campaign contributions

No Time To Be Silent


Reading time – 2:31; Viewing time – 3:34  .  .  .

It was a November evening in Chicago in 2008 that was much warmer than we had a right to expect. Hundreds of thousands of us gathered in Grant Park along Lake Michigan to watch the election returns on the Jumbo-Trons set up for that purpose. The cops were there on their gorgeous thoroughbreds, but there wasn’t any crowd control needed. In fact, the cops were off by the vendor stands eating pizza.

At last we saw Wolf Blitzer on the CNN screen near us and heard him announce that Ohio (I think it was Ohio) had gone for Obama and that put him over the top – he had won. People in the park were cheering, dancing, jumping, hugging, crying, smiling and doubled over in relief. We were there with our family that night and we did all of that and more. I recall yelling what Rachel Maddow had said when Obama won the 95% white Iowa caucuses 10 months earlier: “This is the kind of country I want to live in.”

Of course, much of the celebration was because a Black man had been elected president, with all that implied. It would be a mistake, though, to fail to recognize the long dark night that was the administration of George W. Bush and which led to that November celebration that was in stark contrast to the Bush years. The relief that November evening was one of at last having a feeling of hope once again, a feeling that had been absent for 8 years and two stolen elections.

I was reminded of that celebratory night following Joe Biden’s acceptance speech last Thursday. Gone were the gaffs, the missteps and fumbles. Before us was a warrior for the people, for democracy, for the United States of America and for the entire world. And he showed up just in time, as we’re neck deep in the cesspool of Trumpism. It’s been an inescapable nightmare of corruption, of subverting the rule of law, of manipulating the government solely to serve Trump, of division and cruelty and we have been absent of hope for four years. To paraphrase President Gerald Ford, the long national nightmare of Trump may soon be over.

And that’s why following Biden’s speech I thought of Grant Park on that wonderful November evening 12 years ago.

Now we have to complete the story. Now we have to do the hard work to make hope real. Now we have to make the twister that causes Biden’s house to fall on the Wicked Witch of Mar-a-Lago. Only then can we cry out, “Ding dong, the witch is dead.”

So, it’s time to get to work helping people register to vote, to help them sign them up to vote by mail, for voting early ourselves and by doing all the things that will raise Biden’s house into the sky so that it will drop in just the right place.

From Elie Wiesel:

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

This is no time to be silent.

Remember:

Democracy is a participation sport. Its a patriotism thing.

Be a patriot. The Founders would be proud.

Opportunities

Speed counts, because early voting and mail-in voting start in some places as early as two weeks from now.

Phone bank for candidates – pick any state or race you like. It’s way easier than you may think – and it’s non-confrontational.

Volunteer with MoveOn – lots of ways to put a stake in the ground.

Check to make sure you’re registered to vote and haven’t been voter suppressed – go to Vote.org.

Send post cards to swing state voters to urge people to vote with the simple system of PostCardsToSwingStates.com.

Volunteer with Biden For President.

It’s hard to read, but the add-on at the bottom reads, “FUNCTIONING ADULT”

Volunteer for the candidates of your choice by going to their websites. Find them by googling, e.g.  “Ooblick for Senate.” I shouldn’t have to say this, but substitute the candidate’s name for “Ooblick” and don’t include the quotation marks.

Post a lawn sign and get a bumper sticker for the candidates you support. Go to the website of your local Democratic Party affiliate. Start here. While you’re there, kick in a few bucks to help out.

Go to Mayday America and volunteer – lots of ways to do this.

Check with friends, family and the elderly people in your life who aren’t online savvy. Offer to help them and remind them to vote.

In my neck of the woods, go to the Tenth Dems site or the Democrats of Northfield Township. Go to Indivisible Evanston (there are links to affiliates in other states) and review their list of ways to make a difference.

Go to Media Matters to stay informed.

To be clear on why this isn’t just important, but is critical, read this from Ben Rhodes. He served as U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. Then pass this post along to others.

This is a battle for the soul of our nation.” – Joe Biden. So, put your soul into this – JA

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Questions For the August Town Halls


Reading time – 2:56  .  .  .

The House of Representatives remains in session this month. In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a recess for the month of August for the Senate. That means that August town halls are solely with senators. Feel free to ask any of these questions of your Republican senator, as they don’t apply if s/he is a Democrat.

From constituent #1:

Senator, thank you for taking my question.

There is a pandemic in our country that is taking down millions of Americans. Over 158,000 of our friends and family have died from it and the disease is extending its reach and accelerating its spread.

Our economy is cratering, as GDP has fallen more in one quarter than at any time in the past 150 years.

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, with a million more joining the ranks of the unemployed every week. The supplemental aid package ran out at the end of last month and millions are facing the inability to pay for their housing, which will lead to foreclosures and evictions. Millions of Americans will be unable even to feed their families.

Congress is willfully paralyzed over extending a hand to our people. Sen. McConnell called a recess of the Senate and you and your colleagues dutifully vacated the premises as directed.

