money in politics

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.
.

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.

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

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

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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. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

Domestic Terrorism and Your Ancestors


Likely, the first part of the title of this post makes you think of the kid who killed 4 classmates in Michigan’s Oxford High School last week. Maybe you also remember the Las Vegas shooter, the Tree of Life Synagogue and Mother Emanuel AME Church shooters and the murderer in Charlottesville and the insurrectionist murderers at the Capitol Building. You’d be right using that title for all those murderers. But I’m thinking about our terrorist elected officials.

Like the terrorists who made it a felony to give a bottle of water to someone waiting in line to vote. And the ones who made it legal for thugs carrying Glocks and assault rifles to patrol the grounds right outside polling places. What could possibly go wrong there?

And like the terrorist legislators who use minority rule to make second class, powerless citizens of those who likely wouldn’t vote for them.*

And the terrorists in Congress who regularly threaten to shut down the U.S. government whenever a Democrat is in the White House. They’re the same terrorists who threaten to cause our country to default on its debts. They do that every year a Democrat is in the White House, too.

“Hey, world, we just decided we won’t pay you what we owe you. Too bad for you and goodie for those of us who refuse to pay our national credit card bill, ‘cus we just stuck it to the President and our opponents in Congress. That’s how you know that we’re very tough guys. You’re just collateral damage and honestly, we really don’t care what happens to you or our standing among nations, as long as we get our way now.”

There was a time when terrorists putting a gun to the nation’s head to get their way wouldn’t have been tolerated. Back then the idea of claiming that an election was stolen, this in the total absence of any evidence to support the claim, would have earned censure, rebuke and ridicule. Storming the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power wouldn’t even have occurred to anyone. But all of that and more have gone on and much is still going on right now, energized by a constant fire hose of lies. We’ve always had politicians who lie, but there are few if any other examples of a coordinated, extremist attack on reality.

If we’re to deal with this domestic terrorism we’ll have to figure out some things, like:

How is it that ignoring the will of the people is standard and lying to the public every day is both commonplace and smart politics?

How is it that we wring hands and then move on as though nothing has happened every time some whack job guns down kids, shoppers, concert goers and worshipers? Then we refuse to do anything to prevent the next murderer wannabe from getting his hands on a gun.

And how is it that the extremists, the radical terrorists, have manipulated the Supreme Court into a being a mob of partisan hacks that,

– invites huge money into our politics so the rich can buy their legislators (Citizens United). Worse, they exaggerated that harm with an issue unrelated to that case (“legislating from the bench”) that gave full human rights to corporations

– blocks gun safety legislation at every opportunity (Heller) and snuffs countless other attempts to obey the will of We The People – NOTE: a minimum of 80% of us want those gun safety laws.

– is now almost certain to ignore established law, decisions and the precedent of generations (no more stare decisis), leading to mistrust of the rule of law and making Supreme Court justices nothing more than political hacks**

– is now almost certain to tell women that they are not full citizens with the right to make decisions for themselves and that the government will be their daddy for life**

– is now almost certain to stimulate huge growth in the back alley abortion business, leading to otherwise preventable sterilizations, sickness and death – we’ve seen this movie before**

How is it that we tolerate such wanton disregard of decency and responsibility and we abandon the most fundamental rule of democracy, majority rule?

What has happened to us such that we allow all of this to go on?

Those aren’t idle or rhetorical questions. I want your insight on how we came to allow our values to be desecrated, because I surely don’t have answers. Here’s something to stimulate your thinking.

About your ancestors

Imagine for a moment that you could talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents for an hour or two, people of the Greatest Generation and perhaps the generation before them, born in the late 19th or the earliest part of the 20th century. You’d tell them what is happening in today’s America. What do you suppose they’d say? Here’s my guess.

It would take most of that time for them to begin to believe you, because they’d be shocked and horrified. Your report would be of an America that is unimaginable to them. Much of the story you’d have told them would describe some of the very reasons we went to war against countries that did the things we’re doing right now.

That’s how far we’ve strayed.

Look for a clear call to action on Wednesday, December 8.

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* From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson:

“After 19 Republican-dominated states have passed election laws suppressing the vote and gerrymandering districts, a reactionary minority controls them. Although Biden won Wisconsin, for example, the state supreme court today left in place districts that likely will enable Republicans to control 60% of the legislative seats in the state (and 75% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives). Ending federal protections for civil rights means handing to these reactionaries power over the majority of us.”

