freedom

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.

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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.
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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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Sent to a Libertarian Friend on 9-11


Reading time – 2:44  .  .  .
·
This was sent to a friend on 9/11. The message informs our present moment.
·
I’ve been thinking about what you labeled my “way too much certainty of how events would have played out if something had happened that didn’t happen.” I understand your skepticism of my views, yet consider the likelihood of these “didn’t happen” events:
·
1. The Florida election in 2000 requires no speculation, because the full count has been done multiple times. Gore won. Not by much, but he got more votes than Bush. Then there was Bush’s slimy lawsuit.
·
2. If Gore had been president, I really don’t think he would have blown off the intelligence on an imminent terrorist attack as Bush did, like dismissing the FBI agent who warned him of an attack. He told the agent, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass,” then did nothing to protect our nation.
·
3. There isn’t a remote possibility that if 9/11 had happened on Gore’s watch that he would have conflated religious extremist al Qaeda with secularist Saddam, who never attacked the U.S. in any way, so there would have been no invasion of Iraq and no war and thousands of our troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive. Plus, a major piece of the middle-east would not be in ongoing chaos, so there wouldn’t have been a crush of refugees into Europe.
·
4. If the 9/11 attack had occurred during a Gore presidency, Gore would have captured bin Laden at Tora Bora, where our CIA had him trapped. They needed the military to finish the job, but Bush refused to send help, allowing the bad guys to escape, which led to a war in Afghanistan. And yes, the protracted mess in Afghanistan was predictable. Just ask the British, the Soviets and others about their experience there. Seventeen years later we’re still trapped in that country. Stunning how we could be so blind and foolish.
·
5. Trump cheated his way into office. Had Hillary won instead (i.e. had she not been a terrible campaigner, had she not used a private server, had there not been 11 Benghazi hearings, etc.) she would have been president. I don’t think it’s even a remote possibility that she would have blown off the pandemic, so a lot fewer people would have become sick and died.
·
What all that has in common is fallout from cheating and it continues, as you know.
·
Trump’s constant cheating, starting with his birther slime to his “Russia, if you’re listening” to his begging China to interfere in the 2020 election and his abandonment of We the People in this pandemic have brought us nearly 200,000 dead Americans [ed. note: 34 days later there are over 217,000 dead], and you and I are in the center of the bulls eye for this disease. Plus, his “good people on both sides” has encouraged vigilantes in our streets. Plus, he’s promoting – even arranging – voter intimidation. None of this would have happened absent Trump’s cheating, lying, fraud and the rest.
·
Is there a certainty that these events that didn’t happen would have happened absent the cheating? Of course not. But this looks pretty likely to me. And just maybe 3,000 people wouldn’t have died suddenly 19 years ago. And about 3/4 of the people who have died from COVID would still be alive – see the Oxford study. All of that and more is why our upcoming election is so very critical. As in: clear and present danger.
·
We probably can’t stop all the cheating but we can overwhelm the bad guys with votes.
·
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·
Watch this space this Sunday for “This Most Consequential Moment.”
·

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Republicans For Biden


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there  (scroll down just a bit)

Ed Note – Apologies for the false alarm notification of a new Disambiguation yesterday. Entirely my mistake. In contrast, this one is for real.


FLASH MESSAGE!

Trump is doing every weasely thing he can to rig the election in his favor, including promising to throw out mail-in ballots and stopping the process on November 3 before all the mail-in ballots are counted.

So, DON”T vote by mail unless you must in order to avoid contact with others.

VOTE IN PERSON AND DO IT EARLY

See the instructions below.


Update to the Presidential Befoulment of the Military

It has been 27 days since the baring of the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, hateful words and behavior. Not one. Most have run from reporters. And the usual administration sycophants and the Fox News sub-species have slimed out from under their rocks to defend this faithless president and deny his blatantly reprehensible behavior.

This is our current reality. It should never happen.* That is the reason for what follows.

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Republicans For Biden

Okay, the folks listed below aren’t all Republicans – most are – nor are they all enthusiastically for Biden. All are for America and therefore they are against Trump, which is why they have publicly pledged to vote for Biden.

Here is an expanded list of names you’ll likely recognize – more announce nearly every day. In addition, you can watch over 1,000 videos of Republican Voters Against Trump here.

There are 500 more Americans here. This is a letter signed by former high ranking military, State Department and national security patriots, most having been registered Republicans, and they are all voting for Biden. These are knowledgeable people who see clearly what is going on and the enormous danger to our country this president has created.

Most of these folks likely never before imagined they would vote for a Democrat. Nevertheless, these are people with the spine to stand and be counted when it’s all on the line.

And it is all on the line right now.

These folks – every one of them – believe in the Constitution and in America and are taking action to protect and defend. So must we all.

Gen. Colin Powell                            Charlie Sykes                                        Carly Fiorino

Steve Schmidt                                 Jennifer Rubin                                       S.E. Cupp

Michael Steele                                 Sec. Def. Chuck Hagel                         Meghan McCain

Rick Wilson                                      Sec. HHS Jeh Johnson                        Bret Stephens

Pres. George W. Bush                      Sec. HUD Carla Jills                             Mike Murphy

Gov. Jeb Bush                                  Admin. EPA William Reilly                    Rep. Joe Walsh

Gen. James Mattis                           Chair, HSA William Webster                  Rep. David Jolly

Gen. John Kelly                                Exec. Dir. UNICEF Ann Veneman          Rep. Charlie Dent

Adm. William McRaven                    Sec. Homeland Security Tom Ridge      Sen. Jeff Flake

Sen. Mitt Romney                            Admin. EPA Christine Todd Whitman     Mitch Monnin

George Conway                               Amb. William Howard Taft IV                  Meg Whitman

Susan Del Percio                             Sec. Navy Richard V. Spencer                Ana Navarro

Bill Kristol                                         Dep. Sec. State John Negroponte         Benjamin Wittes

Anthony Scaramucci                        Dir. FBI James Comey                           Sully Sullenberger

Gov. John Kasich                             Solicitor Gen. Charles Fried                   Gov. Bill Weld

David Brooks                                    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman                   Asst. to V.P. Olivia Troy

Dep. Sec. State Richard Armitage    Sen. John Warner                                  Gov. Jim Edgar

Rep. Mark Sanford                            Rep. Justin Amash                                 Fiona Hill

Amb. Gordon Sondland                     Amb. Wm. Taylor                                    Amb. Marie Yovanovitch

Peggy Noonan                                   Cindy McCain                                         Scientific American Mag.

