Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

conspiracy

Three Questions, One Answer and A Snow Job


1. Question

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was widely praised for standing up to President Trump by refusing to “find” 11,780 votes for Trump.

Question: When did the bar get set so low that just refusing to commit a felony was cause for praise and celebration?

2  Question

The end of Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution reads:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the end of their next Session. [emphasis mine]

Question: Trump has been allowed to appoint “acting” secretaries of Executive departments and avoid Senate scrutiny for nearly all of his presidency. Why weren’t his unconfirmed picks challenged when their clocks ran out?

3. A Question and An Answer

How is it that thousands of Americans rioted, defacing and violating the people’s seat of government and threatening murder, yet they see themselves as true patriots, even as they were clearly violating the Constitution and the law?

I have at least a partial answer for that one: These people have grievances that are very real to them. You might not like or agree with all of them, but they are powerful for these people.

For example, they really dislike being insulted and dismissed as “deplorables” by “elites.” They respond to that dumping of humiliation exactly as you would. And they most certainly don’t like being lied to, especially by people with a lot of money, which includes members of Congress, as they see it.

For decades politicians have been promising to bring back good jobs, the manufacturing jobs that pay well and allow for a solid middle class life for them and their families. Instead, they’ve watched as town after town lost their strongest employers and their towns became boarded up shells of what they once were.

It’s a huge impact on them to have their economic security undermined. They’re just like you in wanting to be self-sufficient and not needing to be dependent on others. I was reminded of that recently when I delivered a neighborhood collection of groceries to the local food bank. One of the workers told me how humiliated people feel when they have become dependent on handouts to feed their families.

You won’t like the next example.

Over their lifetimes these angry people have seen the increase in power and status for non-whites, women, religious minorities and concessions made to immigrants. To white men viewing everything through a zero-sum lens, that means less power, status and opportunity for them. They see the superior position that they believe is rightfully theirs being compromised and incrementally being taken away.

Yes, that’s racist, misogynist and xenophobic. But it’s threatening to these people and a powerful inducement to rebel. For additional clarification, refer to The American Civil War, which, clearly, isn’t over. We have to find better ways.

There’s far more, of course. Just get that people only act as they did on January 6 for powerful reasons and those reasons don’t include their being stupid. I urge you to read Thomas Edsall’s compilation of insights from expert thought leaders in his piece, “White Riot“.

As much as I insist on accountability, we urgently need to deal with our realities in more ways than just locking up the perps. We need to deal with the root causes of the anger and desperation that drive people to act in this most unpatriotic and dangerous way. Otherwise, we will be condemned to a never ending cycle of hate, violence and suffering.

4. A Snow Job

In the debate over the article of impeachment in the House of Representatives on January 13 I heard Republicans oppose it by invoking:

