Conservatism

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week.

Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families. Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.


Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book Running Against the Devil. It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Dear Bernie and Elizabeth


Reading time – 3:34  .  .  .

Dear Bernie and Elizabeth,

Here’s the key question: Do you want Democrats to lose the 2020 Presidential election to Donald Trump, as well as lose the opportunity for Democrats to control the Senate? You’re on a path to do both even if you don’t get the nomination.

There isn’t much in politics that appears to me to be simple, but this one does. Here’s how it breaks down in the general election:

  1. Lefties and far lefties will vote for you no matter what you say or do.
  2. Righties and far righties will vote against you no matter what you say or do. Bear in mind that there are more on this side of the center than on the left and their voting percentage is higher than on the left, too.
  3. Most of the center-left will vote for you and most of the center-right will vote against you.
  4. The very center is where it’s at –  they are the 8% of all voters who will decide the election.

Every time you say, “free tuition,” “Medicare for all,” “student debt forgiveness” or mention anything else that sounds like a  giveaway, all they hear is socialism, which they frighteningly equate with communism, bigger, more intrusive and clumsy government and higher taxes. And they really don’t like it when you tell them that you’re going to snatch the medical insurance away from 149 million Americans and replace it with some pie-in-the-sky program. People don’t like to be mangled by takeaways. And they don’t like to be flim-flammed, which is what Medicare-for-all feels like to a lot of Americans.

Regardless of how fervently you believe in progressive causes, you’re pushing away the very people needed to win the election. And however unfair it may be, even if Joe Biden wins the nomination, your socialism, bigger government and higher taxes proposals will stain him. You’ll see Republicans constantly wide-eyed and yelling “SOCIALISM!” as though they’re Paul Revere patriots yelling, “The British are coming!”

No need to believe me about the voting toxicity of far left policy proposals. Have a look at what The Gallup Organization’s work tells us about this.

Here’s the translation:

Far left policies = BIG election loss

If Donald Trump were capable of appreciation – he isn’t – he would thank you for your far left policies.

Stop trying to turn this country into something the majority doesn’t want it to be. Wake up and smell the vote count.

Resources:

Read conservative writer Bret Stevens’ column for a clear take on what’s required to win the next presidential election. Hint: It isn’t lefty extremism and it isn’t about Trump.

Want confirmation of that from a very different perspective? Read Rahm Emanuel’s piece.

Not enough to convince you? Then read Thomas Friedman’s clear, compelling essay.

And have a look at how Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo became the first woman governor of Rhode Island. She did it by addressing the things voters worry about every day, like good paying jobs, not giveaway programs that scare them.

Trump brags about our great economy, but for millions of Americans their life experience just doesn’t match the hype. Have a look at the clarity that Steve Rattner laid out, pulling back the curtain to expose the circus barker’s fraud.

Want to win in November? Try focusing on the worries and pains of everyday life for real Americans, not what the hair-on-fire bloviators are saying. And make sure your appeal to them stays inside the limits of their beliefs about good sense.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Holiday Remembrances


Reading time – 1:44  .  .  .

The number next to each location listed below is the number of people shot to death in a single incident. This only includes mass shootings since August, 2019 with 4 or more killed, plus a few horrific others.

Here’s a question for the people still living in these places: How’s your holiday season?

    • Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT    26
    • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL   17
    • Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC    9
    • Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, PA    4
    • Pulse Night Club, Orlando, FL  49
    • Harvest Music Festival, Las Vegas, NV    58
    • Garlic Festival, Gilroy, CA    4
    • JC Kosher Supermarket, Jersey CIty, NJ    6
    • Emerald City Casino, Great Falls, MT     4
    • Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Pensacola, FL    4
    • Backyard football watch party, Fresno, CA    4
    • Family killing, San Diego, CA    6
    • AirBnB house, Orinda, CA    5
    • Family killing, Philadelphia, PA    4
    • Memorial gathering, Chicago, IL    5
    • Family killing, Abingdon, MA    5
    • Tequila KC Bar, Kansas City, KS    4
    • Street shooting, Beaumont, TX    4
    • SuccessTech Academy school, Cleveland, OH    4
    • Mobil home park, Albuquerque, NM    4
    • Family shooting by 14 year old, Elkmont, AL    5
    • Outside movie theater, Odessa, TX    8
    • Ned Peppers Bar, Dayton, OH    10
    • Walmart, El Paso, TX    22

Our hearts go out to these folks for having to bear the pain of an empty chair at the holiday table. Too bad NRA sponsored politicians only have thoughts and prayers. If they had hearts, perhaps some of these massacres wouldn’t have happened and today’s survivors would have had a joyous holiday.

