lies

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

It’s Very Personal


From the “This Didn’t Have To Happen” File

There are lots of Covid statistics. There are infection numbers and rates by state, by region, by country, by continent and worldwide. We get the same kind of breakdown for total deaths and for deaths based on whether the deceased were vaccinated. We get vaccination rates with all the same geographic breakdowns.

We get a tally by state of how many ICU beds we’re lacking. We get charts like the one below that shows what’s going on in Covid-infested Florida due to state governmental pigheadedness, intentional ignorance and leadership immorality.

We report things in statistics when the numbers get too big for us to take in any other way, but it’s hard to make full sense of the data. It all remains just numbers, unless one of those people is someone you know or love. Or it’s you.

If the EMTs have to show up at your house to slap an oxygen mask on your face, and if those brave, dedicated front-liners have no place to take the gasping body in their vehicle because the ERs, ICUs, all the patient room beds and even the gurneys in the hallways of the local hospital are occupied, then the numbers aren’t just statistics.

And your body isn’t just a statistic to the docs, nurses and techs who eventually will get to you. Instead, it’s yet more workload dumped onto their exhausted bodies, emotions and souls. That’s personal for all those people and that’s definitely personal for you, as you struggle to breathe.

For everyone directly involved, it’s always personal. It’s as personal as it gets.

A former colleague used to rail against any form of, “Don’t take this personally.” She would say that if you are a person, everything is personal. It’s pretty hard to argue with that. And all of the Covid cases – every single one of them – is personal to someone.

Over the past 547 days there have been over a million cases of Covid-19 and over 13,000 deaths from Covid just in Tennessee. The state has made the news repeatedly since the Delta variant became the predominant strain of this wildfire of a virus.

Tennessee’s doo-doo brain governor, Bill Lee, led the fight against vaccines and masks for kids. He even fired his State Department of Health expert on pandemics in the midst of a pandemic. Now thousands of Tennessee kids are quarantined and over 400 public school children have tested positive for Covid right there in The Volunteer State. I bet none of them volunteered for Covid. Nobody anywhere volunteers for Covid, but people get it anyway.

Worse, those sick kids have very little ability to avoid infecting others. But even with so many kids sick and having to stay home, Tennesseans somehow still aren’t getting the message.

That’s what a fully vaccinated couple discovered last weekend on a trip to Nashville. They had a fine time and were careful to be masked wherever they went. They dined in an elegant restaurant. And this was Nashville, so of course there was live music everywhere, but venues were packed with unmasked people, so they didn’t go in.

Nevertheless, they tested positive for Covid last Wednesday and feel like crap.

Covid got personal real fast and you wouldn’t believe the fear such a diagnosis can ignite instantly. Now it’s not about statistics or rates or numbers. Now it’s about themselves.

That’s how it is for every infected person and for their loved ones.

I’m furious about this and have been thinking about how and where to express my anger. It’s aimed at the governor, the state legislature and the people of Tennessee who refuse to deal with the lethal reality facing all of us. It’s aimed at the mask and vaccine refusers who think their right to absolute freedom is more important than whether others, like this couple, get sick from them or even die.

And my anger is aimed at Trump and his slimy, sycophantic suck-ups (yes, I know that’s redundant) who lied so terribly about this disease and caused it to spread when it could have been  contained. And I have suspicions aimed at people in airports and on airplanes who are sloppy in their Covid hygiene or who were knowingly sick but traveled anyway and perhaps sat next to others and coughed next to their faces.

And I’m mad as hell at the refusers who spread this awful disease.

You’re damn right that this didn’t have to happen. And you’re damn right that it’s personal.

Covid isn’t a statistic. It’s about people like you and your parents and siblings and your kids and their kids. It’s very personal.

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I couldn’t find this kind of chart for Nashville, but the Nashville story and chart would look pretty much the same and for the very same reasons. Be sure to read the text and especially the last sentence.

Click me for the full story

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

Potpourri – v13.0


Curmudgeon Corner

Richard Branson has successfully staged his self-promotional space spectacular and it is most disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as geeky as most science geeks and a space shot, even a barely sub-orbital one, is pretty cool. But the science and engineering and cool factors aren’t the real story.

