Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

conspiracy

Things Should Not Be This Way


I got to thinking about why I write these posts and came up with a few reasons. One is the hope to persuade others to value a point that seems to me to be important. Another is to inspire people to take action when it’s needed. Yet another, and likely my most important, is to try to understand for myself what seems to be chaotic, senseless and sometimes dangerous – to figure out why things are as they are instead of as they should be. Here are some examples.

Vaccine Refusal

In the 50s and 60s nobody questioned whether science was real or valuable. Indeed, in 1955, many Americans had an especially deep respect for science. In those days there was a panic over kids contracting polio and winding up in iron lung machines, so when Dr. Jonas Salk came up with a vaccine, there weren’t parents refusing it. They just got their kids vaccinated and the polio epidemic ended. Cheers for science and reality. And parents.

Years later Dr. British Quack came along and claimed that vaccines cause autism. His claims were investigated and immediately debunked – repeatedly – yet a lot of parents continue to believe Dr. British Quack and they refuse to get their kids protected from potentially killer diseases. What happened to our belief in science and objective reality?

And yes, everything is subjective, except those things that can be proven with observable facts (you remember those, right?). That’s the stuff of objective reality and people are rejecting it. Things shouldn’t be this way.

Here’s another example

This is from STAT:

They shared their expertise on Covid-19. Then the threats began to come
.

Death threats. Racist and sexist abuse. Photos of hanged corpses. These are some of the responses scientists get after speaking out about Covid-19, a Nature survey of 321 scientists in seven countries reports.

Click through and read the report. People have switched to full-on Insane mode. They’d rather that millions die than be vaccinated. They prefer that to facing up to objectively provable reality. That intentional not-knowing and its rage are not okay and they’re extremely dangerous, even lethal.

Note that opposition to vaccines goes back to the early 1800s and claims of abridged freedom are a constant. What’s new is the violence. Things shouldn’t be this way.

Conspiracy Hoaxes

Why do some people still believe that our moon landings were frauds created on a Hollywood sound stage? There is objective proof of our moon landings that’s just a look through a telescope away in order to see the flags and other things we left there. But the disbelievers don’t do that. They just spew conspiracies. Things shouldn’t be this way

Sandy Hook really happened. So did the Holocaust. So did cruel, miserable slavery and no, the slaves weren’t happy little minstrels, grateful for their masters’ beneficence. The wilful fools spewing crap to the contrary are, well, spewing crap. Things shouldn’t be this way either.

The Big Lie

I’ve been warning about The Big Lie since Trump was elected. It was my failure that I didn’t recognize it when George W. Bush and Darth Cheney were lying about WMDs. I also failed to tag Newt Gingrich’s insanity during the Clinton years. There’s nothing new about Big Lies, as any student of the work of Joseph Goebbels and Hitler can tell you. Now we have one worthy of those maniacs.

The 2020 election was the cleanest on record. It’s been investigated repeatedly and there was no fraud. Nothing was stolen. This has been established with observable facts. So, why are people ignoring the reality?

Facts no longer seem to matter to millions of Americans. Accusations alone are now perfect proof for them. There’s a perverse logic they use that says if they don’t get their way then someone cheated them – the system was rigged. If they say the Covid vaccines have killed more people than the disease itself and are then presented facts to the contrary, they just claim that the facts are a pack of lies. No grounding in reality is necessary for them.

There are dishonest arguments made up on the spot to counter any unwelcome fact. It’s coming from politicians, radio blabbers, angry parents at school board meetings, irate citizens at town hall meetings, unhinged hate callers to scientists and, importantly, from the Fox News and One America News liars.

The hate is coming from politicians who refuse to condemn racism, anti-antisemitism and more. It comes from weasel-word politicians who know full well that the election wasn’t stolen, but who exercise their well developed inner coward, which allows The Big Lie to fester and grow. And it comes from angry Americans who love to hate. No, things should not be this way.

Distortions

In a recent post, No, Australia Is Not Actually An Evil Dictatorship, journalist Van Badham details the offshore bad actors fomenting false rage and posting photo-shopped propaganda pieces in his country. He ends his essay with this:

After all, Australia’s lockdowns, masks and social distancing have kept total nationwide deaths from the virus under 1,500. With its slightly smaller population, Florida — over which Governor DeSantis presides — has lost 57,000 already. It’s that cold reality the propaganda, lurid and outlandish and ridiculous, seeks to banish. But it can’t.

