Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

lies

Mom First – Then Ignorance And Lies


POST 1067


Mom

Today is the official day we celebrate mothers. I had one and it’s likely you did, too. So, today, in addition to all the “Happy Mothers Day” wishes, give Mom a special thanks for raising you to think critically and to have integrity. As we’ll see, those can be in short supply.

__________________________________________

Ignorance And Lies

We have an ongoing attack of political falsehoods that is biblical in scale. Like the trillions of locusts on their way to eat plants, terrorize small animals and you, these assaults on truth aim to eat away at our trust and make us afraid of one another.

You may recall that I have explained the causes of political falsity as being of no more than two possible origins:

  1. The person releasing such gas is ignorant. S/he does not know the truth, whether through willful witlessness, laziness or through some mental impairment. Such people are clueless, dangerous and without the sense to keep their mouths shut.
  2. The person spewing false statements is a liar. To qualify for this disappointingly not-so-rare distinction one must know the truth and speak contrary to it.

I recently saw Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) on CNN spewing a string of idiotic, untrue things that host Kaitlan Collins would not have. She challenged them as false and without merit. Vance did the Trump two-step, doubling down on his false statements. Was he ignorant of the facts and too stupid to shut up, or was he lying? Turns out it doesn’t matter.

The people of Ohio are poorly served by someone peddling such fabrications and all of us are worse off for having it fogged in our faces. Our trust in one another and of our nation gets damaged yet further by each such falsification.

But what did Vance expect to get from vapidly flapping his mouth? A “look at me!” moment? Stature in the Insane Caucus of the Republican Party? Hope that Trump would notice how similar Vance is to himself and think him worthy of being Trump’s VP pick? Good for Vance. What’s in it for us?

Which leads us to the companion question: Why do people believe such trash? What’s in it for ordinary Americans to abandon Mom’s teachings and to integrate political bovine excrement into their beliefs and even to bellow those fictions as though they’re verified truth? What makes them blather gibberish and dance in the ecstasy of self-righteousness, victimhood, anger and the delirium of hatred of others?

The answer is that it’s about feeling. Their abdication of their common sense and their absorption of lies makes them feel good and powerful. They feel seen and understood. They have a sense of belonging to the true and right tribe and are at last hitting back. Plus they’re sticking it to the elites whom they believe have blown them off all their lives. (See my post this Wednesday for more on this.)

That’s how people who claim they enthusiastically support our police rationalized viciously attacking, maiming and killing cops on January 6 and desecrating our Capitol Building.
.

For those happily led astray, the mean spirited lies carry no need for verification or even good sense. And by absorbing and believing the untrue, they make themselves ready to believe yet more lies and distortions, oblivious of the destruction they bring upon not just those they hate, but upon themselves as well.

From First Ignorancians:

7. Verily I say unto thee, thou art putty in the hands of the liars, condemned to the hell of cluelessness and the coming curses. Thy ignorance shall keep ye enslaved and ye shall live with the Scarlet Letter “I” upon thy breast.

There is nothing we can do to save those self-selecting to be enslaved. They will live in the dark oppressive land of Dunno for all their lives and may well pass along their chains of enslavement to their children.

The rest of us must move onward toward that more perfect Union, that shining city on the hill, that promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
.

And so we vote for those we hope and believe don’t worship ignorance and lies. We talk with others about reality, like that the Earth is round, not flat; that democracy is best; that minority cruelty and minority rule are awful; that legalized stealing of rights like healthcare and voting is un-American; that insurrection is traitorous and deserving of great punishment; that vigilantes are domestic terrorists and deserve great punishment; and that willful ignorance and lies are inexcusable.

From Second Ignorancians:

18. Tremble ye builders of mountains of mendacity, for the vote is well-nigh upon thee.

19. Followers of liars take notice while ye can. Leave thy willful and hateful ignorance and enter the land of truth, justice and the actual, verifiable, real American way. The truth shall set ye free from a life of Duh! and Huh?

26. Celebrate the faithful who believe in the Constitution and democracy and who have the clarity not to worship a sociopath and con artist. Abandon thy toxic gruel while ye still can, lest karma rise up and smite thee.

Because what goes around really does come around.

Instructional Music Selection

Listen to the words of Revolution 1 from the Beatles‘ White Album. John Lennon has something for us, all these years later.

“If you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out.”

“If you want money for people with minds that hate, all I can tell you is brother you’ll have to wait.”

“You tell me it’s the institution, well you know, you better free your mind instead.”

You’re Planning To Do What!?!

From Heather Cox Richardson’s post of May 9:

Former House speaker Paul Ryan told Yahoo Finance that he would write in another Republican rather than vote for Trump. “Character is too important to me,” he said.

If character is so important to Ryan, somebody please explain to Mr. Social Security Vouchers (that he claimed weren’t vouchers) that a vote for anybody but Biden is essentially a vote for Trump, especially in a close election. Third party votes are un-American and are evidence of poor character.


Today is a good day to be the light

  • _____________________________
  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

  • Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

At Last


Post 1,016

—————————————

It took years for our media to stop pointing out the “mistakes” Trump was making in his presentations and to at last state the obvious: He lies and he’s a liar. By the end of Trump’s administration the Washington Post had documented over 30,000 Trump lies. That’s over 20 per day for 4 years. These were not inadvertent errors or little oops moments; they were flat out lies. It took the Post and the rest of the mainstream press years to find the nerve to state that obvious fact. Now we’ve come to another reckoning with reality, this, too, of the forehead slap variety.

It seems that our mainstream media has figured out that Donald Trump and his rabid followers and cowardly tag-a-longs comprise an existential threat to our republic, to democracy, to the Constitution and to our way of life. Journalists have figured out that these unfaithful ones are actually proclaiming their evil intent out loud and promising to deliver destruction.

This promise of a destructive rampage seemed obvious and dangerous to me at least as far back as April 9, 2012, well before the Trump bastardization of our country. Later Trump undercut our intelligence agencies, threatened nuclear war, promised retribution against various opponents and agencies of our own government and far more. Imagine that: it wasn’t enough to demonize Mexicans as rapists and drug smugglers and criminals, as he did during his infamous escalator candidacy announcement in 2015, complete with paid actors pretending to be supporters. Trump has attacked and continues to attack us all directly and repeatedly.

Now he’s promised to take down the Constitution, aggregate all power to himself, kill our generals, imprison political opponents, station our military in our cities to control we citizens, this in violation of the Third Amendment, and more. He’s promising all this in his campaign speeches. If there’s one lesson we should have learned quite well a long time ago it’s that Trump doesn’t do hyperbole. When he promises something outlandish, he means to deliver it, regardless of illegality or harm to others. Now it’s clear that his overriding message is that he plans to tear everything down and build a dictatorship solely for himself; as in: Nothing for you.

