Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

democracy

Three Questions, One Answer and A Snow Job


1. Question

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

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

2  Question

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

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

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

3. A Question and An Answer

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

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

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

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

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

You won’t like the next example.

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

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

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

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

4. A Snow Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Best Quote

Thanks to NK for offering this:

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


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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Government Hall of Shame


While traitors attacked our democracy, we were killing 4,000 Americans with COVID-19 every day. Somehow, four 9/11s every three days – one gasping death every 22 seconds – got overshadowed. That’s how insane things are.

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Be sure to read to the end for a poem for our time.


We start with the obvious.

Sedition – 18 U.S.C. § 2384:

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

Benedict Arnold

You could have stopped reading in the middle of the second line above at “conspire to overthrow,” because that’s what scheming to fraudulently reverse an election is. And the sedition guilt isn’t in the overthrowing; it’s in the conspiring. The conversation is all it takes to earn 20 years in prison. Still, feel free to be motivated by the “seize, take, or possess” part as well, and apply that to Trump’s incitement to riot, vandalize and seize the entire Capitol Building. Seriously, is there any part of this that isn’t clearly worthy of a Benedict Arnold award?

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State

If you take the time to read the transcript or listen to the audio recording of the phone call Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last weekend (yes, that was just 8 days ago), you’ll hear Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attempting to persuade, cajole, muscle and threaten Raffensperger into fabricating 11,780 votes in order to award the election to Trump. Attempting to overthrow an election and toss out the votes of millions of Americans is an affront to any sense of democracy and is illegal on its face.

So is inciting violence, beginning with calls to beat up protesters at his rallies starting in 2015 and his Charlottesville “good people on both sides” declaration in 2017. So is inciting people to riot, like inviting the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to storm the Capitol Building during the recording of the Electoral College votes. His continuing shameful calls to violence were the training wheels for his calls to sedition on January 6. All of this whipping up of mobs is what fascists do. And, because this is a democracy, that’s why all of that is illegal.

How illegal, how un-American, how outrageous does a crime spree have to be until we at last say, “No more. Not now; not ever“? Failing to do so will invite far worse from the next megalomaniac to hoodwink our country.

So, shame on Trump, of course. But shame on us if we let him get away with his crimes.

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The senators and congressmen listed below (someone called them the Sedition Congress – and no, there isn’t a “both sides” argument) promised to do all they can to subvert the will of the people by overturning a free and fair election. Each of them swore on a Bible to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, including some brand new legislators, whose very first official act in office was to betray their supposedly solemn oath. That happened after mutinous, faithless thousands stormed the Capitol Building to undermine our democracy.

Their claim of fraud is the very same non-existent fraud that Trump made up and blabbered all across MAGA-Land. It’s all fake. It’s all treachery. It’s all lies. And these Republicans broadcast those lies from the halls of the Congress of the United States.

There is speculation as to why these turncoats would stand up in Congress and declare to the world and for all history that they themselves are seditionists. I am certain that ignorance of reality is not the reason. They know that Trump lost the election fairly and that there was no fraud. The only way for them to weasel out of guilt for betraying our country is if they are truly delusional – mentally ill – and believe that elections are only valid if their preferred candidate wins. But contagious mental illness contracted only by Republicans just isn’t what’s going on.

January 6 , 2021, U.S. Capitol Building – The flag of treason, our lowest moment as Americans.

They want to avoid getting tweet-trashed by Trump before their next reelection campaign. That might avoid their getting primaried by a gold plated Trump suck up and that might help them to keep their jobs.

Theirs is a job that pays $174,000 per year and gets them free healthcare and free parking at Reagan National Airport. I hope our adversaries like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China don’t realize how cheap it would be to get these sell-outs to sell out.

They have turned their backs on the Constitution and their formerly sacred word. And they’ve done all that and worse for the self-serving possibility that Trump’s base will vote for them in their next election.

Is it any wonder that approval and respect for Congress is just 15%? That means that 85% of Americans disapprove of Congress. Now we know what it takes to get bipartisanship.

Here Are Your 2021 Government Hall of Shame Inductees
Heap Shame and Scorn Upon Them as Befits Their Absence of Integrity

________________________________________________________________________

Senate

Sen. Tommy Tuberville                             Sen. Cynthia Lummis                            Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith                              Sen. John Kennedy                              Sen. Josh Hawley

Sen. Rick Scott                                           Sen. Roger Marshall

And, of course, the Chief Perp, Donald Trump

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A Poem For Our Time

A mob of the MAGA persuasion

Conducted a Capitol invasion.

Though possibly armed,

They parted unharmed,

And that’s how you know they’re Caucasian.

– Lindsey Horner

– @NoMorBS1958

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

Insurrection


Reading time – 2:49; Viewing time – 3:49  .  .  .

Updated 1/9/21 – see Last Question above the end photo.

Hatred and distrust of government didn’t start with Ronald Reagan saying, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” There was plenty of ill feeling about government long before then, but he did a great job of fanning the flames to ensure there were a lot of pissed off people who would vote for the Republicans who fed their biases.

