America

Good-Bye, America


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To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.
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JA


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

A Modest Proposal – v4.0


Reading time – 5:35  .  .  .

We are locked in an increasingly bloody and always hateful conflict. Red America and Blue America think in different ways, speak different languages, recognize different facts and are unable to communicate with one another except with threats and mean-spirited accusations. The differences and animosities are growing and the situation seems to be intractable. Writes Anand Giridharadas, We Are In A Cold Civil War. I think he’s right. David Frum has written that Trump Is a Secessionist From The Top and his followers seem to revel in how separate they are from the rest of us. Truth be told, I’m weary of it all.

I’m sick of the hateful speech and the denials and contortions of reality. I’m disgusted by the ever more common brandishing of assault weapons by strutting tough guys. I’m offended by the easy acceptance and even the promotion of criminality at the top. And I’m disheartened by the obvious welcoming of fascism by followers of this autocratic, dictator-wannabe president. There seems to be no courage left in Red America to commit to what many of us had thought was the American way. There don’t seem to be many patriots left who will stand and be counted when it’s time to stop a tyrant. That says to me that there may be no possibility of narrowing the chasm of our national divide.

Well, I have a solution – a modest proposal. I confess it isn’t original. I read something about this many years ago when the first storm clouds of our cold civil war reached the horizon. It seemed absurd at the time; not so much now.

Since we are already steadfastly, both by culture and core values, unaligned, we’ll formally divide America into two independent nations. For the most part the geographic division will be easy. We’ll just separate out all the steadfastly red states, like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah, Indiana and West Virginia. There will be some difficulty in placing the purple states, like Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. The rest will be Blue State America. You get the idea.

We’ll have details to iron out, like border protections and passport requirements, trade and the decision of which America gets to keep DC and the stars and stripes. Plus, we’ll have to figure out who gets the might of our military and there will be yet more questions.

A benefit of this solution is that Red State Americans will get to keep their Confederate statues and memorials and will be able to proudly display Confederate battle flags. They can choose whatever distortion of reality suits them and the Ford F-150 pickup truck can be their official national vehicle. All those proud, rugged individuals will be able to walk with heads held high, chests out, safe with their concealed carry and in the knowledge that no elite* weenies from Blue State America will be dictating their fates or limiting their freedoms. No overblown government bureaucracy will take their money and regulate them to death.

Gone will be the self-important scientists telling them to wear a mask and stay out of churches and bars. They won’t have to justify going to Trump rallies by claiming patriotism or announce they’re accepting of the consequences of refusing pandemic protections, only to hear Blue State Americans tell them that their freedoms stop at the tip of the next person’s nose. In fact, they’ll be able to go about their business in the certainty that COVID-19 is a hoax.

There will be no more federal government standing in the way of their personal liberty. The new Red State American government will be benign and will never intrude on their lives. And there’s even more for Red State Americans.

They’ll be able to listen to their president’s “straight talk” and not be bothered by Blue State American busy-bodies howling about how his straight talk is actually a pack of lies. They won’t have to listen to audio recordings of the president proving his homicidal dishonesty leading to tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of American deaths. They won’t have to listen to Blue State Americans whine about his over 20,000 lies to the public (over 16 per day, every day).

There are a couple of points that will be important for Red State Americans to know. For example, those horrible things that FDR created, like Social Security and the terrible things Lyndon Johnson did, like Medicare and Medicaid, will disappear for them. Each citizen will be on their own to pay for all of their own healthcare, including when catastrophic health issues arise. They’ll simply have to deal with their lifetime of debt.

Each will have to fund all of their own retirement, too. Failure to do so will cause them to live in abject poverty until death finally brings relief at the end of their rugged individualism, pretty much as it was before Social Security.

This national split will have substantial business impact, too. For example, Fox News will relocate from Manhattan in New York to Manhattan in Kansas, a huge cost saving. Koch Industries will be perfectly positioned in Wichita to take control of the Red State American oligarch government.

