discrimination

Some Good News


Reading time – 2:10  .  .  .

This is Maria’s story. Some facts and names in this retelling have been changed to protect the participants; however, this is a true story about real people and it is a victory on so many levels.

Maria fled Central America after being branded a “traitor” by the violent extremists in her country – call them thugs. She didn’t want to leave, but she and her 6-year-old daughter were both receiving terrifying threats of violence. She left her family, her friends, her country, her way of life – everything she knew – because she had to. And she did the only thing she could think of to protect her daughter: she headed north to seek asylum protection of the U.S. government. She knew it was a long shot, but it was the only option she could think of. Then she got caught up in the Catch-22 that are the immigration policies of the Trump administration.

Fast forward to a group of lawyers looking to do meaningful pro bono work. They found Maria and her daughter and took her case to trial. Here are the words of the lead counsel:

“Last Friday my associates and I accomplished something none of us will forget. We helped our very worthy clients successfully petition the US Immigration Court for a grant of asylum.

“During an emotional final hearing, Maria relayed her terrifying story and brought everyone to tears, including the immigration judge. Her story was so powerful that the Court literally stopped the hearing and granted her asylum—this, the Court said, on the strength of our brief and Maria’s testimony. Returning them to their native country would have been signing Maria’s death warrant, and that little girl would have lost her mother and all ties to her natural family. The tears came again, as everyone realized Maria and her daughter were safe.”

I requested permission from the lead counsel to tell this story. He’s a greatly experienced and highly regarded lawyer, which puts added dimension and depth to the words of his reply:

“The case was the most meaningful experience I have ever had as a lawyer – and only a few life moments top it.”

I’m guessing that the life moments he referred to were the births of his children.

Every day our cruel immigration practices violate the values we claim to hold. We separate children from their parents and put them in separate cages. Then we deport the parents without ensuring a way to reunite them with their children. We leave people in the desert with pitifully little to sustain themselves and we do even worse.

But every now and then there is a success story that fills our hearts. Maria’s is one of them.

Kudos to the team of lawyers who took on the behemoth to fight for a scared mom and her little girl. Superman would be proud of this example of truth, justice and the American way.

P.S. It shouldn’t be this difficult to do the right thing.

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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.

Put Them in RDP


Reading time – 4:02  .  .  .

We’ve had years of hearing Donald Trump say whatever came into his fraudulent head and many of us are way past shock and indignation. We see that’s just the criminal, disconnected-from-reality way he rolls and it’s become what we expect. But he’s infected pundits and members of Congress who now ignore reality so well and who are so facile with rationalizations that they no longer recognize when they’re just making up crap. Reference: the impeachment trial defense team.

We now have governing by gaslighting and these reality deniers have infected the 38% voting bloc that has adopted their practices. We may soon hear a thundering claim of a flat Earth, a serious proposal for a National Alchemy Act and the burning of witches.

Often we’re slow to figure out that we aren’t dealing with reality. For example, we didn’t do a good a job with the war on drugs. It was based on lies and was heavily weighted against non-white people. Essentially, it was and is a tool of suppression, not unlike any Jim Crow law, giving us the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A consciousness of that hypocrisy has started and at last we’re doing something to bring us back to actual reality. It’s taken half a century for us to recognize the facts.

Now we’re in the midst of the impeachment trial of the Criminal in Chief. The blindingly fast stampede away from actual reality (e.g. promoting the totally debunked Russian propaganda story of Ukrainian interference in our 2016 election) being done by Trump’s supporters is astonishing in its vehemence and audacity. They deny documented actions. At the same time they admit that Trump did those very things, but claim they aren’t impeachable offenses. But really, now, they can’t have it both ways.

They deny Trump’s solicitation of foreign government interference in our upcoming election (read Federalist 68 for an adjustment back to reality – see the pertinent paragraph below), even though his own words and actions show us plainly that’s what he did. Hugh Hewitt, a man who otherwise appears to be conscious, claimed this on Meet The Press last Sunday – watch starting around the 1:00 minute mark for a fine example of departure from reality.