The real deal is the acquiescence of the national press to publicize Branson’s space tourism private business launch. They have followed this present day P.T. Barnum and faithfully done his marketing for him. What do you suppose 3 hours of cable coverage is worth? Multiply your figure by the number of stations covering the event. Now yet more rich guys will pony up a quarter of a million dollars to ride his roller coaster. Well done, Sir Richard.

That’s a perfect parallel to the non-stop free press coverage that Donald Trump got for 5 years, especially during each of his campaigns. We blame Russian hacking and Trump’s horrendous cheating for his temporarily living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But just as culpable is the press having slavishly done his marketing for him with all that free publicity. I mean, was it really legitimate news to air in full every promotional event and thousands of his inane tweets and every other outrageous thing he said and did?

All news outlets censor, in the sense that they cannot cover everything that happens. They pick and choose every day. Where was their sense of discretion for five years? Where is it today?

Re-education

If you visit the Alamo in San Antonio, TX you’ll see various artifacts of the men who defended it against General Santa Anna’s army in February 1836. Among the items is a brick from the chimney of Davy Crockett’s home in Tennessee. No clue what that has to do with the battle at the Alamo, any more than the tableware that is on display there from the far away homes of others.

The story of the battle and the men who defended the Alamo has been glorified on television, in movies and primarily in proud Texas lore. Some of that lore is accurate. Much is fictionalized to suit Texas pride and there is great Lone Star chest thumping about it going on right now.

There was to be a book tour event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin to highlight “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.” It was cancelled by the museum hours before the event because of political pressure from the state’s Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who proudly killed the session. (Is that cancel culture? If so, should righties oppose the cancellation?) As one of the book’s authors, Jason Staffords, writes, “Apparently, the state history museum was no place to discuss state history.”

Not to be outdone by his lieutenant governor, Governor Greg Abbott, he of anti-mask and voter suppression infamy, tweeted “Stop political correctness in our schools.” “Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’!”

In other words, pay no attention to facts and reality if they disturb Texans’ comfort in self-serving fantasy. It’s yet another effort of the far right to control the minds of Americans, to educate or re-educate them to manipulative “alternative facts.” We don’ need no stinking truth or learning here in Texas.

Separately, Ira Leavitt wrote about his home town library, saying, “Four new Niles-Maine District Library trustees, stealthy victors in a sparsely-voted election, want to carve deeply into the budget, resulting in staff and program cuts and a 23% reduction of hours.” He called them, “The small-minded people attacking the source of knowledge of their community” No stinking truth or learning needed in Niles, either.

Citizens for Renewing America wants to re-educate our teachers so that our young Americans are properly indoctrinated. For example, Critical Race Theory (CRT), a relatively obscure legal concept, is now a favorite boogeyman used by the far right to demonize any adjustment to its favorite narratives, facts notwithstanding, and they are staunchly against any word of it leaking out. You can download a PDF of the organization’s manifesto, Model School Board Language to Prohibit Critical Race Theory here.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent shield against discrimination, because it’s anything but that. Scroll down to the extensive list of concepts that it proudly declares are prohibited and read its proscribed penalties for violation of its Big Brother doctrine.

These people are focused on prohibiting critical thinking of any kind. They are about muzzling teachers and controlling the minds of our kids. It seems we don’ need no stinking truth or learning in our schools, either. These people and their tyranny are a harbinger of the Thought Police.

All these episodes are part of today’s version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It’s a battle for knowledge, truth, reality and critical thinking against an entrenched, pre-frontal lobe mob. We lost the Scopes battle (only to “win” later on a bizarre, wimpy technicality). Today’s fight is a battle every bit as important and we better win this one clean. Evolution is real and so is the true story – not the heroic Texas fantasy one – of the Alamo. Our need for knowledge and learning in all things is real. So is our need for librarians.

