Authoritarianism

Do You Smell What I Smell?


In another effort to quash the will of the majority of its citizens, the state of Texas passed a draconian anti-abortion law that effectively outsources law enforcement to vigilantes. The Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction to stop the law from taking effect before a full review of its breathtakingly unconstitutional provisions could be examined.* Effectively, abortion has been criminalized in Texas and enforcement of the law has been handed to bounty hunters, who have been offered cash prizes for spying on neighbors.

Historian and Professor Heather Cox Richardson puts it this way:

“The Republican Party is empowering vigilantes to enforce their beliefs against their neighbors.”

Ordinary citizens with nothing more than greed, strong opinions and with no training are now allowed to file lawsuits against anyone even remotely associated with an abortion, even those just having a conversation with a woman who may be thinking about it. They don’t even have to show harm to themselves to have standing to sue others for $10,000 or more, others who are doing Constitutionally protected things, even just having a conversation. That effectively makes these vigilantes the Thought Police** and trashes the First Amendment.

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, the worst part of this law is not that, even as harmful to women as this Texas hypocrisy is. It is about empowering vigilantes to perform the duties of the state in order for the state to avoid judicial review. Now, think about what that could mean.

Texas could enact another law that outsources collecting tax penalties to vigilantes, that encourages armed, ignorant citizens to pursue those they imagine have broken the law, that can allow extremists to sue journalists and news organizations to penalize their adverse reporting of politicians. The state can just turn everything over to crazed vigilantes and effectively do an end run around the courts.

You know, like in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Like in the communist Soviet Union. Like in all repressive states. Neighbors turning on neighbors.

We already know what mobs of impassioned, self-important people can and will do. We saw that on January 6 at our Capitol Building. Now imagine such people up close and personal. They’re delusional about their patriotism and notions of godliness. They’re untrained and uninformed greedy bounty hunters rampaging through your neighborhood pretending they’re trained police officers and looking for you to sue you into bankruptcy.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that the extremist Republican Supreme Court justices could have stopped this plainly unconstitutional lunacy with an injunction, but they refused to do so. They allowed this law to go into effect without even having heard the case against it, which is coming before the court soon. They have abandoned the rule of law. Clearly, something needs to be done about this extremist court, because they aren’t done “legislating their ideology from the bench.”

Another Texas law makes it legal for gun toting vigilantes to roam around polling places – inside – and intimidate voters. The Texas hits just keep on coming.

These laws are sure to be copied by other minority rule, extremist Republican controlled states and we’ll have Wild West, blatantly unconstitutional actions all across our nation.

Let’s see: The Republicans have given us legally sanctioned vigilantism; minority rule; measures to encourage the infection of citizens with a deadly disease; horrific voter suppression; abandonment of the rule of law; refusal to hold cops accountable; refusal to extend healthcare to poor people; encouragement of insurrection; concealed carry and stand your ground laws that make murder legal; lies and cruel fictions replacing facts and truth; a rejection of science and a celebration of ignorance; bloated enrichment of the already wealthy and the impoverishing of our poor and middle class citizens; the destruction of trust in our electoral system; the teaching of religion in our public schools; the promotion of White supremacy and the glorification of racism; the denial of global warming in favor of enriching their wealthy donors. What else?

In the 2020 general election campaign the Republican Party had no platform. They offered a single page of rah-rah. That’s it. They offered no declaration of what they were about or of their vision for America. Sadly, now we know what they’re about. Now we know their dystopian vision for the destruction of our democracy.

I smell tyranny. I smell authoritarianism and dictatorship. I smell fascism and it stinks.

Do you smell what I smell?

Wanna Fight This Insanity? Here’s How

Sheila Markin is a friend, the publisher of The Markin Report and she smells what’s burning, just as you do. If you haven’t yet subscribed to her posts, you truly need to. She just emailed me with news about a couple of Zooms I’m certain you’ll want to attend.

As you can see from the destructive laws being enacted in Texas and elsewhere to assault our rights and our democracy, there’s much we have to learn and much we have to do. To that end, Sheila has put together two educational 1-hour Zooms for us. These are being offered at no cost and there will be no requirement to donate. This is about making a critical difference. Here is the schedule.