Majority Leader McConnell claimed that the impeachment trial process that he created is the same as the process used in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial (not even close). That and a thousand other distractions, whataboutisms and whining lead us ever further away from actual reality. This is the kind of blatant refusal to acknowledge fact that is poisoning our nation. The more we deny actual reality, the more difficult it will be to fix what we’ve broken and the easier it becomes for people to deny any and all reality.

Countering fantasies with facts to redirect back to what actually happens here on planet Earth is pretty much an exercise in wheel spinning; deniers are immune to logic, so it’s time for us to get tough on this craziness. I propose a War on Reality Denial. Too bad for you, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer.*

It’s time to draft a law making it a felony to knowingly promote false realities. We need a stop-and-interrogate provision. Playing off Donald Trump’s invitation to police officers, it’s okay if perps routinely get roughed up during questioning.

There will be mandatory sentencing to prevent wussy judges from undermining the program. And there will be a 3-strikes rule, just like in the war on drugs and the war on crime. I want to see repeat offenders put away for a long time. And while they are there we won’t provide training or rehabilitation, so that when they are released, recidivism will be their reality. That will let us keep them locked up even longer. And because reality denial offenders are primarily white I want to see these laws disproportionately enforced on them.

Science and education are under attack in this country from many angles, but the overriding issue is the wholesale denial of reality. Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel and move this legislation right past our fact contradicting politicians and send them where they belong: to RDPReality Denial Prison.

One bright spot: Yesterday I was once again a judge in the local middle school science fair. Seventh and eighth grade students proudly strutted their science stuff with a wanton embracing of reality. These kids learn and use the scientific method – you know, factual, testable real world reality. They are our hope.

Useful stuff: Because of what I learned at the science fair, check with me to learn about the best batteries, the fastest seed germination methods and ways to marginally increase memory performance. Also, I can now tell you which colors improve test performance and why a recording of your own voice doesn’t sound like you.  These kids teach me a lot every year.


Resources:

Alexander Hamilton warned us about factional (i.e. partisan) lunacy in impeachment trials in Federalist 65**. Click through for the complete essay. Here’s the pertinent paragraph:

“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Have a look here for an interesting take on impeachment from the Harvard Law Review that will open your eyes. It might even poke at a cherished notion or two.

From a recent Lawfare brief:

”  .  .  .  the Founders had a broader conception of bribery than what’s in the criminal code. Their understanding was derived from English law, under which bribery was understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest. This definition not only encompasses Trump’s conduct—it practically defines it.”

*From Federalist 68:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter [sic], but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” [emphasis mine]

Maybe our “originalist” (interpreting the Constitution as the Founders intended) senators could stop denying this reality  .  .  .  ?

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*“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” Edward Abbey. Thanks go to MG.

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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.

Home


Reading time – 2:13  .  .  .

You’re out and about and tell a friend,”I’m going back to my house.” Your house is defined by a street address, information that identifies a place on a map. If instead you had said,”I’m going home,” the geographic destination would be the same, but the meaning would be quite distinct.

“Home” is a place in the heart, a well of meaning that transcends GPS coordinates. If you pay attention and allow it to surface, just saying, “I’m going home” has a personal power and depth of meaning. I’ve always felt the same about “America.”

The “United States” is just that: 50 states that are united. It’s a geographical and a political identity and a statement of our sometimes difficult but enduring union. All of that is good. But “America” is home. “America” is what my ancestors saw in the 1890s, as they sailed past the Statue of Liberty and registered at Ellis Island. They didn’t see a collection of states. They saw America and all its promise. They saw a new home. To understand more fully, read Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus, which is inscribed on the base of the Statue.

But now I despair over what we’re doing to our home. I’ll be writing soon about a wonderful victory for a woman named Maria and her 6-year-old daughter, yet I can’t help but shake my head in frustration over why it was so difficult for us to simply do the right thing here in our home. Watch for that story.

It’s the same reluctance to do the right thing that we see every day in the national insanity and embarrassment that is today’s Congressional GOP. They consistently deny realities that are right in front of them and violate the very values that make this America. The same is true of the 25 (or more) Republican controlled state houses that institutionalize voter suppression, the new Jim Crow. It’s the same way with our president who lies over 32 times per day, for whom the only things that are sacred are those that benefit himself and who endangers our home by bumbling through foreign affairs and inciting division.