No democracy. No shining city on a hill. No last best hope. No lamp beside the golden door. Nothing but serfdom under a mad king, exactly what the colonists rebelled against.

Which brings us to morning in the journalism world.

At last journalists are writing and speaking about the obvious reality of the existential threat promised by Trump.

In the Washington Post Robert Kagan explains that A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending. Kagan’s post is a serious buzz kill, because what he lays out has been in plain sight for a long time – we should all have been able to see this coming – and it’s a deadly serious threat to us and our country.

The entire January/February issue of The Atlantic is devoted to the theme: If Trump Wins. It’s a very ugly picture.

The Economist tells us that Donald Trump poses the biggest danger to the world in 2024.

And you can check the New York Times for Donald Trump’s 2024 Campaign, in His Own Menacing Words.

These are just a sampling of current pieces. If you don’t have online access to these publications, go pick up copies at a newsstand. You remember those, right? The big box bookstores have a whole section of periodicals. Go there.

Spoiler alert: The news you’ll find is clear and terrifying.

Like his constant lying, it appears that the secret is out about the doom of Trump looming menacingly on the horizon. Journalists are finally naming names. At last.

You need to be naming these threats, too, especially to low information friends and family members who don’t see what’s coming and which will clobber them if they let it.


Today is a good day to be the light

_____________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

  • Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Taking Sides


!!! NEWS FLASH !!!

Washington DC, 7:00PM local time, August 1, 2023

A federal grand jury has indicted the twice impeached, twice indicted, disgraced former president, Donald J. Trump on four counts:

  1. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
  2. Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding
  3. Obstruction of and Attempt to Obstruct An Official Proceeding
  4. Conspiracy Against Rights

Incitement to riot is not charged, nor are several other charges that might have been brought.

These charges all have to do with Trump’s attempt to overturn (“steal”) the 2020 presidential election from We The People. There is much to say about this, including, “O’ happy day!” but that will have to await study of the document. You can read the indictment here. Perhaps it will cause you to take sides.

It’s Time To Take Sides

Courtesy of Steve Sheffey

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” – John F. Kennedy

We all know right from wrong. This applies most especially now, as our nation is under attack from home grown extremists and terrorists.

It’s Time To Take Sides.

At this point in his first term, Ronald Reagan’s approval rating stood at just 35%. Remind me again what the problem is with Joe Biden’s approval rating in the 40s.

Yet he will be verbally eviscerated with false accusations by dishonest extremists over the next 15 months. But if we stand up for the truth, we will see public approval for him steadily climb. The economy will continue to improve, more people will gain good paying jobs, the metaphorical and literal potholes will get fixed and America will be looking better and better to us.

It’s time to take sides.

I’ve written here several times about the reasons people say false things and it is an unholy trinity:

  1. They’re too lazy to learn the truth, so they just make up self-serving .  .  . stuff. Or they’re too spineless to stand up to the screamers.
  2. They’re too dim witted to understand the truth and too dumb to know to keep their mouths shut.
  3. They’re liars.

Now, that just isn’t pretty. But it’s accurate.

There’s one more thing to consider and that is why politicians and even those in the general public lie; i.e. say things they know to be false. This one is easy to identify. It’s because they get some perceived benefit from the lies. Think:

– politicians spouting incendiary lies in order to garner votes from their extremist constituents or to gain campaign contributions from those who will benefit from their election.

– ordinary citizens spouting lies in order to puff up their egos or justify their hatred and anger or to feel a sense of belong, a kinship with other extremists.

  • We cannot live long enough to slip truth and reality into such minds. What we can do is to immunize the rest of us from the lies. This is no time for neutrality.
  • It’s time to take sides.
  • It’s time to take sides because the vast majority of us want gun safety legislation, the right to abortion, open voting rights for all citizens, immigration reform, racial fairness, LGBTQ rights, the right to contraception (Justice Thomas wants that one gone) and so much more. The reason we don’t have these things is because entrenched special interests (read: the greedy and power hungry people) have locked We The People out of power. But if we stand up to them – if we vote – our democracy will have worked for We The People and we will end this reign of terror.
  • It’s time to take sides.
  • And that means that it isn’t enough to have mutually reinforcing discussions with those who agree with us. We actually have to do something beyond our own tribe. Otherwise the lies stand to overpower our nation.
  • Taking Sides on Staying Alive
  • Click me for the full story from Everytown

    I confess my extremism: domestic abusers should not have access to any firearms. No excuses, no exceptions. This should be an absolute. And this should be obvious good sense to everyone. It already is to battered wives and children.

  • Sadly, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals thinks violent abusers should be able to buy, borrow and possess guns with the same impunity as non-offenders. These judges apparently think the Second Amendment is an absolute, in contradiction to what former and very conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in plain English.

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,”

So, yeah, we can keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Violent people. We just have to do it.

  • This case is on the docket for the Supreme Court to hear this fall. Let’s hope they surprise us with some uncommon common sense and strike down that 5th Circuit Court of Appeals murderous ruling.
  • It’s time to take sides.
  • Oh Golly, Gipper: You Were Wrong and So Are Today’s Crazies

“Bidenomics is proving to be the most impactful and transformative public investment program since FDR’s New Deal, with even Morgan Stanley acknowledging that economists broadly underestimated the positive effect of Bidenomics.”

Maybe you’ll like this explainer even better:

.Many thanks to Jim Nathan for pointing out both pieces.

These are based of the same idiotic and cruel concept as “skills training” that was given to African slaves by their White slave masters, per Ron DeSantis. Maybe we should stop paying him for being governor of Florida because of the fine skills of cruelty and lying he’s acquired.

When crazy satire like this makes sense,

It’s time to take sides!

  • Today is a good day to be the light

    ______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Changing Minds


The Economy

For those dedicated to wringing hands over the economy, here’s the beginning of Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s post of July 25:

President Biden’s determination to “build the economy from the middle out and the bottom up,” appears to be paying off. Last Friday the global financial services company Morgan Stanley credited Biden’s policies with driving a boom in large-scale infrastructure and manufacturing, a boom large enough that Morgan Stanley revised its gross domestic product growth projections upward to 1.9%, a projection almost four times higher than its original projection.

Analysts doubled their projections for the fourth quarter, and raised forecasts for next year, as well. “The economy in the first half of the year is growing much stronger than we had anticipated,” Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. economist Ellen Zentner wrote.

Read her essay. It’s full of wonderful news and vitally important truth, stuff that the crazies attack and lie about.

Will our outstanding economic performance change the minds of Trump voters or the hallucinatory far right crazies?

Answers: NO and NO.

But that doesn’t matter. They’re the crowd that’s super-glued to conspiracies and obstruction.

The battle is for those who are open to accurate information. This positive economic news just might change their minds and motivate them to show up to vote for candidates who will fight for our democracy because there’s something in it for them. It’s about changing these minds with the truth.