September 17 at 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters will help us understand how they fight disinformation. Did you ever imagine that there would be a need to fight a constant tsunami of disinformation? Well, there is and you’ve known it for a while. We need to get smart about dealing with that.

September 24 at 2:00PM CDT – The 314 Project will explain how they are working to get doctors and scientists elected to Congress, as well as to state and local positions of leadership. Take just a moment to consider what it would be like if doctors had legislative input on medical issues and if scientists had input on issues of science, instead of such things being handled by self-serving, ignorance-loving, know-nothing  politicians. Breathtaking!

Note that in order to attend you need to email Sheila at [email protected] and let her know you’ll be there. That way you’ll be on the approved good-guy list for the presenters and the Zooms.

Please invite your friends, your network of contacts who are concerned about our country, who insist that our democracy survives these assaults from the radical right wing.
.

I’ll be there and will be looking for you.

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* You must read Justice Sotomayor’s blistering dissent. Download a copy of all the justices’ opinions. Sotomayor’s comments begin on page 7.

In reading her comments I was reminded of a college football cheer, paraphrased thusly:

“Rip ’em up, tear ’em up, give ’em hell, Sotomayor!”

** From Wikipedia:

“In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate Oceania, who discover and punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by Ingsoc‘s regime. The Thinkpol use criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens, cameras, and microphones, to monitor the citizens of Oceania and arrest all those who have committed thoughtcrime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.”

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

The American ISIS – Part One


When al Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 they thought they were doing God’s work. When they upped their game on September 11, 2001 they thought they were doing God’s work. When ISIS beheaded American journalist Danny Pearl they thought they were doing God’s work. When ISIS murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo they thought they were doing God’s work.

And when rioters stormed and desecrated the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 they thought they were the true patriots and that they were doing God’s work. They even paused their befouling to profanely rage out a prayer in the Senate chamber.

The New York Times has published a narrative and a 40-minute video chronicling what happened on that awful day of self-righteous rage. I urge you to read and watch, because it’s highly likely that you don’t know the extent of the carnage to people, to physical structures and to our democracy that were visited upon us that day. I promise you that you’ll be left with new questions about how this happened,

The starting point occurred long ago when it was determined that power, fame and money could be gained by lying, cheating, stealing and peddling outrageous and cruel fantasies to angry Americans. This obscene manipulation has been refined to an art form, with people so overwhelmed by false claims that no charge is too fantastic for millions to believe.

These fantasies have led to violence, like mass shootings. One led a North Carolina fool to drive to Virginia and fire his gun into what he thought was the basement of a pizza parlor. He believed the outrageous conspiracy claim that there was a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton operating there. Luckily, the building has no basement or he likely would have killed someone.

These fantasies and lies have led to millions believing that the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats committing fraud on a national scale. Thousands felt they were more than justified in attacking government.

That’s the starting point, but there’s far more to identify, like,

– why repeated warnings of a violent confrontation coming to DC weren’t heeded by the Capitol Police, DC law enforcement and the federal government

– who gave reconnaissance tours of the Capitol Building to insurrectionists on January 5

– why it took hours for reinforcements to arrive – then hours more for additional help to show up

– who dragged feet in quelling the insurrection

– why there weren’t hundreds of tear gas canisters deployed into the crowd and fire hoses at the ready to disperse the mob

– why law enforcement was so woefully under-resourced and why they showed so much restraint in their actions as they were being beaten and maimed and the building was being desecrated

– why Republicans in Congress opposed and killed an independent commission to investigate this most reprehensible attack on our country. Who and what are they protecting from daylight?

There is conjecture that the goal of the rioters was to prevent the Electoral College votes from being counted. The insurrectionists screamed that they were taking back “their” country. They chanted their intent to hang Vice President Mike Pence and that they were coming for Nancy Pelosi and even Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (Note: Roberts doesn’t work in that building). They failed at all those goals and more, yet they proudly declared their insurrection to have been a victory. Do you suppose that means they’re done with wreaking havoc and violence on America?

There were perhaps as many as 10,000 anti-democracy, authoritarianism loving* rioters assaulting the Capitol and every one of them broke at least one law. The FBI is pursuing violators, but so far they’ve grabbed and charged only about 535 of them. The vast majority will get away with their criminality. They’ve gone home with the personal satisfaction of knowing that they have destroyed property, injured hundreds, killed 5 and temporarily disrupted the machinery of government.