This is but one example of the distortions so easily made by those who would gladly scramble your brain in their bid for power and self-puffery. The internet makes that easy, whether you’re in Austin or Australia. But why should we have to wade through online lies to understand truth? Why should we feel at risk for simply embracing reality? Things should not be this way.

Occasionally Intelligent

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was interviewed on Jake Tapper’s program last Sunday. In the face of Arkansas’ current half a dozen required vaccines for school children, he was asked whether the soon-to-be-approved COVID vaccine for children ages 5 – 11 should be mandated in his state. He said this isn’t the time for that, adding some contorted logic to support his statement.

What he left unsaid is the obvious true reason, that doing so will cause him to lose his job in the next election. I yelled at the TV, asking how many more kids have to die before it will be the right time. What is the point where dead kids are worth more than his career?

Asa Hutchinson occasionally seems intelligent and says the right thing. This isn’t one of those times.

Things should not be this way.

Power

Millions want to put people in power whose only interest is to have power. The millions mindlessly, ragefully cheer the power grabbers, even though the usurpers will soon steal their independence and personal power. This has happened so many times in so many places over so many centuries that it is historically obvious. And don’t imagine that American exceptionalism will prevent us from plummeting down into that swamp. We aren’t exceptional enough for that.

I’ve told myself that writing about these posts is my part, the way I contribute. That’s great, but who will unite us to stop the theft of our democracy, stop the glorification of rage and hate and who will hold the lamp to light the way to the clarity we so desperately need in order to quiet the chaos and self-destruction?

As I said, I write to make sense of what seems to be chaotic, senseless and sometimes dangerous – to figure out for myself why things are as they are instead of as they should be. I don’t have answers for the big questions. We need someone who does.

I’m losing hope. The red, white and blue I’ve loved, the place for which I’ve have stars in my eyes all my life, is fading so very quickly. If we fail to counter this craziness, soon this will be just a hollow shell of boisterous bravado and vigilante violence that has no more value than something meekly going, “poof.”

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments 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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

You Can’t Tell Me


I’ve heard it so many times and early on I realized something. It starts by them declaring, “You can’t tell me that .  .  .  ” fill in the blank. What I realized is that they’re right: I can’t tell them.

I can’t tell them that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen (this in contrast to the 2000 election, which actually was stolen).

I can’t tell them we should have gun safety laws.

I can’t tell them there wasn’t widespread voting fraud.

I can’t tell them that the mainstream media isn’t biased against true Americans.

I can’t tell them that immigrants we allow into our country aren’t rapists, murderers and drug mules.

I can’t tell them that there weren’t young girls being sex trafficked from the basement of that DC pizza restaurant or that the building doesn’t even have a basement.

I can’t tell them that Hillary isn’t a puppet of a global cabal of Satan worshipers.

I can’t tell them that Barack Obama was born in this country.

I can’t tell them that the forest fires in the west weren’t ignited by Jewish space lasers.

The list is long, but that’s a good representation of what I can’t tell these people. They are quite right that I can’t tell them. I can say the words, but the point is that their minds are closed, so I can’t reach them.

And I was so very surprised to discover that I had my own list of what you can’t tell me.

You can’t tell me that the January 6 insurrectionists were patriots, regardless of the self-justifications they told themselves, like that Blue Lives Matter, as they stomped the life out of cops.

You can’t tell me that the various efforts to chip away at Roe over the years aren’t the efforts of some to have their religious beliefs forced upon the rest of us. No way that doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause.

You can’t tell me that the Roberts court didn’t write law from the bench in the Citizens United case, deciding to give large corporations all the rights we actual humans have. They unlocked hundreds of millions of dollars for corporations to buy their very own senators, congressmen, state legislators and president.

You can’t tell me that McConnell didn’t steal a Supreme Court seat from Obama using twisted, false logic, and then reverse the logic when Trump was in office so he could get his far right judicial cranks installed there and in the lower courts.

You can’t tell me that the Republican Texas governor and legislature care about the Constitution or the rights of the vast majority of Texans.

This group is a reasonable start of what you can’t tell me. And I’m right about that – you really can’t tell me. The difference between me and those to whom I can’t tell anything is the difference between fact and fiction.

