Senate

Ending the Tyrannical Minority


America has always lived with a minority, although we haven’t always been at its whim. The bad news is that it has taken great acts of hypocrisy, reality denial and blatant power grabs to bring us to where we are now, at the whim of a tyrannical minority. The good news is that we can do something to make this a democracy, as in: self-governing majority rule. To make that happen, we’ll have to do something different, because if we don’t, we’ll just get more of the same. Here’s a plan.

Insanity in the Senate
1. Reform the Filibuster

The Founders envisioned the Senate as a “great deliberative body,” which, I suppose, it has been for short periods and from time to time. However, that entire concept became impossible when the filibuster became a phone-in exercise. The Senate immediately became brain dead because majority rule was exterminated. Nothing controversial can get done because the filibuster makes it necessary to have a super-majority (60 votes) to break a filibuster and then to at last vote on something – anything.

The result of that is that the majority of Americans most commonly do not get what we want.

Example: 90% of Americans want universal background checks prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm, as well as a ban on the sale and the ownership of military style assault rifles.

Example: The majority of us favor pro-choice, universal healthcare and no corporate money in our politics.

All of that and far more are things We The People want, but which we don’t get because of an intransigent minority in the Senate with its finger always on the filibuster trigger.

I don’t think we should eliminate the filibuster, because that would inevitably accomplish nothing more than switching from minority tyranny to majority tyranny. Plus, it would enable extremists to cram through Constitution crushing legislation. All we have to do is to make the filibuster more difficult to initiate and more painful to sustain.

2. Make the Senate Proportional to Our Population.

It makes next to no sense for Rhode Island to have the same representation and power in the Senate as does California. The way it is now gives Rhode Islanders about 36 times more power than Californians. If you can find fairness or even a smidgen of sense in that, be sure to spell it out in the Comments section below and teach something to the rest of us.

Otherwise, it’s time to balance senatorial power. Here’s how.

There are roughly 331 million of us and 100 Senate seats. Do the math: we establish the rule of one senator per 3.3 million Americans. In this plan the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming together will have 1 senator; California will have 13; Florida will have 9; Utah will have 1; Illinois will have 4; Kansas will have 1; Nebraska and Iowa together will have 2; Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont together will have 2. You get the picture.

You’ve seen the electoral map showing that the vast, non-coastal parts of this country are red. Those areas have far more head of livestock than people and entire counties that are home to just a few dozen citizens. The practical effect of that is that they punch way above their weight class in the Senate. Good for them. Not so good for high population states or our country as a whole. Change that to make representation fair to everyone by making Senate representation proportional.

Insanity in the House
1. End Gerrymandering

It’s just a legalized form of cheating. It’s power grabbing that is funded by disenfranchising citizens. It is a way to undermine the Constitution. It is a sleight of hand that permanently impoverishes millions. It is a slimy way to make sure that lots of us aren’t represented in Congress at all.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder has done some remarkable work on this as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He and the committee have clear, actionable plans to end this monstrously inequitable practice that empowers clever bad guys (the minority) and dis-empowers millions of us (the majority).

2. End Obstructions to Voting.

Yes, I’m talking about the practice of removing citizens from voting roles for idiotic reasons, like because they didn’t vote in the last two elections (Ohio and elsewhere) or because they’re Black and poor (North Carolina, Georgia and Florida) and more. The Constitution doesn’t say a thing about restricting such people from voting. In fact, it doesn’t suggest disenfranchising former felons, either. I’m looking at you, Florida Governor DeSantis.

Insanity in Campaigns and the Supreme Court
1. Reverse the 2010 Citizens United Decision

In an colossal act of larceny, the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case in 2010 by deciding that inanimate, non-sensate corporations have all the same rights that you have. All of them. It’s larceny because that decision gave corporations and big money individuals way more impact on our elections than you have. That decision effectively stole elective power from you and gave it to big money interests to elect members of Congress who would do their bidding.

And that’s what Congress does. Blame Chief Justice John Roberts for that.

Want to fix that and restore the system intended by the Founders?

  1. Write a law that allows money and money equivalents to be donated to any candidate or political party only by flesh-and-blood, actual human persons. To accomplish that,
  2. Establish by law that money is property, not speech.
  3. Establish by law that inanimate objects like corporations do not have all the same rights as human beings. Corporations are not people, Mitt Romney.
  4. Establish by law that corporations cannot do back door political influencing by means of Super PACs and the like.

This will be tricky and the process will be fraught with comically feigned and eagerly performed indignation and impassioned idiocy. Keep in mind, though, that our current system is a perfect machine to ensure sub-optimal results for We The People. It discourages good people from running for office. It ensures the continuing enrichment of already fabulously wealthy people and corporations and the impoverishing of everyone else. It underlines in blazing colors that we don’t care about the intent of the Founders or anything else other than power grabbing.

But we don’t have to be like that.

Clearly, if we want something better, we’ll have to do something better, like,

2. Reverse the 2012 McCutcheon v. FEC Decision

Prior to this case the McCain-Feingold bill limited the amount any individual could contribute to any candidate to $2,600 per-candidate, per-election, or $5,200 for a primary and general election. It also limited the aggregate any individual could contribute to all candidates in any one election to $123,200. Shaun McCutcheon sued to have those limits abolished.

The Supreme Court shot down his hope of eliminating the per-candidate limit, claiming that allowing more financial leverage would be seen as, or effectively would be legalized (gasp!) bribery.