From The Onion, of course – click me

Perhaps far worse, hundreds of senators and congressmen/women are still there, lying about what happened and protecting lawbreakers by obstructing the investigation of that mass criminality and even of justice itself.

The January 6 riot was a battle in a much larger war against reality, order and democracy. Even if all 10,000 are charged, convicted and imprisoned, the war will continue. As I write this, charges have been filed against Trump’s company and his CFO, Alan Weisselberg. Indictments of Trump himself are sure to follow from the State of New York, the State of Georgia and perhaps from the U.S. Justice Department. As we rediscover our long lost national accountability, how do you suppose Trump’s self-righteous, rage-filled followers, the American ISIS, will respond to that?

It is one of the great ironies of life that people who most angrily proclaim their independence are little more than tools of those who control them. – Mardy Grothe

Watch for The American ISIS – Part Two this Sunday, July 11, 2021.

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* Click through to the article and see for yourself. And download the right-wing authoritarian (RWA) scale referenced in the essay. Prepare to be amazed, but not surprised.

To put the critical urgency of this phenomenon into context, read this letter, entitled with enormous reserve, a “Statement of Concern.” It’s signed by 100 scholars of democracy. What they explain is far more than a “concern.”

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

This Most Consequential Moment


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Now is a good time for that.

Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Here’s one of the great and beautiful things about America: both of these things are true.

The ragers, the haters, the reality deniers, the hoax and conspiracy screamers, the bullies, the demonizers, the bigots and the misogynists get to wail their vitriol and grievances. They get to verbally assault those who disagree with them. And even as they bray their hatred of Americans, they get to wave American flags and proclaim their love for America. Hint: It’s impossible to both love America and hate Americans.

As they do all that, even when they do their worst, the rest of us get to call them out and stand rock solid against their intentional, destructive cruelty and instead demand a decent America.

A First Amendment exercise is what happened two Fridays ago in Northbrook, IL at a non-violent Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration. The two groups were on opposite sides of an intersection, but they were much farther apart than the three lanes of roadway between them. Read this for a better understanding of the divide and for an example of courage in the face of cruelty.

The enormous gulf between the two groups of demonstrators is a perfect representation in microcosm of our country in this turbulent time, as well as a demonstration of why this election is an enormously consequential moment, perhaps behind only the founding and the Civil War.

I recently wrote,

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 prove to be.

This president is encouraging intimidation of voters, the discarding of ballots, he’s stoking violence, refusing the fundamentals of our Constitution and more. And millions of Americans support his reprehensible words and behaviors. At the same time, the spineless Republicans in Congress continue to promote his lawlessness. It seems that avoiding his playground bully name calling in order to keep their seats in Congress is more important to them than keeping their oath of office. Like Trump, these cowards are playing to the mob.

In contrast, Joe Biden is calling for decency (watch his 22-minute signature video here), for Constitutional norms, for the rule of law and for active measures to protect the American people from both foreign threats, like Russia, and domestic threats, like the coronavirus and white supremacist terrorists.

The screamers wear their MAGA hats and wave Trump flags in their puffed chest power rush, but if America is to be truly great there is only one path for us to follow and it isn’t the Trump path, because his is the path to a brutal past that millions of our ancestors fled.

That’s why this is the most consequential moment of our national lives and nearly the most consequential moment in the history of our nation.

This isn’t a choice of policies; it is a choice to keep our democracy or let the mobs end it forever.

·

From the closing words of Marilynne Robinson’s brilliant essay, “What Does It Mean to Love a Country?

”  .  .  .  we might see a new birth of freedom, and another one beyond that. Democracy is the great instrument of human advancement. We have no right to fail it.”

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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*Essay of the Week

It is truly frightening that millions of people are demanding authoritarianism in America. They want an end to our self-rule, our long and noble experiment in democracy. Christopher Ingraham spells out the truth that has been so difficult to define in his Washington Post article, “New Research Explores Authoritarian Mind-set of Trump’s Core Supporters.” Key takeaway: we practice apathy at our collective peril.

