Conservatism

Update to Consequences


Update to Sunday’s Consequences post:

From author John Scalzio in an interview for the New York Times Book section, May 17, 2020:

“Maybe people might look at me askance for “Atlas Shrugged” [being on my bookshelf], since I’ve written about how Ayn Rand valorizes a genocidal sociopath in John Galt, and I think it’s a really bad sign when ostensible adults take her “philosophy” seriously (and even worse when they’re elected to office). But I’ll tell you what, Rand could make a pot boil; there’s a reason her brand of nonsense sells.”

Even John Wayne was a fictional construct and he wasn’t as tough as the movies made him seem. When he was no longer young, strong and healthy he succumbed to disease. Lucky for him that he was rich, so he got great healthcare along the way. For the rest of us Ayn Rand’s “we’re all on our own” craziness really doesn’t work well. Few of us can tolerate being prevented from getting basic needs met just because we’re not young, strong and healthy. There has to be a better way.

Here’s how our present system is working, this from the Economic Policy Institute:

With the jobless tally rising quickly by the millions, as businesses struggle to keep people employed during the pandemic, the absurdity of having our health care linked to jobs becomes painfully clear.

EPI research determined 16.2 million Americans have likely lost their health care due to pandemic job losses. Linking health insurance to employment has always been problematic. The pandemic is highlighting and exacerbating those issues. Medicare for All, while a hugely ambitious policy undertaking, could be one way to remedy this situation.

Watch their 2-minute explanation of how Medicare For All would affect jobs. It isn’t what the naysayers tell us.

Apologies, but I don’t remember who posted this. Nevertheless, good on you!

This pandemic has made it abundantly clear that our highest-cost-in-the-world medical system isn’t providing the best care for most of us. And the layoffs/furloughs/firings/loss of employment caused both directly and indirectly by this disease have illustrated the folly of healthcare tied to employers and employment.

Perhaps you’re high on Maslow’s heirarchy and you’re asking the question, “What is it that we are supposed to learn from this pandemic, the lesson that we have steadfastly refused to learn any other way?” Here’s the answer:

It’s all about how we care for and care about one another.

It’s plain that this is no time for “rugged individualist” thinking to prevail. Embrace the “together” part of “We’re all in this together,” because if we refuse that, all of us are condemned to suffering that doesn’t have to happen, as though we plugged our ears when the answer to the question was given to us.

You don’t know it yet, but you want to read “9 ways Covid-19 may forever upend the U.S. healthcare industry.” The intense pressure that’s been brought to bear on every part of our healthcare system by this pandemic, including how we pay for it, is going to change everything about it. Let me know what you think.

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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.

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and the home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry. That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

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Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering economists or law professors or self-serving politicians) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (daily 9/11s, a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses, employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

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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.

You Need To Understand This


Reading time – 5:19  .  .  .

Sure, you’re sick of coronavirus 24/7, but it’s killing so many of our family and friends that we need to know the truth. For that, read Sheila Markin’s post and you’ll understand both what’s happened and what needs to happen.

The president can’t tell the difference between reality and a reality TV show, but you know what he doesn’t know, that when people die from coronavirus they’re permanently dead. They won’t come back for the next episode. That’s why you and I need to understand reality, including what must be done.

This is important, because even if the virus fades during our warm months, it will be back next autumn and winter and will kill many more of us unless we do the right things all along. That’s why it is not hyperbole to say that the general election this November 3 is the most important of your lifetime. It really will be a life or death choice.

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Connected to that, you also need to understand the devolution of our welfare, our politics and our democracy.

In 2016 you saw enthusiastic Trump supporters chanting at every campaign rally, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” It was all about some unsubstantiated accusation that Hillary Clinton had broken some unnamed law at some unidentified time according to some unknown evidence and some unavailable accusers. Nevertheless, the hate chanting was enjoyed by all in attendance. What a power rush for them!

Now it’s back.

Click me

Nancy Kohn, Just Cause

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has Michigan on lock down against the spread of coronavirus and, of course, nobody likes being locked down. The far right hair-on-fire types don’t just dislike that: they rebel violently against anyone telling them what to do.

They organized a rally on the steps of the capitol building in Lansing to protest and demand that Michigan be “reopened.” They invoked Revolutionary War era slogans to amplify their aggrieved insistence. Clearly, their individual wants are more important to them than that they may be killing others by passing their asymptomatic  infection – like to you or to your granny or to your children. And their self-focus stands in gob-smacking contrast to the over 2,000 Michiganders who are now dead from coronavirus, as though that never happened.

Bear in mind that LESS THAN 1% OF ALL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS. That means that WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO’S SICK AND INFECTING OTHERS AND WHO WILL INFECT MANY MORE OTHERS IF EVERYONE IS SET FREE TO COUGH AND SNEEZE CLOSE TO ONE ANOTHER. But no matter, Governor Whitmer. the Michigan protesters are telling you plainly that you can’t tell them what to do.

© Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press Protesters gathered at the Statehouse on Monday in Columbus, Ohio.

Of course, there was no social distancing among the protesters as they marched and shouted, nor was anyone wearing a mask or gloves. Perhaps they think the power of their dark side is so dreadful that the virus can’t touch them. Sadly, they almost certainly have a nasty surprise coming. Some of those protesters surely were infecting others and the virus will spread among them and likely to yet others, too.

They were carrying the de rigueur symbols, the Don’t Tread On Me flag, the ultimate victim symbol, and a Confederate flag, the ultimate anti-patriotism flag. There were Nazi flags, too, yet they think of themselves as true patriots. And, as you already suspect, without any evidence of Michigan gubernatorial wrongdoing, they were chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” What a power rush for them!

This is what now passes as Republicanism.

This is what now passes as conservatism.

This is what now passes as patriotism.

This is what now threatens our lives, our democracy and our entire republic.

I believe we are reaching an inflection point, the path to which was instigated by Ronald Reagan’s intentional demeaning of government, with his repeated mantra that, “Government is the problem.” He began a cascade of attacks and criticism telling citizens not to trust government (and gave them reason with his Iran-Contra lawlessness), and led us to despise the commons. The Newt Gingrich crazies, the Tea Party crazies, the alt-right crazies and the Freedom Caucus crazies were and are ego power trips for the angry and all about destabilizing government and even overthrowing it. Steve Bannon, Trump’s anarchy whisperer, was and is all about “tearing it all down” – his words. These blatherers are all big megaphones for selfish anger.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage over perceived betrayal, tearing it all down sounds pretty good. You believe that the Second Amendment is foremost a message from the Founders to arm yourself against your own government, rather than its original meaning, to be a substitute for a then-unaffordable standing army in case the British came back, which they did. You believe that the Declaration of Independence says, “.  .  .  whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it  .  .  .” and that it means we should tear it all down because you’re not happy about some things and, of course, it’s all about what you want. In Jefferson’s 1787 letter to the son-in-law of John Adams he wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” You quote that, finding justification for insurrection and violence. Of course, it’s always about someone else’s blood.

If you’re angry at government, perhaps filled with rage, you have guns, concealed carry, flag symbols so that you feel connected to some imagined noble cause of the past and you don’t play well with others. You insist that your rugged independence is more important than our collective welfare. So, you show up on the steps of the Michigan capitol building and you yell and you spit and cough and sneeze with your fellow coronavirus protesters. “You have to disobey,” you declare, with your Uzi strapped to your back and your Glock in your holster. What a power rush for you!

Just like all of us, these people want to go back to work. They want their old normal lives back. We all get it. The only thing that’s missing is their having any concern whatsoever for anyone else. It’s an astonishingly selfish stand to say, “My individual rights are more important than yours, even when I infect you and others, some of whom will die. I’m more important than all of us.”

Philadelphia didn’t cancel a parade during a 1918 pandemic. The results were devastating. Click the pic for the story.

All of that is bolstered by a president who doesn’t clearly call for individual sacrifice for the welfare of us all. Instead, he stokes division, telling us to follow the direction of our governors, then he encourages protesters to refuse to comply. Instead of leading a healthcare Manhattan Project, he seeks to set up others for blame when the whole thing explodes, as it’s doing right now. Indeed, the protesters are led by a president whose only interest is in what serves him, which is to say, selfishness is what is most important. This is the same president who has warned of violence by “his people” should he be removed from office. Read more about our ongoing “Wartime President’s” dysfunction here.

So, Reagan’s starting point has led us to where we are now, this inflection point, where mob behavior is our standard. In the 1960s conservatives contorted themselves into pretzels condemning protests against the Vietnam War, calling the protesters nothing less than a mob and other considerably less savory names. Now our self-defined patriotic conservatives are on the steps of our state capitol buildings as frothing mobs themselves, and somehow they now think that’s good.

The conservatives we elected to Congress drove our lobbyist-funded redirection of the Second Amendment, making it legal to take your AR-15 to your kid’s school or to the grocery store. After all, you never know when a threat might appear and assault weapons might be needed in the toilet paper aisle. And these protesters brought their heavy armor to the rally in Lansing, thinking they’re were making their point stronger. Actually, all they did was to threaten our domestic tranquility and make it clear that it’s their way or it’s violently their way.

This worldwide pandemic will have effects that will last decades and will impact everyone in ways not yet contemplated. An absolutist mind won’t tolerate that well. These people have been trained for decades by leaders teaching them that government is the enemy. Right now their lives, as for all of us, have been turned upside down, they’re more angry than usual and they aren’t about to tolerate that disruption, that abridgement of their individual rights, without making a lot of noise and threats. And this president has stoked their violence for years.

And they have guns.

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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.

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.

————————————


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?


————————————

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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