**  From Dan Rather:

“The issue of abortion is one on which fair minded people, honest to their own beliefs and moral codes, can disagree. But today was not about personal choice. It was about the law of the land that will make no exceptions other than those carved out by the states. And if the history of a time before legal abortions is any guide, and there is no reason to suspect otherwise, today will beget many personal tragedies, ruined lives, hardship, and despair.

“What transpired in the marbled halls of the Supreme Court was not genteel, even if it was wrapped in the ceremony and vocabulary of polite legal discourse. It was a traumatic reckoning. First and foremost for the rights of women to have control of their bodies and their lives. And secondly for a nation of laws, where precedent is supposed to matter. Instead, we saw a fixed legal right, enshrined in jurisprudence for half a century, likely shredded by a handful of unelected and unaccountable arbiters of what our nation of more than 300 million souls can and cannot do.”

“There are many subplots to this drama. We can talk about how a majority of the justices on the reactionary side of the ledger were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and what that means for the health of our democracy. We can talk about how many of the justices were less than truthful, or outright lied, in their confirmation hearings when they acted like they would judge an abortion case on precedent and the law instead of having their minds made up. We can talk about the politics of the court and whether Democratic voters slept-walked on the issue for too long.”

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Antipodean


That was a new word to me, too. From Dictionary.com:

Antipodian – adjective: 1. of, relating to, or originating from places on the opposite side of the globe, especially Australia and New Zealand

That sounds suspiciously similar to “the Orient” – meaning the East. Like Antipodean, it’s an area defined by its location relative to the West, specifically, Great Britain. Defining places relative to the Brits is so very 19th century. Seems rather self-important of them. But it’s the antipode that is the focus for us today.

The Economist reports that

Antipodean anti-vaxxers are learning from America’s far right
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More than 85% of Australians and New Zealanders are vaccinated and some of the strictest pandemic prevention efforts have combined with that to make for pretty good COVID statistics relative to the rest of the world. But, of course, not even all Kiwis and Aussies can tolerate such good news for long and instead they balk at restrictions and being told what to do, just like Americans. Clearly, that visceral, primitive reaction isn’t continent limited. The worse news is how Australians and New Zealanders are learning from our very own anti-vaccine extremists.

The death threat spewers, those calling for reform via rifle and shotgun, the hystericals over imagined theft of their freedom are in the minority but they are loud and vocal. Reports The Economist,

“‘Protesters are taking inspiration from America’s far right,’ says Mr Spoonley. Some wave flags featuring Donald Trump, wear red hats and threaten journalists. They have started calling politicians ‘traitors’ and calling for lynchings. Placards mentioning QAnon, an incoherent conspiracy theory which is taking off in the Antipodes, are increasingly common.”

The red hat on the guy with the bullhorn in the pic to the left reads “Make Adelaide Great Again” – MAGA. I’m sure the power trip he appears to be on helps him to feel more in control; same for the sign carriers and those just yelling.

Protesters in New Zealand on November 9 chanted and carried signs reading, “Kiwis are not lab rats.” That’s a valiant effort to characterize their protest, but it’s more than a bit upside down. What they seem to be missing is that refusing vaccinations and rebelling against public health safety restrictions essentially puts everyone into a lab experiment – rats in a box with infection stalking them at all times. Indeed, the resistors are making themselves into those lab rats by openly sharing the dangerous variants of the virus. So, those Kiwis really are lab rats. They volunteered for the experiment and their rage will not protect them from sickness or death.

That’s what we Americans do in our spreader and super-spreader events, like the Harley Davidson mash up last summer in South Dakota and our football games and going unmasked indoors among strangers.

What’s at stake is life and death and our pandemic problem is made much worse by the human “You can’t tell me what to do!” riddle.  Who do you suppose has a good idea how to solve that riddle?

And That’s Related To

Hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. People who want to hate will find both a way and a target.

The example above is, on the surface at least, a tantrum over individual liberty and rage over imagined victimization. That it casts aside any vestige of good sense or duty to others is quite beside the point. People have found a way to feel wronged and they are venting their rage, hating whatever phantom bad guy they can conjure, like vaccine mandating politicians, the media, imaginary fascists or socialists or communists and more. It’s very little different than burning at the stake women imagined to be witches, this in order to cast away evil spirits or those believed to be summoning them. For some, it’s just hatred and rage for the feeling of power that their rage gives them.

So, it will come as no surprise that hatred based on race and religion is pretty much the same as any other. In America we have a multi-centuries long trail of duplicity, subjugation and violence against anyone whose ancestors were not from northern European countries or England and who were not Christian.

That has continued most proudly in what has passed as the Republican Party since the Voting Rights Bill became law in 1964. It carries on today in voting restrictions and other efforts to maintain minority control of power and money. You saw it in Charlottesville, on January 6 at the Capitol Building and in hateful, incoherent blogs and brainless attacks on people and on reality in Congress and from the twice-impeached, disgraced former president and his sycophants.