That pattern has continued all the way to today, but there are stark differences. Now there is no facet of reality that is safe from attack and denial if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there is no lie too obscene to tell if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there are politicians lying their asses off in supplication to the Insurrectionist-In-Chief. They do that because that’s how they think they’ll keep their jobs, retain a sense of power and inflate their egos.

And their refusal to stand up to what they know with certainty is wrong encourages more and worse destruction of our democracy and our national safety.

Hate-filled, angry mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. The felons trespassed, rioted, vandalized, threatened, disrupted democracy, planted at least one bomb in the Capitol Building and four people died in their insurrection. I just have a few questions about all that.

  1. Trump invited angry mobs to show up that day, including the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. Their arrival was no surprise to anyone. The authorities had days – perhaps weeks- to prepare. Why were they totally unprepared and grossly short of manpower to deal with the lawbreakers? Note that this happened on federal property, so it wasn’t a DC Police issue. Somebody in the federal government failed us all.
  2. Why wasn’t the DC National Guard stationed around the Capitol Building by 6:00AM? Everyone knew an angry mob was going to show up.
  3. Where were the Homeland Security thugs who terrorized Portland, Milwaukee and other cities last summer? The excuse given for sending them to those cities was to protect federal property. By that logic, there was no better place for them to be on January 6 than at the Capitol Building, but they were nowhere to be seen.
  4. Why were there so few arrests made? Most were for curfew violations, not insurrection. Why aren’t the DC jails jammed full of perps?
  5. What do you think would have happened if that same number of protesters showed up, but instead of being right wingnuts they were Black Lives Matter protesters, like the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park last summer that Trump brutalized and excoriated?
  6. Where are the cops in riot gear with the scary black SWAT vehicles to intimidate the bad guys?

There is a lot to learn and there are new procedures to establish, but the most urgent, critical action is:

Impeach Donald Trump immediately so that
he can never again hold federal office.

Oh, wait: that would require Senate Republicans to find a spine.

Never mind.

In a different moment of far right hate and bile spewing, John Lewis implored, “We’re better than this.”

In his address yesterday Joe Biden said, “This is not who we are.” I have news for both of them.

We are not better than this. But we could be.

And this is exactly who we are. But we don’t have to be this way.

Last question (for now)

Just suppose that Russia participated in this insurrection and had agents in the crowd. Given their years of cyber invasion, that seems likely. On a lower level of the Capitol Building are vaults containing some of America’s most critical and vital secrets. So,

Did the Russian bad guys access our national security information? And if so, what would you like to say to the flag waving insurrectionists who assaulted democracy, made way for the foreign spies, yet who stunningly believe themselves to be true patriots?

“When fascism comes to America it will be wearing a flag and carrying a cross.” – Henry Wallace, FDR’s second Vice President

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

Anthem


Reading time – 1.38  .  .  .

It is the morning of the Electoral College report to Congress. Donald Trump has encouraged militants like the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to demonstrate in the streets of DC, knowing full well that they will bring their anger and their firearms. As of this writing it is unknown if violence will erupt, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has called out the National Guard. We have a real live political and cultural divide that has the capacity to explode.

Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington DC

This kind of contentiousness, this threat to our national welfare and safety has happened before, most notably and disastrously in the Civil War. And during the 1960s we were torn apart over the concurrent crises of the Vietnam War and a renewed fight for civil rights.

It was mostly young people in opposition to an entrenched conservative power structure. That makes sense, in that it was young people being sent off to fight people they did not recognize as an enemy and perhaps to die for no good reason. They faced down generations of people who had been taught to do as they were told and who expected the 60s young to do the same.

That generational struggle also made sense because while young Blacks certainly had suffered racism, they weren’t yet beaten down by a life of racial discrimination and they refused to live with that injustice. So, they stood up to the entrenched conservative power structure, too, and were joined by white activists.

All that opposition led to violent confrontations and a lot of people were injured and some were killed. Some were assassinated by police, like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leaders of the Black Panthers. The Chicago Police didn’t knock, didn’t announce themselves, but simply started shooting, firing nearly 100 bullets into their residence late one night as the men slept. Some were killed by National Guardsman, like the student demonstrators at Kent State in 1971. Some were clubbed mercilessly by Chicago Police in what the Kerner Commission labeled a “police riot.” The times were indisputably violent and deadly. People in power don’t willingly give up their power.

There were calls by some for moderation and many tried to find a way forward that avoided violence, but passions ran high and Americans were polarized. Does that last sentence feel familiar? Isn’t that what is going on right now?

It’s clear that we didn’t resolve that basic conflict 50 years ago. George Santayana told us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and surely we’re doing that right now. Mark Twain told us, “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Take your pick. Either way, our national divide isn’t new and it has all the capacity for delivering terrible results just as before, especially when so many on one side seem to act as though violence is the the best solution. Plus, they’re very well armed.

I have some suggestions for an anthem for our time. Both of these are from the late 60s and even if you know them well I encourage you to listen with fresh ears. Perhaps the messages from these can provide some sane direction.

Maybe you have a notion for how we can move forward safely. Maybe you have a suggestion for an anthem to guide us through these very dangerous times. Please share them in the Comments section below.

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield – 1967

Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

Proper Names


Trump has abandoned nearly all presidential duties since November 3. What’s missing from this list?