It’s your job – we pay you – to represent us and promote our welfare, but instead you’re here politicking for your next election, working for yourself. My question is simple:

Why aren’t you back in Washington working for us?

From constituent #2:

Senator, you’ve been in Congress for a long time and have been a staunch promoter of American values around the world. You’ve been a forceful opponent of Russian aggression and a plain spoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

President Trump fails to confront Putin for his paying bribes to the Taliban to kill Americans; he failed to forcefully oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Crimea; he fails to confront Putin over the ongoing Russian cyber-espionage on the U.S. and now is pulling a large percentage of our military from Germany, weakening our position throughout the region and further damaging our  relationships with NATO allies. There is nothing conservative about any of those failures.

Throughout all of this and worse from this president you’ve remained silent, without so much as voicing a single objection, much less mounting opposition to Trump’s dereliction of duty to protect and defend. In your silence you have been an enabler of his sell-out of America, meek as a lapdog. Why aren’t you speaking out, senator?

From constituent #3:

Senator, you voted against the PPP program and every other measure to help working Americans during these perilous times. In contrast, in 2017 you voted for the tax cut bill that sent 83% of its benefit to the richest people and corporations in the country. You vigorously promoted it, saying it would generate wage increases, but that didn’t happen and the economists told you that’s what would happen. But corporations did buy back their stock, which boosted stock prices solely to the benefit of rich people.

Tell us why you like rich people so much and clearly don’t care about middle class or poor people.

From constituent #4:

Thank you for being here today, senator, and for taking our questions.

My question is about the anonymous federal troops that President Trump has sent to 7 of our cities and who have brutalized and terrorized largely peaceful protesters. We’re told that these troops are from the Department of Homeland Security, the purview of whose policing force is solely to defend federal property. However, nearly all of the actions of these troops has taken place well away from federal property.

These troops are heavily armed and anonymous, as they wear no agency or unit identifying insignia, police star numbers or name badges and they drive unmarked SUVs. They have kidnapped our citizens without warrant, have failed to Mirandize those they have kidnapped and have held them without cause and without charge.

Please don’t claim that the demonstrators were violent, because we have amateur video and press coverage that plainly shows that’s a lie. My question is simple: Why have you remained silent as our friends and family are being beaten, gassed, shot and pepper sprayed? Where is your voice to stop this brutality?

From constituent #5:

Thank you for taking my question, senator.

The manufacturing facility where I’ve worked for 14 years is shut down because of the pandemic. The extra help I used to get from the federal government made it possible for my family to hold on, but that’s cut off now. And you’ve opposed financial aid to laid off workers, saying that providing that aid is a disincentive to working.

I’ve played by the rules all along and am now in a really tough spot because of a disease over which I have no control, and you’ve essentially called me and millions of other Americans bums. I invite you to apologize to us all right here, right now, and then go back to DC and do your job to work for us. Otherwise, you can come to my house and explain to my kids why there not only won’t be any birthday presents, but that they should be happy with just 1 or 2 meals a day. And you can explain to my wife that she’ll have to do without her insulin that we can’t afford.

So, what’s your choice, senator: my house or DC?

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

My Weekly Reader


Reading time – 3:57  .  .  .

We’re taking a break from the gigantic stories of the day, the pandemic, racism, our teetering economy and our perennially incompetent government to have a look at other vitally important stories that belong on the front page but have been pushed back to Section B beneath the fold.

Bully Barr

Did you ever wonder why Attorney General William Barr is such an immoral creep? Turns out it’s a lifelong obsession of his. Read about his commitment to being a bully here.

Popeye Point

There is a never-ending commentary on the Sociopath-In-Chief and the anti-democratic, self-serving and illegal things he does. So, it isn’t the slightest shock to learn that Trump begged President Xi of China to buy more farm products from the U.S. so that Trump could win farm states and get reelected. Hint: That’s the same kind of presidential election tampering that got him rightly impeached.

Meanwhile, there are the moral and ethical perversions of President Caligula that by now seem almost normal. Here’s a smart analysis by someone who knows a bit about such things. Rabbi Wolkoff has reached his Popeye point, where it’s all he can stands, he can’t stands no more.

Foreign Danger

Perhaps you think international affairs and national security are important things. I have warned about the danger to the U.S. (here’s one example) when weakened by things like a pandemic, a ravaged economy, deeply damaged alliances with friends, civil unrest and, of course, our sucking up to tyrants. But that was just me talking. How about the view from an expert with decades of experience and keen insight? Have a look at what Richard Haass, now President of the Council on Foreign Relations, has to say.

Anti-Corruption Wins!

Just taking a chance here, but you might care about corruption in government. I’ve done countless presentations on the corrosive impact of big money in government because it is both damaging to the Constitution and it’s anti-democratic.