Plus, I really will listen to someone with a fact-based argument that counters my views. Give me your best shot to challenge my notions and I’m eager to hear you. Maybe you really can tell me.

Here’s one more, “You can’t tell me.”

You can’t tell me that the terrible storms and the resulting floods that repeatedly inundate the eastern parts of the U.S. and the Gulf Coast aren’t from the Framers, mad as hell at what we’ve done, and spitting on us from above. Maybe worse.

Disingenuous Comment of the Month

Click me for the story. Better yet, use your time more wisely than that.

Gruden got caught spewing cruel, macho, put down stuff, trumpeted in order to feel tougher, more testosterone-y. The point of including this is the last sentence in the blurb. Gruden says, “I never meant to hurt anyone.”

YES HE DID! Hurting others was the whole point of his saying those vile things.

Sadly, this is the kind of thing that today passes as an apology. It’s a non-apology apology, a disingenuous, cowardly attempt to avoid responsibility. It’s a refusal to own up to the harm he’s done to others and to begin to make amends, just as though he actually cares about those he’s hurt. Which, it’s obvious to say, he doesn’t.

This is now standard sleaze from public officials who get exposed as sexual predators or harassers or idiots who wore blackface back when they were young and stupid, in contrast to what they do now, when they’re old and stupid.

Back to the main theme, You Can’t Tell Me.

You can’t tell me that Gruden didn’t mean it. He passed out his cruelties like they were candy. His hate was meant to harm others. You can’t tell me he didn’t mean it, because he did and he does.

Same for officials who get caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. You can’t tell me they’re sorry for anything other than getting caught, like two indignant Supreme Court justices who got away with it.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments 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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

A Movie Message For . . .


Senate Republicans who hold hostage this nation and the world, solely for their own political benefit

The people who show up at school board meetings to be verbally abusive and hateful

Those who tear down mobile Covid test stations

Those who abuse healthcare workers

Those who shout down doctors and scientists

Those who refuse vaccines, regardless of their reasons

Those who attack others who wear a mask

Those who give credence to conspiracy spouters

Those who manipulate truth into lies solely to get viewers and clicks

Those who try to intimidate parents as they walk their kids to and from school

Those who seek to marginalize people, especially politicians crushing people’s rights

The screamers at town hall meetings

The political delusionists who explain away clearly illegal, immoral behavior with absurd fictions

Those who threaten and intimidate election officials and volunteers

Those who attempt to disrupt vaccination centers

Those who vote for politicians who act to take rights from others

Just get this: As you deny the reality that is right before you and as you hurt others, you’re hurting yourself. And your kids. And your parents and sisters and brothers and friends and neighbors from sea to shining sea.

The only people who benefit from your actions are people who don’t give a damn about you. They’re just using you to get what they want and would sell you out for a nickel.

They’ll never respect you until you respect yourself.

This message comes to you from the 1987 film Moonstruck. In the clip below, you are the Nicholas Cage character on the right. The rest of us are Cher’s character, speaking to you from the heart.

.

Note: In composing this post it was dispiriting to recognize how easy it was to come up with the list above. Sadly, we see this stuff every day.

Special January 6 Commission Q & A

Q: Is contempt of Congress a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is obstruction of justice a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is failing to produce records subpoenaed by Congress both contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any reason not to refer Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino (wherever he’s hiding) and Kash Patel for criminal prosecution?

A: No

Q: Do the Democrats in Congress have the cojones to refer these miscreants for criminal prosecution?

A: Maybe

Q: Does the Justice Department have the cojones to prosecute these bums?

A: Maybe

Q: If the roles were reversed and Republicans were investigating an insurrection associated with the Democratic Party and 4 witnesses ignored their subpoenas, what would the Republicans do?

A: They would have those guys in jail so fast they’d have to do a perp run instead of a perp walk.

Q: Has the Democratic Party learned its lesson about failing to be bold and recognized that they must do what must be done?

A: Hope springs eternal, but it ain’ no strategy for success.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments 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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Crap! A Friday Extra


One of the features of watching a YouTube video is the line up of additional videos presented to tantalize us. YouTube captures what we’ve watched before and provides links to videos with some similarity to them in order to keep us watching. As you know, what commonly results is an enormous time suck.

