Putin

Liberal and Most Illiberal


Liberal

New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens has an interesting post on our politics. He says we’re not divided by liberal versus conservative; we’re divided by liberal versus illiberal. Here’s what he says liberal democracy is supposed to be:

By “liberal,” I don’t mean big-state welfarism. I mean the tenets and spirit of liberal democracy. Respect for the outcome of elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the principle (in courts of law and public opinion alike) of innocent until proven guilty. Respect for the free market, bracketed by sensible regulation and cushioned by social support. Deference to personal autonomy but skepticism of identity politics. A commitment to equality of opportunity, not “equity” in outcomes. A well-grounded faith in the benefits of immigration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, experiments in living. Fidelity to the ideals and shared interests of the free world in the face of dictators and demagogues.

If he’s right in his definition (and I think he is), then we’re not even hitting the liberal barn door today, much less the center of the bulls eye painted on it. And “illiberal” is probably too cozy a term. It’s more like outright hostility to democracy.

Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but we’re living in an age when outrageousness and high volume dominate. Given our wealth of venues for instant dissemination of whatever drivel dribbles from lips and finger tips, that makes every blowhard a blow torch that easily burns down decorum, critical thinking and even our sense of reality.

Stephens’ column was nicely book-ended by that of Ross Douthat, who wrote that voting restrictions aren’t really as impactful as lefties think they are. I wonder what response he’d get if he were to run that by the people in North Carolina where most polling places in Black areas were closed and people were forced to travel long distances and wait for hours to vote. Did he check in with the voters in Georgia and Florida whose names were removed from the voting roles solely because they missed voting in the last election? So many questions, so little liberal democracy.

Most Illiberal

In an interview on the Joe Pags show Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Racism) spoke of the insurrection against the Constitution on January 6, declaring,

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

“Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Never mind that the rioters clearly didn’t love this country – they were attacking it – and rather than “never do anything to break the law,” they were in constant violation of the law. And no, they didn’t honor Blue Lives Matter, either – they attacked over 140 police officers. And let’s ignore his blatant racism implicit in “I might have been a little concerned” if the rioters were BLM or Antifa. Instead, let’s look at how Johnson defended himself against the justified excoriation of his racist comments.

“This isn’t about race, this is about riots. I have been attacked and criticized because I pushed back on the narrative that there were thousands of armed insurrectionists, and that’s just a small part of the 74 million Americans that voted for President Trump that also need to be suspect of being potential domestic terrorists or also potentially armed insurrectionists. This is a false narrative, and so the few of us that push back on that we get mercilessly attacked.”

Since making his disingenuous comments, Johnson has been roundly accused of slimy, miserable scum bucket racism. Full disclosure: those are my adjectives and not necessarily those of all the senators, congressmen/women, pundits and ordinary folk who have called him out.

As you can see by his last sentence, he has advanced to the next step of despotic manipulation as instructed by Trump. After doing his own version of “fine people on both sides,” Johnson has taken refuge in sulking, declaring himself a poor victim. Just look what those unfair critics have done to him!

Ron Johnson is so morally bankrupt that he isn’t worth this much space in a blog post, except for one thing: he speaks for all the Americans who manage to rationalize their fear and hatred and notions of supremacy, somehow justifying their joy in discrimination. Holding him up as a fine example of this cowardliness is useful.

Michael Gerson says Johnson is no outlier. Writing in The Washington Post he says,

“There have always been bigots with access to a microphone. But in this case, Johnson did not face the hygienic repudiation of his party. Republican leaders preferred a different strategy: putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. Republicans have abolished their ideological police.”

“It matters whether leaders delegitimize hatred or fertilize it; if they isolate prejudice or mainstream it. If political figures base their appeal on the cultivation of resentment for some group or groups, they are releasing deadly toxins into our society without any idea who might be harmed or killed. Such elected leaders might not have blood on their hands directly, but they are creating a society with more bloody hands.”

To be clear, I do not know if Ron Johnson (or any other illiberal posing as a Republican) is feeble minded, galactically ignorant or if he is a vicious, pandering liar. I do know that he is dangerous because he perpetuates hatred that does more than upset people; it gets people killed and it can upend our democracy. That pleases Vladimir Putin, whose propaganda Johnson and other Republicans trumpeted loudly in the last election and beyond. Johnson, like so many other chaos generators, is actively working against America, and that is very illiberal. Read this from Anne Applebaum.

