leadership

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.

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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.

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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.

Be Decent, Waukesha, Climate & Just-For-Fun


Be Decent

Over 5,000 nut balls have disrupted airline flights with their violent behavior, endangering flight attendants, pilots, first officers and all the other passengers on those many flights. If you check with any teacher, dean of students or principal you’ll learn that our school kids are in a similar state of craziness.

Parents are having temper tantrums at school board meetings – yes, just like children who missed their nap and are kicking and screaming on the floor of the cereal aisle at the supermarket. Citizens are screeching incoherently at town hall meetings, ranting and menacing their neighbors, whom they themselves elected. We have athletes lying about having been vaccinated, then testing positive, having endangered both teammates and opponents and then justifying their actions with nonsense.

People at every level of government are saying the most outrageous, googly-eyed, false and rage inducing things, even attacking Big Bird. Our political blabbers are blabbing mindlessly and dishonestly and the online bullying continues unabated, spreading fantastic lies and ridiculous and brutal conspiracy theories. Somehow millions of our fellow citizens believe this idiocy.

Click me

We’re facing challenges, to be sure, but they’re not all unprecedented – we’ve seen some of these movies before. But our society hasn’t held up very well this time. We’ve degenerated into fearful, rageful things, fighting in some dystopia of our own making. Are we a less hardy bunch now? Have we lost our civilization backbone? Did we lose the secret of how to be together?

Watch this clip from the 1990 movie, The Bonfire of the Vanities. It doesn’t address root causes or the myriad, fundamental frailties of human beings, but it’s good advice. Actually, it isn’t just good advice; it’s great advice and an imperative for our time. It’s what we’ll have to do if we are to save ourselves from ourselves. *

A Word About Waukesha

Long ago a friend urged me to see bad things in a different way. He said to ask what the bad things are here to teach. What is it that we have refused to learn and retain through any other means of instruction? It may be hard to apply those questions to the tragedy in Waukesha just now, given the physical and emotional pain assaulting that community, but I’ll take a stab at that.

As the people of Waukesha come together in vigils, as they nurse their wounded of body and wounded of heart, perhaps they show us that our lesson is that we are in this life together. They tell us through their selflessness in this grievous moment that it’s time to stop assuming the worst of one another and stop attacking those we fearfully think of as “other.” They’re saying that it’s time for us to be a community. Maybe relearning that – yet again – is our lesson from this awful attack.

Climate

Speaking of saving ourselves from ourselves, the bad news is the way in which climate is changing and the ways in which we are making it worse instead of better. But you knew that.

The real question is what we – that’s us, acting primarily through our governments – are willing to do to ensure that our climate doesn’t kill us, which is something many humans would prefer. Actually, the keys to the most desirable solution are really pretty simple. For example, we have to get past – as in: replace – politicians who are in climate crisis denial to remove their self-serving roadblocks so that positive action can occur.

The core solution to our climate crisis cannot be found in any Glasgow blah, blah, blah resolution. It lies in the center of the region known as “Less Talk – More Positive Action – No Negative Action.”

That area is opaque to large corporations and very rich people, because that’s not where they accumulate ever-more-massive wealth. What happens instead right here in our current Earth sabotage is that campaign contributions go to politicians who ensure growing massive wealth for the already massively wealthy. That causes cataracts to grow over entire governments to the point that they’re blind to what is glaringly obvious. That drives a stasis which is counter-productive to the continuation of human life. But, hey, what a vast further enrichment of already rich people there will be for the short time we humans are around to see it!

We need cataract surgery on our governments. Immediately.

Click me

This has been creatively explained in the video to which you can link from the pic to the left. Please note that this video contains graphic and “colorful” language. If you know that you will find such language objectionable, you can find a bleeped version here. Either way, the message is clear, compelling and challenging to all of us.

We have to make our governments stop the greed saturated, suicidal stuff and do the things that will allow us to continue to live on the only inhabitable planet in the known universe. Or we can continue as we are and turn over the planet to our children and grandchildren and let them scratch out a miserable subsistence in the ever-dwindling arable land on Earth for the few wretched years available to them.

It’s our choice.