But in a truly contorted and galactically illogical opinion the Court decided that eliminating the aggregate limit somehow didn’t amount to authorizing legalized bribery. The 5-4 “We don’ need no stinking stare decisis” conservatives struck it down, popping the top off the bribery equivalent.

Just image if Mr. McCutcheon were to give $5,200 to every Republican candidate in any one election cycle. Do you suppose that might give him oversized influence in our politics and amount to legalized (gasp!) bribery?

If we are to be a representative democracy, this decision has to be reversed by Congress.

The Point

The playing field must be level if We The People are to be in charge (as in: self-government majority rule). For that to happen we have to remove the unfair, inequitable influences on our politics. What’s above isn’t the complete medicine for what ails us, but it’s a start.

Are you feeling a glow of gratitude, what with Thanksgiving right over the horizon? That’s fine and that’s good, because in this country we still can do something to move us toward a more just nation, that more perfect union.

Wishing you a heartfelt Thanksgiving.

————————————

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

Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

For the Dreamers


    • “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”
    • – Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Democratic National Convention, August 12, 1980

The Republicans have taken  control of the House – barely – and the overall election outcome should trigger waves of consternation and gnashing of teeth over how so many screwed up for so long and in such creatively self-destructive ways in so many types of races.

Republicans fielded hateful, brain-free candidates and We The People didn’t like them. The geniuses at the RNC had to have been expert sleuths in order to find so many unqualified candidates. Herschel Walker? Seriously?

There were some impressive Democrat performances, too, for which there aren’t yet words to describe, like how Democrats managed to lose four House races in upstate New York.

How come the DNC couldn’t send the desperately needed funding to Tim Ryan in Ohio and Beto O’Rourke in Texas? Those guys are the ones who have the character and ability to be the fighters we’ll need over the next decades, the people with the moxie to defeat the authoritarians, but the DNC largely abandoned them.

There will be lots of time for licking wounds and I fervently hope there’s a lot of introspection and forehead slapping. And please, DNC, have the courage to admit what everyone knows: your communication and messaging sucks. Maybe there exists a self-help organization called Sucky-Talkers Anonymous.

Bob: “Hi. I’m Bob and I suck at messaging.”

Group: “Hi, Bob. Yes, you do.”

Of course, there were wins, some found even in losses, like Adam Frisch’s challenge to “bubble-headed woman who should never be allowed near any dangerous implement, like a microphone,” Lauren Boebert. They’re reporting that 99% of the votes are counted, with the candidates separated by just 554 votes. Kudos to Frisch in this deeply red district.

It’s odd human being stuff that people fall for a pretty face, like Boebert, Kari Lake, Sarah Palin and Scott Brown without investigating whether there’s any sign of intelligent life behind the face.

There are two obvious and significant things to expect over the next two years. In the Senate, President Biden will continue to be able to staff the 80-plus federal judiciary benches awaiting newbies. Invoking the words of Joe Biden when speaking to President Obama on the passage of the ACA – “Obamacare” – and while too close to an open microphone, “This is a big f***ing deal.”

Even better, if a vacancy or two should come about on the Supreme Court, Biden will provide nominees to the Senate and the Republicans will not be able to stymie the process with fabricated new rules of obstruction. It sure would be lovely if Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were to suddenly contract cases of Incipient Mortality Awareness Despair Over Probable Ending (“IMADOPE”) and they decided to spend more time with their families. One could hope.

Thanks go to Jim Nathan for this piece

The other thing to expect will occur in the House, where the Republican circus will have all three rings set up, with nothing but sense-defying acts taking place.

For example, we can expect Jim “The Flame Throwing Ignoramus” Jordan (R-OH) to chair the judiciary committee and hold a protracted, pointless hearing into Hunter Biden. After that there will be more pointless hearings focused on Biden and his laptop. Following that will be hearings into Biden’s involvement in the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and in the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and Kennedy.

In the end, we will have spent many millions of dollars investigating anything Hunter Biden has thought, done or could spell for the entire duration of his life. The hearings will be continuous until the 2024 election in order for the Republicans to make Democrats look dirty. The official report will be 800 pages long and will say nothing – just like the report from the Benghazi hearings Committee on Stupid, Darryl Issa (R-CA), Chairman.

And that kind of stupidity and cruelty by Republicans is what we can expect from this new Republican controlled House. Indeed, they’re already gathering firewood for the witch burning pits.

Republicans have declared that they intend to impeach President Biden, Vice President Harris, Anthony Fauci and Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of Homeland Security. They have no charges against any of them. There isn’t even a whiff of wrongdoing to investigate. Most Republicans in Congress don’t even know who Mayorkas is. No matter. These hearings leading to impeachment votes are solely to get back at Democrats for the two impeachments of the orange president. Yes, they’re as infantile as that.

And while those hearings and impeachments are going on there will be no people’s business conducted. There will be little to no problems solved, no solutions found. The only accomplishment will be the performance of a Republican temper tantrum.

You can also expect push-back from the Republican House against our support for Ukraine. The fascist extreme wouldn’t want to do anything to upset their role model, Vladimir Putin. And Ukraine as a sovereign nation, it’s people wanting democracy and freedom? “Who cares?” say the Republicans.

Because that’s what Republicans do. They are all about demonizing, hating and legalized cruelty. To see this clearly, all you need to examine are all the racist and antisemitic spewings by Republicans. Unlike Democrats, they never police their own.

