McCarthy

Freedom


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

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Freedom of Speech

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

                                                   Amendment I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-White Freedom

That’s an oxymoron.

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

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

The Courts and Freedom

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

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

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

The behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get.

People Need To Be Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Neither Did This

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

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

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

Click me

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

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

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

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

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

Afghanistan Didn’t Have To Happen, Either

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

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

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Are You Seeing a Pattern? Ug!


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

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

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

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

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

From the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Patterns

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

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

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

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Unmasking in the Theater


Reading time – 3:33  .  .  .

The House will hold all-hands-on-deck hearings into the impeachment of President Donald Trump. This has been a long time coming, considering all the blatantly illegal and un-Constitutional and un-presidential things he’s done. Indeed, just his refusal to investigate and take action against Russia for interfering in our 2016 election should have been enough to show even Republicans his unsuitability for office and his suitability for being sent away. Alas, that didn’t happen.

It didn’t happen when Robert Mueller submitted his report, which specifically cited ten (TEN!) cases of obstruction of justice perpetrated by Donald Trump. Just get that obstruction of justice is illegal in federal law and in every state, county and municipality in the United States. Still, Trump hasn’t been held to account. Now, though, there’s a chance for that to happen.

There isn’t even a hint of doubt that Trump attempted to get a foreign government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the political opponent he fears most. That’s a crime. And there isn’t a doubt that he held up money headed to Ukraine, money that was supposed to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion. Trump used that money to extort the president of Ukraine, to get him to “play ball” solely for the political benefit of Donald Trump. Extortion, like soliciting election help from a foreign government, is a crime.

The reason there isn’t a question as to whether Trump did all that is because he bragged that he did it. It was a voluntary confession and a voluntary release of the edited transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian president that shows him doing it. Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney bragged about Trump’s illegal actions, too. He said that quid-pro-quo extortion is ordinary stuff and that we should all just, “Get over it.”

But, of course, we haven’t gotten over it, because the president soliciting or accepting anything of value from a foreign government IS ILLEGAL! The reason it’s illegal is because doing so corrodes our democracy, undermines our values and invites even worse criminality in the future. And it makes the United States of America subject to pressure from and possible control by foreign governments. The Framers knew that well and it is why they included this prohibition in the Constitution itself.

That’s what makes it so fascinating to watch Republicans twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend this clearly criminal president and his clearly criminal actions.

We have heard infantile “It’s not fair” whining from many Republicans, notably and most recently from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). He whined about how unfair it is that:

    • Trump hasn’t been allowed to present his case. (That’s true. Because what was done by the House Intelligence Committee was neither a court proceeding nor a debate. It was an inquiry seeking information, just as is done by a grand jury.)
    • The House Intelligence Committee hearings were done in closed session. (That’s true, too. That’s how such things have always been done, including when Republicans were digging for dirt – any dirt – on Bill Clinton.)
    • The House has issued more subpoenas than enacted laws. (That’s only true if you take into consideration that the entire stack of bills passed by the House is in a pile in a corner of Mitch McConnell’s office because he won’t bring them to the Senate for a vote. Besides, such numbers have nothing to do with the impeachment inquiry, which makes this objection idiotic.)
    • The Democrats want to kill democracy. (Yes, he said that. It isn’t worthy of further comment.)
  • The Republicans spent the duration of the House Intelligence Committee hearings complaining about the undemocratic secrecy of it all. Hearings should be public, they said. So, a vote was taken last week to hold public hearings in the full House, the very thing Republicans said that we must do. The proposal would give Republicans exactly what they said they wanted, and every Republican voted against it.
  • Republicans know what Democrats, Independents, iron workers, Popsicle peddlers in the parks, CEOs, mill workers, investment bankers, 7-11 attendants and everybody else knows: Donald Trump is a criminal. It’s just that some people rationalize that for their own imagined benefit.
  • Like the Republican legislators who dread a primary challenge and who cower in fear of Trump’s playground brat name calling. They do the dance to protect their own asses and in that process they abandon democracy and the Constitution they swore to protect and defend. And they know that’s what they’re doing.
  • This impeachment business will be, more than anything, a test of integrity.
  • So, watch the proceedings. They will be the greatest political theater on the planet. And they will be the greatest public unmasking of legislator frailties you’re likely to see – ever.

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NOTES:

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

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

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