Bush

Can We Stop Wringing Hands?


Economy Hand Wringing

The August jobs report said that we added a net of “only” 235,000 jobs. That’s a big decrease from the 962,000 added in June and 1.05 million added in July. That has caused innumerable hand wringers to wail, sob and bemoan a looming catastrophe in our economy.

The truth is that our economy is continuing to expand, albeit at a slower rate in August. Unemployment went down from 5.4% to 5.2% in August and – did I mention? – a net of 235,000 people found jobs and employers found 235,000 employees. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has regained all the losses due to the pandemic.

Of course, there are lots of factors related to the pandemic that affect our economy, including ever-more people working from home, which impacts lunch revenues at restaurants and gym memberships. It also includes the economic impact of all the people who are not traveling due to Covid, as well as the enormous supply chain disruptions of the past 18 months due to Covid. Still, our economy is expanding.

The slowdown follows perfectly the immense expansion of sickness and death due to the Delta variant. If we really want to keep the economy growing robustly, all we have to do is to follow the direction of the CDC to curb the pandemic. It’s as simple as that.

Take that, economy hand wringers!

Immigration Hand Wringing

You know where you were and who you were with when you learned what had happened on 9/11. The horrific images are burned into your brain and your heart and perhaps passion still rises in you when you see those painful pictures. Maybe you remember our senators and congressmen on the steps of the Capitol Building late that day, singing God Bless America in an impromptu, non-partisan, heartfelt song of solidarity. You can see that again here. In an odd contemporary way, that was a most peculiar moment.

Israel Bellin was born in Telochin, Russian Empire in 1888. He arrived in this country with his family at age five. Fourteen years later he published his first song and went on to become one of America’s most prolific and beloved songwriters. His name was misprinted on a piece of sheet music from one of his early works as “I. Berlin” and the name stuck. Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America in 1918 during WW I and it has been a national favorite ever since, with many believing it should be our national anthem.

The peculiarity is that Berlin was a Jewish immigrant raised in poverty. There was no job waiting for his father when the family arrived at Ellis Island and Berlin had to drop out of school at age eleven to help support the family. According to a large segment of our politicians and citizens today, the only thing that would make him an acceptable immigrant is that he was White.

What would happen to this poor, non-Christian immigrant under today’s discriminatory immigration laws?  And, more to the point, how many others, who could contribute so much to this country, are being kept out now? What would they build here?

Under today’s immigration paranoia would we have Sergey Brin from Russia to co-found Google? Or Hamdi Ulukaya who left Turkey and founded Chobani Yogurt? Would we have jeans to wear if Levi Strauss had been forced to stay in Germany? Would we have the microprocessors that power everything that uses electrons if Andy Grove hadn’t come from Hungary and remade Intel? Would you be able to sell that baby crib on eBay if Pierre Omidyar’s Iranian family had been forced to stay in France?

Would members of Congress have God Bless America to sing if Berlin’s family were to apply to immigrate today?

Take that, paranoid immigration hand wringers!

Afghanistan Exit Hand Wringing

Other than the permanent hard right Biden detractors, nearly everyone agrees that ending our war in Afghanistan and bringing home our troops and extracting the Afghans who helped us was and is the right thing to do. As the president said, the alternative was to continue to bleed people and money with no possibility of any gain. He was not willing to put yet another generation of our best into harms way for nothing.

The main criticism has been over the messy exit that left 100 – 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan helpers and their families in Afghanistan. That is truly awful and even some Democrats have been critical, while the hard line accusers and demonizers, the Trumpyist of Trumpists, want Biden impeached. Don’t bother looking for valid reasoning there.

There’s just one thing: Not a single one of the denigraters has an idea for how the extraction process could have worked better. Not one. All they have is fatuous, flamboyant criticism. That brings to mind the admonition to either lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps we should have a congressional rule like that.