Pop Quiz!
  1. Can you think of even one reason we should still be subsidizing fossil fuel industries? If you have more than one, rank order them starting from the most dumb.
  2. Compare and contrast: A). Taking immediate positive action to prevent the worst climate catastrophes, and; B). Talking about taking positive action, but continuing our smug, willful intransigence. An extra 5 points each will be awarded for the inclusion in your answer of the following terms:
    1. survival
    2. massive migration
    3. desertification
    4. permanently flooded coastal cities
    5. wars
    6. societal breakdown
    7. wildfires
    8. deforestation
    9. catastrophic weather events
    10. integrity outage
  3. List the names of your senators, congressperson, governor and state representatives, along with their phone numbers. BONUS: 10 points each if you call their offices and tell them to immediately take action to combat the climate crisis.
Just For Fun

SNL, November 6, 2021 – Click me

Feeling stressed preparing for Thanksgiving? Worried about what Uncle Dorkus will say this year? Just need a laugh? Well, look no further.

Grab a glass of your beverage of choice and have a look at what is probably the best SNL skit in decades. Be sure to read a couple dozen of the comments below it. I promise you that, one way or another, this has happened to you.

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* “Saving ourselves from ourselves” – Several states have introduced or intend to introduce bills to prevent the mandating of any vaccine to prevent highly contagious diseases, like polio, smallpox, measles, rubella, chicken pox and the rest. We know what happens to civilizations when people aren’t protected from such things, because we have the experience of thousands of years of misery, suffering and death to make that clear. Denying that is stubborn, willfully obtuse and homicidal.

Such reversals of a century of progress toward better health, now with easy, cheap preventives available everywhere, is being fought in the name of reptilian notions of individual freedom and the crank idea of a mandatory vaccine as an assault. If the legislative attempts to end science, medicine and learning in several states succeed, my strong recommendation is to permanently stay away from anyone from Montana, Idaho, Florida and all the other vaccine refusing states, as well as anyone who has had contact with anyone from those states. And don’t let your kids play with their kids.

Said Dr. Anthony Fauci about vaccine refusal, “It’s the normalization of insanity, I think.”

Read about it in STAT here.

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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.

Freedom


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

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Freedom of Speech

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

                                                   Amendment I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-White Freedom

That’s an oxymoron.

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

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

The Courts and Freedom

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

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

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

The behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get.

People Need To Be Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Winning, Part Two: Republican Obstructionism


Unavoidable Observation

Kyle Rittenhouse is on trial for killing two people and seriously wounding another using his illegal AR-15 assault rifle. He brought his illegal assault weapon to a BLM protest in the summer of 2020 in Kenosha, WI. His mother drove him there. With his AR-15. His mother! *

He has claimed he went there to help people; plus, he wanted to be famous. Somebody please explain to me why he needed an AR-15 to give first aid to injured people or to put out dumpster fires. On the other hand, the AR-15 did help to make him famous, but not in a good way, unless you’re a hate spewing radical looking for a martyr.

During his testimony on Wednesday he was asked to describe his shooting one of the victims. He became distraught, sobbing to the point of being unable to speak coherently, so the judge called a recess. But here’s the thing.

It’s true that Rittenhouse sobbed, convulsed and scrunched up his face, giving the clear indication that he was very upset about what had happened. The press reported that he, “broke down into tears.”

But he didn’t shed even a single a tear. Not one.

In his apparent crying, he didn’t tear up at all – you know, like people do when they’re actually upset and crying. If his was an act, it was a pretty good one – but it was fatally flawed. It’s possible he isn’t the Boy Scout his defense team made him out to be. See for yourself here.

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Republican Obstruction

The pandemic continues to ravage our country.

Republicans refuse to participate in solutions to make us all safe and they prohibit efforts to contain the pandemic, causing massive suffering and death.

The west is burning and the south and east are drowning because of the climate crisis.

Republicans refuse even to acknowledge the reality of climate warming, much less participate in finding solutions. In fact, they oppose any action that would be a positive step to combat the climate catastrophes that are staring us in the face.

We have millions of angry people and had a murderous insurrection on January 6.

Republicans are blocking the Congressional inquiry into the riot in every way they can, spreading lies and stoking rage every chance they get. Plus, many of them encouraged the insurrection.

Millions believe the anti-democracy lie that the 2020 election was full of voter fraud and that Biden is an illegitimate president.

Republicans actively promote this Big Lie, knowing full well that it is a lie that undermines our Constitution and our democracy. And they are bastardizing our future elections in order to subvert the will of the people.

Donald Trump continues to undermine democracy.

Republicans continue to either help to destroy our country or they chicken out of standing up to Trump’s bullying and sit meekly, watching the ongoing carnage.

Our State Department – the people who represent us to other nations and support our international efforts – continues to be not only understaffed (it’s been that way since George W. Bush formally replaced diplomacy with military invasions), but without ambassadors in dozens of countries.

That’s all due to Republican obstructionism in the confirmation process of ambassadors. That same obstructionism is why hundreds of federal judgeships remain unfilled. Say hello to Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans and say good-bye to diplomacy and justice.