Lies

From reader and contributor Diana Dobrovolny Hefter:

It’s all beginning to fall apart.
.
Last [Tuesday] Rudy Giuliani admitted in a court filing that he made false claims about Georgia election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman.
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These are the two individuals that Trump, his attorneys and his followers claimed to have committed election fraud in the state of Georgia, leading to Biden’s victory.
.
Giuliani now admits that it was fabricated.
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Will this change the minds of Trump voters who still believe Trump’s lies of massive election-changing voter fraud? Will Trump stop pushing these lies?
.
Answers: NO and NO.
.
Once again, from an election perspective, the truth is only valuable to people who are not super-glued to fantastical, extremist lies. The rest of us think democracy, rights and freedoms are good things. We think lying like Giuliani lies is a bad thing. If we can change some minds, these folks just might get off their La-Z-Boys on election day and vote. That would be most democratic – lower case “d” – and helpful – for a change.
.
The Fall of the FBI
No, it didn’t fall. But trust in the Bureau is extremely low. The important part is why it’s so low and it turns out that it’s extremist propaganda, conspiracy lunacy and a very large number of googly-eyed lies told over and over. You know, like The Big Lie.
.

Dana Milbank has detail on this in his Washington Post piece, Republicans celebrate their successful deception of voters. Here’s a summary.

The extremist Republicans are and have been on a relentless tear of  telling lies to poison the minds of We The People. And they’ve been quite successful at undermining trust in the FBI, the Justice Department and our intelligence agencies. Here’s a piece from Milbank’s post:

[Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)], the leadoff questioner at Wednesday’s hearing, told [FBI Director Christopher] Wray about a recent NBC News poll in which “only 37 percent of registered voters now view the FBI positively, down from 52 percent in 2018. That’s a serious decline in the people’s faith, and it’s on your watch,” he told Wray.

Milbank goes on to say,

The Republicans are well aware of “those numbers” — because they are the ones who assassinated the reputation of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency. [emphasis mine]

Those prevaricators sure did change some minds, but not for the better.

Sensitive readers are cautioned to read Milbank’s piece with no sharp or heavy objects nearby. The story is, let’s call it, unsettling.

The point is that the hyperbolic crazies, using a tsunami of misinformation, is driving down public trust in those who keep us safe. It’s a garbage dump of Big Lies. And that affects our elections.

BTW, weren’t Republicans the ones who claimed to carry the mantle of law and order and tough justice? Big supporters of law enforcement? But now they’re ripping the FBI. What happened to that mantle?

Good Guys Winning Elections

It is beyond human capability to change minds of the super-glued crowd. If we’re to get sane, democracy loving officials, we’ll have to appeal to independents, those with minds open to reality. We’ll have to appeal to every non-extremist voter to vote. In short, we’ll have to do whatever it takes to motivate ALL OF US to participate in our democracy. That would be a fine change of minds.

Would that there were moderate Republicans with the courage to speak out against the lies, but alas, we cannot count on them to do the right thing. Those with a backbone seem to be on the edge of extinction.

“We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

There is but one way to stop the flood tide of dishonesty and that is for us to saddle up and be the cavalry charging over the hill. Obama said it best: “We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

We are the ones who have to protect and defend rights, freedoms and democracy because we are the ones who believe in reality.

This is no thought exercise. This is a call to action, to canvas, to text, to donate, to make calls so that those who believe in truth and democracy are the ones who take office in January 2025 and in the states following the state and local elections between now and then.

We have to change a bunch of minds – for the better.

Betcha You’ve Never Heard of This Kind of Thing Before

Jadarrius Rose, a 23 year old Black man, was driving his 18-wheeler in Circleville, OH on July 4 when he was stopped by the State Highway Patrol for a missing rear mudflap. He got out of the cab of his truck and was told to get on the ground. Instead, he threw his hands up in obvious surrender.

In the body cam footage an officer can be heard repeatedly telling Circleville Police Officer Ryan Speakman, who was the handler of a police dog, “Do not release the dog with his hands up!”
.
That was when Speakman released the dog. It savagely attacked Rose.
.
  • It’s easy to understand how that might happen, as Rose was quite obviously guilty of surrendering with his hands up while being Black.

Oh wait: maybe you have heard of such a thing. And maybe refusing to teach kids the truth about systemic racism in America is a very bad idea.

A lot of minds need to be changed about this.

Just For Fun

Now that there are 37 charges against Trump in the documents case, it’s time to see how the We The People feel about this.


  • Today is a good day to be the light.

    ______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take ALL OF US to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v18.0


Silence
This is for those Republicans quietly whining in their closets about right wing extremists: you really should be speaking up.
.
You should have voted for a Democrat to be Speaker of the House instead of voting for spineless Kevin McCarthy. You should have been speaking out against Trump’s outrages and those of the alt-right for years, maybe for decades, because you know the difference between right and wrong. Right?
.
Your closet whining instead of speaking up probably helped you keep”the base” votes,  I suppose, but at what cost to your integrity, your legacy and our republic? What will you tell your grandchildren?
.
From Heather Cox Richardson:
.

That today’s Republican leaders have not condemned any of [Trump’s] attempts to cheat speaks volumes about the party. As Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) pointed out [on March 22], when “[Michael] Cohen was arrested, indicted, convicted, and went to prison for participating in an illegal hush money payment scheme to Stormy Daniels, not a single Republican leader complaining now said a thing about what happened to Michael Cohen.” So why the rush to defend Trump in the same case?

From Ella Wheeler Wilcox, author, poet and activist, 1850 – 1919:

To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

Democracy

I’m not partisan by nature, but the past 40 years have made me a non-Republican, as that party ran headlong into autocracy mania. Even so-called traditional Republicans have ducked and run from what is actually conservative, leaving Democrats the only ones to vote for if we still want a democracy.

Yoda

I get that keeping our democracy is far too ethereal to be sufficiently motivating to most Americans to get them out to vote. We prefer not to expend the effort to be aware of anything not in our immediate lives. It’s just a human being thing. But here’s the real deal: Keeping our democracy is the only way to preserve what we call our American values. “On that everything depends,” said Yoda.

Accountability

What if we actually believed what so proudly we hail about our virtues, values and beliefs – like accountability?

Last week was the 20th anniversary of George W. Bush’s second faithless war. We lost 4,400 Americans in Iraq. More important, they lost everything. We saw 32,000 of our people wounded. Nobody knows how many of our returning vets committed suicide or are still living on our streets two decades later. And, of course, nobody knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed or how many millions are still refugees.

Bush looked for an excuse to invade Iraq as far back as 1999, two years before he took office. He wanted to be seen as a strong “commander in chief.” That would ensure his 2004 re-election, and, of course, that was what was most important. Pay no attention to the dead bodies in his wake.