Some have said that we should have started the evacuation sooner, but that would only have generated the chaos at an earlier date. Some have said that we should have stayed there to prop up the charade of an Afghan government, but that would just prolong the bleeding and dying and deepen the bottomless money pit. Some say Trump should have included the Afghan government in the negotiations with the Taliban to underscore its legitimacy. They’re right, but that wouldn’t have prevented the chaos.

Got a better idea? Glad to hear it. Post it below. But let’s stop this national hand wringing over a war that we should have exited many years ago. Better yet: We should not have invaded that country at all. There were other ways to get bin Laden. In fact, George W. Bush turned down two of them before starting that war.

Take that, Afghanistan exit hand wringers!

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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 No Surprises Taliban


It didn’t start with imaginary WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). Our national war of insanity began years earlier.

The Supreme Court decision following the 2000 election was led by Republican Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who stopped the vote count in Florida. He disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters and gave the election and the presidency to the candidate who actually lost the state by 537 votes and who would have come in second in the Electoral College vote had all Florida votes been counted.

That got us the silver spoon cowboy, an illegitimate president. He was the same guy who managed to avoid service in Viet Nam by joining the Texas Air National Guard. He spent his active duty having a good time flying jets around Texas. Nobody ever shot at him, so he didn’t know the first thing about the horrors of combat. He later declare that he wanted “to be a wartime president,” as though war s just a toy for his self-aggrandizement.

I don’t recall Bush ever expressing a believable concern for those who would prosecute his wars, leaving us to speculate that he saw it like a movie, where everyone goes home after a day’s shoot or like a video game and it’s just pretend. But it doesn’t work that way in real wars.

He went on to ignore warnings of 9/11 and then, having failed that national security test, declared he’d get the varmint what done us wrong.

After 9/11 the CIA had Osama bin Laden bottled up in the caves at Tora Bora and asked for additional resources to smoke him out, but Bush refused. The Taliban offered to arrest bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S., but once again Bush refused. Instead, he lied to Congress and the American people. He asked for and received the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which amounted to Congress ducking its Constitutional responsibility regarding declaring war. They chickened out and gave that power to Bush, exactly as the Founders DID NOT intend, because they knew full well what such power could lead to.

Bush got his authority and sent American troops to invade Afghanistan to capture or kill bin Laden and his band of terrorists. He managed to disrupt al Qaeda, but never got bin Laden. Bush could have ended the invasion then, but, of course, he didn’t.

The goal in Afghanistan was changed to eliminating the Taliban, not bin Laden. Bush failed at that, too. Later the goal of that war was to set up a central government and modern democracy – nation building – something we had failed at again and again elsewhere. We used to say that the goalposts kept getting moved, but it’s probably more likely that there never were any goalposts.

A strong central government and democracy are things the Afghans had never had, didn’t understand and were culturally unable to accept, so there was never even a remote possibility of creating a modern democracy in that place where empires go to die. All the world knew that except Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. But the failure of that unwinnable war is what all the lies about that war and the one in Iraq, the hypocritical Mission Accomplished banner and all the pseudo-patriotic chest thumping got us. There was just war so that a cowboy could be a wartime president.

The one positive outcome of the Viet Nam war was Colin Powell’s Powell Doctrine. According to the doctrine, all of these questions must be answered in the affirmative before going off to war.

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Click me for the story

Decide for yourself whether any thought was given to any of those questions before sending our military into harm’s way.

We spent 20 years, thousands of American lives, trillions of American dollars and an unknowable number of Afghan lives pursuing that no-goalpost war. We were lied to for 20 years about what was really going on there, as we refused to heed the obvious and painful lessons from our debacle in Viet Nam.

To be clear, we got bin Laden, but that had nothing to do with our war in Afghanistan.

A year and a half ago Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that said that we would leave Afghanistan. All the Taliban had to do was to promise to not attack U.S. troops as they depart and not allow al Qaeda or other extremist groups to operate in Taliban controlled territory.

Trump left the Afghan government completely out of the discussions and kept them out of the deal. The message to the Afghan security forces was clear: the Taliban now had tacit approval from the U.S. government to take over the country. Plus the Taliban almost immediately began to assassinate Afghan provincial leaders.

