First Amendment

Dracula Today


Now it’s your turn.

Bad Moon

John Fogarty and Credence Clearwater Revival sang about it decades ago, perhaps prescient about the dangers that surround us today.

I see a bad moon rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightning 
I see bad times today
    
Don't go around tonight 
 'Cause it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise

I always needed an interpreter to understand Fogarty’s words. For example, I thought he said that there’s a bad moon “on the right,” not “on the rise.” If he had sung it the way I heard it, he’d be exactly right for today’s America, although his way is pretty accurate, too.

That bad moon on the right brings hatred, lies, hypocrisy, lost integrity and an imminent threat to our very democracy and threats of violence and death to our fellow citizens. But you know that, just as Fogarty seems to have known it in my misinterpretation of that line in his song.

We have 6 days left to stop that bad moon on the right and make the difference that must be made.

American Psychosis

Yes, of course we’re psychotic. That’s what explains all the reality denial and our pronounced sociopathy, like that self-deluded thug smashing Paul Pelosi’s head with a hammer. We’ve been down this Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole many times and somehow we’ve survived it. All we had to do was to tolerate the death and destruction and voilà! everything was just fine again.

Like the Civil War, when half the country violated its sacred word, violated its oath and attacked the other half of our country. We only had to tolerate over 600,000 dead and many times that number wounded, hobbled, disfigured for life or insane.

Like over 86 years of Jim Crow lynchings – 4,743 of them according to the NAACP – and those are just the documented lynchings. And, of course, there was the terrorizing of millions.

Like the hatred and violence unleashed on various immigrant groups, like the Catholics, Irish, Italian, Chinese and Jews.

That’s just some of what we’ve tolerated.

See Note 5 and the final graphic below.

In David Corn’s book American Psychosis he recounts the cruelty and flagrant dishonesty of America’s alcoholic senator, Eugene McCarthy (R-WI). A fellow senator, Millard Tydings (D-MD), described McCarthy’s claim about the State Department being infested with communists, saying his charges were “a hoax perpetuated on . . . the American people” and “perhaps the most nefarious campaign of half-truths and untruth in the history of the Republic.”

Nevertheless, Republicans back then “viewed McCarthy as a potent weapon to deploy against Democrats.” McCarthy supported “a popular revolt against the upper classes,” and “accused the Truman administration and Democrats of being traitors to America. He had no evidence, only accusations.” Put a bookmark in that: no evidence, only accusations.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was campaigning for the presidency in 1952 and was to give a speech in Milwaukee. Included was a paragraph excoriating fellow Republican McCarthy, the insanity of McCarthyism and the spinelessness of the followers of his hatred. That paragraph said that to believe McCarthy was to believe that the government was being run by “men whose very brains were confused buy the opiate of this deceit,” meaning the deceit of McCarthy.

But Eisenhower needed Wisconsin votes, so he never spoke those words in public. In fact, even as he deplored McCarthy, he remained silent for years about McCarthy’s hypocrisy and the cruelty he set upon good Americans and the very fabric of American values. Even the Supreme Court took a swing at what we profess to be our values by ruling that the First Amendment did not cover communists. Surely you’re seeing the parallels to today.

Trump is our McCarthy, the liar, the manipulator, the hatred spewer, the accuser of wild conspiracies without evidence. So, too, are his imitators, suck-ups and opportunists for votes who are doing the same thing, just as happened in the 1950s.

Were Sen. Tydings alive today we surely could show him what a real hoax on the American People can look like. He’d have a new take on “perhaps the most nefarious campaign of half-truths and untruth in the history of the Republic,” the Nazi-MAGA scourge.

Like the Civil War, lynchings and McCarthyism, our present psychosis – our blood sucking Dracula, in Halloween-speak – will not go away on its own. We’ve already tolerated too much death and destruction and America’s Dracula will continue to attack us and suck the life out of this republic until we take action.

This national vampire must be fought into a coffin and a stake driven through its foul heart so that it can’t drain all the blood from America. That’s what you’re going to do next Tuesday.

From Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) yesterday:

But I’m also sad this violence [against Paul and Nancy Pelosi] isn’t more surprising — just as I wasn’t surprised by January 6th.  This is what happens when we’re taught that those who disagree with us are existential threats to our survival; when we label our own tribe good and the other evil; when we fail to call out the bad behavior of our own “side” out of loyalty or denial.

We’re hearing calls of sympathy, empathy and caring for the Pelosi’s from Democrats. The Republicans are made of other stuff and prominent individuals are making up horrible conspiracy stories, they’re blaming the victim and refusing even a hint of concern for the Pelosi’s. Likewise, they haven’t concern for any of the Democrats or their families who receive a near constant stream of death threats prompted by Republicans’ dreadful demonizing. Republican politicians can’t even muster a, “Sorry that happened to you.”

Think about that when you go to vote on Tuesday. Think, “A stake through its heart.”

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town or neighborhood vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Big One


Click, then pitch in

Religion has been the driving force or the excuse for more death, misery and suffering than any other cause in all of recorded history.

I refuse to do the research necessary to numerically substantiate that claim. If it’s important to you, do your own research. If my claim isn’t exactly right, it’s close enough to merit our concern.

Religious beliefs are precisely that: beliefs. They are necessarily a leap of faith that is driven by internal, non-analytical forces, not by observable facts. They are neither right nor wrong but they are customarily held to be absolutely, factually right, regardless of how many language translations and manipulations have assaulted original texts. Therein lies the problem, because personally held certainties overwhelm higher brain functions, which then causes humans to insist on cramming their certainties onto others. See: the Spanish Inquisition and many other forced conversion and murder rackets.

The Pilgrims left England seeking relief from the domination of the Church of England. Seventeen decades later their quest for religious freedom was enshrined into the First Amendment of the American Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof .  .  . “

For the past 250 years we’ve been trying to tie down the various threads hanging off that phrasing.

For example, Congress passed a law adding “In God We Trust” to all U.S. currency in 1955. No, those words were not always there and yes, that sounds suspiciously like tying religion to government. But back in the Cold War days we had to somehow differentiate ourselves from the godless Commies, so there was little opposition to the additional words. Besides, who would object to those words in those days, and thereby risk accusations of being a closet communist?