Together, Republicans comprise a national version of White Citizens Councils. That “Make America Great Again” mantra refers to when America’s domestic power was bed sheet white and sub-humans of color were controlled by their White betters.

But such unconscionable domination is already beginning to come to a close, as our White majority is becoming the White minority. Indeed, that’s the driver of so much of the repression. People don’t give up power willingly.

MAGA rallies cannot push back the tide, which triggers fear in those who want to return to the early 1950s. You know: before Brown v Board of Education; the 1964 Civil Rights Act; the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the rest of what allows non-Whites to be full citizens.

What White supremacists are left with is fear, hatred, violence and pitiful attempts at appearing to be something they are not. Recall Trump saying at a 2016 rally, “There’s my African-American.” Singular. Pick that apart any way you like, including empathy for that guy for his being so dreadfully duped.

To be clear, there are victories from our multi-week election day, most notably for what did not happen: a red wave. Plus, there were both new and re-elected blue governors, secretaries of state and more. These are people who trust in the Constitution and the will of We The People, so they don’t threaten to reverse our elections in order to suit themselves and their extremist overlords.

Insane factoid: Isn’t it crazy that times are so upside down that we celebrate that no election workers or voters were harmed by vigilante idiots? Here’s to the judges who prohibited the vigilantes from vigilante-ing!

So, this election was a mixed bag. Read Thomas Friedman’s post, America Dodged An Arrow for more on that.

Hope still lives and the dream is still alive – and it will be so as long as we keep it alive. That opens the door to what we’ll do to make 2024 what we need it to be. The starter’s pistol for that race has already fired.

PS

Merrick, there is a difference between: 1. Doing things right while doing the right things, as well as sweating the details; and, 2. Refusing to make a decision.

We’re 22 months down the road. It’s time to make a decision based on the painfully obvious evidence. Tell Jack Smith I said so.

————————————

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

Fire the bastards!

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

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fixing It – and Another Thing


Fixing It

It’s likely going to take a new Supreme Court that isn’t beholden to extremist ideology and bad influencers to fix our corrupt Congress and state legislatures who refuse the will of We The People, because here is what will be required:

  1. Declare that companies and corporations are not people and do not have the rights of citizens.
  2. clarify that money is property, not speech. It is not protected by the First Amendment. #1 & #2 lead to:
  3. Establish that campaign contributions, whether made directly to candidates or to outside advocate organizations, may be made only by flesh and blood human beings. No company or corporation – no non-human entity – may participate directly or indirectly in electoral politics.
  4. Establish a maximum contribution to any candidate and a total aggregate contribution to all candidates that any individual may make in any election. I.e. fix McCutcheon.
  5. Establish term limits for all elective offices, bureaucracy appointments and for all judges. We have term limits for the president and many governors. I  can’t think of a single good reason not to have limits for all elective offices, appointments and judicial appointments – can you?
  6. Establish a long period following elective or appointed office during which elected and appointed officials are prohibited from lobbying activities on behalf of industries and companies they formerly regulated, adjudicated or affected in an way.
  7. Amend the quaint 18th century, fancifully imagined construct of the Senate as a deliberative body of unusually wise men, two per state. That construct gives added power to rural areas and weakens more populous states, making the Senate unrepresentative. Instead, construct the Senate to be proportional to population in order to represent We The People fairly. Wise people will still be welcome. Here’s an illustration of the why of this.
    1. Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas all together have 3.3 million people. That’s a third the size of just the Chicagoland population. Give those states 2 senators total, not each.
    2. The same for Vermont, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island and Delaware.
    3. Give California and Texas more senators, because they have 39 and 29 million people, respectively.
  8. Make the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico states.
  9. Eliminate the Electoral College and decide presidential elections solely on the basis of the total popular vote, just as for senators and representatives – really, every other elective office.

Clearly, this needs work by people who will see the intricacies and unintended consequences and who can write precise legislation that will both achieve the desired outcomes and will avoid creating what we do not want. These points are some obvious things that come to mind – surely, there are more. And yes, some of this will require amendments to the Constitution.

To get that new Supreme Court will likely require a super-majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate and a president who is a Democrat, because getting this job will be anathema to Republicans and, to be honest, some Democrats. Plus, this may require packing the Court – four new centrist-to-progressive justices who recognize the primacy of We The People.

And Another Thing

Click the pic to watch the entire speech. Every American should see this.

Matthew McConaughey gave a brilliant and impassioned speech to the White House Press Corps on June 7. He made the tragedy in Uvalde clear for anyone listening, leaving no possibility for anyone to miss the reality of the great human suffering this has caused and will continue to cause for a very long time. And he implored Congress to take action to prevent these tragedies from continuing to happen, like common sense gun regulations that will help to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would do us harm.

When he finished speaking and was leaving the lectern, James Rosen from Newsmax, a far right organization, shouted a question: “Were you grandstanding just now, sir?” McConaughey just left the room, but I’ll answer Rosen for him.

“Thank you, sir, for your question. You have just made it clear to all of America, indeed to the world, why we have such difficulty making progress in dealing with our challenges. You have demonstrated that sensationalism, destructive reporting and self-serving cruelty guide your actions and the actions of so many more. These are the over-loud voices with a megaphone but no sense of responsibility – really, no common sense – who vie for attention by widening our national divide. They are a vicious minority doing harm to our people and to our nation and you’ve shown us that you are one of them.

“Shame on you, sir. You could and should know better, but it’s obvious that you refuse to know. Shame on you.”