Reading time – 3:29  .  .  .

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. – Confucius

The Crash occurred in October of 1929 during Herbert Hoover’s first year as President. He had been successful in business and had held several high level government posts where he produced good results. He beat Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election, was sworn in and proceeded to bungle his presidency because of his grossly inadequate response to the Great Depression.

Hoover opposed efforts to provide federal relief measures for the millions of suffering Americans, which was quite odd. He had led the American Relief Administration to help European countries following WW I and also led the federal response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 to provide emergency relief. But he refused to do the things that were needed to help struggling Americans and to dig this country out of the depression.

Seattle Hooverville

One of the outcomes of Hoover’s intransigence was an enormous amount of homelessness. People were evicted for nonpayment of rent, but they didn’t just vanish. The had to go somewhere, so they found what materials they could and built ramshackle shelters. These hovels joined with others to create slums and there were hundreds of these miserable villages of homeless people all across the country. In a derisive gesture at the insufficient actions of the president they were called “Hoovervilles”.

Hoover wasn’t responsible for the crash, just as Trump isn’t responsible for the virus. Each of them, though, is accountable for their response to an American catastrophe that confronted them and each failed miserably. Hoover refused to do what was necessary. Trump blatantly said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Click me

Trump proceeded to make a lot of noise about Covid-19, promising wildly impossible things (“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”), recommending treatments that are ineffective (hydroxychloroquine) or even toxic (Lysol and Clorox) and doing effectively nothing to protect the people. We’re nearly a year into the pandemic and we are still woefully short of PPE, Covid tests, contact tracing to create safety quarantines, and leadership to encourage the simple preventive measures that can minimize our suffering and deaths. There are vaccines, but Trump has refused to see the job through, making it impossible to get vaccines into American arms rapidly. Instead of helping the people, he’s still doing his “don’t blame me” dance. Trump’s refusal to take responsibility means that he put Harry Truman’s “The buck stops here” sign into locked storage and abandoned his post.

The old saying is that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but of course that isn’t literally true. The violin wasn’t invented until 1500 years after his death. But, “His infamous reign is usually associated with tyranny, extravagance” and ruthlessness. He killed his own mother. Perhaps oddly, Nero was a populist, having captured the fancy of many commoners. Nevertheless, Nero was a cruel sociopath.

Most of those descriptors of Nero sound painfully familiar today. Instead of his fiddling, we can accurately say that Trump golfed while hundreds of thousands died. It’s projected that 700,000 Americans will be dead from this disease by the time 75% of us are vaccinated some time late this year. At 2,000 – 3,000 deaths per day over the winter, the math is pretty simple. If the vaccine distribution problem isn’t fixed quickly, the mortality numbers will be far worse.

Roughly 75% of all of the deaths from this pandemic would not have occurred with proper presidential leadership from the start (see this).  The number of excess deaths caused by Trump’s ineptitude and intransigence are staggering. Biden’s plan should help, but the momentum is baked in for producing a terrible total.

Vaccines stuck in warehouses or on hospital shelves don’t help a bit.

It’s crucial that we apply the proper name to Trump’s well-earned responsibility for our massive, preventable suffering and death. What shall we call that? Trump Fever? Death by Sociopath? Leadership Abandonment Syndrome?

And what is the proper name for the slums of today that are populated by people displaced by this pandemic? Trumpvilles? MAGA Motels? Trump Tower Slums?

History will record the craziness of these years and the great harm brought to our country by a madman. There will be headlined paragraphs in history textbooks with the proper names for these times. One will be American Supplication to Russia. Another will be The Massive Assault on Democracy. Still another will be When America Abandoned Reality. But the biggest, boldest headline of all will be Massive Death and Suffering By Presidential Abandonment.

Here’s hoping that we learn the painful lessons* before us and make 2021 the year we restarted America’s great march to form a more perfect union.

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  • * Try this on for a painful lesson we need to learn.
  • From a recent commentary: “the casualties to date are shocking and far in excess of what was expected  .  .  .” But are we really shocked?
  • Front line healthcare workers have been shocked. Families of the dead were shocked. The unemployed and food insecure are shocked. But a huge percentage of Americans – tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of us – go on with only minor changes to our lives, which doesn’t result in shock – only minor inconvenience. Worse, the numbers of the infected, hospitalized and dead are so large as to be mere statistics without an apparent connection to human beings and their suffering. It seems that there is no shock unless people are impacted directly. Perhaps we have a national empathy outage.
  • What shall we do with this lesson?
  • And millions of Americans oddly refuse to believe that Covid-19 is real. With the reality of suffering and death all around, they steadfastly hold to their claim that it’s a hoax and respond to calls for simple public health measures with refusal and scorn. Of course, that spreads the disease quite efficiently, which means far more people get sick.
  • What is the lesson begging for understanding in that?

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

Shame


“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the battleground states from casting ‘unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes’ in the Electoral College. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, experts say.

The Texas Tribune, December 8, 2020

“The states supporting the suit, all of which have Republican attorneys general, are Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.”

CNBC, December 9, 2020

There have been many wild accusations from Donald Trump, his family members, various sycophantic officials, members of the RNC and others claiming voting fraud, election unfairness, election rigging, stealing of the election and various other claims of election warping in favor of Joe Biden and against Donald Trump.