All that death and suffering was based on Bush’s quicksand foundation of lies, fear mongering and his reprehensible swagger. Here’s just a tiny sampling.

Lies

Lie #1: Saddam was a really bad guy and had to be removed. Actually, it isn’t a lie to say Saddam was a bad guy. What was a lie was that Bush contended that was enough of a reason to topple him. There are a lot of other bad guy leaders in the world, but, oddly enough, we don’t depose them for being bad guys.

Lie #2: Saddam was in cahoots with al Qaeda, the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11. Actually, the al Qaeda group was fanatically religious and Saddam was entirely secular. They hated one another. Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.

Lie #3: The Iraqis will receive us as liberating heroes and will pay us for the war with their oil. Except those Iraqis who were killed or tortured or forced to become refugees – we’re not heroes to them. And their oil was never ours to take.

Lie #4: Waterboarding isn’t torture and torture is legal. No point in elaborating – you already know.

Fear Mongering

Bush told us that Saddam Hussein is “this close” to having weapons of mass destruction (“WMDs”). Actually, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission was continuing its search for WMDs in Iraq before our invasion and had found nothing to indicate that Saddam had any such weapons or was working to acquire them.

From Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice: “.  .  . we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Seriously, she said that over-the-top, scare everyone into compliance outrage.

Covert CIA operative Valerie Plame was outed by Dick Cheney because her husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, unmasked Bush’s and Coliin Powell’s lies about yellow cake and aluminum tubes. That didn’t even momentarily pause the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld march to war. And our almost entirely lapdog Fourth Estate, our press, forgot that it was supposed to be a check on government.

Our Congress bought the lies and fear mongering and voted an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which Bush was all too eager to use. Congress is only now moving to end that authorization.

Swagger

Bush swaggered across the aircraft carrier flight deck wearing a flight suit, flight helmet under his arm, following his being nothing more than a passenger for the aircraft carrier landing. He stood in front of his false and embarrassing MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, even as our troops were being blown up by roadside bombs, IEDs and more. The war dragged on for years after that. I guess that mission wasn’t quite accomplished after all.

There weren’t any WMDs. There never were. There never were going to be. The WMDs existed only in the fraud perpetrated on millions of duped people so that Bush could be commander-in-chief in wartime and get re-elected. Plus, Cheney could acquire no bid contracts for Halliburton, but that’s another story. The key story is the death, the wounding and disfigurement and the miserable displacement of millions, all for a fraud.

Two decades later not a single Bush administration liar has been held accountable. Dick Cheney sneers on, without a heart, both figuratively and literally. Bush paints bad portraits of veterans, dogs and world leaders and sells them for ridiculous prices. Condoleeza Rice is the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Cushy for all, except for an America without accountability.

Here’s the truth about what happened. And watch Rob Reiner’s movie Shock and Awe.

Healthcare Capitalism

Let’s give credit where it’s due: Trump’s childishly named “Operation Warp Speed” worked. We gave vaccine producers the up front money to create new vaccines to protect us from the new, not well understood SARS‑CoV‑2 coronavirus that was killing people at a devastating pace. Indeed, we gave Moderna $12 billion for research and development of their vaccine. That has earned the company over $40 billion over just the past two years. In other words, we paid for the risky up front costs and Moderna has reaped the benefits. Now Moderna has a surprise for us.

Said Senate Health Committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT),

“Here is the thank you the taxpayers of this country received from Moderna for that huge investment: They are thanking the taxpayers of America by proposing to quadruple the price.”

The part I loved best is that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), former CEO of a private investment firm, said that Moderna is an example of capitalism at its best.

Moderna has just one successful product, the mRNA coronavirus vaccine, the R & D for which We the People paid. Our government funding of Moderna to produce that vaccine was not a fine example of capitalism.

It was pure socialism!
.

Remember: that vaccine socialism was powered by chief socialist, Republican Donald Trump. O’, those evil socialist Republicans!

Debt Ceiling Update

That’s Congress as Dastardly Whiplash, who tied the U.S to the tracks. Click the pic

“Good” Republicans dither while others (the suicidal crazies) continue to threaten to default on and extinguish the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They’ve tied the country to the tracks and we can hear the locomotive coming. It’s just a few months off and the crazies continue to behave as though future spending negotiations have something to do with paying the bills for what Congress itself already bought. Read this explainer to understand that our debts must not only be paid, but that they must not even be questioned. Better yet: send the link to your representative in Congress.

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going”

     – Irwin Corey (American Stand-up Comic 1914-2017)

Many thanks to friend and futurist David Houle for the reminder.

A Question From The Future

“Hey Mom and Dad – is it really true that a while back people could be denied health insurance and healthcare just because they had a pre-existing condition? No way, right?”


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.


    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

    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.
    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

S**t Spewers Flooding The Zone and A Letter to Kevin


Caution: Those sensitive to nasty words Mom told you not to say should skip to the second section of this post.


Richard Nixon couldn’t remember sending his goon squad to break into the Democratic National  Committee Headquarters at The Watergate to steal opposition documents. Later he couldn’t remember his mob boss style cover up of his crimes. Now, that’s a poor memory. Or a load of Presidential shit.

Later Ronald Reagan told us he couldn’t remember sending his goon squad to sell arms to Iran (a crime). He also couldn’t remember giving the proceeds of those sales to the Contras in Nicaragua (a crime). Apparently, the theory was that the Iranians would be so grateful for getting their hands on American weapons that they would then somehow convince Hezbollah to free the 7 Americans they were holding hostage in Lebanon. That whole thing went on for 5 years and, like Nixon’s, it was a tall pile of Presidential shit.

Once in the Oval Office George H.W. Bush issued presidential pardons to all the Iran-Contra hands-on perps, which was only sensible, since he as Vice President had been the architect of the plan. That pardoning was a fine setting of precedent, too, because it was done again when Trump pardoned convicts Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. And Trump’s reasons for doing that were very much like Bush’s. That’s yet more Presidential shit.

George W. Bush lied us into two wars and into torturing prisoners at black sites. He lied us into mindless tax cuts and off-balance-sheet wars and so much more. He was a master Presidential shit spewer.

Now Sen. Rick Scott (R-Prevarication) says he didn’t really mean that he wanted to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare. However, his policy document says he wants to do exactly that. He’s a really tall shit spewer.

To be fair, though, all of that is a load of shit, but not exactly shit spewing.

It’s over two years later now, but Trump and his brainless acolytes are still saying that the 2020 election was rife with fraud and the accusations come in a torrent, claiming that poor little victim Trump was cheated. Key word: “torrent.”