Nevertheless, that phrase doesn’t work too well for people who fervently believe that there is no God. If people are to use money, that phrase explicitly denies the free exercise of the religion of no religion every time they buy something. That’s a big chink in the armor of separation.

Here’s another example. George W. Bush managed to get federal money sent to “faith-based initiatives” during his Reign of Doofus. That meant that church run schools were given public money – your tax dollars – for the purpose of religious indoctrination. That sounds a great deal like pre-Pilgrim England. What happened to the separation of church and state during the glorious Doofus Days?

Last month 1 Episcopal (raised Catholic) and 5 Catholic justices of the Supreme Court commanded the State of Maine to pay for the education of children attending private, parochial schools. Insert the same question about separation here.

Now you can add to this hanging thread list the North Carolina public school football coach who wants to pray at the 50 yard line after each game. The religion-powered Supreme Court decided that his ostentatious public display of his private religious beliefs at his public school function was just fine. The Supreme Court implied, “Take a knee in the middle of the field, catechism coach, and implicitly direct your players to do the same.”

You don’t suppose that with all that peer pressure and obeisance to The Coach that impressionable teens might find it impossible to refuse to participate, do you? So much for their freedom from religion. We’re back to the separation issue, except it seems to be fading into a distant memory, now with the enthusiastic support of the “We’re substituting our personal beliefs for the Constitution” Supreme Court.

We have religious fundamentalists all over this country claiming that our country was founded to be a Christian theocracy, which is true only if you ignore the contrary facts offered by the Founders.

Yes, this issue is fraught, as the Founders (at least some of them) believed that ” . .  .  we are endowed by our Creator  .  .  .  ” Nevertheless, they signed off via the First Amendment on individuals being free from any governmental imposition of religion. I’ll support the freedom side in that conflict every time.

The most urgent time for confronting this threat to our liberty is now, as public school boards are inserting both Christian prayer and religious teaching into their curricula. And public school boards themselves are now saying Christian prayers before their meetings. Florida is banning books based on bureaucrats imposing their religious views on public libraries and public schools.

One would hope that all the people at these public, governmental venues would realize that they are not running Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. If they don’t see that – and apparently they don’t – and if we don’t take action, most urgently with our votes, we will be on the slippery path to theocracy.

Wake up call: Many of your neighbors think that’s what this country should be.

In case you think theocracy would be just peachy, let’s look at other theocracies around the world to see how those work for the people. Try Iran. Or Afghanistan. Or Saudi Arabia. Now how do you feel about creating theocracy here?

Don’t foolishly think that a Christian theocracy would be better than a Muslim theocracy. That’s never been true. We disproved that deluded notion during the aforementioned Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and even as we were burning women as witches in Massachusetts.

TO ALL PUBLIC OFFICIALS: If you want to practice religion, go to a religious institution of your choice or to the privacy of your own home. Or go to that traveling salvation show. But keep your religion out of our government and out of our public squares.

But that is exactly where Christian nationalists want to put it. For a chilling read on this, see The Washington Post piece, After Court Ruling, Activists Push Prayer Into Schools. The subtitle is “They say church and state are already too separate.”

Not so! Cramming Christianity into public school classrooms and onto public school football fields simply isn’t separate. It’s an establishment of religion exactly as prohibited by the Founders. Take that, self-proclaimed originalists!

If you want to fully understand Christian nationalism (which is neither Christian nor nationalist), link here and then click the orange “View the report” button. That will get you a download of the PDF “Christian Nationalism and the Jan 6 Insurrection.” This document is required reading for all patriots and believers in freedom.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Freedom


Freedom – n. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; the power of self-determination attributed to the will – Apple Dictionary, v 2.3.

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Freedom of Speech

I’m an American living in America and the First Amendment says,

                                                   Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [emphasis mine]

That’s it. Couldn’t be plainer. It’s expressed in absolute terms. That means that I can say what I want to say, when I want to say it, to whom I want to say it and in any way I want to say it and no government can stop me, muzzle me or inhibit me from saying what I want. That’s what it says, right?

Well, it looks that way, but because we live in this society together, this amendment isn’t absolute. Neither are the rest of them. We’ve decided that there must be exceptions for our mutual safety and for other reasons.

For the past 10 months there’s been discussion about incitement to riot. That’s an example of a restriction on freedom of speech being necessary to protect people and property from being harmed, in this example, by a mob, as happened on January 6, 2021.

Speeches were delivered to thousands at the Ellipse on January 6  by John Eastman, author of the infamous insurrection memo, Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), the disgraced, twice-impeached former President of the United States and more. Following those fiery speeches the mob injured people, killed people and desecrated the Capitol Building, inflicting enormous damage.

Those speeches, that incitement happened, even though any reasonable person would know that such speech would likely incite the mob to cause harm to others. There is a law against that and it’s possible that charges of incitement to riot may be filed against these speakers for their dangerous, unlawful exercise of actually-not-free speech.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is a White nationalist, neo-Nazi loving, Holocaust denial congressman who is so unhinged that several of his siblings have been outspoken critics of him and have urged voters to vote against him. His tweeted anime of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocaso-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Biden with swords at last got him censured in the House and he was stripped of his committee assignments. That’s because he doesn’t have freedom to incite others to violence.

There is a strong sentiment to expel him from Congress. After all, “sharing an image of yourself killing a colleague would get you fired from virtually any job.” But this got worse. Right after being censured, Gosar delivered a clear statement of his lack of contrition by re-tweeting that dreadful, hateful, murderous anime. This guy isn’t just bad news; he’s dangerous, unrepentant bad news.

As bad, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that if the Republicans regain control of the House following the 2022 elections, that he as Speaker will reinstate Gosar to his committee assignments. Sadly, I’m not surprised, as McCarthy has yet again tacitly endorsed violence.

207 Republicans voted against censure. Effectively, they were saying that threatening colleagues with violent death is okay with them. That’s our national leadership sending exactly the wrong message to our country in these perilous times. They are telling already angry people that committing violence is an okay remedy for whatever their dissatisfaction might be.

There is a lot of violent speech happening now. It’s coming from the mouths of hateful, dishonest cable blabbers. Ordinary citizens are calling for violence, a civil war and murdering Democrats. I don’t know if there are limitations on speech for all of that, but again, a reasonable person would know that such speech is likely to cause harm to others, just like yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater that isn’t on fire.

