manipulation

Fact Checking And What It Means


Reading time – 3:51  .  .  .

In his presser of March 19 Donald Trump said things that are factually untrue. Sad to say, they have enormous impact. For example,

From STAT:

Trump ”  .  .  .  said a new drug for Covid-19, yet to be proved safe and effective, was now ‘approved or very close to approved.’ Another, also not approved for coronavirus, would be ‘available almost immediately,’ in part because using it is ‘not going to kill anybody.’

“Then, minutes later, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, took the dais in the White House briefing room and delicately walked back each one of Trump’s statements.”

So much for treatments for our COVID-19 sufferers.

Trump announced from that same podium that millions of hospital masks are on the way. When asked for specifics he barked, “We aren’t a shipping clerk.” He’s probably right about his mean-spirited shipping clerk blurt, because hospitals and clinics aren’t receiving shipments of masks. And they aren’t just running out of masks, they’re begging people to sew masks for them at home. Because of that, our healthcare workers are at heightened risk of becoming hospital patients themselves. So much for millions of hospital masks on the way. That’s the kind of harmful impact Trump’s lies have in this crisis.

Here’s the big one: He said that we knew nothing about COVID-19 until very recently because the Chinese hid the information.

FACT: The Chinese did hide information, which is why we didn’t hear about it in November 2019.

FACT: A World Health Organization epidemiologist sent warnings about COVID-19 on January 9; the CDC got the word out on January 6; the Canadians announced the coming of this pandemic in December 2019.

Everyone knew this was coming.

The result of this administration and President Fantasyland ignoring the international warnings and all the data is that WE ARE TWO MONTHS BEHIND IN TAKING ACTION. Whatever we’re doing in March could have been done in January and hospitals would have masks by now, and doctors might even have test kits.*

Well in advance of the arrival of this disease we knew plenty and increasingly knew more about it. We knew it was potentially deadly, that it spread from person to person in much the same manner as the flu and that if we didn’t take strong, positive action that very bad things would happen. And we knew that we had to protect our healthcare workers or it would become a double whammy of them becoming yet more sick people and fewer healthcare workers available to provide care.

We knew that significant respiratory ailments were part of the symptom package of this disease, so we knew we would need way more masks, respirators, ventilators, oxygen generating equipment and hospital beds. And we would need hundreds of millions of test kits. But as late as last Friday we were still getting magical thinking from President Fantasyland that this disease would suddenly, magically disappear. And the fictions keep on coming.

We’ve had the data from China and South Korea for a month and a half and from Italy since February. We know how this disease is passed, how fast this virus spreads and we know what these countries have done to tame it and the effects those actions have had. We’re not flying blind, except for the willful ignorance of this President and our federal government. And it’s not just the White House making things worse.

The House passed a bill on March 14 to help people affected by this disease with both cost coverage for testing (if the test kits ever show up) and for treatment (if that ever arrives) and economic help to offset reduced incomes. The Senate knew this bill was on the way, but Mitch McConnell put the Senate in recess so they couldn’t even have a look at it until 4 days later. In other words, they wasted half a week in protecting Americans.

The result of all of that is that thousands of people are infected and some will die who might never have contracted the disease at all, had we taken proper precautions early on.

Trump has spent his life in self-promotion and is using COVID-19 to do more of that. He is now calling himself a “wartime president,” perhaps for the cachet he think it bestows upon him. He always deflects and blames others, so he’s calling this a “foreign virus” and the “Chinese virus,” which are handy names to use so that people blame the Chinese and not him for the rapid spread of this disease.

Indeed, he always invokes an enemy, like caravans and Muslims and the press and immigrants and Democrats and Nancy Pelosi and more. That keeps his followers from focusing on his ineptitude and culpability and engenders undeserved sympathy. And now all his victim-hood, flights of fancy, finger pointing, magical thinking, and outright lying are producing only four things:  a more devastated economy; more fear; more sick Americans; and more dead Americans.

