freedom

Dream Sequence


I awoke from this fully formed dream in the dark of last Wednesday morning.

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The regular army and air force of Ukraine, plus the hundreds of thousands of volunteer citizen soldiers have inflicted enormous damage to President Putin’s vaunted military forces. Thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed and at least twice as many have been wounded. Their tanks, troop carriers, aircraft and artillery pieces have been destroyed and the Russian army is in retreat, its myth of military might destroyed.

President Zelenskyy is taking to the airwaves to address President Putin. The whole world is watching, holding its breath. He speaks fluently in Russian from his office, with only the Ukrainian flag behind him. He is wearing a green tee shirt, over a month of dark beard and his eyes are bloodshot, yet rock solid into the camera.

President Putin, it is time for us to end this war.

Clearly, you began it with the expectation that your military would roll over my country in just a few days; that you could eliminate our parliament and me and install a puppet regime that would be your servant; that the world would stand by and watch while you once again commit unspeakable crimes against humanity. But none of that happened.

You did not count on the pride, the resolve and the unbendable patriotism of the Ukrainian people. You did not expect our fierce insistence upon our sovereignty, our democracy and our freedom. And you did not understand that the fire of freedom that burns in the hearts of people everywhere would cause them to reach out and support the Ukrainian people and punish Russia. Perhaps by now you are beginning to see the truth.

We will not bend. We will not be beaten. We will prevail. So, I am now giving you one chance to end this with some of your military still intact. If you refuse this offer we will continue to destroy your armies.

Here are my non-negotiable terms.

    1. All Russian military personnel, army, navy and air forces, will immediately cease fire.
    2. All Russian military personnel will immediately withdraw from all Ukrainian territory, including the Donbas and Crimea and all of our national waters. They will continue to withdraw until they are at least 150 miles from any part of the Ukrainian border.
    3. You will not interfere with any Ukrainians being repatriated or attempting to leave our country.
    4. You will immediately pay for your indiscriminate bombardment of our civilians, our cities and our lands the sum of $1 trillion dollars in U.S. funds as reparation for the destruction you have caused. It grieves us that we cannot get reparations from you that could bring back our little children you have killed.

The entire world wants you to accept these terms, Mr. Putin, including all of the Russian people. They don’t want this horrible war any more than any freedom loving people do. That’s why you must stop the killing and suffering and end the morbid parade of thousands of body bags containing dead Russian boys being sent back to Russia and their wailing, grieving mothers.

This offer will expire in three days. Take it. Save what you can from this misbegotten adventure and Europe will once again be at peace.

The world awaits your response.

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Then I woke up.

At 8:00AM that day, March 16, I watched the broadcast of President Zelenskyy addressing the U.S. Congress, the American people and the world. His words were brilliant and compelling. His message was clear and unmistakable. And the fierce resolve of his people was reflected in his bearing, plain for all to see.

Putin cannot win – ever – and there is nothing he can do to change that. Ukrainian troops have begun counter-offenses and the Russians are being defeated, even at the cost of so many innocent Ukrainian lives.

America and the rest of the free world have given much and will continue to give to Ukraine to help them to succeed. And perhaps one day soon President Zelenskyy will be able to deliver my dream speech.

May it be so.

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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.

We Know – Really


Credit: NASA – Photo taken by astronaut William Anders aboard Apollo 8, the first crewed mission to the Moon, December 24, 1968

We have records going back nearly 200 years, so it’s with great confidence that the experts say that the seven hottest years on record are – drum roll please – the last seven years.

They brought us ever-more-catastrophic storms, killing heat and more, as well as the deafeningly loud warnings of permafrost melt, releasing methane into the atmosphere, drastic reduction in Arctic ice and a chunk of ice the size of Maryland ready to break off Antarctica and raise ocean levels significantly.

Truly, I’m so done with climate warming deniers and foot draggers. It’s time to completely ignore them or vote them out of office or send them to live in a tornado or hurricane prone place or a drought stricken new desert where they can continue to live in denial right until reality smacks them upside the head. Or all of the above.

Meanwhile, the rest of us better get to work. Here are some ideas we all know about.

  1. Plant a trillion trees to sequester carbon dioxide in wood. That’s how nature has always done it. That’s 1200 trees for every human being (1,000,000,000,000 trees / 7.75 billion people – somebody check my decimal point). Some can’t or won’t help, so figure to plant double that number yourself.
  2. End logging in all rain forests and require reforestation.
  3. End all subsidies, tax breaks, depletion allowances and all other support for fossil fuel extracting companies.
  4. Subsidize research, development, manufacturing and installation of solar, wind, tidal and other renewable energy resources.
  5. Subsidize construction of low carbon footprint transportation to replace fossil fuel technologies.
  6. Require solar panel installations on all new buildings and retrofitting them onto existing buildings. Subsidize as necessary.
  7. Do the research to find efficient, cost effective electricity storage methodology.
  8. Recycle efficiently and thoroughly. That means don’t put recyclable materials into a pile; reuse them instead of extracting yet more natural resources.

This isn’t a comprehensive list. It’s just what came to mind quickly. There are some really smart people with really great ideas who can help us out of the mess we’ve created and continue to make worse. It’s time to start listening to them and tell the people making obstacles to survival to just shut up.

Here is the irrefutable truth:

If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got.
.

What we’ve been doing has gotten us a planet that’s ready to hard boil itself. We can either change what we’re doing to get better results or we can stew in our own juice and end this singular, miraculous accident of the universe.