Gen. Paul Selva                                  Ross Douthat                                          Dwayne Johnson

Thomas Friedman                               Gen. Michael Hayden

——————————

From Steve Sheffey

(Read Steve’s full post here.)

“Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote that the Republican Party ‘is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.’ They wrote that in 2012. It’s truer today.

“Trump and McConnell are not outliers; they lead the Republican Party because they embody what the GOP has become. Democrats need to stop pretending that we have a functioning two-party system with sanity on the other side of the aisle.”
·
And Republican voters need to recognize that their party has been stolen from them. It has abandoned them. They need to stop pretending that the values they hold dear are still there and then break away from the insanity, like the courageous people listed above and in the linked pages.
·
Not convinced yet? Nineteen Republican branded candidates for Congress embrace QAnon. That’s right: Republicans are becoming The Insane Conspiracy Theory Party.
·
Your Republican family and friends need to see that the only thing left of the Republican Party they joined and believed in is the title. Everything else has been crushed under the heel of a cult.
·

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Want to stop the madness?

In this battle for our country, you are Obi-Wan Kenobe. Princes Leia speaks to you for the people, saying, “Help us, Obi-Wan. You’re our only hope.” VOTE!

Then VOTE to stop it.

EARLY voting has started in many states and time is of the essence in this desperate battle to preserve our democracy. Here’s a simple short list of instructions for your voting:

Make sure you’re registered to vote – go to Vote.org to be certain. Now is a fine time to do that.

Unless you must avoid contact with others, VOTE IN PERSON EARLY at your polling place. If you don’t know where it is, check your city or state website for the proper location, a list of days you can vote EARLY in-person and the hours your polling place will be open. Voting EARLY will expose you to fewer people and there will likely be a much shorter wait time to vote. Nevertheless, bring a chair and water just in case. Bring disinfectant with you and, of course, wear your mask.

If you plan to vote in-person on election day, Tuesday, November 3, show up EARLY in the day for the shortest wait time to vote. Same deal regarding a chair, water, disinfectant and your mask.

  • – OR –

If you must vote by mail, request a mail-in ballot EARLY. If you haven’t already done so, it may be too late. Check with your Secretary of State or your municipality for instructions. Once again, now is a fine time to do that.

Fill out your mail-in ballot right away – immediately after you receive it. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY.

Instead of mailing your properly (did I mention “follow the instructions?”) completed mail-in ballot, drop it off EARLY where your state or municipality directs – drop box, city hall, etc.

Summary:

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

Any questions?

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* Read this piece by Charles Blow. Then pass this post along to 3 others. If it isn’t already clear, you’ll see why.

CLICK-READ-ACT

·

And read Tom Friedman’s new post following the so-called presidential, so-called debate. He urges us to vote for Biden, ending with, “Do it as if your country’s democracy depends on it, because it does.

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Follow-Up To the Protest Report

Here’s what happened after I left the demonstration last Friday. It’s a story of courage in the face of violence threatened by Trump supporting thugs.

Just wondering: How many of the Trump supporters at that demonstration aren’t neighbors, but instead are outside agitators?

—————————————-

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

Update – v1


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there (scroll down just a bit) →

Reading time – 4:48 .  .  .

Update To The Trump Election-Rigging Show

This is an occasional feature of these posts to and through the November election, as Trump attempts to manipulate, lie and cheat* his way to staying in office.

Recall that Trump must win the election in order to avoid criminal indictments for fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, Conspiracy Against the United States and more**. Those indictments will land in his lap the moment he leaves the protection of the Justice Department “no-criminal-indictments-while-in-office” memo. Let’s just say that he’s motivated to be “creative” in order to stay in office.

  1. Trump installed Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. DeJoy is no joy, as he has removed 600 high speed mail sorting machines, removed hundreds of mail drop boxes, eliminated overtime for postal workers and he makes postal trucks run around empty. The result is a hobbling of the Postal Service, such that it advised 46 states that mail may not be delivered in time to meet state requirements for the election. That will effectively throw millions of ballots into dumpsters. Trump wants to see that happen because more Democrats vote by mail than Republicans.
  2. Trump has accelerated his attack on the FDA. At first it was just blatantly disagreeing with the science around the pandemic. Since then it has become pressure to approve treatments that aren’t fully vetted and even more pressure to produce a vaccine, whether vetted or not – and he’s promised that it will be delivered before the election.
  3. He’s cut funding and recommendations for testing for COVID-19 in an effort to reduce the apparent number of cases. Of course, reducing testing won’t reduce the number of people infected and, in fact, will increase the number of Americans who get sick and die, since we won’t know to self-quarantine or be able to trace contacts.
  4. He’s attacked the FDA and now, ”  .  .  .  the administration recently installed a gun-rights advocate and right-wing journalist as the FDA’s chief spokesperson, allowing for partisan communication from an agency that has historically put out apolitical messaging. Now Trump has baselessly claimed that the FDA was part of a “deep state” conspiracy to harm his reelection campaign.
  5. He repeats his completely fact-less accusations of in-person and mail-in voter fraud.
  6. Trump used the White House, National Mall and other federal properties for his nomination acceptance speech. Looked great, if a bit over the top. But that ain’t kosher.
  7. He had Attorney General Wm. Barr’s Justice Department investigate the investigators of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Look for the release of Barr’s dishonest Trump-suck-up summary in mid-October, just as Barr did with the Mueller Report. He will then withhold its distribution so that there isn’t time to get the truth out before the election. Sadly, there is no law against the Attorney General, the top law enforcement official in the country, lying to the public.
  8. At Trump’s direction, The Office of the Director of National Intelligence will no longer give in-person briefings to our legislators, leaving them semi-ignorant at best. This is another Trump dirty trick to keep us in the dark about Russia’s involvement to help him win re-election and his conspiracy to defraud**.
  9. September 2 – From the Times: “Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security intervened to prevent the publication of an intelligence report raising alarms about Russian interference in the 2020 election, according to a report by ABC News last [Wednesday].” That effectively prevents you and all of us from knowing about the breadth of Russian interference in our current election.
  10. Trump urged supporters in North Carolina to vote by mail and then attempt to vote in person on November 3. He later claimed that was how they could determine if their mail-in vote had been counted. Actually, Trump solicited fraud, a felony.
  11. September 11 – “President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to ‘put … down very quickly’ [protests and] riots on election night should aggrieved Democrats take to the streets in the wake of his potential victory.” Politico No word on whether he’d do the same if there were protests and riots by right wing hotheads when Biden wins.
  12. September 12 -“Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have sought to change, delay and prevent the release of reports about the coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because they were viewed as undermining President Trump’s message that the pandemic is under control.” Washington Post
  13. September 13 – Trump signed an Executive Order in a last-ditch drug pricing plan to force pharmaceutical companies to charge Medicare no more than the lowest prices charged in other countries. While that sounds attractive: first, it isn’t clear he has the power to do that; second, a lawsuit is on the way to stop this; third, other than flap his lips about phantom victories over drug pricing for 3.5 years, why do you suppose this is happening just 50 days before the election? Could it be that the election is more important to him than the health of American seniors?
  14. Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a ‘resistance unit’ determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.” He accused CDC scientists of sedition and predicted left-wing violence if Trump loses the election and refuses to leave office. Perhaps worst, he’s in charge of warping CDC communications to the public into what Trump wants us all to hear.
  15. ”  .  .  .  first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light.” New York Times