All of this makes me worry whether our few sensible limitations on freedom of speech have or will become completely ignored, allowing some to incite to violence those who would do us and our democracy harm, like braying the Big Lie to upend our democracy. That incitement is already happening.

Non-White Freedom

That’s an oxymoron.

Just ask Ahmaud Arbery. Or Freddie Gray. Or Trayvon Martin. Or Jacob Blake. Or George Floyd. Or .  .  .  oh, wait. You can’t ask them because they were all unarmed, doing nothing wrong and they were murdered.

Still looking for that “liberty and justice for all” thing. The 400-year-long search continues.

The Courts and Freedom

Here’s another take on freedom in a piece by Linda Greenhouse, What Happens When a Court Goes Rogue? Answer: Freedom gets pummeled into something insubstantial and we are left at risk of very bad things happening.

For that you can thank Mitch McConnell, who blocked hundreds of federal court appointments for the entire eight years Obama was president. That left hundreds of judicial benches vacant that Trump then filled, all without any oversight, putting extremists, cranks and incompetents into positions to decide our most important and sensitive issues.

Both the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court are making judicial decisions that are unworthy of our Constitution and unworthy of us and which are removing one freedom after another from We The People. Their decisions will stick if we allow such behavior to continue, because,

The behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get.

People Need To Be Free

The Latin Grammy Awards were awarded on November 18 in Las Vegas and it was quite the spectacle. Most notable were the awards for the best song of the year and the best urban song. Both of those awards went to the artists of one piece: Patria Y Vida – “Homeland and Life.” It is a collaboration done by Cuban musicians in exile and is a protest against the repressive Cuban regime. It is in support of the freedom protests going on right now on streets all over that island.

In all the years of human existence there has never been a people who didn’t want to be free. That stands in stark opposition to the ever-present power mongers who seek to limit the freedom of others and dominate them. But the people will not tolerate that domination and the repression of their lives forever. That’s what is behind the protests in Havana and Tehran and Hong Kong and Ferguson and Kenosha and St. Paul and Portland and elsewhere. People want to be free. People need to be free.

Here’s part of what one of the music collaborators had to say in accepting the awards:

“And to my mother who told me, son, have courage to do what my generation couldn’t.

“But mommy, it is you who has courage to allow your kids to fulfill their dreams. I dedicate this Grammy to all the Latina mothers in the world who fight for the dreams of their children. To a free Cuba!”

It falls to all we moms and dads to fight for the dreams of our children, to fight against those who would use violence to suppress us, those who would lie and cheat and steal our freedom away from us so that their little minority can dominate and suppress us.

Right now they are stealing our power of representation through gerrymandering and stealing our voices from the ballot boxes. And they will win unless we who love freedom stand and fight the good fight, because the thieves are cunning and brutal and determined.

That’s why this fight is never over. Enlist now.

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

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

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  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.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Pizza and Water


The issue is not whether it should be illegal to give a slice of pizza and a bottle of water to an old lady waiting in line for hours to vote on a Tuesday in November in Georgia. Focusing there completely misses the point.

Our brilliant and frightened (read: deranged) White supremacist citizens know that their God given superiority is incrementally being challenged and that it will be gone very soon unless they take strongly discriminatory action. Actually, they’ve known this since 1619 and they successfully led us to our bloodiest war, thousands of lynchings and other murders, the economic suppression of millions, plus police shootings of unarmed Black males at a rate 3.5 times greater than that of Whites. It has all been done in service to a desperate, fear-stoked drive for power for themselves.

Nixon used dog whistles to divide Americans, as did Reagan, H.W. Bush and the beyond-the-edge, far right Republicans, like the Tea Party and now the Freedom Caucus. The calls to discrimination were perfected by Trump. He’s completely out of the slime cave and overtly White supremacist. The incremental claw-back to Jim Crow can be seen every day, now with 361 voter suppression bills in the states.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is about to sign a bill he initiated last year, the so-called Anti-Riot bill. Extremists will be glad to know that Florida will be protected by this legislation that puts teeth into attacking the First Amendment. Said one critic, “It is racist, extremist, militaristic and dangerous. This is not an anti-riot proposal. It is actually an anti-protest proposal. This is just a Republican effort designed to stop the rising tide of protest prompted by the police murder of George Floyd. The governor wants to criminalize peaceful protestors who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.”

Surely, you recall the protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. Outrage went around the world and people of all colors, races and nationalities were in the streets. Some of the protests included idiots committing vandalism and theft. Too bad, because those fools gave right wing extremists the fertilizer (feel free to substitute your own term) to criticize and attack anyone not on the fringe right and to create legislation against peaceful protesters, like that of Oberführer DeSantis. Indeed, his bill is a dog whistle serenade to his White supremacist base, which I’m sure will help him in his presidential bid in 2024. No need for concern over those whose rights will be squashed along the way, because they won’t be able to vote, anyway.

This Twitter thread is a MUST READ. Just click the pic. Many thanks to Jay Becker (@futureup2us) for pointing it out.

DeSantis, as self-serving and cruel as he is, is not alone. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is desperate for anything that will move the spotlight from his alleged sex crimes, so he’s partnered with QAnon nut case Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Arizona racist Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to found the America First Caucus. It is a blatantly White supremacist, love-to-hate effort cloaked in patriotic sounding distractions. You can download their 7-page manifesto here and get a flavor of it in this video. Either way it’s a call to hate and discrimination. Like DeSantis’ legislative dog whistles, this is a disingenuous “Look at me!” from these extremist representatives that is designed to appeal to “the base.”

Republicans want very much to restrict voting rights. That’s because they will become an extinct species if We the People actually have a democracy – i.e. majority rule. Republican Paul Weyrich, founder of the self-righteous Moral Majority and other right wing manipulation machines, said it plainly, clearly and publicly in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Which is to say, the only way for Republicans to win is to stop millions of Americans from voting. So, gerrymandering, removing voters from voting rolls just because they missed the last election, closing polling places to make it difficult to vote, requiring IDs that are hard to obtain by poor people and all the other discriminations are just the things to keep those “others” down and to make sure White supremacy powers on. Instead of changing to become attractive to more voters, today’s Republicans are still channeling Paul Weyrich.