One of the key reasons people voted for Trump in 2016 is that he wasn’t a politician. This was at a time when the Congressional approval rating was just 13% (it’s only 21% now). We’d had it, or, in Bernie-speak, we were sick and tired of politics as usual. So, we brought in a circus barker. And we sure didn’t get a politician.

A politician would have known to get in front of this disease before it became a pandemic that would destroy political careers. In the process of covering his own ass, a politician in charge during this crisis would have covered ours.

But no such luck for us. We’re stuck with brainless magical thinking and quarantining ourselves, with millions laid off and disaster at the doorstep of every hospital in the country.

So, if this sounds like an angry post, you damn well know why.


P.S. #1: 20 – 25% of Americans don’t trust experts. What do you suppose that will mean for our national fight for heath measures to stop COVID-19 when these people are fed a continuous stream of hateful, anti-expert lies by the President?

P.S. #2: Click here to watch the Trump version of P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Freak Show On Earth.

* P.S. #3:

Q. Why doesn’t President Trump order the construction and supply of massive numbers of COVID-19 test kits?

A. Because we’d find out how dramatically worse our situation is, how many more people are sick and his numbers won’t look good. Always remember: It’s all about Trump looking good. The hell with sick people and their needs.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Destiny


Reading time – 2:46  .  .  .

President Trump has not just bungled facts, spewed false happy talk and continued to lie his way through his presidency and this pandemic. He has also made clear that he is not responsible for anything that’s happening if he thinks it might make him look bad.

He told us that he’s not responsible for our total lack of preparedness for COVID-19 or for its reach or for the severity of its impact, this in the face of his having completely disbanded our Pandemic Response Team and cut funding for the CDC in 2018. The people he canned are the very people who made up the very team that could have minimized our suffering due to COVID-19, had they been in place and had they proper funding and authority. Of course, the President would also have had to listen to them, follow their advice and not say stupid stuff. There was never much of a chance of any of that happening.

So, here’s a little snark from last Sunday’s post, in case you missed it. It is not offered because of the snark; it is offered because this is our reality.

As Granny struggles in her hospital bed, gasping for just a little more air from her respirator for her pneumonia-soaked lungs, her MAGA hat wearing family is gathered around her. They know this is the end and they weep for their love of her and for their looming loss. Suddenly, the lights go blue-black, the walls begin to shake, and the ceiling speakers boom in Darth Vader’s voice: “It is your des-ti-ny.” And they tremble in their horror and their fear, because all at once they realize that this is what they chose.*

It didn’t have to be this way for Granny, but we made it this way. We made this our destiny.

Last Friday the President bragged about non-existent tests for COVID-19 and about drive-thru testing sites that are nothing but fantasy. He has no plans to enlist the Army Corps of Engineers to transform buildings to meet the enormous hospital capacity we’ll need in just a couple of weeks. There’s no action to re-purpose unused manufacturing capacity to build the ventilators, hospital protective gear or anything else that is already in desperately short supply. The result of this ineptitude is that more people will die for lack of testing and care.

The differentiator that is invisible to Trump is that this isn’t a reality TV show, a make believe land where he can make up stuff and it becomes so, where everyone goes out for drinks after the taping. This isn’t a Hollywood movie where murdered characters get up after doing a scene and go home at the end of the day. This is real life and death and the people who will die from this virus will never go out for drinks or ever go home again because they will stay dead. Worse, more will die because of Trump’s ineptitude and dishonesty, including Granny.

This pandemic is completely over the head of this President and this time it isn’t a little thing like a trillion dollar gift to his rich pals. This time it is life or death for countless Americans. He is incompetent to discharge the duties of his office, including protecting the citizens of this country.

Back to the Star Wars metaphor:

Both Darth Vader and the evil Emperor told Luke Skywalker that joining with them was his destiny. With just the force of his will he refused both of them and that destiny and eventually set things right throughout the galaxy. We can do that. We can refuse the destiny of so many Americans gasping their last breaths due to COVID-19. We can lead our country and the world to set things right.

It’s about our choices as a nation and the consequences our choices bring. We can make our own des-ti-ny. That’s always been the American way.