There are people in the streets who have been lied to over and over and manipulated to believe these outrageous claims. They’re now demonstrating outside the homes of state election officials, terrorizing children and chanting absolutist claims of election theft, even though none of them has seen anything to support the accusations. Many are threatening violence and death to these officials, both online and by telephone.

There have been over 50 lawsuits filed by Trump and Trump supporters in an effort to overthrow the election and flaunt the will of the American people. These cases have nearly all been either withdrawn or laughed out of court. In one sentence the Supreme Court dismissed a case against Pennsylvania and did so without hearing any testimony because, like all the other lawsuits, it was completely groundless, without evidence, valueless and lacking any basis in fact. Just wild accusations.

Now the Texas Attorney General has filed suit in the Supreme Court against 4 swing states in an effort to get the results of their elections tossed out and have their states supply electors who will vote for Trump in order to keep him in office. Seventeen other Republican state attorneys general have joined the suit, as has Trump. They are doing this in the face of no evidence whatsoever of voting irregularities. They can’t supply even one fraudulent vote as evidence. Indeed, Trump’s own attorney general has said that there is no evidence of voting fraud that would change the election. Christopher Krebs, former head of the agency that guards against cyber tampering of our elections said this was the cleanest election ever.

Gotta wonder why these attorneys general would file this bogus lawsuit. Let’s take a stab at an explanation.

  1. Trump has leaned hard on them to obstruct and overturn the election and they lack the courage to stand up to the playground bully. Plus they want a pat on the head for being good little do-bees.
  2. They’re sucking up to Trump’s angry base so that they can be re-elected and they don’t care who or what gets damaged in their pursuit of what’s best for themselves.
  3. The RNC threatened to refuse to give them financial support for their next elections unless they did the Trump suck up dance. So they’re sucking and dancing.
  4. They want a presidential pardon. From the Texas Tribune: “Paxton, who has been under indictment since 2015 for felony securities fraud charges, is facing fresh criminal allegations from eight of his top deputies, who said they believe he broke the law by using the agency to do favors for a political donor. The FBI is investigating Paxton over those claims, according to the Associated Press. Paxton has denied wrongdoing.” I have no information indicating that desiring a pardon is Paxton’s motivation, but in the Trump “pardon anyone with a last name and who supported me” era, one has to wonder. Further, it’s just a hypothetical about the other attorneys general involved in this suit. Look up accusations of federal crimes of these people if you feel like doing some research.
  5. They have had it with democracy and they want the United States to degenerate into an autocracy. A dictatorship. A fascist state. To that end, they are sowing doubt about the election to undermine public confidence in our institutions, our government and the Constitution itself. It’s another nail in the coffin.

Note that other than Mitt Romney, no elected Republican official in Washington has spoken out against these baseless lawsuits and claims of illegitimacy of the election. Only a handful have even called to congratulate Joe Biden on his overwhelming victory. Eighty percent of these Republicans acknowledge in private that Biden will be the new president, but they lack the courage to call and congratulate him, much less speak about it publicly.

⇒        This is today’s Republican Party        ⇐

There is nothing conservative in the actions of these people. There is nothing in their actions that would be recognizable to The Framers. There is nothing that they are doing that is in accordance with their oath of office. There is nothing patriotic in their actions. There is only monumental self-serving cowardice.

These reality deniers intentionally do great damage to our country, so shame on them. Too bad those words mean nothing to them. Because of their hypocrisy and cowardice they have lost the ability to be ashamed of themselves. The whole point of shame is a self-awareness that keeps us within civilized bounds. There is something distinctly sub-human about these people having lost that.

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Now that the election results of all 50 states have been certified, electoral votes will be cast on December 14 and Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Don’t be surprised if Trump stages his own phony inauguration spectacle in DC at the same time. He really is that desperately needy of attention. Nevertheless, Joe Biden will be the President of the United States as of 12:00:30PM EST that day.

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—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. 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.

Oh, Kevin


New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd annually gives her Thanksgiving column space over to her brother Kevin, whom she calls a conservative. I’ve read several of his offerings and have come away with the sense that Kevin is not a conservative; he’s a Trumpy, which is distinctly not conservative. And in this year’s essay he gives us an exquisitely clear example of why it is so difficult for moderates (Republicans and Democrats alike) to have a constructive, seek-to-understand conversation with a Trumpy. That is the focus of this post.

I want to be clear that in my comments below I am cherry picking his essay, this for brevity. Here’s a link to his complete comments. Also, full disclosure: I agree with some of what Kevin wrote. Most of that is not covered here because that isn’t where the problem lies.

Here are some examples of obstacles to conversation. The wording in green is verbatim from Kevin’s essay and the substantiating data that he presents is included in the same color.