For example, since those kids and teachers at Sandy Nook Elementary School were massacred 8 years ago 90% of Americans have wanted universal background checks on the sale of any firearm. Since that atrocity there have been mass shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Mother Emanuel AME Church, the Pulse Nightclub, the Las Vegas outdoor concert, the Sutherland Springs, TX church, Ft. Hood, the El Paso Walmart, Tree of Life Synagogue and more and we still don’t have those background checks. (BTW – had those Sandy Hook kids not been gunned down they’d be entering high school this fall.) Watch this video (scroll down just a bit to find it) by the remarkably clear-headed and hugely effective folks at Represent.us. They’re successfully fighting the corruption that drives Congress to ignore We the People.

Migrant Health

Trump has waged a war on immigrants, regardless of their documentation, ever since the abhorrent escalator rant against Mexicans in 2015. That war went on to include his baby and child cage farms, his ripping babies from their mothers’ arms and separating them for life, his slandering all people from “shit hole countries” and far more. For those who have made it to our shores there is nothing easy, including healthcare during this pandemic, especially for migrant workers, many of whom are immigrants.

Download and read this piece of advice from Diane Harrison at HealthPSA.info and pass it along to those in need, because they’re pretty well forgotten otherwise. Like you and me, they want to live and they want their children to live, and that’s much harder for migrant workers in the age of coronavirus.

Dying for Leadership

It turns out that the Columbia University study that I reported to you on May 24 showing that approximately 30% of American COVID-19 deaths were preventable was right in concept, but things are far worse than they calculated.

A new Oxford University study detailed in “STAT” shows that 70% – 99% of American coronavirus deaths could have been prevented. That would have required early, aggressive, responsible, competent national leadership. We didn’t have that. We still don’t. One could argue that the avoidable death of 84,000 – 118,000 Americans is in the past – nothing we can do about that now. One would be right – and completely missing the point.

That same inept or completely absent leadership continues to allow and indirectly encourage massive numbers of unnecessary deaths of Americans. Read about it here.

Weekly Snark

Surely you’ll recall that President Trump proudly proclaimed following a visit with the brutal, murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in 2018 that they, “fell in love.” That suggests a solution to several issues.

Since Trump and Kim love each other, Trump should move to North Korea to live with his lover. Maybe Kim will allow Trump to build Trump Tower Pyongyang or a golf course at Mar-a-Demilitarized-Zone. Of course, since it’s a closed society and nobody from the rest of the world vacations there, both properties would go bankrupt. That would be okay, though, because for Trump that’s just another genius day at the office.

Also, each year the Darwin Awards recognize those who have done the most to improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it. Could it be that last night we had 6,100 applicants in Tulsa?

Trump had bragged it would be 19,000 or 100,000 or a million, but he couldn’t fill the place – gobs of empty, appropriately blue seats in the arena – and there was no overflow crowd to watch him on the outdoor look-at-me big screen. Still, there were 6,100 Darwin volunteers. Thanks go to MSA for the Darwinian insight.

From the ‘Hood

10-year-old Elisa asks, “What’s orange and ugly?”

You supply the answer.

Closing question:

Trump is notoriously ignorant on even the most basic things. For example, John Bolton reports in his new book that Trump asked if Finland is part of Russia. Yes, really. That kind of demonstration of his boundless ignorance goes on every day.

He’s clueless enough that he couldn’t pass even a middle school geography test, much less succeed at a top university. Plus, payoffs are in his blood (think: Stormy Daniels). Given his boundless, bottomless ignorance and reliance on pay-to-play, how much did he or his daddy pay for his Wharton diploma?

Far more important: how much are we paying for his constant fraudulence?

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Click me

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Counting Just For Fun


Reading time – 97 seconds  .  .  .

I received a Trump fundraising letter today – no clue how I got on the Trump/RNC mail list. Perhaps they read these posts. Nah, not likely.

This packet is like so many, in that it includes a clumsily skewed questionnaire designed to appeal to the confirmation bias of true believers. To be fair, the Ds send the same kind of thing and for the same purpose: fundraising.

What’s special about this one is how genuinely Trumpian the RNC has become and how Trumpian the letter is. That’s where Counting Just For Fun comes in.

Have a look at the letter. Ignore the completely out of date complaints about impeachment as though it were still ongoing and topical today – I counted 3  instances of that. And also ignore the equally out of date claims that people are, “getting back to work and they are starting to believe once again that America’s best days are ahead of us.” And ignore the declaration that Trump will be traveling across the country to hold rallies, too, because that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Just read the letter to see if you can spot more instances than I did of:

    • Claims of victimhood (total 13), including from Democrats in general (4) and as socialists (2), those with demonization of Chuck Schumer (1), Nancy Pelosi (2) and Adam Schiff (1), plus general “they hate me” and “it’s not fair” whining (3).
    • Whining about the biased, liberal fake news (all their words – I counted 4 instances)
    • Claims of winning – so much winning! – laced with great fantasy (7)
    • Appeals to “real Americans” (2) and desperation over the future of the country if Trump doesn’t win (1)
    • Begging for money (5), not counting the begging in the manipulative survey.

Go ahead and download the Trump/RNC miserable manuscript of manipulation here. That’s when the fun starts. See if you can you find more examples than I did in my once-through. What are your counts? Put ’em in the Comments section.