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

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

Freedom v2.0


Reading time – 3:01  .  .  .

I received some off-line comments (i.e., not posted in the Comments section) questioning the contention in my “Freedom” post last Sunday that if we don’t begin working together instead of fighting one another that eventually we will lose our freedoms. Here’s an effort to make that connectivity clearer.

China is in the process of building an economic colossus and a 21st century military that will rival and be able to dominate any other nation. As they trigger their tidal wave toward world domination, what do you suppose will happen to your freedoms if we continue fighting ourselves instead of dealing with this international treat? Where will your freedoms go when a totalitarian power is incrementally dominating the globe and there’s little we can do about it?

Vladimir Putin has made it exquisitely clear that he’s completely comfortable assassinating adversaries anywhere in the world. His functionaries have ripped into our national security apparatus and stolen our top secret information. At the same time, he’s had his hackers set him up to control our infrastructure. What do you suppose your freedom will look like when he shuts off your electricity and water and at the same time he knows our national security vulnerabilities?

Those AR-15s our militia members carry around won’t be good for much, nor will bombastic speeches in Congress, especially when we can’t agree on facts or whether science is good or if Hillary ran a child pornography and sex trafficking operation from the basement of a DC pizza shop. All that conspiracy crap will have done its job of making sure that we can’t work together, that we don’t and won’t trust each other and that will make us impotent.

We are in the depths of the worst pandemic in a century, but 38% of Americans think somehow it’s a hoax, even as Covid-19 is the leading cause of death in America. What happens to individual freedom when people can’t breathe? What happens if all this continues because a huge percentage of Americans refuse to believe the science and won’t take the vaccine?

What happens to your freedom when infected people are all around? You know the answer to that because that’s how you’re living right now. Worse, that’s how our millions of hungry unemployed people are living, but they’re doing it food insecure and in fear of eviction. Take a guess at what freedom feels like to them right now.

What happens when bands of militants with too many firearms, too much anger and too little accurate information storm all of our state capitols? That isn’t freedom; it’s insurrection. Sedition. Treason. And your freedom looks pretty limited in the face of those armed attempts at minority rule.

By the way, I’ve talked with some of those over-firearmed folks and asked why they’re carrying loaded firearms. The answer every time has been, “Because I can.” I’ve always tried to get a real answer by responding with some version of, “Yes, of course that’s true. But you could also stand here clucking like a hen, but you’re not doing that. Why the gun?” Commonly, the response is a repetition of “Because I can.” I’ve never been offered a real answer that approached the truth, like their needing to feel in control, their need to take some action against whatever it is they don’t like at the moment, or so they can feel like the toughest S.O.B. in the valley or to flick off authority figures. Side note: These people aren’t powerful. Their guns are powerful and deserve respect. That doesn’t transfer to them.

How do you feel walking down the sidewalk along with angry people carrying loaded hand guns and assault rifles? Do you feel safe, like they’re on the same side with you, that they’re the good guys like you, that they believe in patriotism just like you do? Can you work with them to build a better, stronger America? If your answers are no, then they’ve already trimmed your freedom.

And the more that happens the more we will sink into international irrelevance because we aren’t all pulling the American wagon in the same direction.

The reality deniers and the angry people itching for confrontation are killing our freedom. And if you’re calling them names, like stupid, racist, idiot or moron you’re making things worse. Our undeclared civil war is killing 3,000 of us every day and people with big mouths, limited information and selfish notions are the leaders in this parade to the end of the “free country” you think this is.

That’s why we’re going to lose our freedoms if we don’t start working together.

Not convinced? Then read this essay – all of it. Get over your wanting to be protective or accusatory and give serious consideration both to the facts presented, as well as the opinions.

On second thought, read the essay even if you’re already convinced. We’re living in a fraught age and a culture of peril, with our freedom at grave risk. We all need to understand well what’s happening. That’s the reason to read the essay.

Many thanks to MN for sending the link.

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

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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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Illusion


Reading time – 3:40  .  .  .

Blanketed with frustration and anger over this ongoing spectacle of an election, disappointment haunts me, but it isn’t about Trump. I want to hug my ancient 48-star flag, not to disrespect Alaska or Hawaii, but to touch what I used to believe. Underneath it all, my heart is breaking.


The people of North Dakota have spoken. A majority of voters in that state made the clear and unambiguous statement that they want Donald Trump to stay in the White House for another four years. The challenge for all of us is to understand why they would do that.