Finally,

If we had applied our immigration policies to those seeking asylum back then  .  .  .

What would Trump-supporting Evangelicals say if Customs and Border Patrol told Mary and Joseph, seeking refuge, that they couldn’t even stay in a stable in the U.S.? How would they react if they found out that all children entering our southern border are separated from their parents because the parents are arrested while seeking asylum, so Jesus was wrapped in a mylar  blanket and put in a cage? Would Evangelicals applaud that Trumpian get tough immigration policy?

If the answer is yes, Evangelicals may keep that one-word descriptor, but they have to stop calling themselves Christians. There’s nothing Christian in being cruel to the poor, to the stranger and to children. There’s a really good chance Evangelicals missed the main point.

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Ed. Note: We need 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.

Mr. Chairman


In the House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee Hearings
Mark Up of Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump,
President of the United States

Chairman Nadler:

The gentleman from Illinois is recognized.

Congressman Altschuler:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise to speak to the need for clarity. Specifically, my purpose is to narrow our deliberations to the true issues at hand, such that we do not waste time on those things which do not advance the purpose of this committee. Such diversions do little more than stoke divisions and create confusion for all.

We are all impassioned and seek to have a fulsome discussion; however, enthusiasm has set us on paths that lead us away from the important decisions – over the river and through the woods, as it were – rather than to a considered conclusion. So, first let us name what these proceedings are not about.

These proceedings are not about Watergate or President Richard Nixon. They are not about President Andrew Johnson. They are not about President Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich or Ken Starr. They are not about Vice President Joe Biden, nor are they about Hunter Biden’s personal issues or his business activities. They are not about Robert Mueller or executive privilege. They are not about Burisma or Ukraine or Russia or the 2016 election. They are not about President Zelenski or Lisa Page or Peter Strzok or the FBI. They are not about the impeachment process, nor about its speed or duration. They are not about the fine members of our State Department or four law professors. They are not about Benghazi or Fast and Furious or Hillary Clinton or President Obama. They are not about whether we are all getting along or if we are fighting fair or who can talk the fastest or with the most effrontery or shock. All of these and more have been brought up in these proceedings. All are nothing more than distractions without merit in this deeply important question of the President’s behavior.*

These proceedings are about determining:

    • Whether President Trump attempted to enlist aid for his candidacy in the 2020 election from a foreign power and in the process violated the Constitutional ban on foreign influence in our elections. That’s called abuse of power.
    • Whether President Trump committed obstruction of Congress through his stonewalling of subpoenas and his interference with Executive Branch personnel as witnesses for this committee and for the House Intelligence Committee
    • And whether either of these charges rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors

That’s it. That’s the whole purpose of our being here.

The greatest fear of the Framers was that we might someday come under the rule of a king, like the despot King George III. Those brave men who dared to declare our independence risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to rebel against the rule of kings. They created the process of Impeachment in our Constitution as a preventative to that ever happening here. Impeachment is about holding officials to account so that we never suffer under a king.

I implore our committee members to focus on the real issues, because that is what the Constitution and the Framers charge us with doing. Focusing elsewhere is nothing more than political ploy, obfuscation to enrage others. The grave circumstances in which this nation finds itself demand nothing less than our full concentration on the true issues. So, let’s keep our eyes on the ball, people.

With that, I yield back the remainder of my time, Mr. Chairman.


*All of these topics were named multiple times during the hearings, just as though they were relevant. They were not, they are not and they will not be.

————————————


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.

Go Back To The Pawn Shop


Reading time – 3:49; Viewing time – 5:02  .  .  .

Critical Alert – Pass this along to at least 3 others. You’ll see why at the end.

The FOIA triggered disclosure of Mike Pompeo’s involvement with the sliming of Ambassador Marie Yovanovich was only the first end-around of the subpoena stonewalling of the Donald Trump administration. More FOIA requests will be granted and it’s safe to say there will be smoke and perhaps at last a raging fire to see. In addition, yet another court case has slapped the wrist of our king wannabe president, this time declaring officially how idiotic his claims of “absolute immunity” are.

All of this is good news for our democracy, but it isn’t enough. In the absence of full Congressional oversight – that’s Congress asserting its stature and full powers as a co-equal branch of government – executive overreach will continue to corrode our country. We need Congress to put on its Big Boy and Big Girl pants, and right now that means only one thing. The explanation of that requires a short story.