That’s just top of mind stuff. With 40 days to go, we can be sure of an October surprise. What needs to be included? Provide links if you can. With your help we’ll keep a running tally until and beyond this election, showcasing the most brutally ANTI-DEMOCRATIC acts of this most ANTI-AMERICAN president in U.S. history.

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* Read Frank Bruni’s clear take on this.

** 18 U.S. Code § 371. Conspiracy to Commit Offense or to Defraud United States

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

18 U.S. Code § 2383. Rebellion or insurrection

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Just getting started on the list.

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From RepresentUs:

“With just 2 weeks until voter registration deadlines across the country, don’t let National Voter Registration Day pass you by without confirming that you can vote this fall. 

“Our voter registration tool powered by VoteAmerica makes it easy. So register to vote – or confirm your registration today.”

Click this sentence and confirm your right to vote.”

—————————————-

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

A Modest Proposal – v4.0


Reading time – 5:35  .  .  .

We are locked in an increasingly bloody and always hateful conflict. Red America and Blue America think in different ways, speak different languages, recognize different facts and are unable to communicate with one another except with threats and mean-spirited accusations. The differences and animosities are growing and the situation seems to be intractable. Writes Anand Giridharadas, We Are In A Cold Civil War. I think he’s right. David Frum has written that Trump Is a Secessionist From The Top and his followers seem to revel in how separate they are from the rest of us. Truth be told, I’m weary of it all.

I’m sick of the hateful speech and the denials and contortions of reality. I’m disgusted by the ever more common brandishing of assault weapons by strutting tough guys. I’m offended by the easy acceptance and even the promotion of criminality at the top. And I’m disheartened by the obvious welcoming of fascism by followers of this autocratic, dictator-wannabe president. There seems to be no courage left in Red America to commit to what many of us had thought was the American way. There don’t seem to be many patriots left who will stand and be counted when it’s time to stop a tyrant. That says to me that there may be no possibility of narrowing the chasm of our national divide.

Well, I have a solution – a modest proposal. I confess it isn’t original. I read something about this many years ago when the first storm clouds of our cold civil war reached the horizon. It seemed absurd at the time; not so much now.

Since we are already steadfastly, both by culture and core values, unaligned, we’ll formally divide America into two independent, nations. For the most part the geographic division will be easy. We’ll just separate out all the steadfastly red states, like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah, Indiana and West Virginia. There will be some difficulty in placing the purple states, like Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. The rest will be Blue State America. You get the idea.

We’ll have details to iron out, like border protections and passport requirements, trade and the decision of which America gets to keep DC and the stars and stripes. Plus, we’ll have to figure out who gets the might of our military and yet more questions.

A benefit of this solution is that Red State Americans will get to keep their Confederate statues and memorials and will be able to proudly display Confederate battle flags. They can choose the facts and reality that suit them. All those proud, rugged individuals will be able to walk with heads held high, chest out, safe with their concealed carry and in the knowledge that no elite* weenies from Blue State America will be dictating their fates or limiting their freedoms. No overblown government bureaucracy will take their money and regulate them to death.

Gone will be the self-important scientists telling them to wear a mask and stay out of churches and bars. They won’t have to justify going to Trump rallies by claiming patriotism or announce they’re accepting of the consequences of refusing pandemic protections, only to hear Blue State Americans tell them that their freedoms stop at the tip of the next person’s nose. In fact, they’ll be able to go about their business in the certainty that COVID-19 is a hoax.

There will be no more federal government standing in the way of their personal liberty. The new Red State American government will be benign and will never intrude on their lives. And there’s even more for Red State Americans.

They’ll be able to listen to their president’s “straight talk” and not be bothered by Blue State American busy-bodies howling about how his straight talk is actually a pack of lies. They won’t have to listen to audio recordings of the president proving his homicidal dishonesty leading to tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of American deaths. They won’t have to listen to Blue State Americans whine about his over 20,000 lies to the public (over 16 per day, every day).

There are a couple of points that will be important for Red State Americans to know. For example, those horrible things that FDR created, like Social Security and the terrible things Lyndon Johnson did, like Medicare and Medicaid, will disappear for them. Each citizen will be on their own to pay for all of their own healthcare, including when catastrophic health issues arise. They’ll simply have to deal with their lifetime of debt. Each will have to fund all of their own retirement. Failure to do so will cause them to live in abject poverty until death finally brings relief at the end of their rugged individualism, pretty much as it was before Social Security.

