Vision

Hartmann Agrees


I think that it isn’t the system that needs reform. It’s the people who are undermining the system who need reform – or replacement. Click for the story – see Item #3.

Not long ago I posted a love note to Millennials and Gen-Zs. It was something of an apology for what we  Boomers have done that threatens them and for the huge pile of political poo we’re piling at their feet. It isn’t pretty and it won’t be easy. But it’s critical that they grab hold of this mess, shackle it in irons and imprison it for the life of this planet.

I laid out some of the key challenges and let our Ms and Zs know that we believe in them, that they can do this. They can restore what has been stolen, they can take the critically important steps to save our planet and themselves and they have the power to replace our national dishonesty, denial and mindless rage with truth and reality.

It turns out that Thom Hartmann agrees with me and he’s laid out far more clearly the reasons that Ms and Zs are so screwed – his word. I encourage everyone to read his message and see it as a laying out of the challenges that must be met.

These challenges should not be partisan or political, but the sad truth is that they are. There is only one party that tolerates and promotes hatred. There is only one party that fights against the advancement of gun safety.* There is only one party that rejoices in taking away our rights. There is only one party that consistently takes from the poor and middle class and gives to the super rich. There is only one party taking away your vote and working to destroy our democracy and replace it with a fascist autocracy.

There is more bad stuff that they do, of course, but the point is that the Republican Party, the one that used to be conservative, standing up for the values you believe in, no longer exists. They stand solely for enhancing their own power and wealth at our expense.

Read Hartmann’s piece and you’ll understand.

While you’re at it, read The Democrats Need to Wake Up and Stop Pandering to Their Extremes, a forehead slapper from The Economist. You’ll understand that one, too.

See? It just doesn’t take that many words. This took 30 seconds to think of and about 15 minutes to construct.

BTW

I’ve pummeled Democrats repeatedly for their astonishingly poor communication skills. They’re nearly always way too wordy, taking what would be said by Republicans in under two dozen words and instead expanding them into unintelligible paragraphs that not even the author can remember and which put readers to sleep.

President Biden’s July 9 essay in the Washington Post explaining/defending his trip to Saudi Arabia was just such a communication disaster. It demonstrates that in 1,387 words. Yes, over 2 pages of dense text!

What are the communications people in the White House thinking?

I did muscle through it on my second attempt. It is boring. It is W-A-A-A-A-A-Y too long. And it feels like an old prize fighter recounting a win from years ago.

“Joe, I want  to hear about how what you’re doing today will help me tomorrow. And I want to hear about it in a maximum of 60 seconds.”

I think Biden is doing a really good job of doing his job. But he and the Ds are so dreadfully, painfully, self-destructively lousy at communication that even Democrats can’t see the good stuff that’s happening right in front of them. Look at this from the New York Times:

Sixty-four percent of Democratic voters prefer a candidate other than President Biden in 2024, a Times/Siena College poll shows.
.

That’s happening as we are in an existential battle to save democracy from the Rs who would crush it. If we’re to win that battle and succeed in saving our nation, voters will have to feel good about voting for Democrats.

Crappy communication won’t help.

NOTE: I reached out to the DNC with an offer to help. So far no reply.

Covid Corner – post-video late addition

In an interview with Politico and discussing his retirement, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lightning rod and target of extremist right wing paranoia, said, “If somebody says, ‘You’ll leave when we don’t have Covid anymore,’ then I will be 105. I think we’re going to be living with this.”

A STAT report commenting on Fauci’s interview response reported, “That statement is a concession that we never flattened the curve of cases and we’re instead living with the virus and its variants.”

I’m left gobsmacked by the profound impact 22% of the U.S. population has had by refusing to be vaccinated and by having temper tantrums over masks. “Living with the virus and its variants” is the price we all pay when the fierce independents and the power and money opportunists hold sway over the common good. Read the charts.

Just a couple of weeks ago we were losing 327 Americans per day to Covid. Now it’s up to 417 per day. And 98 – 99% of those who die are unvaccinated. Have a fiercely independent day, Bubba – while you still can.


* “And I believe it is insane that Republicans in the U.S. Senate — who accept the Second Amendment as a death warrant for tens of thousands of Americans each year — will not even agree to legislation raising the minimum age to purchase such weapons of war [AR-15 style assault weapons] to 21.”

“Shame on this country for refusing to take those guns out of the shooters’ hands — or to prevent them from buying those guns in the first place.”

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, July 19, 2022

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

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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, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  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 vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

True North, Immigration and Cwazy


During my keynotes and workshops on leadership I frequently offer attendees an exercise in self-clarity called True North. The goal is for each person to craft a simple statement of who they are at their core, a declaration of what’s most deeply important to them. The responses are often moving and self-revelatory, and it is nearly universal that attendees’ statements include a component of service to others.

The value of having such a statement in hand lies in the help it provides to make the best decisions to avoid crazy side trips and instead go our own “right way” – our True North.

I was thinking of that concept the other day in the context of our fellow citizens who quite often believe the preposterous, like physically impossible conspiracy theories or political propaganda. Are they following their True North? It seems to me that they are. To a person they declare that they want every vote counted, that they are defending democracy, that stealing elections is bad and wrong and that they’re against Democrats killing babies and drinking their blood. Who wouldn’t be against that?