The winner of this first ever Counting Just For Fun contest will win an all expense paid trip to your mailbox to see if you receive the next flagrantly dishonest fundraiser from the Whiner in Chief. If you do, please send a copy to me at [email protected] and we’ll all have another round of contest fun.

Extra Credit Opportunity!

For extra credit see how many outright lies you can spot. I found 12.

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

An Apology


Reading time – 3:56; Viewing time – 5:02  .  .  .

I’ve been bashing Congressional Republicans for a long time because of their obvious spinelessness. They plainly see what Trump says and does, they know he’s hateful, abhorrent and likely criminal, but they say and do nothing to counter or prevent his felonious and hateful behavior, his clear lack of any concern for our national security and the welfare of us all.

What they know is that if they speak up they will be Tweeted to death by this infant tyrant. He will call them schoolyard bully names. He will lie with breathtaking creativity and make them look helplessly incompetent. And he will work to get them primaried by an opponent Trump backs.

All of which is to say that any Republican who crosses Trump is likely to lose their job.

And they knuckle under because they care more about their careers than they do about the Constitution. They’re focused on keeping their jobs instead of honoring their oath of office. Their immediate benefit is more important than doing what is right for our country. So, instead of putting starch in their spines and doing what they know to be the right thing, they take the self-serving coward’s way.

That is why I have been burning Congressional Republicans.

What I’ve failed to see for so long is the spinelessness of Congressional Democrats.

Robert Mueller put ten cases of Trump’s obstruction of justice in their lap and all they could do was to wag tongues about them. Trump’s shakedown of every visiting foreign dignitary, getting them to use Trump’s hotels, has received the same useless inattention. There’s more, of course, and we’re not just talking about emoluments or grossly undignified behavior; some of this stuff is blatantly criminal. Where is the courage of the Democrats to do more than wail, “Ain’t it just awful?”

Now, at last, there is an impeachment inquiry afoot. Not drafting articles of impeachment; just looking into things. And it took Trump’s self-incrimination to get them to do that.

So, apologies for my having failed to clearly name the cowardice of Democrats.

Meanwhile, the question I’m asking now is why Trump would volunteer the notes from his extortion phone call with the president of Ukraine. He was so willing to offer that and barely resisted releasing the whistle-blower’s complaint. Knowing  his guilt, why would he do that?

Trump isn’t known for subtle strategies, so I don’t think it’s useful to conjure elaborate plans being executed. So, try this.

He’s been daring Democrats to impeach him for months and they didn’t lift a finger to oblige him. At last, in desperation to be impeached, he has offered them an irresistible item. That is to say, he’s made them an offer they cannot refuse. Very mob boss of him. And the Dems are off and running with it. Here’s what Trump gets out of this.

First, he got $13 million in campaign contributions in the first 3 days following the announcement of the impeachment inquiry. Very lucrative for Trump. He likes that.

And he gets months of self-righteous whining that he’s a victim of the horrible, dishonest, un-American Democrats. He will spend months invoking the words of himself to rally his people around him in their shared victimhood, calling on all True Americans to join them to make America great again, not the soft, whiny land of coastal elites. And in this crusade of victimhood, Trump imagines that he will gather far more support and be re-elected. That’s what’s in it for Trump to be impeached.

Bear in mind that leaving office is not an option for Trump, because he will immediately be indicted for tax fraud, money laundering and the rest by both the federal government and several state governments. Maybe the City of New York, too. So, he’s prepared to do anything to stay in office, including wagging the dog, figuring the Senate won’t have the cojones to stop him from attacking Iran. And he’s willing to be impeached, too, once again figuring the Senate won’t convict him. That’s akin to his bragging that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any voters.

Let’s see if the so-far-spineless Democrats can muster the courage to impeach Trump on so many obvious and egregious counts that the vast majority of Americans are thoroughly convinced of his criminal behavior and the Senate simply can’t knuckle under to this mobster again.

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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!

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.

Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The MAGA Bible


Reading time – 47 seconds  .  .  .

Whether you are a bible-thumper or a critic of bible-thumpers; whether you think of yourself as a Christian in good standing, an occasional Christian or a non-Christian; whether you’ve wondered how evangelical Christians could consistently support a president and legislators who routinely espouse and do anti-Christian things; whether you fret or roll eyes over anyone declaring themselves to be “the chosen one;” you must read John Pavlovitz’s stunning piece, Excerpts From The MAGA Bible. Do that now.

Final Note

Cameron Kasky

We kill around 100 people per day with guns – seven in Odessa, TX and five in Elkmont, AL this week, and the week is just half over. Ten were shot at a high school football game in Mobile, AL on Saturday. And nothing that might make things safer will change because .  .  .  you know why.

Cameron Kasky, student survivor of the horrific Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL a year and a half ago wrote this:

“I just want people to understand what happened and understand that doing nothing will lead to nothing. Who’d have thought that concept was so difficult to grasp?”

David Hogg

What is true remains true:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.