Perhaps for these folks voting is simply a reflex action: voting for a Democrat is simply unthinkable. Grandpa was a Republican and Daddy was a Republican, so these voters are Republicans, even as the meaning of “Republican” isn’t remotely what it used to be.

Perhaps they believe the demeaning caricature of Democrats that Fox News and the president have painted for them. They’re convinced that socialism, crippling taxes, rule by fanatical anarchist mobs and high rise ghettos invading their suburbs would be certainties if Joe Biden were to become the next president. It’s just another episode of The Big Lie, but the tactic seems to have worked.

Multiple domestic and international studies have shown conclusively that the horrific infection and death rates from Covid-19 in the United States have been made far worse by the lack of national leadership to combat it. A minimum of 75% of the deaths are due to Donald Trump refusing to provide assertive, positive leadership.

If North Dakota were a stand-alone nation, it would have the highest rate of infection in the entire world. Hospitals are overrun with sick and dying patients. By now nearly everyone in the state must know someone who has suffered and perhaps someone who has died of it.

Nevertheless, North Dakotans voted to keep in office the very person who allowed that to happen. In other words, they had the choice of life or death and they chose death.

And that’s just North Dakota.

In Kentucky voters gave Mitch “Big Hypocrite” McConnell a double-digit win. In South Carolina they gave a similar margin to Lindsay “Spineless Hypocrite” Graham. Maybe I remember this incorrectly, but didn’t it used to be a bad thing to be a hypocrite?

Our former allies, the ones who were our friends before Trump insulted and abandoned them, had been waiting for this election to show that Trump was just a mistake of our democracy, an aberration that we would set right at the first opportunity. Now, even if Biden wins after the mail-in ballots are counted, they will know that they are only one election away from destruction of the stable order that protected us all and provided prosperity for 75 years.

We’ve told our allies plainly that they can no longer count on us and, if they have any sense of self-preservation, they will be forging new alliances and moving steadily away from the U.S. All of this will happen as Trump cedes more of our democracy to Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. And all of that will happen because a huge percentage of Americans voted for it.

The cleaving of Americans from one another surely can be traced to Richard Nixon and his Southern Strategy. Reagan stoked divisions, too, with his lies about welfare queens and more. During the Clinton years Newt Gingrich became Chief Congressional Flamer and a Republican Congress unleashed junk yard dog Ken Starr to poke into the underwear drawers of both Clintons in what really was a witch hunt. They framed everything in self-righteous biblical certainties.

Obama’s presidency gave fuel to racial divisions and the unleashing of frothing senators and congressmen. And Trump is a never ending font of victimizing, demonizing and calls to hatred and violence. We’ve always had differences and Fox News deserves much credit for stoking them, making fine clarity about who the “bad guys” are so hatreds can be fed. Clearly, we have to give a lifetime achievement award for divisiveness to the Republicans.

And now here we are with our clear, unambiguous and heartbreaking election statement of who we really are.

Thomas Jefferson told us plainly what we need in order to sustain our democratic republic:

“An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.”

And roughly half of all Americans perversely insist upon being low information voters. They refuse to be educated sufficiently to exercise oversight. Instead, they watch Fox News and listen to the haters deny reality and incrementally allow our democracy to be stolen from us.

We are led by the world’s greatest circus sideshow barker, drawing into his tent the rubes who believe his grandiose lies about what’s inside. Abraham Lincoln was right, that you really can fool some of the people all of the time. I never dreamed that “some of the people” meant half the voters.

I had a picture of what America is. Regardless of what we find to be the final counts from this election, it turns out that my picture was an illusion and I have become dis-illusioned.

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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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Questions For the August Town Halls


Reading time – 2:56  .  .  .

The House of Representatives remains in session this month. In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a recess for the month of August for the Senate. That means that August town halls are solely with senators. Feel free to ask any of these questions of your Republican senator, as they don’t apply if s/he is a Democrat.

From constituent #1:

Senator, thank you for taking my question.

There is a pandemic in our country that is taking down millions of Americans. Over 158,000 of our friends and family have died from it and the disease is extending its reach and accelerating its spread.

Our economy is cratering, as GDP has fallen more in one quarter than at any time in the past 150 years.

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, with a million more joining the ranks of the unemployed every week. The supplemental aid package ran out at the end of last month and millions are facing the inability to pay for their housing, which will lead to foreclosures and evictions. Millions of Americans will be unable even to feed their families.