We’ve known for a long time what we have to do to survive. It’s time to choose reality over denial, survival over short term profit, courage over self-serving cowardice, cooperation over tantrums, action over self-immobilization, science over ignorance, learning over fantasies, big thinking over myopia  .  .  .  you get the idea, and surely you can add to this list of comparisons. The important thing is to take constructive action now and, really, forever, because this planet isn’t designed to tolerate our destructiveness.

Reading Assignment

Making progress on this and every other issue will require agreement on several things. Reality is primary, of course, because the price of denial is too great to bear or even survive. There is another that, in its own way, is just as critical.

Freedom is now used as a rallying cry, an absolute demand, an excuse to promote ignorance and disease and a justification of power over others. That’s dangerous stuff for our democracy and it, too, has a price too great to bear or even survive.

Read The Exploitation of ‘Freedom’ in America by Elisabeth Anker. She has managed to cobble together words to explain what I’ve been seeing, hearing and feeling for a long time. This reading assignment is mandatory and you will be tested every day.

Oxymoron of the Year (So Far)

Click me for the story

If he didn’t do anything wrong, how come he wants forgiveness? Somebody help me out.

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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.

It’s a Free Country


The Jewish Democratic Council of America posted a list of what Congress must do if we are to preserve our democracy. These steps aren’t attached to any party or any religion. They are exclusively about keeping and protecting democracy – the real deal, not the cruel charade that Republicans are making of it by trying to limit voting to White Christian men.

Every one of these items must be done or we will knowingly, intentionally inscribe the name of our country on a plaque. It will hang on an obscure wall off The Great Hall in The Failures of Hope for Humanity Museum. Our failure will lead school children millennia from now to gaze at that plaque and shake their heads in sorrow and dismay. They will wonder how we could have been so petty, so lazy and so foolish as to squander this best hope.

Here’s the list.

  1. Demand Congress pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which together represent a sweeping election reform agenda that would prevent gerrymandering, restrict dark money in politics, and strike down voter suppression laws;
  2. Urge Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would establish crucial checks on executive power and prevent the presidential abuse we saw during the Trump administration;
  3. Support DC statehood and call on the Senate to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act and grant Washington D.C and Puerto Rico the opportunity to become states, which would give political representation to more than 4 million Americans, a majority of whom are people of color;
  4. Support the continued work of the January 6 commission, which aims to uncover the truth of what happened during the insurrection and hold its organizers responsible; and
  5. Call on all elected officials of all political parties to reject and publicly denounce the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. [emphasis original]

If anyone claiming to love democracy has a problem with any of this, just know that, like those school children so many years from now, I will shake my head in sorrow and dismay and I will wonder how any of us could be so petty, so lazy and so foolish.

We like being able to say what we want to say, do what we want to do and believe what we want to believe. We fortify ourselves with the simple declaration, “It’s a free country.” That’s “free” as in rights, not cost. That’s what the Founders intended, with very explicit clarity and direction for we who follow after them. No kings or autocrats or despots for us. No trampling of individual rights. The Founders’ choices and the reasons for their choices were and remain brilliantly clear.

If we fail our country now and let democracy perish, everything they risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create, as well as all we hold dear today, will vanish, because this will no longer be a free country. Instead, all of that freedom will be replaced by the forcing on We The People the beliefs, lies and punitive laws orchestrated by autocrats. We will no longer be free to say, do and believe as we want. You know the historical and present day examples, so you know that this is how it always works when the strongman, the power hungry, the manipulators take over.

Be clear about what must be done to save and preserve our democracy. It’s listed above. And emblazon in your heart this quote borrowed from Gene Kranz, Mission Director of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon:

“Failure is not an option.”
.

Apollo 13 Service Module showing catastrophic damage

It wasn’t an option for those three astronauts whom our scientists and engineers successfully brought back alive and unharmed. And it isn’t an option for us today.

Overcoming all the lies and distortions that are so effective at undermining our democracy is a daunting challenge. Millions of otherwise good Americans have been conned into believing that bad is good and that threats, violence and gaming the political system are fine and honest things. They think they’re the patriots. The constant stream of lies and distortions they’re fed convinces them of that, which is why they are so impassioned in their efforts to destroy our democracy.

Just when you thought that the extremist’s low couldn’t get any lower, read this from Common Cause:

“A Waukesha County Circuit Judge has banned absentee ballot drop boxes in the entire state. That forces all Wisconsinites to vote in person – even during a pandemic – or hope that their ballot arrives on time in the mail.” [emphasis original]

Clearly, we’re not doing a good job of stopping the radical right from its selfish pursuit of money and power. We’re this close to them tossing our democracy into a dumpster, lighting it on fire and replacing it with their minority rule. If we are to save our We The People democracy we need new thinking, new ideas and fresh, out-of-the-stodgy-old-box notions.

An anti-democracy Republican spouting anti-American rhetoric. Click the pic and be appalled.

Required Reading

Tom Friedman has offered just such a path. Read his piece on how to keep our democracy.

And read this, just in case you thought that Republicans aren’t out to eliminate our democracy. They’ve been working to do just that for decades. Recall the words of Paul Weyrich, Republican hate monger and cheat, these from 1980. Click the pic to the right to hear him promote the crushing of our rights that continues to be Republican dogma today. 42 years later the only thing that has changed is that Republicans are now much better at lying and undermining our rights and our values.