Click me for a full scale map

There are important issues of independence to consider and Alabamians, for example, will have to do some adjusting. Once separated into two countries, Alabama will no longer get back $2.02 for every $1 they send to DC. It’s a similar balance in West Virginia ($2.08 for every $1 sent to DC), South Carolina ($1.62), Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky ($2.41) and for most of Red State America. Economic life is going to become much more challenging in those places, as funding for roads, bridges, schools, healthcare, disaster relief and more becomes either far more individually burdensome or they will have to dramatically ratchet down their way of life. Of course this change will create an economic windfall for all in Blue State America, who will no longer have to fund Red State America.

Still, this separation will give everyone what they want. We can stop accusing and attacking one another and each make our own way. Gone will be charges of racism one way and burdensome elitism the other way. No longer will we argue about protests or whose life matters or whether our troops are losers and suckers. We’ll end our contentiousness over the president’s supplication to authoritarians and his solicitations for foreign election interference. Each America can choose its own allies or none at all. It’s the ultimate freedom of choice.

So, there is our way forward, just when it seemed there wasn’t one. Take a deep breath and begin to make the decision where you’ll want to live.

To put a fine point on this, read Eugene Robinson’s essay on Trump’s racism, and – this is critical – watch the 11-minute video embedded in his piece, Voter Suppression Never Went Away. It Evolved. Once we split up the country, we won’t have to worry about such things.

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End of satire. What follows is deadly serious.

From Harlan Coben’s The Boy From The Woods, page 285:

”  .  .  .  it will now be easy to destroy the social order. The middle has become complacent. They are smart, but they are lazy. They see the grays. They get the other side. Extremists, on the other hand, see only black and white. They are not only certain that their vision is absolutely correct, but they are incapable of even understanding the other side. Those who don’t believe as they do are lesser in every way, and so they will kill for that vision.”

“Extremists are relentless. They don’t see right or wrong – they see us and them.”

I’ve been warning of creeping autocracy and fascism for a long time (click here for a list of some of those posts). It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means. It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means will prove to be.

That is why we must not be complacent. That is why we dare not be lazy.

Vote to stop this insanity. Help to register others to vote – click here and scroll to the Opportunities section for resources to make a difference. Encourage everyone you know to vote. Early voting has already started, so there is no time for delay. Act now, because there may not be another chance.

This is the only way.

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  • * Do you remember when “elite” was a good thing? That was before Barack Obama became president. He was monstrously bright and knowledgeable and had checked all the “smart” boxes, so white guys felt threatened and “elite” got warped into a negative thing and has been used ever since as a dog whistle for racist animosity.
  • “Elite” was good back when we wanted the best and brightest to be the ones who thought through our toughest challenges. “Elite” meant “the best.” Clearly, we have need for some truly elite people right now.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Home


Reading time – 2:13  .  .  .

You’re out and about and tell a friend,”I’m going back to my house.” Your house is defined by a street address, information that identifies a place on a map. If instead you had said,”I’m going home,” the geographic destination would be the same, but the meaning would be quite distinct.

“Home” is a place in the heart, a well of meaning that transcends GPS coordinates. If you pay attention and allow it to surface, just saying, “I’m going home” has a personal power and depth of meaning. I’ve always felt the same about “America.”

The “United States” is just that: 50 states that are united. It’s a geographical and a political identity and a statement of our sometimes difficult but enduring union. All of that is good. But “America” is home. “America” is what my ancestors saw in the 1890s, as they sailed past the Statue of Liberty and registered at Ellis Island. They didn’t see a collection of states. They saw America and all its promise. They saw a new home. To understand more fully, read Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus, which is inscribed on the base of the Statue.

But now I despair over what we’re doing to our home. I’ll be writing soon about a wonderful victory for a woman named Maria and her 6-year-old daughter, yet I can’t help but shake my head in frustration over why it was so difficult for us to simply do the right thing here in our home. Watch for that story.

It’s the same reluctance to do the right thing that we see every day in the national insanity and embarrassment that is today’s Congressional GOP. They consistently deny realities that are right in front of them and violate the very values that make this America. The same is true of the 25 (or more) Republican controlled state houses that institutionalize voter suppression, the new Jim Crow. It’s the same way with our president who lies over 32 times per day, for whom the only things that are sacred are those that benefit himself and who endangers our home by bumbling through foreign affairs and inciting division.

These are disheartening times for our failing to do the right things, but if we are to protect our home we must not stay in this low place. We must take up the arms of our voices and our votes and restore what we hold to be sacred and dear. We must come home.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

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