This national split will have substantial business impact, too. For example, Fox News will relocate from Manhattan in New York to Manhattan in Kansas, a huge cost saving. Koch Industries will be perfectly positioned in Wichita to take control of the Red State American oligarch government.

Click me for a full scale map

There are important issues of independence to consider and Alabamians, for example, will have to do some adjusting. Once separated into two countries, Alabama will no longer get back $2.02 for every $1 they send to DC. It’s a similar balance in West Virginia ($2.08 for every $1 sent to DC), South Carolina ($1.62) and for most of Red State America. Economic life is going to become much more challenging in those places, as funding for roads, bridges, schools, healthcare, disaster relief and more becomes either far more individually burdensome or they will have to dramatically ratchet down their way of life. Of course this change will create an economic windfall for all in Blue State America, who will no longer have to fund Red State America.

Still, this separation will give everyone what they want. We can stop accusing and attacking one another and each make our own way. Gone will be charges of racism one way and burdensome elitism the other way. No longer will we argue about protests or whose life matters or whether our troops are losers and suckers. We’ll end our contentiousness over the president’s supplication to authoritarians and his solicitations for foreign election interference. Each America can choose its own allies or none at all. It’s the ultimate freedom of choice.

So, there is our way forward, just when it seemed there wasn’t one. Take a deep breath and begin to make the decision where you’ll want to live.

To put a fine point on this, read Eugene Robinson’s essay on Trump’s racism, and – this is critical – watch the 11-minute video embedded in his piece, Voter Suppression Never Went Away. It Evolved. Once we split up the country, we won’t have to worry about such things.

——————————

End of satire. What follows is deadly serious.

From Harlan Coben’s The Boy From The Woods, page 285:

”  .  .  .  it will now be easy to destroy the social order. The middle has become complacent. They are smart, but they are lazy. They see the grays. They get the other side. Extremists, on the other hand, see only black and white. They are not only certain that their vision is absolutely correct, but they are incapable of even understanding the other side. Those who don’t believe as they do are lesser in every way, and so they will kill for that vision.”

“Extremists are relentless. They don’t see right or wrong – they see us and them.”

I’ve been warning of creeping autocracy and fascism for a long time (click here for a list of some of those posts). 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 will prove to be.

That is why we must not be complacent. That is why we dare not be lazy.

Vote to stop this insanity. Help to register others to vote – click here and scroll to the Opportunities section for resources to make a difference. Encourage everyone you know to vote. Early voting has already started, so there is no time for delay. Act now, because there may not be another chance.

This is the only way.

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  • * Do you remember when “elite” was a good thing? That was before Barack Obama became president. He was monstrously bright and knowledgeable and had checked all the “smart” boxes, so white guys felt threatened and “elite” got warped into a negative thing and has been used ever since as a dog whistle for racist animosity.
  • “Elite” was good back when we wanted the best and brightest to be the ones who thought through our toughest challenges. “Elite” meant “the best.” Clearly, we have need for some truly elite people right now.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Here’s How To Fix This


Reading time – 6:15  .  .  .

Preface: Presidential Leadership In The Time of COVID-19

In Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book Rage we see the words of the President of the United States acknowledging the deadly danger of this disease. He says it will infect “through the air” and is five times more deadly than the “most strenuous flu.” Then he says that he wants to “play it down,” rather than marshal our national resources and the public to fight this pandemic. That’s what he’s done and continues to do, as Americans die.

We don’t have to take Woodward’s word for all of Trump’s deceit because Woodward has audio recordings of their conversations. They are as clear and as damning of this president as can be.

He’s lied to us over and over and put us all at lethal risk. He’s held election rallies that he knew would cause the spread of infections. You could ask Herman Cain about that, but he attended a Trump rally and then died of Covid-19.

Trump has ridiculed those advising and those practicing proper precautions, influencing millions of Americans to refuse those protections. That has unavoidably caused the massive spread of this infection. The result of that behavior is that a lot more people have suffered, a lot more will live with terrible debilitation that may last years and a lot more people have died.

In an Oxford study earlier this year they reported that between 70 – 99% of Covid deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented had this president provided proper leadership. We’ve suffered nearly 200,000 deaths from this disease, so in the most conservative estimate there are 140,000 dead Americans who would still be alive had the President of the United States not been intentionally derelict in his duty.

What is every bit as important is to recognize that the Republicans in Congress have never confronted Trump on this. They’ve said not one word about his intentional and deadly betrayals, even as the CDC projects that we’re headed toward 415,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 by the end of the year.

In fact, the Republicans in Congress have never confronted Trump on anything.

This package of lethal deceit and cowardice is our current reality. It should never happen.

————————–

Here’s How To Fix This

I’ve been clubbing Republicans since the Gingrich Vigilante Inquisition in the 1990s, especially those in the age of Trump. Let me be fair and say from the heart that every bit of it is deserved.

If you disagree, please list in the Comments section following this post the names of all the Republicans in the House and Senate who have done the right thing and stood up to any of Donald Trump’s horribles, be they illegal,  unconstitutional, anti-democracy, culture and values destroying, immoral or cruel. I’ll give you Mitt Romney as a part-time critic; very occasionally, tepidly, Lisa Murkowsky and Susan Collins have spoken up.

Former Senators Jeff Flake and  Bob Corker realized that their days as senators were numbered when they saw that their opposing Trump resulted in the rest of their colleagues hiding under their desks, so they left the Senate. Who are the others in Congress who did more than whisper in the cloak room? I must have missed them when the call to stand and be counted was sounded.

They all knew that Trump attempted to extort President Zelensky of Ukraine, demanding his unconstitutional foreign interference in our 2020 election. Trump pressured him by threatening to withhold from Ukraine desperately needed military assistance. These Republicans also knew that Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of that wrongdoing, yet on an almost complete party line vote (Romney voted yes to obstruction of justice), the Republican controlled Senate voted to acquit this criminal president in his impeachment trial.

