hope

Compare and Contrast – Guest Essay


Reading time – 4:39  .  .  .

Immediately following the DNC convention and Joe BIden’s speech, regular reader and sometimes commenter Dan Giallombardo felt the need to put his reactions in writing. He gave me permission to show you his offering in this guest essay. It’s being posted today both so that you can appreciate his message and to see it in contrast to four days of the RNC/Trump hatefest. Keep in mind that Dan is a veteran of decades of political contests, so he knows what he’s seeing. Many thanks to Dan for his essay.

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Over the past three years and eight months a dark, sinister veil has fallen over the United States. Once our prestige in the international community was unchallenged. Now we are viewed as a “has been,” and “fools in the marketplace.” We have a president who is viewed as an amoral clown, a carnival barker for the Big Con.

Tonight, Joe Biden accepted the Democratic party’s nomination for President of the United States and the first small beams of light came through the darkness – the first small rays of light in a long, dark and bitterly cold night. Tonight, Joe Biden reminded us of what hope looks like. In 1972, RIchard Nixon won the election with 60.7% of the vote. Were the election held today, based on his acceptance speech, Biden’s victory would make Nixon’s win a Presidential footnote.

But the election is still 73 days away. A lot can happen in that amount of time. We must not be given to the illusion that because Biden is ahead in the polls that this election will be an easy, dignified one. It’s not going to be. It will be an alley fight wherein we will scratch and claw for every vote we can find.

Donald Trump is not a man of graceful action. He will fight for this, and he will lie about everything. I worry that he and Barr have cooked up some “October surprise” for us. We must be vigilant and guard against that.

Biden’s Thursday night speech reminded me of the title of the  book by President Barrack Obama: The Audacity of Hope; that’s what Biden was offering us. His vision of hope and the confidence he has in the American people—all of us—black, brown, yellow white, red, we are all  members of this Great Republic in which we are so fortunate to live. But Joe Biden also reminded us of the gravity of President Obama’s words the night before: if we re-elect Trump, it will be the end of our democracy. Not an idea to be taken lightly, but neither is Trump.

Like a wounded animal he will try everything to win. And like a wounded animal, he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. As long as Donald is on top, which brings up another point.

Over 170,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Joe Biden mourns with them; he has a far too intimate experience with the kind of grief that comes from having one’s family torn apart. He mourns for them; he mourns with them. It’s called empathy. The current occupant of the Oval Office dismisses these deaths with a glib remark: “It is what it is.” Nowhere near my idea of leadership.

The man who tonight began to show us the light in the darkness, took to task the “bone-spur-cadet” in the White House. For five months the US has battled for its life against Covid-19, as the man in the Oval Office has used braggadocio and lies to con the American people into believing that he’s very effectively dealing with the crisis and “We’re making great progress with a vaccine.”

Joe Biden addressed that issue in his speech; he spoke of what he would do to stop the virus. Biden has a plan; not bragging, not lying; a plan to fight and beat the virus. A virus that has killed over 170,000 Americans; ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-THOUSAND AMERICANS. No matter how you present that number it comes out obscene.

In a speech that pushed back some of  the darkness, Biden rightly raged at the indifference shown by the current administration to the bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan. He pointedly referred to the current occupant of the Oval Office—just in case there was ever any doubt about who he was rightly accusing.

For those of us fortunate to have been alive during the administration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we have the memory of how he made us feel. He brought vigor, vision and leadership to the office of the President, not cheeseburgers and Cokes. When Kennedy spoke the world listened. When Trump speaks the world places its collective hand over its mouth so as not to be seen laughing.

John Kennedy was blessed with eloquence. In his inaugural speech, he made reference to “the torch;” he was referring to the torch of liberty; the same one that is held high by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. His words still ring out: “Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that the torch has been passed  .  .  .”

Today we are the bearers of that torch. It is incumbent upon us to keep it burning, up to us to pass it on to those who follow us. We are creating their tomorrow right now.

Finally,

Motivational speaker Les Brown used to say, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” He was right of course, and these times are just like all others, in that we are always being tested. The world challenges us to know what we stand for. In these dangerous times, it’s especially important to be clear.