As bad, we have absolutely no way to ensure the Taliban won’t let al Qaeda ramp up again in Afghanistan, leaving us exactly where we were on September 10, 2001. The common notion among our talking heads and many politicians seems to be that this end was unforeseeable.

Nonsense!
.

We saw this exact thing happen in Viet Nam, another unwinnable war and failed nation building, and there was yet more foreseeable evidence.

The speed that the Taliban would retake that country was clear from the moment Trump announced we’d be out by May 2021. Were you in the Afghan military, what would you do, as leaders of province after province cut deals with the Taliban or just cut and ran? The central government dissolved in hours and fighters trained by us shed their military garb, hoping to look like civilians. The Taliban overran what was left of the Afghan security forces and secured all the major cities in that country in just days.

As of this writing the process of evacuation continues. We can hope that we didn’t manage to drag feet long enough to avoid keeping our word to those to whom we pledged our undying loyalty and our sacred promise of protection. The fate of any Afghan who collaborated in any way with western forces, be they interpreters, workers with NGO agencies or anything else will be death. The fate of women who had the audacity to become educated or who educated their daughters will be cruel, dehumanizing and eventually lethal.

Survivors will be relegated to a medieval life in the tribal feudalism the area has always known. Its main export will still be opium. In the end our efforts will have accomplished nothing but death and destruction. We knew all of this because that is what the Taliban did in the 1990s before we showed up to make war under false pretenses.

So, you can stop listening to anyone who says that the disaster at the end of our 20-year invasion and occupation of that country was unforeseeable. Anyone with two eyes and a memory has known all along that this is exactly what would happen. The Taliban holds no surprises

Once again, the only surprise is our boundless and willful ignorance.

Something Special For Our Partisan Critics

This is from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

Some of the same people worrying about the slowness of our evacuation of our Afghan allies voted just last month against providing more visas for them, and others seemed to worry very little about our utter abandonment of our Kurdish allies when we withdrew from northern Syria in 2019. And those worrying about democracy in Afghanistan seem to be largely unconcerned about protecting voting rights here at home.

Most notably to me, some of the same people who are now focusing on keeping troops in Afghanistan to protect Americans seem uninterested in stopping the spread of a disease that has already killed more than 620,000 of us and that is, once again, raging.

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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.

No Rationalizing Allowed


Reading time – 4:05  .  .  .

Arguments abound about whether to prosecute Donald Trump once he’s out of office for his alleged extensive and nefarious lawbreaking both before and since becoming President. He may be Dear Leader to his MAGA nation followers, but in the eyes of the law he is, at best, a suspect in numerous felonious activities. What are we to do with this?

If Trump is indicted and prosecuted for his many crimes like extortion, multiple counts of obstruction of justice, money laundering, tax fraud, bank fraud and so much more, his angry followers will become yet more enraged and our national divide will surely widen. Some of the hot heads may commit violent acts including vandalism and maybe murder. After all, they are well armed and many believe that the Second Amendment is their Constitutional protection against the evils of government encroachment and is the right tool to use when they feel aggrieved. They may believe it’s their patriotic duty to violently overthrow the government, having been told repeatedly that anything that looks different from Trump World is unpatriotic. Use your own imagination to conjure what red-faced angry people might do if their cult leader is indicted. Preventing such dangerous events is a strong argument against prosecuting Trump. I think, though, that it fails to persuade and is, in fact, negotiating against ourselves. Here’s why.

Richard Nixon was clearly guilty of obstruction of justice of the congressional investigation into the Watergate “Plumbers,” the burglars who broke into the Democratic National Headquarters in what was labeled a “third rate burglary.” Nixon finally left office when Republican senators told him the jig was up and he had to resign or he would be impeached and removed from office. In other words, he was so plainly guilty of having broken laws that even Republicans couldn’t or wouldn’t protect him, so he resigned. That was good. It was also the beginning of a lot of bad.