The point is that these millions of people may be factually wrong about what has happened, but they are sincere and believe they are doing the right things. Even the January 6 insurrectionists believed that. Every one of them believed they were following their patriotic True North. On the other hand, as motivational speaker Les Brown says, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” Perhaps these millions aren’t as clear about their True North as they and we need them to be. But there’s something else that’s more important and it lies elsewhere.

It lies in the bellies of the liars, the crank politicians, the book burners, the homophobes, the cruel internet trolls, the haters of all stripes who lie for self-aggrandizement or to fuel their rage and sense of power. It belongs to those who long ago sold out, who surrendered their integrity for a pittance. They can’t even remember when they deserted all concern for others. If they were to craft a True North statement it wouldn’t include even a ghost of a component of service to something or someone other than themselves. They lie, cheat and steal without so much as a first thought, much less a second. They promote impossible conspiracies and Big Lies and our millions have fallen for their self-serving fictions.

That’s the power of a lie told over and over: it becomes the reality of others. History shows us plainly and clearly that we humans are easily manipulated into such beliefs and our individual True North quickly gets bastardized into something gone south and terribly wrong. So, spare a little sympathy for our rowdy crowds of citizens who have been psychologically abused by the liars and cheats, even as they are still accountable for the harm they do to others and to our nation.

This is an invitation to ask and answer for yourself what your True North is. Where is it? What does service to others look like on your compass? What will it take to get there? What obstacles must be cleared from your path for that to happen and how does that connect with the dangers all around us right now?

I submit to you that any of us can wait too long. Today is a good day to take action.

Start by reading this.

And Another Thing

Presidents since Reagan have promised comprehensive immigration reform. Reagan’s meager efforts in 1986 were limited to only two issues; one made it a crime to hire “illegal immigrants”; the second legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country prior to January 1, 1982. Not exactly comprehensive immigration reform.

Obama took a stab at this in 2012 by stopping the deportation of those who had arrived in this country as babies of undocumented immigrants – the “Dreamers”. That was done by executive order, so naturally it was ended in Trump’s pathological effort to erase everything Obama.

Mark Felt, associate director of the FBI 1972 – 1973; aka “Deep Throat”

Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden all promised comprehensive immigration reform and failed to deliver it.

Common sense tells us that if we wanted this fixed, we would have fixed it. That, then, suggests that someone is benefiting from our not creating comprehensive immigration reform, so they don’t want it fixed. Who do you suppose that might be? Try our White Supremacists, who don’t want any more brown people in this country. Who else benefits?

It seems to me that it’s time to follow the direction of “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame, Mark Felt, who told Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money.” Apply that instruction to our immigration mess. Who benefits financially from keeping our immigration laws and practices so terribly dysfunctional? Please offer your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Meanwhile, contrary to the googly-eye Republican screamers, Biden’s Border Policy is Not “Open Borders”. It’s an interesting short read from the extremely conservative – but not googly-eyed – Cato Institute.

Us Cwazy Amewicans

Yes, we truly are crazy. And we manage to find the craziest things to be crazy about.

I’m not talking about being crazy about the Cubs (you remember them, right?) or crazy about Chunky Monkey. I’m talking crazy about things like saving our own lives. Why would we push back against the very things that can keep us from an early and ugly death?

But we fight vaccines, we fight boosters, we fight masks and we fight each other. Of course, we have our reasons, like our individual freedom (“You can’t tell ME what to do!”) and our love of extending our middle fingers to demonstrate how strong and powerful we are, and our love of conspiracy nonsense run amok. And, of course, we love our nit-picking to find fault in information and logic that doesn’t comport with our made-up minds in order to justify our craziness. And that’s really crazy.

As I wrote that last paragraph it occurred to me that those reasons are the same reasons we’ve used to throw a national hissy fit against seat belts, motorcycle helmets, OSHA, efforts to fight global warming, the stop sign you didn’t want at the end of your street and pretty much every sensible governmental regulation. At least we’re consistent in our craziness. *

So, are you brave enough to drop the crazy for a  moment and have a look at reality?

– like that we lag far behind every other first world nation but one at getting boosted.

– and that we have a 50 – 100% greater death rate per capita during Omicron than the people in all those other first world nations and many second world nations.

– and that our governors are lifting mask mandates, caving to the whiners and putting us all at greater risk.

– and that we comprise 4% of the world’s population but have over 20% of global COVID cases and deaths. We’re still losing over 2,400 of our fellow Americans to COVID every day, contributing to our

OVER 921,000 ALREADY DEAD**

.

We have everything we need to be the world leader in protection against COVID, but instead we lead the world in deaths. These are not just statistics. These are – or were – people. So, say it with me: We’re Number One!

Read David Leonhardt’s clear explanation and his guesses as to why we prefer to gamble against death.

Hint: It’s because we’re vewy, vewy cwazy.

To be fair, Leonhardt didn’t say that, but I quite confidently do.

