democracy

Enough is Enough


Reading time – 1:56  .  .  .

(Jack is standing behind the island counter in his kitchen. A sunny back yard is seen through the windows behind him. He pumps his right arm up and down for emphasis as he speaks.)

We’ve heard this socialist, communist-sounding stuff for far too long.

Bernie keeps pushing free stuff as though it might really be free and as though he thinks that government is the best solution for every challenge. He constantly demeans our business people and companies as though all of them are criminals. As if that weren’t enough, now he’s singing the praises of Fidel Castro. If you were to craft a plan designed to disgust and repel the majority of American voters, you couldn’t concoct a better one.

In 2016 Donald Trump won the votes of millions of people, largely for two reasons:

  1. People were angry at government and Trump wasn’t a politician, so they hoped he would do better.
  2. And millions of people voted for him solely because he wasn’t Hillary.
→Bernie Sanders is in the process of driving millions of Americans to vote for Trump solely because he isn’t Bernie.

 

I’ve had it up to here (points to the bottom of his nose) with Bernie’s craziness and self-defeat.

I’m sick and tired (strong right arm pumping) of this extreme lefty nonsense. His radical base loves the power of his dark side, but most Americans don’t.

Like the people in Duluth, MN, Punxsutawney, PA and Kalamazoo, MI who don’t go for that stuff. Neither do people in Dayton, OH, El Paso, TX, Charlotte, NC, Flagstaff, AZ or Tallahassee, FL. This crazy, self-defeating nonsense has to stop. RIGHT NOW! (two arm pumps). ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! (two more arm pumps).

(Shift to camera two, 90° left. The background is dark and it’s difficult to make out details.)

Recently Bernie bragged,

“I’ve got news for the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment. They can’t stop us.”

He’s wrong.

The easy way for Republicans to stop Bernie is for him to be the Democratic nominee. Then Donald Trump will win and be President for four more years. No sane person could want that (awkward gesture, arms to both sides, palms up).

The are two ways for Democrats to stop this runaway, self-destructive Bernie train. The far lefties are energized to vote, so first, mobs of non-radical Democratic voters have to show up for their primaries and vote for a moderate, non-Bernie candidate. Given our pervasive national apathy toward elections (only about 30% of eligible voters participate in primaries), this simply cannot be the only strategy.

The second way is for at least 4 candidates to drop out of the race and throw their support to the remaining moderate candidate. Economics will cause some candidates to quit the race. Others will have to volunteer. Then those who leave the race must endorse the remaining moderate candidate. That will give us an electable nominee. Otherwise, Trump will win and democracy will die. The trade off is as stark and as simple as that.

There are 350,000,000 people in America and about 50% of them meet the qualifications to be President of the United States. I want this current group of candidates to prove to us that they are better than a random selection from our citizen pool. I want them to demonstrate to us that our democracy is more important than their ambitions.

I’m sick and tired (much arm pumping) of self-defeat.

WAKE UP, CANDIDATES and WAKE UP, AMERICA before it’s too late.

APPENDIX

Read the Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected at the end of the post linked here.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

How The Country Was Lost – in Retrospect


Reading time – 4:03  .  .  .

It started well before the 2016 election. It started with birtherism.

The formal start of Donald Trump’s campaign began with a vile slur against Mexican people coming to this country. That was the first clear indication of the torrent of hate mongering to come. It continued with his Muslim ban and all his racial, ethnic and religious dog whistles and outright verbal attacks, including his infamous Charlottesville “good people on both sides” slur.

His declaration that we need more immigrants from Norway made it clear that the only people who would be welcome immigrants would be white European Christians. His ongoing marginalization of minority populations powerfully served to divide and even polarize the citizens, which weakened opposition to Trump and continues to this day.

During the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged. He attacked the FBI, especially James Comey. Then he praised the FBI when Comey, announced – twice – the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails right before the election. When Trump won the election, oddly enough, the election was no longer rigged.

Not much later Trump resumed his back stabbing of Comey because he wouldn’t pledge fealty to Donald Trump, instead sticking with his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which included investigating Russian interference in the election. That’s when Trump declared that the FBI was both corrupt and demoralized because of corrupt, weak leadership and resumed his attacks on Comey, eventually firing him and demanding that he be investigated for some imagined wrongdoing. What is significant about all the criticism is the profound effect it had in undermining public confidence in government.