In a tortured piece of logic that flew in the face of the rule of law, Gerald Ford granted a “full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in  .  .  .  ” That logic was:

”  .  .  .  the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.”

In other words, jeez, some people might become upset over Nixon being held to account for his criminal acts, so we should simply do nothing. So much for accountability.

Do you really want Presidents to have one of these?

Ford took a lot of heat for that pardon and was defeated in the next election, but Nixon went on a tour to rehabilitate his public image so that he could be seen as an elder statesman, rather than the felon he truly was. And that surely cranked up the get-out-of-jail-free card that we’ve issued to all tenants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since then.

Reagan negotiated with the Iranians before his 1980 election and persuaded them not to release our people who were being held hostage. He convinced the Ayatollah with promises favorable to Iran, to hold the hostages until after the election so that Reagan would more easily defeat Carter. That’s illegal, but there was no accountability.

Reagan had his fingerprints all over the Iran-Contra crimes. As close as he got to being held accountable was a reporter calling out to him as he and Nancy walked across the White House lawn from Marine 1. He cupped his hand to his ear and mouthed, “I can’t hear you,” and the scandal slipped off him as though he were coated with Teflon. No accountability.

When he was president, H.W. Bush pardoned the Iran-Contra criminals, which was doubly interesting because Bush was part of the criminal conspiracy and the cover up, so he benefited from those pardons and escaped accountability.

Clinton lied to a grand jury and got away with it. Of course, the circumstances were muddy because Ken Starr had spent 4.5 years looking under every rock for anything Clinton had ever done that might be indictable and found nothing but illicit sex in the Oval Office, which isn’t a crime. So, Starr set up Clinton by forcing him to embarrass himself by telling the truth or lying.

W. Bush got away with the torture of prisoners and lying us into 2 wars. Torturing was and is illegal. I don’t know if lying to Congress to get us into wars is illegal. It sure ought to be.

W. Bush and Cheney got away with awarding massive, no-bid contracts to Halliburton.

Obama got away with refusing to prosecute CIA people who did Bush’s torturing.

And now we have Trump violating the law over and over.

The point is that none of the perps has been held accountable , resulting in violations becoming so ordinary that we no longer expect anything to be done, other than some partisan gnashing of teeth. Refusing to hold wrong-doers accountable guarantees we’ll have more and worse wrong-doing in the future. As horrid as Trump is, I fear the felon who follows him even more.

If Trump is allowed to get away with his noxious crime spree, we can be certain that some future President will do far worse, safe in the knowledge that there will be no accountability. And in our refusing to act properly and hold leaders accountable, invoking any of our rationalized reasons in the manner of Gerald Ford, we are eliminating – demolishing – the rule of law and our very democracy that we say we hold dear.

Caving into threats from MAGA cultists would amount to that very thing. In fact, it amounts to caving in to terrorists. Absurdly, any argument against holding Trump accountable now is caving into the fears of our imagination.

Perhaps you share my preference not to have terrorists running our country. Perhaps you agree with the Founders who refused the divine right of kings and declared that this nation will never have a king. It’s why they set us up with presidents instead. Indeed, read the Declaration of Independence, specifically to review the list of abuses of power of King George III, who was never held to account except by losing a colony. That’s what we will have and perhaps far worse if we neuter the rule of law.

If we want accountability from our leaders, we must hold them accountable. No rationalizing allowed.

