coronavirus

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.

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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. 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.

President Biden’s Address to the Nation on Covid (I Wish)


It’s time for some straight talk. It’s time for us to put it on the line – no political weasel words. So, here it is.

We have an epidemic in this country that isn’t going away. In fact, it’s rapidly getting worse. Last year it killed a lot of seniors, but our surviving elderly got vaccinated. Now it’s killing younger people. It’s killing babies.

This virus doesn’t care about the color of your state, although the more red your state is the more likely it is that you’ve put out the welcome mat for the enormously infectious Delta variant.

That’s why so many hospitals are full to overflowing. That’s why a child with appendicitis and pregnant women aren’t getting medical care when they need it. That’s why the University of Mississippi Medical Center is constructing a field hospital in a parking garage. But they and we have a problem. They’re so short of doctors, nurses and techs that the federal government has had to send in staff who have been borrowed from other hospitals, leaving them short of help. The entire Mississippi state health system is on the edge of failure. And that story is being replicated in other states, too.

While that’s going on some of our governors are preventing mask mandates in schools, in municipalities and they’re even trying to stop private businesses from requiring masks. In an effort to promote themselves, they’re standing in the way of their citizens being protected. They stood in the way of protecting the 4  Broward County, FL teachers who all died in one day last week from Covid. They’re standing in the way of prevention from this disease for millions of Americans. That will guarantee more and more people will become infected, more will clog our hospitals and more of our people will die.

At the same time we have citizens threatening violence because they think their freedom to not wear a mask is more important than whether they infect others, who then die.

Last week we saw some toughs threatening a man leaving a meeting of the Williamson County Board of Education in Tennessee. That man supports masks in schools and he had just attended a meeting focused on that question. Those toughs yelled at him with vicious rage and told him that they know who he is and they know where he lives. Their intent to do violence to him couldn’t have been more obvious. Yet strangely, in their self-righteous anger and threats of violence, these toughs believe themselves to be patriots, so I’ll speak to them directly.

I know who you are and I know where you’re going, tough guy. You’re headed to the ICU, so it won’t be hard to find you and you won’t look so tough then. Maybe they’ll even have a bed and a ventilator for you. Maybe.

Just get this: Threatening my people – the American people – isn’t okay and it isn’t what patriots do. Threatening people with contracting Covid and with physical violence is as unpatriotic as it gets. You tough guys running around threatening people and you governors and legislators refusing to do your duty to protect your people aren’t patriots. But you could be.

All it will take is for you to get beyond yourself, to stop thinking of yourself as the center of the universe, to stop imagining that your absolute freedom is more important than anyone or anything else. Here’s what you need to learn:

Your freedom stops at the tip of the next person’s nose and you don’t have a right to infect that person or threaten them with harm.

If you’re to be a patriot you have to see the plain truth, that it’s time for us to sacrifice for one another. That’s what true patriots do and it’s way past time for you to show up and do your part.

You want to be a patriot? Here’s the deal.

Take your temper tantrum someplace else. There’s no room and no time for it now, because we – all of us – are in a crisis. Either lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. It’s time for real patriots to answer the call of duty.

– Get vaccinated.

– Wear a mask indoors in public.

– Teach your children how to avoid bringing this virus home and infecting Granny.

Patriot wannabe, we know who you are. And we’ll know if you stand to be counted when the bugle blows. It’s blowing right now.

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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.

It Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

The first real test of the [National Voter Rights Act of 1993] came in 2018, when Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, went on a voter-purge binge (that hit Black, student and elderly neighborhoods particularly hard) and was sued by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for violating Ohio citizens’ right to vote.

In a bitter 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled in Husted v Randolph that purging voters because they failed to return a junk-mail-like postcard was entirely legal.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

It’s a practice once called “caging” back when Karl Rove’s guy [George W. Bush] was allegedly doing it and it was illegal but that has, since that Court ruling, spread to pretty much every Republican-controlled state in the nation.

Justice Alito’s decision was particularly biting, asserting that the arguments made by the citizens who’d lost their right to vote were “worse than superfluous” and their argument that they shouldn’t have to regularly check  in with the Secretary of State’s office to stay on the voter rolls represented logic “no sensible person” could agree with.

Justice Alito’s comments fly in the face of the multiple declarations of the right to vote prominently displayed in the Constitution. That document doesn’t say anything about the need to send in a post card or “check in” with any government or agency in order to retain the right to vote. We just have to be citizens.

If Alito wants autocracy, minority rule and race and class oppression, he might consider moving to another country with just such a foundation. Maybe I missed something, but I thought that all justices took an oath to the Constitution of this country.

In acting to suppress the right of citizens to vote, Alito pushed back on democracy itself. Given that Alito’s Supreme Court vote and his comments are in opposition to both the Constitution and democracy, it begs the question of why he’s on the Supreme Court.

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

The State of Florida continues on its path to become the place most intentionally disinterested in the welfare of its citizens. In the face of stiff competition from Texas, Arizona and several other states, Florida has codified its refusal to allow schools to protect students from Covid-19 and its variants by issuing an Emergency Rule.* Please download it. You’ll be amazed at the lengths to which the Florida Board of Education goes and the tortured un-reason it uses to attempt to make their prohibition of mask mandates sound like they’re delivering safety from this deadly virus.

Their logic is forehead-slappingly illogical, sort of like saying they are promoting good by ensuring bad.

Almost as shocking is that the state’s Board of Education offers an alternative to mask mandates. It invites students and public money to go to private schools. This smells very bad, like the public schools in the south in the 1950s and 60s that suffered because white students left for private, expensive (read: segregated) schools, as did the public money for education, leaving nearly nothing for Black kids.