  1. Trump gave us a strong economy.
    1. Actually, the economy continued on the same trajectory from throughout the Obama years. Until it didn’t. Trump promised 4% GDP growth. Before our current recession we had an “economy like no one has ever seen,” when we had GDP growth that averaged just 2.5%. Overall it’s 1% since Trump took office. It never hit 4%.
  2. Trump achieved the lowest unemployment in 50 years.
    1. True, but  .  .  .  Actually, unemployment continued to decline on a straight line trajectory passed on from the Obama years. The best you can say for Trump is that he didn’t screw up a good thing. Until the pandemic arrived. Then he screwed up everything, including unemployment.
  3. Trump fortified the border.
    1. There were only 9 miles of new border wall constructed over the 4 years of Trump’s presidency. All the rest of the construction was replacement for old, dilapidated fencing. And Mexico hasn’t paid a dime for any of it. Does that qualify as “fortified”?
    2. Our southern border has been turned into concentration camps on the U.S. side and death in the desert on the Mexican side. Does that qualify as “fortified”?
    3. Our immigration system refuses to grant asylum to most of the people fleeing rape and death in the Central American countries they left behind. No clue how that makes our border fortified. It does make us complicit in assault and murder.
  4. Trump has guaranteed the integrity of the judicial system by appointing over 200 judges and three Supreme Court justices.
    1. Appointing judges does not guarantee integrity of the judicial system. It only guarantees butts on benches.
    2. 10 of Trump’s nominees were rated Not Qualified by the American Bar Association and 67 were rated only Qualified (i.e., they’re marginally OK warm bodies to hold down a bench).
    3. Two of Trump’s appointees had never practiced law or even been inside a courtroom. That doesn’t sound like integrity.
    4. There was a huge deficit of federal judges when Trump came to office because Mitch McConnell had shoved a stick in the spokes of judicial appointments for nearly all of the Obama years. If there was any additional integrity it was only because more judges meant swifter justice for the accused. Trump doesn’t get integrity kudos for that.
  5. Trump had foreign policy successes, including:
    1. Renegotiating NAFTA – into essentially the same agreement but with Trump’s name attached.
    2. Abandoning the Iranian nuclear deal.
      1. Which allowed the Iranians to resume both enriching uranium and building their bomb making capabilities.
      2. Kevin doesn’t mention it, but after abandoning the multi-nation agreement Trump slapped sanctions on Iran that have been labeled “crippling.” On the other hand, they don’t seem to have curtailed any of Iran’s military activities. Not seeing a foreign policy success here.
      3. Kevin claims that we gave the Iranians a $400 million bribe to get the nuclear deal done. That claim was a standard right wing talking point when the JCPOA was being negotiated and was wailed about afterward by the anti-Obama crowd. What actually happened is that because of Iran’s past bad behavior we had frozen their assets during the Obama administration. Returning to them what was rightfully theirs was part of the Iranian nuclear deal. So, it wasn’t a bribe; it was a return of stolen property. And it was $300 million, not $400 million.
    3. Trump brokered Middle East peace deals and was the greatest friend Israel ever had.
      1. Two recently concluded agreements between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain had been in process since 2015. These agreements were essentially “normalization” documents to formalize what already existed. Trump had nothing to do with the negotiating or finalizing of the agreements. He did claim credit for them.
      2. Might not Harry Truman be the greatest friend of Israel, since he was the first world leader to recognize the new state in 1948? Or President Obama, who handed the Iron Dome defense system to Israel in 2011? Or every other president who has sided with Israel against brutal attacks in the U.N.?
      3. Note that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem did not help Israel. It only served to inflame Palestinians and make a 2-state solution even more difficult to achieve.
      4. It’s interesting that the “greatest friend Israel ever had” meme is quoted. It’s word-for-word what Trump has said repeatedly and his followers pick it up as though making the claim is the same as stating reality. It’s akin to his saying that he’s been the greatest president for Blacks, with the possible exception (or since) Abraham Lincoln. Making the claim isn’t the same as saying truth, but Trump’s followers repeat his phony superlative opinions of himself anyway.
  6. Trump made the Republican Party tougher, teaching it to counter punch harder than its opponent.
    1. The Republican Party was intransigent and spiteful long before Trump showed up (think: Gingrich, McConnell, Boehner, anyone from the Tea Party, etc.) and they played dirty before Trump came along, doing things like filibustering everything with Obama’s name on it, essentially exterminating majority rule. For verification of Republican cheating, check with Judge (not Justice) Merrick Garland.
    2. We need to understand why “counter punch[ing] harder than its opponent” is important. Doing so guarantees no cooperation, so America’s problems don’t get solved. This sounds like being macho is more important that doing what is best for America and honoring one’s oath of office to protect and defend. I do understand the momentary puff-up feeling of being powerful that comes from dominating others.
  7. Kevin writes, “The Democrats remain mystified by the loyalty of Trump’s base. It is rock solid because half the country was tired of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted. Trump was unique because he was only interested in results.”
    1. First sentence: I agree. Surely, I agree with the “mystified” part. It is what underlies the question of this post.
    2. Second sentence: How much of these beliefs of being patronized, lied to and taken for granted is due to people being fed a constant stream of right wing propaganda, rather than the facts? Hatred of ordinary Americans by elites is a standard of righty talking heads and that constant drumbeat stokes belief and ratings. And anger and hatred. Show me the facts, though, or this is just another hateful Big Lie.
    3. Counterpoint to #2 above: I don’t know about the patronizing, but there have been a lot of promises broken and without question the Democrats have taken some people for granted. Nobody likes to be treated that way.
    4. Third sentence: Trump was, is and forever will only be interested in results for Trump, not for America. And he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process (think: playing golf throughout the pandemic). His continuing lies to undermine our election are corroding our democracy and pouring more fuel on the fire of hatred. Further, ask any contractor who worked on a Trump Building and got stiffed about what results were important to Trump. Or ask the State Department, which has consistently been overcharged for everything during the Trump administration. Secret Service personnel were forced to patronize Trump properties and rent rooms at far above standard rates. And I know it’s a small thing that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago billed the U.S. $3 to serve Trump a glass of water, but it’s a satisfactory placeholder for all his grifting. I agree that Trump is focused on results, but are results like these what we should want?