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* There is some lack of consistency. In the 1950s kids were dying, becoming crippled or left to the prison of an iron lung due to polio. When a vaccine became available parents rushed their kids to get it. That vaccine was okay. So were the vaccines that eradicated smallpox and the one stopping measles and more. Somehow, those vaccines, back then, were good. We trusted our government. There was very little push back.

Today is different. Perhaps it’s because mostly old people are dying from COVID-19, rather than children. Or maybe it’s because of how fractious our times are now and the enormous anger toward “elites” or anyone in charge that’s built up over the decades, as we broke trust over and over. It’s all too easy to lash out against mandates when you believe the ones creating them are just trying to bring you down – again.

** It took the Nazis about a year to kill the first million holocaust victims. By the time we hit one million deaths from COVID it will have taken us about 2.5 years.

34.5% of our population refuses to take easy precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. They put everyone else at risk with their complete indifference to the suffering and death of others. That’s hauntingly familiar human behavior.

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.The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this 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!)

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, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  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 vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What We Can Do


I’ve been a fan of Art Friedson for a while and he recently posted 5 great tips for making change that we need. He’s given me permission to reprint his essay and you’ll find it below (ever so teeny-tiny edited). It’s a refreshing change from worrying and wringing hands.

As you read you’ll notice that Art is a genius. You’ll know that because he agrees with you and me. The trick lies in our putting that genius to work.

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What Art Friedson Has On His Mind

It seems like the sequel to Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day came out last week and it starred President Joe Biden. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but I’d rather focus on what we can do to turn things around.

We have about six months before voter opinions for 2022 are baked in. Lest you think things don’t change much over six months, let me remind you that Omicron was first listed as a Variant of Concern in the United States on November 20, 2021. Yep. Just two months ago. We’ve got three times that long to change the narrative for the midterms, so let’s get started.

Scanning the punditry over the past two weeks, here are five things the Biden Administration and Democrats across the ideological spectrum can do to create real change:

1. Just stop talking. WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin, always a sane voice, urges us to stop talking about mega-bills that have stalled. And while you’re at it, stop talking about the filibuster and all the other things we can’t change right now. It is not only unhelpful, it actually hurts us by making it look like not achieving the impossible is a failure.

It’s also not helpful to keep bashing Manchin no matter how richly he deserves it. He’s a Democrat from the former guy’s second-strongest state (after Wyoming). Without Manchin, we don’t have a majority in the Senate. Period.

2. Accentuate the positive. 529,000,000 Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. since Joe Biden became president. 63% of the population is fully vaccinated representing 208,000,000 Americans. 96% of K-12 schools are open for in-person learning today, versus 46% a year ago. All of that happened in one year, despite a well-organized, highly motivated (and astonishingly stupid) opposition. That’s a BFD.

The $1.8 Trillion American Rescue Plan was passed without a single Republican vote. Not one. Yet, pretty much every American – Republican or Democrat – benefited directly. The economy didn’t tank thanks to payments to American families. Restaurants, hotels, small businesses, churches, synagogues and mosques survived the shutdown thanks to it. Poverty rates were slashed at the very moment employment was at its nadir.

The largest investment in infrastructure since the 1950s was passed (with a handful of R votes, no less!) and is being implemented even as we speak. It will repair our roads and bridges, improve our ports and rails, and bring broadband to the farthest reaches of our country.

This is an astonishing list, my friends. If we could focus on what we accomplished rather than what we’re lacking, we’d be doing a whole lot better politically.

3. Draw the contrast. Like the Obama Administration, the Biden White House has been 100% free of the corruption and constant chaos of life under the former guy.
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Want to throw out Democratic control of Congress? Get ready for non-stop Jim Jordan, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert. Is that what you really want, America? I don’t think so.
.
Remind everyone endlessly that every single infrastructure project they see was done almost solely by Democrats.
.

4. Play small ball. The Administration has been swinging for the bleachers for 12 months, and while it worked in the beginning on the wave of the election, it has not proven sustainable. But singles and doubles can score runs as well. He can probably get enough Republican support to protect what happens after elections which is crucial. Of course, we care about what happens with voting itself, but don’t sacrifice a crucial election reform because we can’t get more. Go for it. He can get two or three very big-ticket items packaged in a new Build Back Better bill that Manchin and Sinema will sign on to. Do it. Find the wins, and make the R’s force the losses to establish the contrast in the midterms.

5. Pursue the Abundance Agenda. Derek Thompson has a great piece in The Atlantic that very effectively argues for increasing the supply of essentials America needs. We need to increase the supply of healthcare, housing, college, transportation, clean energy, and I would add, legal immigrants in order to create a sustainably strong American economy. Let’s go for it.

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The Infrastructure Plan will do all of what Art said PLUS it will put millions of Americans to work in good paying union jobs with good benefits and will give them the dignity that comes from working.

If you’d like more from Art and some other insightful commentary, subscribe to Nancy Kohn’s NKC Occasional Update. Guaranteed to get your thinking machine lubricated.

Meanwhile, the days are counting down and we’re all counting on us.

Stop the Presses!