The Arizona RNC defended in court some Arizona laws that were undisguised discriminatory attacks on the Voting Rights Act. When questioned by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett about the Arizona RNC’s interest in this issue, attorney Michael Carvin declared – and I’m not making this up – “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”

Translation (as if you need one): Republicans need to suppress the votes of Democrats in order to sustain their minority rule.

So, going back to the slice of pizza and bottle of water for the old lady still waiting hours to vote, the issue isn’t about the length of the line, the hours of waiting, the pizza or the water. The issue is solely that White supremacists want to sustain minority rule, so they don’t want her to vote. They gerrymandered her district to neuter her vote. They closed polling places to make voting take all day. The issue isn’t about pizza or water. The issue is minority rule fueled by racism and classism.

We humans are poor at detecting slow change; we tolerate it quite well. Our relative insensitivity has brought us overt racism in the White House (“fine people on both sides” and incitement to insurrection via The Big Lie), and in Congress. It infects our state houses with bills that are overtly discriminatory, anti-Constitution and anti-democracy. These laws are ready to pounce on our freedom and devour it.

HR1/SB1 – the For The People Act, aka the Voting Rights bill – has passed the House and awaits the Senate. It would eliminate much of our state voting discrimination, but House Republicans voted in lock step against it and Republicans in the Senate have all vowed to vote against it. Now, why would they be against voting rights?

Sadly, meanly, now you can be arrested for giving a slice of pizza and a bottle of water to that old lady waiting to vote and there is no relief for her in sight.

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

No Really, Facts Don’t Matter


Over the last 10 years more than a billion votes have been cast in America. During that time there have been 31 cases of confirmed voting fraud. That’s 0.0000031% voting fraud, or 31 hundred-millionths of a percent. That’s the same as 99.9999969% authentic, legal voting.

If these pitifully few cases of voting fraud were lumped together in one small town in one election they would not be enough to alter the outcome of the contest for street sweeper dispatcher. Just understand the obvious: we simply don’t have a problem of voting fraud. What we do have is a tsunami of false accusations of voter fraud.

The former President of the United States couldn’t produce a single piece of evidence of voting fraud in support of any of his over 60 frivolous lawsuits, all of which were laughed out of court. Nevertheless, he and his sycophantic, fact-free supporters continue to make the baseless claim that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election and that the election was stolen.

Here’s one of those sycophants, fact-free Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL 15):

That’s delusional Mary Miller proudly tweeting a claim of hundreds of thousands more votes for Trump in swing sates, a claim for which she has zero evidence. And so it is with every other disappointed Trumpy claiming fraud. They might cloak their claims in patriotic sounding phrases, like “ensure all legal votes are counted,” but the sum total of what they offer in support of their claims of a stolen election is vapor – no evidence, no data, no facts. Because there aren’t any.

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Thanks go to JN for the pic

During the Obama administration Republicans constantly beat the drum, “Obama is coming for your guns.”

Pop quiz:

Q. Over the 8 years of the Obama administration, what was the total number of guns that were taken from freedom loving gun owners – or any other gun owners, for that matter?

A. Zero

Q. How many gun safety laws have been enacted since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of little kids in 2012?

A. Zero

Q. What percent of all Americans want universal background checks before the sale or transfer of any firearm?

A. 90%

Q. Does that include Republicans?

A. Yes

Q. Does that include NRA members?

A. Yes – 70% of them

Q. Would universal background checks cause the ATF to confiscate anyone’s guns?

A. No, it would just prohibit the sale of firearms to mentally unstable people and to violent felons.

Q. So, is anyone coming for anyone’s guns?

A. No

Q. Doesn’t the Second Amendment guarantee and even encourage gun ownership?

A. Not in the way it’s promoted today. Originally, the Second Amendment was an accommodation to slave states so that slave owners could control their slaves. Plus, the United States had no money for a standing army and they feared the British would come back, which they eventually did. That was the point of “a well regulated militia.” The Second Amendment was never intended to mean that any dangerous half-wit could own assault rifles and hundred round magazines. The arms they were talking about were muskets and even they were not supposed to be in the hands of any dangerous half-wit.

Nevertheless, the fact-free hysterical ones continue to make the same fact-free claims, both about the right to own guns and that Democrats are coming to take them away.

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What about the war on religion? Surely, there really is such a war. There must be, given the hair-on-fire, bible-thumping claims and woe-be-unto-us predictions from fervent believers and big church pastors.

The First Amendment begins with these words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion  .  .  . ” That has been interpreted to mean that everyone may practice the religion of their choice, as well as everyone having the right to freedom from religion. It’s entirely up to the individual. Government is Constitutionally prohibited from weighing in on the issue.

Back to the pop quiz:

Q. If an American citizen chooses not to believe in or practice any religion, does that harm those who do believe in a religion or does that harm religion itself?

A. Seriously? No

Q. If government passes a law that is in conflict with any part of any religion, does that constitute an attack on that religion?

A. No. Refer to the First Amendment quote above.

Q. But what if people are allowed to vote or go shopping on the sabbath, activities which are forbidden by several religions? Doesn’t that constitute a war on religion?

A. Seriously, again? Okay, freedom of religion means that the strictures of a religion may not be imposed by law on anyone. So, you can vote or go shopping on Saturday and Sunday and it won’t constitute any harm or threat of harm to anyone’s religion. If you don’t think such activities are okay, don’t do them. Nobody is attacking your religion.

Q. Is America a theocracy?

A. No. Theocracy is another word for religious fascism. This is a democracy.

Q. Wasn’t it intended to be a theocracy?

A. No. Read the Federalist Papers so you stop asking dumb questions.

—————————–

Pastor Rick Joyner is the trifecta of crazy claims. His fiery insistence that Trump won, that the election was stolen and all the rest of the unsupported Trumpy claims is a favorite stomping ground for him. He continues to call on true Christians to arm themselves for the coming civil war – he’s falling only slightly short of inciting violence. But best of all he’s thumping his bible, saying liberals are in league with the devil and Democrats are going to “criminalize Christianity.” He says all of this googly-eye stuff and has no facts to support any of it, but of course that’s no obstacle to his mouth.