Cops

It’s an inherently dangerous job, but cops aren’t dying in the biggest numbers due to violent drug busts. Or due to cop killers or gang member drive-by’s or traffic stops gone bad. Not from heart attacks, strokes or cancer. Read the caption in this screenshot:

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL 10th) is a former cop and was Chief of Police in Orlando. She knows something about the dangers of the job. Turns out the biggest cop killer in 2021 was COVID. It was the biggest killer in 2020, too.

It’s a good thing this is a free country, where cops and the citizens they protect have the freedom to refuse to be vaccinated, then get sick, infect others and die.

Hospitals are overrun with COVID patients, about 97% of whom are there because they were unvaccinated and caught the virus. Likely, 95% of the unvaccinated COVID patients in hospital wouldn’t be there had they been exposed to the virus after being vaccinated. Things would be much different then.

We’d have plenty of empty beds in hospitals for you when you get into that car crash, or for your spouse who slips, falls and breaks a leg, or for grandpa when he has a stroke and for your daughter when she needs an emergency appendectomy. Instead, today all of those folks can just go home and hope for the best, because not only are all the hospital beds full, but all of the gurneys in the hallways are full, too. And the nurses and docs attending to that overload of patients are exhausted and burned out, all because of our unvaccinated fools, including unvaccinated cops.

Q: Why are the right and the far right and the way-out far right fighting vaccines, masks, mandates and they’re promoting lies about vaccine dangers and COVID hoaxes?

A. Prolonging the pandemic slows economy recovery which makes Democrats look bad, which enhances Republican candidacies. Same for cutting all family support programs. Same for voting obstruction. Tell me again how righties love Americans, because I can’t remember.

That rugged individualism, that “You can’t tell me what to do” attitude works if you’re young, strong, healthy and have no sick family members needing expensive help. Otherwise, not so much. When it hits the fan for those folks, those same rugged individuals will be able sit homeless in their refrigerator boxes and hug their Ayn Rand books, recalling the good old days before they were no longer young, strong and healthy.

Finally,

Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca. He was shocked, too. Click the pic.

You have to listen to Mitch McConnell’s tantrum in response to President Biden’s blistering speech challenging those who are attacking our democracy. McConnell’s blathering is a tutorial in Republican snow jobs.

He does what Republicans, Trumpies, insurrectionists and hate mongers always do: instead of focusing on the issues, he made ad hominem attacks; he projected Republican failures and lies onto Biden; he was outraged over what is not outrageous; he misrepresented actual, Earth-based reality umpteen different ways; and he completely chickened out of dealing with the real issues. I’m shocked, shocked! to find obfuscation is going on by Republicans.

Go ahead. Listen to that duplicitous, manipulating zombie and learn.

Then read Eugene Robinson’s critique, McConnell’s defense of the filibuster is pure hypocrisy.

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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


Daydream 2, The Rolling Stones & COVIDumb


You can find Daydream 1 here. JA

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In Federal Court, Washington DC

It is the jury selection process, where I am being questioned as a potential juror by skilled lawyers for the defendant, Donald J. Trump.

Lawyer: Are you an attorney?

Me: No

Lawyer: Do you now have any legal case pending before any court?

Me: No

Lawyer: Have you ever been involved in either a civil or criminal case?

Me: Yes

Lawyer: Please describe all such cases.

Me: There was a civil dispute years ago with a former employee of my company who violated his employment contract. It’s sad how some people simply can’t be trusted. Know what I mean?

Lawyer: Are there any issues pertaining to that case that remain unresolved?

Me: No

Lawyer: Are you familiar with the defendant, Donald J. Trump?

Me: Yes. I know of him.

Lawyer: How do you know of him?

Me: He was the President of the United States. Pretty hard to miss that.

Lawyer: Do you have any opinions about the defendant?

Me: You’re kidding, right?

Lawyer: Please answer the question.

Me: Yes

Lawyer: Please tell the court what your opinions are, this for the purpose of determining if you will be open to hearing evidence as an unbiased, impartial juror.

Me: Okay.

It’s been established by multiple mental health professionals that Mr. Trump is an amoral narcissist who willfully refuses to consider the harm he does to others while in pursuit of what he wants for himself, which happens pretty much all the time. That enables and encourages the criminal acts he committs in plain sight. He has violated many laws, including sedition, conspiracy to commit lots of crimes, money laundering, various kinds of fraud, incitement to riot, election interference, the emoluments clause of the Constitution, the Hatch Act, at least 20 sexual predator acts and more. So, sure, I’ll be a most impartial juror.

Lawyer: Your Honor, clearly this juror candidate is incapable of being impartial. This goes way beyond a peremptory challenge to his being wholly unfit for jury duty.

Me: No, wait, Your Honor. Don’t listen to him. Put me on the jury. I promise to listen to all of this lawyer’s absurd lies about his client and do it with an open mind. Really. No fingers crossed. I’ll give serious thought to his B.S. evidence before rejecting it. Even more, I’ll consider with an open mind the total crap testimony of the defendant before I vote to convict him and recommend the maximum sentence for each and every one of his crimes. I’m so unbiased that I’ll recommend to the court that the defendant’s sentences run successively with no possibility of parole. That should lock him up with some very unusual people for a few hundred years.

It’ll be great, Your Honor! See? I’m impartial. C’mon, put me on the jury. Please?