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

Sent to a Libertarian Friend on 9-11


Reading time – 2:44  .  .  .
·
This was sent to a friend on 9/11. The message informs our present moment.
·
I’ve been thinking about what you labeled my “way too much certainty of how events would have played out if something had happened that didn’t happen.” I understand your skepticism of my views, yet consider the likelihood of these “didn’t happen” events:
·
1. The Florida election in 2000 requires no speculation, because the full count has been done multiple times. Gore won. Not by much, but he got more votes than Bush. Then there was Bush’s slimy lawsuit.
·
2. If Gore had been president, I really don’t think he would have blown off the intelligence on an imminent terrorist attack as Bush did, like dismissing the FBI agent who warned him of an attack. He told the agent, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass,” then did nothing to protect our nation.
·
3. There isn’t a remote possibility that if 9/11 had happened on Gore’s watch that he would have conflated religious extremist al Qaeda with secularist Saddam, who never attacked the U.S. in any way, so there would have been no invasion of Iraq and no war and thousands of our troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive. Plus, a major piece of the middle-east would not be in ongoing chaos, so there wouldn’t have been a crush of refugees into Europe.
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4. If the 9/11 attack had occurred during a Gore presidency, Gore would have captured bin Laden at Tora Bora, where our CIA had him trapped. They needed the military to finish the job, but Bush refused to send help, allowing the bad guys to escape, which led to a war in Afghanistan. And yes, the protracted mess in Afghanistan was predictable. Just ask the British, the Soviets and others about their experience there. Seventeen years later we’re still trapped in that country. Stunning how we could be so blind and foolish.
·
5. Trump cheated his way into office. Had Hillary won instead (i.e. had she not been a terrible campaigner, had she not used a private server, had there not been 11 Benghazi hearings, etc.) she would have been president. I don’t think it’s even a remote possibility that she would have blown off the pandemic, so a lot fewer people would have become sick and died.
·
What all that has in common is fallout from cheating and it continues, as you know.
·
Trump’s constant cheating, starting with his birther slime to his “Russia, if you’re listening” to his begging China to interfere in the 2020 election and his abandonment of We the People in this pandemic have brought us nearly 200,000 dead Americans [ed. note: 34 days later there are over 217,000 dead], and you and I are in the center of the bulls eye for this disease. Plus, his “good people on both sides” has encouraged vigilantes in our streets. Plus, he’s promoting – even arranging – voter intimidation. None of this would have happened absent Trump’s cheating, lying, fraud and the rest.
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Is there a certainty that these events that didn’t happen would have happened absent the cheating? Of course not. But this looks pretty likely to me. And just maybe 3,000 people wouldn’t have died suddenly 19 years ago. And about 3/4 of the people who have died from COVID would still be alive – see the Oxford study. All of that and more is why our upcoming election is so very critical. As in: clear and present danger.
·
We probably can’t stop all the cheating but we can overwhelm the bad guys with votes.
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Watch this space this Sunday for “This Most Consequential Moment.”
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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.

Cars, Dystopia and Bush


Reading time – 2:21; Viewing time – 3:34  .  .  .

The world of sales is chock full of techniques to get a prospective customer to say yes. For example, there’s the “yes questions” tactic, which consists of asking a series of questions, all of which will be answered “yes,” in order to prepare the prospect to answer yes to the last question, which is, “Can we write that up now?”

Picture a couple with two kids in tow, looking around a new car showroom. Salesman Slick introduces himself and asks,

    • Are you looking for a new car today?
    • Will this be a family vehicle?
    • You’ll want something that gets great gas mileage, right?

You get the idea.

One of the most manipulative of sales schemes is the “scare ’em and save ’em” technique. This scheme starts with painting a horrible future scenario in order to scare the prospect out of their skin. Terrible things will befall them. They need to be saved. That’s when the sales person comes to the rescue with the solution, which includes buying something from that very same sales person.

For example, “Mr. and Mrs. Dingy, of course you don’t want to buy insurance. Who would? But the U.S. Geologic Survey just released its annual report and it shows you right in the center of a new, developing flood plain. It’s just a matter of a little time before your basement begins to flood. You’ve already seen the changing weather patterns, the more violent storms and greatly increased precipitation. I’ll bet you’ll get a couple of feet of flooding when the heavy spring rains begin, and that’s just the start. It’s a good thing I have a most affordable flood insurance plan for you. It’s time, don’t you agree?”

If you don’t think that’s common stuff, watch TV commercials and you’ll find a large percentage of them use the tactic of scaring you, then saving you with their product.