And the Florida Board of Education is doing this under the banner “Hope.”

Here’s a startling headline from the Tallahassee Democrat on August 9 showing DeSantis’ disregard for Floridians:

Florida Gov. DeSantis to school officials: Enforce mask mandate, get your salaries withheld
.

I have no clue how that could be legal. It’s much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott declaring that he’s going to arrest the Democratic legislators who left the state to prevent horrid voter suppression laws from being enacted. He proudly boasted that he would arrest and hold these Democrats in the state capitol building In Austin for the duration of the special legislative session. That’s quite a statement from the Texas Governor, in that the Democrats have broken no laws and he has no power to incarcerate them in the capitol building or anywhere else.

Note that both of these governors are threatening opponents with exactly the same kind of king-of-the-hill bravado as despots and cruel dictators who imprison political opponents (think: Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Xi in China). The same goes for all the rest of the “I’ll show you!” tough guy governors and legislators. Tough guy stuff plays well with the alt-right, the MAGA hat wearers. Normally, that’s a “who-cares?” but in the face of Covid and civil unrest, it’s deadly.

Expect stupid litigation to follow DeSantis’ tough guy announcement. The reason that’s important is that we have an epidemic of people in power doing similarly anti-welfare-of-the-people things, as well as taking anti-democracy shots.

This Florida Board of Education Emergency Rule and DeSantis’ threat of withholding educators’ salaries are just the most recent actions that beg the question of why Gov. Ron DeSantis has been allowed to be anywhere near public office.

While DeSantis is the poster boy for selfishly bad governing, for our purposes he is a placeholder for all the governors, legislators and bloviators who chest thump and try to position themselves for more MAGA votes, even at the cost of the health and the lives of our fellow citizens. Future generations will look at our time with puzzlement and derision, because we voted for this. And that begs yet more questions.

Actual Hope

Dr. Chad Gestson, Supt. Phoenix Union High School District

A refreshing contrast to knuckle dragging governors like DeSantis and Abbott is Dr. Chad Gestson, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, AZ, with 32,000 students. He is a profile in courage, defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s “no mask mandates” order by requiring masks for students, teachers and staff in his schools. Apparently, the superintendent thinks the health of everyone in his schools is really important, a concept not comprehensible by certain elected officials.

What’s truly, self-destructively weird is that a teacher in his district is suing Gestson over his mask mandate, claiming it’s an infringement of his freedom to become infected, then infect others and finally to gasp and die (the sarcasm is mine – JA). Nevertheless, Gestson is standing strong. I bet he’d appreciate a note of support from you. [email protected]

Meanwhile, the Florida Board Of Education Emergency Rule, the various governors’ no-mask-mandate orders and the teacher’s lawsuit all beg the question of when self-serving temper tantrums replaced good sense.

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

– 18% of the world’s total Covid-19 cases – 36.8M/204.3M

– 14.7% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19 – 633K/4.3M. Before the vaccines that number was closer to 25%, but 71.9% of seniors are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have over 633,000 total deaths and the two week moving average is now 480 per day – and rising. See the STAT chart below.

– The distinction of being the only country in the world where mask mandates can be prohibited.

20% of new U.S. Covid cases are children – see here and here. Babies and young children are dying.

A new case of Covid-19 in the U.S. is reported every 0.7 seconds. The two-week moving average is a new case every 1.2 seconds. See the STAT chart below.

The U.S. has the largest supply of Covid vaccines in the world, but

– Only 58.1% of vaccine-eligible citizens in the U.S. is fully vaccinated.

– The U.S. is the only country where citizens have to be bribed to be vaccinated, even as citizens of other countries beg for vaccines.

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

All of this Covid information begs so many questions, like,

What has happened to us and why did we let this craziness happen?

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

How did so many of us become so shockingly angry that our good sense has left us?

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

Why aren’t we shocked by a Covid death equivalent of the crash of a jumbo jet every day?

It begs these questions and so many more.

  • ————————

* Thanks go to JN for forwarding the Florida DOE Emergency Rule.

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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.

We’re Still Not Free


Can you believe we’re still having conversations about basic Covid stuff? I mean, we’ve known what to do to defeat this pandemic for most of a year and the rising availability of vaccines has greatly enhanced our ability to fight it, but still over 60,000 Americans test positive every day and our hospitals are filling up once again.

Through most of the past year we sat on our hands and allowed a lot of people to get sick, and a lot of people to suffer very long duration horrible symptoms and we’ve stood by and watched over half a million of our fellow citizens die. Dr. Deborah Birx recently said what you know to be true, that about 450,000 of our 550,000 Covid deaths were preventable. Early on in the pandemic a study at Oxford University said that 70 – 99% of U.S. Covid deaths were due to poor national leadership; i.e. they were preventable, but for self-serving you-know-who.

Given that,

How is it that so many millions of Americans still refuse to wear a mask? Yeah, I know it’s a terrible infringement on their individual freedom, poor babies.

How is it that Republican governors like DeSantis (FL), Abbott (TX) and Noem (SD) are doing everything possible to prevent any requirement for mask wearing in their cities, at work and inside retail stores? Of course, they’re doing it to suck up to their flagrant and vocal constituents in order to collect campaign donations, but they harm those very constituents because they, like so many others, continue to get sick and die.

How is it that the vast majority of White Evangelicals oppose vaccines on self-righteous religious grounds?

How is it that way too many of our citizens are both anti-science and conspiracy believers who refuse vaccines for staunchly held, anti-fact reasons? No, vaccines don’t cause autism, as proven conclusively and repeatedly by – guess what? – science. And Bill Gates isn’t packing nanobots into vaccines so he can track and control you.