From Indivisible Illinois Voting Rights Gazette, January 25, 2022:

DeSantis Proposes Creation of Police-like Office to Hunt Out Suspected Voter Fraud

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing spending $5.7 million to create a new Office of Election Crime and Security, a first in the country.

Envisioned as an investigative unit, it would be authorized to look for violations of state election law and supposed election irregularities and would have the power to take control over any investigation conducted by local police or prosecutors.

With a proposed staff of over 50 investigators, the agency would have a larger staff than most police departments have to solve murders, even though only five Floridians have been arrested for alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election. It would be the first in any state dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election-related crimes. https://bit.ly/3Ib7cD0

Not to be outdone, a bill in the Arizona legislature would authorize the state’s auditor general to investigate state and local election administrators’ performance of their election duties. Normally the auditor general investigates financial practices, and has no election law expertise. Now, that office would be investigating voter registration and mail voting processes at the state and local level. 

The bill would also give the Legislative Audit Committee, another entity with no experience, the task of shaping the auditor’s investigations. https://bit.ly/3IDkoAX

Arizona legislature proposes funding for an entity with no expertise in election law to investigate voter registration. ” [all emphasis original]

That’s $5.7 million and 50 investigators to deal with 5 Floridians accused – NOT convicted – of voting irregularities. Nothing draconian and fascist to see here, folks. Move along. Same “no worries” for Arizona – the Brownshirt thugs are on duty!

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this 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!)

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, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  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 vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Liberty


Samuel Johnson

Just before the American Revolution the English poet and literary critic Samuel Johnson asked,

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

In a singular way, his insightful question puts a perspective to our founding hypocrisy. What was the contortion of mind and soul that allowed our Founders, men of great intellect and profound moral clarity, to live with such duplicity? One might reasonably think that, surely, that inconsistency must have vanished long ago, at least as far back as the abolishing of slavery, but I don’t think so.

Jim Crow didn’t end when southern governors were forced by National Guard or 101st Airborne troops to step aside and allow Blacks (or, really, any non-Whites) to attend public school with Whites. It didn’t end at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, nor did it end with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And it didn’t end when Trayvon Martin fell to the ground dead with a bag of Skittles in his pocket.  On one side of each of these incidents and so many more were Whites yelping loudly about their liberty and demanding it to the detriment of others.

It’s no different with our flagrant White supremacists today. Some adorn their pickup trucks with Trump flags and intimidate innocent people. Others intimidate with a vote or with their signature, often on letterhead from the House or Senate, state legislatures or governors’ mansions. These are people of power and stature, the heirs to the mantle handed down from the Founders.

They don’t own slaves or chase people from lunch counters or schoolhouse doors any more, but they work every day to keep non-Whites from voting, to keep them down and powerless. And as these people in power steal from non-Whites – and they’ve expanded their domination to suppress the poor and our young people, too – they are all the while yelping loudly about their liberty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have we learned nothing in these hundreds of years since Samuel Johnson asked his painful question?

Now add this from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Quite obviously millions covet their duplicitous, foolish consistency. It is much adored by our little statesmen and those who cheer them and harbor that self-same hypocrisy. Our duplicity hasn’t gone away. It’s just mutated and metastasized into today’s cruel, selfish liberty for some, but not for others.

Edward M. Kennedy, 1980

So, it falls to us to honor the pledge of Sen. Edward Kennedy, speaking at the 1980 Democratic National Convention:

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Our challenge, as ever, is to make that dream of liberty live.

.

Many thanks to JN for the chuckle

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Serving The Dream

We need to reach voters in cities where they’ve been repeatedly slammed by so-called “100 year storms.” They at last believe the climate crisis is real and that it truly is a crisis, but believing in this reality isn’t enough; we have to do something about it – like VOTE FOR THOSE WHO WILL ACT TO COOL THE CLIMATE AND PROTECT US! 

You can help to motivate people to vote for candidates who are serious about combating the climate crisis by sending postcards that remind voters to take action. This has been made easy to do by the Postcards for Climate folks. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to do this because they’ll give you the script.

LINK HERE to get your postcards. And be sure to get your kids involved, because they’ll want to be able to breathe and eat when they’re adults. Plus, democracy is a participation sport, so sending postcards is good citizenship training for them.

We have to do democracy in order to have democracy.

– Kelly Ward Burton, President, National Democratic Redistricting Committee

————————————
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this 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!)

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, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Speech I Wanted President Biden to Give Last Night


In The United States House of Representatives
Sergeant at Arms:

Madam Speaker: the President of the United States

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.:

Speaker Pelosi, Vice-President Harris, Members of the Supreme Court, Senators, Representatives and guests, we’re here tonight for an accounting of the condition of the United States of America – something of a report card for our nation. It is well and fitting that we should do so after the most turbulent transfer of power in the history of our nation.

While we are gathered here in the presence of officials and luminaries, tonight I’m speaking directly the American people – all 331,400,000 of us – because you know the truth, that we are in a fix of our own making, putting us in peril.

On December 1, 1862 Abraham Lincoln sent a message to Congress in those dark days of Americans fighting and killing Americans. Our nation was being ripped apart as he spoke a truth they all knew:

“We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth.”