What that has to do with our political life is how often politicians use this tactic to manipulate us and how Donald Trump uses it constantly.

His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention depicted a darkly dystopian future for America and only he could save us from catastrophe.

His inaugural address was dismal and foreboding. The future according to Trump was going to be awful and he let us know that only he could make the sun shine again. When he finished, George W. Bush turned to Michelle Obama, who was seated beside him, and said, “That was some crazy shit.” He was right.

Trump has worked hard to make us afraid of many more things, like immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, the press, our intelligence agencies and more. He does that all the time. And he recently told us that he is “the chosen one.” He’ll save us from the unwashed hoards, the fake news and the rest. Hitler used the same tactic and the German people bought into his manipulation.

Perhaps you noticed that during the impeachment hearings, both in committees and in the full House debates, Republicans over and over declared how awful things would be, how scheming and dishonest the Democrats are and isn’t it lucky for our nation that the Republicans are there to safeguard against all the harm the Democrats would bring?

Honestly, that was some crazy shit.

I never would have imagined it possible that I would be quoting George W. Bush as a source of wisdom. These are strange times, indeed.

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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,

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NOTES:

  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 or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

Read More…


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

Your Lyin’ Eyes and Impeachment


Reading time – 3.47; Viewing time – 5:20  .  .  .

The Mueller Report is out and I haven’t had time to go through all 448 pages, although you can do that yourself by getting the PDF from the DOJ website here. Click on the 4th line beginning “Report on the Investigation” for the download. Or if you prefer you can get an indexed and searchable version here.

There is big stuff in that report, including that the lack of indictments of the president is due to the Justice Department guideline that a sitting president can’t be indicted. Also, because so many documents were destroyed by various perps.

Nevertheless, Mueller let us know that he was unable to declare that the President of the United States isn’t a criminal. Stunning! My more chilling takeaway, though, is about Attorney General William Barr.

Barr was promoted as a legal institutionalist, even after his unsolicited, 19-page job application that made it clear that he believed that, metaphorically speaking, a president really could get away with shooting someone on 5th Avenue. That view works for Trump and Barr got the attorney general post.

In each of his public appearances and writings as attorney general, Barr has gone out of his way to exonerate the president. His rhetoric vacillates between cherry-picked, out of context phrases to outright lies all in favor of President Trump. Did he think we wouldn’t notice? In listening to Barr I’m reminded of comedian Richard Pryor’s line, “Who you gonna believe: me or your lyin’ eyes?”

The scary part is that Barr sounds like the president’s defense counsel, instead of the attorney for the Constitution of the United States of America.

In his piece in New York Magazine entitled, “Congress Should Impeach William Barr,” Jonathan Chait wrote,

“The Justice Department is an awesome force that holds the power to enable the ruling party to commit crimes with impunity .  .  .”

We should have seen this coming.

From The Onion, of course. Click the pic

Barr is the former attorney general for President George H.W. Bush. Barr recommended to Bush that he pardon the convicted Iran-Contra felons. Click through the link and scroll down to the Indictments section and you’ll see that these guys did a lot of really bad things, including thwarting the explicit will of Congress. You need to appreciate how significant that is.

Doing that is an attack on Congress itself, and it encourages an imperial presidency. William Barr cemented that by recommending those pardons. And now he’s defending this power grabbing, dictator wanna-be president.

If Barr is an institutionalist, exactly what institution does he serve?

Read more about this here.

And another thing .  .  .

Now that most of the Mueller Report is released, the talk of impeachment is spiraling upward. I’ve long called for the removal of this cheating, lying, fraudulent, self-aggrandizing, democracy damaging president, but now I have significant doubt about that notion.

President Gerald Ford set a woeful precedent by granting, “.  .  .   a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in .  .  .” Nixon got a free pass for his criminal wrongdoing and wasn’t held accountable in any way.