Obviously, this list could be much longer. The point is that all the Republicans have are:

– Obstruction of government

– Culture wars to upset us, to stoke hate and fear and division and tribalism

They’ve made clear that they only care about low taxes for really rich people and ultra-conservative judges who will decide cases in their favor. They haven’t even a single policy that would serve We The People or the country. That leaves us with the key question of our time:
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How long are Democrats and Independents going to let them get away with that?
.

The point is that it’s time for Democrats to stop being door mats and start doing what will win elections. That better happen VERY soon, and I’ll show how to do that and put the Republicans permanently in a corner. It’s just three things.

See Winning, Part Three on Wednesday, November 17 for what Democrats need to do to win.
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Must Read
.

There’s so much that’s a downer and it’s been that way for so many years, including all the racist dog whistles and outright calls to hatred, the lies and the threats. Sometimes we deeply need reminders that we can be good, decent people, that some are mindful and doing the right things in the face of the brutality of daily life. It turns out that the murder of Ahmaud Arbery has ignited just such a thing.

Read this timely post from CNN about the friends, family and teammates of Arbery, what they are doing and how strong, good men and a united community are being forged in the wake of that hateful tragedy.

Must Watch
.

Do you really think that voting is important, perhaps the most important of our rights? Yes? Then watch this video from the RepresentUs folks.

Correction – Sort of
.

An earlier post noted that 2 of the last 6 general elections brought us presidents elected by a minority of voters. That’s true, yet the far more important point is that since 1988 Republicans have lost the popular vote in every election but one.

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* Please see the comments below for more specific clarity.

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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.

The Thing


The First Thing

In a recent post Jamelle Bouie mounted an interesting review of horror films, this being appropriate for the Halloween season and things that scare us. He focuses on the 1982 cult classic movie The Thing. Perhaps oddly, he shows how it is instructive for us right now.

Bouie writes:

For as much as critics dismissed the film as expensive trash, there is an idea here: that fear and paranoia can dissolve the bonds of friendship, camaraderie and citizenship. That they can sap us of our ability to work together and paralyze us in the face of crisis. It is an idea which, in our age of misinformation, public distrust and pandemic disease, lands with heavy force.

Which is what is happening – what we’re doing – every day.

Think about the rabid, vicious attacks on our people and institutions that are trying to keep us from being annihilated by COVID. Why would people threaten our protectors with death? Why would they insist that children go to school without protection from a killer disease and instead become walking, virus-saturated gas clouds to infect their school mates? Why would people dismiss the horrible truth that almost 3/4 of a million Americans are now dead and over 1,600 die every day of COVID?

Why would they go berserk at school board and town hall meetings? Why would they willingly embrace fantastical, impossible conspiracy theories that paint themselves as hapless victims of a powerful, evil cabal?

I submit for your consideration that all of this is yet more manifestation of the rage of powerlessness that drives people to act like ravenous, meat devouring reptiles. All higher brain functions shut down when rage inflames us and we do things like assault the Capitol Building, cops and Congress, plot to kidnap and assassinate a sitting governor and call for a civil war. “When do we get to use our guns?” asked one enraged brain attached to a mouth.

Rage makes licensed lawyers stand in their front yard and threaten peaceful protesters with assault weapons. It makes elected officials lie both actively and passively to overthrow our government and it sends some of them to a series of meetings in the Willard Hotel to plot that overthrow. It’s what makes camo-wearing tough guys show up at public events with AR-15s strapped to themselves. And it’s what tears families apart.

This nation was born in a violent fit of “You can’t tell me what to do!” and people who have felt powerless for generations carry that attitude as a token of the power they crave. Indeed, 30% of Republicans believe that they are not only right, but that violence is appropriate in order for them to get what they want. And oddly, they imagine they’re in a brotherhood with those who are pulling the strings of power against them to gain absolute power for themselves. It’s so easy to fool and manipulate angry people.

The Civil War wasn’t a war of northern aggression and the belief that “The South will rise again” never died. The spirit of renegade, self-labeled good guys and their hatred for victimizing bad guys lives on and gives breath to the rage that is manifest here every day. Now, though, it isn’t just the South. It’s rural versus urban and struggling versus comfortable. It’s hateful versus complacent and have-nots versus haves, or so they believe. And it’s dehumanizing versus human. It’s every guerilla war.*

People have always had their certainties and self-righteousness when they believe they’ve been wronged. When we think we’ve been hit, we want to hit back, even when doing so is self-destructive, like refusing vaccines.

