Charlottesville

A Little Help for You, Mike Pence


Reading time – 4:42  .  .  .

WARNING: Contains extra-crispy snark.

Mike, at the V.P. debate you said lots of things that are – well, let’s not call them lies; this is politics, so let’s just say they’re “creative.” We can’t look at everything, so we’ll pick just one thing to look at. Perhaps I can help you with that.

You said, “This presumption that you hear from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that America is systemically racist, and as Joe Biden said, he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, it’s a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”

On the slim chance that there are some facts (you remember what those are, right?) that somehow have slipped past you, here’s some help for you, Mike – just in case the issue of systemic racism ever comes up again in conversation.

When a White kid – say, your kid – gets busted for marijuana possession, one of two things happens.

  1. You get a call from the police to come down to the station to pick up your dumb kid. Before you leave the station the cop in charge says to your kid, “I don’t want to see you here again.” He turns to you and apologizes for having had to bother you. You take your kid home and ground him for a month. Or,
  2. Your kid gets charged, goes to court and the judge sentences him to 30 days of community service. He tells your kid that if he completes that satisfactorily his record will be expunged.

Here’s what happens when a Black kid from the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago gets busted for marijuana possession.

  1. He gets slammed into the side of a police cruiser, handcuffed and thrown into the back seat. While all that is going on he’s called a lot of cruel and abusive names.
  2. He spends every night in jail until somebody scrapes together enough cash to post bail. Or he just languishes there until his court date, which could be years away.
  3. The judge sentences him to a few years in prison, where he is surrounded by hardened criminals.
  4. He gets out of jail but can’t get a job because he has to check that box on the job application form that says he’s a convicted felon.

That’s how the system works, Mike. That’s why it’s called “systemic racism.” Let’s look at this another way.

Here’s a chart showing the rate of police fatal shootings per million people broken down by race. Review this carefully, Mike, and feel free to click the chart for the source material.

Are you seeing a problem here, Mike? Does any kind of discrimination jump out for you, like that the rate of fatal police killings is way higher for Blacks than for Whites? It’s 2.5 times higher. Does that look systemic to you, Mike? Okay, maybe you’re not seeing it, so let’s look at this yet another way.

Here’s a different chart. This one shows the number of people shot to death by police over a 4-year period and the data is broken down by race. Click the chart if you want to dig into the facts.

Let’s look at 2019, Mike – the gray bars – the last full year represented on the chart. You can see that fewer Black people were killed by police than Whites – about 1/3 fewer. The thing is, Mike, that Blacks are only about 15% of the U.S. population, but they have been killed by cops disproportionately more often. Does that look like a system of racism to you yet, Mike?

Tell you what: Watch this video. I’m recommending it to you because at the debate you deplored, with practiced, plastic passion, the awfulness of violent protests and looting. Oddly enough, though, you failed to deplore the conditions that lead to violence and looting. This video will help you to understand and appreciate those conditions. But I warn you that if you watch this video you’ll be in danger of understanding systemic racism. Your willful ignorance will be at risk, Mike. Still, be brave – watch the video. I think you can handle it.

Oh, and one other thing about violence and looting.

You demand, “Law and order!” and Trump proclaims, “I am the law and order president!” Sounds great, Mike. Works as an election bumper sticker almost magically. And you warn Americans against a Biden-Harris administration, letting us know in no uncertain terms of the carnage that will ensue if they get into office. The suburbs will never again be safe! There will be riots! Violence! Looting!

What’s interesting about that is that the violence and looting you claim to deplore are and have been occurring during your administration, Mike. It’s been stoked by your boss for four years. You remember El Paso, right? And Poway and Tree of Life Synagogue and Parkland and Jersey City and Gilroy? There are lots more. Not a lot of law and order going on there, Mike. And it’s all happened on your watch. Isn’t that fascinating?

Are you sure that Biden and Harris will do worse? Really? Honestly, that doesn’t seem possible, Mike.