Russian Federation flag

For the decades of the cold war Republicans wrapped themselves in the red, white and blue of the stars and bars and stood in lock-step against Soviet aggression. Now, though, they seem to have stopped at a pawn shop and traded in the American flag for a cloak of Russian Federation white, blue and red.

They act as though they no longer believe in the rule of law. Think: supporting the stonewalling of subpoenas; tolerating obviously criminal actions; attacking U.S. military officers, Gold Star families and distinguished foreign service officers.

Far worse, though, is their mouthing of the disinformation of former KGB officer and murderer, Vladimir Putin. He is working tirelessly to destabilize democracies around the world. He’s spew-vomiting Russian disinformation in the United States, including trying to get Ukraine blamed for the illegal Russian hacks of the DNC and Hillary Clinton email servers in 2016. Amazingly, the Republicans are brainlessly mouthing Putin’s disinformation. They are knowingly doing Putin’s work for him.

As Paul Krugman explained it, “.  .  .  by and large Trump, unlike previous presidents, is backed by a party that sees and hears no evil whatever he does.” That’s because Republicans fear Trump and his MAGA hat wearing followers, so they say and do astonishingly stupid things to stay off Trump’s angry Twitter feed.  And that has caused the Republican sell out of America.

That’s why it’s critical that the GOP put on its Big Boy and Big Girl pants and head back to that pawn shop to get their American flag back.

You can help to make that happen.

We need two dozen Republican senators to wake up and smell the Constitution. Every senator already knows the truth and 30 of the 53 despise Trump. What’s needed is for them to do the right thing. That’s where you come in.

If you have a Republican senator, call his/her office and tell them to vote to remove Donald Trump from office. Here’s an analysis of who the critical senators are.

You can find your own senators here; just use the pull-down at the top left of the linked page to find their contact information.

THEN CALL THEM; don’t email, because voice contact is more powerfully received.

    • Tell them not to support a president who violates the Constitution by trying to get a foreign nation to interfere in our election.
    • Tell them Trump acts solely for his own benefit and sells out our national security in the process.
    • Tell them that you know that they know.

Then tell them what you want them to do. And let them know that you can see their votes.

If either Joe Manchin (D-WV) or Jon Tester (D-MT) is your senator, call them. They’re both under heavy pressure from the right in their states and they need to hear your support for doing the right thing.

To quote Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal winning U.S. Hockey team, “This is your time. Now, go out there and take it!”

Send your senators back to that pawn shop for their American flags. This is your time. Now, go make those calls. Do it now.

Critical Alert – Pass this along to at least 3 others.

————————————


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.

A Stroll Through Impeachment Park


Reading time – 4:21; Viewing time – 6:06  .  .  .

Contrary to his firm, clear declaration, Richard Nixon was a crook. Setting aside allegations that have a dollar sign directly attached to them, he obstructed justice. That’s a crime. He sent thieves into the night to break and enter the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, as well as to rob the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex. Those are crimes.

Nixon committed treason during the 1968 presidential campaign by urging the North Vietnamese not to conclude a peace treaty with the U.S., telling them they’d get a better deal from him if he were elected. That’s a crime.

None of these is about personal offensiveness or the breaking of norms. All of these are crimes. By any definition, Richard Nixon was a crook. And he was just short of certain impeachment and removal from office by the Senate when he resigned his office.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton’s ethics, his moral rectitude, if any, “crook” is hardly useful to describe him.

At the height of Newt Gingrich’s power as Speaker of the House he hired Ken Starr to investigate the Clintons – both of them. Starr’s charge wasn’t to focus on an indication of the commission of a specific crime. Rather, it was a target-of-opportunity witch hunt. He was to find something – anything – to hang around Bill Clinton’s neck.

Starr investigated everything both Clintons had touched, including the Rose law firm in Arkansas, the Whitewater land deal, the death of Vince Foster, various extramarital affairs and more and he found nothing illegal. Nothing. Then Linda Tripp, a confidant of White House intern Monica Lewinsky, called the FBI to disclose Clinton’s sexual relations with the young woman. Clinton’s actions, while perhaps repugnant, weren’t a crime.

Starr hauled Clinton before a grand jury and asked about the affair. Clinton lied, denying it. That was a crime – lying to a grand jury. And shaming Clinton into that was all that Starr could conjure after over four years of digging for dirt. There’s no question about the crime and Clinton was impeached, but the Senate made it clear that this was hardly treason, bribery or a high crime or misdemeanor. Stupid, yes. Worthy of removal from office? Come on.