The Rolling Stones

In a hopeful article, Build Back Better Isn’t Dead Yet, David Axelrod reminds us of the premature declarations of death of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in 2010. After months of fruitless negotiations with Republicans, no agreement could be found – imagine that! Not even Democrats could agree with one another – imagine that, too! – and many progressives argued at high decibel levels that lack of a public option made the ACA pointless. Nevertheless, the Act passed a couple of months later. In spite of 7,963 Republican legislative efforts over the next 11 years to drown it in a bathtub, the ACA remains the law of the land and continues to grow in popularity.

Obama took heat for years over the lack of a public option, but he consistently responded with the truth: they passed what could be passed. He refused to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What if we were to apply that same clarity and action to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan? What if we were to pass what can be passed? What if the perfect were set aside in order to achieve the good? What if we were willing to pass BBB piece-by-piece, like FDR did with the New Deal?

The Rolling Stones said it clearly and said it best:

“You can’t always get what you want.

“But if you try sometime, you just might find

“You get what you need.”

COVIDumb

Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat

The U.S. has:

4% of the world’s population

20% of the world’s COVID cases

15.2% of the world’s COVID deaths.

That’s what continues to happen in this first world, wealthiest nation on Earth. For an understanding of how that is possible, do the Deep Throat imperative: Follow the money to determine who benefits from our homicidal dysfunction.

Hint: It might be those who will benefit from a weak economy and an angry citizenry.

.

The big loser states – all with gubernatorial and/or legislative obstacles to vaccinations and masking. There is a terrible price for obstinance and false claims of freedom.

A Tale of Death in Two Same Story Cities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….Can you help with an attribution for this video?

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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.

Existential


Steve Bannon told us long before the 2016 election that he wants to “tear it all down,” meaning the administrative state. That includes our Constitution, democracy, learning and wisdom and the institutions that uphold our moral foundation. He wants it all blown up.

He is a nihilist, a hater of authority and a manufacturer of chaos and hatred. I have no interest in understanding his deep and profoundly debilitating daddy issues that drive him to create destruction, because doing so is useless to the critical task at hand. What is important is to recognize how impactful Bannon is and has been to Trump becoming the first American dictator and what that means to us.

Trump used Bannon first to get himself elected, then to convert the presidency into a money machine for Trump. Neither of them has even a consciousness, much less a concern for all who get crushed by their maniacal, mentally ill lust for ever more power and money. And, of course, Trump has used hundreds of sycophantic goons to subvert every agency of all three branches of government, demonstrating just how easy it is to get people to sell out and be manipulated for what they think are self-serving reasons. Even with regular examples dangled in their faces they just can’t seem to get it into their heads that they themselves will be next to be fed into Trump’s guillotine.

Many of us want to preserve our democracy and don’t agree with the 20% of Americans who are both Trump followers and who think violence is justified in order for them to get their way. That leaves us with critical challenges, chief among which is to answer the question, “What are you going to do about it?”

One option is to give in to the threats. History is teeming with examples of people cowed into submission by the threat or use of force. That means that they willfully made themselves serfs without rights, just pawns to be played and sacrificed for the benefit of the bullies. It’s understandable how fear could make people allow that, but if we do that we invite the despotism the bullies seek to create and which you and I don’t want.

In a recent webinar presented by The Atlantic one of the topics discussed was how to deal with millions of our fellow citizens who accept accusations that are completely untethered to any facts and who reject out of hand any observable evidence that counters their beliefs. The point made by the experts is that we don’t have an option of changing such peoples’ minds because they are set in concrete. They are impervious to all information that doesn’t support their predetermined certainties, so we must do things to appeal to those who have at least one foot on real ground if we are to protect our democracy.

I don’t have confidence in the Democrats’ willingness to face reality and do what needs to be done. Test my lack of confidence by listing all the times in a week you hear or see any Democrat directly and specifically unmasking the insurgents, the liars, the cheats and the haters. Include the times that you see the bad guys get punished for doing things like Lauren Bobert’s attack on Muslims and the White supremacist, anti-Semitic statements of Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene and the homicidal representatives with their AR-15 Christmas cards. Where are the smack downs of Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz? Add up all the incidents of push back to the crazies that you find in a week. I’m betting that the number on your list will be zero or very close to it. I’m afraid that we just can’t count on the Dems to do the right and necessary things – yet.

But what if we can turn up the heat on them?

We need people who will primary our confrontation avoiding senators and representatives. We need those people to be on the fiery point of the arrow aimed at the Trump conspiracy to end our nation. We need people who will organize giant protest marches in the streets of our towns and cities. We need people to show up at the protests and demand justice be visited on the law breakers and that democracy be assured for We The People. We need people to canvas door to door and encourage the non-voters to show up because that’s in their own best interests and because they’re screwed if they don’t.

We need you and I to get up off our BarcaLoungers and make noise. Lots of noise. We need for us to show up at protests and put lawn signs out front where the neighbors will see them. We need to write opinion pieces online and in local and regional newspapers (where they still exist). We need us to call into online talk shows and blast back against the hypocrites and haters so that other listeners might have their eyes cracked open just a bit. We need to go to town hall meetings and smack down the smack of the violent ones.

We need people who will challenge every calm and reasonable approach to our crisis of democracy, because those calm and reasonable tactics are powerless to stop an authoritarian coup backed by 20 million armed people who believe violence is okay. Doubt that? Grab your history book and read about Nazi Germany in the 1930s – and no, that isn’t hyperbolic and yes, it’s an apt comparison. We are in that kind of danger.

This is no thought experiment. This is existential – an actual life and death battle for democracy. Steve Bannon and the rest of the bad guys say they want to tear it down. I say, “Not on my watch.”