Steve Bannon counseled Trump in order for him to win the 2016 election and “tear it all down.” He told Trump to “flood the zone with shit.” An ongoing torrent of shit was the key strategy. Bannon said to babble easily disproved “alternative facts” so rapidly that response would be impossible. Trump trained his press secretaries and his advisor Kellyanne Conway to do that very thing. Betcha Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer still claim that Trump had the biggest inauguration crowd ever. Period! The far right crazies do the same thing every day. That’s a huge amount of shit spewing.

Please ignore the complete absence of evidence for Trump’s claims of voting fraud or anything else. Pay no attention to the dozens of court cases he filed claiming fraud, all of which he lost, and his multiple illegal power grab attempts that have been unmasked. Irredeemable shit spewing for selfish gain is what these people are about.

Where have you gone, Merrick Garland? We need someone to clean up all the shit spewed in aisle 45.

It’s the same shit spewing when it comes to insane actions, like stocking cabinet positions with obviously incapable, dishonest, sycophantic people. This works quite well to crush the opposition through the sheer volume of the shit they spew. It’s that torrent thing.

Logistics and shipping company owner Louis DeJoy is still the Postmaster General in charge of hobbling the Postal Service. And Bill Barr is now out peddling his revisionist history book, detailing his fantasy about the integrity that he knowingly abandoned decades ago. His is an entire self-promoting career of working to crush our system of checks and balances by spewing shit, like his summary of the Mueller Report. Barr is totally full of shit that he spews with perfect conceit.

See Note #5 below

Mehdi Hassan has written a brilliant piece in an Atlantic essay lifted from his forthcoming book. The essay is focused on how to deal with the shit spewers and is entitled How To Beat Trump In a Debate. Do read his piece, because he will teach you what to do when faced with people for whom

– truth means nothing

– machine gun speed lying is the greatest of skills

– stealing your power is their holy quest.

See Note #5 below

NOTE: Stealing your power is what the shit spewing is all about.
.

Consider yourself having been cautioned long ago by the Jefferson Airplane about how to deal with insanity and untruth from shit spewers. Back then the spewers were the ones piling up lies about the war in Viet Nam, which got 58,000 Americans killed, many times that number wounded and nobody knows how many Vietnamese were killed.

Here’s the last stanza of the song White Rabbit:

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head
Remember what the doormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

We’re living in perilous times, as shit-spewing, self-serving voices of anarchy and authoritarianism are trying to steal from you every day. In a sense, nothing has changed, because the shit spewers today are just like those of generations before, although today’s spewers spew much faster. They’re still trying to steal your power. That’s why you have to feed your head every day, although that isn’t enough now, any more than it was enough in 1967 when that song was released and the parade of body bags was underway.

Here’s Newton’s 7th Law of Motion:*

You must take action or you will be acted upon.
.

We have elections coming up – we always do – and some of these are critical, like the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat I told you about.

Did I mention that you must take action or you will be acted upon? Check out The States Project for some of the best actions to deal with the assault on you and your power. This stuff matters if we’re going to stop the shit spewers from stealing from us.

An Open Letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy – Snail Mailed February 23, 2023
.

Many thanks to JN for this – click me

Speaker McCarthy:

it’s widely reported that you have released to Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson over 44,000 hours of U.S. Capitol video records of the January 6, 2021 insurrection. You claimed that in giving Carlson access you were delivering “truth and transparency over partisan games.”

As a most interested citizen of the United States and a political commentator, and in the spirit of truth and transparency over partisan games, I’m requesting that you release all the same materials to me that you gave to Carlson, this for my review and commentary. Speaking Speaker-to-Speaker, you know it’s the transparent thing to do.

I await your reply.

Regards,

.
  • Jack Altschuler
  • Chief Disambiguation Officer and Part-Time Speaker of My House
  • Looking For Help
  • Lots of bad stuff goes on. There are many murders every day. People lie, cheat and steal.
  • What I have not been able to understand is why the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh is being treated as national news, elbowing out everything in its path. There is gavel-to-gavel coverage on CNN, MSNBC, Court TV and other outlets.
  • I remember the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart and the overwhelming coverage that received. Same for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. The one thing I’ve found in common in those cases is that these were or are about wealthy White families.
  • Somebody please explain the why of the Murdaugh spectacle.

_____________________________

* You’re right: he only had 3. Check it out here.

______________________________

  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.


    Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

    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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri-v15.0


You’ve Heard Of ALEC

Right:  the American Legislative Exchange Council. What do you suppose they exchange?

Here’s a maddening investigative piece from Atlanta’s NBC-11, The Back Room: Where Georgia Bills Are Made to help you understand. It does a nice job exposing what ALEC and its funding lobbyist buddies are about. Here’s another piece from the Center For Media and Democracy. This stuff goes on in every state and at the national level, all out of sight – out of your sight.

ALEC is the high court of pay-to-play. It’s where bills are written by industrial giants for the benefit of legislators and – guess what? – industrial giants; but not for you. It’s where big business tithes millions to get back billions and where politicians are on the take. It’s where you get sold out.

Now that you’ve had a look, let’s revisit that question about ALEC: What do you suppose they exchange? Right. They exchange money for massive influence and control. Is that okay with you?

A Little Kindness

Herschel Walker with his participation trophy

Poor Herschel Walker has said many times that he’s transparent. For example,

    • – He said he was a member of law enforcement. He even showed a police badge given to him by the sheriff of Johnson County. It was for community support, not for law enforcement.
    • – He said he was in a police shoot out. He wasn’t.
    • – He said that he graduated from the University of Georgia. He never graduated.
    • – There are multiple credible domestic violence claims against him.
    • – And, of course, he is categorically against abortions no matter what, even as the mother of one of his four illegitimate children provided proof that he paid for her to have an abortion.

Herschel is transparent, all right, but it’s only because of fact checkers who show him to be, let’s say, a few slices short of a loaf. Yet, let’s cut him some slack for his over-abundant truth transgressions and his inability to speak any language but Paleolithic Word Salad. He took some vicious hits to the head playing football and there’s no telling how scrambled he is intra-cranially. We don’t know if he’s lying or if he’s so permanently injured that he doesn’t know the truth.

So, instead of sending Herschel to the U.S. Senate, let’s send him to a facility capable of doing brain scans. Forgive him, voter, for he knows not what he says.

But don’t forgive the Machiavellian Republicans supporting and promoting him in order to gain power for themselves. They know what they’re doing and that he’s terribly damaged goods. They know he hasn’t the ability to meet even minimal standards of performance in the Senate. These Republicans don’t care about Herschel Walker, Georgia or the United States of America. All they care about is power for themselves.

So, let’s extend a little kindness and help Herschel to help himself by sending Rafael Warnock back to the Senate.