Over the next four years the attacks on government and the undermining of our institutions were constant, including attacks on the press as “fake news,” which had the effect of reducing people’s trust in those who hold public officials – like the President – accountable. He gutted the State Department, brutally criticized “the generals”, fired everyone who showed so much as a raised eyebrow of disagreement and installed Trump loyalists throughout his Cabinet. That many had been lobbyists for the industries they were now to monitor was a plus for Trump and his control.

The undermining of government was powerfully enforced through vitriolic verbal attacks, many scandalous accusations and a continuous tweet storm of rage. His angry supporters, roughly 38% of the population, loved it. His raised middle finger tantrums spoke for them and their sense of betrayal and their disgust with government. It was tolerated by many centrists because of weak, ineffectual opposition.

Republicans were terrified of crossing him because of his verbal attacks and the certainty that they would get “primaried,” the dynamic that prevented his removal from office following his impeachment. This is exactly how a minority wrests power from the majority.

During the impeachment proceedings numerous State Department and military people testified under subpoena, even though Trump had ordered all Executive Branch personnel to refuse to testify as part of his stonewalling of the investigation. His response following the Senate refusal to convict him was to fire all who had testified and even some who had not. That created a powerful deterrent to anyone who might otherwise speak up in the future, giving Trump complete power over them.

Only one more thing was needed to secure absolute power: control of the judiciary and the intelligence community, the departments of government that have the power to investigate him. After that, there would be no impediment left to stop Trump’s assuming total control of the country.

Trump installed William Barr to the post of Attorney General and Barr wasted no time in becoming the personal attorney for Trump, instead of for the nation. Most notably, when the Mueller Report was released to him, Barr quickly said that he had reviewed the entire document and released a summary, in which he claimed that the report exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing, including conspiring with the Russians.

When Barr at last released the report, it was found that he had redacted so much of the Mueller report that many of Barr’s lies about it couldn’t be fact checked immediately. What was checkable was that Mueller specifically did not exonerate Trump, nor clear him of colluding with the Russians. But Barr’s dishonest summary was out for weeks before the complete report was released and that delay controlled the narrative for Trump.

Later, Barr inserted himself into Justice Department investigations with the clear intent to protect Trump’s operatives and attack his opponents. Indeed, Barr instructed federal prosecutors that all new investigations had to get approval from him or his designee, giving himself the power to protect Trump. This is precisely the way all authoritarians operate, using the legitimate mechanisms of government to dismantle its protections against abuse.

The final act of wresting total control came when the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) reported to the appropriate committees of Congress about Russian interference in the 2020 election. Even though the briefings were federally mandated, Trump fired the DNI and replaced him with a completely inexperienced Trump loyalist. In addition, he fired other long serving Intelligence Agency personnel.

With that, Trump effectively had dictatorial control over all of government. That even gave him the power to declare a national emergency and use that to cancel the 2020 election.

And that, in shorthand, is how the country was lost.


Buy and read this book. Click on it.

Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected:
  1. In order to win the 2020 election, it must be – it must only be – a referendum on Trump. You must attack and continue to attack. You must never stop putting before the public his criminality, his racism, his cruelty (at every opportunity decry his putting children in cages), his attempts to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, his sell out of hard working Americans, his neutering of our national security in order to benefit Putin and the rest of his un-American outrages. Say it with me: UN-AMERICAN. Conservative and center-right voters see themselves as bedrock Americans, so this labeling of Trump will drive a wedge between them and the un-American president. Say it again: UN-AMERICAN.
  2. You must stop the circular firing squad. Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, you must obey the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Democrat. Don’t do Trump’s work for him. Ever.
  3. Of course the primary election is important, BUT, every word you say in the primary season can and will be used against you in the general election. So, if you want to win the general election – you’re going to hate this –  you must stop promoting far left policies and memes, regardless of how fervently you believe in them. That includes Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college tuition, erasing student debt, socialism, calling out to “brothers and sisters” and the rest. Promoting those things will ensure that you only get the votes you already have from your base. You’ll drive away all the other votes that you need in order to win in the general election and Donald Trump will be reelected. Stop pissing off the 78% of the electorate that doesn’t embrace those ideas, because you need their votes in order to win.
  4. Stop your wonkiness about policies altogether. You bore listeners (i.e. voters). Okay, your true believers love it and they cheer wildly and you puff up and ride a high with each cheer. Everyone else has changed the channel. In all debates and speeches, you must make every issue solely a referendum on Trump. Park your wonk on your desk and don’t go back to find it until the general election is over.
  5. Following the Milwaukee DNC convention when you’re the nominee, you must make the election solely a referendum on Trump. Refer to points #1 and #4 above for further clarification.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Here’s the Smidgen More

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

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Point


Reading time – 58 seconds  .  .  .