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Finally, the people of Italy are just ahead of us in dealing with this killer disease. Here is a video message from them that you’re sure to want to watch .

Second finally, Mike Pence proudly claimed on Monday that we have a million COVID-19 test kits out right now. Great – perhaps that’s true. Only 319 million to go.

Really finally, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Large gatherings are prohibited, so drink a Guinness in your kitchen and be your own parade.


* The legal thing: The Empire Strikes Back (from which this clip is taken) and all other movies are copyrighted material. I pay royalties to be allowed to use movie clips legally both here and in my leadership keynotes and workshops. Just thought you might like to know.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Consequences


Reading time – 3:55  .  .  .

Caution: There’s just a little bit of snark at the very end. Please practice safe snark.

We’re still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, although if they were able to speak for themselves the over 5,800 people who have died of the illness might describe this stage a bit differently. Nevertheless, all healthcare professionals have made it clear that this is going to get far worse before it gets better. What you need to know is where we are and how we got here. That will be instructive for knowing where we must go.

To become clear about where we are with this disease you can view a regularly updated global tracker at the Johns Hopkins CSSE site. The acceleration of the numbers is most alarming, as we’re seeing a doubling of cases every six days. Click here for a most useful analogy that explains that.

As for how we got here, start with this: we knew about this virus as far back as December 2019 – a quarter of a year ago. The epidemiologists were clear at that time that this was going to be a very big problem and advised immediate preparation; however, their cautionary recommendations were ignored. Perhaps as bad, had we taken their advice, there would have been a huge obstacle to overcome in order for anything helpful to happen. Here’s why.

President Donald Trump fired the U.S. Pandemic Response Team in 2018, calling it a cost cutting measure. I don’t buy it.

The Pandemic Response Team had been instituted by President Obama following the successful battle against the Ebola virus in 2014. It included sub-teams at the CDC, the Defense Department and at the National Security Agency so that we would be ready in all those areas when – not if – the next pandemic arrived. Based on so many other episodes of Trump, in his boundless insecurity, deleting Obama’s programs regardless of their value to the nation, my belief about his motivation to disband this critical unit is that it was yet another effort to erase everything bearing Obama’s name.*

Regardless, the professionals were removed. Those firings left us with no immediate expertise or mechanisms to deal with a new pandemic. None. And Trump accepts no responsibility for that. Further, “Trump also cut [overall] funding for the CDC, forcing the CDC to cancel its efforts to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics .  .  .  Among the countries abandoned? China.”

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan City, China. Had we helped to mitigate its spread then, world conditions might be far better right now.

This story gets worse, as you know, because we still don’t have one tenth of one percent of the testing capability we need. The CDC’s kit was fouled by a bad reagent, making it essentially useless. Our commercial labs are still ramping up and we haven’t sourced test kits from abroad. The resources we do have are not just insufficient in quantity, but are also slow and cumbersome. There are other proven options ready to go now, including a machine made in Germany that can produce accurate results in 1 hour instead of 4 hours or even a day or two. However, the FDA is bumbling through authorization to use these machines. Here’s a link to a full report on how this COVID-19 testing ineptitude happened.

The truth is that we don’t know how many people in America have the virus because we are unable to test any but extreme cases due to our lack of test kits. That’s an impediment to our knowing who needs to be quarantined so they don’t infect others, where the virus is spreading, the extent of its impact, where to deploy resources like ventilators, protective gear for hospital staff, oxygen generation equipment, surgical masks and so much more.

During Trump’s Oval Office talk on March 11 he told us, “Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.” None of that was true. That is a key problem, not just because of our inability to know what’s going on, but because as Trump continues to spew happy talk and magical thinking, he isn’t firmly addressing our very real challenges or providing the leadership we need. Almost as bad, he contradicts the experts who, unlike Trump, are knowledgeable. That leaves all the rest of us not knowing what to believe. That’s a potent way to spread fear.

In my day job I deliver keynotes and workshops on great leadership and I know when I don’t see it.