A Credible Revolution

President Trump told us that his health plan would be incredible – so good you won’t believe it – better coverage, lower cost and all the rest. Of course, it turned out that he was right. His plan was incredible – it lacked credibility because there never was a plan.

Now President Biden has signed An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy. In presenting it he said, “[W]e know we’ve got a problem—a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity.”

I don’t know how sensible his plan is, although Reagan effectively stopped our anti-trust (anti-monopoly) actions and it’s been competition elimination ever since. If Biden can reverse that, it should be a good thing for nearly all of us. Meanwhile, he started by labeling the opportunity as “incredible.”

Our language has evolved to the point where up is down and incredible means credible and spectacular. That’s not okay. I’m calling for a credible revolution, where “incredible” means “not credible, not believable” just the way we applied it to Lyndon Johnson. He had his “credibility gap,” which is what people said in the 60s when the president lied. And he lied a lot.

So, let’s stop using “incredible” when we mean wonderful or better than you might imagine or spectacular or really good. Let “incredible” go where it should, to describe those who lack credibility.

Can you think of anyone or any group that fits that description, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Short Reads in Reality

Dahlia Lithwick explains The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

Republicans, those stalwart “law and order” pounders of fists on desks, seem to have forgotten themselves. Jennifer Rubin explains in Republicans Now Stand for Lawlessness and Disorder.

There’s been enough pretending that there are honest brokers in the Republican caucus. Thom Hartmann makes his persuasive case in Dear Democrats: Don’t Negotiate With Terrorist-Lovers.

Maybe you want to know why Democrats aren’t running the table. Jeff Greenfield explains Why America’s Most Popular Party Isn’t Getting More Done.

Tucker Carlson is on a pseudo-patriotic crusade against “civilization ending poison.” It’s another of his fabricated hate fests, this one attacking teachers. Read a letter to him from an actual teacher, Dear Tucker Carlson.

Are you seeing the Delta variant trend?
236 deaths every day is equivalent to a Boeing 737-MAX crash every day.
GET VACCINATED!

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

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

Chutes & Ladders, Knives & Guns and Karma


Most of us are taught to play by the rules from a very young age because human relationships and even civilizations require rules in order to prevent chaos and the breakdown of society. So we play Chutes and Ladders pretty much according to the rules.

Robert Frost said it best:

Good fences make good neighbors.

So we make sure that we agree about the fences, just as we agree on the rules of Chutes and Ladders.

But now we have a national problem: one side isn’t honoring the fences. It isn’t playing by the rules. It’s playing with wanton disregard for order, truth and the law. It is actively breaking down society. That is what bullies and insurrectionists do. That is what “all about me” types do. They play dirty. They cheat. They act without regard for others. They throw sand in the sand box, to invoke yet another metaphor, so they can own it.

When Democrats play by the rules, honor the fences and don’t throw sand they keep themselves at a very dangerous disadvantage. As Nicolle Wallace put it, “Democrats continue to bring a knife to a gun fight.” Wallace is right.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has repeatedly vowed to block all Biden initiatives – he has 100% focus on that. Sadly, that leaves no focus for America and the American people. His message could not be plainer: “We want all the power, so screw you, We the People.”

And Republicans are pleased to do any and everything to make that happen.

They lie, claiming a stolen election.

They enable and lie about insurrection.

They run a spy ring to sabotage our electoral processes.

They project their wrongdoings on Democrats.

They create and encourage conspiracy thinking to stoke fear and hatred.

They filibuster nearly everything.

They enact onerous, unconstitutional laws to prevent those likely to vote for Democrats from voting.

They put partisan conspiracy nut cases in charge of elections.

They enact laws to enable Republicans to overturn the will of the people.

They remove hundreds of thousands of voters from state voting registers.

Those are just some of the dishonoring of fences and throwing of sand – the “guns” – Republicans are firing in this gun fight.

Democrats respond by saying things like, “That’s awful,” and somebody gives a speech from the well of the Senate that nobody hears. That’s the knife Democrats bring to this gun fight. It’s way past time for Democrats to arm themselves properly.