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Quotes of the Month – So Far
  1. Chief Justice John Roberts reported, “Ruth [Bader Ginsberg] used to ask, ‘What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court Justice?’ Her answer: ‘One generation.'”
  2. The international experts have said that at least 70% of U.S. Covid deaths were completely avoidable = 150,000 extra dead people. Reflecting on that, Amy Tucker said, “This is just a whole lot of stupid that didn’t have to be this bad.” Just so.
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Video of the Week

If you aren’t now on the receiving end of the hate, violence and discrimination that’s so common and is being stoked by this president, get ready, because it’s just a day away. Hatred always needs new targets to fuel it. Watch this video. We’ve seen this movie, we know how it ends and it isn’t good.

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Tweet of the Season

Robert Hendrickson, Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ, tweeted the definitive description of today’s presidential leadership in July. See the truth for yourself. Many thanks to brother Jim for the pointer.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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.

The Price of Memory Loss


Reading time – 3:10; Viewing time – 4:35 .  .  .

Here are a couple of examples to make a point.

First, whatever your position on the issue of abortion, just for the moment set aside your religious or moral views, as well as your notion of rights, and focus on practicality.

Regardless of public memory, a lot of abortions really did occur prior to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. For wealthy women, abortions might have been quietly performed in the examination rooms of their OB/GYNs. For others that option wasn’t available, so abortions often were done in a filthy office or back alley by untrained brutes. Many women suffered greatly from complications like severe infections and even loss of fertility. Some bled to death.

When Roe was decided, abortions came out of those filthy offices and back alleys and moved to safe medical facilities. A lot fewer women experienced complications and far fewer died. That’s the practical piece.

It’s easy to wag fingers about abortions if you don’t have a memory of how bad it was before Roe, which is not to say that all who oppose abortion are unjustified; rather, it’s to say that if Roe is overturned, as is de facto incrementally happening, there will be a huge uptick in the use of filthy offices and back alleys. The price of our memory loss is that a lot of women will suffer and some will die because we no longer remember how bad it really was.

Here’s another example of the practical effect and the price of the loss of historical memory. This comes from Gershom Gorenberg’s piece in The American Prospect:

“As historian Tony Judt showed in Postwarhis great work on recent European history, the Western European welfare states created after 1945 were not products of wild idealism. They were the ‘insecure child of anxiety.’ People understood that the political extremism of the 1930s was ‘born directly of economic depression and its social costs. Both Fascism and Communism thrived on social despair, on the huge gulf separating rich and poor.’ The welfare state was a means to keep the black-shirts and brown-shirts in the past.

“One reason, perhaps, that America built so much less of a welfare state was that it was not left so shattered by the war. Obamacare was a very late, partial effort to fill in the most glaring gap, the lack of a national health-care system. Trump hasn’t given up on destroying that.

“But then, Trumpism is a new movement born of social despair and the renewed gulf between rich and poor. Despair sells the tickets to Trump’s mass rallies, and anger handles the amplifiers for his hateful rants. [emphasis mine]

“How is it that a large minority of Americans could vote for this man, or that a majority of Britons could have voted to leave the European Union, or that the new authoritarianism is rising in European countries wounded so deeply seven and eight decades ago by the old authoritarianism?

“I won’t argue that there’s just one reason. But I suggest that a major contributing reason is that eight decades or nine is the span of a human life. Someone who was 13 in September 1939 is 92 or 93 years old today. We are running out of people who can give firsthand testimony of the war itself, much less of the political madness that gave birth to the war. The last earthquake was so long ago that too many people have forgotten the purpose of the strict building code that followed it.”

With a loss of historical memory we humans have a way of reverting to old ways that were terrifyingly destructive. That’s easy to do with leaders spouting slogans and shibboleths and wild promises of restoring the greatness of some mythical, fictional past. But those slogans, shibboleths and wild promises have a way of making us blind to the full reality of the suffering and destruction they bring about.

The point is that the price of memory loss, whatever the issue, is far too great. That is why we – all of us – must remember.

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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!


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

Thomas Paine Today


Reading time – 4:27; Viewing time – 6:36  .  .  .

Throughout his candidacy President Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” the fetid, stinking hole of Washington DC that had betrayed ordinary Americans. He railed against insiders, the people who made DC worthy of disdain. Then he populated his cabinet with Goldman Sachs banksters. You know, the financial masters of the universe who gambled with your money, then lost it and demanded that you cover their debts? Well, they’re in charge of part of the swamp right now and they’re continuing to grab ever more wealth for themselves and others, like Donald Trump.