    • The Wright brothers (yes, really)
    • There is grievous harm being done to Republicans when they are confronted in public by meanies.
    • There was violence and vandalism done at BLM protests.
    • A list of imagined Trump good stuff was recited.
    • There were meanies who wanted Trump impeached from the beginning of his presidency.
    • Moon landings (yes, really)
    • Claims that Trump was cleared of conspiracy and extortion in the Ukraine affair (not true).
    • Claims that Trump was exonerated by the Mueller Report (not true).
    • Nancy Pelosi is a meanie.
    • Republicans are poor victims of a double standard. Woe is them. So unfair. They’re victims. Feel sorry for them. (Yes, they pretty much said those things.)
    • Swift justice is unfair.
    • This is a great country.
    • The economy.
    • Yeah, but Democrats are bad guys, too (the “false equivalence” and “dirty hands” defenses).
    • Trump didn’t conspire with the Russians.
    • Trump didn’t incite violence because all he did was to decry election fraud.
    • The bill of impeachment is a fraud against the people of the United States.
    • Impeachment will be divisive.
    • Trump wanted peaceful protest.
    • The protesters were peaceful. (Seriously, a duly elected congressman said this just days after the rioting mob was looking for him in order to kill him.)
    • There is illegal immigration going on.
    • BLM was founded by Marxists.
    • Democrats have encouraged and endorsed violence.
    • Democrats support defunding the police and taking everyone’s guns.
    • Republicans are victims.
    • We’re in a race to the bottom and we need to do better.
    • The president didn’t incite violence.
    • It’s time to put people over power.
    • This isn’t due process. (Actually, that’s correct, although dumb to say. Per the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, due process happens in the Senate.)
    • Can’t we all just get along? This needs to be a time of healing.
    • Democrats are hypocrites.
    • Impeachment will start us down the path of cleansing political speech.
    • Democrats have just realized that riots are bad.
    • We shouldn’t waste time on this and instead should get to work on issues for the American people.
    • There are only 7 days left in Trump’s term.
    • Impeachment will offend the people who voted for Trump.
    • This is just an effort to divide the nation.
    • Democrats are hypocrites.
    • None of the rioters has been asked if they rioted because the president told them to do so.
    • Impeachment is a political act.
    • Democrats are hypocrites – seriously, we really mean it, which is why we repeat ourselves.
    • Two wrongs [impeachments] don’t make a right.
    • Democrats oppose free speech.
    • Trump is pro-life and America First. Democrats hate that.
    • There is a double standard regarding people committing violence.
    • The other side only wants to attack and demean.
    • It’s not fair.
    • Democrat committee chairs lied; Republicans didn’t.
    • The assault on the Capitol was pre-planned, but that isn’t included in the articles of impeachment.
    • Trump did a lot to make America great.
    • We need to tone down the volume and heal the nation.
    • The Capitol police deserve our applause. (Actually, that line got applause.)
    • Many Lincoln quotes were quoted. (Nevertheless, he did not make an appearance.)
    • We should seek higher ground.

The old saying is that if the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If neither the facts nor the law is on your side, pound on the table.

The list above, all from Republican congresspeople, is nothing more than pounding on the table. A few statements might be true; still, they miss the point.

THE ONLY ISSUE before the House in this hearing was whether Donald Trump urged violent insurrection and sedition against the Constitution of the United States and whether he should be impeached for his actions. It was not about any of the distractions listed above.

Not even a single Republican congressman/woman opposed the impeachment on the merits. Not one.

With the exception of the 10 Representatives who stood strong for the Constitution, these whining Republicans haven’t the courage to call out the traitorous acts that put lives and our democracy at risk. Again. They violated their supposedly sacred oath of office to protect and defend. Again. They put on display their profound moral incompatibility with truth. Again. A 2016 word comes to mind to describe these representatives: deplorable. And I’m no elite.

Now conspiracy hangs in the air, as we begin to uncover evidence of members of Congress giving tours – reconnaissance missions – to insurrectionists the day before the insurrection, and of Capitol police opening doors and removing barricades for the intruders. As ugly as things are now, they are going to become far uglier.

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Best Quote

Thanks to NK for offering this:

“[2020 was] like looking both ways before crossing the
street and then getting hit by a submarine.”


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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


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

The Numbers


The Election

The electors have voted, the election vote totals are in and they are final.

The good folks at Quinnipiac have a detailed breakdown of this information, so have a look if you’re interested. Plus, updated vote totals can also be seen here. For our purposes, what’s important is in red, because it begs the question:

How can we govern ourselves when almost 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes?

I’ll phrase that in another way, this time addressing the 60 million:

You’ve been fed lies for decades from elected officials, Fox News, conspiracy nutballs*, propagandists, Breitbart, and more. For the last 4 years (plus the campaign year of 2015) the President of the United States has stuffed your head with fantastical lies, lies claiming his greatness, lies demonizing hundreds of people who he didn’t think were sufficiently loyal to him (although their job was to be loyal to the Constitution), lies slandering millions of people, lies citing false statistics and made up facts. The President lied to you over 17 times per day for over 4 years – over 25,000 lies. Here’s your question:

How do you feel about being played for a sucker?

Perhaps you’ll hear it better this way:

How do you like being lied to?

Note that if you don’t care about being played for a sucker and you don’t mind being lied to, there’s nothing you need to do. Just go along as before, being fed lies that stoke your fear, that fire your anger, that make you distrust your neighbors and hate anyone who isn’t exactly like you. No need for that E Pluribus Unum stuff.

On the other hand, if you’re sick of being played for a sucker and you’ve had it with being lied to, welcome to Planet Earth #1. Glad to have you aboard.