Jacob Blake, a Black father in Kenosha, WI, was gunned down at point blank range; the White officer had a grip on Blake’s shirt as he fired his gun. The cop shot Blake in the back seven times. Blake was unarmed and posed no risk of violence, yet was shot right in front of his three children. What would you do if Blake were a friend of yours? What would you do if you were horrified that one of yours – a fellow human being – had been maliciously gunned down?

The NBA playoffs are ongoing, but the players know this injustice and they just wouldn’t have it. They walked out, refusing to play game 2 on Wednesday night, this as a statement of protest, as well as showing solidarity with the victim of this police violence, as well as with his family and against racial injustice. These men know what they stand for and they’re telling us about it publicly.

Ignore for the moment the galactically cynical, mean spirited comments of presidential whisperer Jared Kushner that somehow managed to conflate the NBA players’ statement of principle about racial injustice with their salaries. And ignore Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short’s whataboutism, whining that the NBA players didn’t protest things China has done. Yes, he really did say that. Clearly we know what those two stand for. Let me put this into proper context for them and all who are objecting to protests by sports figures.

People are being shot and strangled and beaten by cops and vigilantes every day. Some people of principle are speaking out – and you’re whining because you can’t watch a basketball game. Get a grip on reality and try to imagine that the world is not solely about you.

We are each called to know what we stand for and to stand up and be counted over and over. We know that there’s nothing new in cops killing unarmed Blacks. What’s new is video showing the true horror of what goes on regularly. We cannot unlearn what we have learned. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and now Jacob Blake are real people, not some ink on a newspaper page or a brief mention on the 10:00 o’clock news. It’s time for all of us to stand and be counted, like the NBA players and the crowds of protesters in every city in America and around the world in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, lest we fall for something terribly sinister and awful.

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

Today


Reading time – 2:09; Viewing time – 3:32  .  .  .

The landing at Normandy, June 6, 1944

Today is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe. It was carried out on the beaches of Normandy in France and was and remains the largest invasion of anything, anywhere, at any time and was paid for with enormous amounts of blood to ensure our freedom today. If you know one of the few remaining veterans of that day, thank them for making it so that as you grew up you weren’t speaking German. And do it very, very soon. It’s far too easy to wait too long.

There is another event to honor today and that is the anniversary of the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. That day deserves our understanding.

The more I learn formally and through simple human experience, the more I see how critically important are the fraternal twins hope and caring. We humans crave them both and with them can do and endure anything and without them all is lost.

You can test the caring part by examining how you feel about someone who plainly doesn’t care about you. Likely, you don’t care much about them, either. You don’t want to be in relationship with them and you certainly aren’t motivated to support them. On the other hand, when someone does care about you, you know it and you care about them and are engaged and willing – even enthusiastic – to support them. That’s the power of caring.

The hope part is perhaps more ethereal, more difficult to pin down, but we know it when we feel it.

In 1968 we were locked in a cold war that threatened to end life on this planet. At the same time, we were bogged down in the endless slaughter of the war in Vietnam, with 500,000 of our military people there. Every day we saw the films of the carnage and got the report of our dead – the “body count.” We deeply needed something to give us hope.

Then Bobby Kennedy was running for President. He didn’t have the charisma of his older brother. He didn’t have the glamour or anywhere near the experience in elective office. But he had something far more valuable: He cared and we knew it and he gave hope to millions.

It was impossible to miss the depth of his caring for Americans, especially the downtrodden, the poor. Even his detractors saw that and his depth of caring was what we needed as we struggled through the horrors of the war in Vietnam, the social upheavals at home and the inept leadership of President Johnson. Bobby Kennedy represented hope in plain sight from our miserable, helpless leadership and from our national feelings of hopelessness.

And that is why the country grieved so when he was killed. We may have grieved more for him than for his assassinated brother; at the very least we grieved in an intensely heartfelt way. When John Kennedy was killed it was a loss of innocence for a generation. When Bobby Kennedy was killed it was a profound loss of hope for the nation. And that is why we remember starkly that awful day in June, 1968.

Bobby Kennedy’s death reminds us always to seek leaders who care about us and give us hope. That caring and hope are what make everything possible.

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Ed. note: I don’t want your money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people, so:

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!


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

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