This post is certified to be gluten free, dairy free, soy free and free of contamination from the recent State of the Union address. You can read with full confidence for your safety and mental health, although if you’re allergic to nuts  .  .  .

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Preface: The post below was written during the hours that the Iowa caucuses were in progress. The sentiments expressed still hold. The screw up of the Iowa Democratic Party doesn’t change a thing, except for the opportunity they provided to Republicans to name call like bratty children, which is how the White House is currently run, That makes the meaning of this post all the more consequential.


I’m sappy for America. I get a lump in my throat walking to my polling station to vote. The Fourth of July parade and Memorial Day ceremonies mean something deep to me. So, as I watched the coverage of the Iowa caucuses, my heart swelled. I was watching people doing democracy.

They left their warm, comfortable houses on a cold winter night to stand up for our country. They came to the grade school, high school and college gymnasiums to meet with their neighbors and declare what they want the United States to be. And that’s the point.

It’s about we people declaring what We the People want in a way that will make it stick. And it looks like rejecting Donald Trump is the most important thing. It’s more important than such critical issues as health care, climate warming, jobs, the threat of Russian expansion and everything else. It’s about elect-ability so we can reset our country back to the values we believe in.

Did I mention that’s the point? We get to decide. And that’s why you and I and all of us are going to vote in our primaries, phone bank, knock on doors, kick in a few bucks, vote in the general election and, like the Founders, pledge our lives our fortunes and our sacred honor. It’s about doing democracy.

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P.S. Since we’ve begun the primary process, however clunky that’s been, John Pavlovitz’s post is a must read. It’s especially useful:

Ο  If you’re a girl or woman

Ο  If you know a girl or woman

Ο  If you had a mother

Check all that apply.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Eliot Ness, We Need You Now


Reading time – 2:55  .  .  .

Regular readers of these posts will recognize that I have long wondered why otherwise fully functional adults possessing a clear sense of right and wrong could tolerate, much less support and promote the obvious law breaking, wrongdoing and un-Constitutional actions of Donald Trump. Of course, some may simply be true believers. But the results of my research, often expressed in these pages (here for example), have suggested a more likely explanation for the behavior of most of these people.

Were an elected official to oppose Trump in any way, two bad  things would happen:

  1. They would be vilified mercilessly on Twitter and at every Trump speaking opportunity;
  2. Trump would enthusiastically support their primary opponent in the next election;

and they would lose their job. We’ve seen this happen.

That’s a strong witch’s brew to inhibit discouraging words and votes against Trump; however, this brew is far more toxic than I had imagined, because there is a third and far more dangerous ingredient.

A most compelling essay was posted by Frank Rich in the January 6 edition of New York Magazine entitled What Will Happen To the Trump Toadies? It is focused on the likely future of Trump’s lickspittle enablers by drawing parallels both to Richard Nixon’s suck-ups and cronies and to Vichy France collaborators with the Nazis. The piece is long and detailed and a great article. It’s well worth your time and focus.

Appending that essay is a short interview of Never-Trumper, Republican strategist Rick Wilson. He speaks to the fact that many in Congress secretly despise Trump, reporting on one, saying,

“Right after Trump was elected, there were a lot of guys who had this shocking moment. A friend of mine, a member of Congress, went home to a town-hall meeting, and a guy asks him, ‘Are you going to be with Mr. Trump 100 percent of the time?’ And he goes, ‘Well, look, I support Donald Trump and I want to help him, and we agree on many things. But I represent this district. If there’s something the president wants to do and it’s good for us, we’re absolutely going to do it. If it’s something that’s bad for our district, I’m going to oppose it.'”

By the time he left the stage, his wife had death threats. His kids had death threats [emphasis mine]. Because he wouldn’t say, ‘I’ll be with Trump no matter what.’ He called me two days later, and he said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ Eventually he goes, ‘I’m going to keep my seat.’ He still privately bitches and moans, but he’s still in Congress.

If threats of death and violence like this are common – and this event is unlikely a one-off – then that is the third and most powerful reason Republicans won’t stand and be counted. Survival of self and family is too powerful a driver for them to overcome in order for them to do what they know to be the right thing.

What that means is that thugs – Trump’s “good people on both sides” – have taken control of our country. The Brown Shirts are enforcing Trump’s power and he and they have effectively dissolved the Senate.