Congress is willfully paralyzed over extending a hand to our people. Sen. McConnell called a recess of the Senate and you and your colleagues dutifully vacated the premises as directed.

It’s your job – we pay you – to represent us and promote our welfare, but instead you’re here politicking for your next election, working for yourself. My question is simple:

Why aren’t you back in Washington working for us?

From constituent #2:

Senator, you’ve been in Congress for a long time and have been a staunch promoter of American values around the world. You’ve been a forceful opponent of Russian aggression and a plain spoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

President Trump fails to confront Putin for his paying bribes to the Taliban to kill Americans; he failed to forcefully oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Crimea; he fails to confront Putin over the ongoing Russian cyber-espionage on the U.S. and now is pulling a large percentage of our military from Germany, weakening our position throughout the region and further damaging our  relationships with NATO allies. There is nothing conservative about any of those failures.

Throughout all of this and worse from this president you’ve remained silent, without so much as voicing a single objection, much less mounting opposition to Trump’s dereliction of duty to protect and defend. In your silence you have been an enabler of his sell-out of America, meek as a lapdog. Why aren’t you speaking out, senator?

From constituent #3:

Senator, you voted against the PPP program and every other measure to help working Americans during these perilous times. In contrast, in 2017 you voted for the tax cut bill that sent 83% of its benefit to the richest people and corporations in the country. You vigorously promoted it, saying it would generate wage increases, but that didn’t happen and the economists told you that’s what would happen. But corporations did buy back their stock, which boosted stock prices solely to the benefit of rich people.

Tell us why you like rich people so much and clearly don’t care about middle class or poor people.

From constituent #4:

Thank you for being here today, senator, and for taking our questions.

My question is about the anonymous federal troops that President Trump has sent to 7 of our cities and who have brutalized and terrorized largely peaceful protesters. We’re told that these troops are from the Department of Homeland Security, the purview of whose policing force is solely to defend federal property. However, nearly all of the actions of these troops has taken place well away from federal property.

These troops are heavily armed and anonymous, as they wear no agency or unit identifying insignia, police star numbers or name badges and they drive unmarked SUVs. They have kidnapped our citizens without warrant, have failed to Mirandize those they have kidnapped and have held them without cause and without charge.

Please don’t claim that the demonstrators were violent, because we have amateur video and press coverage that plainly shows that’s a lie. My question is simple: Why have you remained silent as our friends and family are being beaten, gassed, shot and pepper sprayed? Where is your voice to stop this brutality?

From constituent #5:

Thank you for taking my question, senator.

The manufacturing facility where I’ve worked for 14 years is shut down because of the pandemic. The extra help I used to get from the federal government made it possible for my family to hold on, but that’s cut off now. And you’ve opposed financial aid to laid off workers, saying that providing that aid is a disincentive to working.

I’ve played by the rules all along and am now in a really tough spot because of a disease over which I have no control, and you’ve essentially called me and millions of other Americans bums. I invite you to apologize to us all right here, right now, and then go back to DC and do your job to work for us. Otherwise, you can come to my house and explain to my kids why there not only won’t be any birthday presents, but that they should be happy with just 1 or 2 meals a day. And you can explain to my wife that she’ll have to do without her insulin that we can’t afford.

So, what’s your choice, senator: my house or DC?

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

What’s Most Important


Reading time – 2:12  .  .  .

Let’s see if we can zero in on what’s most important about the Russian bounty on the heads of American military personnel in Afghanistan.

What’s most important actually isn’t that Vladimir Putin set up this incentive to the Taliban to murder our troops. And it isn’t a bit surprising that Putin has denied what our intelligence people have found and about which they are 100% certain. Lying and killing is what Putin does. Just ask his political rivals. Oh, wait; you can’t do that because he killed them.

And what’s most important isn’t that Trump wasn’t told what has been happening. There isn’t even the remotest possibility that our intelligence people, including the DNI, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, director of the CIA, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense and others weren’t aware of Putin’s incentive to murder months ago. And their being aware of it and understanding the lethal implications for our troops and our national security means that there isn’t a chance that this slightly indirect act of war wasn’t brought to the president a long time ago.