Just because you’re not sure if you feel a little tickle of paranoia both personally and for our democracy doesn’t mean it’s an illusion or that there aren’t people plotting against you. They actually exist and they are enraged and they are armed with weapons they’re itching to use.

I wish you a pleasant Halloween full of lawn ghosts and cardboard goblins, which, even if they were real, wouldn’t be even a tiny fraction as scary as our reality. And that’s The Thing.

Be sure to read this from John Pavlovitz.

And Another Thing

I don’t know if in 2009 – 2010  President Obama wanted our new healthcare system to be universal coverage – Medicare for All. What I do know is that creating M4A simply was not possible with the 111th Congress, propelled as it was by Citizens United-fueled money and having its finger on the No Way button. Trying for M4A would have been an exercise in folly and failure.

He was left with the politics of the possible, a compromise that really didn’t thrill anyone, but which moved the ball downfield and we wound up with the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. It’s been quite a success even in the face of the dozens of Republican attempts to scuttle it. The American people love it, as long as Obama’s name isn’t mentioned (not that we have race issues). The point is that we enacted the bill that could be enacted.

Everyone likes the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because we can all see the potholes, crumbling pavement and rickety bridges and we know they have to be fixed or replaced – built back better. Even our distorted reality, galactically dysfunctional Senate managed to see that and pass the bill. That made it a fine hostage for Democrats to use to force the President’s Build Back Better Bill through Congress.

There are only two obstacles to BBB becoming law and you know their names.** They are objecting to various parts of that legislation, some objections being named in squishy sound bites and some going unnamed. That makes negotiating with the extortioners like shaking hands with a ghost.

What’s clear is that not every provision originally proposed in the BBB bill is going to be included. Some people won’t get their favorite piece of that pie because the half-pie won’t include it.

The important thing is to recognize that, like the ACA, this is a step in the right direction and a really good one. Focus on the wins. We’ll come back for more when the time is right. For now, let’s do what’s possible.

And that’s another very important Thing.

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Still More Things

* Can you think of a time when people in Congress slung vile epithets at the President of the United States and it was somehow deemed to be okay behavior, even cheered? Read this from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

The Republican Party has long ceased to offer policy ideas and is focusing on culture wars and obstruction. Their big statement this week has been to throw “Let’s go, Brandon” into speeches and, in the case of Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), into a rap video in which she stars. The phrase means “F**k Joe Biden,” for those in the know; they use it because social media moderators do not flag it.

The press secretary for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted it out on Thursday morning, just after the president announced a framework for the Build Back Better bill  .  .  .”

This is what people in a rage and people clawing for power do. They become a brat-on-the-playground to egg on the rest. These people are supposed to be leaders of our country, but they’re only leaders to the 38% of Americans who are stuck in their blind anger. But those people show up to vote.

Think about that, because it’s a really big Thing, a monster that has the power to crush us and all we hold dear if we fail to stand against it. Making smug faces and hurling derision won’t help. Supporting those on the front lines, encouraging people to vote and our showing up on all election days will help. As you know, Democracy is a participation sport, just like they said in civics class. You did take a civics class, right?

** From Tressie McMillan Cottom in the New York Times:

Sinema is known for making a visual splash as a method of political storytelling. That story seems to be something like, “I am a maverick. You can’t control me. You are not the boss of me. I’m an independent thinker,” even when thinking independently may run afoul of reason or ideological positions.

Sinema is like many voters in that her identity as an independent has supplanted her actual political ideology.

If you know anyone who values their independent identity over substance, please invite them to reconsider. Sinema is damaging the country and the prospects of her constituents with her independent tantrums. That isn’t a good model to follow in a time when we have to band together to stop the ragers from destroying our country.

“All politics is based on the indifference of the majority.” – James “Scotty” Reston (Thanks, MG!)

This isn’t a good time to be indifferent.

And that’s the biggest Thing.
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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

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

From The Resolute Desk . . .


.  .  .  in the Oval Office, The President of the United States
.

Folks, I’m here tonight to focus on patriotism, because we have some terrible things going on. it’s time for some straight talk.

Our people are becoming infected with Covid-19 at a horrific and worsening rate. Over 1,500 of our fellow citizens are dying every day and the number keeps going up.

We’ve done everything we can from the White House to encourage the basic things that we know will protect our people, but it isn’t and cannot be enough. We need everyone pulling in the right direction and that just isn’t happening. This is a fight we absolutely have to win, so, as we used to say in Scranton, the gloves are coming off. It’s time for bare knuckles.