So, when we don’t do anything to stop the shooting and bleeding, we just keep on bleeding and dying.

Fellow Douglas High School shooting survivor David Hogg has left Parkland, FL and is attending Harvard, but his college studies haven’t and won’t stop him and his Parkland pals from continuing their quest to stop gun violence. Click here to donate and save the lives of some school kids.

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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!

NOTES:

      1. Writings quoted or linked to 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.

     


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Where Political Influence Comes From – and a Destructive Snit


Reading time – 4:19; Viewing time – 6:49  .  .  .

It’s going to take decades to clean up the mess that our terrible infant president is creating. Some things will take much longer and will leave permanent scars. Other Trump damage, like loss of endangered species, will be impossible to fix.

We’re told that the Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency intends to “sharply curtail rules on methane emissions.” It’s possible that methane isn’t a focal point of your day, so I’ll explain what this newest EPA ruling will mean to you.

Methane is likely the gas that burns in your home furnace and water heater. Burning natural gas instead of other fossil fuels produces less carbon dioxide, so it adds less to global warming, and it’s cheaper to use, too. That’s where the methane happy stuff ends. The rest requires a little story to explain it.

The phenomenally destructive Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission granted Big Money interests – deep pocket individuals and corporations – the power to dominate and control our politics using their cash. That was more than surprising, since the case was only about the Citizens United organization wanting to show their movie trashing Hillary Clinton right before each primary in 2008. It wasn’t about campaign contributions and domination of politics.

The McCain-Feingold Act prohibited such “electioneering” within 30 days of a primary, so Citizens United was enjoined by the district court from showing their 30-minute attack ad that was designed to influence the primary elections. They filed suit and the case wound up before the Supreme Court, which reversed the district and appellate court rulings against Citizens United. That should have been the end of the case, but it wasn’t.

Chief Justice John Roberts ordered the attorneys to return to the Court to re-litigate the case, this time testing the rights of corporations and speech equivalency. In that gross distortion of the original case, the 5-4 conservative majority decided that corporations have all the same rights as flesh and blood human beings, including the right to make campaign contributions and air political advertising.*

Justice John Paul Stevens

As outrageous as that is, if you’re a Constitutional purist, get that, “[In addressing an

issue that was not raised by the litigants], the majority changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” That is from the blistering dissent of this decision, written by Justice John Paul Stevens.

Effectively, the Supreme Court legislated from the bench on issues that were not in contest in this case. Citizens United v. FEC had nothing to do with human rights or corporate rights or political contributions, but its adverse effect in those areas will be felt for a very long time.

Dig into the case a little deeper and you’ll have a new and dark understanding of Chief Justice John Roberts. Be sure to pay attention to his Senate confirmation hearings, where he did the now familiar confirmation dance, spewing volumes of words while not answering questions. More specifically, though, he invoked stare decisis, the principle of not upsetting prior court decisions and making current decisions based upon precedent. Roberts had a solid belief in that, he told us.

Turns out that stare decisis actually wasn’t a real important thing to John Roberts and that allowed him to legislate from the bench. That bench-created new law gave us things like the NRA being such a powerful campaign contributor to legislators that our elected officials refuse to create the gun safety legislation that 90% of Americans want them to create. Sadly, we have a government of, by and for Big Money, not you and me.

Here’s how that connects to the EPA lifting methane emission regulations.

Point #1: Over the course of 20 years methane released into the atmosphere has 86 times more powerful global warming effect than does carbon dioxide. The EPA has taken down its web page detailing this.

Point #2: Natural gas comes largely from fracking wells and as many as 50% of them leak methane into the atmosphere. The page for that has been taken down from the EPA site, too.

Point #3: The Obama administration generated regulations to cause the actors in the methane extraction business to take action to reduce methane emissions.

Point #4: Trump’s EPA is in the process of trashing those Obama era regulations and allowing essentially uninhibited methane leakage.

Some major oil companies have stated that they are opposed to the change the EPA is proposing. Do your own math on why they’d do that, especially since their own industry association and lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute, has come out in favor of EPA’s proposal to eliminate methane emission regulations.

There’s a really good chance that you are not in favor of the EPA’s proposal that will dramatically increase the rate of global warming. The problem for you is that our legislators don’t really care what you think about that, any more than they care about the 90% likelihood that you want strict gun safety regulations.

Just like healthcare, immigration reform, voting rights, education and so many other issues, you’re not getting what you want and it can all be traced back to Citizens United.

That’s now compounded by Trump’s ongoing snit over being dissed by President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. Since that time Trump has been doing everything he can to negate everything Obama accomplished, including DACA, regardless of the harm he does to you and all of us, our allies and our planet.

Such is the behavior of this terrible infant president. We are paying the price for his temper tantrum and, as I said earlier, it will take decades to clean up his mess.

Quote of the Week

Trump is a man who has been progressively hollowed out by the acid of his own self-regard. David Brooks

Opinion Piece of the Week

The Frauding of America’s Farmers, Paul Krugman


*Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, wrote,

“The First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker  .  .  .  even if the speaker is a corporation.”