Democrats need to get serious about messaging that will change the minds of the American people. We need talking heads to be everywhere calling out Republican lies and power grabs. We need elected Democrats and pundits telling Americans that Republicans don’t care about We the People and that all they care about is stealing all the power and money for themselves  We need bumper stickers that say:

“Republicans are picking your pocket and breaking your legs.”

“How do you like being lied to by Republicans?”

“Republicans are coming for you next.”

“If you like being a peon, you’ll love Republican rule.”

“You can’t love America and vote Republican.”

“Republicans are why you can’t get what you want.”

“Rs want your rights, so we stand and fight.”

We need talkers pointing fingers at cameras and scaring the hell out of voters by telling them the truth about the horrible dystopian future the Republicans are creating. Failure to fully engage, all rhetorical guns blazing, will lead to nothing less than vigilante terrorist murders and the end of democracy.

So, pass this along to your senators, representative and elected state officials. Tell them to stop playing nice, to put some starch into their spines and go on the offensive. This is not a contest against an opponent in a board game. This is a rhetorical and legislative gun fight against a well armed enemy of the We the People. Lock and load.

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A New Balance

Vaccine refusers have their reasons. Some of those reasons might even be rational and based on something real on planet Earth. I can’t think of any, but let’s assume that not everyone who refuses to be vaccinated is a conspiracy nut.

My guess, though, is that most believe in some sort of conspiracy, like the Bill Gates nanobots-in-vaccines believers and the autism wailers. My favorites, though, are the freedom screamers, the people who are certain that having to wear a mask is a tyrannical government’s abridgement of their freedom. They believe there’s no pandemic, that COVID is a hoax and it’s no worse than “strenuous flu,” as a mentally ill former president described it.

COVID doesn’t care if you’re in New York City or rural Missouri. All that’s required to contract the disease is to be un-vaccinated and in close proximity to an infected person who is still able to exhale on his/her own. And yes, that happens even in rural Missouri. Just ask the people in rural South Dakota what happened last winter. Oh, wait – you can’t do that because so many of them are dead.

Last winter South Dakota had the highest rate of death from COVID in the world. “Who needs a mask?” they said. The rest of us know the answer to that question, but the governor of SD still proudly stands for the right to contract COVID and die. And the face mask and vaccine refusing mania has become yet more perilous, as the Delta and Delta Plus COVID variants have made their way into the lungs of lots of Americans.

What’s significant about these variants is how much faster and efficiently they spread to others’ lungs and that they are far more deadly than yesterday’s COVID-19. Let’s consider what that might mean.

I bet that a huge percentage of vaccine refusers are rugged individuals and Trump supporters. Imagine what would happen if tens or hundreds of thousands of them manage to get themselves infected with the new ultra-deadly COVID variants. Without their being vaccinated and with anti-viral drugs largely ineffective in people with these variants, the die off this winter will be ghastly.

Here’s the Machiavellian craziness of it all: That die off might be great enough to counter-balance the Republican purging of black, brown and young people from voting rolls in swing states.

Not hoping for any such thing, but karma always has its way.

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Commissar DeSantis announcing re-education camps for Florida students and teachers. Click me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not DeSantis’ mother – but the words fit. This was originally targeted at unruly airline passengers. I’m aiming it at an unruly governor.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Crap! A Friday Extra


One of the features of watching a YouTube video is the line up of additional videos presented to tantalize us. YouTube captures what we’ve watched before and provides links to videos with some similarity to them in order to keep us watching. As you know, what commonly results is an enormous time suck.

I haven’t a clue how it happened, but somehow I got tagged for pseudo-science conspiracy crap videos. I know this because I clicked on a video and watched a very well produced documentary of idiotic, serious face “experts” claiming idiotic, seriously meant possibilities, like, “Only a handful of astronauts have seen the far side of the moon, so there could be massive construction there.” And there are crackpots spouting provocative, idiotic questions, like, “Can it be that the Moon is actually hollow?” *

To support their hollow Moon theory they quote a United States Geologic Survey study of radar pings to the Moon that supposedly have penetrated the surface. They report that the USGS determined that the moon’s crust is only 20 miles thick; past that it’s hollow. To fact-check their claim I went to the USGS site and did a search. The closest I could get to validating the claims of this YouTube video was a piece published in 1991 entitled Demography and Natural History of the Common Fruit Bat. I, for one, believe the fruit bat information confirms their claims of a hollow Moon, but that’s just me.