What do you say?

475

That’s the number the Associated Press published in an illuminating examination of our bemoaned, hallucinatory plague of voting fraud.

They looked at the 2020 election votes in the six so-called battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where 25.5 million votes were cast. The total of all suspicious votes (like people voting for dead relatives) reported by those states was just 475. That’s 0.00186% of the total vote.

President Biden’s cumulative margin of victory in those states was 311,257, which places the suspicious votes at 0.15% of the margin. Even if all those sketchy votes actually were fraudulent and even if all of them were added to Trump’s vote count in just one battleground state (pick one, any one), they still wouldn’t come close to making a difference in the outcome.

Some of us think that there is a firm reality that can be counted upon, like gravity, verifiable facts and counting. The rest aren’t interested in reality. For them, it’s evidence, schmevidence. So, sadly, nobody’s views will be modified even a little by the AP reporting. Such is the state of our political trench warfare and the failures of education to overcome primitive beliefs. Turns out we really aren’t much beyond beating drums in the jungle.

And Just For Fun

Thanks go to SS for the pointer.

————————————

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.

Little


Note: This is the promised follow up to last Sunday’s post. JA

——————————–

Anyone who is watching can see the naked assaults and the unscrupulous dismantling of American democracy. Everywhere, the angry little people are attacking our institutions, taking away our rights and freedoms, keeping power for themselves and replacing all that we hold dear with rule by an anti-democratic minority.

This frightened savagery of little men and little women with little intellect and little vision, club their way through democracy, beating primitive drums to frighten the people and destroying all that is in their path to ever-more power and money for themselves.

Truth has no place in their little world. It has been completely replaced by propaganda, by projections of their own failings onto others and by yet more cruel lies layered upon the carcasses of prior lies. They do this with their faux patriotism and their shams about freedom and independence. The smallness of these little people leads them to constantly scheme to create control over others’ bodies, minds and lives in their conspiracy mania to control We The People.

From Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

And that is exactly how democracies die: gradually, then suddenly. In case you have difficulty seeing the assaults on our own democracy, just look to the recent histories of other countries like Hungary, Russia, Turkey, the Philippines and elsewhere. They’re just a little further down the road to despotism. Here’s the really bad news about that:

Right now we are at a moment of inflection, a tipping point, between gradually and suddenly.

We suffer from a good but distracted populace, too myopic and stressed to notice much of what is beyond their daily lives. If we are to prevent the sudden fall, the crash that breaks everything, we must open the eyes of everyone to the truth and reality of the danger before us and we must then marshal our forces to push back the little people who would bring us tyranny.

Truly, this is a Thomas Paine moment.
.
“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
.

The bugle has sounded. It’s time for us to stand by our country and by We The People.

You know what to do to stop the little men and the little women of little intellect and little vision from destroying our democracy.* Look at the graphic below and you’ll realize that the countdown is relentless and that there is no time to waste. It’s time to grab your metaphorical musket, report for duty and stand a post for democracy.

Required
A photo of a crowd with a MAGA hat in the foreground and people standing on scaffolding with a Second Amendment flag and Trump banner in front of the smoke-obscured U.S. Capitol

January 6, 2021 – A day which will live in infamy

A lot of people are investigating threats to our democracy, most notably the members of the House January 6 Commission. They’re interviewing, issuing subpoenas and referring refusers for criminal prosecution. Likely, their report is almost a year away.

Other well informed people have plenty to say and you’re in luck, because some experts are convening on the 13th and you can watch this must-see event. From The Atlantic:

The January/February issue of The Atlantic is devoted to examining the crisis of American democracy.

Join Jeffrey Goldberg, along with Pulitzer-winning staff writers Barton Gellman and Anne Applebaum, on Monday, December 13 at 11 a.m. ET for a virtual event revisiting the Capitol riot, one year later. Register for free.

Here’s a link to the cover story of the January/February issue, Trump’s Coup Has Already Begun, and here’s a link to another piece, The Election That Could Break America. Like the virtual event, both of these pieces are a must.

Many thanks to LP for the heads up.

Finally

This can all feel overwhelming and unstoppable, but just in time the right message has arrived.

“December 7, 1941 – A day which will live in infamy” – FDR

Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on our naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field in Hawaii. 90-year-old Dan Rather has some things to say about that. He was 10 years old then and today passes to us some wisdom from his father and from his own experiences. He concludes his piece, writing,

“I call upon those memories many times to return me to equilibrium. Especially on this day. December 7. A day that not only lives in infamy, but a day that also spawned a repudiation of despair.”

So, step off the ledge. Come back inside. We’ll roll up our shirtsleeves and do what Americans did then, what we always do. And we’ll repudiate the despair we’ve felt so deeply.

———————–

* I’m researching the best things for us to do to make sure those who would stab democracy in the heart are defeated. It’s often a confusing and even frustrating fight, because every cause seems to have a story and a hand extended toward your wallet. You want to do what will be most effective so that democracy wins, but you don’t know where to put your support. It’s just plain hard to divine where that is or what to do. If you have a suggestion, please pass it along. Meanwhile, expect a report soon. After all, the mid-terms will determine control of Congress and that election is just 335 days away.

————————————

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.