These are disheartening times for our failing to do the right things, but if we are to protect our home we must not stay in this low place. We must take up the arms of our voices and our votes and restore what we hold to be sacred and dear. We must come home.

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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.

Holiday Remembrances


Reading time – 1:44  .  .  .

The number next to each location listed below is the number of people shot to death in a single incident. This only includes mass shootings since August, 2019 with 4 or more killed, plus a few horrific others.

Here’s a question for the people still living in these places: How’s your holiday season?

    • Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT    26
    • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL   17
    • Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC    9
    • Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, PA    4
    • Pulse Night Club, Orlando, FL  49
    • Harvest Music Festival, Las Vegas, NV    58
    • Garlic Festival, Gilroy, CA    4
    • JC Kosher Supermarket, Jersey CIty, NJ    6
    • Emerald City Casino, Great Falls, MT     4
    • Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Pensacola, FL    4
    • Backyard football watch party, Fresno, CA    4
    • Family killing, San Diego, CA    6
    • AirBnB house, Orinda, CA    5
    • Family killing, Philadelphia, PA    4
    • Memorial gathering, Chicago, IL    5
    • Family killing, Abingdon, MA    5
    • Tequila KC Bar, Kansas City, KS    4
    • Street shooting, Beaumont, TX    4
    • SuccessTech Academy school, Cleveland, OH    4
    • Mobil home park, Albuquerque, NM    4
    • Family shooting by 14 year old, Elkmont, AL    5
    • Outside movie theater, Odessa, TX    8
    • Ned Peppers Bar, Dayton, OH    10
    • Walmart, El Paso, TX    22

Our hearts go out to these folks for having to bear the pain of an empty chair at the holiday table. Too bad NRA sponsored politicians only have thoughts and prayers. If they had hearts, perhaps some of these massacres wouldn’t have happened and today’s survivors would have had a joyous holiday.

Finally,

If we had applied our immigration policies to those seeking asylum back then  .  .  .

What would Trump-supporting Evangelicals say if Customs and Border Patrol told Mary and Joseph, seeking refuge, that they couldn’t even stay in a stable in the U.S.? How would they react if they found out that all children entering our southern border are separated from their parents because the parents are arrested while seeking asylum, so Jesus was wrapped in a mylar  blanket and put in a cage? Would Evangelicals applaud that Trumpian get tough immigration policy?

If the answer is yes, Evangelicals may keep that one-word descriptor, but they have to stop calling themselves Christians. There’s nothing Christian in being cruel to the poor, to the stranger and to children. There’s a really good chance Evangelicals missed the main point.

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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.

Against Their Own Interest – and Syria Stupidity


Reading time – 3:47  .  .  .

A lot of barrels of ink have been emptied in an effort to explain why some American voters – largely rural people – consistently vote against their own interests. This predates Donald Trump, although he has been a beneficiary of it and has exploited it masterfully. My understanding of what appears to be a key driver of self-destructive behavior has largely been focused on the betrayal so many Americans feel. It’s borne of the obvious abandoning of promises made to them by various levels of government officials, especially those in our federal government.

Do you remember all those years of John Boehner, then Speaker of the House, declaring that the number one priority was, “Jobs, jobs, jobs”? The only bill passed to create more jobs while he was speaker was specifically for military veterans, and Boehner had to be shamed into passing that. Where did that leave the rest of our forgotten Americans?

They feel used for their tax money and abused by the system, so they’re angry. They’re naturally attracted to the angriest voice with the simplest solutions. They fear “others” who may be as far away as another country or as near as the closest big city.

And they don’t like immigrants, fearing they’re here to freeload off our public assistance programs. There are yet other ways Trump voters feel ripped off, because they don’t get a benefit from government programs – or at least they don’t believe that they do. Turns out, not surprisingly, that their disaffection is more elaborate than that.

Monica Potts wrote a stunning piece in the New York Times entitled “In the Land of Self-Defeat“. If you’ve ever puzzled over why people do what looks to you to be self-destructive, you’ll want to read this piece.  Potts quotes Katherine J. Cramer, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison:

“The way these folks described the world to me, their basic concern was that people like them, in places like theirs, were overlooked and disrespected,” she wrote in Vox, explaining that her subjects considered ‘racial minorities on welfare’ as well as ‘lazy urban professionals’ working desk jobs to be undeserving of state and federal dollars. People like my neighbors hate that the government is spending money on those who don’t look like them and don’t live like them — but what I’ve learned since I came home is that they remain opposed even when they themselves stand to benefit.”

