for its presence can be life saving (as in: death avoiding) for users. But tough-on-crime legislators (read: Republicans in red states) have insisted upon seeing these test strips as illegal drug paraphernalia and have criminalized them. That seems to be changing.

Several states are decriminalizing the test strips. Indeed, there appears to be a shift from criminalizing illegal drug users to harm reduction. That will put a dent into the number of users going to prison and also the number of users going to graves. Here’s what’s interesting about that.

Over 100,000 Americans die from illegal drugs every year and over 67,000 of those are from fentanyl. There is a significant change, though, in the population that dies from overdoses. Now opioids are used a lot more and many more White people are dying from drug overdoses.

I’m sure that shift in the race of the corpses is unrelated to red states’ drug policy changes. Aren’t you?


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 a lot 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.

    JA


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

Potpourri v19.0


E. Jean Carroll’s Civil Suit

against Donald Trump for battery and defamation is nearly over. She presented her case and then Trump called no witnesses. The closest he came to testifying was in his deposition, played for the jury, where he defended himself by claiming that Carroll was not his type. That got me to thinking.

In his deposition he viewed a photograph and announced that the woman in the picture with him was his second wife, Marla Maples. He married her, so it’s safe to assume Marla Maples was his type. What’s interesting about that is that the woman in the picture isn’t Marla Maples. It’s E. Jean Carroll, who apparently looked to Trump just like his former wife. Apparently, Carroll actually was his type.

But if Carroll wasn’t his type, as he claimed, exactly what is the type of woman he likes to rape?

Four Proud Boys Were Convicted

of seditious conspiracy last Thursday. One key element of the conviction was that the leader of this group, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, was found guilty even though he wasn’t on the grounds of the National Mall or in the Capitol Building at the time of the insurrection. That speaks hopefully for charges to come against the prime conspirator, who also wasn’t in the Capitol Building during the insurrection.

For now, we’re left with some pertinent questions. First, are the Proud Boys still proud, now that it’s clear that they were dumb enough to let Trump use them as his pawns? Second, will they still be tough guys after 20 years in federal prison? Third, when it all goes down on Trump and they shave his comb-over and put him in a cheap, orange jumpsuit, will the Secret Service still have to protect him?

This is the third successful trial for seditious conspiracy prosecuted by Merrick Garland’s Justice Department. This stuff moves painfully slowly and, of course, we’re looking for indictments of Trump, Meadows, Stone, Cruz, Eastman, Navarro, Flynn, Bannon, Giuliani, Powell and the rest of Trump’s band of co-conspirators, both in and out of office. Jack Smith won’t want to run afoul of the 2024 primary activities, so I don’t think we’ll have to wait much longer for indictments of the bad guys. So, stand back and stand by.

Various Republican Controlled States

are loosening child labor laws. Let’s see if we can figure out why.,

There has been a shortage of labor throughout our economy for years and that impacts our entire supply chain down to the service at your favorite restaurant. We’ve turned off the immigration spigot, so where will new workers come from?

We have cleverly decided that it’s a good idea for 10-year-olds to work the French fry machines at McDonalds. We have children in dangerous areas of industrial plants and lots more. And oh, BTW, making money may dissuade kids from completing their education.

Congress has refused to address comprehensive immigration reform for four decades and we are massively short of workers, so businesses have turned to the only people available. Our cowardly legislators would rather eliminate protections for kids than clean up our broken immigration system. They’d rather send our children to work than send them to school.

Ron DeSantis Is Protecting

not just Floridians, but all Americans from Chinese nationals buying real estate in Florida.

According to Ron’s plan, citizens of Russia, Iran and North Korea can buy real estate in Florida. So can Colombian drug lords, Guatemalan sex traffickers, convicted domestic American terrorists and mass murderers. Seditionists are welcome to gobble up land in Florida, as are mercenaries from the Wagner group, who are raping and killing innocent civilians in Ukraine every day in the name of Mother Russia.

But Chinese nationals can’t buy land in Florida, this for obvious reasons. Be sure to enlighten us about what those obvious reasons are in the Comments section below, because they just aren’t all that obvious to me.

The List of Justice Clarence Thomas’ “Indiscretions”

grows longer nearly every day.

Friday we were treated to the news that the extreme conservative Supreme Court justice whisperer Leonard Leo had funneled money to Ginni Thomas via intermediary Kellyanne Conway. Conway was then a pollster and later Trump’s “alternative facts” hyper-blabber. The money danced fairly-like to Ginni in roughly $25,000 increments and there is no indication that she earned it by doing anything of value. That leaves us wondering why that money got deposited into Ginni’s account and why it was passed to her in chameleon-like fashion.

And, of course, there was yet another Harlan Crow episode of generosity, as we learned that the child Clarence and Ginni were raising was sent to private schools paid for by Crow, this to the tune of something like $160,000. Now really, who doesn’t pay for somebody else’s kid’s private school? And Justice Thomas didn’t report either of those income streams, as required by both the law and basic judicial ethics.

Clearly, all the money and money equivalents lavished upon the justice and his extremist, tear-down-our-democracy wife may be legal and proper, however much verbal dancing that might require to convince us of such a thing. But this stuff, along with Justice Alito’s and Chief Justice Roberts’ relationships with money look suspicious and all of this is driving our trust in this critical institution ever downward.

If overthrowing the government is the goal, one of the sure ways to motivate the people to do that is to convince them of the corruption inherent in it.

Allen, Texas, a Northern Suburb of Dallas

is now known to us much as Uvalde, El Paso and Sutherland Springs are known.

A bunch of people were gunned down yesterday and at least 8 died and 7 more were injured at the Allen Premium Outlet Mall, shot by a bad guy with a gun. He was at last stopped by a cop, a good guy with a gun. We’re sure to hear about that from the gun crazies over the next few days and isn’t it just great that good guys have guns?

But the thing about the good guys with guns is that they are always way too late to stop the bad guys from killing innocents. Given Governor Abbott and his supplicant legislature, surely there were a lot of good guys with concealed carry guns in that Texas mall yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, most of them likely had little or no training in using a gun. How much help were those vigilantes? For an answer, ask the grieving families of the victims.

The governor, US senators and a few more with way more testosterone than sense have sent prayers. But think about it: thoughts and prayers are always a miserable confession that we waited too long to do what needed to be done. And we all know what needs to be done.

Columbine changed nothing. Neither did Highland Park. The same for Sandy Hook and Parkland and Uvalde and the Pulse Night Club and the Harvest music festival in Las Vegas and the Tree of Life Synagogue and now Allen, Texas. Prayers were sent for all, but the victims remain dead and their families and friends are traumatized for life with a pain that will never stop.

We can rally and protest and demand, but the Republican politicians are either crazed by a false interpretation of the Second Amendment or they’re in the pocket of the National Rifle Association or both. They will never do anything to protect We the People from murder.

If the legislators won’t change, then it’s up to us to change the legislators. We suffer two mass shootings every three days, so dumping those puffed up cowards can’t happen fast enough.

Think about that the next time you go to the mall or a movie theater or a house of worship or a music festival or send your kids to school. Will you make it home alive? Will your kids?

Quotes Of The Day

Only in America can a once-in-three-generations King’s coronation plus the Kentucky Derby be upstaged by — what else? — a mass shooting. – MSA

Everyone has a right to own a gun, but it must be a musket. – DE

.  .  .  the nation’s current gun free-for-all is not traditional but, rather, is a symptom of the takeover of our nation by a radical extremist minority. – Heather Cox Richardson


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 a lot 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.

    JA


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

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