Following that Republican disgrace, not one of these cowards has demanded that Trump confront Vladimir Putin about the bounties he’s paying to the Taliban to kill American soldiers. Are you seeing the pattern?

John Bolton outlined a lot of examples of Trump obstructing justice and these legislators knew about many of them even before Bolton’s book was published. The Mueller report outlined 10 specific charges of obstruction of justice (refer to Section II) and they knew about all of those, too. Still, Republican crickets.

These legislators know that Trump has manipulated the Justice Department, too, to get away with his wrongdoing. To put that in perspective, think of those westerns where the bad guy, the wealthy cattle and land baron, has the sheriff and judge on his payroll and in his pocket, enabling him to control and fleece the townspeople. You hated that bad guy, right? Well, now he’s in the Oval Office and Attorney General William Barr is that sheriff and judge in Trump’s pocket. He is yet another Trump crime enabler.

Trump has constructed his swampy Cabinet to benefit himself with no concern at all for ethics, like posting former lobbyists as “acting” department heads. And the Republicans in the Senate, which should have been vetting and rejecting these guys, instead has abdicated their duties and enabled Trump’s swamp to stink yet worse. Congressional Republicans know that he’s crashed through every guardrail of democracy that stood in his way and that he is consistently undermining our international safety and security. Still, these Republicans in Congress sit on their hands.

I ask again, who are the Republicans who have spoken out against Trump’s assault on American bedrock? Show me who has cast a vote against this child tyrant, sitting in his high chair, kicking, screaming and banging his fork and spoon on his tray. They cave in time after time. What happened to the courage of these Republicans? Their cowardice has earned them a Jellyfish Award.

Sadly, the cowardice doesn’t stop on Capitol Hill.

The state government of North Carolina was controlled entirely by Republicans until the 2018 election, when a Democrat was elected governor, although the state house remained in Republican hands. Just before the gubernatorial switch was made the Republican majority in the state house and the outgoing Republican governor (Pat McCrory, the guy who refused to concede and said he wouldn’t leave office) enacted laws to hamstring the incoming Democrat governor. They made it so that he would be unable to undo their horrific voter suppression acts – things like stripping voters’ registrations, closing polling places in college towns and in poor and non-white areas, and requiring IDs that are difficult for many poor people to obtain.

It isn’t just in North Carolina where the Republicans have done these things. They’ve done it in Wisconsin (why are there only 5 polling places – down from 180 – in all of Milwaukee?) and in Kentucky (only 1 poling place in Louisville – the same in Lexington), in Texas (how come it’s so hard to get a mail-in ballot for those under age 65, but for the likely Trump voters – those over 65 – it’s automatic?). And it’s just as cowardly and corrupt as that in yet more states.

Just as for the Congressional Republicans, these state Republicans have earned a Jellyfish Award, too.

We love our equivalencies, be they true or false, so let’s be fair and ask the equivalencies question: Don’t Democrats do such things, too?

Of course they do. Or, rather, they have. But Democrats haven’t tried to suppress anyone’s vote for a really long time. If you think I got that wrong, please note your examples below.

We’ve known since at least kindergarten that cheating must be punished or it will continue and become worse. Indeed, we’ve seen that worsening happen in the Trump administration every day since January 20, 2017, with Congressional Republicans remaining silent all the while. What is the proper punishment for our spineless, cowardly Republicans? Try this:

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE – EVERY ONE OF THEM!

Okay, let’s be reasonable. We need traditional conservatives to repopulate the Republican Party into something that doesn’t look like it came from the House of Horrors. The ones who must go are the Trump Republicans, the Freedom Party wackos and every one who chickened out and refused to speak up. You know who they are. Give them the boot – every one of them.

Click me to hear a speech by a 17 year old kid that’s better than anything Trump has done.

I don’t know Emma Gonzalez, survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre and co-founder of Never Again, but I’ve seen her work. I feel confident she and her generation will call “BS!” to Trump and to our Republican jellyfish. The rest of us must do the same.

The past 4 years have been a most amazing demonstration of both fraud and Congressional cowardice. It’s time to put an end to this reign of terror.

NOTE: I’m not a registered anything and certainly am not a Democrat shill. I used to think of myself as an Eisenhower Republican, but that’s pretty much an extinct species. There are a few proud Republicans (mostly former) with starch in their spines and I’ll be publishing a list of some of them on September 30. We’re counting on those folks to resuscitate the Republican Party once our long national nightmare is over. Until they do, it’s up to us to fix this.

———————-

The Simple, Clear, Non-negotiable Marching Orders To Beat Covid-19

 

  1. Wear a mask in public.
  2. Socially distance.
  3. Wash your hands often.
  4. Put your damn mask on.

——————————

Click me

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

A Critically Important View From Europe


Reading time – 7:15  .  .  .

Presidential Befoulment of the Military Update

It has been 3 days since the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military were exposed. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, disparaging words and behavior. Not one.

————————–

The G7 Summit is scheduled to meet virtually in November or perhaps later. In anticipation of that and our mail-in ballot season, some notion of how the rest of the world sees America is crucial, because America’s world leadership is on life support. That makes our election choices and actions critical.

A friend forwarded the opinion piece below from The Irish Times (many thanks to JS) and it gives us a view into what America looks like from a European democracy. Consider it in the context of my piece last April, Absolute Power, as well as the closing section of Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition.


Donald Trump Has Destroyed The Country He Promised To Make Great Again
The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now for the first time, we pity it.

Irish Times-April 25, 2020 – By Fintan O’Toole

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic.

As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted … like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.

If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.

Other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?

It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.

What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.

Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.

In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”

This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fueled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.

Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it. The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralyzed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.

The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority;” and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.

But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.

There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.

Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.  And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realization that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.

That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.

And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is reveling in it. He is in his element.

As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.

Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.

——————————-

If this report seems far-fetched; if the perspective seems far too narrow; if you’re inclined to dismiss this as just one disgruntled Irish guy opining, then I urge you to have a look at Tom McTague’s essay from London in The Atlantic entitled “The Decline of the American World.” Be clear that Trump is engineering that very thing. E.g. last week Trump announced that we won’t participate in the worldwide effort to develop a vaccine to battle Covid-19. What do you suppose that looks like from abroad?