Now, things are different. Donald Trump is guilty of either extortion or bribery and maybe both. Those are crimes. He is guilty of using funds allocated by Congress to have a foreign power give him support for the 2020 election. That constitutes at least three crimes; one is the withholding of funds directed by Congress; another is abuse of power; yet another is soliciting election help from a foreign government, one of only a handful of specific crimes listed in the Constitution.

By ignoring subpoenas and ordering all from the Executive Branch of government not to testify at the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings. Trump obstructed justice. Then there are his ongoing violations of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. These are all crimes and he’s guilty of them. We know that, not only because of the clear, direct testimony by greatly respected individuals with firsthand knowledge and through documentary evidence, but because Trump has bragged about all of these crimes.

Trump’s malfeasance is far beyond Nixon’s thievery and obstructions of justice and way past Bill Clinton’s lying about his dalliances. Trump is flagrantly guilty of bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors and everyone knows it.

All this has nothing to do with Trump’s distractions, like his continuous lying, his bullying, his violations of governmental, civic and decency norms, his ethics violations or even his dereliction of duty to our national security. For those who have spent the last few years admonishing that we ignore what Trump says and instead focus on what he does, that’s exactly what is happening right now.

The House is going to impeach Trump. It’s the right thing to do if we still believe in the rule of law and in protecting and defending the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

There’s only one question left: Do the Republicans in the Senate have even the small amount of integrity needed to do the right thing? Do they still believe in conservatism? We better hope that at least twenty of them do.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan avoided responsibility for the Iran-Contra crimes. George W. Bush skated from his having started two illegal wars. If Trump is allowed to walk, our refusal to hold high officials accountable will have been permanently erased. That is why impeachment and removal from office are the right things to do.

Finally,

From pal Allan Shuman on Friday:

November 22, 56 years ago, was also a Friday. That was truly the day that the music died. There was hardly a mention today in any of the media.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated that day and that changed a generation and perhaps the entire world. Cynicism was kindled in Boomers and trust was dealt a terrible blow. We had had belief on November 21st; not so much on the 23rd.

Now Trump’s maniacal need for attention and our national acquiescence to it has stolen even that remembrance from us.

————————————


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.

Guest Essay – The Real Reason


Reading time – 4:35  .  .  .

Reader Dan Wallace has an insightful take on our American condition that is happily devoid of the hystrionics, name calling and partisan posturing of many. He offered it as a comment to my Hoping for Clarity From Sunday Times Readers post, but it was likely missed by many. His views are too important to be missed, so his essay is presented here. Read it and nod affirmatively and enthusiastically. JA


I was not a Trump voter for the reason given below. But it was, and I believe remains, the primary reason not to vote for him.

Simply put, comparing Trump’s publicly visible behavior to the available checklists for psycho/sociopathology, all indications are that he is psychopath, a sociopath, a person experiencing anti-social personality disorder, a malignant narcissist, or something along those lines. The exact term does not matter. That there is something seriously wrong with this guy is obvious and does matter. The right answer for someone like this is to feel sorry for him and to help him if we can, while minimizing the damage he can do. It is not to elect him (or keep him as) President of the United States.

For some reason it is considered unseemly to talk about this. I do not understand why. Choosing not to talk about it is like sitting down to dinner at a table that has a giant moose on it and pretending there’s no moose. There is. Step one in getting rid of the moose is admitting there’s a moose.

The view that there is something seriously wrong with Donald Trump is held by people as diverse as George Conway and Keith Olbermann. Unlike them, I am not a newcomer to it. I was virulently anti-Hillary in 2016. But I argued at the time, and I still do, that given a choice between venal and crazy, the right answer is to put 100 clothespins on your nose and vote for venal because it is at least predictable and is not necessarily oriented toward tyranny. While not all psychopaths become tyrants, all tyrants start as psychopaths.

Every now and then the American people make the mistake of putting into office someone with a severe mental disease or defect. The last time we did that was 1968. It took 6 years, but the institutions ultimately worked and we removed him from office.

We need to do that again, but the stakes are far higher now. We have an enormous division between those who have been left behind by globalization and those who have not. We have not figured out how we as a nation will compete in a truly globalized world. We have enacted policies that have driven the disparity of wealth to the sort of level that provokes insurrection. We have the least efficient healthcare system of any industrialized nation and continue to play the fiddle while it threatens to bankrupt us. In order to avoid dealing with those unpleasant realities, we have given ourselves a false sense of prosperity by fueling our economy with debt, something in which both parties have been equally and joyfully complicit. That accumulated debt is now so large that resolution of it likely will eventually require devaluation of the dollar, which will turn us into something like Greece or Venezuela. Meanwhile, we are experiencing a change in our environment that has the capacity ultimately to threaten the survival of our species (Moose #2).