Important to Remember

William Barr seems to have conveniently discovered a small whiff of integrity by not lying to protect Trump from the January 6 Committee. That was at least a tiny bit refreshing, coming from this guy who wants to make the Commander-in-Chief an Imperial President, a monarch. Barr’s anti-democracy values made him a perfect pick to serve Trump (not the nation) to aid the Great Deceiver in:

    • – ripping migrant children from their parents
    • – distorting the findings (okay, lying about the findings) of Robert Mueller’s investigation in order to manipulate public opinion for the benefit of Trump
    • – allegedly bringing DOJ cases in order to settle Trump’s political scores
    • – hamstringing the prosecutions and the sentencing of Trump’s felonious goons

See note 5 below

The reason for calling out the Imperial Presidency Whisperer is because he and Stephen “Goebbels” Miller and Louis “stop the mail” DeJoy and many more sycophantic, pathological extremists are who we’ll get if today’s Republicans get their hands on power. Spineless, “Gosh, I sure hope I get to be Speaker of the House” Kevin McCarthy has announced that he will appoint election denier, conspiracy lunatic and stalker of Parkland shooting survivors Marjorie Taylor-Green to be number 2 in the House. “This is the democratic emergency that is Donald Trump.” Many thanks to Rep. Jamie Raskin and his book Unthinkable for that descriptor.

Raskin warns us to be “alive to the perils facing democracy,” questioning, ” .  .  .  will the minority Trump party be able to rule through anti-democratic mechanisms like voter suppression and gerrymandering backed up by political violence?”

The answer to that stunning question depends on you and me.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post 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!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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 or neighborhood vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Getting Attention, Statistics and Projection


Hey! Over Here!

The New York Times gathered for a discssion Four Opinion Writers on How the G.O.P. Fringe Took Over American Politics. Here’s a comment from Ezra Klein from that discussion.

“Democrats have a lot of theories of policy. They have a lot of theories of politics. They just do not have a theory of attention. And what I would say for the Trumpist Republican Party is it mostly doesn’t have a theory of policy. It has a middling theory of politics, and it is overwhelmed by its own theory of attention. And I don’t think there’s some kind of grand strategic plan happening over there.

“But I think that one way to think about the asymmetry, or maybe the inversion of the two sides right now, is that Republicans know how to get attention, but they don’t know how to be strategic about it. And Democrats know how to be strategic, but they don’t know how to get attention.”

I maintain that messaging from Democrats is uninspiring and commonly submarines their value to Americans. Klein is adding that they don’t know how to get attention, this in the face of Republicans who are experts at getting attention. I’m certain he’s right.

The key tools Republicans use to get attention are:

  1. Stoking fear of “the other”, be they Democrats or Blacks or Mexicans or Muslims – all the usual suspects. Those “others” aren’t real Americans, Republicans would have us believe.
  2. Saying crazy, even stupid things and being outrageous.

Clearly, Democrats aren’t going to stoke racial fears and hatreds in order to get attention and votes. But what about being outrageous? They can:

Call out Republican lies and label them that way – not falsehoods or misstatements: LIES! And ask Americans how they like being lied to.

Many thanks to JN for passing this along.

As the food stamp program is ending they can make headlines saying, “Republicans don’t care if poor kids starve!”

They can go on the Sunday news programs and tell America that Republicans are banning and burning books, just like the Nazis.

Speaking of books, Democrats can proclaim that Republicans want to cut short your kids’ education – leave them ignorant and prepared to be losers. They even want to close your public school.

Beto can tell Texas women that Gov. Abbott wants them to carry their rapist’s baby to term. And carry the babies from incest, too. Even if they’ll likely die in childbirth. Same thing in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida and other states.

Declare that new strains of Covid are already here and it’s killing our unvaccinated, but Republicans don’t care if they die.

Speaking of Covid, Republicans are spreading anti-vaccine and anti-mask disinformation, fighting against everything that would help end the pandemic. They’re doing that to attack Democrats over the inflation caused by the pandemic! Clearly, they don’t care if Americans go broke or die. That last sentence is the important one.

You get the picture. It’s how it’s said that gets attention.

One of the reasons so many liked Trump is that he seemed to them to be strong. No politically correct phrasing comes from him. He’s all about groundless accusation and promises of “unbelievable” and “huge” great stuff that never materializes. And he’s about “hit back harder,” as declared by Kellyanne Conway, as though hitting back harder were a good thing. Many see that stuff as strength.

There’s no need for Democrats to mimic Trump’s cruelty and stupidity. All they have to do to appeal to those wanting strong leaders (that’s all of us) is to speak plainly.

For example, when Ted Cruz was abusing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over kids’ books, Democrats should have said the same thing publicly as they screamed while watching their TVs: “What a jerk! That guy wouldn’t know the truth if he read it in a children’s book.” I.e., Democrats must speak the outrage plainly.

Instead, we got Dick Durbin doing nothing. When he did speak he seemed to have a mouth full of oatmeal.

He let Lindsay Graham get away with his temper tantrum, false accusations, stealing 50% more time than was his, and then storming off like a 7-year-old brat. We got next to nothing in leadership from the #2 senator at a time when strength was called for. What we should have heard from Durbin was,

“The senator’s time is done – we’re not negotiating more. The senator will silence himself or he will be removed from this chamber. He will not be allowed to come back until he is prepared to apologize for his rude, insulting behavior and write on the board, ‘I will follow the rules, I will follow the rules,’ 100 times.”

That would be outrageous, of course, yet appropriate. And it would have made the 10:00 o’clock news across the nation. The Ds would have gotten some good attention as the strong ones. It would have been clear what they stand for. Instead, it was just another lost opportunity and a show of weakness.

Democrats have managed to disagree with Republicans, but only in nicey-nice Democrat-speak. That gets no attention. But it just isn’t that hard to get attention. The question is whether they have the courage to do what’s necessary.

Must Read

Late find following the writing of this post:

Thom Hartmann writes, “It seems that Democratic leadership is suffering from a serious deficiency of outrage.”

Statistics of the Week

From the Center for American Progress:

“There are 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress [109 representatives and 30 senators] who still deny the scientific consensus of human-caused climate change.”

These Republicans “have received more than $61 million in lifetime contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.” [emphasis original]

Projection Speak of the Week

Democracy is failing and authoritarianism is rising because of democracy’s bad moral foundations, said Sergey Karagonov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, from back in the days when Putin had advisors. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the powerless Russian legislative body, attacked democracy as the evil against which good guy authoritarians fight. Think: Putin as a warrior for all that is good and right in the world.

Somebody please tell me when there has been an authoritarian whose primary motive wasn’t amassing wealth and power for him/herself. For extra points, name one who made the lives of ordinary citizens better. Name even one authoritarian (another word for “dictator”) who wasn’t amoral or immoral and who didn’t descend into some form of debauchery and cruelty.

Oddly, an authoritarian is exactly what our extremist political righties think they want. Set aside whether that is an American thing to do. Focus for the moment on whether you want to be under the thumb of a self-serving, amoral, cruel dictator. See this Sunday’s post for more.