These times are not so different in spirit and this is our peril. There is a rise of autocracy around the world. It is the very enemy of democracy and we are not so exceptional that we are immune to that danger. Indeed, it has set foot on our doorstep.

I love this country just as you do, so it’s time that we put all the cards on the table, time that we stop withholding the gritty truth so that we might begin to heal ourselves and meet our challenges – so that we save this last best hope of Earth.

Surely, you remember the comments of the last president about the events in Charlottesville that culminated in the murder of Heather Heyer. He said that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

But you know that there weren’t.

Because one side was made of people chanting hateful things, people who wore the emblems of Nazis, the enemy we fought and defeated at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives. Nazis like and want autocracy – dictatorship – not democracy. They are an enemy that wants to bring down our country. So, no, those were not fine people.

Here’s more gritty truth: Congress is not unlike that.

We have people in Congress who promoted insurrection, violence against our country and our countrymen and women. We have people here in Congress who know full well that Trump’s Big Lie about the election having been stolen is pure fiction. They know that claims of hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes are pure fiction. They know that there is absolutely no evidence of fraud in our last election, which is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. They know that these are just another set of self-serving Trump lies. They will acknowledge that in the cloakrooms of the House and Senate and in other private places. They know the truth.

But in public, when it counts, they cower in fear of the megalomaniac and they toe the corrupt line for Trump and their party bosses. They mouth the Big Lie. When they do that they weaken our nation.

The Electoral College votes of all 50 states were certified, but 147 senators and representatives challenged some state counts and voted to overturn the election, even though they had no evidence of any election wrongdoing, nor any other factual reason to object. They were blindly promoting the Big Lie, even as they knew the truth, and they undermined our democracy. You elected them to be leaders, not followers, but they caved to party pressure. Here’s what that means to you:

They stand in opposition to any and every plan to make your life better and safer.

For decades they have voted against nearly every piece of legislation that would have had benefit for you. They voted in goose stepping unison to oppose the American Rescue Plan, our program that has led to the vaccination of over 200 million Americans, put money in your pocket and created hundreds of thousands of jobs. I say again: they voted against that. And they offer nothing to make things better for you.

They stand in unison against the proposed American Jobs Plan (the infrastructure bill), the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill and every other action proposed by Democrats designed to be of service to the American people. They stand against universal background checks before the transfer of firearms, even though 90% of Americans want that protection. They have no policy proposals and stand only for obstruction. They give no thought to you.

In short, they have sold you out.

That’s why I’m speaking directly to you. Because if you want anything good to happen, if you want government to work for you, you have to pressure your senators and congressperson to vote in favor of you. You have to tell them to stop the un-American, self-serving dance they do that focuses solely on themselves. Tell them to start working for you. Tell them to shape up or you will ship them out.

We are at a crossroads where we must decide which way to turn. One way leads to continuing division and anger and despair. It encourages more extremist violence like the awful attack on our nation on January 6. It has already generated state laws that dramatically attack your freedoms. It promises greater wealth for people who don’t need it and increasing poverty for everyone else.

A turn the other way leads to a better America – that shining city on the hill. It leads to greater prosperity for all Americans and keeps us the envy of the world. It restores our place among nations. It keeps faith with the Founders of our nation and the vision they gave to us of what we can be. It tells us that the American Dream is alive and well and it’s there for all of us, if only we have the courage to make the right choices and grab it.

So, call or write to your legislators both in Washington and in your own state. Tell them you want an end to their jiggering our country just to serve themselves. Tell them that you have a long memory when you’re double-crossed and you’ll surely remember their selling you out if they don’t start doing the right job for We the People, the job they were elected to do.

Look, there will be time to talk about programs we have developed and will be proposing. Right now what you need to know is that your voice is the one that must be heard if the self-serving obstructionists are to be stopped, so your job is to speak up. I’ll do my job of finding solutions that will work. Together we’ll get past our decades of self-defeat and restore our country to the path where we know it belongs.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

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Be sure to read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on this in today’s Letters From an American. And subscribe to her brilliant writings.

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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

FDB – Not a Typo


The Yungr Machine is a modification of the Wabac Machine.

Were I twenty years younger and living where there is a Republican senator or congressperson I would run for office in 2022. I’m licking my lips at the idea of running against any fool Republican who voted against the American Rescue Plan, which includes every Republican in Congress. By November 2022 it will be the single most positive and popular thing to impact the voting public in many decades and its popularity will climb as people get checks, vaccinations. jobs and their kids go back to school. Please, somebody, stuff me into the Yungr Machine so I can become a generation younger and run against an R in the mid-term election.

.

Passing the American Rescue Plan is a huge step in delivering what Americans want and desperately need. It has a 76% approval rating – over 60% of Republicans like it – and those numbers are going nowhere but up. It’s the kind of thing that makes people say, “Hey, this is pretty good stuff – these guys actually can deliver.” Some will say quite reasonably, “It’s about damn time,” and, of course, they’ll be right. We’ve dragged feet for decades on any kind of benefit package that actually helps working people and our most desperate.