The point of all of this is not to pen yet another diatribe about our incompetent President. Rather, it is to illustrate how we got to where we are. We must be clear about what can happen when we aren’t careful in our political choices, because this pandemic, which could have been minimized, is in the process of killing hundreds, thousands or even millions of Americans who could have been protected had we been prepared.

Elections do have consequences and what’s happening right now is one of them.

It didn’t have to be this way.**


Links to Resources

There is a cost to getting people tested and to help those who need treatment. Watch the entire clip – ALL THE WAY TO THE END – of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) making sure we’ll get what we’ll need.

Advice For the Public – World Health Organization – WHO

Nine Charts that Explain the Corona Virus Pandemic – Vox

CoronaVIrus (COVID-2019) – What You Should KnowCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Download and read this. It is a PDF format of an email received yesterday from a local shop and contains the comments of four doctors, two of them in Italy. It is long – please read all of it.

Beware of those who poo-poo the threat of COVID-19, claiming far more people die annually from the flu and other terrible things. Every year the flu starts with small numbers; that’s how it was with the terrible Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918; it was the same for Bubonic Plague, which eventually killed 25% of the people in Europe. The disease number comparisons are meaningless until it’s all over. Right now we can’t even see to when this corona virus will be over. Worse, these comparisons can lull people into carelessness. Ignore them.

Fun Facts

We’re already running out of respirators and, as mentioned, the patient load doubles every six days.

It is expected that between 75 – 150 million Americans will contract COVID-19 and 15-20% of those affected will require hospitalization. That’s between 11,250,000 and 30,000,000 hospital patients, nearly all of whom will need to stay a while. Those numbers don’t include patients suffering from other maladies requiring hospitalization.

There are 924,107 staffed hospital beds in the U.S.

Do the math.

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Finally, stay well and don’t do medically foolish stuff. Help your family, friends and neighbors, the old lady across the street – and do it carefully. We’re all in this together. Because Hillary Clinton was right: It takes a village. And we are that village.


  • *President Trump has repeatedly insisted that he’s not to blame for our medically threatening conditions. His having disbanded the Pandemic Response Team puts the lie to his words.
  • ** “This way” – As Granny struggles in her hospital bed, gasping for just a little more air from her respirator for her pneumonia-soaked lungs, her MAGA hat wearing family is gathered around her. They know this is the end and they weep for their love of her and for their looming loss. Then the walls shake, as the ceiling speakers boom in Darth Vader’s voice: “It is your des-ti-ny.” And they tremble in their horror and their fear, because all at once they realize that this is what they chose.

————————————


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Brats and Beer


Reading time – 1:47  .  .  .

On March 8 I gave a heads up about what we can expect from Republicans in the upcoming general election campaign. I wrote,

The Democratic nominee can expect filth, lies, false associations, fear mongering, muck making, more lies, voter suppression, plus nonstop lies.

And it has already begun.

Do you remember the six (yes, SIX!) House investigations of Hillary Clinton over the Benghazi incident? And the other four? We wasted millions of dollars investigating an evil Republican fantasy. Every one of those gratuitous hearings found Hillary guilty of nothing – NOTHING! What the dishonest Republicans managed to do was to keep a very sad incident before the public for years, sliming Clinton with implied guilt. We don’t know if or how many voters were turned against Clinton by that wretched performance of deceit, but the Republicans are doing it again.

Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has been investigating Joe and Hunter Biden and their connections to Ukraine for months. They have been doing that in spite of the fact that the proper agencies have investigated and found absolutely nothing untoward was done by either Biden – NOTHING! But the Republican smear campaign is already rolling and in high gear.

What is clear as can be is that the Republican toadies for Trump want to keep the Biden-Ukraine connection in the public eye until, say, November 4 with the goal of smearing Joe Biden as they did Hillary. As abhorrent as that is, there is good news embedded in it.

Ron Johnson is running for re-election this fall. The good people of Wisconsin don’t like dishonesty and are already less than crazy about him (approval rating of 28%). They may very well send him packing. In Wisconsin, after all, they know when the beer has gone flat and the bratwurst is rotten.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s The Difference?