These folks have a “prevailing sense of scarcity,” so spending tax dollars on what to them are non-essentials is craziness. Indeed, Potts’ article was triggered by a hotly contested county issue about a proposed pay increase for a new librarian to $25 per hour. It was defeated. These folks contract their view to a very individual focus – you might call it extreme libertarian – which leaves them wondering why they should pay for that librarian if they and their family aren’t going to use the library.

The comments about immigrants particularly caught my attention and left me with a stark clarity that I’ve had for a long time: Too many of us have forgotten where we came from. By that I mean our immigrant forebears – our grandparents or great-grandparents who came here penniless and unable to understand English. We’ve forgotten their struggles and don’t seem able to glue our ignored past onto the plight of today’s refugees.

And another thing  .  .  .

Many thanks to S.S. for pointing to the tweet. Click the pic

Eliminating ISIS (or ISIL) has largely been accomplished except for a couple of strongholds in northern Syria. It has been done with American money and technology and Kurdish blood and lives.

As of this writing, President Trump has pulled all of our troops out of Syria. The decision was made following only a single phone call with President Erdoğan of Turkey. He didn’t consult with anyone who actually knows something about the situation in Syria. And he made the decision with no consideration of the likely outcomes of U.S. withdrawal.

The Turks hate our allies, the Kurds, and see them as their blood enemy. The U.S. pulling out of Syria will leave the Kurds without protection against the modern army and air power of the Turks, who will almost certainly swoop in and slaughter the Kurds – it’s already begun. And it will leave Syria firmly in the hands of our adversaries, Russia and Iran, and ISIS will be free to rebuild.

Have you noticed how many things Trump does that help Putin and Russia and simultaneously hurt our friends and allies?

This is so bad that even Republicans in Congress are pushing back. It’s a shame that they’re so late in finding their backbones.

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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.

This Has To Be Said


Reading time – 3:29; Viewing time – 5:08 .  .  .

It is more than reasonable to say that we are living in perilous times in America.

It has been a long time since life has been as perilous as it is right now if your skin is black or brown.

It has never before been this perilous to attend a movie, go to school, party in a bar, attend an outdoor concert, go to church or synagogue or mosque, shop at a mall, attend a festival or buy school supplies.

It has never been this perilous for our glorious experiment in self-rule – our democracy – since the Revolution.

Click the picture

Perhaps you were enraged when we saw pictures of children packed into cages for days or even weeks, prohibited from bathing or having fresh clothing or receiving medical care or brushing their teeth or even having their dirty diapers changed.

If you didn’t feel that punch in the gut from that violation of the demand of evolution that we protect our young, I offer this:

Click the picture

They came for the Native Americans.

They came for the Japanese.

They’ve come for the Hispanics.

They always come for the Blacks.

They came for the Muslims and Jews and will do so again.

They don’t come only for the children.

If you think that’s hyperbole, wake up to the facts: that’s the way it always happens.

It’s time for you and I and all of us to stand up and take action to stop the bullying, the demeaning, the marginalizing, the exclusion, the violence, the killing, the ruination of families, the traumatizing of children and the destruction of our democracy itself.

Do you have doubts about these things happening?

If you doubt my claim about advancing personal peril, read any history book. This stuff is happening in front of your eyes right now and willful blindness is not an option.

Click the pic

Click the pic

If you doubt my claim about the threats to our democracy, read conservative writer Charles Krauthammer’s essay, The Authoritarian Temptation in his posthumously published book “The Point Of It All.” Unfortunately, Krauthammer didn’t survive long enough to see how terribly our democracy has been undermined by Trump incrementally dismantling the foundations of our democracy and society itself. It’s damaged by a White House staffed with self-serving, hateful tyrants and Trump suck-ups, as well as by our spineless Congress. If you want to understand this more fully, read “How Democracies Die.” It will help your understanding of how tyrants get away with assault on whole categories of people.

Today’s perpetrators in America are white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and others who tell themselves that they’re the True  Americans. That means that the rest of us are less than “True Americans.”