This is so good that even stogy economists, like those at Goldman Sachs, as well as non-stogy Paul Krugman, are predicting 7.7% growth in GDP, and that’s nothing but good for everyone.

The key political play is for the Dems to keep the Plan properly framed and its benefits in front of voters for the next four years. That’s critical, because Trump will try to steal the glory by claiming that “only he” could have delivered Operation Warp Speed. Look for that BS coming soon to a communication near you.

Now imagine Biden delivering an infrastructure bill, a critically needed updating and rebuilding of our national foundation that politicians have been wagging tongues about and have steadfastly avoided tackling for at least 40 years. This will be a WPA-like package that puts millions more Americans to work with good wages and benefits and the self-respect that comes with that. That will be next on Biden’s playlist and, like the American Rescue Plan, it will be gigantically popular.

Big projects are what are needed for our big challenges. This is very much like the time of the Great Depression, in that there are big crises afoot, which opens a space for a strong leader with the right message to emerge and champion serving the people. Delivering on that opportunity will cement Biden as the right guy for our time and perhaps the cultural and economic successor to FDR; hence, the title, “FDB.”

Republicans know and fear this, so they especially want to oppose an infrastructure plan, because its popularity would likely portend 8 to 12 additional years of a Democrat in the White House and Democrats controlling Congress, too. That’s why they are scratching and clawing to keep the filibuster. They are desperate to prevent its modification so that they can continue to submarine every Democrat and every Biden effort. Their motto:

Obstruction Я Us

They are all about stopping anything that is good for We the People because that prevents Ds from having a win. They think that will put them in power. Too bad for you.

That is why Democrat efforts to de-fang the filibuster and prevent Republican obstructionism is so important to our nation. Read this to understand fully.

Republican legislators refuse to be responsive to the needs and desires of the American people, but they still want power. They ache for the appalling thrill of minority rule. They are unable to compete on policy, so they’re waging a war using cultural divisiveness, fantastical lying, gerrymandering and overt voter suppression. Sadly, in their complete absence of even a single idea of substance for We the People, they’re now using their lofty Congressional status to attack Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head. Really.*

If you believe in majority rule, you better get into the fight to limit or eliminate the filibuster.

Fun Contest

There’s red wine, white wine and Republican whine, and they have already started their whining campaign about the American Rescue Plan. They are claiming that it’s full of “pork barrel spending.” They are wailing great cries of woe and rending their garments in anticipation of a fantasy mortal hog snort to our nation. This is exactly like Trump and Republican accusations of voting fraud in the 2020 election, in that in neither case are they able to point to even a single example of the horrible thing they decry. All they have are false accusations projected at spit-spewing volume.

Which brings to mind the title and key lyric of a fine blues tune:

Your Mind Is On Vacation (and Your Mouth Is Working Overtime)

So, the contest is to find an example of the pork that Republicans claim is in this bill. Submit your contest entry in the Comments section below. The contest winner’s name will be attached to a pork chop that will be sent to the Congressional pork whiner of his/her choice.

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  • *Tucker Carlson responded to President Biden’s Thursday speech, wherein the President offered hope that we will be able to gather with friends and family on the Fourth of July. Carlson said, “This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?” He’s quite good at indignation.
  • That empty headedness is what passes for thoughtful Republican commentary in a pandemic.
  • Okay, I accept your criticism that Tucker Carlson is anything but thoughtful. So, instead consider applying to him the blues tune title above.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

January 20th, 12:00 PM


Reading time – 2:36; Viewing time – 3:25  .  .  .

Washington DC

There have been years of outright lying, manipulation and the sowing of hatreds to divide Americans from one another.

The Justice Department has been polluted and has compromised the Constitution.

Department Secretaries with vested, greedy interests have been posted to subvert the intent of the agencies they lead.

The courts have been packed with incompetents and ideologues.

The Department of Defense leadership has been given over to ignorant sycophants of the President.

The agency that brilliantly fought in cyberspace for our election integrity has been decapitated.

The intelligence agencies have been infested with know-nothings of worrisome security risk.

The former President was impeached for extortion and obstruction of Congress, but nearly all of the Republican senators, in an unconscionable act of subservience, did what they always do: they collapsed into pitiful, spineless blobs and refused to stand up to the criminal and convict him. They refused to even look at the evidence.

The former President wailed phantasmagorical fantasies, claiming he won the election. He brayed vacuous accusations of voting fraud everywhere, especially accusing minority cities, while providing no evidence at all. That’s because voting fraud didn’t happen, so his dozens of lawsuits were laughed out of court. At the same time he reveled in his victimhood, his most consistent whine. It was all in an effort to subvert the will of the people, to retain power to which he was not entitled and to draw ever more cash contributions from his followers.

Worst of all, he incited a riot of insurrection and sedition, hoping to knee cap Congress and stay in power. That resulted in desecration of the Capitol Building, threats to the safety of every member of Congress and 5 people were killed. That led to his richly deserved second impeachment.

The large, 15 stripes flag that inspired the lyrics of the US national anthem when it flew above Fort McHenry in the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Click the pic for more.