Don’t just take Nicholas Kristof’s word on this. Google “Rick Joyner criminalize Christianity” and read the pieces that come up. It’s unclear whether this guy is all about an ego-driven power trip or if he’s delusional like Mary Miller. Either way, he’s dangerous because he’s calling for Americans to commit violence against Americans without any justification except that he didn’t get his way. He has fantasies about Christianity that he thinks are real and he wants a shooting war. All based on no facts.

Hair-on-fire people continue to claim election fraud and Second Amendment fantasies and they continue to thump on their bibles, making apocalyptic claims with absolutely no basis in fact. Lack of reality simply isn’t a problem to them in making their fiery, baseless accusations.

There is so much blazing certainty in this country, based on so much vapor and believed by millions. That’s very dangerous.

No, really, facts don’t matter. Not to these people. So facts better mean something to you.

————————–

If you’re open to a some more facts and truth that the folks described above don’t seem to recognize, read this admittedly snarky apology to Trump supporters. There is a pretty good chance you’ll recognize these events as things that actually occurred right here on Earth 1. It would take powerful denial skills to refuse these truths, yet clearly millions are capable of that level of denial.

Thanks to GS for the pointer to this piece.

—————————————-

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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Our Watch


The good news is that there are lots of people who are smarter than me and I need them, because I have a big bucket full of I Don’t Know.

For example, I don’t understand righties who not only want to have their way (that part is understandable, of course), but they want to “own the libs.” What’s with the implied meanness and even cruelty?

And what about all the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers? I understand people younger than 65 years old saying they’re willing to take their chances with the coronavirus, because if they get sick it’s less likely they’ll become seriously ill or die. But they are the ones who are most likely to infect their parents and grandparents and those older people are far more likely to die. Instead of doing their part to protect our vulnerable, the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are having temper tantrums about their freedom to not wear a mask and to refuse vaccines, but those are the very things that will stem the tide of this pandemic and limit coronavirus deaths. I don’t know what happened to our sense of patriotism as  expressed through national willingness to sacrifice for one another and for the common good. I just don’t know.

Why were there thousands of our fellow citizens who stormed the Capitol Building looking to kill members of Congress and lynch the Vice President? Where did that rage and viciousness come from? I surely don’t know.

How did our society and our values devolve to such a point that these people would chant “USA! USA!”as though they were patriots, when they were at the same time vandalizing perhaps the most prominent symbol of our country? Why would they carry American and Blue Lives Matter flags and then beat the living daylights out of our Capitol Police with their flag poles? And how could they see themselves as true Christians when they were in search of legislators to wantonly kill? I don’t know that, either.

The Republican party has completely shifted its behavior over the last 40 years. For example, speaking of Republican efforts to undermine our last election, Sheila Markin writes, “Disinformation works to create mistrust of government. Currently, there is a campaign in [some] communities to create mistrust about the vaccine. General mistrust of government is the goal.” [emphasis mine] That is happening right now in plain sight. I don’t know why we just watch and remain immobilized.

More to the point, we’ve seen all of this coming for years, perhaps decades, and we’ve done nothing to stop the selfishness, the dishonesty, the fear, the hatred, the violence and now the insurrection. I don’t know how we let that happen.

We’ve never lived up to our democratic ideals, especially the “We hold these truths to be self-evident” claim. The Republican legislatures of 43 states are working frantically right now to prohibit poor people and people of any color but white from voting. As bad, the Republican bloc in the Senate is dedicated to making sure that Congress allows all that state crafted disenfranchisement to happen. Apparently, the truths we hold as self-evident aren’t exactly the same as those stated on that piece of 1776 parchment. How have we allowed that to go on for so long?

Nikita Khrushchev was First Secretary of the Communist Party in the former Soviet Union. We were in a cold war with the Soviets then and Khrushchev famously said, “We will bury you.” Indeed, in a moment of gleeful disparagement of capitalism he declared that they would sell us the rope that they would use to hang us. In a crazy twist of fate, he may have been right.

We have senators and congressmen/women openly spreading propaganda supplied by Vladimir Putin. What is the payoff they get for spreading Putin’s lies and misinformation to Americans and for undermining our trust in government and in ourselves? That sounds suspiciously like Putin is selling rope to these congressional fools and we are hanging ourselves with that rope. That seems treasonous to me and I don’t know why we tolerate the behavior of these congressional betrayers. I don’t know why we allow these people to be in government or have any power at all.

Click me

When it comes to adverse events, there is a useful and powerful declaration that comes from our military: Not on my watch. That means that I won’t let anything bad happen when it’s my turn to stand a post. You can feel safe when it’s my watch.

But this is our watch. You and I are standing a post and these bad things are happening right now.

We’re in charge and we’ve allowed ourselves to be lied into wars, we tolerate gun massacres and we stand by while hundreds of thousands of our compatriots suffer and die needlessly. All that and more has happened and continues to happen on our watch. I don’t know why we tolerate that. I can’t explain the pervasive silence.

If you want to know why people are doing the reprehensible things that are now everyday occurrences, read this and click through the links in that piece, too. If you want to know why we have allowed the degradation of our country to happen, I can’t help, because, as I said, I have a big bucket full of I Don’t Know.

—————————————-

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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Imagine That Little Chat


No Surprise

It was a shock, but no surprise. We have been cultivating Rule by Mob for decades. Incrementally, the extremists, the angry, hateful ones, have infiltrated our society and our government, first with a toe hold of buffoons in Congress, then with more zealots spouting patriotic sounding phrases, the true meanings of which are anything but patriotic. They puffed with each step of power grabbing, strutting like self-important peacocks. All they needed was a megalomaniac cult leader to manipulate and channel their rage.

We now have 140 representatives and forty-three senators* who are so broken, so beholden to their dear leader that they have made themselves shockingly blind to the obvious. The result is a disempowered Congress, an even greater public distrust in government and a giant step toward autocracy and fascism.

Because of Republican cowardice the January 6 assault on the Capitol, the insurrection, the sedition has now become a training exercise for more assaults, mob rule and the end of democracy. These cowards dishonored 245 years of patriots and patriotism.

And they did it on our watch.

Impeachment – the Trial

To be fair, Trump’s attorneys had no way to defend him with facts or with law, since all the facts and all the law were against him. They had nothing substantive to work with. That left them only distraction, disingenuous arguments about process that had already been settled, attempts at smearing Democrats and whataboutisms. So, with great passion and righteous indignation attorneys van der Veen, Schoen and Castor claimed what follows. See if you can identify the theme. Editorial comments are in italics.