This is not new, but it has reached a critical point in this country. For clarity about this, today’s required reading is from Thom Hartmann in his piece, Revealed: The Racist Plot To Tear America Apart.

Finally

Ten Republican controlled states have successfully prohibited the President’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.

Eleven Republican controlled states have filed suit against the President’s vaccine mandate for employees of private companies with over 100 employees.

Nine Republican controlled states have banned school mask mandates.

An uncountable number of Republican legislators, operatives, pundits and TV, cable and radio blabbers have had tirades of faux patriotism against masks and vaccinations. With false propaganda – lies – they have exhorted the public to rage and to refuse to comply. Never mind the risk to health and even survival.

These are the very same people who are publicly criticizing President Biden for poor performance in combating the pandemic and, in consequence, the economy. Indeed, if their lies can maximize the pandemic suffering and death for another 11 months, that should keep inflation high and the economy doing poorly. Then perhaps Republicans can retake power in Congress.

It’s nearly all unvaccinated people who listen to that propaganda and are dying from COVID at the rate of about 1,000 per day. There are 342 days until the 2022 election, and that leads to the key question:

Is it okay for over 300,000 more Americans to die so that Republicans can rule?

Like I said, hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. And it takes a lot of Republican hatred to view 300,000 additional deaths as just collateral damage in their selfish, diabolical quest for power and money.

Here’s a question I heard posed not long ago: Are you okay with the way things are now? If not, what needs to be changed and in what way?

I’ll be posing those questions periodically, hoping to trigger your critical thinking.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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


Be Decent

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

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

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

Click me

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

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

A Word About Waukesha

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

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

Climate

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

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

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

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

We need cataract surgery on our governments. Immediately.

Click me

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

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

It’s our choice.

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

SNL, November 6, 2021 – Click me

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

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

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

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

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

Read about it in STAT here.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Chutes & Ladders, Knives & Guns and Karma


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

Robert Frost said it best:

Good fences make good neighbors.

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

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

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

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

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

They lie, claiming a stolen election.

They enable and lie about insurrection.

They run a spy ring to sabotage our electoral processes.

They project their wrongdoings on Democrats.

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

They filibuster nearly everything.

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

They put partisan conspiracy nut cases in charge of elections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Republicans are coming for you next.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A New Balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

..

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.

 

.

.

 

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Legislation Republicans Will Champion – The KBL Act


It seems so obvious that I just don’t understand why no member of Congress and no state legislature officials have proposed this. It comports perfectly with today’s Republican Party and its policy of having no policy other than obstructing all progress and stoking cultural wars to aggregate power for itself at the risk of our democracy. They find unconstitutional laws to be very attractive, so I have one for them. First, the substantiation for it.

It has yet to be judicially established that Republican members of Congress and/or their staffs took January 6 insurrectionists on tours of the Capitol Building – scouting missions – on January 5. However, other members of Congress witnessed these “case the joint” expeditions, so we can safely believe they occurred. These reconnaissance operations were critical to the insurrectionists if they were to have a chance of finding Mike Pence in order to hang him and to find Nancy Pelosi in order to murder her. That’s wrong.

After the bloody destruction and vile befoulment of our most symbolic building happened, the confirmation of the Elector’s votes took place, as proscribed by the Constitution. But even after the insurrection that put the lives of all members of Congress and their staff members in peril, 8 senators and 140 congressmen/women voted to reject the will of We the People. They succumbed in subservience to the Jackass-In-Chief, who constantly brayed lies about election fraud. Only a single example of voting fraud could be found. It was a guy in Pennsylvania who tried to cast his dead mother’s vote for Trump. That near-total lack of evidence of fraud (one in 160,000,000 votes cast = 0.0000006%) is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. Still, the 148 cowards voted to undermine our democracy. That’s wrong.

Those 148 legislators and more also blocked the formation of a special commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Some of these investigation refusers are the same people who were insane fanatics for investigating the Benghazi tragedy TEN TIMES OVER! But this time, when our entire democracy was threatened, they refused to look even once. Whatever their reasons (feel free to suggest your views on that), they voted to continue their attack on the Constitution. That’s wrong.

Captain No

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has done to Biden what he did to Obama: he vowed to block any and all things promoted by the President and has pretty much made good on his obstructionist promise. That subverts the will of the people and threatens our democracy. That’s wrong.