Be sure to watch Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) shred Republicans’ deadly intransigence on gun safety. His words are clear, compelling, accurate and beautifully impassioned – and they aren’t enough. If we’re to save our kids – like the Uvalde and Parkland and Sandy Hook and Santa Fe and Columbine kids and more – We The People are going to have to make that happen.

Must Read

Read Sheila Markin’s post of June 13. You already know much of the shameful stuff the Rs are doing, but we seem to be living in a post-shame world. More important are her comments about what Dems need to do. Go to a rally or town hall and tell your rep and senators to stop the nice-nice and call things what they are. Tell them that they get points – and votes – for brutal honesty.

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

Did someone forward this 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Special Forehead Slap Edition


Today is the day we Americans set aside to honor his work and the man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Well, about half of us do some honoring. The other half, not so much. Let us on this one day recognize truth. Just today. We can go back to hollow platitudes tomorrow.

Here’s the truth: nearly half of us don’t want non-White people to vote. That way Whites can keep all the power and all the money.  It’s slavery, Jim Crow and 50s segregation in one harmonious package.

We don’t want to pay for Black kids to get a good education. We’d rather criticize them for being shiftless, lazy freeloaders when they can’t land any but menial jobs. The good news with this system is that Whites can dust off our hands of responsibility when Blacks don’t pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Never mind that they don’t have boots.

It’s similar regarding Jews. Rand Paul (named for Ayn Rand, the mythologizing author of Libertarian nonsense) stands in the way of funding the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Forty-nine Republican senators cowardly refuse to confront him. But, hey, those Israelis are just Jews. So are the hostages released Saturday night from a terrorist’s grip at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, TX. So were the shooting victims at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. All just Jews.

Anti-Semitism is exploding. But, hey once again, we don’t need the Republican paralyzed Senate to give a hearing to Dr. Deborah Lipstadt as Biden’s nominee to be Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. It’s just Jews. White, perhaps, but just Jews. It’s no different from suppressing the votes of Blacks, except for the obvious violent deaths.

And never mind those Hispanics. They’re okay to pick our crops, clean our houses and cook our food, but keep them away from our daughters and the voting booth. The Mexican side of the Rio Grande works. No need to worry about their having come our way to escape war, terrorists and the crazies who would rape their daughters, sisters and mothers. Because, hey, they’re just Hispanics.

The really good news is that MLK Day is just one day. The haters can go back to quiet denial and outright bigotry tomorrow.

————————————

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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Daydream 2, The Rolling Stones & COVIDumb


You can find Daydream 1 here. JA

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In Federal Court, Washington DC

It is the jury selection process, where I am being questioned as a potential juror by skilled lawyers for the defendant, Donald J. Trump.

Lawyer: Are you an attorney?

Me: No

Lawyer: Do you now have any legal case pending before any court?

Me: No

Lawyer: Have you ever been involved in either a civil or criminal case?

Me: Yes

Lawyer: Please describe all such cases.

Me: There was a civil dispute years ago with a former employee of my company who violated his employment contract. It’s sad how some people simply can’t be trusted. Know what I mean?

Lawyer: Are there any issues pertaining to that case that remain unresolved?

Me: No

Lawyer: Are you familiar with the defendant, Donald J. Trump?

Me: Yes. I know of him.

Lawyer: How do you know of him?

Me: He was the President of the United States. Pretty hard to miss that.

Lawyer: Do you have any opinions about the defendant?

Me: You’re kidding, right?

Lawyer: Please answer the question.

Me: Yes

Lawyer: Please tell the court what your opinions are, this for the purpose of determining if you will be open to hearing evidence as an unbiased, impartial juror.

Me: Okay.

It’s been established by multiple mental health professionals that Mr. Trump is an amoral narcissist who willfully refuses to consider the harm he does to others while in pursuit of what he wants for himself, which happens pretty much all the time. That enables and encourages the criminal acts he committs in plain sight. He has violated many laws, including sedition, conspiracy to commit lots of crimes, money laundering, various kinds of fraud, incitement to riot, election interference, the emoluments clause of the Constitution, the Hatch Act, at least 20 sexual predator acts and more. So, sure, I’ll be a most impartial juror.

Lawyer: Your Honor, clearly this juror candidate is incapable of being impartial. This goes way beyond a peremptory challenge to his being wholly unfit for jury duty.

Me: No, wait, Your Honor. Don’t listen to him. Put me on the jury. I promise to listen to all of this lawyer’s absurd lies about his client and do it with an open mind. Really. No fingers crossed. I’ll give serious thought to his B.S. evidence before rejecting it. Even more, I’ll consider with an open mind the total crap testimony of the defendant before I vote to convict him and recommend the maximum sentence for each and every one of his crimes. I’m so unbiased that I’ll recommend to the court that the defendant’s sentences run successively with no possibility of parole. That should lock him up with some very unusual people for a few hundred years.

It’ll be great, Your Honor! See? I’m impartial. C’mon, put me on the jury. Please?

The Rolling Stones

In a hopeful article, Build Back Better Isn’t Dead Yet, David Axelrod reminds us of the premature declarations of death of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in 2010. After months of fruitless negotiations with Republicans, no agreement could be found – imagine that! Not even Democrats could agree with one another – imagine that, too! – and many progressives argued at high decibel levels that lack of a public option made the ACA pointless. Nevertheless, the Act passed a couple of months later. In spite of 7,963 Republican legislative efforts over the next 11 years to drown it in a bathtub, the ACA remains the law of the land and continues to grow in popularity.