There have been far more efforts to undermine and crush our democracy by the former President and his faithless enablers. But a few good people and the Constitution have stood in the way of his anti-democracy malfeasance, such that our democracy has survived this four-year-long dark night.

Even in the face of the former President’s war against this country we now have a new President and a new Vice-President, as directed by the Constitution.

It was said long ago:

“And the rocket’s red glare,

“The bombs bursting in air,

“Gave proof through the night

“That our flag was still there.”

Our flag is still there. And it’s up to those of us who believe in democracy to do the hard work to stop the lie and keep our flag flying.

Today, this day, we gather the scattered blocks and begin to build anew.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Critically Important View From Europe


Reading time – 7:15  .  .  .

Presidential Befoulment of the Military Update

It has been 3 days since the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military were exposed. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, disparaging words and behavior. Not one.

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The G7 Summit is scheduled to meet virtually in November or perhaps later. In anticipation of that and our mail-in ballot season, some notion of how the rest of the world sees America is crucial, because America’s world leadership is on life support. That makes our election choices and actions critical.

A friend forwarded the opinion piece below from The Irish Times (many thanks to JS) and it gives us a view into what America looks like from a European democracy. Consider it in the context of my piece last April, Absolute Power, as well as the closing section of Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition.


Donald Trump Has Destroyed The Country He Promised To Make Great Again
The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now for the first time, we pity it.

Irish Times-April 25, 2020 – By Fintan O’Toole

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic.

As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted … like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.

If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.

Other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?

It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.

What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.

Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.

In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”

This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fueled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.

Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it. The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralyzed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.

The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority;” and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.

But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.

There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.

Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.  And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realization that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.

That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.

And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is reveling in it. He is in his element.

As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.

Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.

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If this report seems far-fetched; if the perspective seems far too narrow; if you’re inclined to dismiss this as just one disgruntled Irish guy opining, then I urge you to have a look at Tom McTague’s essay from London in The Atlantic entitled “The Decline of the American World.” Be clear that Trump is engineering that very thing. E.g. last week Trump announced that we won’t participate in the worldwide effort to develop a vaccine to battle Covid-19. What do you suppose that looks like from abroad?

From McTague’s post:

Bruno Maceas, Portugal’s former Europe minister, whose book The Dawn of Eurasia looks at the rise of Chinese power, told me, “The collapse of the American empire is a given; we are just trying to figure out what will replace it.”

You can check with the folks at Gallup for more. Here’s a recent graph of how Europeans view American leadership. The charts for how Asians and people in the Americas see American leadership look the same. Be clear that the rising black line on the right represents increasing disapproval of U.S. leadership over the past 3 years.

On the left of the graph you can see the high disapproval of the leadership of George W. Bush. Then there were eight strong years of approval for American leadership during the Obama administration (the green line). Now Trump has managed to achieve the highest leadership disapproval of America by our global neighbors. Ever. This is what Trump’s destruction of alliances and his sucking up to tyrants have done to our place in the world. Click the chart and read the report for yourself.

Consider if you were accosted by a street tough. You likely wouldn’t respect him. On the other hand, you’d be keenly aware of and have great respect for the assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol he carried and you would be exceedingly clear about the destruction and chaos they can cause. It’s quite the same for the the way the world views the United States of Trump.

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Finally, five years ago the offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked and eleven of its staff were murdered by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. The trial of some accomplices to those murders began last Wednesday and Charlie Hebdo once again published the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and Islam that triggered the attack. Once again they’ve put a stake in the ground to declare freedom of the press will not be stifled. So, once again we can all declare, Je suis Charlie.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Compare and Contrast – Guest Essay


Reading time – 4:39  .  .  .

Immediately following the DNC convention and Joe BIden’s speech, regular reader and sometimes commenter Dan Giallombardo felt the need to put his reactions in writing. He gave me permission to show you his offering in this guest essay. It’s being posted today both so that you can appreciate his message and to see it in contrast to four days of the RNC/Trump hatefest. Keep in mind that Dan is a veteran of decades of political contests, so he knows what he’s seeing. Many thanks to Dan for his essay.

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Over the past three years and eight months a dark, sinister veil has fallen over the United States. Once our prestige in the international community was unchallenged. Now we are viewed as a “has been,” and “fools in the marketplace.” We have a president who is viewed as an amoral clown, a carnival barker for the Big Con.

Tonight, Joe Biden accepted the Democratic party’s nomination for President of the United States and the first small beams of light came through the darkness – the first small rays of light in a long, dark and bitterly cold night. Tonight, Joe Biden reminded us of what hope looks like. In 1972, RIchard Nixon won the election with 60.7% of the vote. Were the election held today, based on his acceptance speech, Biden’s victory would make Nixon’s win a Presidential footnote.

But the election is still 73 days away. A lot can happen in that amount of time. We must not be given to the illusion that because Biden is ahead in the polls that this election will be an easy, dignified one. It’s not going to be. It will be an alley fight wherein we will scratch and claw for every vote we can find.

Donald Trump is not a man of graceful action. He will fight for this, and he will lie about everything. I worry that he and Barr have cooked up some “October surprise” for us. We must be vigilant and guard against that.