As you can see, there are sweeping claims, but almost no supporting facts. That’s standard M.O. for Trumpies and it does not lead to any possibility of a meeting of the minds. In fact, it is one of three major reasons that a fruitful conversation is so difficult. Another major reason is the denial of provable, observable facts, as is a commonly found belligerent attitude.

Kevin ends his essay with dire warnings for the media and especially for Fox News, which has recently been slightly less of a lapdog for Trump. I’m sure Kevin is right in claiming that Biden’s TV ratings will be lower than Trump’s. What is far more disturbing is that anyone would care about such a thing.

It’s worrisome that anyone would equate TV ratings with the quality of the job a president is doing for the country or even whether a president is popular. Nobody paid attention to such things until the circus sideshow barker came to town and constantly bragged about his TV ratings, as though his primary job was to get high ratings. It’s akin to Trump bragging for months about having had the biggest inaugural crowd ever, which, of course, he didn’t. He bragged that way as though that’s what was important. For most of us, it wasn’t and isn’t. It shouldn’t be for any of us.

I appreciate Kevin’s passion and understand that he has his certainties – I have my own passion and certainties – and both of us are sorely infected by confirmation bias, of course. But I need someone to bring us real world stuff to examine and which will help us to understand one another, not bring just sweeping, baseless superlatives.

—————————–

The important question is how to deal with people who refuse facts, truth and reality. They are our countrymen and -women, after all, and we are obligated to figure out how to live together.

Roughly 80% of those who voted for Trump believe his lies/fantasies/distortions that the election was rigged and riddled with fraud. They believe him when he says he won the election and that “everybody knows it.” That’s around 60 million Americans who are living in an alternate reality. I’m guessing that to them this is just another example “of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted.” And I’m also guessing that they are very angry they didn’t get their way, especially because they believe they were cheated. That makes conversation extremely difficult.

These folks are supported by the continuing refusal of nearly all elected Republicans to stand up and speak up about the Big Lie that is Trump and Trumpism. They provide tacit approval to believe Trump’s hateful and anti-democratic venom. These elected officials do great damage to our country with their cowardice (read this). They make it ever-harder to have a conversation with Trumpies, because they stoke the macho bravado posturing to “counter punch harder than its opponent.” That relegates us to communicating via fistfights. Or worse, like attempting to kidnap and execute a sitting governor. It’s worth noting again that our macho, bravado angry citizens are the ones who own most of the guns in this country.

So, you tell me how to bridge this insane divide that is America today, with half of us believing the untrue. And if I got any of this wrong, please set me and everyone straight.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Gloves Are Off


Reading time – 3:55  .  .  .

Heroes

As of this post we have lost – as in: they died – over 2,000 of our frontline healthcare workers – nurses, doctors, techs, EMTs, sanitation staff – all the people who make it so that we can get healthcare when we need it. They work hellishly long hours and risk their lives every day for the rest of us. And that risks transferring infection to their children, significant others, perhaps their parents, too.

They risk their lives for the supermarket clerk who, in spite of gloves, a mask and plastic partitions still gets infected. And they risk their lives for the school children who get sick and the elderly in our nursing homes who might be your mom or dad or grandma or grandpa.

They even risk their lives for the MAGA hat wearers, those who boldly and defiantly attended a Trump rally or the Harley Davidson rally in South Dakota – the people who refuse to wear a mask or socially distance. Same for the gilded set who attended White House functions and who refused to follow the advice of the experts. They were all warned repeatedly, but they called it a hoax and acted as if there were no pandemic at all. That means that our frontline healthcare workers are dying because some refuse to follow some simple instructions.

Nevertheless, to our refusers, the ones for whom a simple mask is a terrible infringement of their freedom and a sign of personal weakness, who take delight in conspiracy theories and for whom science and truth are unimportant concepts, I have good news for you.

When you crawl into the ER, in terrible pain and gasping for breath, feeling like you’re drowning and you’re begging for help, our healthcare heroes will take you in and give their all to save your sorry ass. They will put themselves at risk of getting sick, dying and perhaps infecting their loved ones, all to save your life and your defiant, selfish attitude. They’ll do all that, knowing that you were repeatedly given the choice to be healthy and to stay out of the hospital, but you refused it every time, insisting instead on being contemptuous. Then you came into their world, sick and infectious and threatening them with suffering. Still, they’ll be there for you.

And that is why they are heroes and you are not.