Obama took heat for years over the lack of a public option, but he consistently responded with the truth: they passed what could be passed. He refused to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What if we were to apply that same clarity and action to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan? What if we were to pass what can be passed? What if the perfect were set aside in order to achieve the good? What if we were willing to pass BBB piece-by-piece, like FDR did with the New Deal?

The Rolling Stones said it clearly and said it best:

“You can’t always get what you want.

“But if you try sometime, you just might find

“You get what you need.”

COVIDumb

Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat

The U.S. has:

4% of the world’s population

20% of the world’s COVID cases

15.2% of the world’s COVID deaths.

That’s what continues to happen in this first world, wealthiest nation on Earth. For an understanding of how that is possible, do the Deep Throat imperative: Follow the money to determine who benefits from our homicidal dysfunction.

Hint: It might be those who will benefit from a weak economy and an angry citizenry.

.

The big loser states – all with gubernatorial and/or legislative obstacles to vaccinations and masking. There is a terrible price for obstinance and false claims of freedom.

A Tale of Death in Two Same Story Cities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….Can you help with an attribution for this video?

————————————

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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Winning, Part Two: Republican Obstructionism


Unavoidable Observation

Kyle Rittenhouse is on trial for killing two people and seriously wounding another using his illegal AR-15 assault rifle. He brought his illegal assault weapon to a BLM protest in the summer of 2020 in Kenosha, WI. His mother drove him there. With his AR-15. His mother! *

He has claimed he went there to help people; plus, he wanted to be famous. Somebody please explain to me why he needed an AR-15 to give first aid to injured people or to put out dumpster fires. On the other hand, the AR-15 did help to make him famous, but not in a good way, unless you’re a hate spewing radical looking for a martyr.

During his testimony on Wednesday he was asked to describe his shooting one of the victims. He became distraught, sobbing to the point of being unable to speak coherently, so the judge called a recess. But here’s the thing.

It’s true that Rittenhouse sobbed, convulsed and scrunched up his face, giving the clear indication that he was very upset about what had happened. The press reported that he, “broke down into tears.”

But he didn’t shed even a single a tear. Not one.

In his apparent crying, he didn’t tear up at all – you know, like people do when they’re actually upset and crying. If his was an act, it was a pretty good one – but it was fatally flawed. It’s possible he isn’t the Boy Scout his defense team made him out to be. See for yourself here.

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Republican Obstruction

The pandemic continues to ravage our country.

Republicans refuse to participate in solutions to make us all safe and they prohibit efforts to contain the pandemic, causing massive suffering and death.

The west is burning and the south and east are drowning because of the climate crisis.

Republicans refuse even to acknowledge the reality of climate warming, much less participate in finding solutions. In fact, they oppose any action that would be a positive step to combat the climate catastrophes that are staring us in the face.

We have millions of angry people and had a murderous insurrection on January 6.

Republicans are blocking the Congressional inquiry into the riot in every way they can, spreading lies and stoking rage every chance they get. Plus, many of them encouraged the insurrection.

Millions believe the anti-democracy lie that the 2020 election was full of voter fraud and that Biden is an illegitimate president.

Republicans actively promote this Big Lie, knowing full well that it is a lie that undermines our Constitution and our democracy. And they are bastardizing our future elections in order to subvert the will of the people.

Donald Trump continues to undermine democracy.

Republicans continue to either help to destroy our country or they chicken out of standing up to Trump’s bullying and sit meekly, watching the ongoing carnage.

Our State Department – the people who represent us to other nations and support our international efforts – continues to be not only understaffed (it’s been that way since George W. Bush formally replaced diplomacy with military invasions), but without ambassadors in dozens of countries.

That’s all due to Republican obstructionism in the confirmation process of ambassadors. That same obstructionism is why hundreds of federal judgeships remain unfilled. Say hello to Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans and say good-bye to diplomacy and justice.

Obviously, this list could be much longer. The point is that all the Republicans have are:

– Obstruction of government

– Culture wars to upset us, to stoke hate and fear and division and tribalism

They’ve made clear that they only care about low taxes for really rich people and ultra-conservative judges who will decide cases in their favor. They haven’t even a single policy that would serve We The People or the country. That leaves us with the key question of our time:
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How long are Democrats and Independents going to let them get away with that?
.

The point is that it’s time for Democrats to stop being door mats and start doing what will win elections. That better happen VERY soon, and I’ll show how to do that and put the Republicans permanently in a corner. It’s just three things.

See Winning, Part Three on Wednesday, November 17 for what Democrats need to do to win.
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Must Read
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There’s so much that’s a downer and it’s been that way for so many years, including all the racist dog whistles and outright calls to hatred, the lies and the threats. Sometimes we deeply need reminders that we can be good, decent people, that some are mindful and doing the right things in the face of the brutality of daily life. It turns out that the murder of Ahmaud Arbery has ignited just such a thing.

Read this timely post from CNN about the friends, family and teammates of Arbery, what they are doing and how strong, good men and a united community are being forged in the wake of that hateful tragedy.

Must Watch
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Do you really think that voting is important, perhaps the most important of our rights? Yes? Then watch this video from the RepresentUs folks.

Correction – Sort of
.

An earlier post noted that 2 of the last 6 general elections brought us presidents elected by a minority of voters. That’s true, yet the far more important point is that since 1988 Republicans have lost the popular vote in every election but one.