In all cases – mask and vaccine refusers, political contribution suckers and science and reality deniers –  these are people ruled by self-serving confirmation bias and a drive for power and control.*

Why are we treating this deadly disease like it’s an optional game of volleyball in the park, where refusing to play is no big deal? There are milliions of our people doing that, and that is why we’re still not free of this awful disease.

Here’s a parallel to that.

President Biden is initiating a series of Executive Orders aimed at curtailing our gun slaughter, but those will only be temporary fixes, subject to the whim of the next President. We need Republicans to act, but they’ve proven to be intransigent on this issue, as they are to most challenges.

Here’s my view about gun safety reform:

We’ll have strong gun safety legislation and the beginning of curtailing our national carnage when we and our legislators at last decide that we love our children, our relatives and our friends more than we love our lust for power and control.

Given the overwhelming public support for gun safety laws, it’s our Second Amendment thumpers and our political contribution suckers whom we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

And so it is with masks and vaccinations. The refusers are the key obstacle to our resuming full personal and national health and are the ones we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

Meanwhile, we know what to do to defeat this pandemic – really, both pandemics. The trick is getting people to do the right thing.

Jennifer Rubin explains why it’s so hard to do that here.

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End Note

Each year the local high schools combine their singing and orchestral talents into a marvelous spring concert of about 500 very talented kids under wonderful direction. It’s held in the cathedral of Techny Towers, a massive and beautiful sanctuary, the acoustics of which compel music to sound. It is a singer’s and musician’s delight.

The programs are new each year, but the closer is always The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it is a prayer for a time when we were ripping ourselves apart, not unlike today. If you have not heard this majestic piece in full, you need to – it’s attached below. As you listen, imagine that you’re surrounded by singers and musicians. They’re in front of you, along both sides and even along the sides of the balcony above and around you. You’re surrounded by a message.

The point of bringing this into the conversation is a line from the Hymn. It is inherently Christian, so feel free to take this in that way. But also read and feel these words as a compelling message for us in these dark times of civil strife.

As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free

That’s free, like: Our people healthy and free from pandemic; You and I free from the danger of firearms in the hands of those who would harm us; Our citizens free and with full and equal rights – all of them. Feel free to add to this list.

Let us live to make men – and women – free.

  • Glenbrook Festival of Music, March 13, 2016
  • Glenbrook High Schools, IL D-225, Choirs and Orchestra

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* Indeed, I believe that lust for power and control was the gut level driver for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. Life and death is the ultimate power and control.

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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.

FDB – Not a Typo


The Yungr Machine is a modification of the Wabac Machine.

Were I twenty years younger and living where there is a Republican senator or congressperson I would run for office in 2022. I’m licking my lips at the idea of running against any fool Republican who voted against the American Rescue Plan, which includes every Republican in Congress. By November 2022 it will be the single most positive and popular thing to impact the voting public in many decades and its popularity will climb as people get checks, vaccinations. jobs and their kids go back to school. Please, somebody, stuff me into the Yungr Machine so I can become a generation younger and run against an R in the mid-term election.

.

Passing the American Rescue Plan is a huge step in delivering what Americans want and desperately need. It has a 76% approval rating – over 60% of Republicans like it – and those numbers are going nowhere but up. It’s the kind of thing that makes people say, “Hey, this is pretty good stuff – these guys actually can deliver.” Some will say quite reasonably, “It’s about damn time,” and, of course, they’ll be right. We’ve dragged feet for decades on any kind of benefit package that actually helps working people and our most desperate.

This is so good that even stogy economists, like those at Goldman Sachs, as well as non-stogy Paul Krugman, are predicting 7.7% growth in GDP, and that’s nothing but good for everyone.

The key political play is for the Dems to keep the Plan properly framed and its benefits in front of voters for the next four years. That’s critical, because Trump will try to steal the glory by claiming that “only he” could have delivered Operation Warp Speed. Look for that BS coming soon to a communication near you.

Now imagine Biden delivering an infrastructure bill, a critically needed updating and rebuilding of our national foundation that politicians have been wagging tongues about and have steadfastly avoided tackling for at least 40 years. This will be a WPA-like package that puts millions more Americans to work with good wages and benefits and the self-respect that comes with that. That will be next on Biden’s playlist and, like the American Rescue Plan, it will be gigantically popular.

Big projects are what are needed for our big challenges. This is very much like the time of the Great Depression, in that there are big crises afoot, which opens a space for a strong leader with the right message to emerge and champion serving the people. Delivering on that opportunity will cement Biden as the right guy for our time and perhaps the cultural and economic successor to FDR; hence, the title, “FDB.”

Republicans know and fear this, so they especially want to oppose an infrastructure plan, because its popularity would likely portend 8 to 12 additional years of a Democrat in the White House and Democrats controlling Congress, too. That’s why they are scratching and clawing to keep the filibuster. They are desperate to prevent its modification so that they can continue to submarine every Democrat and every Biden effort. Their motto:

Obstruction Я Us

They are all about stopping anything that is good for We the People because that prevents Ds from having a win. They think that will put them in power. Too bad for you.

That is why Democrat efforts to de-fang the filibuster and prevent Republican obstructionism is so important to our nation. Read this to understand fully.

Republican legislators refuse to be responsive to the needs and desires of the American people, but they still want power. They ache for the appalling thrill of minority rule. They are unable to compete on policy, so they’re waging a war using cultural divisiveness, fantastical lying, gerrymandering and overt voter suppression. Sadly, in their complete absence of even a single idea of substance for We the People, they’re now using their lofty Congressional status to attack Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head. Really.*

If you believe in majority rule, you better get into the fight to limit or eliminate the filibuster.