Biden’s Thursday night speech reminded me of the title of the  book by President Barrack Obama: The Audacity of Hope; that’s what Biden was offering us. His vision of hope and the confidence he has in the American people—all of us—black, brown, yellow white, red, we are all  members of this Great Republic in which we are so fortunate to live. But Joe Biden also reminded us of the gravity of President Obama’s words the night before: if we re-elect Trump, it will be the end of our democracy. Not an idea to be taken lightly, but neither is Trump.

Like a wounded animal he will try everything to win. And like a wounded animal, he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. As long as Donald is on top, which brings up another point.

Over 170,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Joe Biden mourns with them; he has a far too intimate experience with the kind of grief that comes from having one’s family torn apart. He mourns for them; he mourns with them. It’s called empathy. The current occupant of the Oval Office dismisses these deaths with a glib remark: “It is what it is.” Nowhere near my idea of leadership.

The man who tonight began to show us the light in the darkness, took to task the “bone-spur-cadet” in the White House. For five months the US has battled for its life against Covid-19, as the man in the Oval Office has used braggadocio and lies to con the American people into believing that he’s very effectively dealing with the crisis and “We’re making great progress with a vaccine.”

Joe Biden addressed that issue in his speech; he spoke of what he would do to stop the virus. Biden has a plan; not bragging, not lying; a plan to fight and beat the virus. A virus that has killed over 170,000 Americans; ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-THOUSAND AMERICANS. No matter how you present that number it comes out obscene.

In a speech that pushed back some of  the darkness, Biden rightly raged at the indifference shown by the current administration to the bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan. He pointedly referred to the current occupant of the Oval Office—just in case there was ever any doubt about who he was rightly accusing.

For those of us fortunate to have been alive during the administration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we have the memory of how he made us feel. He brought vigor, vision and leadership to the office of the President, not cheeseburgers and Cokes. When Kennedy spoke the world listened. When Trump speaks the world places its collective hand over its mouth so as not to be seen laughing.

John Kennedy was blessed with eloquence. In his inaugural speech, he made reference to “the torch;” he was referring to the torch of liberty; the same one that is held high by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. His words still ring out: “Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that the torch has been passed  .  .  .”

Today we are the bearers of that torch. It is incumbent upon us to keep it burning, up to us to pass it on to those who follow us. We are creating their tomorrow right now.

Finally,

Motivational speaker Les Brown used to say, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” He was right of course, and these times are just like all others, in that we are always being tested. The world challenges us to know what we stand for. In these dangerous times, it’s especially important to be clear.

Jacob Blake, a Black father in Kenosha, WI, was gunned down at point blank range; the White officer had a grip on Blake’s shirt as he fired his gun. The cop shot Blake in the back seven times. Blake was unarmed and posed no risk of violence, yet was shot right in front of his three children. What would you do if Blake were a friend of yours? What would you do if you were horrified that one of yours – a fellow human being – had been maliciously gunned down?

The NBA playoffs are ongoing, but the players know this injustice and they just wouldn’t have it. They walked out, refusing to play game 2 on Wednesday night, this as a statement of protest, as well as showing solidarity with the victim of this police violence, as well as with his family and against racial injustice. These men know what they stand for and they’re telling us about it publicly.

Ignore for the moment the galactically cynical, mean spirited comments of presidential whisperer Jared Kushner that somehow managed to conflate the NBA players’ statement of principle about racial injustice with their salaries. And ignore Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short’s whataboutism, whining that the NBA players didn’t protest things China has done. Yes, he really did say that. Clearly we know what those two stand for. Let me put this into proper context for them and all who are objecting to protests by sports figures.

People are being shot and strangled and beaten by cops and vigilantes every day. Some people of principle are speaking out – and you’re whining because you can’t watch a basketball game. Get a grip on reality and try to imagine that the world is not solely about you.

We are each called to know what we stand for and to stand up and be counted over and over. We know that there’s nothing new in cops killing unarmed Blacks. What’s new is video showing the true horror of what goes on regularly. We cannot unlearn what we have learned. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and now Jacob Blake are real people, not some ink on a newspaper page or a brief mention on the 10:00 o’clock news. It’s time for all of us to stand and be counted, like the NBA players and the crowds of protesters in every city in America and around the world in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, lest we fall for something terribly sinister and awful.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Biden’s To-Do List – The Short Form


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

Reading time – 2:52  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

– Restore full status to the CDC.

– Restore funding for the WHO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Withdraw support for Israel to annex West Bank areas.

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

Expand Obamacare to cover all Americans.

Restore the full Voting Rights Act.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden’s Attorney General action list:

– Prosecute William Barr for whatever comes to mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remove the conspiracy theorists from top positions in the Pentagon.

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

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

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

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

Undo foreign policy unforced errors, including:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.

– Join the international agreement to combat deforestation.

– Establish federal incentives for installation of renewable energy.

– Establish federal incentives for clean energy innovation.

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

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

Lead fundamental police policy change.

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

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

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

Do comprehensive immigration reform – finally!

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

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

– Open our system for prompt handling of asylum seekers.

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

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

Many thanks to brother Mike for starting this discussion.

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

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