It was in the PDB – the President’s Daily Briefing – but, of course, Trump doesn’t read and rarely reviews any PDB and refuses to hear bad things about Russia. However, our security types know that he doesn’t read and would have brought this critical issue to this president in various other ways that would get his attention and focus. There would have been walk-in meetings; short PowerPoint presentations using only single-syllable words; crayon and coloring book narratives; and Choose-Your-Own Adventure comic books. They would have had a beautiful model in a tiny bathing suit and heels parade past the Resolute desk waving pictures of dead American personnel with captions reading “PUTIN’S BOUNTY.” Our national security people would have used whatever it might take to get this president to absorb the key information.

In other words, there isn’t even a small possibility that Trump didn’t know about this until the past few days, as he has hollowly claimed.* Even that isn’t what’s most important.

Here’s what’s most important about this scandal:

Our military people are being murdered and Commander in Chief Trump has done nothing about it.

Click this pic and watch the video. Then  send this to independents and Trump supporters you know.

No threats of military action. No sanctions. No “Back off!” call to Putin. No coordination with NATO partners. No counter measures at all. Trump has sold out our military people.

I really don’t care what Putin has on Trump – pictures and videos, evidence of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, whatever – except when it results in traitorous actions against our people and our country by the President of the United States.

Our people and our country are what’s most important and Trump is betraying both.

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*From Congressman Brad Schneider’s (D, IL-10) newsletter of June 30, 2020:

“.  .  .   yesterday it was reported that as early as April, 2019 [emphasis mine – ed.] U.S. officials were aware of evidence of a Russian effort to pay bounties for the killing of U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan. Further reports indicate that President Trump received written intelligence on the Russian actions as far back as February. I spoke about this issue on the House floor this morning.”

Finally, a curious comment

The mayor of Tampa, Florida reported on Juiy 1 that they are experiencing a significant spike in coronavirus cases among 20- & 30-somethings. This comes just a few short weeks after the bars and restaurants in Tampa were re-opened.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

——————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Absolute Power


Reading time – 4:36  .  .  .

It’s plain to see that the President of the United States is, at best, severely dragging feet to deal with our national health emergency. He was warned repeatedly (over a dozen times) in his President’s Daily Briefs as far back as January that this pandemic would happen. The CDC had reports from China and their own on-the-ground evidence of the imminent danger and they issued warnings as early as November of the catastrophe that was headed our way.

We have known all along that continuing, extensive testing was and would be mandatory to minimize suffering and death, yet Trump has done everything possible to avoid our having the capacity to do what is needed to protect us.

Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act, but hasn’t taken any of the actions it enables except for forcing meat producers to continue operations. That means that our formidable manufacturing capabilities remain idle or focused elsewhere. Why would Trump choose all this and so much more counterproductive behavior? Here’s what I see.

1. Trump never shoulders responsibility, never admits mistakes, never acknowledges errors and always prefers a fatuous lie over simple truth. In a larger context, this sets up Trump to blame anyone and everyone else when things go bad.

In refusing to mobilize a massive national testing program and deflecting all responsibility to state governors, he allows himself to blame excess death on those same governors. And he helps to diminish governors in the eyes of the public by having the federal government snatch up PPE. That makes PPE unavailable to many states and their hospitals and doctors. That makes governors appear to be unsuccessful and they go to the bulls eye of Trump’s blame target.

If you want more power for yourself, undermine others who have power.

2. Trump has consistently removed the most qualified and effective people from positions of power, having fired most experts, and replaced them with Trump sycophants. A recent example is the removal of Dr. Rick Bright from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Removing the smartest, most capable people is a very effective way to ensure sub-optimal results, but that’s not Trump’s concern. He’s after something much bigger and more personal to him.

His next step was to place Brian Harrison in the position of senior lead on the Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus task force. Harrison is an expert in his field. The problem for us is that his field is breeding Labradoodle dogs. Harrison replaced Peter Urbanowicz, who had decades of experience of healthcare leadership.

If you want more power for yourself, get rid of all expertise.

3. Trump has consistently demeaned allies who lead democratic nations, like Trudeau, Merkel and Macron and has consistently praised murderous, tyrannical dictators, like Putin, Xi, Duerte, Erdoğan and Kim. He’s told us repeatedly how beautiful it would be if he had absolute authority and has even claimed it for himself.

If you want more power for yourself, attack everything democratic and align yourself with autocrats.

4. Trump began his campaign to be president with racial and nationalist slurs and foreign policy lies. He repeatedly attempted a Muslim ban, in violation of the First Amendment. He has cruelly treated asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, such that we are now housing over 1,500 children in cages, kids for whom we have no method to reunite them with their now-deported parents.