It is beyond any possibility that the Founders intended the Bill of Rights to have any connection whatsoever to non-human entities, like corporations. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect the rights of people. Humans. Read the amendments and it will be clear to you.

So much for Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas being “originalists.” They claimed to interpret the Constitution as the Founders originally intended. so they liked to call themselves originalists. Clearly they were/are not.

————————————

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!

NOTES:

    1. Writings quoted or linked to 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.

Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Gun Safety Regulations


Reading time – 5:21; Viewing time – 7:02  .  .  .

The crazies think arming teachers is a good idea. They want shoot-outs in the hallways when a bad guy shows up. Think: Parkland, Columbine and Sandy Hook, with the halls full of kids. What could possibly go wrong?

The NRA-controlled Congressional response to mass shootings is twofold:

First, they parrot the NRA, saying that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, like a teacher with chalk in one hand and a 9mm pistol in the other. Really? Do you really think that civilian crossfire in that Walmart and in that crowded bar last weekend would have been better?

Second, Congress goes all thoughts and prayers, then goes crickets. They have no spine to create useful regulations because doing so would piss off one of their biggest campaign contributors.

One more time: We tried the Wild West and we know what it got us: an enormous pile of dead bodies. Going back to everyone packing and thinking they’re the fastest gun, the baddest cowboy, the toughest righteous dude, protector of the little lady and the rest of the macho crap will get us the same thing again.

Here is the fact: States with tougher gun laws – regulations – have way less gun violence. Example: Louisiana has the loosest gun regulations and has seven times the gun violence rate of Massachusetts, which has some of the toughest gun regulations.

Having a gun is the most certain indicator of bad things to come. Just ask the 8 year old who accidentally killed his little brother after finding daddy’s pistol in the nightstand. Or the formerly despondent person who found a way to kill herself that was so fast that she didn’t have time to think twice. But, of course, you can’t ask her because she’s dead.

For those wanting to leap to the exceptions in order to negate all gun safety efforts:

  1. No gun regulation will stop all mass murders. But some regulations might prevent some of them.
  2. Second Amendment types opposed to all regulations justify their intransigence by saying that a particular regulation wouldn’t have stopped a particular shooting. They make the perfect the enemy of the good. People die waiting for them to wake up.
  3. If you’re in the wilds of Alaska it’s okay to have a gun to protect against bears. Same for homes in sparsely populated areas where help is 45 minutes away.
  4. If you’re a hunter it’s okay for you to have a hunting rifle.
  5. Numbers 3 and 4 above are contingent upon you being vetted by a background check as not being violent, mentally unbalanced or a spineless politician. Then you can have a gun. But only after you’ve taken certified training in its use and have passed a test indicating you know how to safely handle, store, transport and use a gun. Just like getting a drivers license.
  6. If you’re a 22-year-old with swastikas on your bedroom wall and you want 9 long guns, two assault rifles with bump stocks, 7 semi-automatic 9mm handguns with extended capacity magazines and a closet full of ammunition, NO, YOU CAN’T HAVE A GUN.

Tell you what, Adolph: I’ll pay for your years of psycho-therapy to treat your inadequacies and pent-up hostility. Meanwhile, we’re going to keep you away from anything that goes “bang” or has a sharp edge.

Kinda wound up over two mass shootings this past weekend. In El Paso the brave gunman protected us all by making sure those little kids from Juarez didn’t get their school supplies. And the gunman in Dayton made sure people didn’t have a good time at that bar. No telling what might have happened if all those people hadn’t been gunned down by rapid fire from assault weapons and handguns fired by – you guessed it – angry white men.

And finally,

Click and read the sad satire. Then scroll down to see the multiple iterations of it.

There’s a lot to say about American mass shootings. One is being said by 17 countries, as well as Amnesty International: Don’t travel to the United States because it’s just too dangerous.

The Onion put its satirical touch on this with a headline this week:

“No Way To Prevent this,” Says Only Nation Where this Regularly Happens.

All the other nations have figured this out.

A necessary ingredient of satire is that it be based in fact, and this headline does that. As you might suspect, they’ve run that headline over and over, updating the picture each time from the then-current massacre.

If you can handle it, have a look at another piece from The Onion, this one about the sick, twisted rationalization white supremacists and neo-Nazis make of Thomas Jefferson’s words about the tree of liberty and the blood of patriots. I haven’t read the El Paso shooter’s “manifesto,” but I’m confident The Onion’s piece would fit him just fine.

Most important is an in-depth look at why we have so many people being killed or wounded by gunfire in America. If you read anything about our more than one-per-day mass murders, read this piece: What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest An Answer. Here are some hints:

It isn’t video games. People in every other industrialized nation play the same video games but they don’t slaughter one another.

It isn’t mental health. Crazy as we seem to be, we Americans are no more mentally unhealthy than people in other countries. Further, blaming people with mental health issues for our gun carnage demeans those people.

It isn’t our culture.

It isn’t racial differences or immigration.