That information is especially powerful when paired with multiple claims by multiple no-name talking heads in this video. They say that NASA has banged on the Moon, which has resulted in echos lasting for hours. Perhaps that means that the Moon is actually a celestial bell awaiting a galactic clapper.

YouTube has lined up other crackpot videos. There’s one asking if the Soviet Union discovered aliens in the deepest lake in the world. Another tells the story of a pilot who survived the Bermuda Triangle and who will tell you what he saw. There’s some guy who was pronounced dead for 20 minutes and he’ll tell you what he saw, too. And there’s a video telling what would happen if Yellowstone National Park were to blow up. It sure is a good thing that someone is thinking about that.

There’s a video about a massive LA disaster you’ve never heard of and another where Apollo 11’s “third astronaut” Michael Collins reveals secrets from the far side of the moon. But if you were to watch that video you’d learn that there are no secrets and Collins doesn’t reveal anything. Fact checking ruins all the fun. Nevertheless, there is no end of provocative, pseudo-science crap just waiting for our clicks. Enjoy. Better yet: don’t.

The point of this is captured by a single statistic: The hollow Moon video has been viewed 2.1 million times. Clearly, people believe this crap and they share it with their airhead friends, who believe it, too.

Literally millions of Americans believe that the January 6 insurrection was just an ordinary group of tourists visiting the Capitol Building. Never mind that the building was closed to visitors due to Covid-19. And when you watch the videos again just ignore the chants to hang the Vice President and pay no attention to the bear spray, the Auschwitz tee-shirts, the beatings of Capitol police, the vandalism and the rest. Bear in mind that, “15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds ‘are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation’”.

Idiotic, false-on-the-face-of-it crap is gobbled up by otherwise capable humans who are commonly able to feed themselves, fill their own gas tanks and utter intelligible sentences in a single language. But now due to cowards in our government, these conspiracy gobbling, gullible people have outsized influence on our democracy. Fantasy rules. Rationality, logic and good sense be damned.

To use the suggestive question format of the conspiracy world, “Could this be evidence of alien life forms eating the brains of Americans?” Perhaps if NASA were to bang on their heads we would hear the echos.

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  • * Full disclosure: these are not verbatim quotes. They are the substance of such statements repeated throughout the idiotic video. My life has great value to me and I won’t waste it on crap, so I am unwilling to watch the video again in order to perfect the quotes.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

If It Feels Right


This is a special time. It is a time when magical thinking has washed over the land, drowning our world in hyperbole, fiction and venom, and leaving so very little grounded in the observable. The waste of the neocortex imperils the people like oxygen deprivation, with hypoxia choking the rational.

Left behind is rigorous critical thinking, the very thing of the Enlightenment that brought such freedom and progress to mankind. It has been displaced by, “If it feels right to me, then it is right.” No need for evidence. No need for observation of any kind. No need for the bother of accuracy or the effort of thinking.

There is no need for testable theory, because that space has been taken over by the subjective satisfaction of, “If things are as I like them then all is fair. If not, someone cheated and stole from me.” So, fair becomes unfair if I don’t like outcomes, and accusation is the same as proof. Opinion is the same as fact and judgment is a prize unto itself. To quote Professor Scott Galloway’s commencement address, “We optimize for short-term emotional satisfaction rather than long-term prosperity,” and “[t]he prioritization of victimhood. The belief that to be offended is to be right.”

We are through the looking glass and opportunities to make the movie Back To Reality are incrementally, relentlessly turning to vapor. The portal to the world where lies are not the same as truth, where up is different from down, where knowledge, wisdom and learning are valued and where science is a real thing is closing. That is why there are so many calls for action right now, because absent our action, we won’t like the albatross we’ve placed around the necks of our children. They won’t like it either, although that won’t matter to the brutes, liars and manipulators in charge.