Our Senators and Congressmen/women have said some dazzlingly, on-the-face-of-it blatantly false things. Call them stupid, if you want, for saying that the January 6 insurrectionists were ordinary tourists visiting the Capitol Building (on a day when it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic), but they saw what you saw and they aren’t stupid. What they are is dishonest and cowardly. That’s wrong.

Republican state houses and Republican governors are stampeding their voting suppression laws through their legislatures to make sure that they can maintain minority rule. They’re even attacking their own structure and processes in an effort to remove impartial election officials and replace them with Republican/QAnon operatives. That’s wrong.

That’s a lot of wrong going on and defeating that at the voting booth level will take a very long time. Actually, it may be impossible to reverse the damage. We must do something far more expeditious, so I propose my unconstitutional act of democracy restoration and protection. Its very unconstitutionality should be like mother’s milk to Republicans.

The Kibosh Illegal Lying Liars Babbling In Government and Legislatures Idiotically Eliminating Self-government
(“Kill Big Lies” ) Act

.

Provisions of This Act

Section 1: It shall be illegal to promote small or big lies whenever the aim is to undermine our democratic processes and/or our democracy.

Section 2: All federally elected and appointed officials, as well as all their staff members shall be held personally responsible for any and all harm to persons and/or property caused directly or indirectly by their efforts to aid or abet insurrectionists or democracy threatening actors. Liability shall be determined based on the stupidity of statements uttered, actions taken and obstructions attempted. Penalties shall be doubled for obviously self-contradictory claims.

Section 3: All state level attempts to prevent or limit voting shall result in the immediate removal from office of perpetrators, be they legislative, executive or judicial, and the permanent removal of voting rights from them. In addition, they will be required to deliver pizza and bottled water to voters waiting in line to vote.

Penalties for Violation

Section 4: All violations of this law shall be deemed a felony with penalties of not less than 1 year nor more than 112 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines. In addition, violators of any provision of this Act shall immediately be placed in stocks in the public square of the municipality where they live, to be ridiculed by the citizens as the laughing stocks that they are. This public humiliation shall continue for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 112 years.

Attempts to Avoid Compliance With This Act and Penalties

Section 5: No state shall be allowed to declare a states rights objection to this federal law. Each and every attempt to do so shall cause the proscribed penalty to be doubled and one Republican congressperson or senator of that state per attempt shall be removed from office. If, due to prior penalties, there are no longer any federal representatives or senators from a state which has again violated this provision, the penalties shall shift first to the governor of said state, then sequentially to members of the state legislature. Should all of those have been removed from office for their attempts to violate or circumvent this law, random registered Republican voters in the state will be selected for prosecution, including eliminating their right to vote.

Period of Applicability of This Act

Section 6: This law is retroactive to January 20, 2017 and there is and shall be no statute of limitations on any act of dishonesty or unconstitutional manipulation to which this law applies.

Severability

Section 7: If any part of this Act should be found to be unconstitutional, it shall be considered severed from the Act, leaving all other provisions intact. So there.

Who Is Eligible To Vote For This Act

Section 8: All members of the duly constituted voting public shall be eligible to vote for this bill in the Comments section below. No onerous voter ID is required. Early voting has started. Black, brown, poor and young people, high school seniors, college students and naturalized citizens are all eligible to vote – always. Plus old white guys and angry young white guys (“guys” is gender neutral here), as well as Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jesus freaks, droolers and both conspiracy nuts and sane people. Also white collar, blue collar and no collar workers, as well as unemployed non-workers, the physically challenged and all convicted felons, whether they’re now free or still in prison. Urban, suburban, rural and wandering citizens are eligible and encouraged to vote. Gun ownership is not required for voting privileges, nor is an Armageddon hiding place, nor is a facility with the English language required. Those under the physical care of a Republican are encouraged to grab a laptop when the obermeister isn’t looking and register their vote. Polling places are everywhere internet electrons can reach, so no worries about a long journey to vote or a long wait in line or threats from Republican intimidation thugs. Bring your own pizza and bottled water.

Republicans like this kind of heavy-handed, blatantly unconstitutional legislation. It’s their style, their M.O. to promote anti-democracy things, so we might expect them to champion this Act.

On the other hand, this proposal puts the sting to them, so I don’t expect to hear a chorus of “D’OH!!!” from the Capitol Building and all Republican state houses, nor do I expect to see pictures of these Republicans posted on their FaceBook pages showing them slapping their foreheads. Still, we know who and what they are.

They are so busted.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Fairness Triple Crown


1. Tax Fairness

Everyone likes government programs that benefit themselves; we just don’t want to pay for them. Consequently, President Biden’s tax plan is hugely popular with we common folk, because it calls for somebody else to pay for the goodies. Good for us!