A lot of Democrats didn’t like Trump.

Something about Antifa.

It was whataboutism. The political left was not on trial. Plus, Antifa is a political idea, not an organization. It’s like they blamed the insurrection on grumpy.

Congressional Democrats refused Trump due process.

This was said literally as attorney Schoen was defending Trump in the exact venue of his due process, precisely as proscribed in the Constitution.

Elizabeth Warren and some other Democrats used the word “fight.”

There was nothing offered to suggest that any of the Democrats’ use of the word “fight” had anything to do with themselves or with Trump inciting riot, violence, insurrection and sedition. Besides, the Democrats were not on trial. Trump was.

Some bad things happened at some BLM protests.

BLM was not on trial. Trump was.

Some Democrats objected to the counting of electoral college votes in 2017.

There have been times when Democrats have had questions about election integrity.

Jerry Nadler opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Trump has First Amendment rights that the House Managers sought to refuse him. Castor presented an in depth recitation of case law about freedom of speech.

The First Amendment does NOT protect Trump or anyone else from prosecution for incitement to riot. It is akin to the denial of freedom of speech to falsely yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. Castor’s argument had no applicability to the proceedings..

Democrats hate Trump.

The House Managers were intellectually dishonest.

Some Democrats have spoken of punching people and have joked about the death of opponents.

Some law professors and the House Managers were mean to Trump’s attorneys.

Righteous indignation was expressed with great energy.

Jamie Raskin is a hypocrite.

The House Managers manipulated information and tried to trick the jurors.

This is just a sampler of the things said by Trump’s attorneys. Have you spotted the theme?

There was exactly one count of impeachment against Trump: that he incited an insurrection that violated the Capitol Building, the Constitution, the Congress and killed a lot of people. That was the only thing in question.

So the theme of all of the defense counsels’ arguments is that nothing offered in Trump’s defense addressed this one and only question. Which is to say, Trump’s lawyers presented no defense whatsoever. Zip. Nada. Bupkis. All they brought were various forms of distraction, and tragically, treasonously, that was enough. In the Through the Looking Glass America of the past several decades, that has been the through line of Republican politics. It has resulted in minority rule.

In an effort to support the unity that President Biden seeks to bring to our country, I offer a positive response to these defense counsels. Rather than diminishing these fraudulent men and their pitiful, disingenuous presentation, let us embrace them in an appreciation of their thankless, impossible task and simply hope that they got a fat retainer from Trump up front. Otherwise, they’ll be just like most of Trump’s other attorneys: unintentionally pro-bono bozos.

The damage has been done. Now it’s up to us to figure out how to carry on with some version of democracy, how to sustain the republic bestowed upon us by the Founders. Come to think of it, imagine having a conversation with Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin or any of them. Imagine that you’re bringing them up to date on what we’ve done with the country they birthed at such great peril to themselves and with such great hope. Go ahead; imagine that little chat.

————————

Just in case you’d like to do something about the aforementioned, here’s a list of the 17 Republican senators who voted to acquit Trump and who are up for re-election in 2022. Consider donating to their Democratic opponent who will hang that albatross around their necks.

Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
john Thune (R-SD)
Todd Young (R-IN)
Many thanks to MSA for the list.
—————————
* A question for the 140 representatives and the 43 senators: What was so personally valuable to you that you were willing to violate your oath, compromise your integrity and sell out your country?

—————————————-

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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Most Consequential Moment


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Now is a good time for that.

Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Here’s one of the great and beautiful things about America: both of these things are true.

The ragers, the haters, the reality deniers, the hoax and conspiracy screamers, the bullies, the demonizers, the bigots and the misogynists get to wail their vitriol and grievances. They get to verbally assault those who disagree with them. And even as they bray their hatred of Americans, they get to wave American flags and proclaim their love for America. Hint: It’s impossible to both love America and hate Americans.

As they do all that, even when they do their worst, the rest of us get to call them out and stand rock solid against their intentional, destructive cruelty and instead demand a decent America.

A First Amendment exercise is what happened two Fridays ago in Northbrook, IL at a non-violent Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration. The two groups were on opposite sides of an intersection, but they were much farther apart than the three lanes of roadway between them. Read this for a better understanding of the divide and for an example of courage in the face of cruelty.

The enormous gulf between the two groups of demonstrators is a perfect representation in microcosm of our country in this turbulent time, as well as a demonstration of why this election is an enormously consequential moment, perhaps behind only the founding and the Civil War.

I recently wrote,

It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means.* It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means prove to be.

This president is encouraging intimidation of voters, the discarding of ballots, he’s stoking violence, refusing the fundamentals of our Constitution and more. And millions of Americans support his reprehensible words and behaviors. At the same time, the spineless Republicans in Congress continue to promote his lawlessness. It seems that avoiding his playground bully name calling in order to keep their seats in Congress is more important to them than keeping their oath of office. Like Trump, these cowards are playing to the mob.

In contrast, Joe Biden is calling for decency (watch his 22-minute signature video here), for Constitutional norms, for the rule of law and for active measures to protect the American people from both foreign threats, like Russia, and domestic threats, like the coronavirus and white supremacist terrorists.

The screamers wear their MAGA hats and wave Trump flags in their puffed chest power rush, but if America is to be truly great there is only one path for us to follow and it isn’t the Trump path, because his is the path to a brutal past that millions of our ancestors fled.

That’s why this is the most consequential moment of our national lives and nearly the most consequential moment in the history of our nation.

This isn’t a choice of policies; it is a choice to keep our democracy or let the mobs end it forever.

·

From the closing words of Marilynne Robinson’s brilliant essay, “What Does It Mean to Love a Country?

”  .  .  .  we might see a new birth of freedom, and another one beyond that. Democracy is the great instrument of human advancement. We have no right to fail it.”

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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*Essay of the Week

It is truly frightening that millions of people are demanding authoritarianism in America. They want an end to our self-rule, our long and noble experiment in democracy. Christopher Ingraham spells out the truth that has been so difficult to define in his Washington Post article, “New Research Explores Authoritarian Mind-set of Trump’s Core Supporters.” Key takeaway: we practice apathy at our collective peril.