That is the precedent that Mike Pence will inherit should he become President. That means that our criminal president will likely be pardoned for any and all crimes which he may have committed (think: conspiring with the Russians to disrupt our 2016 election, obstruction of justice; money laundering; and fraud).

Further, if Trump were to be impeached, whether convicted in the Senate or not, he and the Republicans will wail about him being a poor victim, suffering unfair discrimination by the evil Democrats and the Washington swamp. That could lead to another Republican in the White House in 2021 and a Congress controlled by the same spineless legislators who are enabling Trump right now.

The solution that makes the most sense to me is to Benghazi Trump: just keep his wrongdoing in the public eye through November 3, 2020 with ongoing Congressional hearings.

I often have difficulty rationalizing the impact of the bypassing of punishment for wrongdoing in favor of some greater good, but this one looks obvious enough even for me.

No impeachment.

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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:

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

Venezuela and Existential Threats


Reading time – 5:07; Viewing time – 7:30  .  .  .

First, my only comment on the topic of the cherry picked, sentence fragmented Mueller report is that I want the full report – all of it including the appendices – both for the complete, un-predigested information so that I can draw my own conclusions and so that we won’t imagine a Justice Department cover up engineered by Trump’s hand-picked protector.

As of this writing Attorney General Barr has indicated he will release the complete Mueller report by mid-April. There will be redactions, perhaps lots of them. Some will be to protect ongoing investigations. Some redactions will be for national security reasons. Some will be to avoid causing embarrassment to “peripheral innocent people.” I have no clue why that’s more important than instilling confidence in the report for a skeptical public. Absent such confidence, we’re facing an existential threat to our democracy.

If you need insightful commentary on the entire Russia issue, including Mueller’s report, read pal Dan Wallace’s comments. Now to the issue of Venezuela.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story about Russia’s power play in Venezuela. Putin sent 100 troops there to prop up dictator Nicolás Maduro. In reaction to that, reader JC asked if there was anyone left in Washington who understands the Monroe Doctrine or remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis. My answers: no and no.

As you’ll recall from high school American history class, the Monroe Doctrine prohibits further European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev was cultivating Cuba as a client state, effectively making it a colony of the Soviet Union, the very thing prohibited by the Monroe Doctrine. Soviet missiles armed with nuclear warheads on that island made it an existential threat to the United States.

While President James Monroe couldn’t have imagined nuclear weapons, he and his contemporaries were clear that the presence of European military might this close to home was an existential threat to our nascent country. The Monroe Doctrine was and is about our national security.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were thoughtful, careful men in charge who insisted upon best intelligence and carefully considered approaches to the challenges we faced. They had the strength of character to resist knee-jerk military actions and they prevented a catastrophic war.

This time there’s a reality TV personality in charge who doesn’t read, who is incapable of assembling complex thoughts, who doesn’t review the President’s Daily Brief, so he doesn’t know what’s going on, who doesn’t have sufficient self-control to resist temper tantrums and who needs to be seen as the biggest, baddest tough guy. He is supported by Secretary of State John Bolton, who never saw a conflict he didn’t want to escalate into war. As bad, we have a horrendous record of starting conflicts without any plan to end them.

For example, George W. Bush dim-brain/lied us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with phantom promises of quick success and happily-ever-after flowers tossed at our troops by Iraqis. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared Iraqi oil would pay for the whole thing. None of that happened.

What was foreseeable but which they refused to foresee was the global refugee problem they triggered and which the world lives with quite unsteadily now. It is a key outfall of Bush’s lies and we still don’t have a plan to end those wars.

Now that Russia has sent its troops into Venezuela we are in a situation not unlike the Cuban Missile threat from the Soviet Union. President Trump backs Maduro’s challenger Juan Guaidó. How will Trump stop Russia from both keeping Maduro in power and from having that military foothold in the Western Hemisphere that is specifically forbidden by the Monroe Doctrine?

In point of fact, Trump has been a disaster of a negotiator for the U.S. He’s been a patsy with nothing to show for his capitulations to Russia and North Korea. Worse, he’s been a lapdog for Putin, who is now threatening Trump’s tough guy posturing.