Fun Contest

There’s red wine, white wine and Republican whine, and they have already started their whining campaign about the American Rescue Plan. They are claiming that it’s full of “pork barrel spending.” They are wailing great cries of woe and rending their garments in anticipation of a fantasy mortal hog snort to our nation. This is exactly like Trump and Republican accusations of voting fraud in the 2020 election, in that in neither case are they able to point to even a single example of the horrible thing they decry. All they have are false accusations projected at spit-spewing volume.

Which brings to mind the title and key lyric of a fine blues tune:

Your Mind Is On Vacation (and Your Mouth Is Working Overtime)

So, the contest is to find an example of the pork that Republicans claim is in this bill. Submit your contest entry in the Comments section below. The contest winner’s name will be attached to a pork chop that will be sent to the Congressional pork whiner of his/her choice.

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  • *Tucker Carlson responded to President Biden’s Thursday speech, wherein the President offered hope that we will be able to gather with friends and family on the Fourth of July. Carlson said, “This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?” He’s quite good at indignation.
  • That empty headedness is what passes for thoughtful Republican commentary in a pandemic.
  • Okay, I accept your criticism that Tucker Carlson is anything but thoughtful. So, instead consider applying to him the blues tune title above.

—————————————-

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. 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.

Lessons


The Playground Lessons

When I was a kid the grown ups let me know when I behaved improperly and the messages were always very clear and compelling. That didn’t mean that I never did whatever-it-was again, but it did mean that I knew the rules and did whatever-it-was less and less often. I saw other kids learning that same hard way, too. “Betcha grown ups don’t get in trouble that way,” I thought, because, well, they’re grown ups.

Wrong.

Some didn’t learn their lessons,

like the huge community of Trumpist liars who never quite got the message that it isn’t okay to lie.

like the self-certain conspiracy theory followers who use their self-righteousness to bully others, even though they were taught on the playground not to bully.

like the rule benders who victimize others with their barely legal discrimination and hateful suppression.

like the shameful cowards who don’t stand up for what they know is right and don’t stand against what they know is wrong.

There are lots more, of course, but the point is that becoming an adult doesn’t guarantee anyone will leave childhood wrongdoing behind, even though we all know that it should. Some carry around their brattiness like a badge of honor all their lives and hone their skills with pride. They refuse to learn their lessons and you can see that any day in Congress and hear it constantly from the mouths of political blatherers. They all wear adult bodies, but inside some are just bratty kids from the playground.

Go tell their moms on them. Then they’ll be in trouble.

The Government Lesson

President Ronald Reagan famously and repeatedly said, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” That was an odd thing to say for a guy wanting to run government.

Surely, Reagan found a useful campaign tool in making government a boogie man. He gave people something to blame for their problems. He stoked the fires of discontent for his own benefit and left the resulting carnage to others. We are living in that carnage right now.

In contrast, President Biden now has our vaccination program humming along at over 2 million poked arms per day. We’re rapidly on our way to beating this horrible virus and restoring our more normal lives, all because government is the solution.

There are some things that even rugged American individualists cannot do on their own. That’s why we have government. Government is why we’re able to roll up our shirtsleeves and get vaccinated. That’s why Biden is decisively proving Reagan wrong. Because it turns out that government wasn’t the problem; Reagan was.

The Texas Lesson

Governor Greg Abbott issued an imperial proclamation that mask wearing is no longer required and all businesses in Texas are free to open fully as of today. That’s more than odd, given that it’s obvious that we have not defeated the coronavirus pandemic.

Worse, there are multiple mutant strains of the virus that are accelerating infections across the nation. They are more efficient in their transmission, meaning that we infect one another with even less exposure than from the original coronavirus. Worse yet, they are more serious and perhaps more deadly to humans. Surely, Governor Abbott knows this. So, why would he put Texans at mortal risk? I think I know.

Abbott knows that eliminating the mask mandate and opening up the state for full interpersonal viral transmission will result in massive numbers of Texans becoming gravely ill and many will die. I’m guessing that will affect fewer Democrat voters, as they are likely to wear a mask, Abbott proclamation or not. His order, then, will result in fewer Republican voters, thus helping purple Texas go Democrat for years to come. I think Abbott is a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Well done, Governor Machiavelli!

The Rights Lesson

Click the pic for a more legible view. Scroll down to the “Feminism vs Corporate Rule” article.

The Politics Lesson

If you want clarity about the realities of your political choices and the future of America, read Sheila Markin’s post here.

—————————————-

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. 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.

Schools and Some More Stuff


By the time this pandemic is over our kids will be as much as a year behind in school. Many are already having both academic and psychological issues due to isolation, including lack of the socialization that being in school provides. Plus, staring at a screen all day is just plain hard to do.

One of the ways schools have tried to minimize these adverse effects is to create a hybrid system, where 1/3 to 1/2 of the kids are in the classroom, which provides plenty of social distancing. As that’s going on, the rest of the kids follow along at home on their computers and the kids are rotated through the system. That only works, of course, when the kids have both computers and internet access, which simply isn’t the case for all kids.

Parts of the country are starting to “open up”, which means that we are incrementally allowing people to patronize bars and restaurants, but with perhaps only 25% occupancy. That provides separation so that we’ll only infect others with this deadly virus when we sneeze. “Opening up” has been part of new surges before and expecting different results now is demonstrably insane. Look for an increase in coronavirus cases around February 20. Open up bars? I have a better idea.