Except, of course, that your boss is calling on militias, white nationalist and white supremacist groups to “Stand by.” It’s just the most recent of his barely disguised calls to arms to our thug-right, to whom he’s given cover for four years (Ref: “Good people on both sides.” Trump said that after a white nationalist murdered Heather Heyer with his car.). So, America might become more violent once you and Trump are out of office, as he rage-tweets for the violent minority to attack the rest of us in a civil war. He’ll call them the true patriots.

Important safety tip, Mike: Once you’re out of office and living in your affluent suburban home, you really ought to make sure your security detail is up to standing against Trump’s army of angry delusionals. They might mistake your house for someone else’s.

I feel so bad for you, Mike, because you’re stuck in your comfortable ignorance and I really want to help you. But the thing is, Mike – and there’s no getting around this – nothing I do will help you until you let go of pandering solely to old White guys, far right extremists and the Bible thumping closed-mindeds. Not even your over-practiced syrupy-ness or your God-thing certainties, or your robotic, disingenuousness will help until you at last give up your self-serving self-righteousness and embrace the actual reality out here where the rest of us live.

I’ve done all I can for you, Mike. Now it’s up to you. But in a final gesture of heartfelt support, let me suggest to you that you acquire an urgency for updating your résumé. Good luck to you, Mike, in whatever you do next. It will be here before you know it.

BREAKING NEWS

There was another Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration in Northbrook, IL yesterday, October 10. The groups were planted on their own corners of the intersection by the coronavirus death count sign. The vast majority weren’t locals – I know because I asked. They were mostly outside agitators. One proudly announced who he would vote for in South Carolina – clearly not a townie.

About 2 hours into the demonstrations a shaved head, mask-less tough came strutting over to the Biden supporters’ side and got face-to-face with demonstrators. The Biden supporters wore face masks, but the mask-less tough got in the face of some freshman high school girls, yelling and frothing COVID denials at them.

I have tried mightily to understand Trump supporters, to seek middle ground, to simply have a respectful conversation, but all I’ve found is anger, hatred, bluster, reality denying and, worst of all, puffing and posturing to demonize and dominate others, just like that frothing tough tried to do. This is a collection of adult bodies whose development was stunted at age 10, so they act like playground bullies, brats, the kids your mom and dad told you to stay away from. And they feed on the sense of power they get from chanting brainlessly. Their behavior reminds me of Nazi goose-stepping morons.

If they want to be miserable and ruin their own lives, it’s their choice. The truth is that now that they’ve done so much harm to others and they’ve attacked our democracy while cloaking themselves in a false mantle of patriotism, I don’t care about their misery. When they plot to kidnap a state governor, when they surrender all their reasoning to a cult tyrant and when they threaten COVID infection of 14 year old girls, our country is truly in peril and it is critical that we shut these bullies up using our votes.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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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. 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.

I Really Need Your Help With This


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

My pal John Calia (find him here) describes himself as a libertarian. Because I’m a progressive we have lots to talk about and frequently do so. Last week we had an email exchange that eventually reached the shoulder shrug point because even together we were unable to find much in the way of solid answers.

This series of exchanges was sparked by an essay in The New York Times that took a look at what it is that causes voters the most heartburn about Donald Trump. Public polling shows that his persona, separate from his policies, is a huge source of angst.

Okay, nothing new there, as this issue deftly crosses our political divide. But the comparison itself set me to asking the key question: What are Trump’s policies? Let’s start with an historical benchmark.

During the Cold War the foreign policy of all presidents included Soviet/communist containment, and the expansion of democracy. With hindsight we can pick apart the successes & failures and the value of those policies and the strategies that supported them, but the intent was always clear. Agree or disagree with it, that’s what policy looks like.

As I crafted my list of Trump policies it quickly became clear that what I was able to name was a list of Trump actions. What wasn’t clear was any identifiable policy behind them. Here are some examples.

Two of the first things Trump did upon assuming office was to pull us out of both the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Those are not policies; they are actions. What is the foreign policy those actions support? What is his policy on climate warming?