———————-

* Please see the comments below for more specific clarity.

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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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Winning, Part One: The Numbers, Rage and Yoda


This is just simple math.
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                                STATE                           POPULATION (millions)

Wyoming                                    0.58

Vermont                                      0.62

Alaska                                         0.73

North Dakota                              0.76

South Dakota                              0.88

Delaware                                     0.97

Rhode Island                               1.1

Montana                                       1.1

                TOTAL                         6.73

Those eight states have 16 senators representing them.

Indiana has as many people as all those states combined, but has only 2 senators to represent them. It’s about the same for Massachusetts, Tennessee, Missouri and Maryland.

New York has over 3 times as many citizens as the total of those eight states, but has only 2 senators to represent them.

California has 6.5 times as many citizens as the total above, yet Californians have only 2 senators.

All power to the low population states! Minority rule today! Minority rule tomorrow! Minority rule forever!*
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And it’s nuttier than that.

There are roughly 40 million more people in blue states than red states, yet senatorial representation is roughly equal, which means that 40 million blue state people are under-represented and discounted in the Senate. To be fair, that is due not just to our two-senators-per-state rule, but also because of voter suppression and gerrymandering that favors and keeps red states red. No way to paint a happy picture about that. It’s just what Republicans do.

In case you wonder why this mangled representation exists, read the explanation from Senate.gov.

What that explanation won’t tell you is that the Framers didn’t trust our mostly illiterate population to select well, so they created both the Electoral College and this presumably deliberative body, the Senate. Both were supposed to be safer when chosen by land-owning, literate white men.

Kyrsten Sinema

That assumption of the Framers has brought us presidents elected by a minority of voters (2 of the last 6 elections, plus some others and Republicans have lost the popular vote in every presidential election but one since 1988). It has also brought us a non-representative Senate. The primary present-day duty of the Republicans in the Senate is to obstruct progress for our country and to manipulate for their individual power – minority rule – which means they’re all about protecting and promoting the interests of big money donors. (See: Kyrsten Sinema receiving huge money from Big Pharma, then refusing prescription drug pricing reform. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.)

Red-Blue politics ebbs and flows (at least it used to), but common sense says that head count representation ought to be proportional in the Senate. It isn’t. That has substantive impact on the lunacy of our current politics and it’s related to our vaccine refusers in a very loud way.

The refusers are exhorted every day to refuse vaccines by breathtakingly false and destructive information coming from state and national leadership. They’re told to refuse the very thing that can save their lives and the lives of those they love. They surrender their facility for critical thinking and embrace only what stokes their rage.

They scream about the infringement of their freedoms. They proclaim entirely untrue propaganda, like that the vaccine will make them sterile, or that there are nanobots in the vaccine and Bill Gates will be able to track and control them, or that vaccines have killed more people than the disease or any of a hundred false claims from sick imaginations. And Americans continue to die at the rate of 1,400 per day.

The constant is the presence of  rage. It’s stoked every night by Tucker Carlson and during the day by Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and the know-nothing TV and radio blabbers who rake in money from advertisers because our rage-ists tune in. And the refusers vote for red state politicians who tell them what they want to hear and who then go to Congress and state legislatures to fulfill the role of rage in minority rule. That’s the Senate-rage connection and the Republicans work it to perfection to win elections.

I think there’s something else going on and it fits hand-in-glove with rage. It’s fear. Fear of being controlled. Fear of being wrong. Fear of smart people. Fear of science. Fear of change. Fear of government. Fear of globalization. Fear of “others.” Fear of the future. Fear of needles. Fear of their own ignorance. Fear of complexity. Fear of everything they don’t understand. Fear of a world they can’t make sense of.

Keith Olbermann says it more flamboyantly than I do and I’m not crazy about the name calling parts of his post, but fundamentally, I think he has it right: our refusers are afraid. They won’t acknowledge that, because doing so wouldn’t be manly. It would pop their rage-puffery and they wouldn’t get to feel as powerful. Their refusal, though, doesn’t erase their fear or the tribalism it spawns. And their fear, stoked every day by Republicans, is causing more of us to die from the pandemic and is igniting violence around the country.

Perhaps you thought the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Rs was the entire problem, but I tell you with certainty that it is not. Its matching bookend is wimpy Democrats enabling their anti-democracy, letting Republicans get away with that.

In 2002 Republican Senate candidate Saxby Chamliss cruelly attacked Viet Nam vet and triple-amputee Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), who was slow and not aggressive in response. He lost his reelection bid.

In the 2004 presidential race John Kerry was attacked and called a coward by a Republican group that came to be known as the Swift Boaters. He kept silent about them, not wanting to give them credibility by responding to their their lies. When he at last did speak up it was too late and he lost the election.

Both of those Democrats were defensive and failed to attack. They failed to aggressively call out the lies. That’s how to lose an election, as both of them did. And I’m disgusted by Democrats who won’t do what’s necessary to win an election now.

Required homework assignment

Read Sheila Markin’s exceptionally clear, shocking and sadly accurate post. This will count for 50% of your Civics grade. The final will be on November 8, 2022.

Wisdom Wake-Up Call

From my Yoda-like friend, Ozzie (all italics mine):

“Reality always (and probably all ways) wins. Our only job is to get in touch with it.”

Enough with the illusions and wishful thinking.

“Or as the Little Prince shared: It is with the heart that one sees rightly. For what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Enduringly true. And there is plenty that is essential and easy to see with the eyes. Keep them open and see what is plainly before us.