But you could be.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I hope you told everyone that you give thanks for our healthcare heroes, because instead of being with their families yesterday, they showed up for work in case you showed up in their ER. If you didn’t express your gratitude – best done with a call to your local hospital or by mailing a note of appreciation – do it now before one of our heroes has to drug you and shove a ventilator tube down your throat to save your life at the risk of their own.

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75 Years

World War II ended 75 years ago, with Adolph Hitler committing suicide in his bunker in Berlin. The world is still writing about, talking about and detailing those awful years of brutality and suffering, which is an interesting legacy for a monster.

PBS is running a series, The Rise of the Nazis, and it is quite informative, but that isn’t why it’s mentioned here. The point is to recognize the world’s continuing examination – even fascination – with the Nazis and the mindsets and the behaviors of the criminal leaders that produced the world’s greatest hate-fueled brutality.

They detail Hitler’s disinterest in governing, refusal to read and learn, his focus solely on himself, on his powerful skills of lying and manipulating and more, traits that are disturbingly familiar to us today.

One could say that we don’t have concentration camps today, but of course we do; or that certain groups aren’t being discriminated against and marginalized, but of course they are. One could say that there isn’t a flagrant call for violence, but of course there is. One could say that there isn’t a power grab to destroy democracy and control all of government, but of course there is that, too. One could even say that there isn’t a refusal to honor the will of the people, but of course there is.

I predict that 75 years from now people will still be writing about Trump and Trumpism in an effort to explain the horror of our home grown megalomaniac, the complete capitulation of our Republican Congress and the anger and threats of violence from the right, each of which seems inexplicable and boundless in its destruction. Call me in the year 2095 to discuss the then-current books on the subject.

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Cabinet Announcements

Click me for the story

On Tuesday President-elect Biden made public several of his cabinet picks for his new administration. Most striking was his naming John Kerry as his Special Envoy on Climate (read this post) and making that a cabinet level position, as well as assigning Kerry to sit on the National Security Council. It will be refreshing for us to take the planet seriously.

In addition, Biden announced the ending of a cabinet department that had been an office created especially for the Trump administration. Biden said that as soon as he finishes taking the oath of office at noon on January 20 the Department Of Obviously Fraudulent Underhanded Stuff (DOOFUS) will close permanently. No successor department will be named and all employees of that office will be instructed to submit their resignations and have their offices cleared of personal items prior to that date and time.

The same directive applies to the outgoing President. Anything left behind will be submitted to the FBI Museum Of Really Obtuse National Swindlers (MORONS) and put on public display as the modern equivalent of putting people in stocks in the public square for shaming and ridicule. Sadly, many in the outgoing administration are not capable of experiencing shame.

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The JaxPolitix Game

This edition of the JaxPolitix Game is inspired by an accident with a Thesaurus.

Read this entry, then answer the question below:

double-cross

verb

he was double-crossing his family behind their backs: BETRAY, CHEAT, defraud, trick, hoodwink, mislead, deceive, swindle, break one’s promise to, be disloyal to, be unfaithful to, break faith with, play false, fail, let down; informal two-time, sell down the river; British informal stitch up, do the dirty on.

QUESTION: Who does this describe?

Enter your answer in the Comments section below. The first 80.6 million entrants with the correct answer will win a new president, complete with a full set of action figures. You must be 18 or older in order to be 18 or older and only those who spend the majority of their time on this planet may enter. Not valid for residents of states beginning with the letter Q.

Bonus Questions!

The Constitution does not prohibit convicted felons from becoming President, even if they’re still incarcerated for money laundering, tax evasion or fraud. How is it that the Founders didn’t consider the possibility of that happening? Oh, right, they thought there were norms – guardrails – for our democracy.

For 25 points each:

  1. Will Trump run in 2024?
  2. Two trains leave their stations heading toward one another on parallel tracks. The stations are 107.9 miles apart. Train A travels at 31.6 mph; train B leaves 41 minutes later than train A and travels at 77 miles per hour. How far from the station from which train A departed would Donald Trump say the trains will pass one another? (Hint: Trump will hire someone to solve this problem for him and will add to his answer baseless accusations of fraud, claiming that the quiz was rigged. And he will stiff the person he hired to help him.)
  3. Who would Donald Trump say is buried in Grant’s tomb and which name would he call him: “loser” or “sucker”?

For 9 points each, answer these critical TP questions:

  1. What are the creative ways you’re hiding your TP from your neighbors?
  2. Other than the standard purposes, what are the other uses you have for all that TP in your house?
  • —————————————-

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

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

    1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
    2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. 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.

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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,

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

    Thanks!

    The Fine Print:

    1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
    2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. 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.

Straight Talk For Wednesday Morning


Reading time – 5:10  .  .  .

The win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was more than a citizen endorsement of the future promised by Biden; it was a repudiation of Trump’s attempt to make a toxic waste dump of our democracy, as well as a visceral rejection of his cruelty.

For four years Trump was aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress who know right from wrong, yet refused to stand up against Trump’s wrongs. They deserved to be made available for employment elsewhere, which is why a Blue Wave election was expected.

It didn’t happen.