Our choices are: to ignore what’s going on; to sit at home and wring hands; or to take action – do something about it.

The first two options won’t help our children, so they’re unacceptable. Here are some ideas for the third option.

  1. Attend The For the People Act: A Conversation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn at 5:00PM on June 22. Register here. Go ahead: learn something that is Earth-based and useful. It will be a refreshing contrast to the ever-present magical thinking that assaults our ears.
  2. Do some phone banking to West Virginians to twist Joe Manchin’s arm back to where it belongs.
  3. Help the experts do what we don’t know how to do well ourselves. Donate to Focus4Democracy. These are the folks who know how to turn the crank of progress. And we surely need progress right now.

If this feels right to you, it’s because it is right. It’s right to fight for what you believe in. It’s right to do good and to fight the bad. And that stands in stark contrast to the magical thinkers, because you have evidence from the right side of the looking glass.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Have A Nice Memorial Day


From Giovanni Russonello’s article in the New York Times:

“QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests
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“But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that [QAnon] caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public – particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

“Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

“And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and ‘restore the rightful leaders.'”

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are conducting hate rallies. Last week Gaetz began, saying, “We have a Second Amendment in this country and I think we have an obligation to use it.” He was reported by Heather Cox Richardson and all major news agencies this way:

“[Gaetz] told attendees that the nation’s founders wrote the Second Amendment to enable citizens to rise up against the government. ‘It’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports,’ he said. ‘The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.’

“As the audience cheered, Gaetz continued: ‘I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.’”

These are powerful words harkening back to our founding days of tricorn hats and muskets and thoughtful men in wigs, except for one thing: every bit of Gaetz’s chest thumping declaration is false. All of it.

The Second Amendment was included in the Constitution for many reasons, including self-defense. It was also included to keep southern slave states in the Union. White slave masters were vastly outnumbered by slaves then and the slave owners figured they needed a mechanism to counter any slave rebellion. Local militias – essentially vigilantes with firearms – was their solution. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to appease the slave owners.

Further, as Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic. ”  .  .  .  the main—indeed, almost exclusive—purpose of the [Second A]mendment was, in fact, to protect the rights of states to maintain and arm militias.” And, indeed, they’ve done that. Today they’re called the National Guard.

However chest-thumpingly satisfying it may be to our citizens wearing camouflage, carrying military weapons and assaulting our state capitols and the Capitol Building in DC or plotting to kidnap and assassinate the governor of Michigan, they aren’t the militias envisioned by the Framers. They aren’t well-regulated. They aren’t even militias. They are insurrectionists in waiting.

There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in The Federalist Papers or in the words of any Founding Father, nor is there any representation anywhere of a right of citizens “.  .  .  to maintain an armed rebellion against the government,” to rise up in violence against democracy – not a word, however our many insurrectionists and impassioned blowhards think there is. What’s worrying is that our self-righteous believers in citizen tyranny own a huge proportion of the over 300 million firearms in this country.

There is no cabal of Satan worshiping child sex traffickers running the world or our country, nor is there an imminent biblical-scale storm that will sweep away elites. There is no right of insurrection. Accusations are not the same as evidence or proof. Fantasies aren’t the same as facts. Lies are not truths. But some people will believe whatever feeds their passions, hate and anger, good sense be damned.

And all of this fantasy based insanity that promotes tough guy-ism and stokes violence flies in the face of the special day we set aside for our military people who died protecting our nation from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That refers to enemies of the Constitution.*

Go to your local Memorial Day ceremonies tomorrow, be they in person or virtual. Honor our fallen ones and say thank you.

And have a nice Memorial Day – while we still have our democracy.

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In Case You Missed The Craziest Play in Baseball

Watch this.

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  • * I’m reminded of a line from Aaron Sorkin’s wonderful movie The American President:

“How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Relativism and National CPR


Relativism: The idea that nothing is any more correct or true than anything else.