He spent years taking counsel from Steve Bannon, who unequivocally promotes that we “tear it all down,” meaning our institutions that make for a solid society and a stable nation. It appears that Trump learned well.

He has demolished the guardrails of our democracy everywhere and has used his constant Twitter feed to intimidate those with the power to stop him. And he has made a mockery of our most cherished values and institutions.

If you want more power for yourself, tear down everything else.

5. This pandemic is not just a national emergency, but a worldwide emergency. Paraphrasing Rohm Emanual, autocrats never let a pandemic go to waste, and Trump certainly isn’t wasting this one. Envision this.

With the world in crisis and our country medically, economically and militarily hobbled, grabbing extra executive powers to deal with the crisis may play well with millions of Red state, MAGA hat wearing Americans. Anyone in charge who had megalomaniac tendencies would do exactly that. This is a moment made for someone who thinks he should be President for life, an idea he has suggested more than once.

He would declare a national emergency. Checked that box. Stronger still would be to wait for the next domestic attack, like a white supremacist attacking a temple or mosque or church, or a deranged, angry loser gunning down children in school, or a sicko in a hotel window murdering concert goers. That’s all going to happen again, and in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, that will be the opportunity to declare martial law. He’ll claim it’s for the protection of the American people, but that won’t be true. What will be true is that our democracy will officially be gone.

If you want absolute power for yourself, use a crisis to grab all of it.

Does all that sound unbelievable? If so, you better have another look at the obvious tracks on our national path. The place to look further is George Packer’s remarkable essay in The Atlantic, “How to Destroy a Government.” It is a frightful and accurate narrative of what has happened and is continuing to happen to our country and is a must-read.

And read Sheila Markin’s post to see what President Nero is doing. It’s all about aggregating power for himself. The question for us is whether we are and will be ready to do whatever it takes so that our democracy endures.

——————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

Dear Bernie and Elizabeth


Reading time – 3:34  .  .  .

Dear Bernie and Elizabeth,

Here’s the key question: Do you want Democrats to lose the 2020 Presidential election to Donald Trump, as well as lose the opportunity for Democrats to control the Senate? You’re on a path to do both even if you don’t get the nomination.

There isn’t much in politics that appears to me to be simple, but this one does. Here’s how it breaks down in the general election:

  1. Lefties and far lefties will vote for you no matter what you say or do.
  2. Righties and far righties will vote against you no matter what you say or do. Bear in mind that there are more on this side of the center than on the left and their voting percentage is higher than on the left, too.
  3. Most of the center-left will vote for you and most of the center-right will vote against you.
  4. The very center is where it’s at –  they are the 8% of all voters who will decide the election.

Every time you say, “free tuition,” “Medicare for all,” “student debt forgiveness” or mention anything else that sounds like a  giveaway, all they hear is socialism, which they frighteningly equate with communism, bigger, more intrusive and clumsy government and higher taxes. And they really don’t like it when you tell them that you’re going to snatch the medical insurance away from 149 million Americans and replace it with some pie-in-the-sky program. People don’t like to be mangled by takeaways. And they don’t like to be flim-flammed, which is what Medicare-for-all feels like to a lot of Americans.

Regardless of how fervently you believe in progressive causes, you’re pushing away the very people needed to win the election. And however unfair it may be, even if Joe Biden wins the nomination, your socialism, bigger government and higher taxes proposals will stain him. You’ll see Republicans constantly wide-eyed and yelling “SOCIALISM!” as though they’re Paul Revere patriots yelling, “The British are coming!”

No need to believe me about the voting toxicity of far left policy proposals. Have a look at what The Gallup Organization’s work tells us about this.

Here’s the translation:

Far left policies = BIG election loss

If Donald Trump were capable of appreciation – he isn’t – he would thank you for your far left policies.

Stop trying to turn this country into something the majority doesn’t want it to be. Wake up and smell the vote count.

Resources:

Read conservative writer Bret Stevens’ column for a clear take on what’s required to win the next presidential election. Hint: It isn’t lefty extremism and it isn’t about Trump.

Want confirmation of that from a very different perspective? Read Rahm Emanuel’s piece.

Not enough to convince you? Then read Thomas Friedman’s clear, compelling essay.

And have a look at how Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo became the first woman governor of Rhode Island. She did it by addressing the things voters worry about every day, like good paying jobs, not giveaway programs that scare them.

Trump brags about our great economy, but for millions of Americans their life experience just doesn’t match the hype. Have a look at the clarity that Steve Rattner laid out, pulling back the curtain to expose the circus barker’s fraud.