Actually, this isn’t original, but I’m proud to borrow from Vanessa Barbara’s essay in the Times, “I Can’t Believe I Need to Say This, but We Need Schools More Than Bars.” What if we converted bars and restaurants to school rooms?

Let’s see, bars and restaurants have tables and chairs in large, open areas. Check that box.

These are unused or vastly under-used facilities, making them available. Check that box, too.

A neighbor works for a company that runs an office with 1,000 – 1,500 employees. She’s been working from home for the past 10 months, as have her colleagues, and she periodically goes into the office for a short task. She reports that there are never more than 20 people in the entire building. That dramatic under-use of office space is typical across the nation.

Let’s see again: These are places with desks, chairs, great lighting, lots of room and internet service. Check all the boxes.

Another benefit of this kind of adjustment is that it minimizes the number of new teachers we’ll have to hire and train due to extremely small class sizes, because the class sizes won’t have to be smaller.

And yes, this can be done safely, even with the coronavirus unconquered, although with these new virulent strains now spreading that will have to be studied again.

Utilizing these spaces for school rooms could bring bar, restaurant and office renters a few months of financial relief and provide a venue for teachers to do what they are wired to do: teach kids. Our folks who are desperate for a bar or restaurant will just have to learn to live with disappointment for a little while longer.

The point is that we are living in a time when no road maps are available to deal with our challenges. That’s piled on top of our archaic education system format, leaving our kids behind their international peers and with life-long implications for under-performing, both individually and for us as a country. Legacy thinking from past centuries just can’t get the fix-it job done. We’re going to have to be creative now and, really, forever, if we’re to create the best outcomes.

It’s more complicated than transforming bars, restaurants and offices into classrooms, of course, and we humans have an infinite capacity to make things difficult. But what if we were to focus solely on educating our kids – would that simplify things a bit?

Turns out some folks have already done some outstanding work to ameliorate the learning losses our kids have endured, as well as the hits to their mental health. Read this report from McKinsey & Company. Pages 1 – 9 outline the challenges and our ongoing inexcusable education outcome disparities.* If you want to know how we’ll fix what’s broken, focus your attention starting on page 10.

Clearly, what we need is for our leadership to get out front and lead our kids back in school. That’s going to take some creative thinking and it’s going to cost money. All that’s riding on our getting this right is the lives of our kids and the future of our nation.

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Covid News

If you’ve been watching (who hasn’t?) you’ve seen that the infection numbers have been dropping for a short while. Not surprisingly, it’s more complicated than  that.

This (used by permission) is from my analytically superior colleague Dave Nelsen, who brought us the story last July of why masks work:

“[T]here are credible people out there who believe .  .  .  that the worst of COVID-19 is still ahead of us. Here’s one such article. FYI, Dr. Peter Hotez is President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute .  .  .

“The basic concern is about the UK and South African variants with their great transmissibility leading to a fourth, yet higher, final wave. Regardless, do not let down your guard. Every protocol that works against “standard” SARS-CoV-2 (masks, distance, good air flow indoors, etc.) also works against these new mutations.” [emphasis mine]

Here’s a link to the report.

Insanity update

You may recall that some of the survivors of the 2018 Parkland, FL school massacre are activists for gun safety reform. David Hogg is one of the leaders and I received an email from him last week, complete with a link to a video of QAnon conspiracy nut job Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Pluto). In the video you’ll see her harassing him shortly after the shootings when Hogg was just 17 or 18 years old, still in high school, and Greene was chronologically, at least, an adult. You have to see Greene stalking Hogg to believe it.

This woman is what is now passing as an honorable member of Congress. If you need more to be convinced of how deeply disturbed, cruel and dangerous she is (read: unhinged), click here.

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Some good news

The Biden administration is a week and a half old and has conducted a press briefing daily. The good news is that over these 12 days not a single reporter has been attacked, shamed or insulted by the press secretary, many questions have been answered, there have been no lies about the size of Biden’s inaugural crowd and every briefing has started on time. All in all, it’s what we used to call normal.

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A Little Bit of Fun – Plus

Perhaps you missed one of the candidates for president in the last election. Too bad, because he has some sense that is most often missing. Here’s a link to his message and here’s a link to his still available campaign website. Be sure to click the Issues tab.

This guy makes sense in his entertaining, tongue-in-cheek way. Thanks to AT for pointing to him.

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*From the McKinsey report: “The pandemic has forced the most vulnerable students into the least desirable learning situations with inadequate tools and support systems to navigate them .  .  .  Currently, the United States ranks 36th in math and 13th in reading in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings.”

—————————————-

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. 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.

You


Other than the “it’s a hoax” deniers, the super spreader attendees and the “you can’t tell me what to do” crowd, we all want to know the bottom line:

When can we get vaccinated and start down the road in the direction of something resembling what used to be normal?

Good thing you’re so smart that you’re reading this, because here’s your answer. Answers, plural, really.

In this nice piece of reporting by Helen Braswell of STAT you’ll learn why it’s taking so long to secure supplies of vaccines, distribute them and get a few cc’s into your arm, and much more. Plus, she provides a link for where to get vaccinated.

So, track down your vaccinations – get on the right list – and keep wearing your mask, socially distancing, washing hands and avoiding large gatherings for, oh, say the next 11 months.

——————————-

Republicans in Congress have suddenly been cured of their cyclical 4-year amnesia – sort of like the 17-year locusts – and have again discovered how awful and terrible and unconscionable deficits and debt are. The cure for their affliction is the same each time: the presence of a Democrat in the White House. Absent a Democrat living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue they can’t remember either of the “d” words and are peachy happy to increase spending and lower taxes on the wealthy. It happens every time. It’s too tiresome to list such things again, so just refer to this post for some sad recollections.