From McTague’s post:

Bruno Maceas, Portugal’s former Europe minister, whose book The Dawn of Eurasia looks at the rise of Chinese power, told me, “The collapse of the American empire is a given; we are just trying to figure out what will replace it.”

You can check with the folks at Gallup for more. Here’s a recent graph of how Europeans view American leadership. The charts for how Asians and people in the Americas see American leadership look the same. Be clear that the rising black line on the right represents increasing disapproval of U.S. leadership over the past 3 years.

On the left of the graph you can see the high disapproval of the leadership of George W. Bush. Then there were eight strong years of approval for American leadership during the Obama administration (the green line). Now Trump has managed to achieve the highest leadership disapproval of America by our global neighbors. Ever. This is what Trump’s destruction of alliances and his sucking up to tyrants have done to our place in the world. Click the chart and read the report for yourself.

Consider if you were accosted by a street tough. You likely wouldn’t respect him. On the other hand, you’d be keenly aware of have and great respect for the assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol he carried and you would be exceedingly clear about the destruction and chaos they can cause. It’s quite the same for the the way the world views the United States of Trump.

Finally, five years ago the offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked and eleven of its staff were murdered by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. The trial of some accomplices to those murders began last Wednesday and Charlie Hebdo once again published the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and Islam that triggered the attack. Once again they’ve put a stake in the ground to declare freedom of the press will not be stifled. So, once again we can all declare, Je suis Charlie.

——————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

We’ve Always Known


Reading time – 3:42  .  .  .

Be sure to see the Bonus Opportunity at the end of this post.

————————-

Regular readers of this column will recognize my occasionally offered behavior geek comment that most people simply don’t react to danger until it is in our faces. Climate warming is an easy example, as most people have not been significantly affected by it and consequently they don’t recognize it as a threat.

Source: Berkeley Earth
For expert commentary, contact Tim Rumage, Professor of Environmental Studies, Ringling College of Art+Design at
[email protected] and read his book..

We pay little attention to reports that nearly every year since 1975 is the hottest on record, right until the following year comes along to become the newest hottest year on record. Here in the Midwest the worst thing most of us have noticed is that we have to water our lawns more frequently, a minor nuisance, and we shovel less snow, which we like. That we don’t feel significantly adversely affected by global warming is both understandable and precisely where the roadblock to preventing this looming catastrophe lies. So, too, for the global pandemic.

We all see the numbers of infections and deaths and we watch the news reports of over-maxed hospitals and exhausted nurses, techs, doctors and sanitation workers. But unless you or someone close to you has been exposed to or infected by the virus, it’s unlikely you feel the threat. Perhaps you’re well informed, like my neighbors at a recent block party, who, despite their understanding, didn’t wear masks and did a poor job of social distancing. They weren’t uninformed about the threat or what they needed to do; they were unmotivated.

And that’s the obstacle to beating the virus in the United States; we just aren’t motivated to do what’s necessary to beat it. We’re annoyed that our kids aren’t back in school full time and it’s a real problem for parents who need to leave the house to work and where school is effectively their child care service. We’re frustrated by stores that won’t let us in without a mask. We want to sit indoors as we eat at our favorite restaurant, but that isn’t possible. We want our jobs and income and our old lives back, but there’s a roadblock in our way: the pandemic.

And it’s worse, because the information from the federal government often conflicts with that of the experts and even with itself. We don’t have a clue what to do with that, so we tune out. Perhaps there isn’t a big outbreak nearby or at least we believe that to be true, so we figure the virus won’t touch us. That’s using wishful thinking as a strategy. Not recommended. Here’s some good news.

Read COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act from Time magazine and America Could Control the Pandemic by October from The New York Times. As you’ll see,

We’ve always known what to do to beat this thing and begin to get our lives back.

Yeah, I know a lot of people will dismiss the facts in those essays because they believe that the mainstream media is an enemy of the people. They believe it’s populated by antifa anarchists, socialists, mongrels, pizza shop child sex traffickers, advocates of poor and Black people moving into your white suburban neighborhood, Second Amendment haters who want to take away your guns and drinkers of children’s blood. News flash: All of that and more is Trump and Q-anon BS-smeared propaganda. Feel free to forward this paragraph to your Uncle Bubba.

Meanwhile, read the above pieces because,

We’ve always known what to do to beat this thing and begin to get our lives back.

We’ve seen nearly every country in the world get the job done except our own nation, even as we proclaim our American exceptionalism. And because of our exceptionally inept handling of this virus, most nations have declared that every American is a persona non grata.

We don’t do what’s required, like contact tracing, and then we see our friends and family members get sick and die. All we have to do to beat this pandemic is to take politics out of the driver’s seat.*

We have the plan, we’ve read the classified briefs, we know the secret handshake, we have the well-folded roadmap with the X that marks the spot, we have the secret decoder ring, the Sherlock Holmes spyglass and double-billed hat, and the L-shaped Boy Scout flashlight – everything we need except the will to act. But the disease of inertia can be cured.

Are you willing to sacrifice just a little for just a short time in order to stop this ongoing horror show and then get your life back? That’s the question for every one of us and the correct answer is YES.

Until we get strong leadership, just follow the

Simple, Clear and Non-negotiable Marching Orders To Beat Covid-19

  1. Wear a mask in public.
  2. Socially distance.
  3. Wash your hands often.
  4. Put your damn mask on.
Now you know what to do to beat this thing and begin to get your life back. There is no other path, so just do it. I’ll do it, too. Then the day will come when we celebrate V-P Day.

————————-

The Trump Unbelievable, Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Election Rigging Show

This will be a regular feature of these posts to and through the November election, as Trump attempts to manipulate, lie and cheat his way to staying in office. Recall that he must win the election in order to avoid criminal indictments for fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and more the moment he leaves the protection of the Justice Department memo. Let’s just say that he’s motivated to be creatively criminal.