In the face of that, imagine evidence overwhelmingly damning of Trump (it exists) being presented at his impeachment trial. Imagine further that it creates a huge public outcry for removal. What are the chances that 67 senators would vote to boot Trump from office?

We desperately need a 2020 version of Eliot Ness right now.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


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

An Open Letter to Republican Senators


Reading time – 2:06  .  .  .

You know what’s going on – the crimes, the abuses of power, the obstructions of Congress, the abandonment of national security and the rest. His guilt is not in question, not just because of witness testimony, but because he’s bragged about his violations. What’s in question is what you will do about it, because you have a problem.

You’ve seen that those who get on the wrong side of Donald Trump face consequences, like being attacked by him on Twitter and vilified in sound bites. In addition, Republicans who cross the President almost certainly will face a primary opponent endorsed by Trump. After your having done so much work to get where you are, paid your dues and sacrificed so much, opposing Trump is a daunting undertaking.

But our nation is at a critical crossroads, one it has never had to deal with before. We are at a choice point between continuing our 242 year experiment in democracy – self-rule – or abandoning it and devolving into a monarchy or dictatorship. The only way to stay on the road of democracy is for the Senate to stand up and assert its full powers to check an egregiously damaging president.

There is an honest and continuing conflict for anyone in Congress between advancing the will of those you represent and getting out front and leading in the right direction when that direction isn’t popular. In standing up and saying, “THAT way!” you necessarily assume the risk of criticism and perhaps even scorn. There is the potential for being voted out of office for standing in leadership in that way, but in fact, insisting on doing what is right is what you agreed to do when you took your oath of office.

The rule of law is under attack in America. Democracy has been manipulated for the benefit of one man and to the detriment of our country and it is now in peril. Our nation is divided and people are saying and doing outrageous and dangerous things and current leadership stokes the menacing fires of division. You know all of this to be true. That’s why this is a time that requires strong, courageous leadership – leadership that puts everything on the line for what is right.

John Heisman, after whom the trophy is named

There aren’t enough Senate Democrats to stop the abuse of power, the obstruction of Congress and the rest of Trump’s wrongdoing, so the fate of democracy lies squarely in the hands of Senate Republicans. The Constitution is calling your name. It’s time for you to stand and be counted. You may have to take one for Team America.

What you do will be written into history books and recorded for all time. No amount of rationalizing will justify getting this one wrong, so do what you’ll be proud to tell your grandchildren you did.

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

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

Thanks!

NOTES:

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

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

Hitting Back


Reading time – 3:12  .  .  .

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. carried out airstrikes against an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said the strikes targeted three of the Kataib Hezbollah militia’s locations in Iraq and two in Syria, and were in response to an attack on Friday in which more than 30 rockets were fired at an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk. That incident killed a U.S. contractor and wounded four U.S. troops.

We all get that: they hit us, so we hit back. We’ve known that dynamic and that it’s okay since we were little kids. It’s Human Being 101. Everybody thinks themselves an innocent victim and therefore justified in”hitting back.” But when I read that piece I couldn’t help but wonder about the predictability of the consequences and whether there might be better ways.

History consistently shows us that “hit back” behavior frequently leads to escalated “hit back” from the other side. After all, in their eyes their initial hitting wasn’t the beginning, but, rather, a “hit back” for some slight or wrong they believe was visited upon them. We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. And we know that it always starts again.

Diplomacy has been our primary tool to avoid violent conflict and it has worked quite well countless times. However, right now we’re a bit limited in what we can do in this realm, as our State Department has been gutted of many of its most senior and capable people by the present administration. That’s compounded by a president who is incapable of thinking strategically and who dismisses anything that isn’t some international version of children fighting on the playground. He’s even played “I dare you” over nuclear weapons. That doesn’t sound like a good way to resolve conflict.

So, we’re hamstrung by the human desire to hit back, the lack of alternative critical resources and a leader whose tool bag contains only the knee-jerk reaction to punch others in the nose harder.

We could hope for Congressional action to limit the administration’s war powers, but that’s unlikely in our present political environment. We can just wait for the election in November and then vote cooler heads to both the White House and to Congress, but they won’t have any power for over a year. That’s a lot of time for a tantrum prone president to cause a lot of violence, this as he’s spurred Iran to crank up its atomic bomb manufacturing and North Korea is set to test its intercontinental ballistic missiles to show the world what tough guys they are.

I don’t think escalating war technology will allow us both to continue “hit back” behavior and to survive. We need some better answers right now.