These haters are the very people who have been killing innocents for decades, some for centuries, while we refuse to have the political backbone to deal with these criminals. Instead, politicians now whine about video games and mental health programs so that the extremists can keep their assault rifles and 100-round magazines to kill additional “less than True Americans.”

Yet today’s primary perpetrator is the President of the United States. He tells the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that they are “very fine people.” He’s the same president who tried to ban all Muslims from entering our country and who is systematizing cruelty against Hispanic people. The threat to all of us is both from far right violent perpetrators and our own government.

Daryl Johnson was the Senior Domestic Terrorism Analyst at the Department of Homeland Security and the ATF. His team produced a report in 2009 outlining the reality of the white nationalist threat. He was terrifyingly accurate. Worse still, as I said, is that the domestic terrorism we’re seeing is encouraged by tacit support from our government.

Have a look at Johnson’s 2009 report, which you can download here. Then read a summary of the very disturbing events surrounding his report and this op-ed by Johnson himself from 2017.

So much violence and damage has already been done and we need to take aggressive action if we are to prevent the worst. That’s especially critical with an unhinged violence stoker and authoritarian tyrant wannabe in the White House.

If we are to be safe, if this democracy and the foundations of our society are to endure, it’s time for you and I to stand up and to speak up. I’m doing it. Now it’s your turn.


“To sin by silence when we should protest,

Makes cowards out of men.”

                                         Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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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 to 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.

JA


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

Guest Essay – The Real Reason


Reading time – 4:35  .  .  .

Reader Dan Wallace has an insightful take on our American condition that is happily devoid of the hystrionics, name calling and partisan posturing of many. He offered it as a comment to my Hoping for Clarity From Sunday Times Readers post, but it was likely missed by many. His views are too important to be missed, so his essay is presented here. Read it and nod affirmatively and enthusiastically. JA


I was not a Trump voter for the reason given below. But it was, and I believe remains, the primary reason not to vote for him.

Simply put, comparing Trump’s publicly visible behavior to the available checklists for psycho/sociopathology, all indications are that he is psychopath, a sociopath, a person experiencing anti-social personality disorder, a malignant narcissist, or something along those lines. The exact term does not matter. That there is something seriously wrong with this guy is obvious and does matter. The right answer for someone like this is to feel sorry for him and to help him if we can, while minimizing the damage he can do. It is not to elect him (or keep him as) President of the United States.

For some reason it is considered unseemly to talk about this. I do not understand why. Choosing not to talk about it is like sitting down to dinner at a table that has a giant moose on it and pretending there’s no moose. There is. Step one in getting rid of the moose is admitting there’s a moose.

The view that there is something seriously wrong with Donald Trump is held by people as diverse as George Conway and Keith Olbermann. Unlike them, I am not a newcomer to it. I was virulently anti-Hillary in 2016. But I argued at the time, and I still do, that given a choice between venal and crazy, the right answer is to put 100 clothespins on your nose and vote for venal because it is at least predictable and is not necessarily oriented toward tyranny. While not all psychopaths become tyrants, all tyrants start as psychopaths.

Every now and then the American people make the mistake of putting into office someone with a severe mental disease or defect. The last time we did that was 1968. It took 6 years, but the institutions ultimately worked and we removed him from office.

We need to do that again, but the stakes are far higher now. We have an enormous division between those who have been left behind by globalization and those who have not. We have not figured out how we as a nation will compete in a truly globalized world. We have enacted policies that have driven the disparity of wealth to the sort of level that provokes insurrection. We have the least efficient healthcare system of any industrialized nation and continue to play the fiddle while it threatens to bankrupt us. In order to avoid dealing with those unpleasant realities, we have given ourselves a false sense of prosperity by fueling our economy with debt, something in which both parties have been equally and joyfully complicit. That accumulated debt is now so large that resolution of it likely will eventually require devaluation of the dollar, which will turn us into something like Greece or Venezuela. Meanwhile, we are experiencing a change in our environment that has the capacity ultimately to threaten the survival of our species (Moose #2).

These are serious issues and we should get about the business of addressing them in a serious way. The solutions will not be simple. There is plenty of demagoguery to go around, on both the left and the right. None of it helps. But one thing we should all be able to agree on: Having a psychopathic buffoon in the White House makes all of this worse, not better.