Reading time – 1:59  .  .  .

Following Amy Klobuchar’s announcement that she was dropping from the presidential nomination race and indicated that she intends to endorse Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders was asked for his reaction.

Reporter’s Question:

Are you concerned about the moderates consolidating behind Joe Biden?

Bernie Sanders:

Look, it is no secret. I mean, the Washington Post has 16 articles a day on this. That there is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That’s not a secret to anybody in this room.  The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.

His answer gives us insight into Sanders, perhaps in ways he did not intend. Here are three points:

  1. He talked about himself in the third person. It’s a demagogue’s self-serving construct used to promote himself, this time posing as a poor victim. Apparently, we’re supposed to feel sorry for him.
  2. He cites imagined action by “the corporate establishment” and “the political establishment” as though there is an agreed definition of who “they” are and what “they” are doing. His claim that “they” will “do everything” is suggestive that those “others” will cheat, lie and do whatever bad stuff “they” would do, all this without any evidence whatsoever.
  3. He claims (without evidence) that “they” are “really getting nervous because working people are standing up.” In that one claim he makes up motivation out of nothing. He makes it sound like efforts to stop Bernie are the same as efforts to suppress working people, all this without evidence. In addition, he makes “working people” victims, promoting an us-versus-them construct.

What is scary about all this is these are exactly the things that Donald Trump does all the time.

We’ve complained about and been sickened by the divisiveness Trump creates and the painting of some as hocus-pocus enemies, like “fake news” and the “deep state,” whatever that is.

We’ve become weary of the demonizing of “others” that separates us, too, yet here’s Bernie, the front runner for Democrats, and he’s just as manipulative as Trump.

Pete Buttigieg was right at the last debate, saying that a battle between Sanders and Trump would be nothing but chaos. Worse, regardless of who would win such a contest, our norms, our decency and our democracy would be torn down.

Far right or far left – is there a difference to us which extremism we dump on ourselves?

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v9.0


Reading time – 3:19  .  .  .

I haven’t done the research, so I don’t know if William Barr is the most morally corrupt, Constitution flaunting Attorney General we’ve ever had, but surely he’s a strong contender for the title.  How proud his mother must be.

Lest we forget, Roger Stone was convicted on seven (7) felony counts, including witness tampering (intimidation) of Randy Credico. Credico recently said, “If Stone goes to jail I’m a walking dead man.” That is the type and the path of justice preferred by Donald Trump and William Barr. And this is just one case they want to tamper with. There are others, including the sentencing of double-dealing National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

A couple thousand former judges have lodged their vehement disapproval of Barr interceding in Justice Department cases in order to bend things to Trump’s benefit. We have to assume that their condemnation will mean nothing more to Trump than another opportunity for him to brat-call opponents some carefully selected scandalous names and claim he’s a victim. On the other hand, their prodding might have a significant impact on Barr.

Click me

I don’t imagine Barr will cave to pressure from the legal community to step down from his post; he doesn’t have sufficient integrity to do that. However, if the American Bar Association were to disbar him (can they do that?) or censure him for his lying and attempts to manipulate justice, that might do the trick. Perhaps the ABA will align with all those judges and take such a stand. We can only hope.

Actually, we can do more than hope. We can send the ABA our demands that they disbar or censure William Barr immediately. Click the ABA logo link above and make your voice heard.


Click me

I told you in a recent post that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s book Running Against the Devil and promised a report, so here are a few things about it:

  1. This book is THE PLAYBOOK for Democrats in 2020. This race is not about education, economics, healthcare or foreign affairs: if we want to evict Trump and begin to repair all the damage he’s done to our country, then this race is entirely a campaign against Trump, and for all the reasons you already know and likely some others, too.
  2. My friend Sheila Markin writes a fine political blog and you must subscribe to it. Her recent post is focused on Wilson’s book and her review will tell you much of what you need to know. After reading her comments, buy and read Wilson’s book for yourself.
  3. Nominating a socialist is like shooting yourself in the head just before getting into a street fight with the bad guys. Sadly, that’s probably true if the nominee is a gay man. Use your imagination to see the oppo ads (“In the Lincoln bedroom?!!!”). You’re right: it isn’t fair. More to the point, it just won’t play well for a great many otherwise persuadable voters and will give the election to Trump.
  4. Democrats, stop the circular firing squad. Stop doing Donald Trump’s work for him. Stop trying to lose this election.