Trump has told Putin to back off. If Trump tries to negotiate with Putin to get him to do that, Trump’s past negotiating prowess suggests that it probably will look like hollow posturing that leaves Russian troops in place in Venezuela with an escalating military presence in the Western Hemisphere. If instead Trump sends troops in support of Guaidó, we’ll be faced off against the Russians and troops on both sides are likely to be killed. And there won’t be an exit plan from the conflict.

What could possibly go wrong?

And another thing  .  .  .

The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee called for Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign his chairmanship of the committee, based on the same kind of Republican partisan brainlessness that we’ve seen for years. Schiff replied with a kind of muscular statement rarely heard from Democrats. Watch the whole thing here.

Last thing .  .  .

Chris Hayes interviewed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”) on Friday. Here’s a link to a string of videos from that interview. I urge you to watch all of them for one reason. It’s not so that you’ll agree with or find ways to pick apart the Green New Deal or find ways to cheer or criticize her. I want you to think on a higher level.

Specifically, watch and listen in order to understand why she has so completely captured the public imagination. Our Gen X, Y and Z citizens see our politics in the way that Emma Gonzalez sees our embedded intransigence over gun safety: “We call B.S.”

AOC speaks for an overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of how much you may fundamentally disagree with her policy ideas or fear your own loss of power.

To Our Legislators:

Get on board with working with people who see the future far differently than you do. If you don’t want to do that, I suggest that you polish your résumé in preparation for entry into an exciting new career. That’s because these folks know that they’ll be the ones who will live with the consequences of what we’re creating right now, so they have a far more powerful interest in a sustainable future. We have created an existential threat to them and they won’t let us mess it up any more.

                   ————————————

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.

George W. Bush Rehab


Reading time – 1:57 seconds; Viewing time – 2:58  .  .  .

This is important on 9/11.

There seems to be a surge of warm and fuzzy over former President George W. Bush, so the Daily Kos has pointed out the obvious. Quoting them,

George W. Bush ignored screaming sirens before the September 11 terrorist attacks.

George W. Bush used those attacks to lie the United States into attacking a nation that had nothing to do with them, and hundreds of thousands of innocents were killed, with millions made refugees. The disaster he created continues.

George W. Bush authorized torture.

George W. Bush let a great American city drown.

George W. Bush ignored climate change and his policies actively made it worse.

George W. Bush deregulated everything, attacked unions and the social safety net, and crashed the economy.

With a  memory dulled by time and with Trump as the comparative, Bush might look better now than he did in 2008, but let’s be clear about why he had one of the lowest presidential approval ratings ever recorded: he was a terrible president and we continue to live with the fallout. We are still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, now 15 and 17 years later and with no end in sight because Bush never had an exit plan for his unnecessary wars.

During the 2000 primary campaign Bush attacked John McCain’s war record. You have to be clear that as the Vietnam War was raging, instead of going to southeast Asia as McCain did, Bush had a fine time flying jets in Texas. Nobody ever fired rockets at him like they did at McCain.

And Bush impugned the patriotism of former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. That impugning of Cleland and his attack on McCain tell you all you need to know about the character of George W. Bush.

You may recall that President Obama campaigned in 2008 on hope and change and there’s a reason his message resonated with the overwhelming majority of Americans: under Bush, we felt hopeless and were desperate for change.

9/11 Memorial & Museum

Flight 93 National Memorial

Bush delivered a nice eulogy for McCain, but that doesn’t counterbalance what he did before. If your memory needs refreshing, you can visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA and visit the 9th Ward in New Orleans or just look at the millions of middle-east refugees flooding the world right now as reminders of his ineptitude.

9th Ward, New Orleans, today

So, don’t get all nostalgic for George W. Bush and long for him as though those were the good old days and he was up to the task. They weren’t and he wasn’t.

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Ed. note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people, so:

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
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Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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