Not so good for the proposed payers.

On the other hand, those proposed payers are the very people who have consistently benefited from government policy and programs that for many decades have filled their piggy banks with massive wealth. It seems to most of us that turnabout is fair play.

Brendan Bechtel, CEO, Bechtel Corporation

But not to poor, picked on Brendan Bechtel. He runs Bechtel Corporation. It’s the same company that was happy to get those no-bid contracts from the George W. Bush administration for construction work in Iraq and still more no-bid contracts following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. That Bechtel Corporation.

Mr. Bechtel recently said of the Biden jobs program funding proposal, “it doesn’t feel fair.”

“Fair” is an interesting concept. From my observation post as a behavior geek it appears that “fair” usually means, “That isn’t what I want for me.” In other words, there is no link to the concept of even-handedness or a reasonable distribution of responsibility and obligation. “Fair” is solely about “I get what I want.” Let’s add one more piece of information and then test the concept.

Here’s a chart reported by The New York Times, sourced from Gabriel Zucman of UC Berkely.*

The graphs represent average federal tax rates for top earners, like Mr. Bechtel. Note how low taxes have been in recent decades relative to most of the last century. Note, too, that these are nominal rates, not what anyone actually paid after their highly expert accounting ju jitsu was applied.

Please tell us again, Mr. Bechtel, about how unfair (meaning “not even-handed”) a relatively slight increase in your taxes will be. You and your family and your top executives have been bathing in the flood tide of money that you’ve been able to amass for half a century. And you’ve been able to keep ever more of it for yourselves, because special tax loopholes and lower top rates have sent your actual, send-IRS-a-check tax bill on a near-constant downward trajectory. So has the employee attrition from the IRS that has minimized scrutiny of tax returns of those at the top of the wealth distribution pyramid.

Another way to say that is that the 99% of the rest of us who don’t have those tax loopholes available to us or the cash to pay high priced tax attorneys have borne a higher burden to support the commons because you’ve skated. I’m talking about the roads, bridges, schools, national defense, emergency services and the rest of the things we do together in this country. You haven’t paid your fair share for a really long time. So, “It doesn’t feel fair” is just too much for we common folk to hear.

You could take a page from Warren Buffett’s book and demand higher tax rates on the ultra-rich. It won’t affect your lifestyle a bit and the next generation Bechtel lucky sperm club winner will still inherit enough money to buy a small country.

So, go ahead and publicly demand our legislators and president raise taxes on the ultra-rich so we can fix the bridges, provide pre-K for our little ones and all the rest of the vitally needed actions in the commons that are decried so absurdly by Republicans.

Your gesture would be a most patriotic thing. It still won’t be what you want, but we’ll be most grateful for your having progressed to something that looks a lot more fair – as in “even-handed” – to the rest of us.

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2. A Jonathan Swifty Solution for Pandemic Fairness

Extremists have taken full control of the Republican Party. These people are angry and vocal and violent and they show up in huge numbers to vote. They openly carry guns, they like to intimidate others, they refuse masks and vaccines and they’re certain they’re the true patriots. That’s a problem for the rest of us who prefer boring negotiations to settle differences, rather than mob violence. And we’d rather not be infected by the mask and vaccine refusers. Fortunately, I have a modest proposal to tame all of that.

Caution: snark follows.

Let’s give them their own country. We’ll cede the Dakotas, where they can refuse masks and vaccines and embrace their Second Amendment remedies with wanton abandon. The Dakotas should be enough space, as they’ll kill one another in gun fights and die of Covid pretty quickly, so they’ll cull their own herd. Tucker Carlson will fit right in.

More immediately important is the issue of the pandemic, as it’s estimated that over 905,000 Americans have already died from it and the extremists overwhelmingly refuse masks, social distancing and vaccines. That imperils our ability to achieve herd immunity, which means their stubborn refusal puts the rest of us at risk. Here’s how to fix that.

By late summer we will have had sufficient vaccine supply and the distribution network for all of us to be vaccinated. Anyone not vaccinated by then can be considered a refuser. These are the people most likely to wind up in hospitals, then on ventilators and finally in the morgue. These are the people who will put our healthcare workers at risk and overload them. They’ll tie up our entire medical system, which compromises everyone else’s access to healthcare. Indeed, it’s been reported that 94% of cancer screenings over the past year were not done due to the pandemic. Our refusers threaten to make that permanent, which imperils all the rest of us.

I propose that after August 31 that we refuse to deliver medical service to anyone who contracts Covid and can’t produce a vaccination card.