These are serious issues and we should get about the business of addressing them in a serious way. The solutions will not be simple. There is plenty of demagoguery to go around, on both the left and the right. None of it helps. But one thing we should all be able to agree on: Having a psychopathic buffoon in the White House makes all of this worse, not better.

Addendum

On Wednesday of last week, Trump “met with” a group of about 25 refugees in the Oval Office. Presumably, this was a photo op intended to make him look empathetic. The problem is that it was captured on video, and one thing he clearly is not is empathetic.

The video shows Trump’s interaction with Nadia Murad, a Yazidi refugee who won the 2018 Nobel Peace prize for bringing her horrific story to the world and for fighting to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Her story includes ISIS raiding her village, killing her mother and six of her brothers, taking her captive, holding her as a sex slave and subjecting her to rape and torture.

The remarkable thing about this video is not Trump’s abject ignorance, unpreparedness and stupidity (after Murad tells him twice that ISIS killed her family, he asks, “So where are they now?” – Yes, really – watch the video.). Rather, it is that the President of the United States can listen to this story and show absolutely no empathy for the human being standing in front of him and for the appalling suffering and loss she experienced. If that lack of empathy doesn’t make someone a psychopath, then what the hell does?


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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

 


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

Hoping For Clarity From Sunday Times Readers


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 5:15  .  .  .

Still struggling to understand .  .  .

It isn’t customary for me to spend much time reading the letters to the editor in the Sunday New York Times, but the headline last Sunday grabbed my eyeballs:

Vote for Trump Again, or Switch?

Those who plan to switch were doing so for the standard reasons of Trump’s incompetence, dishonesty, cruelty and endangerment of our country and the world. I’m particularly interested, though, in what those who intend to vote for Trump again had to say. What are they seeing that I’m missing? What do they value that I’m blind to?

Mr. Tom Edwards of Live Oak, TX wrote,

“Yes! I’ll be voting for Donald Trump again and proudly so. Why? He is the classic American underdog story. He not only has to combat the raging left with its “give away the store” mentality, but also 95 percent of the media, which is hellbent on reporting something ominous in his every twitch and sneeze and tweet.

“Get over yourselves, guys! He might not fit your preconceived ideals of presidential, but that’s just fine with me. The ball is moving forward and that’s what’s important.”

Mr. Edwards left me less informed than I had hoped. For example, he somehow sees Trump as an underdog. This is the same New Yorker who started with millions, was propped up by his daddy with yet more millions and who managed to leverage his being constantly financially coddled into bankrupting four casinos and two other businesses. In what way was/is he an underdog? And why is Trump’s imagined underdog-ness a compelling reason for Mr. Edwards to vote for him?

Mr. Edwards also apparently sees Trump as a victim, specifically of the media. If Trump is a victim, why is that a reason to vote for him? Further, I want to ask him if he felt the same way as other presidents were being fried by the media.

Mr. Edwards is fine with Trump not fitting The New York Times’ “preconceived ideals of presidential” and it appears from his tone that he has an attitude toward the media over those very ideals. Exactly what preconceived ideals is he thinking of? He doesn’t help us to understand, leaving us to imagine that massive cruelty, constant lying and inviting foreign intervention into our elections, while not presidential, is okay with Mr. Edwards. I need help understanding why he’s good with that.

Another writer, Mr. Alexander Goldstein of Brooklyn, NY used most of his letter to attack ideas from the left. That’s okay, I suppose, in that the survey invited reasons to switch from Trump or to continue to support his candidacy, which thereby invited reasons not to switch. Fair enough. But the solitary focus on attacking others – “whataboutism” – is a constant for Trump supporters and it completely misses the point.

To be fair to Mr. Goldstein, he offered one positive reason to stay with Trump, writing,

“Donald Trump has taken bold, unprecedented steps on foreign policy and trade  .  .  . “

I have to agree with that. But just what are those bold, unprecedented steps to which Mr. Goldstein refers? Attacking our friends and allies? Cozying up to autocrats and murderers? Imposing tariffs that are both sadistic and masochistic at the same time? Picking fights as his opening gambit in negotiations, none of which have proven to benefit America? Come on, Mr. Goldstein, get specific so that we can learn something.