Addendum

On Wednesday of last week, Trump “met with” a group of about 25 refugees in the Oval Office. Presumably, this was a photo op intended to make him look empathetic. The problem is that it was captured on video, and one thing he clearly is not is empathetic.

The video shows Trump’s interaction with Nadia Murad, a Yazidi refugee who won the 2018 Nobel Peace prize for bringing her horrific story to the world and for fighting to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Her story includes ISIS raiding her village, killing her mother and six of her brothers, taking her captive, holding her as a sex slave and subjecting her to rape and torture.

The remarkable thing about this video is not Trump’s abject ignorance, unpreparedness and stupidity (after Murad tells him twice that ISIS killed her family, he asks, “So where are they now?” – Yes, really – watch the video.). Rather, it is that the President of the United States can listen to this story and show absolutely no empathy for the human being standing in front of him and for the appalling suffering and loss she experienced. If that lack of empathy doesn’t make someone a psychopath, then what the hell does?


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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:

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Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
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Hoping For Clarity From Sunday Times Readers


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 5:15  .  .  .

Still struggling to understand .  .  .

It isn’t customary for me to spend much time reading the letters to the editor in the Sunday New York Times, but the headline last Sunday grabbed my eyeballs:

Vote for Trump Again, or Switch?

Those who plan to switch were doing so for the standard reasons of Trump’s incompetence, dishonesty, cruelty and endangerment of our country and the world. I’m particularly interested, though, in what those who intend to vote for Trump again had to say. What are they seeing that I’m missing? What do they value that I’m blind to?

Mr. Tom Edwards of Live Oak, TX wrote,

“Yes! I’ll be voting for Donald Trump again and proudly so. Why? He is the classic American underdog story. He not only has to combat the raging left with its “give away the store” mentality, but also 95 percent of the media, which is hellbent on reporting something ominous in his every twitch and sneeze and tweet.

“Get over yourselves, guys! He might not fit your preconceived ideals of presidential, but that’s just fine with me. The ball is moving forward and that’s what’s important.”

Mr. Edwards left me less informed than I had hoped. For example, he somehow sees Trump as an underdog. This is the same New Yorker who started with millions, was propped up by his daddy with yet more millions and who managed to leverage his being constantly financially coddled into bankrupting four casinos and two other businesses. In what way was/is he an underdog? And why is Trump’s imagined underdog-ness a compelling reason for Mr. Edwards to vote for him?

Mr. Edwards also apparently sees Trump as a victim, specifically of the media. If Trump is a victim, why is that a reason to vote for him? Further, I want to ask him if he felt the same way as other presidents were being fried by the media.

Mr. Edwards is fine with Trump not fitting The New York Times’ “preconceived ideals of presidential” and it appears from his tone that he has an attitude toward the media over those very ideals. Exactly what preconceived ideals is he thinking of? He doesn’t help us to understand, leaving us to imagine that massive cruelty, constant lying and inviting foreign intervention into our elections, while not presidential, is okay with Mr. Edwards. I need help understanding why he’s good with that.

Another writer, Mr. Alexander Goldstein of Brooklyn, NY used most of his letter to attack ideas from the left. That’s okay, I suppose, in that the survey invited reasons to switch from Trump or to continue to support his candidacy, which thereby invited reasons not to switch. Fair enough. But the solitary focus on attacking others – “whataboutism” – is a constant for Trump supporters and it completely misses the point.

To be fair to Mr. Goldstein, he offered one positive reason to stay with Trump, writing,

“Donald Trump has taken bold, unprecedented steps on foreign policy and trade  .  .  . “

I have to agree with that. But just what are those bold, unprecedented steps to which Mr. Goldstein refers? Attacking our friends and allies? Cozying up to autocrats and murderers? Imposing tariffs that are both sadistic and masochistic at the same time? Picking fights as his opening gambit in negotiations, none of which have proven to benefit America? Come on, Mr. Goldstein, get specific so that we can learn something.

Otherwise, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Goldstein have done what nearly all Trump supporters do. They:

  1. Emulate Trump, offering bold claims and they offer no substance to support those claims, and
  2. Make claims that aren’t true at all, and
  3. Attack others with whataboutism and commonly use that as a deflection.