Domestic Terrorism and Your Ancestors


Likely, the first part of the title of this post makes you think of the kid who killed 4 classmates in Michigan’s Oxford High School last week. Maybe you also remember the Las Vegas shooter, the Tree of Life Synagogue and Mother Emanuel AME Church shooters and the murderer in Charlottesville and the insurrectionist murderers at the Capitol Building. You’d be right using that title for all those murderers. But I’m thinking about our terrorist elected officials.

Like the terrorists who made it a felony to give a bottle of water to someone waiting in line to vote. And the ones who made it legal for thugs carrying Glocks and assault rifles to patrol the grounds right outside polling places. What could possibly go wrong there?

And like the terrorist legislators who use minority rule to make second class, powerless citizens of those who likely wouldn’t vote for them.*

And the terrorists in Congress who regularly threaten to shut down the U.S. government whenever a Democrat is in the White House. They’re the same terrorists who threaten to cause our country to default on its debts. They do that every year a Democrat is in the White House, too.

“Hey, world, we just decided we won’t pay you what we owe you. Too bad for you and goodie for those of us who refuse to pay our national credit card bill, ‘cus we just stuck it to the President and our opponents in Congress. That’s how you know that we’re very tough guys. You’re just collateral damage and honestly, we really don’t care what happens to you or our standing among nations, as long as we get our way now.”

There was a time when terrorists putting a gun to the nation’s head to get their way wouldn’t have been tolerated. Back then the idea of claiming that an election was stolen, this in the total absence of any evidence to support the claim, would have earned censure, rebuke and ridicule. Storming the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power wouldn’t even have occurred to anyone. But all of that and more have gone on and much is still going on right now, energized by a constant fire hose of lies. We’ve always had politicians who lie, but there are few if any other examples of a coordinated, extremist attack on reality.

If we’re to deal with this domestic terrorism we’ll have to figure out some things, like:

How is it that ignoring the will of the people is standard and lying to the public every day is both commonplace and smart politics?

How is it that we wring hands and then move on as though nothing has happened every time some whack job guns down kids, shoppers, concert goers and worshipers? Then we refuse to do anything to prevent the next murderer wannabe from getting his hands on a gun.

And how is it that the extremists, the radical terrorists, have manipulated the Supreme Court into a being a mob of partisan hacks that,

– invites huge money into our politics so the rich can buy their legislators (Citizens United). Worse, they exaggerated that harm with an issue unrelated to that case (“legislating from the bench”) that gave full human rights to corporations

– blocks gun safety legislation at every opportunity (Heller) and snuffs countless other attempts to obey the will of We The People – NOTE: a minimum of 80% of us want those gun safety laws.

– is now almost certain to ignore established law, decisions and the precedent of generations (no more stare decisis), leading to mistrust of the rule of law and making Supreme Court justices nothing more than political hacks**

– is now almost certain to tell women that they are not full citizens with the right to make decisions for themselves and that the government will be their daddy for life**

– is now almost certain to stimulate huge growth in the back alley abortion business, leading to otherwise preventable sterilizations, sickness and death – we’ve seen this movie before**

How is it that we tolerate such wanton disregard of decency and responsibility and we abandon the most fundamental rule of democracy, majority rule?

What has happened to us such that we allow all of this to go on?

Those aren’t idle or rhetorical questions. I want your insight on how we came to allow our values to be desecrated, because I surely don’t have answers. Here’s something to stimulate your thinking.

About your ancestors

Imagine for a moment that you could talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents for an hour or two, people of the Greatest Generation and perhaps the generation before them, born in the late 19th or the earliest part of the 20th century. You’d tell them what is happening in today’s America. What do you suppose they’d say? Here’s my guess.

It would take most of that time for them to begin to believe you, because they’d be shocked and horrified. Your report would be of an America that is unimaginable to them. Much of the story you’d have told them would describe some of the very reasons we went to war against countries that did the things we’re doing right now.

That’s how far we’ve strayed.

Look for a clear call to action on Wednesday, December 8.

—————————-

* From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson:

“After 19 Republican-dominated states have passed election laws suppressing the vote and gerrymandering districts, a reactionary minority controls them. Although Biden won Wisconsin, for example, the state supreme court today left in place districts that likely will enable Republicans to control 60% of the legislative seats in the state (and 75% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives). Ending federal protections for civil rights means handing to these reactionaries power over the majority of us.”

**  From Dan Rather:

“The issue of abortion is one on which fair minded people, honest to their own beliefs and moral codes, can disagree. But today was not about personal choice. It was about the law of the land that will make no exceptions other than those carved out by the states. And if the history of a time before legal abortions is any guide, and there is no reason to suspect otherwise, today will beget many personal tragedies, ruined lives, hardship, and despair.

“What transpired in the marbled halls of the Supreme Court was not genteel, even if it was wrapped in the ceremony and vocabulary of polite legal discourse. It was a traumatic reckoning. First and foremost for the rights of women to have control of their bodies and their lives. And secondly for a nation of laws, where precedent is supposed to matter. Instead, we saw a fixed legal right, enshrined in jurisprudence for half a century, likely shredded by a handful of unelected and unaccountable arbiters of what our nation of more than 300 million souls can and cannot do.”

“There are many subplots to this drama. We can talk about how a majority of the justices on the reactionary side of the ledger were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and what that means for the health of our democracy. We can talk about how many of the justices were less than truthful, or outright lied, in their confirmation hearings when they acted like they would judge an abortion case on precedent and the law instead of having their minds made up. We can talk about the politics of the court and whether Democratic voters slept-walked on the issue for too long.”

————————————

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.