Otherwise, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Goldstein have done what nearly all Trump supporters do. They:

  1. Emulate Trump, offering bold claims and they offer no substance to support those claims, and
  2. Make claims that aren’t true at all, and
  3. Attack others with whataboutism and commonly use that as a deflection.

Whatever clarity I’ve found from these Sunday Times readers is more inferred than laid bare.

The support of Trump – not of conservatism, but of Trump – doesn’t seem to be firmly rooted in policy or achievements. Rather, it appears that it is an almost entirely visceral thing, a witch’s brew of anger, testosterone and “other-ism” borne of betrayal and a longing for power. Supporters are satisfied that he is fighting – raging against the machine that they believe has betrayed them – and they don’t really seem to care whether he wins his fights, as long as he continues to duke it out. And they don’t really seem to care who gets hurt in the process, either.

To fully understand the impact of what all that brings us, read Eugene Robinson’s clear-headed piece, This Is the Reality of Trump’s America in The Washington Post.


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

Another Effort to Understand


Reading time – 1:47; Viewing time – 3:13  .  .  .

I sent out a notification to about 50 of my neighbors to alert them to the opportunity to make a statement with Lights for Liberty this Friday evening. This is in protest of the treatment of detainees in horrible conditions in ICE/CBP camps. (Scan to the bottom of their website to find a location near you.) Aware that I was taking a chance because I don’t know the political views of most of my neighbors, I invited all recipients of my email to advise me if my outreach was unwelcome and I’d send them nothing further. I received one response to my invitation.

The email read,

Sorry, I guess I’m on the other side. The parents/adults should not be using them [children] as pawns for illegal immigration moves. It is a sad situation, but the legal US residents should not have to pay and fix this. They should be stopped at the border and turned away unless they go through the current legal process. Unfortunately, we do not have a Congress that will address this and open borders is not the way to go. This was easy to see coming and obvious who does not want to address it.

Slow down any urge to “yeah, but” this and instead give an effort to understand.

In fact, we have been told that hapless children are being used as pawns to enter the U.S. and it is unsurprising that some believe that to be true. In fact, while I see such claims as just another Trump lie, I have no data to support that, any more than the author of that email has data to support their view.

The writer acknowledges that the situation is sad, but like millions of Americans doesn’t think we should be paying to fix the situation. I’m pretty sure that’s a common conservative view and in line with believing that we shouldn’t be footing the bill for everything that needs fixing around the world.

The writer is correct in claiming that we don’t have a Congress that will address this issue. That’s been true at least since the early days of George W. Bush’s first administration in 2001. And I agree that open borders is not the way to go.

The current legal process truly is a mess. Seeing it as “obvious who does not want to address it” makes sense in the context of the polarizing name calling and unending propaganda we’re subjected to.* The price of propaganda is very, very high. Look for more on that in this Sunday’s post.

All of this is to say that it’s not that difficult to understand a contrary view of the border mess or, really, any of the messes we have on our hands. In part, at least, we’re dealing with different realities – mutually exclusive “facts” – which makes it easy for honest people to both disagree and fail to understand one another.

Plus, everybody’s talking and pretty much nobody is listening.

Many thanks to my neighbor who “put it out there” to help me understand.



————————————

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.

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

Porky Pig


Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .

To quote Porky Pig: “Ah-bi-dee, ah-bi-dee, that’s all, folks!”

The Supreme Court has just handed down its most blatantly political decision in a long time, or at least since the democracy killing Citizens United decision in 2010. Their stupefyingly bone-headed refusal to knock down blatantly obvious discrimination by North Carolina’s legislature will have a destructive impact that will echo across the nation.

This case was about gerrymandering designed to strip voting rights and legislative power from the poor and from minorities. The Supreme Court has opened the door for unending, unearned political control by a diminishing white majority. Its decision will have devastating impact on millions of Americans for years to come and is truly the New Jim Crow.

To the 5 justices who made this happen, I have some snark: Your mothers must be very proud.

I can’t do better than David Leonhardt’s piece in Friday’s New York Times. Click through and read it, and note his comments about the census, too.

BTW, the Times is not failing, as Emperor Trump would have you believe. It’s having some of its best years ever. They’re focused on stuff happening here on planet Earth, a concept of reality that doesn’t seem to penetrate the information-proof walls of the East Wing living quarters, which serve as Trump’s Twitter bunker. #FailingPresident.


————————————

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

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