Read the article, because within it you’ll find the driver of our daily, blood-soaked carnage. Then drop a note to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, because they’re major recipients of millions of dollars of NRA campaign contributions. The NRA laundered at least $40 million of Russian money to do that.

Maybe we do need gun regulations. And tight campaign contribution regulations, too.

And be sure to read E.J. Dionne’s piece on this. It’s brilliant.


————————————

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!

NOTES:

  1. Writings quoted or linked to 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. When you offer your ideas in the Comments section, that’s all yours – and your comments are most welcome.

Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Real Issue


Reading time – 4:34; Viewing time – 6:40  .  .  .

Ed. Note: Be sure to check out our periodically published new feature, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up at the end of the regular post.

___________________________________

By now you’ve at least heard of the kerfuffle created by the remarks of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and it’s entirely possible that you’re both offended and pretty well annoyed by the whole mess. I’ve decided to weigh in only because the key issue seems to have been missed and it’s a really big issue. It’s a life and death issue.

To recap, Omar dispatched tweets and comments that triggered an explosion. They were:

Feb.10 – Responding to a tweet about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel, she tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

Feb 11 – Responding to a question about who’s paying these Benjamins, she tweeted, “AIPAC!” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Feb 11 – Following criticism from Democratic leadership, she tweeted a sort-of apology, saying in part, “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Feb 28 – Speaking as a panel member at a DC venue she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

In a recently discovered 2012 tweet she wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

That’s a lot to digest, so let’s boil it down to the essentials. Omar is saying,

  1. Wealthy Jews are buying influence.
  2. AIPAC is using “Benjamins” to control Congress and the President.
  3. American Jews have “allegiance” to a foreign country, Israel, implying they are disloyal to America.
  4. Jews have some semi-occult ability to hypnotize others and cause them to do the bidding of Jews.

Let’s start with the easiest to dispel. AIPAC doesn’t make political contributions to candidates or politicians. Now on to the real damage.

The stereotype of Jews being wealthy and using their wealth to control others and thus do harm to those others has been around a long time. The same is true of the lunacy that says that Jews can “hypnotize the world” and get their way. Neither would be a big deal if it were just a few psychotics screaming such things in a rubber room. Sadly, devastatingly, it doesn’t stop there and it never has.

These hateful tropes have been believed by the uninformed, the gullible and the hateful and powerful for centuries, perhaps millennia. They have been used to justify some of the the most vile and hateful acts, including the Spanish Inquisition, pogroms across Europe and Russia, the Holocaust and tens of thousands of small scale violent events all over the world. Think: Tree of Life Synagogue.

That is to say, words matter. They have impact on people and that drives people’s actions. When the words are hateful – especially when they qualify as a Big Lie, as Omar’s do – they incite people to violence. She helped to continue the hateful lies and to support the haters’ justification of their hate and their violence. That’s the real issue.

In her weenie apology she managed to demand to be listened to as a qualification of her “unequivocal” apology. It’s a bit like apologizing by saying, “I apologize if what I said was offensive.” Kinda misses the mark of apologizing for actually being offensive.

Much of the political tap dance of both Democrats and Republicans has been an astonishing circus sideshow of posturing for political advantage. I especially love the justifications claimed by the 23 Republicans who voted against the resolution condemning hate. One stands out as the winner of the Totally Daft Award. See #3 below.

Legitimate criticism of Israel is welcome. Opposing the government or the policies is in bounds and justifiable. Spreading hate is not.

This whole thing is simpler than the political theater of the absurd would allow you to see and it’s way beyond finding Omar’s words offensive or reacting to her poorly crafted jiu jitsu apology. We need to focus on the key issue, which is the spreading of hate and the potential incitement to violence done by Rep. Omar’s words. It’s a really big issue. It’s a life and death issue.

For more on the impact of words, see this post.


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up
A short compendium of current events that are too dumb even for fiction
  1. Veteran conservative broadcaster and columnist Jane Chastain recently wrote a column titled “AOC WAS A GIRL SCOUT .  .  .  JUST SAY NO TO THE COOKIES.”
  2. Finnish investigative journalist Jessikka Aro has been courageously reporting on Russian propaganda and its troll factories for years. She was informed she was to receive the International Women of Courage Award in Washington, D.C. Then the Trump State Department learned that Aro had been critical of the President, so her award was cancelled.
  3. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said that he voted against the House resolution condemning bigotry and hate because its wording, “.  .  .  suggests America’s House of Representatives cares about virtually everyone except Christians and Caucasians.”

Sourced from Daily Kos and The Washington Post. You can look it up.

Click to join me on March 23 for this fascinating and informative event.

              ————————————

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. 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 be better informed.

Thanks!


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Apathy and the Big Picture


Ed. Note:

Other than this sentence, this post does not mention or allude to Michael Cohen, Robert Mueller, Congressional hearings, Kim Jong-un, impeachment, obstruction of justice or any of the usual suspects. Today this is an official JaxPolitix safe zone.

_________________________________________

Reading time – 5:03; Viewing time – 6:35  .  .  .