Whatever clarity I’ve found from these Sunday Times readers is more inferred than laid bare.

The support of Trump – not of conservatism, but of Trump – doesn’t seem to be firmly rooted in policy or achievements. Rather, it appears that it is an almost entirely visceral thing, a witch’s brew of anger, testosterone and “other-ism” borne of betrayal and a longing for power. Supporters are satisfied that he is fighting – raging against the machine that they believe has betrayed them – and they don’t really seem to care whether he wins his fights, as long as he continues to duke it out. And they don’t really seem to care who gets hurt in the process, either.

To fully understand the impact of what all that brings us, read Eugene Robinson’s clear-headed piece, This Is the Reality of Trump’s America in The Washington Post.


————————————

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:

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

Another Effort to Understand


Reading time – 1:47; Viewing time – 3:13  .  .  .

I sent out a notification to about 50 of my neighbors to alert them to the opportunity to make a statement with Lights for Liberty this Friday evening. This is in protest of the treatment of detainees in horrible conditions in ICE/CBP camps. (Scan to the bottom of their website to find a location near you.) Aware that I was taking a chance because I don’t know the political views of most of my neighbors, I invited all recipients of my email to advise me if my outreach was unwelcome and I’d send them nothing further. I received one response to my invitation.

The email read,

Sorry, I guess I’m on the other side. The parents/adults should not be using them [children] as pawns for illegal immigration moves. It is a sad situation, but the legal US residents should not have to pay and fix this. They should be stopped at the border and turned away unless they go through the current legal process. Unfortunately, we do not have a Congress that will address this and open borders is not the way to go. This was easy to see coming and obvious who does not want to address it.

Slow down any urge to “yeah, but” this and instead give an effort to understand.

In fact, we have been told that hapless children are being used as pawns to enter the U.S. and it is unsurprising that some believe that to be true. In fact, while I see such claims as just another Trump lie, I have no data to support that, any more than the author of that email has data to support their view.

The writer acknowledges that the situation is sad, but like millions of Americans doesn’t think we should be paying to fix the situation. I’m pretty sure that’s a common conservative view and in line with believing that we shouldn’t be footing the bill for everything that needs fixing around the world.

The writer is correct in claiming that we don’t have a Congress that will address this issue. That’s been true at least since the early days of George W. Bush’s first administration in 2001. And I agree that open borders is not the way to go.

The current legal process truly is a mess. Seeing it as “obvious who does not want to address it” makes sense in the context of the polarizing name calling and unending propaganda we’re subjected to.* The price of propaganda is very, very high. Look for more on that in this Sunday’s post.

All of this is to say that it’s not that difficult to understand a contrary view of the border mess or, really, any of the messes we have on our hands. In part, at least, we’re dealing with different realities – mutually exclusive “facts” – which makes it easy for honest people to both disagree and fail to understand one another.

Plus, everybody’s talking and pretty much nobody is listening.

Many thanks to my neighbor who “put it out there” to help me understand.



————————————

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:

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

Porky Pig


Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .

To quote Porky Pig: “Ah-bi-dee, ah-bi-dee, that’s all, folks!”

The Supreme Court has just handed down its most blatantly political decision in a long time, or at least since the democracy killing Citizens United decision in 2010. Their stupefyingly bone-headed refusal to knock down blatantly obvious discrimination by North Carolina’s legislature will have a destructive impact that will echo across the nation.

This case was about gerrymandering designed to strip voting rights and legislative power from the poor and from minorities. The Supreme Court has opened the door for unending, unearned political control by a diminishing white majority. Its decision will have devastating impact on millions of Americans for years to come and is truly the New Jim Crow.

To the 5 justices who made this happen, I have some snark: Your mothers must be very proud.

I can’t do better than David Leonhardt’s piece in Friday’s New York Times. Click through and read it, and note his comments about the census, too.

BTW, the Times is not failing, as Emperor Trump would have you believe. It’s having some of its best years ever. They’re focused on stuff happening here on planet Earth, a concept of reality that doesn’t seem to penetrate the information-proof walls of the East Wing living quarters, which serve as Trump’s Twitter bunker. #FailingPresident.


————————————

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!

 


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

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