Sadly, our home grown authoritarian lovers don’t even get to the point of thinking about such things. They get a short-lived jolt of power from their tirades as they demand non-democracy, but they’re left powerless immediately after the power rush fades.

The science is well known about how anger short circuits logic and reason and it is that short circuit that we have to confront if we are to avoid a Vladimir Putin wannabee in power over the United States of America. For more, read this from Heather Cox-Richardson.

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri-v14.0


What are we handing to the next generation? Attribution unknown

Does It Feel Hot In Here To You?

A short time ago I posted a piece about global warming. In case you are a denier, you need to know a few more things, so, in no particular order,

  1. Any discussion about global warming needs to be grounded in facts. Not fantasies. Not wishes. Not conspiracy theories fed to you by blabbers on a power trip or from any of the mealy-mouthed liars.
  2. Politicians who deny or weasel about global warming (I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis, Rand Paul and more) are nothing more than short-term thinking, self-serving pocket lint to the fossil fuel industries. What do you suppose it’s like living in Charles Koch’s trouser pocket? Or living life as an asterisk on the balance sheet of Exxon? That’s where our elected deniers live.
  3. Data comes out in a steady drumbeat of messages telling us our time is running out for maintaining this planet as capable of sustaining 7.75 billion human lives.
    1. See the teaser to the right and click through to read the story. What do you suppose this means to the millions of Americans who live there? If you call that area home, how will it work for you to be without water?
    2. There is danger that deniers will say that this report proves that global warming is natural and that mankind has not grossly distorted this into an existential threat. These people are categorized as reality morons. Ignore them because they are incapable of learning. And don’t be one of them.
    3. That worst drought in 12 centuries story is just one example. Think: the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes that cause billions of dollars of damage every year to our Gulf Coast; the 200 mile long path of devastation from one tornado – in winter; over 100° F. north of the Arctic Circle; melting of permafrost and the consequential gassing out of methane, an atmosphere warmer 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. There are plenty more examples of atmospheric messages of doom that we deny at our own peril. This stuff is happening and it’s getting worse really fast, regardless of any denial of the facts.
  4. My friend David Houle is a futurist and is deeply involved in dealing with global warming issues, so,
    1. Read this to get an idea of what we are facing. It’s about what we must do to anticipate coming disasters, like sea level rise that will make our coastal cities uninhabitable in less that 20 years. Yes, really.
    2. Read this and study the chart – it will make your eyes pop. And pay attention to what has caused that hockey stick graph.
    3. Subscribe to David’s posts and figure out how you’re going to help. We all will saddle up when the question of our very survival is in our faces. The question now is whether we will be as smart as a squirrel. Instead of waiting for disaster to strike, will we take action to limit the threat that we know is coming – like what squirrels do before winter arrives?
  5. Tell your children what you’re doing right now to ensure their future safety and even their survival. They’re already clear about what’s coming and they’re furious over the intransigence of so many who are putting their lives in danger – see the pic top-right above. So, check their reaction when you tell them you’re a denier. And brace yourself, because their reaction won’t be pretty. Perhaps after they’ve explained things to you, you’ll be willing to reconsider. That would be nice.

From the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos:

“We are using 50 percent more resources than the earth can support. Today we are living as if we had 1 1/2 planets,” Leape said.

“If we continue like this, by 2050 we will need three planets. Our pattern of consumption is unsustainable.”

And things have become worse since then.

Our problem, of course, is that we only have one planet. Do you think we should do something about that math imbalance?

How Come?

There are reasons why some don’t trust the COVID vaccines. And there are reasons why some feel disrespected in general and are ripe for the picking by liars and conspiracy spinners. Read this from STAT:

Perhaps lack of respect has something to do with our severe cultural conflict and why you and Uncle Bob can’t talk with one another any more.

What If We Help Ourselves?

I’ve been wondering for over 20 years why there isn’t a robust and sustained “Buy American” campaign. The truth is that we can’t buy cheap stuff at Walmart and also have our good paying American jobs, because the math of having both just doesn’t work. So, how come that campaign isn’t happening?

We all know that the manufacturing jobs went away a long time ago – millions of them. That brought us those cheap goods. It also shuttered our factories and delivered massive un- and underemployment and disillusionment. It killed factory towns, undermined trust and amped up anger.

In a piece examining a possible post pax-Americana, Bret Stephens of the New York Times wrote,

“Instead of depending on China for low-cost manufacturing and labor, we reinvest in American workers and factories and become independent in everything from energy to microchips.”

Indeed, what if we did that? What if we told the ultra-wealthy and the big corporations that they will re-shore their manufacturing or pay a huge penalty? What if we were to take care of our poor and middle class citizens by enabling them/us to live in dignity and security?

What if we were to Buy American and thereby help Americans?

Winning Elections
I called the Wisconsin Democrats twice offering to volunteer to help by using my writing and public speaking skills. Two staffers took my messages and I never heard from anyone. That’s strange, because Ben Wikler, the head of the organization, is begging for volunteer help. How will they win elections if they ignore offers of help?
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Perhaps President Biden can set Democrats on a useful course. He can do that by following the advice and direction of David Axelrod. He lays it out clearly in this piece. It has to do with respect, humility and empathy, things Biden is usually pretty good at delivering.
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Further, here’s my suggested battle plan:
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PRESIDENT BIDEN AND ALL DEMOCRATS MUST NAME WHAT AMERICANS WANT * AND THEN BLAME REPUBLICANS FOR THEIR NOT HAVING IT.
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You know – like they’re in a street fight and are throwing their best punches by telling the truth.
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Plus, somebody should return my phone calls. ***

Just In Case You Want Us To Keep Our Democracy

Lots to be said about this and many books have been written about it in just the past few years, like How Democracies Die, On Tyranny, How Fascism Works and more. It’s critical that we be clear-headed about where the power lies that is undermining our democracy and that we learn how to defeat it. That is the point of David Pepper’s book Laboratories of Autocracy.** Spoiler alert: It’s in the states.

Sheila Markin posted a guest essay from Pepper and I encourage you to read it and then buy and read his book. Learn what we can and must do.

But only in case you want us to keep our democracy.

And read Gail Collins’ Opinion piece, Should We Blame Mitch McConnell or Brad Pitt?

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* Read Thom Hartmann’s post which includes a short list of those things we want but are denied. To the issues he lists you can add gun safety laws, stopping global warming, universal healthcare, clean, lead-free water, cheaper rugs, universal low cost, high speed internet access, debt-free public education, high speed mass transit and more. We don’t want brain-free, simple, non-solutions to complex problems from con artists. We want real solutions from adults.

I’ll say it again: This is not a center-right nation. We the People want those progressive things.