It’s their choice to refuse to be vaccinated and that choice, like every choice, comes with consequences which shouldn’t be dumped on the rest of us. They made their bed; now they can lie in it – at home in the Dakotas, where they can’t infect the rest of us with the Covid variants they carry.

This is fair to the rest of us who don’t want to deal with the extremists and their Covid threats and their constant threat to our democracy. It provides freedom of choice, a true American value. It’s in line with the absolute freedom demands of our rugged individuals. And it gets all of us what we want.

This is another in an ongoing offering of simple Swifty solutions for complex problems and for fairness in our country. Please sign the petition at www.ExtremistsGoAway.com.

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3. Fairness Quotes of the Week

From David Brooks in the New York Times:

“That [WW II] victory required national cohesion, voluntary sacrifice for the common good and trust in institutions and each other. America’s response to Covid-19 suggests that we no longer have sufficient quantities of any of those things.”

That’s observationally accurate and fair to say.

From John Pavlovitz on vaccine refusal:

“Conservatives: you’ve been brainwashed. You are afflicted with partisan politics and bad theology, and you are unable to think clearly because of it. You are so intent on validating your vote that you will do anything to feel that way.”

Pavlovitz’s words actually apply to Trump brain slaves. True conservatives would be demanding that we all get vaccinated, this as a patriotic duty. It’s entirely fair to say that.

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* Click the link on Zucman’s name and download any of his papers – say, the top one: Tax Evasion at the Top of the Income Distribution: Theory and Evidence. Just read the abstract. Then give some thought to how the Trump administration’s IRS focused on middle income taxpayers and didn’t even glance at most of the wealthy.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

RepublicanLand


This is not just another rant about anti-democracy, anti-fact, anti-truth, anti-progress Republicans. Sure, this is a rant and it’s fun to bash the bullies, but what Republicans are doing is amplifying their ingrained dishonesty to the point of imperiling our national bedrock. So, this is a semaphore signal or perhaps the ride of a descendant of Paul Revere. The turncoats are coming! The turncoats are coming! No, wait, it’s worse than that: they’re already here.


Let’s see what’s going on in RepublicanLand.

  1. Republican legislatures in at least 43 states have passed or are in process of passing at least 360 laws to make voting more difficult specifically for people of color, poor people and anyone else likely to vote for Democrats. Read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on this here.
  2. The House passed the For the People Act (the Voting-Rights bill) with zero Republican votes. This law would negate most of the pernicious state anti-voting laws. The Senate has promised similar opposition. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
  3. Republicans voted unanimously against the American Rescue Act, the bill that allows us to dramatically crank up the fight against Covid-19 and to help Americans who have been hit hard economically by the pandemic. This is a bill that has a 70% approval rating by Republican voters and even greater approval numbers from Democrats and independents. And all Republicans voted against it. They are trying to keep Democrats from having any wins to brag about and it’s painfully clear that they don’t care who – perhaps you – gets hurt by their scorched earth actions.
  4. They have vowed to vote in lock step against the American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure building/rebuilding initiative that is already supported by 52% of the electorate and that number is growing. Same reason as #3 above.
  5. The proposed funding for the American Jobs Plan is an increase in taxes on corporations from 21% to 28% (it was 35% prior to the Trump tax giveaway) and on people making over $400,000 per year. This is an overwhelmingly popular idea, but Republicans in Congress oppose it. Same reason as #3 above.
  6. Gun safety has once again come to the front burner and Republicans oppose any form of legislation to curb our ongoing massacre. They continue to do that even as 90% of Americans want universal background checks on the transfer of all firearms and that number has been a constant since Sandy Hook in 2012. Think: campaign contributions and yet again, #3 above.

What all of these and even more Republican manipulations have in common is that they are efforts by a minority of Americans to hold on to power, control, money and a frail, fragile self-image. They either refuse to or are unable to create policies to attract more voters in order to win elections, so,

their sole efforts are to protect themselves at the peril of our nation through obstruction in Congress and obstruction at the ballot box.

.

I bash Republicans regularly because they offer virtually nothing that is praise-worthy. The party has been taken over by a rage-filled mob and traditional Republicans, unable to deal with the craziness, are exiting. Would that this were not so, but this is what passes for the Grand Old Party today. Perhaps that acronym should keep its letters but now mean Grand Obstruction Party.

And that is exactly why we must be vigilant and active. Absent our involvement, this underhanded minority will steal our entire country.

The April “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks” Award

This month the awarding of this most sarcastic honor is (so far) nearly a toss up.