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I know, it sounds preposterous, but that is the prevailing assumption about reality in much of our society. Example: Kellyanne Conway did an interview from the White House lawn shortly after Donald Trump moved in. She was defending a false claim that press secretary Sean Spicer had made at his first press briefing a day earlier. He had insisted that Trump had the greatest number of attendees at his inauguration of any president, ever. When presented with empirical evidence that the claim was false, Conway announced that they (the administration) believed “alternative facts.”

Let’s be clear that “alternative facts” doesn’t mean that they were looking at other metrics, nor does it mean that they had additional information not included in the original observations. It means specifically that they believed that they were free to make up anything they wanted and that their made-up story was just as valid, accurate and true as any other. For them and for so many others, false = true, fiction = fact. Relativism.

While Trump is gone from a position of power and is now preparing for his position as defendant, alternative facts have not disappeared. We hear them every day from politicians blabbering some vacuous reinvention of history, from QAnon spouting another impossible conspiracy fiction, from yellow journalism masquerading as news and from extremists breaking the law while claiming they’re protecting the Constitution. But these conjurors of alternative facts aren’t alone. Indeed, we have a major cultural problem.

Kurt Andersen’s book Fantasyland is an historical trip through our wondrous American tapestry of belief in fantasy, in anything goes. Andersen quotes science fiction writer Phil Dick, introducing his words writing, ”  .  .  .  he wrote a perfect summary of his dread about the transformation of American society and culture as the real and unreal became indistinguishable.” Sounds a lot like today, don’t you think?

‘The problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups – and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener.  .  .  .

‘And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes.  .  .  .

‘I consider that the matter of defining what is real – that is a serous topic, even a vital topic. And in there somewhere is the other topic, the definition of the authentic human. Because the bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans – as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides.  .  .  .  Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans. It is just a very large version of Disneyland.’

And here we are in our alternative worlds, stumbling through our cultural Fantasyland of alternative fact inbreeding. We believe whatever we want to believe and then accept the mutants we’re creating, as we befuddle ourselves to death, all because relativism rules.

This is dangerous stuff. It is where people believe whatever they want to believe with no weight given to reality. They believe whatever serves their motives and fears and hopes, like believing that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump; like sending partisan know nothings to audit the last election so that they can fabricate the desired result; like people selecting themselves to attack democracy, even as they invoke the red, white and blue. It is what causes little self-inflated men and women to lie and to cling to power over others, while justifying their actions with fantastical fabrications. That and more goes on every day in America, regardless of how our detachment from tangible facts causes us to self-immolate.

Perhaps that is why President Biden speaks of fighting for the soul of America. It needs life support intervention right now and nobody else is showing up to do national CPR.

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Tweets So Far This Week

From @richardhine:

“If 53% of Republicans think Trump is still President but only 26% of Americans say they belong to the decaying Party of Trump, that would mean only 14% of Americans think Trump is still President. Which might be an accurate measure of the batshit fringe.”

From @HunaNaMeaHuna

“Vote Theft Is Your Future Denied”

Gerrymandering and sham voting audits will do that.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Are You Seeing a Pattern? Ug!


We humans are predisposed to look for causes for what we see, relationships to explain the way things work and patterns of events to help us predict the future. For example, if caveman Ug leaves his cave, turns left and runs into no danger, and if this happens the next day and the next, Ug is wired to see the pattern and he will expect to be able to leave his cave safely, as long as he turns left. Such is the power of repetition.

This observed pattern is reinforced when one day his cave mate Gug leaves the cave, turns right and is attacked and devoured by a very hungry, grouchy carnivore. In that moment Ug will have thoroughly internalized his important lesson on cave exiting.

It’s the same for us today. You find a restaurant you like so you go again with the expectation that you’ll like it again. If you do, you’ll likely eat there a third time. By then the pattern is clear and expectations are reinforced by the evidence and by repetition. We’re quick to pick up on such things, just like Ug.