He took us out of the JCPOA – the Iran deal. Iran was in full compliance with the agreement at the time. After Trump took the U.S. out of the deal, Iran promptly restarted its uranium enrichment program, exactly what the JCPOA had stopped. Since then he has levied new sanctions, has pressured allies to institute snap-back sanctions and talked very tough against Iran. Again, these are all actions, but I’m hard pressed to identify the policy they serve.

He boasted he would “drain the swamp,” but has installed mostly swamp creatures in his Cabinet; i.e., industry moguls, insiders and lobbyists in charge of their own industry. What’s the policy?

He talks tough about law and order and has sent federal troops to attack protesters in, for example, Portland, OR. But apparently the protests and white supremacist violence in Charlottesville were okay – no troops were sent there. Plus he praised the 17 year old vigilante who killed 2 protesters and injured a third in Kenosha. What is his law and order policy?

He has dramatically reduced legal immigration but used 5 immigrants as props in a new citizenship ceremony on the second night of the RNC show and did so without their consent. In speaking about immigration he has excoriated “sh#t-hole” countries and called for more immigration from Norway. What is his policy on immigration?

He has tried multiple times to ban all Muslims from entering the country. What is his policy on freedom of religion?

His actions regarding China are schizophrenic. What is his China policy?

He gave Kim Jong-un international standing by meeting with him and then claimed a great victory for the U.S., saying he had negotiated the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Regardless, there has been no change in North Korea’s behavior, nor a disposal of its nuclear arsenal or its missiles, despite Trump’s claim the he and Kim “fell in love.” What is Trump’s policy regarding North Korea?

Roughly 80% of terrorist acts in the U.S. are done by white supremacists. Trump never addresses that, but does rail about MS-13, ISIS and Muslim/Islamist terrorists. What is his policy regarding terrorism in the U.S.?

Trump is once again challenging the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in order to eliminate it. He promised during the 2016 campaign and afterward that he would replace it with a program that is both farther reaching and less expensive, yet four years later has literally nothing to offer in the way of a replacement. What is his healthcare policy? To be fair, in all 10 years since 2010 when the act was passed the Republicans chanted and promised “remove and replace,” yet never offered any replacement, so it appears their policy on healthcare was limited to “Repeal Obamacare.”

I truly cannot answer my own questions and my pal John is pretty well challenged to name policy, too.

As I made my list I tried valiantly to avoid judgment and snark and must confess I didn’t do well with that.  Nevertheless, I continue to want clarity about policy. Not presidential flamboyant statements, not tough guy posturing, but actual national policy, so I turn to you.

Please post your notions in the Comments section about any Trump policy that seems clear to you. I’m after coherent statements, something that might be on a screen at the front of the Situation Room and on a flip chart in the Oval Office to keep everyone clear and focused.

What are Trump’s national policies?

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Speaking of policy, if Joe Biden wins he’ll be wise to follow some of the FDR policy advice as explained in a recent David Brooks piece. The loud voices on the left want a revolution, but most Americans want something that goes down a bit easier.

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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.

Recycling Geologic Time: A Textbook for Today


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

The Pre-Cambrian Era dates from the origin of the Earth, through the arrival of the first one-cell organisms and progresses to multi-cell organisms. It was a truly exciting time 4.5 billion years ago.

Trilobyte (or trilobite) fossils

Following that was the Cambrian period of the Mesozoic Era, the beginning of which marked the reign of the Trilobites around 540 million years ago. It lasted until their extinction about 290 million years ago.

The Silurian period came along in the midst of the Trilobyte dynasty and with it came the first fish. That changed everything, because they were vertebrates. They had backbones and, of course, their progeny are still around. Not so the extinct Trilobytes, although fossils abound to mark their prior existence.

Haikouichthys, an early vertebrate

Geology has had its way and we’ve passed through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and find ourselves smack dab in the midst of the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic Era. The most recent development of that period is we humans. Think: Lucy in the Great Rift Valley just inland from the southwest corner of the Red Sea. Ever since her time we have declared us to be the most noteworthy evolutionary thing ever.