Trump continues to pound the drum of accusation and demonization against the press and our judiciary. That’s convenient for any autocrat who wants to undermine the people who hold them accountable and stop their excesses. Actually, Trump sees these people as enemies and he attacks them viciously almost daily. That’s effective in numbing his “base” to the factual reports about his – let’s call them “dalliances” – from the Constitution.

Trump demanded Former FBI Director James Comey’s loyalty to him, which Comey sensibly refused. At the time Comey was looking into possible involvement of Trump and his election team with Russians who meddled with the U.S. election. Comey wouldn’t quash the investigation as Trump asked, so Trump fired him. Eliminating opposition is what autocrats do.

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Actually, Trump consistently demands loyalty to himself alone and doesn’t seem to recognize that all government hires – including the President – have pledged loyalty to the Constitution of the United States of America and not to the President. However, demanding personal loyalty is what autocrats do. Just recall that infinitely embarrassing (okay, vomitous) Cabinet meeting as his cabinet members took turns fawning over Great Leader. That must have made even psycho autocrat Kim Jung-un in North Korea envious.

Trump uses Twitter to maintain a constant barrage of outrageous, accusatory and false claims – the kind Kellyanne Conway promoted as “alternative facts.” Okay, you could call them lies. They keep us watching Trump’s latest shiny objects instead of his likely treasonous actions.

Trump has created a federal panel to collect all U.S. voter registration information in order to stop our nearly nonexistent voter fraud. Have you any doubt whatsoever that what he really wants to do is to restrict the voting rights of all citizens who are likely to vote against him? Remember, for an autocrat, it’s all about aggregating power.

Trump is trying to replace his chief toady, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with someone who hasn’t recused himself from all things Russia. That will allow the new AG to fire Robert Mueller and end the investigation into Trump’s and the Trump organization’s possibly illegal and possibly treasonous behavior with Russia. Trump has tweeted that he wants the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton for something or other. It seems that Trump wants the people in the Justice Department to be his very own vigilantes and the FBI his thugs. Autocrats like that.

Trump is even looking into his ability to pardon his staff, his family and himself. Should that happen, who will hold Trump accountable? Who will stop him from committing yet more crimes? Given this nearly spineless Republican Party, what else will he be able to get away with? This is the stuff of would-be dictators stacking the deck for themselves so that they can get away with anything.

Earlier in the year Trump tried to refuse all Muslims entry to the U.S., even including returning American citizens who are Muslim. Later he pared down his hate list to people from 7 Muslim-majority countries, not even one of which had attacked us. On July 26 of this year President Trump issued an executive order banning all trans-gender Americans from the military. To whom would such enemy creation and hateful actions appeal? Garry Kasparov can help us understand.

Kasparov is likely the best chess player ever and is a Putin critic. Having lived in the Soviet Union he knows a thing or two about autocrats. Here is a Kasparov tweet from the day after Trump tweeted his banning of trans-gender Americans from the military:

That’s what autocrats do. They distract us with outrageous, divisive stupidities and get us to hate each other and then lash out against one another as they go about aggregating all power to themselves. It’s classic divide and conquer.

It’s always dangerous to make comparisons to Adolph Hitler, but there are parallels here. Like Hitler, Trump won a democratic election with less than 50% of the popular vote. Like Hitler, he surrounds

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himself with toadies who will never confront him. Like Hitler, he undermines the rule of law. Like Hitler, he makes bombastic, false declarations that polarize citizens. Like Hitler, he constantly accuses and humiliates others in order to diminish them and to create enemies for followers to hate. Like Hitler, he neutralizes those who might have power to check him. And like Hitler, he tries to incrementally take rights from the people and aggregate power to himself.

Many have warned us about the creep of fascism in America, including me here and here. It is something that I had never dreamed could happen, yet it was foretold by Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice-President, Professor Timothy Snyder and others. It’s happening in plain sight right now in America.

In another time of peril heaped upon us by an autocratic ruler, Thomas Paine warned us clearly that, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” And so it is today. The bugle is sounding and we must answer the call or we will lose our democracy.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

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

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