We knew at the beginning of this pandemic that the basics to beating it are to wear a mask, to socially distance and to wash hands well and often. A year later we had safe, highly effective vaccines and they became our big guns to beat this virus. If all those things are done, we can stop this virus in its tracks. But that isn’t happening and we know why.

The problem is that some governors and legislators are actively opposing those things that can save us. So are talking heads on cable, on TV, radio and online who are spewing lies, absurd, impossible conspiracies and who are spreading disinformation about phony cures for Covid. They’re hurting my people. They’re hurting you.

These state officials have enacted legislation to make it illegal to make kids and teachers wear masks in schools. That spreads the disease. They’ve terminated promotions for vaccines, closed vaccine delivery locations and opposed vaccine requirements. They’ve ridiculed those who wear masks in order to whip up voter outrage and, by extension, they’ve incited others to ridicule, threaten and even attack our citizens who are doing the right things.

These governors and legislators have effectively encouraged the spread of the virus to you and the people you love and it might kill you all. I see these officials as complicit in homicide and you should, too. After all, they’re gunning for you.

There is plenty of speculation about why these officials would intentionally put Americans at risk. Some have speculated that they’re trying to be seen as tough guys in order to appeal to their “base.” They want to be thought of as anti-establishment guys, even as they’re leaders in the establishment. Others have offered that they don’t want to slow the virus, because an expanding pandemic harms our economy and they can then attack me for leading a sluggish economy during the next two election cycles. What we know for sure is that they are intentionally putting Americans at risk.

They have their phony patriotism excuses to justify their treachery. They tell you that having to wear a mask is an abridgement of their freedom. So, too, they tell us, is having to be vaccinated. Well, here’s the truth.

The freedom of every one of us is abridged. it’s what has to happen if we are to live together in safety and security. Here are some examples.

We all have to stop for stop lights and stop signs. We don’t have the freedom to just blast through every intersection when we want to, because if we did that we would kill one another.

All of our kids have to be vaccinated against measles, because if they weren’t we would have a deadly epidemic. We know that’s true, because that’s what used to happen before we had a vaccine. We don’t have the freedom to refuse those vaccines and get kids killed.

None of us has the freedom to wantonly attack others or steal their property.

I could list a lot more examples, but it’s clear that we must have limits to individual freedom and the reasons for those limits are obvious.

That’s why it’s so repugnant that these governors and legislators who know the truth are hiding behind some imagined Constitutional right to do whatever we want, whenever we want. And they’re encouraging others to claim the absolute freedom defense for their behavior, but that’s killing our friends and neighbors and our kids.

We used to have something called shame. It used to be in the United States that we would call out someone who did something shameful, saying “Shame on you!” Sadly, we’ve had so much lying and cheating for so many years that the concept of shame seems to have been overwhelmed and the word itself can seem to be just some old, outdated thing. But I tell you it is not.

We have people in power doing shameful things. They are personally responsible for their despicable words and actions that hurt Americans and I’m calling them out. To those governors and legislators: Shame on you!

And to those talking heads on cable, on TV, radio and online who are lying to you with their preposterous claims and dishonest accusations, “Shame on you, too!

To We the People: You know when you’re being lied to and you know that those threatening your health are lying when they dump phony excuses on you that put you at risk.

We have an election in 14 months. Vote out of office those liars who imperil you and your kids. They’ve already proven that they aren’t worthy of your trust. And stop listening to the blabbers in the media who are lying to you and advising you to do things that will imperil your life and lead you to hate your neighbors.

To those leaders who threaten my people: You have time to do some honest things before you’re given the boot. Doing so won’t right the wrongs you’ve done and we won’t forget, but at least you can begin to treat people with dignity, respect and caring. A little contrition will go a long way. It will be good for your soul.

So, start now. No more lies. No more hiding behind a false version of our flag. Get out and promote vaccinations and the wearing of masks. Do it every day in every venue. Tell people the truth, that they’re too important to refuse these basics and that it’s their patriotic duty to be vaccinated and masked in order to protect all of us. Tell my people to do it for their kids, for all of our kids and for Granny. Tell them our national security depends on us being healthy.

Then tell your constituents you’re sorry for having lied to them and put them at risk, and you’re especially sorry for all those who suffered and died due to your malfeasance.

Folks, our troops are stationed all over the globe, doing their duty to protect us and our way of life. They never let us down and we must not let them down. We must do our duty. Get vaccinated and wear a mask. That’s what patriots do. That’s what patriotism looks like.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

————————————

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The Fine Print:

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

The “This Didn’t Have To Happen” File – v2


Click me for the This Didn’t Have To Happen story from the CDC

The teacher did what teachers do: she stood in front of the class in 70%-vaccinated Marin County, CA and taught. She read something to her class of elementary school kids, as usual. The only problem was that she was unvaccinated.