The point of mentioning the spontaneous remission of Republican amnesia is that their deficit fighting may well impact your health very soon. They are self-righteously invoking deficit and debt to refuse Covid relief in just about all forms, including providing money for the states to get vaccines into arms.

Recall that during the last administration of President He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the de facto Covid plan was for the feds to dump vaccines into states and then just walk away. Over the course of the prior 8 months they had been absolutely inept at crafting a plan to apportion vaccines sensibly and coordinate efforts to distribute vaccines to where needles and arms were waiting. The entire plan was solely to dump vaccines at airports. How’s that working for you?

Now the Rs want to restrict the money to fight this killer disease by, for example, severely limiting what goes to already cash strapped states. That’s cash strapped as in: laying off police and teachers because they have no money to pay them. How do you suppose the feds stiffing the states will work for you and your health?

Did I mention that 3,000 – 4,000 Americans are dying every day from this disease, while millions of doses of vaccines are sitting in freezers? What’s wrong with this picture and how’s that working for you?

If you have a senator or congressperson with an R next to his/her name, be sure to call them and ask why they don’t care if granny or your kids’ teachers or your neighbor or you all die. Ask them if instead of fully funding everything needed to end the pandemic in this country whether they instead will be co-sponsoring yet another tax cut bill for the rich.

And while you’re talking with them, ask if they’re dumb enough to believe that Democrats are running child sex trafficking rings or drinking the blood of children or any of the other ought-to-be unbelievable conspiracy theories. Perhaps they’re just going along with the crazies in order to be re-elected. Too bad, because that emboldens the crazies.

Exactly what went wrong with education in America that allowed people to believe such detached-from-reality stuff? How did we breed millions willing to surrender their common sense and to reject the realities of science and learning? Why have we allowed people with big megaphones to incite anger, rage and violence? And why have we allowed self-serving, power hungry people to put themselves ahead of our country?

Here’s a memo to Republicans in Congress from Sheila Markin’s recent post:

Hey you guys, what about standing up en masse to educate your duped base instead of caving in? Just tell your constituents the truth:

Biden won.

Trump lost.

Biden is a good guy and a moderate, not a radical flame throwing Antifa.

Trump incited an un-American attack on our government.

Is that really so hard to do?

Our democracy needs you to stop the disinformation and defend the truth. Trump is banned from Twitter. Now’s your big chance.

Something very freaky and weird and dangerous has happened and it has sorely affected our democracy and is threatening your life.

Last time: How’s that working for you?

——————————-

For more on the insanity, watch the video about South Dakota’s shameful ranking of having the worst mortality rate in the nation and the 3rd worst in the world. “How Gov. Kristi Noem Rebranded Her Failures as ‘Freedom’” is a study in self-promotion in place of the health of the people.  After viewing the video, ask yourself how that’s working for the people of South Dakota.

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Another important thing

Insurrection, impeachment, expanding GOP insanity and far more are happening with the result that other critically important issues get ignored due to our overwhelm. One such critically important issue is the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, as deportations of refugees and incarceration in concentration camps of children continue. It’s time we learned more.

I’ve signed up to attend the watch party with Witness at the Border on Friday, Jan 29, 6:30 PM CST. Will you join me? Use this link to sign up:

https://www.mobilize.us/witnessattheborder/event/371870/?referring_vol=2566916&rname=Jack&timeslot=2630094&share_medium=email_link&share_context=email_1

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Last thing

Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post. She used to be a sane Republican. She’s still sane, but I don’t know if she considers herself to be a Republican now.

Either way, she offers 50 things that are better already. Read and smile.

—————————————-

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. 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.

What’s Next?


Chinese pictograph for crisis: danger plus opportunity

Earth’s tectonic plates have been put on notice that they are likely to be pushed back to where they belong.

Perhaps there are many who didn’t pay attention or who even boycotted the inauguration, so they did not hear the words that were spoken or feel the integrity behind them. Nevertheless, the world has been told that a new banner is flying. Beneath it is another banner containing this pictograph:

The night when President Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 election, mixed with the joy and renewal of hope of that night, I felt the weight that was about to fall on that man’s shoulders. We were headlong into the Great Recession, the likes of which few living Americans had experienced. It was a financial hole so deep that it affected the entire world. Perversely, within his first month in office Senate and House Republicans were daftly criticizing Obama for having failed to fully fix the financial crisis by then.

At the same time, we were enmeshed in two wars, both of which had been avoidable and which now were intractable, with no foreseeable exit. And it was clear that Obama would face nothing but fierce opposition from Republicans.

Perhaps you recall the reports of the Republicans who met at a restaurant on the night of his election and decided that their number one job was to “Make Obama a one-term president.” Their focus wasn’t to restore our national economy and get Americans back to work. It wasn’t to end the wars and bring our troops home. It wasn’t to form a more perfect union. Their celebration of our most recent exercise in democracy was to commit to obstructing progress and to regain power for themselves.

Obama passed the Affordable Care Act in his first two years, but not much more over the following 6 years, as a blizzard of Republican filibusters and dead letter legislation hampered any progress to overcome our enormous national challenges. Now, the challenges are even greater for President Biden.

There is the pandemic, our cratered economy, damaged international relations, compromised national security, the global climate threat, domestic terrorism and, oh yes, two intractable wars, plus much more. Biden’s first two years better be greatly productive and felt strongly by the American people, or his remaining time in office could be stifled in the same way as Obama’s. Refer again to the pictograph at the top right of this post.