Finally,

Have a look at what contributing opinion writer Kent Greenfield, writing for the Louisville Courier Journal, has to say about Sen. Mitch McConnell and the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. Give consideration to how McConnell’s declarations about that process might impact his re-election and overall control of the Senate in 2021. Bear in mind that McConnell is the manipulator who blocked the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in order to spite President Obama and to bend the court further to the right. That and his present promise to violate his oaths and much more are what has powered McConnell past Ted Cruz to be the country’s most disliked senator. That’s quite an accomplishment.

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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

NOTES:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

 


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

Snow Job – v1


Reading time – 3:10; Viewing time – 4:21 .  .  .

The House Judiciary Committee Republicans used the impeachment proceedings to promote Donald Trump, to denigrate Joe Biden and to smear all Democrats as immoral and hypocritical. And now the Senate is preparing to do an even deeper dive into the Land of Wacko.

Perhaps you thought that the achingly phony outrage over a bad pun using the President’s son’s name was as stupid as things could become. Not so. The Republicans are far more creative than that.

Back in the good old days of the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings we got to hear from ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA). I know you remember him from his 2017 midnight ride to the White House, where he was told some blatantly false things he already knew about. The next morning he held a press conference in front of the White House to reveal the false revelations that he had “just learned.” His manipulative, phony bona fides were soundly established in that moment and he has not disappointed since. Nunes behaved during the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings as you would expect, with phony facts and phony outrage.

Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Doug Collins (R-GA) did not have a midnight ride moment, but his committee participation was similarly inventive and outrageous. The difference between him and Nunes – and you really need to appreciate this – is the new land speed record set by Collins’ mouth. He spoke in a sleety blizzard of faux outrage, misdirecting claims and denial of reality. He did all of that at light speed in his aw-shucks Georgia accent, making a caricature of himself.

They both claimed witnesses did not say what they actually said. Do they realize that there are video recordings? They claimed that documents don’t say what they actually say. Do they realize that these are written, reviewable records? Clearly, they were all about the effect they can have on voters in the moment of their misdirection and they assumed things would flash by so fast that nobody would check their phony facts. Not so. Read Barbara McQuade’s brilliant analysis of the GOP’s pathetic defenses of Trump.

They railed at the proceedings, claiming over and over that they weren’t fair, yet the proceedings were fair, unless the only way to define fair is that it works for you. It’s like Trump, expecting to lose the 2016 election, so he declared in advance that the election “is rigged.” Then, when he won, suddenly the election wasn’t rigged any more. “Fair” seems to be a pretty malleable thing for Republicans.

Except for some Republican fantasies, the facts of this impeachment are not in question. Indeed, the President has bragged of having committed all of the offenses for which he is being impeached and he’s bragged about committing still more. That leaves Republicans with nothing but the phony stuff demonstrated by Nunes and Collins.

What’s going on is certifiably nuts. It’s all about denying established facts and claiming victim-hood in order to do a snow job on the American people. They have contorted themselves into lap dogs to ensure Trump’s approval.

But why would they compromise their integrity in support of a president who seems focused on tearing down America and benefiting Vladimir Putin? Republicans used to call themselves conservatives, but there’s nothing conservative in what they’re doing.

Here’s what you can do

Link through to the Represent.us video with Michael Douglas to find out how we can deal with our ongoing craziness and, as the Represent.us folks say, “unbreak America.”

And show up for one of the nationwide Nobody is Above The Law gatherings this Tuesday evening. Click on the link and enter your Zip code to find a rally close by.

Finally, if you prefer actual facts over “alternative facts”, here’s an excellent piece of clarity about what’s really going on. Read Sheila Markin’s post. You already know the truth, but she has laid it all out for you in sensible and unsparing terms.

————————————


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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

NOTES:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

Mr. Chairman


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

Chairman Nadler:

The gentleman from Illinois is recognized.

Congressman Altschuler:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

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

These proceedings are about determining:

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

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

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

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

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


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

————————————


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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

NOTES:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

A View From The Other Side


Reading time – 5:01; Viewing time – 6:41 .  .  .

Kevin Dowd

Maureen Dowd is a liberal opinion writer for the New York Times. Her brother Kevin is a Trump supporter. She gives him her column space every Thanksgiving and I urge you to read his current piece. I have tried to explain Trump voters several times, but Dowd does a better job by declaring his views, so let’s let him provide the clarity.