—————————
Quotes of the Month – So Far
  1. Chief Justice John Roberts reported, “Ruth [Bader Ginsberg] used to ask, ‘What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court Justice?’ Her answer: ‘One generation.'”
  2. The international experts have said that at least 70% of U.S. Covid deaths were completely avoidable = 150,000 extra dead people. Reflecting on that, Amy Tucker said, “This is just a whole lot of stupid that didn’t have to be this bad.” Just so.
—————————
Video of the Week

If you aren’t now on the receiving end of the hate, violence and discrimination that’s so common and is being stoked by this president, get ready, because it’s just a day away. Hatred always needs new targets to fuel it. Watch this video. We’ve seen this movie, we know how it ends and it isn’t good.

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Tweet of the Season

Robert Hendrickson, Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ, tweeted the definitive description of today’s presidential leadership in July. See the truth for yourself. Many thanks to brother Jim for the pointer.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

—————————————-

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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

It’s About the Dog


Reading time – 5:41; Viewing time – 8:22  .  .  .

The political circumstances and the prospects for the future quality for life for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are becoming increasingly shaky and he is becoming more and more unhinged. Even desperate.

He knows that if he is removed from office he will immediately face criminal charges. That’s why he must stay in the White House bunker, hiding behind the Justice Department memo – not law – that says a sitting president cannot be indicted on criminal charges. That’s a very handy memo for a presidential perp to have. But the walls are closing in, driven mostly by self-inflicted errors and blatant cruelty.

It was only a matter of time before his complete bumbling of the coronavirus catastrophe would take a huge bite out of him. After all, the American public has a way of becoming very cross, as friends and family die alone with tubes down their throats, and the rest of us live knowing there are ventilators with our names on them in a parking lot being used for hospital overflow. Tens of millions have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their children and we don’t know when children will be allowed back in school. Still, that occupant lies to us that the global pandemic will magically go away. About 1,000 Americans are dying every day waiting for that magic. And this American story gets worse.

People of all colors have at last figured out that Black lives actually do matter. Who would have imagined that? And these people picked a time to make a statement which was quite convenient for the aforementioned occupant for his use as a reelection scheme.

The videos of the murders of unarmed Black men at the hands of police and vigilantes went viral and they called people out of their homes and into the streets to grieve those losses and so many others, and to wail their sadness and their anger. Some became violent.

Federal goons in Portland. Click for the Washington Post story.

At least we think some of them became violent. We don’t know who lit the matches and many wonder if violent right wingers staged the violence to make the demonstrators look bad, even un-American, and thereby incite a backlash. Not surprisingly, the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue occupant turned out to be Backlash Individual #1 and he’s making the most of it. However bad things have been for the past 401 years, he has made them incendiary and continues doing that today.

I’ve written many times, predicting that Trump would wag-the-dog (here, here, here and more) in a desperate move to stay in power and now he’s doing it, lying about the protests and starting the wag using his private thug army.

He’s sent federal storm troopers to Washington DC and to Portland, Oregon to crack down on (read: attack) protesters, whether they’re peaceful or otherwise. He’s showing what a tough guy he is. It’s his desperate political play to be the law and order candidate and thereby garner white votes, because “law and order” is a dog whistle for “whites keep their power over those horrible, savage Blacks.”

It’s unconstitutional to send our armed forces into our cities, so Trump found another way to have thugs do his thuggery. It turns out that the Department of Homeland Security has its own policing force, created to protect federal property, not city, state or private property. It is composed mostly of “contractors.” That doesn’t mean plumbers and carpenters working a second job. It means mercenaries. Guns for hire. Eric Prince’s Blackwater/Xe Services army.

Trump has used these as his private army, not to protect federal property, but to violently attack peaceful protesters in order to distract us. That’s how he’s using these protests to his advantage. Doing so keeps voters from focusing on his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, his failure to confront Putin over paying bribes to kill American troops, his blatantly illegal commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence, his ongoing violations of the Emoluments clause, his multiple obstructions of justice and more.

He’s wagging the dog not against a foreign nation, but against our own people, our friends and neighbors, claiming he is the law and order president who will protect us and the Constitution from socialist mobs.

He consistently stokes hatred and violence, thereby inflaming racial tension and division. Then he presents himself as the hero who will save us from the violence he stokes. It’s classic wag-the-dog. This miserable, dangerous cartoon character of a dictator is wrapped in erasable red, white and blue and is carrying a bible upside down as he sends thugs to our cities to make himself look tough.

Make no mistake: He’s brutally cruel to our people and he’s destroying our democracy. There’s danger coming soon to a city near you, especially if your mayor is a Democrat. The dog of tyranny bites selectively at first. Then things get much worse.

Read Tom Friedman’s piece for more.

————————

Resource Materials

Here are some book recommendations to explain more fully what this post is about and the danger we face.

First, read Professor Timothy Snyder’s small book, On Tyranny. Read it as a foundation piece, a context setter to understand our reality. It’s a quick, if scary read, as it’s not much bigger than a small pad of paper.

Next, read Jason Stanley’s book, How Fascism Works. That will put meat on the bones of Timothy Snyder’s work, but I warn you that you’ll be frightened for your children, which is why you need to read this book.

As long as you’re reading Stanley, get a copy of How Propaganda Works. From the first page you’ll recognize the political manipulation that has been and continues to be aimed at you.

No list like this would be complete without How Democracies Die. Levitsky and Ziblatt lay it out for you to see how brick-by-brick democracies are torn down, including our own.

I’m only a third of the way through Anne Applebaum’s brand new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. The lessons are clear and powerful and you need to see them. Get this little book.

Finally – and this is prompted by the behavior geek in me – if you want to know why you in your progressive bubble are afraid to talk to your neighbor who wears a MAGA hat and he’s not too crazy about talking with you, either, why last Thanksgiving devolved into a shouting match with Uncle Bob across from cousin George’s wonderful green bean dish and why those “other people” just don’t seem to get it, read Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. You’ll instantly understand why it’s so easy for politicians to divide us.

In addition, read any of Thomas Edsall’s essays in the New York Times.

Go buy and read these books. If you’ll only actually read one, get Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. Plus, read Edsall.