The White-Collar-Criminal Pardoner-In-Chief just commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the 40th governor of Illinois. Yes, it’s true that we in Illinois have a long and proud tradition of sending our governors to jail, but this one is particularly interesting. I promise that the story ties back to Donald Trump’s insecurity and temper tantrums, despite the fact that Blagojevich was sent away in 2009.

He was convicted of soliciting bribes for political appointments, including trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after Obama moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Quoting Blagojevich,

“I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f***in’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”

There are plenty more Blagojevich potty-mouth quotes like that. Makes all we Illinoisans proud. Here’s how that connects to today.

The U.S. Attorney who vigorously and successfully prosecuted Blagojevich is Patrick Fitzgerald, now the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald is a long time good friend of (drum roll, please) James Comey, former head of the F.B.I. and perpetual neurotic response generator in the psyche of Donald Trump. Trump commuted Blagojevich’s sentence yesterday, cutting short his prison time by 6 years.

You don’t suppose that in doing so that Trump was trying to stick it to Comey, do you? I mean, Trump can’t manage to smear Comey with an investigation and indictment, so all that’s left to Trump is name calling and screwing Comey’s friend by commuting slime ball Rod Blagojevich’s well deserved prison sentence.

Please pass a barf bag.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? v2.0


Reading time – 1:21  .  .  .

Trump drives ever more lawlessness; then career people resign in protest. I get it. Makes sense. They don’t want to be a part of his criminal activities or the destruction of our democracy, so they both make distance from Trump and make a public statement. The concern I have is for what happens when all the good guys are gone.

At that point the government will be run by nothing but toadies, criminal conspirators and the nothingness that is left when critical positions aren’t filled. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s bad enough when there’s a coal industry lackey running the EPA and a fossil fuel lobbyist heading the Energy Department. Now, though, we’re looking at a Justice Department headed by William Barr, Donald Trump’s “Roy Cohn.” Cohn was a sleazy attorney/fixer for Trump’s father. Barr has abdicated his role to protect and defend the Constitution in favor of protecting and defending President Trump; i.e. Barr is Donald Trump’s personal attorney/fixer.

With his own bag of nefarious activities, Barr is inducing good guy attorneys to quit. Three withdrew from the Roger Stone case and one disappeared altogether last week because of Barr’s interference in the sentencing recommendations for Stone, Trump’s long time dirty tricks guy and advisor.

There were others who left the DOJ in disgust before that and, considering the thumbs – no, make that bowling balls – Trump and Barr are putting on the scales of justice, there will be many more good guys who will protect their integrity by resigning. And for the good guys who remain a little while longer, it’s likely their efforts to enforce justice will be compromised. Who does that leave to ensure justice in America?

Whatever positions are refilled, keep an eye focused on who shows up. Given what we know from the last three years of this sordid Trump administration, we just might get some sketchy people who will administer sketchy justice. That’s what could possibly go wrong.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week.

Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families. Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.


Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book Running Against the Devil. It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Profiles in Cowardice


Reading time – 3:47  .  .  .

Alan Dershowitz has never seen an opportunity for attention that he didn’t covet. He hasn’t exhausted his reservoir of outrageousness, nor fully plumbed the hollowness of his integrity; however, he may have come close last week.

As a member of Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, Dershowitz proclaimed the absence of Constitutional guardrails limiting a president, a concept that isn’t just outside the mainstream; it bears no resemblance to the Constitution at all.

Alan Dershowitz told the world that if a president believed that his/her reelection was in the best interests of the country that they could do whatever they wanted to do in order to ensure their reelection – including the soliciting of foreign interference in our electionand it would not be impeachable!