As you read his essay, think about whether his views and attitudes seem familiar, perhaps similar to what you’re seeing in Congress as they wrestle with impeachment.* And consider where leadership for this comes from. My notion is that it’s all of a piece.

Here are a dozen of Dowd’s claims (in plain text) and my comments (in italics). I’ve done my best to stick to naming Trumpian reality, rather than demonizing it. If I’ve failed, it’s on me.

  1. Dowd says that Trump is better than the alternative (Hillary). That is (or at least was) a reasonable view for nearly half of all voting Americans.
  2. He claims that liberals sneer at religious conservatives. That’s a profound and completely unsubstantiated, victim-y claim.
  3. He gives all credit for the improved economy to Trump, even though it was set up by 8 years of continuous economic expansion under Obama.
  4. In a “support the police” context, he says that Michael Bloomberg should stop apologizing for his stop-and-frisk policy when he was Mayor of New York. In doing so, Dowd unmasks his attitude of white privilege, which doesn’t sound too good to those who live with black privilege.
  5. He thinks Trump has done a great job with North Korea and Iran, this offered in a sweeping, unsupported claim. Note that Trump has done so well with those countries that Iran is now preparing to enrich uranium again and North Korea is set to test fire its first intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.
  6. He likes Trump’s court picks, especially for the Supreme Court. Fair enough. Except for the long list of district court judges who were determined to be profoundly unqualified by the American Bar Association and who now have an appointment to the bench for life.
  7. He defends Trump by claiming no harm, no foul because the military aid for Ukraine was released without a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens or a search for the fantasy Ukrainian/Crowdstrike 2016 server. This defense ignores the salient facts, such as that the release of aid only happened after Trump was caught and publicly outed. And it ignores the facts that the months long withholding of aid was illegal and using it to pressure Ukraine to smear the Bidens was illegal and soliciting foreign interference in our upcoming election was illegal.
  8. He baselessly attacks Adam Schiff solely with snark. He attacks yet others solely with snark – no facts. Then he attacks all of the Democratic presidential candidates with – you guessed it – snark. It’s playground bully name calling used as a political tool to smear opponents. I think I know where he learned that.
  9. Dowd claims the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings were full of second- and third-hand information. He ignores the mountain of firsthand testimony and the stonewalling by Trump to prevent still more firsthand testimony.
  10. He hopes the I.G. report is devastating to Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper; i.e., he wants Trump opponents to face legal prosecution. That reminds me of an acquaintance who, shortly after Obama was elected said, “I hope he fails.” That’s deeply disturbing and can reasonably be called unpatriotic. How come Kevin Dowd and other Trump supporters wish for such things?
  11. He’s clearly anti-abortion. Okay, that’s where he’s at.
  12. He attacks the press, although his claims are almost entirely fact-free. Because of the enormous reach and impact of demeaning the press, I can think of few things as unpatriotic.
Short Summary:

Some of Dowd’s views are legitimate, since we’re all entitled to our opinions on such issues as abortion, judicial appointments and political preferences. Some of this is just plain meanness, treating those who disagree as though they’re sub-human. Some of this is corrosive to democracy itself.

Specifically, there are sweeping assertions that are absent of fact. There is attacking of our basic institutions. Victim-hood is interlaced with almost everything and there are unwarranted assaults, both verbal and legal, on political opponents.

Life must be simpler in that stridently black-and-white, exclusionary world. The only problem is that a lot of people get hurt in it and so does our country.

Here’s what is most important about this right now: some members of Congress, Trump supporters and some independents will be judging the impeachment proceedings through this alternate reality, victim attitude lens.* That doesn’t bode well for America.

Finally, a Snark Thing Of my Own  .  .  .

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Hunger

Once more the Trump administration has cut food stamps from nearly a million people. Apparently, we’ve become lax and allowed a lot of lazy freeloaders and welfare queens to stick a hand in our wallets. Well, that stops right now.

This bold new program should teach those seasonal workers, impoverished rural people and their lazy children a lesson. And the really good news is that this will eventually stick it to two million more of those losers. The really fun part is that we’re effectively using the billions these cuts will save to increase welfare payments to corporate farms.

Three cheers for Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture, one cheer for each million people he makes go hungry!


* President Trump has been offered the opportunity to take part in the House Judiciary Committee hearings. Counsel to the President Pat Cipollone sent a rant of a letter in response that apparently means that the offer is rejected. What’s important to see is his string of fact-less claims and accusations. It is typical of Trump and Trump supporters. Download it here and see for yourself.

————————————


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

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

NOTES:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

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