Want to win in November? Try focusing on the worries and pains of everyday life for real Americans, not what the hair-on-fire bloviators are saying. And make sure your appeal to them stays inside the limits of their beliefs about good sense.

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Trump’s Folly v2.0


Reading time – 2:37  .  .  .

In the chaos of Trump’s attempt to instigate war with Iran, we’re left with contradictions and confusion. Trump and his people continue to offer crazy non-justifications for the assassinations and they further spin mayhem.

For example, a Marine Corps. General wrote a letter to the Iraqi government declaring our upcoming exit from that country. Then the Trump mouthpieces and the Pentagon unwound that. They just can’t get their story straight. Pundits have repeatedly declared that the Trump administration doesn’t have its act together. I think that’s wrong.

I think an act is all they have together. It’s international bumbling by treating foreign relations as a reality TV show. It’s everything as a transaction and never having a strategy or clarity about lasting goals. It’s vacuous chest thumping and braying of non-truth as though just saying something would make it so. That act is all they have and they have that together all the time.

It’s substance that they don’t have together. Every day they show the world that they aren’t even close to a path of substance. It’s pretending to be powerful instead of actually being powerful.

Trump instigated tit-for-tat attacks on Iran. Iran said they wouldn’t pursue more strikes if the U.S. did not retaliate for their ballistic missile attacks, which harmed nobody and damaged nothing. That’s Iran dictating terms to Mr. Tough Guy, who always has to hit back harder and hit last. Trump can’t allow himself to appear to be controlled by Iran, so he made an address that was as bellicose as possible and made it sound like Iran had caved. He repeated several lies about President Obama, too, most notably claiming Obama give Iran the money to build a bomb.

As is Trump’s standard, he performed self-puffery and generally tried to sound like the meanest S.O.B. in town. He even jammed the stage with military people wearing all their medals. It was a very Tough Guy visual. But not even Congress is convinced this was anything but a brainless episode, even after a long overdue briefing.

In fact, Mike Lee (R-UT) called it the worst military briefing he had heard in 9 years. He was greatly and appropriately offended over being told not to debate or question the administration’s handling of Iran. Even Rand Paul (R-KY) ripped the briefing. It was reported that when the questions became difficult, the briefers walked out.

So, we still don’t have justification for the assassination of Suleimani – nobody does – other than that he was a bad guy. We’ve known that for decades and took no action against him for obvious reasons. Why was it necessary to do such a provocative thing just now?

The timing  can be explained by Trump needing to distract from his impeachment. This whole thing is a Trumpian bag of self-serving lunacy. And there might be even more to it.

Vladimir Putin just happens to be in the middle-east right now. This is the perfect time for him to step in and be the peacemaker, the statesman. That will solidify Russia’s power and influence in the region and will essentially eliminate America’s.

The tail is now fully wagging the dog and we ask again, why does everything lead back to Putin?


PS – This morning Joe Scarborough went off on Trump over his taking off 1 of every 3 days during his presidency to play golf at his resorts at taxpayer expense and promoting his properties in the process. Would that such a topic were what’s most important now .  .  .

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Go Back To The Pawn Shop


Reading time – 3:49; Viewing time – 5:02  .  .  .

Critical Alert – Pass this along to at least 3 others. You’ll see why at the end.

The FOIA triggered disclosure of Mike Pompeo’s involvement with the sliming of Ambassador Marie Yovanovich was only the first end-around of the subpoena stonewalling of the Donald Trump administration. More FOIA requests will be granted and it’s safe to say there will be smoke and perhaps at last a raging fire to see. In addition, yet another court case has slapped the wrist of our king wannabe president, this time declaring officially how idiotic his claims of “absolute immunity” are.

All of this is good news for our democracy, but it isn’t enough. In the absence of full Congressional oversight – that’s Congress asserting its stature and full powers as a co-equal branch of government – executive overreach will continue to corrode our country. We need Congress to put on its Big Boy and Big Girl pants, and right now that means only one thing. The explanation of that requires a short story.

Russian Federation flag

For the decades of the cold war Republicans wrapped themselves in the red, white and blue of the stars and bars and stood in lock-step against Soviet aggression. Now, though, they seem to have stopped at a pawn shop and traded in the American flag for a cloak of Russian Federation white, blue and red.