“Or: If you want to live your dream: #)#_!%^ WAKE UP!!! (Screamed as loud as humanly possible).”

If your dream includes a healthy democracy that serves the people, sleep walking through life just won’t do. #)#_!%^ WAKE UP!!!

See Winning, Part Two on Sunday, November 14 to learn what to do about it.

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* Paraphrased from Gov. George Wallace’s (R-AL) inauguration speech, January 14, 1963. Even with the word swapping, my meaning is pretty much the same as his, except that I mean it as sarcasm. Wallace meant it as enduring hatred.

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Challenge and The Hand Wringing


This post is a preface, an introduction to the three-part series beginning this Wednesday focused on winning.

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The Middle-East Comes to America

This quote is focused on the Middle-East in the very early 2000s.

“It became clear that there was a confluence of interests among Iran, Hezbolla and Syria, and that the three of them were uniquely suited to work together and help one another in their times of need. Thus, an alliance – which Israel’s intelligence community called “the Radical Front” – was born.

“The alliance of a terrorist organization, a pariah theocracy, and a modernized nation-state allowed a sprawling network of guerrillas, self-styled revolutionaries, and criminal thugs to operate with an unusually robust level of military efficiency.”

from Rise and Kill First, 2018 by Ronen Bergman, page 570

I got chills reading that, because you can substitute today’s names and this applies right here, right now.

  1. Terrorist organization / a sprawling network of guerrillas, self-styled revolutionaries, and criminal thugs – Think: militias and AR-15 carrying thugs, like Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha and Robert Bowers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the rest of the criminals
  2. Pariah theocracy – Think: January 6 insurrectionists in the well of the Senate screaming The Lord’s Prayer; radical evangelists abandoning all principle, promoting lies and liars while thumping bibles; neo-Nazis and White supremacists everywhere demanding that Christianity be our formal national religion, like disgraced, convicted former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
  3. Modernized nation-state – Think: the Republican Party *

That is America’s “Radical Front,” the self-righteous and greedy monster that’s rotting us from within. It’s slithering through our house, poisoning our water, terrorizing our people and murdering innocents. It’s subverting our Constitution and democracy itself, all the while certain of its holiness and patriotism.

These people have abandoned all fidelity to American values. They are aligned with one another and radicalized to refuse everything that isn’t them and isn’t what they want, including election results, regulations, taxes, immigrants, any non-White person, freedom for others, any sense of duty to the common good, sacrifice for others and more. And in their obsessive zeal, they’re claiming that they are the true patriots, as though their violence and lies make it so.

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

– commonly ascribed to Sinclair Lewis or Huey Long, but the actual source is unknown

These people are not the opponents; they have made themselves the enemy. We all have to get that into our heads and keep it there.

This is our existential national challenge and why Democrats have to learn to win.

Democrat Hand Wringing

Brace yourself.

I recall a TV commercial where the football coach is addressing his team in the locker room after a game. He excoriates them for lack of execution, for dropped passes, lost scoring opportunities and more. It’s a blistering assault. When he pauses one of the players quietly asks, “Hey coach, didn’t we win?”

And so it is with Democrats following the election on November 2.

In an astonishing piece of bucking the trend, they won the governorship in New Jersey. They won multiple mayoral races and state legislature seats and all they seem to be able to do is to wring their hands over one lost gubernatorial contest, one that history says was pre-ordained by the gods of elections to be lost no matter what they did. They should be cheering how close that election was. And as they do their moaning and groaning they are giving Republicans the playbook to use against them next year.

Here’s a little secret, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.

We added 531,000 new jobs in October. The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ are all at or near all-time highs, pension funds are strong for teachers, firefighters, cops and millions of other workers and we’re in a strong economic recovery.

In a complete abdication of duty to the American people, every Republican opposed the Democrats’ $1.9B American Rescue Plan that helped every American bounce back from the economic devastation caused by Trump’s intentional bumbling of the pandemic. That Plan of the Democrats has caused us to add 5.6 million new jobs since January 20. Here’s a bonus: a million new seasonal jobs are about to sprout this month.

Little kids are getting vaccinated against COVID and their parents and grandparents are getting booster shots. The daily deaths from COVID are down 25% over the last month. We’re beating back the pandemic even in the face of Republicans doing all they can to keep Americans at risk of suffering and dying.

(Psst: All of that and more means things are getting way better – but keep that to yourself. Democrats always do.)

Democrats allowing Republicans to blame them for global supply chain issues and higher prices instead of saddling Trump and the Republicans with it due to their total mishandling of the pandemic – that totally baffles me. Why aren’t they singing their victories in unison in every interview, in op-eds, in speeches on the floor of the Senate and House, on the Sunday news shows, at the barber shop –  everywhere? Why aren’t they cheering the victories they’ve won and burning Republicans for their complete abandonment of their duties, violation of their oath of office and outright obstruction?

“Hey, Ms. and Mr. America, you can see every day that the Republicans don’t want you to succeed, because they vote against you and everything you hold dear, everything that might help you. We Democrats are proud that we’ve delivered for you and that our country is back on track. We wish you a joyous Thanksgiving!”

I tell you in all earnestness that the Democrats’ wailing over the elections was and is both dumb and unproductive – even counter-productive – and I was sick of it even before it began. That’s matched with their inability to wave the flag of their huge successes in our economy and their giving only puff ball mentioning of our great success in COVID vaccinations. It’s absolutely confounding.