Well, there was one other problem. She had been Covid symptomatic for two days before then. Oh, and she wasn’t wearing a mask.

She infected half her class, more kids at the front of the class – those within spit-spray distance – than at the back. Those infected kids brought the virus home to their siblings, who then became infected. Gotta wonder how many others were infected by those kids before their symptoms began and they tested positive.

Of course, elementary school kids can’t be vaccinated, which makes them unwitting targets of this disease, as it’s passed to them by infected people, whether or not those passers have symptoms, which this teacher did.

The CDC report on this episode of Pandemic Roulette is an easy read and I recommend it to you. Just click the graphic above, read the report and then say it with me: “This didn’t have to happen.”

Neither Did This

Florida is the place where over 23,000 people per day are testing positive. That’s over twice the national rate. They’re running out of oxygen for Covid patients. Over 260 people are dying every day and the rate is soaring. The hospital morgues are stockpiling corpses in refrigerator trucks out back.

Florida is where Gov. Ron DeSantis has effectively mandated escalating infections and deaths from Covid with his anti-mask temper tantrums. As he continues to thwart the efforts of those fighting this disease, he is idiotically criticizing President Biden for not having ended the pandemic. That’s right: DeSantis is doing all he can to encourage the spread of the disease and at the same time is criticizing Biden for not having eliminated it.

“Breathtaking” is an appropriate term for DeSantis, as he points a finger at Biden. “Breathtaking” also fits the victims of his pandemic who can’t breathe. Somebody please twist DeSantis’ hand 180° so that he points his finger at himself.

Click me

I highlight Florida because it is perhaps the most egregious example of “This Didn’t Have To Happen” in the nation, but anywhere the stupid stuff is going on deserves as much scorn.

We have more kids in hospitals with Covid right now than at any time since this pandemic began. These are little kids and Mom and Dad aren’t there to hold their hands because these sick kids are in quarantine.

I’m wondering how they became infected. Could mask and vaccine refusers have done this? Might the Freedom Fools have infected these kids? Are the self-important Freedom Fools’ rights more important than whether those kids live or die? Sadly, I know the answers to those questions and so do you.

To our Freedom Fools: Go ahead and refuse masks and vaccinations for yourself and your kids. I have just two requests. First, please pre-pay all of your medical costs. I don’t want them shifted onto me through the insurance labyrinth when you get sick and die because of your pig-headed refusal to do the simple things that would keep us all safe.

And second, keep the hell away from my kids and my grandkids because you don’t have to happen to us.

Afghanistan Didn’t Have To Happen, Either

It is vitally important that we be clear about the truth of what happened and why. Read this piece and cry for the This Didn’t Have To Happen, sad déjà vu story.

The years of deceit are related by perfidious blood to a Kevin McCarthy Lie-A-Thon last week. CNN’s headline reads,

Fact check: Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy makes at least 5 false claims in 7-minute Fox News interview

.

It seems we get lied to a lot by political leaders. Sometimes those political lies start wars and lots of people die. Sometimes those political lies accelerate pandemics and lots of people die. Sometimes those political lies savage the Constitution and large chunks of democracy die. In every case, This Didn’t Have To Happen.

“At this point, to be a conservative in good standing you have to pledge allegiance to blatant lies — Democrats are Marxists, the election was stolen, basic public health measures are sinister assaults on freedom.”   – Paul Krugman, August 31, 2021

Krugman is right. Check the Election Countdown below. We have work to do and a decreasing amount of time to do it. It’s time to dig in.

We Chant “USA! USA! USA!” And Break Records, But This Didn’t Have To Happen
.

The 1,180 dying daily are actually gone forever. This isn’t just a horror movie. This is horror reality.

————————————

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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.

Justice


Merrick Garland’s Justice Department

In an interesting and even-handed essay in the Washington Post Magazine, author David Montgomery lays out his view of the Merrick Garland Justice Department in Merrick Garland Won’t Deliver Your Catharsis. Montgomery reports that Garland’s view is that a return to norms and consistently doing the right things is the path to lead the public to regain a sense of trust in the department, a trust that was lost due to the Trump/Barr years of stomping on our trust. That seems sensible, but I don’t think that’s enough.

I’ve argued many times for the need for accountability, in large measure because a lack of it invites more egregious violations in the future, as history has taught us. Here’s a list of posts about that important point. Yet, Garland has said more than once, “I am not going to look backward.” That’s a problem.