** See Fine Print #5 below.

*** Late addition: I made the same offer of help to Adam Kinzinger’s Country First organization and just heard back from them. Dunno yet where this goes.

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

True North, Immigration and Cwazy


During my keynotes and workshops on leadership I frequently offer attendees an exercise in self-clarity called True North. The goal is for each person to craft a simple statement of who they are at their core, a declaration of what’s most deeply important to them. The responses are often moving and self-revelatory, and it is nearly universal that attendees’ statements include a component of service to others.

The value of having such a statement in hand lies in the help it provides to make the best decisions to avoid crazy side trips and instead go our own “right way” – our True North.

I was thinking of that concept the other day in the context of our fellow citizens who quite often believe the preposterous, like physically impossible conspiracy theories or political propaganda. Are they following their True North? It seems to me that they are. To a person they declare that they want every vote counted, that they are defending democracy, that stealing elections is bad and wrong and that they’re against Democrats killing babies and drinking their blood. Who wouldn’t be against that?

The point is that these millions of people may be factually wrong about what has happened, but they are sincere and believe they are doing the right things. Even the January 6 insurrectionists believed that. Every one of them believed they were following their patriotic True North. On the other hand, as motivational speaker Les Brown says, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” Perhaps these millions aren’t as clear about their True North as they and we need them to be. But there’s something else that’s more important and it lies elsewhere.

It lies in the bellies of the liars, the crank politicians, the book burners, the homophobes, the cruel internet trolls, the haters of all stripes who lie for self-aggrandizement or to fuel their rage and sense of power. It belongs to those who long ago sold out, who surrendered their integrity for a pittance. They can’t even remember when they deserted all concern for others. If they were to craft a True North statement it wouldn’t include even a ghost of a component of service to something or someone other than themselves. They lie, cheat and steal without so much as a first thought, much less a second. They promote impossible conspiracies and Big Lies and our millions have fallen for their self-serving fictions.

That’s the power of a lie told over and over: it becomes the reality of others. History shows us plainly and clearly that we humans are easily manipulated into such beliefs and our individual True North quickly gets bastardized into something gone south and terribly wrong. So, spare a little sympathy for our rowdy crowds of citizens who have been psychologically abused by the liars and cheats, even as they are still accountable for the harm they do to others and to our nation.

This is an invitation to ask and answer for yourself what your True North is. Where is it? What does service to others look like on your compass? What will it take to get there? What obstacles must be cleared from your path for that to happen and how does that connect with the dangers all around us right now?

I submit to you that any of us can wait too long. Today is a good day to take action.

Start by reading this.

And Another Thing

Presidents since Reagan have promised comprehensive immigration reform. Reagan’s meager efforts in 1986 were limited to only two issues; one made it a crime to hire “illegal immigrants”; the second legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country prior to January 1, 1982. Not exactly comprehensive immigration reform.

Obama took a stab at this in 2012 by stopping the deportation of those who had arrived in this country as babies of undocumented immigrants – the “Dreamers”. That was done by executive order, so naturally it was ended in Trump’s pathological effort to erase everything Obama.

Mark Felt, associate director of the FBI 1972 – 1973; aka “Deep Throat”

Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden all promised comprehensive immigration reform and failed to deliver it.

Common sense tells us that if we wanted this fixed, we would have fixed it. That, then, suggests that someone is benefiting from our not creating comprehensive immigration reform, so they don’t want it fixed. Who do you suppose that might be? Try our White Supremacists, who don’t want any more brown people in this country. Who else benefits?

It seems to me that it’s time to follow the direction of “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame, Mark Felt, who told Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money.” Apply that instruction to our immigration mess. Who benefits financially from keeping our immigration laws and practices so terribly dysfunctional? Please offer your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Meanwhile, contrary to the googly-eye Republican screamers, Biden’s Border Policy is Not “Open Borders”. It’s an interesting short read from the extremely conservative – but not googly-eyed – Cato Institute.

Us Cwazy Amewicans

Yes, we truly are crazy. And we manage to find the craziest things to be crazy about.

I’m not talking about being crazy about the Cubs (you remember them, right?) or crazy about Chunky Monkey. I’m talking crazy about things like saving our own lives. Why would we push back against the very things that can keep us from an early and ugly death?

But we fight vaccines, we fight boosters, we fight masks and we fight each other. Of course, we have our reasons, like our individual freedom (“You can’t tell ME what to do!”) and our love of extending our middle fingers to demonstrate how strong and powerful we are, and our love of conspiracy nonsense run amok. And, of course, we love our nit-picking to find fault in information and logic that doesn’t comport with our made-up minds in order to justify our craziness. And that’s really crazy.

As I wrote that last paragraph it occurred to me that those reasons are the same reasons we’ve used to throw a national hissy fit against seat belts, motorcycle helmets, OSHA, efforts to fight global warming, the stop sign you didn’t want at the end of your street and pretty much every sensible governmental regulation. At least we’re consistent in our craziness. *

So, are you brave enough to drop the crazy for a  moment and have a look at reality?

– like that we lag far behind every other first world nation but one at getting boosted.

– and that we have a 50 – 100% greater death rate per capita during Omicron than the people in all those other first world nations and many second world nations.

– and that our governors are lifting mask mandates, caving to the whiners and putting us all at greater risk.

– and that we comprise 4% of the world’s population but have over 20% of global COVID cases and deaths. We’re still losing over 2,400 of our fellow Americans to COVID every day, contributing to our

OVER 921,000 ALREADY DEAD**

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We have everything we need to be the world leader in protection against COVID, but instead we lead the world in deaths. These are not just statistics. These are – or were – people. So, say it with me: We’re Number One!

Read David Leonhardt’s clear explanation and his guesses as to why we prefer to gamble against death.

Hint: It’s because we’re vewy, vewy cwazy.

To be fair, Leonhardt didn’t say that, but I quite confidently do.

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* There is some lack of consistency. In the 1950s kids were dying, becoming crippled or left to the prison of an iron lung due to polio. When a vaccine became available parents rushed their kids to get it. That vaccine was okay. So were the vaccines that eradicated smallpox and the one stopping measles and more. Somehow, those vaccines, back then, were good. We trusted our government. There was very little push back.

Today is different. Perhaps it’s because mostly old people are dying from COVID-19, rather than children. Or maybe it’s because of how fractious our times are now and the enormous anger toward “elites” or anyone in charge that’s built up over the decades, as we broke trust over and over. It’s all too easy to lash out against mandates when you believe the ones creating them are just trying to bring you down – again.

** It took the Nazis about a year to kill the first million holocaust victims. By the time we hit one million deaths from COVID it will have taken us about 2.5 years.

34.5% of our population refuses to take easy precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. They put everyone else at risk with their complete indifference to the suffering and death of others. That’s hauntingly familiar human behavior.

————————————

.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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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