That pattern recognition can carry over to our politics, although it can be badly warped. For example, Trump continues to make the demonstrably false claims that the election was rigged, that there were millions of fraudulent votes cast against him and that hundreds of thousands of votes cast for him weren’t counted (only in swing states). He whines as though making the claims is enough to make them true. Both his true believers and his cowardly sycophants repeat those lies over and over until they seem to many otherwise sensible people to be true. The repetition, not evidence, drives their belief. That is the essence of The Big Lie throughout history.

Last week the House voted to establish a January 6 commission to learn the full story behind the insurrectionist domestic terrorists that killed 5 people, brutalized police, vandalized the Capitol Building and threatened to kill the Vice President and members of Congress. 175 Republicans voted against that bill, even though they themselves had been targets for violence on that awful day.

From the Washington Post:

Republican leaders denounced the commission as a partisan Democratic plot. [House minority leader Kevin] McCarthy [R-CA] accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of not negotiating “in good faith” and wasting “time playing political games.” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-KY]  chimed in to accuse House Democrats of having “handled this proposal in partisan bad faith going back to the beginning.”

I count 4 baseless claims and zero evidence in those 2 sentences and the rest of the article puts no evidentiary meat onto those bones. And the bad faith thing – in negotiations over the creation of the commission Republicans were given everything they asked for and – did I mention? – 175 of them, including all of Republican House leadership, still voted against the bill. These are the same people who declared unequivocally following the domestic terrorist insurrection that a full investigation was required. Perhaps they disliked having a bulls eye on their backs that day.

Apparently, giving Republicans all that they asked for was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “partisan bad faith.” Absurdly, their claims about the evil Democrats, having been repeated in the extremist echo chamber, and are now believed. That rejection of the legislation after getting everything they asked for makes me wonder what Republicans don’t want uncovered by a commission.

Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) is a guy with a most pliable memory. He delivered the fantastical claim that the violent, murderous, defiling insurgents were only making “a normal tourist visit.” To give credit where it’s due, Clyde did offer cherry picked, misleading “evidence.” Of course, that’s actually worse than offering no evidence. On the other hand, on the day of the insurrection he was screaming and helping to erect barricades inside the House chamber, hoping to stop the terrorists.

Sen. Rob Johnson (R-WI) is always reliable for a fantasy-based quote, now claiming that the insurrection was largely a “peaceful protest.” It’s entirely possible that murdered Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s next of kin might see things a bit differently. Nevertheless, it’s likely that huge numbers of believers of evidence-free claims think Clyde and Johnson have it right. Once again, outrageously false and evidence-free claims got repeated and people believed them because of the repetition.

For a clear statement of the insanity of baseless, hollow claims and the harm they do to America, watch this 52-second clip of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) excoriating Republicans for their detachment from reality and perfidy to the Constitution.

QAnon claimed that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking operation out of the basement of a pizza shop in DC. That  conspiracy claim was extra crispy crazy, if only because that pizza shop has no basement. But those claims were made and repeated in the vaporous, conspiracy-echoing universe and then believed by millions.

Are you seeing the pattern? People with large megaphones are making wild, ought-to-be unbelievable claims, offering no evidence (because there isn’t any). They repeat their fictitious claims over and over and people start to believe. And it’s worse than that.

Otherwise normal Americans are now trained to repeat these evidence-free claims themselves, as though making the accusations alone causes them to be true. These millions of Americans require no factual evidence.

Indeed, for true believers, continuous repetition of fraudulent claims at last becomes its own evidence that proves the claims.

That’s the kind of thing that could cause Ug to foolishly leave his cave and turn right, only to come to a very brutal and ugly end, just like Gug.

Speaking of Patterns

I’m an enthusiastic fan of John Oliver and I commonly appreciate his sense of outrage over very real outrageous issues. Here comes the “but.”

But last week he weighed into the Israeli-Palestinian carnage, making simple judgments about complexities he apparently doesn’t understand. He’s in good company, as most public commentary has done the same thing. I encourage you to view these videos (here and here) for a response to Oliver, because at the very least, they shed some light on the complexities and skewer the simple, easy and misleading judgments that so many are making.

I’m still a fan, but this time, as he sounded like he was making sense, John Oliver was actually making very little sense.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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