From Ezra Klein’s brilliant essay, Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It:

But now Democrats have another chance. To avoid the mistakes of the past, three principles should guide their efforts. First, they need to help people fast and visibly. Second, they need to take politics seriously, recognizing that defeat in 2022 will result in catastrophe  .  .  .  And, finally, they need to do more than talk about the importance of democracy. They need to deepen American democracy.

Our nation is terribly sick, both medically and culturally. Not much, especially the economy, will get better until we stop the pandemic. Biden has rightly put that at the top of his to-do list, and doing so will meet Klein’s first imperative of fast and visible benefit to the people. To accomplish that he and his team will have to do something Trump’s team failed to do about the pandemic: deliver on the promise. No more bumbling. Making things more difficult is that Biden will have a lot of obstacles to overcome to get that or anything else done, and the Republican obstruction machine has already cranked up.

Now that a Democrat is in the White House they have suddenly discovered how awful deficits and debt are, just as they did in 2009 when Obama arrived. They didn’t seem particularly interested in such things when George W. Bush started two wars and cut taxes or when Trump squandered $2 trillion to enrich already rich people. Their now-regained fiscal stinginess is one of their favorite obstacles to progress that they love to place in front of Democrats.

Sen. Josh Hawley unconscionably raises an encouraging power fist to Trump’s mob of insurrectionists

Sen. Josh Hawley (he of the power fist salute to American domestic terrorists) objected without cause to a Biden secretary appointment. I’m not in Hawley’s head, but I suspect that he’s hoping to become the inheritor of Trump’s “base” and run for President on the White Supremacist ticket in 2024. There are plenty of other Republican senators and congressmen/women with equally overriding self-serving motives, who openly embrace extremist, hate-fueled conspiracy lies and who are just as power hungry.

With Chuck Schumer at the helm of the Senate we won’t have to worry about a pile up of ignored legislation, like the stacks of folders of House-passed legislation in McConnell’s office. Nevertheless, the filibuster remains for Republicans to use to stop necessary things from happening. Eliminating it will be difficult and doing so is a double edge sword that may prove to be harmful in the long term. But with it in place for obstructionists to use, all we’re left to count on is a sufficient cadre of Republican senators who will put country first. Bear in mind that hope is not a strategy and, by itself, simply can’t get the job done.

What can help, of course, are executive orders, many of which Biden signed in the afternoon following his inauguration. It’s a good start toward neutering the enormous list of Trump’s unscrupulous and unconscionable actions.

Ending the pandemic and embarking, for example, on a Rooseveltian infrastructure program will heal us medically and put Americans back to work, even as it will require bi-partisan cooperation. It will be a huge step toward the culture change and economic recovery we so desperately need.

That alone won’t cool off all the red hot, militant crazies, but people with money in their pockets are far less angry, not least because they feel a sense of dignity and of being in control of their own lives. Re-engaging everyone in such personal ways will be fast and visible to the public and will strengthen our entire country.

We hold the promise in our hands. It’s up to us to make that promise come alive. In the words of Amanda Gorman, “If only we are brave enough to be it.”

That’s what’s next.

For more, be sure to read Sheila Markin’s post here.

———————

Finally

From poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

These are hard times and it’s difficult to know what to do and where to start. What is important is simply that we start. That we ring the bells that still can ring. We will never run out of naysayers, vapid criticism and self-serving idiocy. What’s important is that we refuse to let such things impede progress.

Follow Leonard Cohen’s advice. Today is a good day for that.

—————————————-

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. 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.

Potporri – v 13.0


Reading time – 5:44  .  .  .

Culture Wars

I vacillate. I go to boiling anger over what Republicans are doing, like voter suppression, stoking of hatred, flagrantly lying and supplicating themselves in spineless obeisance to the immoralities and anti-democracy molestation done by Donald Trump. In contrast, in my more enlightened moments I look for how we will move forward together in this country, even in the presence of millions who would rather make war than peace. So, if reading these posts gives you a bit of whiplash, that vacillation probably explains it. Send me your chiropractor bill.

Culture clash case in point

Read this from the Washington Post report on violence at the numerically misnamed Million MAGA March last weekend (the actual number of attendees was 1/100th of the claim):

“On stark display in the nation’s capital were two irreconcilable versions of America, each refusing to accept what the other considered to be undeniable fact.”

We’re bedeviled by divisions that run deep, fueled by our moral certainties, such that compromise feels like  an affront against God. In the face of these dueling, absolutist convictions, how will we find a way forward with one another?

I wish I had an answer to that question. Actually, I wish that anyone had an answer. Perhaps the Braver Angels folks can give us some direction.

I do know that hate begets hate and won’t help anything beyond a momentary but illusory jolt of feeling powerful. Maybe we can find some clarity from a review of this essay. It was offered by Jeffrey H. Smith, who recently found a letter his father wrote to him in 1945. It contains great wisdom and I recommend it to you.

Donald Trump had been in office almost one year when I penned my first post about our embattled culture. It’s worth another look, as we plunge headlong into a new administration that has pledged to begin to heal our vexing national divide. Our healing will be no small task and will not be for the feint of heart.

——————————

Race In America, Year 401

Do you think you understand race in America? I think I do, yet I most certainly don’t.

Caroline Randall Williams is an author and writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. She has penned yet another stunning essay which I wholeheartedly recommend to you if you want to learn about race from someone who lives our national conundrum every day. Find it here.

As well, read her highly acclaimed op-ed, ‘My Body Is a Confederate Monument’: Slavery, Rape and Reframing the Past. She begins her essay,

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.”

Williams gives a clarity about race that can help us to understand – or at least more fully appreciate – the truth. She is so bright and so clear that I would listen to her read the phone book – if we still had phone books.