  1. Trump installed Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. DeJoy is no joy, as he has removed 600 high speed mail sorting machines, removed hundreds of mail drop boxes, eliminated overtime for postal workers and he makes postal trucks run around empty. The result is a hobbling of the Postal Service, such that it has advised 46 states that mail may not be delivered in time to meet state requirements for the election. That will effectively throw millions of ballots into dumpsters. Trump wants to see that happen.
  2. Trump has accelerated his attack on the FDA. At first it was just blatantly disagreeing with the science around the pandemic. Since then it has become pressure to approve treatments that aren’t fully vetted and even more pressure to produce a vaccine , whether vetted or not – and he’s promised that it will be delivered before the election. He’s called the FDA part of the “deep state”** and now,
    1. ”  .  .  .  the administration recently installed a gun-rights advocate and right-wing journalist as the FDA’s chief spokesperson, allowing for partisan communication from an agency that has historically put out apolitical messaging. Last weekend, Trump baselessly claimed that the FDA was part of a “deep state” conspiracy to harm his reelection campaign.”
  3. He constantly makes completely fact-less accusations of in-person and mail-in voter fraud.
  4. Trump used the White House, National Mall and other federal properties for his campaign. That ain’t kosher. You can look it up.
  5. He had Wm. Barr’s Justice Department investigate the investigators of Russian interference in the 2016 election. This is just another episode of pulling the rug from under government, especially those parts that examine him and his behavior. Look for the release of the report from this fraudulent investigation, as well as Barr’s lying, suck-up summary of it in mid-October. And just like the Mueller Report, Barr will issue his Trump supporting lies about the report, then withhold its distribution so that there isn’t time to get the truth out before the election.

That’s just top of mind stuff. What’s missing? Provide links if you can. With your help we’ll keep a running tally until and beyond this election, showcasing this most brutally anti-democratic act of the most obviously un-American president in U.S. history.

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  • * You’ve seen how Trump handles this and the results are the worst in the world. To get politics out of the driver’s seat, Trump has to go. Otherwise, he’ll continue to watch our friends and family die, cavalierly saying, “It is what it is.” So vote him away.

** There is no deep state. It’s just another enemy Trump has made up to rally his base. Think: Nothing makes fast friends as powerfully as a common enemy, and Trump is always in victim mode. It appeals to all those whining, “Look what they’ve done and are doing to me.”

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Bonus Opportunity

I’ve signed up to register voters in Wisconsin with Rust Belt Rising on Saturday, Aug 29, 2020. Here’s a link for you to sign up, watch the tutorials and get comfortable with these neighborly chats. I’ll be on more calls in coming days, too, so join me. Let’s turn Wisconsin BLUE!

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

No Time To Be Silent


Reading time – 2:31; Viewing time – 3:34  .  .  .

It was a November evening in Chicago in 2008 that was much warmer than we had a right to expect. Hundreds of thousands of us gathered in Grant Park along Lake Michigan to watch the election returns on the Jumbo-Trons set up for that purpose. The cops were there on their gorgeous thoroughbreds, but there wasn’t any crowd control needed. In fact, the cops were off by the vendor stands eating pizza.

At last we saw Wolf Blitzer on the CNN screen near us and heard him announce that Ohio (I think it was Ohio) had gone for Obama and that put him over the top – he had won. People in the park were cheering, dancing, jumping, hugging, crying, smiling and doubled over in relief. We were there with our family that night and we did all of that and more. I recall yelling what Rachel Maddow had said when Obama won the 95% white Iowa caucuses 10 months earlier: “This is the kind of country I want to live in.”

Of course, much of the celebration was because a Black man had been elected president, with all that implied. It would be a mistake, though, to fail to recognize the long dark night that was the administration of George W. Bush and which led to that November celebration that was in stark contrast to the Bush years. The relief that November evening was one of at last having a feeling of hope once again, a feeling that had been absent for 8 years and two stolen elections.

I was reminded of that celebratory night following Joe Biden’s acceptance speech last Thursday. Gone were the gaffs, the missteps and fumbles. Before us was a warrior for the people, for democracy, for the United States of America and for the entire world. And he showed up just in time, as we’re neck deep in the cesspool of Trumpism. It’s been an inescapable nightmare of corruption, of subverting the rule of law, of manipulating the government solely to serve Trump, of division and cruelty and we have been absent of hope for four years. To paraphrase President Gerald Ford, the long national nightmare of Trump may soon be over.

And that’s why following Biden’s speech I thought of Grant Park on that wonderful November evening 12 years ago.

Now we have to complete the story. Now we have to do the hard work to make hope real. Now we have to make the twister that causes Biden’s house to fall on the Wicked Witch of Mar-a-Lago. Only then can we cry out, “Ding dong, the witch is dead.”

So, it’s time to get to work helping people register to vote, to help them sign them up to vote by mail, for voting early ourselves and by doing all the things that will raise Biden’s house into the sky so that it will drop in just the right place.

From Elie Wiesel:

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

This is no time to be silent.

Remember:

Democracy is a participation sport. Its a patriotism thing.

Be a patriot. The Founders would be proud.

Opportunities

Speed counts, because early voting and mail-in voting start in some places as early as two weeks from now.

Phone bank for candidates – pick any state or race you like. It’s way easier than you may think – and it’s non-confrontational.

Volunteer with MoveOn – lots of ways to put a stake in the ground.

Check to make sure you’re registered to vote and haven’t been voter suppressed – go to Vote.org.

Send post cards to swing state voters to urge people to vote with the simple system of PostCardsToSwingStates.com.

Volunteer with Biden For President.

It’s hard to read, but the add-on at the bottom reads, “FUNCTIONING ADULT”

Volunteer for the candidates of your choice by going to their websites. Find them by googling, e.g.  “Ooblick for Senate.” I shouldn’t have to say this, but substitute the candidate’s name for “Ooblick” and don’t include the quotation marks.

Post a lawn sign and get a bumper sticker for the candidates you support. Go to the website of your local Democratic Party affiliate. Start here. While you’re there, kick in a few bucks to help out.

Go to Mayday America and volunteer – lots of ways to do this.