Seeing the Big Picture isn’t always easy for me, what with the constant flash of bright, shiny objects of distraction, the din of self-serving noise and the near-complete lack of veracity from official sources. Whatever is happening, I try to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to the latest outrage and instead put some effort into thinking Big Picture. Sometimes I succeed. I got some help for that last week and hereby pass it along to you.

Let’s start with the key to what brought us to where we are now, the Big Picture: public apathy. Specifically, apathy toward elections.

You already know that it’s largely agitated people who are motivated to show up and vote in primary elections. (Late addition: There is evidence that this belief may not be accurate.*) That leaves us with a problem. Here’s how it works.

These folks make up about one-third of the electorate, but they have oversized influence because few moderate voters show up for primaries. That means that this angry one-third of voters decides who your choices will be when you show up in November for the general election. Worse, in the general election the winner will have garnered only a smidgen over 50% of the votes, so our elected officials are decided by just 17% of eligible voters. But wait, it gets worse than that.

Only about 60% of eligible voters shows up for the general election. That means that the winner of a general election is decided by just 10% of our eligible voters. And because that 10% has a large component of hair-on-fire types, we get flamers in Washington. See the sidebar to the right and link through to the article for an example. This guy is hardly unique – he’s just the most recent.

The fact of agitated people making up the preponderance of primary voters is why moderate Republicans aren’t standing up to obvious malfeasance. It’s because doing so will anger “the base” – code for “angry voters” – and in the next primary some far out goofball will defeat the moderate. That causes moderates to have elective surgery to remove their spines when they get to Washington – it’s so they can keep their jobs.

Did I mention that it gets worse? It does.

The Supreme Court delivered its insane decision on the Citizens United case in January 2010.  It was one of the most devastating and inappropriate decisions the Court has made, because they delivered not one, but two decisions, the second of which was over an issue that wasn’t in dispute in the case. That opened the door to the bottomless supply of money that buys our entire elective process, exactly as President Obama predicted would happen at his State of the Union address later that same month. Chief Justice Roberts shook his head in disagreement, but he and his 4 friends (it was, of course, a 5-4 decision) were blindly wrong in expanding the case to something completely outside the dispute in question, as well as wrong about what would happen.

And that, plus moderates surrendering elections to extremist voters gets us less than the best legislators, less than the best judges, less than the best policies and the dysfunction and corruption we have right now. Ours is a devastatingly compromised democracy.

That’s the Big Picture I see. Now here’s the help I mentioned in the opening of this piece.

Read Jim Hightower’s current Lowdown to see how your pockets are being picked.

Trump’s only legislative win is the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which he and the proponents of this larceny claimed would increase workers’ wages. Apparently, they felt that dangling that before voters would cause us to support the annual $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthy. I know you review your paychecks carefully, so how much more are you getting? Nothing. Nada. And that’s the point.

That piece of legislative theft is just the most recent example of exacerbating wealth inequality and it came about because we elected self-serving radicals to be in the majority. Or should I say, 10% of voters did that and many of the rest of us stood by – 120 million eligible voters stayed home on election day – and let that happen. Clearly, many people were motivated to turn that around in the 2018 election. Perhaps that’s a beginning of change. But it’s only useful if we continue that change.

BTW – while you’re on Jim Hightower’s site, have a look at his clarification of populism. You might be surprised to learn that populism isn’t at all what many would have you believe. It isn’t about torches and pitchforks.

There are consequences to massive wealth inequality and the world has lived it repeatedly. Read futurist David Houle’s current post to enhance your view on this.

I’m reminded of the cynical declaration commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette about the French poor: “Let them eat cake.” There was no cake for them, nor bread, either. Perhaps you remember that the French Revolution happened shortly thereafter in 1789 and lovely Marie lost her head.

The point is that there’s a limit to what people will tolerate – we demonstrated that at the Boston Tea Party. The question is whether we will take action before things get really dangerous. Which leads to how we’ll do that.

RepresentUs is an organization dedicated to setting things right before we pass a point of no return. Watch their video, Unbreaking America, narrated by Jennifer Lawrence and Joshua Graham Lynn, for a clear explanation of what’s going on and what we can do about it. It’s well worth 11 minutes of your time. And if you’d like to see the research mentioned in the video, click here for a PDF download. Be sure to note the next-to-last paragraph on page 3.

Back to the Big Picture: All we have to do turn this mess around is to abandon our apathy.

  • * Even if the general belief of primaries being driven by extremists is not true – and that is unclear – the lack of voter participation is still at the core of our dysfunction. 120 million voters sat out the 2016 election and that gave us an extremist president and an extremist Congress. The importance of voter participation was further illustrated, this time in reverse, by the massive voter participation in the 2018 election and the changes those activated voters have started. When we show up and vote, politicians get a very powerful message from us that just might affect their behavior. When we don’t show up and vote, politicians get a very different message from us.

    Click to join me on March 23 for this fascinating and informative event.

                         ————————————

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. 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 be better informed.

Thanks!

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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