I haven’t a clue how it happened, but somehow I got tagged for pseudo-science conspiracy crap videos. I know this because I clicked on a video and watched a very well produced documentary of idiotic, serious face “experts” claiming idiotic, seriously meant possibilities, like, “Only a handful of astronauts have seen the far side of the moon, so there could be massive construction there.” And there are crackpots spouting provocative, idiotic questions, like, “Can it be that the Moon is actually hollow?” *

To support their hollow Moon theory they quote a United States Geologic Survey study of radar pings to the Moon that supposedly have penetrated the surface. They report that the USGS determined that the moon’s crust is only 20 miles thick; past that it’s hollow. To fact-check their claim I went to the USGS site and did a search. The closest I could get to validating the claims of this YouTube video was a piece published in 1991 entitled Demography and Natural History of the Common Fruit Bat. I, for one, believe the fruit bat information confirms their claims of a hollow Moon, but that’s just me.

That information is especially powerful when paired with multiple claims by multiple no-name talking heads in this video. They say that NASA has banged on the Moon, which has resulted in echos lasting for hours. Perhaps that means that the Moon is actually a celestial bell awaiting a galactic clapper.

YouTube has lined up other crackpot videos. There’s one asking if the Soviet Union discovered aliens in the deepest lake in the world. Another tells the story of a pilot who survived the Bermuda Triangle and who will tell you what he saw. There’s some guy who was pronounced dead for 20 minutes and he’ll tell you what he saw, too. And there’s a video telling what would happen if Yellowstone National Park were to blow up. It sure is a good thing that someone is thinking about that.

There’s a video about a massive LA disaster you’ve never heard of and another where Apollo 11’s “third astronaut” Michael Collins reveals secrets from the far side of the moon. But if you were to watch that video you’d learn that there are no secrets and Collins doesn’t reveal anything. Fact checking ruins all the fun. Nevertheless, there is no end of provocative, pseudo-science crap just waiting for our clicks. Enjoy. Better yet: don’t.

The point of this is captured by a single statistic: The hollow Moon video has been viewed 2.1 million times. Clearly, people believe this crap and they share it with their airhead friends, who believe it, too.

Literally millions of Americans believe that the January 6 insurrection was just an ordinary group of tourists visiting the Capitol Building. Never mind that the building was closed to visitors due to Covid-19. And when you watch the videos again just ignore the chants to hang the Vice President and pay no attention to the bear spray, the Auschwitz tee-shirts, the beatings of Capitol police, the vandalism and the rest. Bear in mind that, “15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds ‘are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation’”.

Idiotic, false-on-the-face-of-it crap is gobbled up by otherwise capable humans who are commonly able to feed themselves, fill their own gas tanks and utter intelligible sentences in a single language. But now due to cowards in our government, these conspiracy gobbling, gullible people have outsized influence on our democracy. Fantasy rules. Rationality, logic and good sense be damned.

To use the suggestive question format of the conspiracy world, “Could this be evidence of alien life forms eating the brains of Americans?” Perhaps if NASA were to bang on their heads we would hear the echos.

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  • * Full disclosure: these are not verbatim quotes. They are the substance of such statements repeated throughout the idiotic video. My life has great value to me and I won’t waste it on crap, so I am unwilling to watch the video again in order to perfect the quotes.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments 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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. 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.

Are You Seeing a Pattern? Ug!


We humans are predisposed to look for causes for what we see, relationships to explain the way things work and patterns of events to help us predict the future. For example, if caveman Ug leaves his cave, turns left and runs into no danger, and if this happens the next day and the next, Ug is wired to see the pattern and he will expect to be able to leave his cave safely, as long as he turns left. Such is the power of repetition.

This observed pattern is reinforced when one day his cave mate Gug leaves the cave, turns right and is attacked and devoured by a very hungry, grouchy carnivore. In that moment Ug will have thoroughly internalized his important lesson on cave exiting.

It’s the same for us today. You find a restaurant you like so you go again with the expectation that you’ll like it again. If you do, you’ll likely eat there a third time. By then the pattern is clear and expectations are reinforced by the evidence and by repetition. We’re quick to pick up on such things, just like Ug.