Regardless of Trump’s vacuous claims, even his attorney general couldn’t find any evidence of voting fraud. The same is true for the guy who protected our election from cyber hackers. There isn’t even one state election official who could find illegal voting activities – that includes all 50 states. The election was clean. Joe Biden won fair and square. The number of frauds committed in the election is zero.

To be clear, there was cheating. There were tens of thousands of voters purged from voting roles when they should not have been. Polling places were closed, making voting difficult for many thousands of voters. There were dirty tricks to confuse voters into not voting. But all of that was done by Republican operatives for the benefit of Trump. There is no “both sides” argument. There is no room for whataboutism. That number is zero, too.

Back to the original question: How can we govern ourselves when 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes? Those 60 million people are largely angry, resentful, certain theirs is a just cause, believe they are the true patriots and oh, by the way, they own most of the guns in private hands. Did I mention that they’re angry? Plus, their elected representatives in both Congress and the state houses are terrified of them, so the number of Republican legislators those folks both listen to and who will provide leadership in the direction of the aforementioned E Pluribus Unum is zero.

Those are the numbers. President Biden, how will you govern?

The Pandemic

Here is how this killer pandemic stacks up against events we have universally called tragedies, monstrous killers and national disasters. The charts below are from December 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Those are, indeed, awful numbers. Day after day, week after week we’re given nothing from any of our Republican national leadership (the President and those in Congress) to indicate even a little concern over our massive suffering and death. Instead, we get over 50% of Republican House members signing onto the gigantically stupid lawsuit filed by the pardon-seeking attorney general of Texas, seeking to invalidate the votes of millions of citizens of four states in order to give the election to Trump. That was their focus, instead of the suffering of the American people.

Thanks, Melania, for explaining this administration and the Republicans in Congress.

As for how we’re doing relative to other countries, we already know that we’re just 4% of world population and but we have 19% of worldwide Covid deaths. It’s noteworthy that densely populated India has the second highest number of Covid deaths. Their number is 38% fewer deaths from Covid than the U.S., yet India has over 4 times as many citizens. This is not a good way for the U.S. to be number one.

Now vaccines are beginning to be available, but at least 25% of Americans are either skeptical of them or outright hostile to them. If you have reservations about taking a vaccine, given the manipulation, lying and grandstanding of the President about vaccines, given the pressure he’s put on the FDA to approve vaccines without any reasonable review, even for an Emergency Use Authorization, there is some hope.

It comes in the form of a clear explanation of what’s gone on to make it possible to develop a vaccine so quickly. It wasn’t done by cutting corners or succumbing to political pressure. It was done by years of hard work borne of developing vaccines for other pandemics, like Ebola, MERS and SARS. For some confidence building and satisfaction of your curiosity, read this piece from the BBC News. It explains the good things that happen when we trust facts, knowledge and science, instead of populist rage and manipulation.

As for interim relief for Americans suffering from personal economic devastation, Republican leadership in the Senate continues to refuse to help We the People. We have the means to alleviate much suffering, but Republicans, who couldn’t wait to give $1.5 trillion to rich people and corporations, are suddenly horrified that we might run up some debt feeding our hungry and protecting our soon-to-be-homeless people. Help was created over half a year ago, but these programs all go away within a few weeks. There are rumors that McConnell has come out of his shell and that there may be a little relief coming. But right now those are just rumors. If you have a Republican senator, be sure to lean on him/her to refuse to be stingy and instead take proper action to relieve suffering. Even if you’re doing okay, millions of others are not.

Finally, that swelling of passion you feel when you see vaccines being delivered to our heroically courageous front line healthcare workers is testament to how gut wrenching this pandemic has been. Still, the number of available vaccine doses is small and it will be months before you and the people you love will be able to be vaccinated. So, boring as it may sound at this point, keep that mask on, socially distance, wash your hands, avoid all but small gatherings and sanitize everything. We’re starting the last lap of this marathon race. This isn’t the time to stop running.