On the one hand we have Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Hypocrisy) wailing his objections to corporations that are weighing into politics, like voting rights. He says that’s “stupid.” How awful and inappropriate, he tells us, that MLB took the All Star Game from Georgia and Coca-Cola, Home Depot and more big corporations have offered public criticism of Republican voting suppression laws. McConnell waves his political purity for all to see, even as he gleefully solicits and accepts corporate campaign contributions. He doth, indeed, protest too much.

On the other hand we have Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pluto) and his alleged sex scandals and whatever else the Feds are investigating about him. He’s a purist, a Trumpian blowhard of Olympian caliber who apparently engages in the same or similar practices as Trump himself, including howling his integrity and his victimhood in incoherent rants. His only two supporters are Rep. Marjory Taylor Green (R-QAnon) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Wrestling Scandal). I guess the congressmen to whom he showed pictures of his female conquests in the nude couldn’t speak up on his behalf. Perhaps they liked the pictures and maybe their giggles echo yet in the House cloakroom, but they’re kinda busy just now, it seems. Still, Gaetz caterwauls his abusive indignation to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear about his untaintedness. He doth protest too much, too.

Whom to choose  .  .  . ?

I can’t help but recall televangelist Jim Bakker, who was a fire and brimstone preacher against dishonesty of any kind, right until he was indicted and convicted of fraud and conspiracy. Same for all preachers who extolled purity, then were caught in sex scandals, like Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart and more.

And all the Catholic priests preaching against sin while sexually violating children.

Really, it’s all the holier-than-thou types whom we at last learn have feet of clay.

Like today’s Republicans in Congress and state houses, protecting the sanctity of voting by preventing citizens from voting. And it’s all happening in the land of minority rule, RepublicanLand.

————————————

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

We’re Still Not Free


Can you believe we’re still having conversations about basic Covid stuff? I mean, we’ve known what to do to defeat this pandemic for most of a year and the rising availability of vaccines has greatly enhanced our ability to fight it, but still over 60,000 Americans test positive every day and our hospitals are filling up once again.

Through most of the past year we sat on our hands and allowed a lot of people to get sick, and a lot of people to suffer very long duration horrible symptoms and we’ve stood by and watched over half a million of our fellow citizens die. Dr. Deborah Birx recently said what you know to be true, that about 450,000 of our 550,000 Covid deaths were preventable. Early on in the pandemic a study at Oxford University said that 70 – 99% of U.S. Covid deaths were due to poor national leadership; i.e. they were preventable, but for self-serving you-know-who.

Given that,

How is it that so many millions of Americans still refuse to wear a mask? Yeah, I know it’s a terrible infringement on their individual freedom, poor babies.

How is it that Republican governors like DeSantis (FL), Abbott (TX) and Noem (SD) are doing everything possible to prevent any requirement for mask wearing in their cities, at work and inside retail stores? Of course, they’re doing it to suck up to their flagrant and vocal constituents in order to collect campaign donations, but they harm those very constituents because they, like so many others, continue to get sick and die.

How is it that the vast majority of White Evangelicals oppose vaccines on self-righteous religious grounds?

How is it that way too many of our citizens are both anti-science and conspiracy believers who refuse vaccines for staunchly held, anti-fact reasons? No, vaccines don’t cause autism, as proven conclusively and repeatedly by – guess what? – science. And Bill Gates isn’t packing nanobots into vaccines so he can track and control you.

In all cases – mask and vaccine refusers, political contribution suckers and science and reality deniers –  these are people ruled by self-serving confirmation bias and a drive for power and control.*

Why are we treating this deadly disease like it’s an optional game of volleyball in the park, where refusing to play is no big deal? There are milliions of our people doing that, and that is why we’re still not free of this awful disease.

Here’s a parallel to that.

President Biden is initiating a series of Executive Orders aimed at curtailing our gun slaughter, but those will only be temporary fixes, subject to the whim of the next President. We need Republicans to act, but they’ve proven to be intransigent on this issue, as they are to most challenges.

Here’s my view about gun safety reform:

We’ll have strong gun safety legislation and the beginning of curtailing our national carnage when we and our legislators at last decide that we love our children, our relatives and our friends more than we love our lust for power and control.

Given the overwhelming public support for gun safety laws, it’s our Second Amendment thumpers and our political contribution suckers whom we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

And so it is with masks and vaccinations. The refusers are the key obstacle to our resuming full personal and national health and are the ones we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

Meanwhile, we know what to do to defeat this pandemic – really, both pandemics. The trick is getting people to do the right thing.

Jennifer Rubin explains why it’s so hard to do that here.