Most of the spineless Republicans were re-elected and the Rs even picked up a bunch of seats in the House. It is left to us is to determine how that happened concurrently with the Biden win. A divided government likely will result in Biden being encumbered by four years of the champion obstructionist, the Great Hypocrite, Mitch McConnell or, at best, a 50-50 Senate split. That split would leave blue dog Democrats always a potential threat to the progress of the Biden agenda.

How did that happen?

The saying in the TV news business has long been, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In other words, whatever is sensational gets the first and the most news coverage. In the political arena, we’ve had gobs of sensationalism for decades. The problem is that when that’s what we’re shown, we tend to imagine that extremism is mainstreamism.

For example, when Newt Gingrich was going googly-eye self-righteous against Bill Clinton in the 90s it was easy to imagine that all of America was Puritanical crazy. Surely, a lot of people figured that most of us were that way, but it was mostly just Newt and his nitwits making a lot of noise through mass media megaphones. Nevertheless, it took years and an ethics investigation to get Newt to shut up. His baseless claim, though, that America is center-right continues to be believed by millions.

The Tea Party Caucus arrived in 2009. These were the right-wing extremists who seemed to magically convince themselves they were somehow akin to the courageous protesters in Boston in 1773. And wasn’t it an odd coincidence that these bile spewing Tea Partiers announced themselves just after a Black man became president?

They stimulated self-deluded citizens to wear tricorn hats and carry “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. These are the same people who carried signs saying, “Keep your government out of my Medicare” and “Keep Government out of Medicade.”[sic] Yes, really. Righties aren’t all that way, of course, although you couldn’t divine that from the sensationalist news.

The Tea Party spawn of the devil, the Freedom Caucus, has been and is full of self-righteous accusations, proclamations and demonizations. We hear a lot of their blather, lies and distortions for reasons similar to Gingrich’s: it’s sensational. Remember: if it bleeds, it leads. It would be easy to imagine that all Rs are as extreme as Mark Meadows and as hate-mouthed as Jim Jordan.

What about the far left?

So far I’ve picked on far right extremists, but it works the same way for extremists on the far left, and this is where this stuff intersects our recent election.

AOC and some of her pals did an excellent job of creating an extremist agenda and making a lot of noise about it. They self-promoted like champions, drafting the Green New Deal (download a copy here), a litany of extreme left ideas that they promoted with the fervor of the Spanish Inquisition: convert or die.

And that led to week after week of Democratic presidential candidates brainlessly swearing during the primaries that there should be an end to private insurance, we should have open borders and provide healthcare to all undocumented people. Taxing the rich will pay for everything and butterflies will flit among ever-blooming flowers. Okay, forget the butterflies and flowers bit. The extremist lefty stuff has garnered enormous attention from our news and opinion outlets because it’s sensational. Also, counter-productive.

Do you doubt that? Here’s highly respected opinion writer Peggy Noonan in a Wall Street Journal piece explaining why voters chose divided government:

Lots of things, but one was a year of Democratic presidential debates, in which week after week the party painted itself as deeply progressive. The candidates were down with identity politics, would ban private health insurance, were for essentially open borders. I wrote wonderingly after the first debate that the entire party seemed to have picked itself up and placed itself down outside the mainstream and apart from the center.

Clearly, Noonan is a genius because she agrees with me. So does Ira Leavitt – have a look.

I watched all the debates and cringed visibly and painfully every time the candidates swore obeisance to the far left, knowing they were alienating middle America.

This story got worse.

Following the murder of George Floyd people were and still are in the streets demanding that we “Defund the Police!” Cooler heads are doing the, “What they really mean is . . . ” dance, but however justifiably impassioned people are, the words are clear. And idiotic. And off-putting to voters in the middle.

All of that has provided the manure-fertilized feed stock needed by the radical right. For example, they said that if Biden were to win, the extremist elites will force socialism on your country, your taxes will soar, criminals will pour across our borders to harm you, bloated central government socialism will dictate your children’s future, you’ll dial 9-1-1 and nobody will answer and did I mention socialism? Wait, you’re doubting that claims like these – scare tactics – were made over and over and that they terrified moderates and convinced even some informed people to vote against the Democrats? Look it up and horrify yourself.

That stuff scared the hell out of the 6 – 18% of moderate voters who decide our elections. They are – did I mention? – moderate. They don’t like extremism or extremist ideas. If you want to drive them away, tell them you’re going to turn their world upside down. They will immediately turn to whatever or whoever is familiar, however spineless they know him/her to be, because it feels stable and safe.

Adios Blue Wave.*

Democrats almost never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Biden won, but absent the abhorrent Trump, he would have lost in a landslide. Now he’ll have to figure out how to govern with one or two hands tied behind his back, thanks to the far left noisy stupiditude that kept the Senate from being blue.

If you’d prefer not to have four more years of Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism and hypocrisy in your news feed, make a contribution to the Democrats in the Georgia Senate run-off elections to be held on January 5. Here’s a link.

That Blue Wave had the potential to sweep over the shore and reshape the land. Then the Ds killed it with their extremism and it turned into just a little swell lapping at the shore. It didn’t have to be that way. So, Democrats, next time try not scaring the hell out of the people in the middle who will decide the election.

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*Read this to understand our national polarization.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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