They act as though they no longer believe in the rule of law. Think: supporting the stonewalling of subpoenas; tolerating obviously criminal actions; attacking U.S. military officers, Gold Star families and distinguished foreign service officers.

Far worse, though, is their mouthing of the disinformation of former KGB officer and murderer, Vladimir Putin. He is working tirelessly to destabilize democracies around the world. He’s spew-vomiting Russian disinformation in the United States, including trying to get Ukraine blamed for the illegal Russian hacks of the DNC and Hillary Clinton email servers in 2016. Amazingly, the Republicans are brainlessly mouthing Putin’s disinformation. They are knowingly doing Putin’s work for him.

As Paul Krugman explained it, “.  .  .  by and large Trump, unlike previous presidents, is backed by a party that sees and hears no evil whatever he does.” That’s because Republicans fear Trump and his MAGA hat wearing followers, so they say and do astonishingly stupid things to stay off Trump’s angry Twitter feed.  And that has caused the Republican sell out of America.

That’s why it’s critical that the GOP put on its Big Boy and Big Girl pants and head back to that pawn shop to get their American flag back.

You can help to make that happen.

We need two dozen Republican senators to wake up and smell the Constitution. Every senator already knows the truth and 30 of the 53 despise Trump. What’s needed is for them to do the right thing. That’s where you come in.

If you have a Republican senator, call his/her office and tell them to vote to remove Donald Trump from office. Here’s an analysis of who the critical senators are.

You can find your own senators here; just use the pull-down at the top left of the linked page to find their contact information.

THEN CALL THEM; don’t email, because voice contact is more powerfully received.

    • Tell them not to support a president who violates the Constitution by trying to get a foreign nation to interfere in our election.
    • Tell them Trump acts solely for his own benefit and sells out our national security in the process.
    • Tell them that you know that they know.

Then tell them what you want them to do. And let them know that you can see their votes.

If either Joe Manchin (D-WV) or Jon Tester (D-MT) is your senator, call them. They’re both under heavy pressure from the right in their states and they need to hear your support for doing the right thing.

To quote Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal winning U.S. Hockey team, “This is your time. Now, go out there and take it!”

Send your senators back to that pawn shop for their American flags. This is your time. Now, go make those calls. Do it now.

Critical Alert – Pass this along to at least 3 others.

————————————


Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

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.

An Exercise in Deadly Stupid


Reading time – 1:59  .  .  .

It’s been the silence, the acquiescence of the Republicans in Congress that has been so dispiriting all along.  In large measure, that has been about their tolerating Trump’s constant stream of lies, inanities and his boundless cruelties. The acquiescence that matters, though, has been over things like Trump’s criminal behavior and his stark violations of the Constitution. Now, though, he’s done more than talk stupid, undo anything Obama had his name on and announced he’ll convene the G7 at his Doral property next year. Even some Republicans are regaining a voice.

Because of his complete lack of ability to craft carefully considered policy and his refusal to listen to anyone with subject knowledge, friends and allies are getting killed and we have proven ourselves untrustworthy in the eyes of the world. Note that “killed” isn’t a reality TV phenomenon. It is permanent, perhaps a concept Trump is unable to understand and he has his fingerprints on the lethal weapons that killed our allies.

This isn’t just the rude pushing aside of the leader of Montenegro. It wasn’t just the insults aimed at Trudeau or Macron or May or Merkel. It wasn’t the idiotic trade tariffs on our friends. It wasn’t the sucking up to Putin and dismissing of the entire U.S. intelligence community.

We supported the Kurds who fought ISIS. They’re the people who put a lid on that murderous retro society that loves to conduct public beheadings and the Kurds lost 11,000 men and women doing it. All we did was to supply the tools. Then Trump got one phone call from the president of Turkey and he sicced the dogs on the Kurds.

Trump has done all he can to undermine NATO, embolden vicious despots and especially to promote Putin’s interests. With his brilliant back stabbing of the Kurds he’s made Putin the king maker in Syria and ceded the entire MIddle-East to Putin and to Iran. And Trump has pushed Erdoğan into Putin’s influence as well. That’s Erdoğan, president of Turkey, a NATO ally.

Angele Merkel may have been right when she said that Germany may now be the indispensable nation. What ally could possibly trust the U.S.? And why would Trump go to such outrageous lengths to undermine the interests of The United States?

See what conservative columnist Ross Douthat has to say about this in “Trump Is a Weak Man in a Strongman’s World”.

 

————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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

Thanks!

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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