Lucy, 3.2 million years old. Discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia at the southwest corner of the Red Sea

And here we are, king of the hill, as it were, masters of all we survey. We stand up straight with a greatly enlarged frontal lobe and spines of sturdy bone and cartilage. Well, most of us do. The geologically misplaced among us are those born without those internal accoutrements, such that they are unable to stand for anything.

Some of them are pleased to sit in Congress and do that surveying business and little else. They are able to thump their chests in a posture of agreement with whoever will pat them on the head and tell them they are good boys and girls and who also promise not to call them mean names.

There are many others of this reverted species, too, and all of them long for simplicity. That’s based upon a memory of some long ago that they think they had but which they never actually experienced. It was in their idealized yesteryear, they believe, when their lives were idyllic. There was no need to deal with “others“ then, people who were in any way different from them and who annoyingly would demand things like rights.

It’s unsurprising but often shocking to find that these Cambrian reversions are unable to experience shame for their words and actions, which leads to frequent dishonest behavior, like cheating and lawbreaking and sometimes the murdering of others not in their group.

Even the casual observer can see with the unaided eye their self-focused behavior in such things as elections. Some reversions act as though laws, norms and rules don’t exist and they operate solely for their own benefit and without regard for their impact on others. Seen in a broader context, such behavior is clearly reptilian, which is in line with the primitive brain structure common to the post-Cambrian period, specifically, the Carboniferous Mississippian period.

Pit bull

Without a spine to connect body with brain they either refuse to or are unable to consider complex notions, much like the Trilobytes, and all their behavior is little more than reflex reaction to stimulus. For example, when poked the Cambrian reversions reflexively lash out at the source. It’s very much like the behavior of a pit bull. When they see anything that isn’t just like them they react with fear, anger and hatred and immediately work to expel or kill whatever seems to them to be foreign. It appears that the Cambrian reversions can’t fully consider the concept of consequences. To be fair, neither can the pit bull.

Trump rally

Today, oddly, these Cambrian throw-backs often raise a fist and cheer passionately for themselves. Anthropologists have suggested that this behavior may be some form of in-group reinforcement. A theory proposed recently is that this is a pre-verbal, ceremonial event, possibly part of a mock war enactment or even a mating ritual. Regardless, there is strong consensus among anthropologists that this group always includes the profound rejection of others.

These group actions seem to mollify the participants for short periods of time. Nevertheless, they retain their ability for a quick display of animosity. More study is needed here.

White supremacist/Nazi march, Charlottesville, VA, August 2017

They have no need to be the most numerous creatures in order to control or at least influence all around them because they are facile with violence and the threat of violence. They are adept at powerful rationalizing and bending rules to advance their self-interest and seem to enjoy rallying around ancient fertility symbols. All they require is a leader to ignite their passion with simple words that stoke their fears and thereby their hatreds.

What is so very interesting is that they can accomplish their dominance and damage through the power of lies, manipulation, abandoned reason and by always insisting on simplicity over the much more difficult consideration of complexities. Their way takes little mental effort, is quick and easy and it requires no spine at all. It doesn’t even require curiosity. In fact, tests conducted at the National Institutes of Health in 2017 found that 100% of the subjects were wholly without curiosity and 96.7% were unable to associate their actions with impact on group outsiders. Oddly, during testing all test subjects insisted on wearing a cap with letters indicating pride in a fictitious past.

It seems many have effectively managed to return to the Cambrian period of evolution, a time when there were no spines or higher brain functions. Unlike the actual Cambrian period, there’s no room this time for the Trilobytes, because they would be considered “others” and killed on sight by today’s Cambrian human invertebrates. The true danger now lies in what else they might kill, including democracy.

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Your homework

Read this now. There will be a continuing quiz from today through November 3 and you must ace this test. Otherwise, your penalty will be far worse than detention hall.

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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.

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