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End Note

Each year the local high schools combine their singing and orchestral talents into a marvelous spring concert of about 500 very talented kids under wonderful direction. It’s held in the cathedral of Techny Towers, a massive and beautiful sanctuary, the acoustics of which compel music to sound. It is a singer’s and musician’s delight.

The programs are new each year, but the closer is always The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it is a prayer for a time when we were ripping ourselves apart, not unlike today. If you have not heard this majestic piece in full, you need to – it’s attached below. As you listen, imagine that you’re surrounded by singers and musicians. They’re in front of you, along both sides and even along the sides of the balcony above and around you. You’re surrounded by a message.

The point of bringing this into the conversation is a line from the Hymn. It is inherently Christian, so feel free to take this in that way. But also read and feel these words as a compelling message for us in these dark times of civil strife.

As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free

That’s free, like: Our people healthy and free from pandemic; You and I free from the danger of firearms in the hands of those who would harm us; Our citizens free and with full and equal rights – all of them. Feel free to add to this list.

Let us live to make men – and women – free.

  • Glenbrook Festival of Music, March 13, 2016
  • Glenbrook High Schools, IL D-225, Choirs and Orchestra

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* Indeed, I believe that lust for power and control was the gut level driver for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. Life and death is the ultimate power and control.

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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.
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JA


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

Survival


Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)

“The single greatest threat to our security right now is domestic terrorism and the tensions and polarizations between us.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), former CIA Agent, now serving on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Given her security background and current access to national security information, it seems likely she knows what she is talking about.

I wrote of that same concern in a recent post and some of my words were picked up in a very clever Star Wars format video that you can see below. Many thanks to reader Bob Beltran for his creativity.

The key words from both are:

In the absence of the Republican Party and with Trump soon to be headed to prison, the nation will face its most threatening foe: domestic terrorism. All that stands against this hateful enemy is “We the People” in a desperate fight for democracy.

The words “absence of the Republican Party” refers to:

⋅  The incremental departure of moderates and conservatives from the GOP, leaving only extremists

⋅   The decades-long GOP negation of anything Democrats propose, regardless of the needs and desires of the citizenry – ”  .  .  .  the modern G.O.P. is allergic to any proposal to spend taxpayer money to advance the public good.” – Paul Krugman

⋅   The de facto abdication of fact and reason as official Republican Party policy

What is left in Congress are people on a self-important power trip that is long on puffery, slogans and inaction and short on observable facts and useful policy. That is increasingly leading us to a two party system of Democrats versus domestic terrorists flying a GOP banner. That’s dangerous stuff, especially in the hands of politicians who believe QAnon conspiracies and are beholden to citizens with firearms and the inclination to use them. Our very survival as a democracy is threatened.

There’s more.

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I continue to be amazed by President George Washington’s prescient comments in his Farewell Address of 1796. He used a great deal of it to direct caution against the nefarious acts of “factions,” by which he meant political parties. His primary concern was the action of men loyal to party over country.

Bear in mind that this was then a new country and the states were only loosely connected, making the union vulnerable to sabotage by vested interests, like political parties. That was his context and his concerns for our republic were well founded. Crucially, his concerns remain applicable for our republic even today. Here is one piece of his warning:

” .  .  .  [parties] are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government  .  .  .  “

Hold that thought.

From The New York Times: On Politics newsletter of March 25:

“State-level Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of bills this year that would tamp down voting rights  .  .  .  “

In that same newsletter they report:

“Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said that states simply ‘are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever’.”

Really, Mitch? How would you explain to President Washington the over 250 Republican Party/Faction bills in 43 states that have been described by many as Jim Crow 2? Like the Georgia law that makes it a felony to give water to people standing in line for 8 hours to vote. Bear in mind that their wait is primarily due to states shutting down polling places in non-White and poor areas.

Back to George Washington.

McConnell’s posturing and manipulation now look a great deal like the very ”  .  . . [usurpation] for themselves the reins of government” by “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” about which Washington warned us. And even McConnell’s disingenuousness seems almost tame compared to the outright anti-American insurgency that is much of the GOP in Congress. Don’t tell our first president about that. He warned us.

So, instead We the People must focus on the survival of our democracy. This is no spectator sport, so, TAG – WE’RE IT.

Special Note: Washington’s Farewell Address is read in full in Congress at the start of every new Congress. Even so, the Republicans just can’t seem to remember his message.

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2022 Winter Olympics

With the reasonable assumption that the pandemic will be under control by February next year, likely many people are planning a trip to China for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. But does attending these Olympics send the wrong message to that brutal and dangerous regime? Would attending be counter-productive for the free world?

I recommend that you read what Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has to say about that before making travel plans. He has a nuanced proposal that is well worth our consideration.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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