I have not provided links to purchase these books on Amazon or from any big box store. That’s because I want you to buy your books from your local Ma & Pa bookstore to help keep your neighborhood vibrant.

Now, go do your homework. There absolutely will be a test.

——————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Arc


Reading time – 4:43; Viewing time – 8:05  .  .  .

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., paraphrasing 19th century clergyman Theodore Parker.

He was right, of course, but that bending isn’t guaranteed and it doesn’t happen accidentally. The moral arc will only bend toward justice if we make it bend that way.

There is nothing pre-destined about justice. Bad guys sometimes win. Despots sometimes create dynasties that oppress people for centuries. Evil has terrorized people throughout recorded history. Justice doesn’t just happen. Ask any person in the U.S. of any color other than white for confirmation of that.

The only way that justice prevails is when good people bear down and do what is necessary, especially in perilous times. It happens when they demand justice. It happens when they refuse to condemn their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the cruel slavery of injustice.

George Floyd memorial, Minneapolis. Notice how many protesters aren’t Black. Across the country this is a people’s protest. Perhaps our young ones will save us from ourselves.

This is the time to demand justice. And I don’t mean only because of what’s happening in our streets now, triggered by the murder of George Floyd. There is an even bigger picture that we must focus on and it bears heavily on the Floyd tragedy. If we don’t do that, all the protesting in the world will fail to make the changes we need and things will become far worse. Besides, we largely know what to do about racial injustice. It’s been studied again and again. It’s the take-action part that we haven’t done.

The President of the United States doesn’t want his job. He wants something far bigger, like the despots he admires, Putin, Xi, Duerte, Kim and Erdoğan. He wants to be an autocrat with absolute power. A dictator. A monarch. A god. He’s told us that plainly.

There is nothing too low for Trump, including holding up a Bible in front of a church for a hypocritical photo-op after having the U.S. military attack peaceful protesters. Here’s why.

We decided in 1775 that such an arrangement just doesn’t work for us. We said that we would be peasants to no one and we threw off the tyrannical rule of King George III and set out on an audacious journey of self-government. To be sure, the road has not always been easy nor has it always been just, but it has become better over time.

Now, though, we are standing face-to-face with that president who wants to be a god. If we don’t stop him now, he will grab absolute power, because grabbing everything for himself is what he always does. We will be peasants once again and that glorious journey of self-government will end. There will no longer be a path toward a more perfect union.

Nameless, badge-less, unidentified cops/military threatened peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park. Then they attacked.

Trump has already deployed the U.S. military to DC in a brutal act of martial law and is threatening to do the same in our states. Is that okay with you? It isn’t okay with George Will. It isn’t okay with Gen. James Mattis. It isn’t okay with Gen. John Kelly or with Gen. John Allen. It isn’t okay with Adm. James Stavridis or with Steve Schmidt or with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) or with Gen. Martin Dempsey or with Gen. Douglas Lute or with Gen. Tony Thomas or with Adm. Mike Mullin or with Adm. William McRaven. And it surely isn’t okay with the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park who were beaten, gassed, shot and flash-banged by anonymous thugs in anonymous police and military uniforms. That injustice stands in perfect perverse harmony with the fact that slaves were once sold in that very park.

Minutes after the picture to the left.

With one moronic, corrupt declaration after another this president is stealing all that you hold dear, all that you believe in and he will get away with it if we are passive toward his thievery. Look up and you’ll see that this isn’t the flag to which you pledged allegiance in elementary school. That flag has been hijacked and the president and his flunkies are wiping their dirty Gucci loafers on it for a power grab and a photo-op. They’re self-justified by a tyrannical tear everything down mantra and they want you to salute their flag of fear, obedience and powerlessness.

We all have our private lives and we ordinarily focus on our own personal issues, but these times aren’t ordinary. These times are ringing an alarm and it is we who must answer the call.

New fence in Lafayette Square Park to isolate demonstrators – not unlike the Berlin Wall. So, we paraphrase Pres. Reagan’s words: “Mr. Trump. tear down this wall.”

The First Amendment tells us that we have the right to petition our government for redress of grievances, which, of course, is exactly what the demonstrators in Lafayette Square Park were doing. You and I better exercise that right while we still have it, because we surely have grievances: our country is being stolen from us. And this president is being aided and abetted by Republican invertebrates in the Cabinet, the Senate and the Justice Department. They don’t have the spine to stop him.

Our own senators and congressmen are the very ones for us to petition. So go to Senate.gov and House.gov, find the contact information for your legislators and call them. Demand that they stop this mad tyrant wannabee before military boots hit your streets and the tear gas fogs your park and the intimidating Black Hawk helicopters hover low over your town square as they did over Lafayette Square Park. Those actions are what this president has threatened to do to you.

Do those calls to your legislators seem like a futile gesture amid Trump’s crushing avalanche of lies, his calls to hatred and violence and Trump’s vile power grabs? Consider this.

Howard Reich’s book, The Art of Inventing Hope: Intimate Conversations with Elie Wiesel, is a very personal and complex narrative that speaks to us in a way perhaps not intended by the author. Nevertheless, Reich wrote,

“Taking action even when you think it may be futile – especially if you think it will be futile – was not only Wiesel’s definition of active pessimism but also, I believe, his statement of hope amid sorrow. When the quest is failing, he seemed to be saying, we need to work that much harder, not only to try to effect change but also as a statement of who we are.”

“In effect, we create hope by pushing forward in the face of failure.”

If we are to have hope that the arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice, we have to take action especially if we think it will be futile. We must try that much harder and say clearly, unequivocally that this who we are.

Do you need inspiration?

Download this piece that I recently received as an email from the Chicago Urban Prep Academies. Tim King is working miracles there, inventing hope and changing lives for the better every day. Download and read the Urban Prep Creed. These high school students recite it every day and they make every word of it ring true, right there on Chicago’s dangerous south side. Perhaps those kids have something to teach us.

When you question whether you can make a difference, repeat Tim King’s words in his emailed message: Either WE do or WE don’t. It’s up to us. And BTW, feel free to help keep the Urban Prep magic going by kicking in a few bucks.

Finally, inspired by the song Teach Your Children, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by  .  .  .

It’s time to sing your code. It is your own personal guide and this is the time to sing the words out loud and fully live them to bend that long arc of the moral universe toward justice.

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

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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