Antipodean


That was a new word to me, too. From Dictionary.com:

Antipodian – adjective: 1. of, relating to, or originating from places on the opposite side of the globe, especially Australia and New Zealand

That sounds suspiciously similar to “the Orient” – meaning the East. Like Antipodean, it’s an area defined by its location relative to the West, specifically, Great Britain. Defining places relative to the Brits is so very 19th century. Seems rather self-important of them. But it’s the antipode that is the focus for us today.

The Economist reports that

Antipodean anti-vaxxers are learning from America’s far right
.

More than 85% of Australians and New Zealanders are vaccinated and some of the strictest pandemic prevention efforts have combined with that to make for pretty good COVID statistics relative to the rest of the world. But, of course, not even all Kiwis and Aussies can tolerate such good news for long and instead they balk at restrictions and being told what to do, just like Americans. Clearly, that visceral, primitive reaction isn’t continent limited. The worse news is how Australians and New Zealanders are learning from our very own anti-vaccine extremists.

The death threat spewers, those calling for reform via rifle and shotgun, the hystericals over imagined theft of their freedom are in the minority but they are loud and vocal. Reports The Economist,

“‘Protesters are taking inspiration from America’s far right,’ says Mr Spoonley. Some wave flags featuring Donald Trump, wear red hats and threaten journalists. They have started calling politicians ‘traitors’ and calling for lynchings. Placards mentioning QAnon, an incoherent conspiracy theory which is taking off in the Antipodes, are increasingly common.”

The red hat on the guy with the bullhorn in the pic to the left reads “Make Adelaide Great Again” – MAGA. I’m sure the power trip he appears to be on helps him to feel more in control; same for the sign carriers and those just yelling.

Protesters in New Zealand on November 9 chanted and carried signs reading, “Kiwis are not lab rats.” That’s a valiant effort to characterize their protest, but it’s more than a bit upside down. What they seem to be missing is that refusing vaccinations and rebelling against public health safety restrictions essentially puts everyone into a lab experiment – rats in a box with infection stalking them at all times. Indeed, the resistors are making themselves into those lab rats by openly sharing the dangerous variants of the virus. So, those Kiwis really are lab rats. They volunteered for the experiment and their rage will not protect them from sickness or death.

That’s what we Americans do in our spreader and super-spreader events, like the Harley Davidson mash up last summer in South Dakota and our football games and going unmasked indoors among strangers.

What’s at stake is life and death and our pandemic problem is made much worse by the human “You can’t tell me what to do!” riddle.  Who do you suppose has a good idea how to solve that riddle?

And That’s Related To

Hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. People who want to hate will find both a way and a target.

The example above is, on the surface at least, a tantrum over individual liberty and rage over imagined victimization. That it casts aside any vestige of good sense or duty to others is quite beside the point. People have found a way to feel wronged and they are venting their rage, hating whatever phantom bad guy they can conjure, like vaccine mandating politicians, the media, imaginary fascists or socialists or communists and more. It’s very little different than burning at the stake women imagined to be witches, this in order to cast away evil spirits or those believed to be summoning them. For some, it’s just hatred and rage for the feeling of power that their rage gives them.

So, it will come as no surprise that hatred based on race and religion is pretty much the same as any other. In America we have a multi-centuries long trail of duplicity, subjugation and violence against anyone whose ancestors were not from northern European countries or England and who were not Christian.

That has continued most proudly in what has passed as the Republican Party since the Voting Rights Bill became law in 1964. It carries on today in voting restrictions and other efforts to maintain minority control of power and money. You saw it in Charlottesville, on January 6 at the Capitol Building and in hateful, incoherent blogs and brainless attacks on people and on reality in Congress and from the twice-impeached, disgraced former president and his sycophants.

This is not new, but it has reached a critical point in this country. For clarity about this, today’s required reading is from Thom Hartmann in his piece, Revealed: The Racist Plot To Tear America Apart.

Finally

Ten Republican controlled states have successfully prohibited the President’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.

Eleven Republican controlled states have filed suit against the President’s vaccine mandate for employees of private companies with over 100 employees.

Nine Republican controlled states have banned school mask mandates.

An uncountable number of Republican legislators, operatives, pundits and TV, cable and radio blabbers have had tirades of faux patriotism against masks and vaccinations. With false propaganda – lies – they have exhorted the public to rage and to refuse to comply. Never mind the risk to health and even survival.

These are the very same people who are publicly criticizing President Biden for poor performance in combating the pandemic and, in consequence, the economy. Indeed, if their lies can maximize the pandemic suffering and death for another 11 months, that should keep inflation high and the economy doing poorly. Then perhaps Republicans can retake power in Congress.

It’s nearly all unvaccinated people who listen to that propaganda and are dying from COVID at the rate of about 1,000 per day. There are 342 days until the 2022 election, and that leads to the key question:

Is it okay for over 300,000 more Americans to die so that Republicans can rule?

Like I said, hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. And it takes a lot of Republican hatred to view 300,000 additional deaths as just collateral damage in their selfish, diabolical quest for power and money.

Here’s a question I heard posed not long ago: Are you okay with the way things are now? If not, what needs to be changed and in what way?

I’ll be posing those questions periodically, hoping to trigger your critical thinking.

————————————

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.

A Modest COVID Proposal


I have a modest proposal, an idea that’s so crazy that it just might be a good idea.

As you can see from the charts below, daily COVID cases have surged about 30% this month. Compile your own set of explainers for that; it won’t be difficult. The more interesting news is the confirmation of what you already know, that the rise in cases and the resultant hospitalizations are almost entirely of unvaccinated people.