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*No, there wasn’t a child trafficking scheme operated by Hillary in the basement of a pizza parlor in DC. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School did happen. There is no plot for Jews to control the world. The Denver International Airport does not sit above an underground city housing The New World Order. The moon landing wasn’t faked. There is no evidence to support the notion that Jesus and Mary had offspring, many generations of which have been hidden in Europe. George Soros doesn’t fund Antifa and it is not a single far-left militant group. Democrats aren’t molesting and selling children. Global warming is real. The Israelis don’t use animals to spy or attack. Fluoride in our drinking water isn’t a communist plot to poison us. The earth is not flat. Elvis and JFK really are dead and are expected to stay that way for a while.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Judgment


Reading time – 3:31  .  .  .

We all know that there are many people who refuse to wear a mask or social distance or wash their hands frequently. Each of them has his/her reasons, including  seeing these safety and health measures as government overreach, they don’t appreciate the danger, they’re angry about the intrusion on their liberty or they think it’s a hoax, a conspiracy. Here’s some clarity about those conspiracy believers.

From Anne Applebaum’s new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (read this book):

“The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.” (page 45)

I get that there is a sense of power and control in embracing conspiracy theories. So, I offer a “Well done!” to the cable blatherers, the talk radio babblers and the online conspiracy promoters for their excellent job of willfully stoking reality denial and hatred. Their work is powerful and it has an impact far beyond the TV and radio ratings and online Likes: it threatens all the rest of us.

We declare that we honor our front line troops, the nurses, doctors, techs, EMTs, ambulance drivers and the rest of the folks who are fighting this war against pandemic. We’ve seen the hospital scenes, watched the personal videos and get lumpy-throated in empathy for these people. We see that these heroes work absurd hours. They live with death all around, feeling they’ve failed, even as they are powerless to stop it. But I wonder if that honoring of these people is true for all of our mask refusers and deniers, especially the conspiracy types.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

It seems to me that the conspiracy embracers and the rest who refuse to do those 3 simple things to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are more than a danger to those nearby. They hasten the spread of infection that horribly affects those same front line people by putting more sick people into their already over-maxed hospitals. It dumps more hard, overly-demanding work on top of already exhausted medical staff. It dishonors them in that way, even as over 1,000 of our front line medical people have died working to save others from this horrible disease.

That’s why I have some judgments about the conspiracy types and even for the rest of the people who knowingly refuse to do the 3 simple things that can help us all:

First, it’s clear that they put themselves and their individual rights above the rest of us.

Second, the harm they do makes circumstances far worse for people who have lost their jobs, whose kids can’t go to school, for our elderly trapped in nursing homes and for everyone who wants their life back. They push national recovery yet farther away into the future.

Third, it dishonors and penalizes the very people they themselves will meet when they show up at a hospital ER barely able to breathe, because our front line medical troops will nevertheless be standing by to serve them.

Click me for the full story.

In an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times last weekend entitled, “How To Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers” author Charlie Warzel makes the how-to of that conversation both clear and obvious. Even better, it has application for your conversations with any who are foolish enough to not agree with you.

It has to do with what Mom told you: be respectful, courteous and listen to others. And as you listen, just seek to understand how they feel and why they believe as they do – not preparing to tell them all the reasons they’re wrong. That’s because the instant you try to persuade them to your superior view, you’ll have nothing but confrontation. The only thing that changes that way is that each is even more entrenched in their bubble, certain that those who disagree are idiots. We remain polarized, perhaps even more so than before. Remember that each of us thinks we’re right and justified in the opinions we hold.

It can be most satisfying to be reactive – believe me, I know about this and sometimes I’m conscious and able to resist my knee-jerk behavior. When I fail,  I get a momentary rush from being “right.” Then not much good happens for anyone.

Finally

We have a very dangerous virus in America. It’s been in the newspapers, on TV and radio and clogging the webisphere since February. Because of that you already know that the U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population but it has spawned about 25% of its coronavirus infections and deaths. That’s happening right here in our first world, advanced medicine country even as we’re proud to be the leader of the free world.

Have you ever wondered how the rest of the world sees us, and specifically how we’re seen as we mishandle this pandemic? The New York Times brought the story of the virus in America to people around the world and video recorded their reactions. You need to see this.

When you go out, wear your mask and social distance. And wash your hands a lot. If you won’t do those things, please stay away from me. And everyone else.

Here’s a behavioral take on this from Paul Krugman.

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

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