Apparently, in DershowitzLand there aren’t any limits on what presidents can do, so perhaps they really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not be subject to prosecution or impeachment.

This is the same nonsense as Richard Nixon telling David Frost, “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” That’s Kim Jong Un murdering anyone he’s a little cross with today. That’s Vladimir Putin killing political rivals in Red Square. And Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milošević, Josef Stalin and all the other murderous, genocidal, ethnic cleansing maniacs getting away with what they do because there are no guardrails. That’s Trump saying, “Then, I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Dershowitz is telling us that Trump is correct and 53 Republican senators are refusing to say “NO!” If this craziness comes to pass, they will have invited dictatorial brutality into America. Not today and maybe not tomorrow, but not too many tomorrows from now. Can the very despotism that the Founders rebelled against be far away?

I can’t handle the ache it would cause to fully refute Dershowitz’s stupid, idiotic, unpatriotic befouling of the Constitution. The point for now is the cowardice he displays by sucking up to this president with his outlandish behavior.

Professor Dershowitz is not alone in his Constitution demolition efforts. His un-American words were compounded by defense attorney Patrick Philbin’s argument that, “American politicians can accept damaging information on their opponents from a foreign country.” Yes, he’s telling us that it’s okay for foreign governments to contaminate our elections and that America is for sale to the highest bidder.

Patrick Philbin is just as cowardly and just as guilty as Alan Dershowitz in claiming idiotic views of the Constitution that would have gotten them both laughed off the Senate floor just a generation ago. Adam Schiff called this craziness, “The normalization of lawlessness.” Schiff is right.

And let’s recognize what the Republican senators are doing as they sit in quiet cowardice, shooing the Constitution off a cliff with their refusal to acknowledge truth and stand up to this lawless president.

I still can’t get my head wrapped around the fact that there had to be a debate over whether there would be witnesses and documentary evidence presented in this trial. Why was this ever a question? How do these senators manage to look in a mirror, knowing they have sold their souls for a handful of beans?

On the other hand, the beans really are magic. They ward off Trump calling these senators mean names and lets them keep their seats in Congress. Yes, that does mean that for each of them, their seat in Congress is more important to them than democracy and their oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Tough beans for the rest of us.

Of course, this is all about Trump and his base, as exemplified by Rex Huppke’s “humor-ish” piece (that’s what he calls it) in the Chicago Tribune.

“As a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, I demand that Republican senators in charge of the upcoming impeachment trial swiftly acquit the commander in chief before any more truth leaks out.”

“The last thing we need is to see a great president, who we Trump supporters have built up to be an avatar of American strength and decency, get knocked down by stupid things like facts.”

This is supposed to be a caricature of Trump supporters. Clearly, though, our Republican senators are acting as though these are their marching orders.

A minimum of 75% of Americans wanted witnesses and documentary evidence brought before the Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial. 51 senators rejected it.

Q. How could the Senate refuse the wishes of three-quarters of the American people?

A. The same way they refuse the wishes of 92% of the American people who want gun safety legislation.

Add these cowardly senators to Dershowitz and Philbin and we are left with three profiles in cowardice and precious little to protect us from a dictator the Founders feared.

Here’s a clip from the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop that illustrates the Republicans’ relationship to facts and reality. Think of Paul Reiser’s character as today’s American people and Eddie Murphy’s character as the Congressional Republicans.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Put Them in RDP


Reading time – 4:02  .  .  .

We’ve had years of hearing Donald Trump say whatever came into his fraudulent head and many of us are way past shock and indignation. We see that’s just the criminal, disconnected-from-reality way he rolls and it’s become what we expect. But he’s infected pundits and members of Congress who now ignore reality so well and who are so facile with rationalizations that they no longer recognize when they’re just making up crap. Reference: the impeachment trial defense team.

We now have governing by gaslighting and these reality deniers have infected the 38% voting bloc that has adopted their practices. We may soon hear a thundering claim of a flat Earth, a serious proposal for a National Alchemy Act and the burning of witches.