Check with friends, family and the elderly people in your life who aren’t online savvy. Offer to help them and remind them to vote.

In my neck of the woods, go to the Tenth Dems site or the Democrats of Northfield Township. Go to Indivisible Evanston (there are links to affiliates in other states) and review their list of ways to make a difference.

Go to Media Matters to stay informed.

To be clear on why this isn’t just important, but is critical, read this from Ben Rhodes. He served as U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. Then pass this post along to others.

This is a battle for the soul of our nation.” – Joe Biden. So, put your soul into this – JA

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Nagging COVID Questions


Reading time – 3:21  .  .  .

On The Hunt

It makes good sense not to put all our eggs into one basket in pursuit of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. That’s why we have Operation Warp Speed, wherein we are stimulating the development of vaccines along several different avenues to find one that works and to do it as quickly as possible.

We just awarded $1.6 billion to Novavax to develop enough doses of a vaccine to treat 50 million Americans (2 doses each) by early 2021. If they can do that it will be quite an accomplishment, because the world record for vaccine development for a new virus is 5 years.

In addition, “.  .  .  an international group, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, awarded up to $388 million to Novavax in May to make its coronavirus vaccine available globally.” In addition, “In June, Novavax secured a $60 million contract from the Defense Department to guarantee the delivery of 10 million doses to vaccinate American troops for the coronavirus.”

That’s a lot of money to give to a company that has never brought a product all the way to market. Why would we do that?

The Trump Administration is doing its best to prevent transparency of where our taxpayer money goes in pursuit of a vaccine. What we know is that we have sent $4 billion to a total of 6 companies to produce a vaccine and we haven’t a clue how those companies were chosen, whether they have a track record suggesting they might succeed, if there are penalties for failing to produce a vaccine or where the money is coming from – i.e. which existing programs will become underfunded in order to pay these companies to develop safe and effective vaccines five times faster than such a thing has ever been done.

Because of Trump’s secrecy we also don’t know whether there has been favoritism or any other shady behavior involved in these significant public financial awards to private companies. This may all be on the up-and-up; maybe not. But the secrecy may well become damaging to our future health and the sleight of hand would be a scandal in any other administration. Today, it’s just another day at the White House.

Oh, and by the way, vaccines are only valuable to us if We the People take them, and there is considerable resistance to doing so. Only half of us say we’ll get the vaccine when it’s available; 30% are unsure what they’ll do; and 20% of us will refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. How will we deal with that in the absence of strong scientific, medical, social and moral national leadership?

Our Government and Your Health

The mission statement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begins this way:

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices;

Sounds great. We want them to ensure the safety and efficacy of the medicines we put in our bodies. That’s why they did the slow work to make sure that if you contract malaria that hydroxychloroquine will be both effective against the disease and safe for you to use.

They didn’t do all the same work looking into that drug when used to treat COVID-19. But they did review its use in VA hospitals and found that it was useless against the coronavirus and an all too likely side effect of that malaria drug used against the coronavirus was death.

Now a Henry Ford study is claiming that the FDA review was flawed and – surprise! – Donald Trump is using that claim to once again promote hydroxychloroquine as a preventative and a treatment for COVID-19.

In the absence of a standard FDA approval based on its guidelines and procedures for safety, efficacy and security, why would Trump promote this drug to fight COVID-19? He’s a total know-nothing about medical and pharmacological science and has no authority to prescribe medications. That leaves us wondering about his motivation for his outrageous insistence on using this drug that has the potential to kill Americans. What’s in it for Trump to do that? Who is benefiting? As always, follow the money.

Schools

Click me

Last week Trump told us that he will “put pressure on governors and everyone else” to fully open schools in fall.

  • Nobody knows how to safely open schools in the presence of this pandemic and no nation has ever tried to send kids back to school with a virus raging at the level this one is in America. Said one school nurse in New York, “It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff,”
  • Click me

    Shouldn’t we instead consider the CDC’s clearly and consistently outlined dangers from this disease and give strong consideration to its recommendations for “opening” as we make decisions for our kids? And doesn’t our own common sense scream in our ears not to do stupid stuff?

  • Gambling with our kids’ health just isn’t a great idea. And caving in to the unhinged and self-serving demands of Donald Trump is exactly as nuts as it sounds.
Where Do You Get Your Information?

This is for our rugged individuals who refuse direction that impinges on their individual freedom or who simply don’t trust easily.

Karen Hughes

If you were to receive your coronavirus advice from a conservative Republican and if the advice were strong, clear and consistent, would you be willing to set aside your personal desires in order to do your part for the welfare of us all, including you?

Then read this essay by Karen Hughes, counselor to the president and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs during the George W. Bush administration. Yes, that kind of conservative Republican. Then put on your mask whenever you leave home, because we can defeat this pandemic if at least 95% of us take this simple step.

And send along a link to Hughes’ essay to your friends and family who have found reasons not to wear a mask. Surely, they don’t want to put us all at greater risk, so help them to get the message.

Separate and Timely Issue: Voting By Mail

The president, vice-president and a significant proportion of senators and congressmen vote by mail. So do most of our military personnel, as do citizens who travel. Millions of people routinely vote by mail and there isn’t even a whisper of voter fraud to be heard, except what comes from the fraud-spouting mouths of politicians who are afraid for their jobs should the people make their voices heard and the majority at last rules.

Click me to learn about voting by mail in your state.

Because you don’t want to stand in line for hours with unmasked voters, you need to learn what to do to ensure you can vote by mail. Here’s a link if you live in Illinois and here’s a link if you’re a Wisconsin resident. Every state has its own website and procedures, so check for yours. I recommend doing a search on “vote by mail in ______” replacing the underscore with the name of your state. And don’t include the quotation marks in your search. Or you can click on the logo to the left and they’ll direct you. Pay careful attention to the instructions for your state because you’ll have to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot within a defined and limited time range. Then VOTE!

Bonus Question

There are 195 countries in the world. For 10 points, list each country that erects statues to and names their military bases for traitors to their country. Submit your answer below.

Special hint (we normally don’t offer hints): This list is very short.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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