So, read the charts below, then repeat out loud the text of the graphic on the right.

Click either chart for the story from STAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

The gigantic workload that has been dumped on our medical professionals has spanned nearly two years. That has burned them out and they “are quitting in droves.” And the enormous financial cost of all those hospitalizations has been dumped on all of us by our vaccine refusing citizens. That is to say, these people are knowingly refusing to do the simple, free thing that will prevent them from landing in the hospital, overburdening our medical professionals and running up a huge tab we all pay through our insurance premiums.

I’m going to take a guess that may be related to that. See if see if you agree.

Many of the people who are refusing to get vaccinated see themselves as fiercely independent. They balk, sometimes violently, at being told what to do and proudly announce that they’ll make their own decisions for themselves and will accept the consequences.

Frustratingly, it isn’t that simple.

According to Healthcare Finance, the average cost of hospital care for COVID-19 patients ranges from $51,000 – $78,000, depending on age. We hospitalize about 5,000 freshly ill Americans daily and the hospital case count hovers around 50,000 all the time.* If we use a mid-point cost of $65,000 per hospitalization and multiply that by 5,000 new hospitalizations per day, we find that our unvaccinated, fiercely independent citizens are costing us an additional $325,000,000 every day.

They are knowingly putting themselves at risk and are expecting us (through insurance) to pay their bills.

Is that fair? I don’t think so, so here’s my modest proposal.

Let’s tell all Americans that if they refuse to be vaccinated and then contract COVID-19 and require hospitalization that they will be ineligible for insurance coverage of their medical costs, whether through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. They’ll be fiercely and independently on their own financially, just as they say they prefer.

Sure, we can make exceptions for those who are medically unable to be vaccinated. Perhaps there are some other reasons we should cut a few of the refusers some slack, but very few.

Here’s the best part of this plan: betcha that a lot of vaccine refusers will suddenly get vaccinated, which will protect both them and the rest of us, too.

Now, I understand how socially odious my idea is and how politically third rail it is. Still, Republican extremists should love the support this modest COVID proposal gives to their fierce independence.

Wait a second  .  .  .  are they the same people who carried right wing protest signs reading, “Keep government out of my Medicare?”

Session Questions

If you were to ask a vaccine refuser if healthcare is a right and not a privilege, à la Bernie Sanders,

A. Under normal circumstances, how would they answer?

B. If that same refuser were in the hospital for COVID-19 and about to have a breathing tube shoved down his/her throat, how would they answer then?

C. If the refuser referenced in B above were asked if COVID is a hoax, how would s/he answer? Hint: It’s common for refusers to be screaming about what a hoax the disease is until the moment that the breathing tube shuts them up. Yes, really.

D. How about if that refuser had just entered the hospital with acute COVID symptoms and the hospital told him/her to expect a bill of $65,000 that s/he will have to pay out of pocket. What would they say about their right to healthcare then and whether they should have been vaxxed?

This Just In (last Friday)

In case you thought our times couldn’t become crazier:

Rep. Greene introduces bill to award Congress’s highest honor to Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men
.

No, that is not a headline from The Onion. It’s from the Washington Post and it’s real. Read the article and boggle your brain here or here.

Echoing Maureen Dowd, “Donnez-moi un break,” and “Prenez un grip,” Rep. Taylor-Greene.

Ahmaud Arbery, hunted for refusing to have a conversation with an angry White guy and then killed for the crime of running while Black

Lynching

Travis McMichael, his dad and a neighbor almost got away with lynching Ahmaud Arbery via shotgun. The first prosecutor, Jackie Johnson, conspired with McMichael to obstruct justice by telling McMichael to wash Arbery’s blood off himself and his clothing and then saying she wouldn’t press charges. That’s conspiracy to obstruct justice and perhaps some other crimes. Here’s the good news.

That first prosecutor has been indicted and stands a good chance of conviction, which will result in her reconnecting with felons she herself put in prison. I’m sure it will be a lovely reunion.

And a jury in Glynn County Georgia – 11 Whites and 1 Black – managed to figure out what really happened. They did their duty, sending all three men to prison for a really long time. With or without video evidence, that’s a very different outcome than might have been expected not so long ago. Is it possible we’re beginning to say, “No more lynchings” and really mean it?

Finally

President Biden’s poll numbers are quite bad. Is that because he disappointed Americans’ hopes for prosperity or mishandled our foreign affairs and put us at risk? Is he a failed first year president? Nope. Read this.

——————————

* With the number at roughly 780,000, we have more Americans dead from COVID than the total population in each of 70 countries. We have more COVID dead than we had combat deaths from WW I, WW II, the Korean, Viet Nam, Civil, Revolutionary, War of 1812, Afghanistan and Mexican-American wars combined. And we did that in under 2 years. Worse, it seems that’s okay with a lot of Americans.

Now there’s a new COVID variant, B.1.1.529, named Omicron. It’s on the way from South Africa and Hong Kong and has already found its way into the U.K., Germany and Italy. It “has a big jump in evolution” and, “Scientists are still unclear on how effective existing vaccines will be against the new variant.” Right now we are climbing the winter spike in Delta and Omicron is on the way. OMG Omicron.

No telling what our refusers will do about this next assault, but this feels most ominous, like the next iteration of pandemic assault following Delta. It’s going to be very expensive. Who will pay?

————————————

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.

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.

————————-

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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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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