——————————

  • A Covid Vaccine and You

    Trump doesn’t get this, but you do: The problem won’t go away without taking the cure. Even if the cure is painful, at least it’s temporary. Without it, the pandemic is permanent.

    There was a time when education, knowledge and learning were considered good things. We believed in science, evidentiary facts, research and other things. President Kennedy told us that college is America’s best friend and we believed him. It was a time when we trusted science to eradicate diseases like smallpox and polio. We’re there on smallpox and nearly there with polio.* When experts talked we listened and we usually followed their advice because they knew a lot more than we did. Now, though, it seems we have no need for such expertise or education, knowledge, learning or even facts, which leads to vaccine refusal.

  • The recent announcements by Pfizer and Moderna of fabulous protection by their vaccines from COVID-19 are public announcements that make shareholders happy. But their products aren’t ready for prime time because we need our FDA to review them before these products receive approval for use. Therein lies the stumbling block.
  • Take a look at the chart below. It tells us that even if a vaccine were to cut the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 90%, fewer than 70% of Americans would get vaccinated and that would allow the pandemic to continue. What do you suppose is behind that apparently self-defeating attitude?
  • Confidence in a vaccine has been undercut by Trump’s politicization of the process, corner cutting and general dishonesty about medicine and science, as well as his months of promises of vaccines coming “very soon.” (Side note: If you wait long enough, “very soon” becomes accurate.)
  • The problem Americans have with vaccines now is that we have reluctance to believe in the efficacy of any vaccine, and we’re not sure we’ll be safe from potentially lethal side effects, all due to Trump having compromised the FDA with his pressure to take shortcuts. In other words, we have to hope our fine FDA folks will refuse to succumb to Trump’s pressure and instead do their usual excellent work. (See the sidebar below.)

Click me for the story

Of course, vaccine refusal will be exacerbated by millions of people refusing to wear masks, socially distance or do much of anything to curtail this pandemic. That intransigence has made us #1 in the world in infections, hospitalizations and death, which seems to be our official national policy. Here’s what is behind that.

Trump’s coronavirus expert is neuro-radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas, a true blue coronavirus ignorant. Atlas hasn’t practiced medicine for over 10 years, but he has frequently opined on Fox News, which was enough for Trump to hire him. That wasn’t snark; it’s literally true.

Click the sidebar and read at least the first paragraph of the Times article.

When Atlas was a practicing doctor his expertise was in reading CT and MRI scans. He had no training in and knew nothing about dealing with viruses or pandemics. He still doesn’t.

Until vaccines are widely available to all 320,000,000 of us (and they are proven to our satisfaction to be both safe and effective, such that we’ll take them), Trump and Atlas want to force us to rely on herd immunity for protection. That’s the coronavirus fighting strategy of giving up. Playing and then being dead.

Sweden initially tried this surrender technique, but they realized fairly quickly that all they were accomplishing was the eradication of the population of their country. Since then they’ve stopped that craziness and they are (don’t get ahead of me) wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

The experts (in contrast to Trump and Atlas) tell us that seeking herd immunity in the U.S. will result in 2 – 4 million dead Americans if allowed to run its course. Honk your horn if you love that plan. If you don’t love that plan, put on your damn mask.

No vaccine will arrive in time for the 1,300 healthcare workers who have died trying to save others. They died because of the official White House policy of foot dragging to achieve herd immunity. That denied these healthcare heroes sufficient PPE to protect themselves. What should we call that? Words like “betrayal” and “accessory to homicide” come to mind. Come up with your own descriptors.

Our dedicated healthcare professionals give their all – literally – in overlong shifts, working every overlong day trying to save us from ourselves. Have no illusions about this: We’re still denying them what they need in order for them to be safe.

Here’s a quotation from Abba Eban, former Israeli politician and ambassador. It seems perfect for our time of inept pandemic leadership:

“Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”**

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Divided Government

If you like it, no need to read further, except for the footnotes.

If you don’t want divided government, if you want the Ds to be marginally in control of the Senate, you better not sit on your hands.

I wrote about why Biden won while at the same time the Rs gained ground in state governments, the House and held their seats in the Senate. The Rs will win the two Georgia Senate seats still in contest if Democrats play their cards the same way for the January 5 run-off elections as they did for the general election. If you’re aligned with the Ds and want a better outcome, you must do three things:

  1. Don’t scare the poo out of moderate voters. Just shut up about far left policies and notions (Green New Deal, Defund the Police, etc.) because those extreme ideas are repugnant to moderate voters and they are the ones who are going to decide who gets those Senate seats.
  2. Contribute to the D candidates. This is going to be a stupidly expensive campaign. The most money spent doesn’t always win (ask Jamie Harrison in South Carolina), but it sure helps a lot when the other side is blanketing the airwaves, social media, billboards, bumper stickers and knocking on every door in the state multiple times. Either Ossoff and Warnock will have the weapons to win this battle or they will lose. Be a passive observer at your peril. Way better is to help out.
  3. Reach out to register and remind Georgia voters.
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*Except for a number of American anti-vax knuckleheads who have refused to protect their children from polio and who have consequently managed to give polio a resurgence in America. Be sure to ask someone who survived polio what they think of those people.

**I had originally heard a version of this identified as a Winston Churchill quotation and have subsequently learned that both the attribution and the quotation itself are incorrect. Since Churchill never said it, I’ll modify it slightly and claim it as my own. Feel free to quote me thusly:

“We Americans always do the right thing – after we’ve tried everything else first.”

  • —————————————-

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

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    The Fine Print:

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


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

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