That pattern recognition can carry over to our politics, although it can be badly warped. For example, Trump continues to make the demonstrably false claims that the election was rigged, that there were millions of fraudulent votes cast against him and that hundreds of thousands of votes cast for him weren’t counted (only in swing states). He whines as though making the claims is enough to make them true. Both his true believers and his cowardly sycophants repeat those lies over and over until they seem to many otherwise sensible people to be true. The repetition, not evidence, drives their belief. That is the essence of The Big Lie throughout history.

Last week the House voted to establish a January 6 commission to learn the full story behind the insurrectionist domestic terrorists that killed 5 people, brutalized police, vandalized the Capitol Building and threatened to kill the Vice President and members of Congress. 175 Republicans voted against that bill, even though they themselves had been targets for violence on that awful day.

From the Washington Post:

Republican leaders denounced the commission as a partisan Democratic plot. [House minority leader Kevin] McCarthy [R-CA] accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of not negotiating “in good faith” and wasting “time playing political games.” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-KY]  chimed in to accuse House Democrats of having “handled this proposal in partisan bad faith going back to the beginning.”

I count 4 baseless claims and zero evidence in those 2 sentences and the rest of the article puts no evidentiary meat onto those bones. And the bad faith thing – in negotiations over the creation of the commission Republicans were given everything they asked for and – did I mention? – 175 of them, including all of Republican House leadership, still voted against the bill. These are the same people who declared unequivocally following the domestic terrorist insurrection that a full investigation was required. Perhaps they disliked having a bulls eye on their backs that day.

Apparently, giving Republicans all that they asked for was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “partisan bad faith.” Absurdly, their claims about the evil Democrats, having been repeated in the extremist echo chamber, and are now believed. That rejection of the legislation after getting everything they asked for makes me wonder what Republicans don’t want uncovered by a commission.

Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) is a guy with a most pliable memory. He delivered the fantastical claim that the violent, murderous, defiling insurgents were only making “a normal tourist visit.” To give credit where it’s due, Clyde did offer cherry picked, misleading “evidence.” Of course, that’s actually worse than offering no evidence. On the other hand, on the day of the insurrection he was screaming and helping to erect barricades inside the House chamber, hoping to stop the terrorists.

Sen. Rob Johnson (R-WI) is always reliable for a fantasy-based quote, now claiming that the insurrection was largely a “peaceful protest.” It’s entirely possible that murdered Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s next of kin might see things a bit differently. Nevertheless, it’s likely that huge numbers of believers of evidence-free claims think Clyde and Johnson have it right. Once again, outrageously false and evidence-free claims got repeated and people believed them because of the repetition.

For a clear statement of the insanity of baseless, hollow claims and the harm they do to America, watch this 52-second clip of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) excoriating Republicans for their detachment from reality and perfidy to the Constitution.

QAnon claimed that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking operation out of the basement of a pizza shop in DC. That  conspiracy claim was extra crispy crazy, if only because that pizza shop has no basement. But those claims were made and repeated in the vaporous, conspiracy-echoing universe and then believed by millions.

Are you seeing the pattern? People with large megaphones are making wild, ought-to-be unbelievable claims, offering no evidence (because there isn’t any). They repeat their fictitious claims over and over and people start to believe. And it’s worse than that.

Otherwise normal Americans are now trained to repeat these evidence-free claims themselves, as though making the accusations alone causes them to be true. These millions of Americans require no factual evidence.

Indeed, for true believers, continuous repetition of fraudulent claims at last becomes its own evidence that proves the claims.

That’s the kind of thing that could cause Ug to foolishly leave his cave and turn right, only to come to a very brutal and ugly end, just like Gug.

Speaking of Patterns

I’m an enthusiastic fan of John Oliver and I commonly appreciate his sense of outrage over very real outrageous issues. Here comes the “but.”

But last week he weighed into the Israeli-Palestinian carnage, making simple judgments about complexities he apparently doesn’t understand. He’s in good company, as most public commentary has done the same thing. I encourage you to view these videos (here and here) for a response to Oliver, because at the very least, they shed some light on the complexities and skewer the simple, easy and misleading judgments that so many are making.

I’m still a fan, but this time, as he sounded like he was making sense, John Oliver was actually making very little sense.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments 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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. 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.

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.

—————————————-

—————————————-

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.

——————————-

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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