Often we’re slow to figure out that we aren’t dealing with reality. For example, we didn’t do a good a job with the war on drugs. It was based on lies and was heavily weighted against non-white people. Essentially, it was and is a tool of suppression, not unlike any Jim Crow law, giving us the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A consciousness of that hypocrisy has started and at last we’re doing something to bring us back to actual reality. It’s taken half a century for us to recognize the facts.

Now we’re in the midst of the impeachment trial of the Criminal in Chief. The blindingly fast stampede away from actual reality (e.g. promoting the totally debunked Russian propaganda story of Ukrainian interference in our 2016 election) being done by Trump’s supporters is astonishing in its vehemence and audacity. They deny documented actions. At the same time they admit that Trump did those very things, but claim they aren’t impeachable offenses. But really, now, they can’t have it both ways.

They deny Trump’s solicitation of foreign government interference in our upcoming election (read Federalist 68 for an adjustment back to reality – see the pertinent paragraph below), even though his own words and actions show us plainly that’s what he did. Hugh Hewitt, a man who otherwise appears to be conscious, claimed this on Meet The Press last Sunday – watch starting around the 1:00 minute mark for a fine example of departure from reality.

Majority Leader McConnell claimed that the impeachment trial process that he created is the same as the process used in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial (not even close). That and a thousand other distractions, whataboutisms and whining lead us ever further away from actual reality. This is the kind of blatant refusal to acknowledge fact that is poisoning our nation. The more we deny actual reality, the more difficult it will be to fix what we’ve broken and the easier it becomes for people to deny any and all reality.

Countering fantasies with facts to redirect back to what actually happens here on planet Earth is pretty much an exercise in wheel spinning; deniers are immune to logic, so it’s time for us to get tough on this craziness. I propose a War on Reality Denial. Too bad for you, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer.*

It’s time to draft a law making it a felony to knowingly promote false realities. We need a stop-and-interrogate provision. Playing off Donald Trump’s invitation to police officers, it’s okay if perps routinely get roughed up during questioning.

There will be mandatory sentencing to prevent wussy judges from undermining the program. And there will be a 3-strikes rule, just like in the war on drugs and the war on crime. I want to see repeat offenders put away for a long time. And while they are there we won’t provide training or rehabilitation, so that when they are released, recidivism will be their reality. That will let us keep them locked up even longer. And because reality denial offenders are primarily white I want to see these laws disproportionately enforced on them.

Science and education are under attack in this country from many angles, but the overriding issue is the wholesale denial of reality. Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel and move this legislation right past our fact contradicting politicians and send them where they belong: to RDPReality Denial Prison.

One bright spot: Yesterday I was once again a judge in the local middle school science fair. Seventh and eighth grade students proudly strutted their science stuff with a wanton embracing of reality. These kids learn and use the scientific method – you know, factual, testable real world reality. They are our hope.

Useful stuff: Because of what I learned at the science fair, check with me to learn about the best batteries, the fastest seed germination methods and ways to marginally increase memory performance. Also, I can now tell you which colors improve test performance and why a recording of your own voice doesn’t sound like you.  These kids teach me a lot every year.


Resources:

Alexander Hamilton warned us about factional (i.e. partisan) lunacy in impeachment trials in Federalist 65**. Click through for the complete essay. Here’s the pertinent paragraph:

“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Have a look here for an interesting take on impeachment from the Harvard Law Review that will open your eyes. It might even poke at a cherished notion or two.

From a recent Lawfare brief:

”  .  .  .  the Founders had a broader conception of bribery than what’s in the criminal code. Their understanding was derived from English law, under which bribery was understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest. This definition not only encompasses Trump’s conduct—it practically defines it.”

*From Federalist 68:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter [sic], but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” [emphasis mine]

Maybe our “originalist” (interpreting the Constitution as the Founders intended) senators could stop denying this reality  .  .  .  ?

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*“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” Edward Abbey. Thanks go to MG.

————————————


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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