Garland was the real time, on-site Justice Department guy following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. He was in a similar position chasing down Ted Kaczynski, the Unibomber. In both cases he and the Justice Department looked backward. They had to, because they were investigating and prosecuting what had already been done. That’s what legal actions and law enforcement do. That’s how the law is upheld. That’s how justice is done.

And that’s why, “I am not going to look backward” regarding the prior administration doesn’t make sense.

Click the pic above to read Montgomery’s essay or download a PDF of it here. See if you agree that looking backward and holding wrongdoers accountable is possibly the most important duty of the Garland Justice Department.

Also about justice, and crucially so: If Congress doesn’t pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, it really won’t matter what Merrick Garland’s Justice Department does, because democracy will soon be gone.

Special Section:

Gifts For Our Freedom-Of-Choice Mask & Vaccine Refusers

Many people have refused to be vaccinated because the vaccines do not yet have full FDA approval. They’re waiting for the completion of all the analyses in order to feel safe; only then will they agree to be vaccinated. You may not agree with their calculation, but at least they’re rational in their thinking.

In contrast are the millions who think that having to wear a mask or be vaccinated is an unpatriotic infringement of their freedoms and liberties. In the face of a worldwide pandemic that continues to morph into ever more dangerous forms, that position is worthy of proud, mindless chest thumping, but not much more. It is not rational in the face of the unavoidable spread of the disease and the certainty of it causing many more deaths, absent action to stop it.

All of these people are causing our hospital and our National Disaster Medical System personnel to live in a nightmare world of death and despair. How proud our freedom frenzied must be to know they’re creating so much suffering for others.

So, special for our freedom-of-choice mask and vaccine refusers, we offer:

This from Charles Blow:

Americans who are refusing to get — and are taking a stand against — the coronavirus vaccine are “determined to prove that they are right even if it puts them on the wrong side of a eulogy.”

And this address from John Pavlovitz:

Generations of Americans sacrificed family and future and body and breath, so that you could be pulled from the birth canal nestled in the warm embrace of the easy liberty you’ve come to believe you deserve.

Which makes it all the more tragic and shameful how little regard you have for that freedom now, how much you’re squandering it over and over because you’ve decided the simplest of requests are too much for you to bear and constitute an assault on your personal liberty.

How sad it is that our freedom frenzied refusers don’t seem to have what it takes to sacrifice for those who will come after them in the way their forebears did for them.

And finally, this from The Onion.

From The Onion. Click the pic for the important story

Covid Update

Now trending at 141,000 new cases every day, it’s clear that the messages still haven’t gotten through to those we most need to hear them.

New Covid cases, 8-20-21

————————————

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

The first real test of the [National Voter Rights Act of 1993] came in 2018, when Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, went on a voter-purge binge (that hit Black, student and elderly neighborhoods particularly hard) and was sued by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for violating Ohio citizens’ right to vote.

In a bitter 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled in Husted v Randolph that purging voters because they failed to return a junk-mail-like postcard was entirely legal.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

It’s a practice once called “caging” back when Karl Rove’s guy [George W. Bush] was allegedly doing it and it was illegal but that has, since that Court ruling, spread to pretty much every Republican-controlled state in the nation.

Justice Alito’s decision was particularly biting, asserting that the arguments made by the citizens who’d lost their right to vote were “worse than superfluous” and their argument that they shouldn’t have to regularly check  in with the Secretary of State’s office to stay on the voter rolls represented logic “no sensible person” could agree with.

Justice Alito’s comments fly in the face of the multiple declarations of the right to vote prominently displayed in the Constitution. That document doesn’t say anything about the need to send in a post card or “check in” with any government or agency in order to retain the right to vote. We just have to be citizens.

If Alito wants autocracy, minority rule and race and class oppression, he might consider moving to another country with just such a foundation. Maybe I missed something, but I thought that all justices took an oath to the Constitution of this country.

In acting to suppress the right of citizens to vote, Alito pushed back on democracy itself. Given that Alito’s Supreme Court vote and his comments are in opposition to both the Constitution and democracy, it begs the question of why he’s on the Supreme Court.

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

The State of Florida continues on its path to become the place most intentionally disinterested in the welfare of its citizens. In the face of stiff competition from Texas, Arizona and several other states, Florida has codified its refusal to allow schools to protect students from Covid-19 and its variants by issuing an Emergency Rule.* Please download it. You’ll be amazed at the lengths to which the Florida Board of Education goes and the tortured un-reason it uses to attempt to make their prohibition of mask mandates sound like they’re delivering safety from this deadly virus.

Their logic is forehead-slappingly illogical, sort of like saying they are promoting good by ensuring bad.

Almost as shocking is that the state’s Board of Education offers an alternative to mask mandates. It invites students and public money to go to private schools. This smells very bad, like the public schools in the south in the 1950s and 60s that suffered because white students left for private, expensive (read: segregated) schools, as did the public money for education, leaving nearly nothing for Black kids.

And the Florida Board of Education is doing this under the banner “Hope.”

Here’s a startling headline from the Tallahassee Democrat on August 9 showing DeSantis’ disregard for Floridians:

Florida Gov. DeSantis to school officials: Enforce mask mandate, get your salaries withheld
.

I have no clue how that could be legal. It’s much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott declaring that he’s going to arrest the Democratic legislators who left the state to prevent horrid voter suppression laws from being enacted. He proudly boasted that he would arrest and hold these Democrats in the state capitol building In Austin for the duration of the special legislative session. That’s quite a statement from the Texas Governor, in that the Democrats have broken no laws and he has no power to incarcerate them in the capitol building or anywhere else.

Note that both of these governors are threatening opponents with exactly the same kind of king-of-the-hill bravado as despots and cruel dictators who imprison political opponents (think: Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Xi in China). The same goes for all the rest of the “I’ll show you!” tough guy governors and legislators. Tough guy stuff plays well with the alt-right, the MAGA hat wearers. Normally, that’s a “who-cares?” but in the face of Covid and civil unrest, it’s deadly.

Expect stupid litigation to follow DeSantis’ tough guy announcement. The reason that’s important is that we have an epidemic of people in power doing similarly anti-welfare-of-the-people things, as well as taking anti-democracy shots.

This Florida Board of Education Emergency Rule and DeSantis’ threat of withholding educators’ salaries are just the most recent actions that beg the question of why Gov. Ron DeSantis has been allowed to be anywhere near public office.

While DeSantis is the poster boy for selfishly bad governing, for our purposes he is a placeholder for all the governors, legislators and bloviators who chest thump and try to position themselves for more MAGA votes, even at the cost of the health and the lives of our fellow citizens. Future generations will look at our time with puzzlement and derision, because we voted for this. And that begs yet more questions.

Actual Hope

Dr. Chad Gestson, Supt. Phoenix Union High School District

A refreshing contrast to knuckle dragging governors like DeSantis and Abbott is Dr. Chad Gestson, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, AZ, with 32,000 students. He is a profile in courage, defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s “no mask mandates” order by requiring masks for students, teachers and staff in his schools. Apparently, the superintendent thinks the health of everyone in his schools is really important, a concept not comprehensible by certain elected officials.

What’s truly, self-destructively weird is that a teacher in his district is suing Gestson over his mask mandate, claiming it’s an infringement of his freedom to become infected, then infect others and finally to gasp and die (the sarcasm is mine – JA). Nevertheless, Gestson is standing strong. I bet he’d appreciate a note of support from you. [email protected]

Meanwhile, the Florida Board Of Education Emergency Rule, the various governors’ no-mask-mandate orders and the teacher’s lawsuit all beg the question of when self-serving temper tantrums replaced good sense.

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

– 18% of the world’s total Covid-19 cases – 36.8M/204.3M

– 14.7% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19 – 633K/4.3M. Before the vaccines that number was closer to 25%, but 71.9% of seniors are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have over 633,000 total deaths and the two week moving average is now 480 per day – and rising. See the STAT chart below.

– The distinction of being the only country in the world where mask mandates can be prohibited.

20% of new U.S. Covid cases are children – see here and here. Babies and young children are dying.

A new case of Covid-19 in the U.S. is reported every 0.7 seconds. The two-week moving average is a new case every 1.2 seconds. See the STAT chart below.

The U.S. has the largest supply of Covid vaccines in the world, but

– Only 58.1% of vaccine-eligible citizens in the U.S. is fully vaccinated.

– The U.S. is the only country where citizens have to be bribed to be vaccinated, even as citizens of other countries beg for vaccines.

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

All of this Covid information begs so many questions, like,

What has happened to us and why did we let this craziness happen?

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

How did so many of us become so shockingly angry that our good sense has left us?

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

Why aren’t we shocked by a Covid death equivalent of the crash of a jumbo jet every day?

It begs these questions and so many more.

  • ————————

* Thanks go to JN for forwarding the Florida DOE Emergency Rule.

————————————

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The Fine Print:

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

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

This is a proud JaxPolitix moment, as we have officially received our first vile, disgusting and politically inane troll message.

To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

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The Fine Print:

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

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