And what’s with the sausage making being done in public? It used to done between Ds and Rs, always behind closed doors, but since the Rs are permanently, legislatively AWOL, the sausage making is being done between Progressives and so-called Moderate Democrats. And it’s ugly. Sausage making is always ugly. But this time the Democrats are doing it in public and it just makes them look ugly and dysfunctional and of no use to voters. They look like children having temper tantrums. Really, Democrats, do you imagine this is the way to instill confidence in voters?

The party’s political angst and sending the “we’re incompetent” message fit perfectly with the Democrats’ usual wimpy election efforts to produce the pathological stasis of, “We won’t do what’s necessary to win and will obsessively sulk about the consequences.”

Democrats: Shut up with the election and economic woe, wave the flags of success and get to work doing what wins elections!

Watch for a 3-part series beginning Wednesday, November 10 focused on what Democrats must do to win.

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* “If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a  cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.”

– President Dwight D. Eisenhower, quote courtesy of MG

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Thing


The First Thing

In a recent post Jamelle Bouie mounted an interesting review of horror films, this being appropriate for the Halloween season and things that scare us. He focuses on the 1982 cult classic movie The Thing. Perhaps oddly, he shows how it is instructive for us right now.

Bouie writes:

For as much as critics dismissed the film as expensive trash, there is an idea here: that fear and paranoia can dissolve the bonds of friendship, camaraderie and citizenship. That they can sap us of our ability to work together and paralyze us in the face of crisis. It is an idea which, in our age of misinformation, public distrust and pandemic disease, lands with heavy force.

Which is what is happening – what we’re doing – every day.

Think about the rabid, vicious attacks on our people and institutions that are trying to keep us from being annihilated by COVID. Why would people threaten our protectors with death? Why would they insist that children go to school without protection from a killer disease and instead become walking, virus-saturated gas clouds to infect their school mates? Why would people dismiss the horrible truth that almost 3/4 of a million Americans are now dead and over 1,600 die every day of COVID?

Why would they go berserk at school board and town hall meetings? Why would they willingly embrace fantastical, impossible conspiracy theories that paint themselves as hapless victims of a powerful, evil cabal?

I submit for your consideration that all of this is yet more manifestation of the rage of powerlessness that drives people to act like ravenous, meat devouring reptiles. All higher brain functions shut down when rage inflames us and we do things like assault the Capitol Building, cops and Congress, plot to kidnap and assassinate a sitting governor and call for a civil war. “When do we get to use our guns?” asked one enraged brain attached to a mouth.

Rage makes licensed lawyers stand in their front yard and threaten peaceful protesters with assault weapons. It makes elected officials lie both actively and passively to overthrow our government and it sends some of them to a series of meetings in the Willard Hotel to plot that overthrow. It’s what makes camo-wearing tough guys show up at public events with AR-15s strapped to themselves. And it’s what tears families apart.

This nation was born in a violent fit of “You can’t tell me what to do!” and people who have felt powerless for generations carry that attitude as a token of the power they crave. Indeed, 30% of Republicans believe that they are not only right, but that violence is appropriate in order for them to get what they want. And oddly, they imagine they’re in a brotherhood with those who are pulling the strings of power against them to gain absolute power for themselves. It’s so easy to fool and manipulate angry people.

The Civil War wasn’t a war of northern aggression and the belief that “The South will rise again” never died. The spirit of renegade, self-labeled good guys and their hatred for victimizing bad guys lives on and gives breath to the rage that is manifest here every day. Now, though, it isn’t just the South. It’s rural versus urban and struggling versus comfortable. It’s hateful versus complacent and have-nots versus haves, or so they believe. And it’s dehumanizing versus human. It’s every guerilla war.*

People have always had their certainties and self-righteousness when they believe they’ve been wronged. When we think we’ve been hit, we want to hit back, even when doing so is self-destructive, like refusing vaccines.

Just because you’re not sure if you feel a little tickle of paranoia both personally and for our democracy doesn’t mean it’s an illusion or that there aren’t people plotting against you. They actually exist and they are enraged and they are armed with weapons they’re itching to use.

I wish you a pleasant Halloween full of lawn ghosts and cardboard goblins, which, even if they were real, wouldn’t be even a tiny fraction as scary as our reality. And that’s The Thing.

Be sure to read this from John Pavlovitz.

And Another Thing

I don’t know if in 2009 – 2010  President Obama wanted our new healthcare system to be universal coverage – Medicare for All. What I do know is that creating M4A simply was not possible with the 111th Congress, propelled as it was by Citizens United-fueled money and having its finger on the No Way button. Trying for M4A would have been an exercise in folly and failure.

He was left with the politics of the possible, a compromise that really didn’t thrill anyone, but which moved the ball downfield and we wound up with the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. It’s been quite a success even in the face of the dozens of Republican attempts to scuttle it. The American people love it, as long as Obama’s name isn’t mentioned (not that we have race issues). The point is that we enacted the bill that could be enacted.

Everyone likes the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because we can all see the potholes, crumbling pavement and rickety bridges and we know they have to be fixed or replaced – built back better. Even our distorted reality, galactically dysfunctional Senate managed to see that and pass the bill. That made it a fine hostage for Democrats to use to force the President’s Build Back Better Bill through Congress.

There are only two obstacles to BBB becoming law and you know their names.** They are objecting to various parts of that legislation, some objections being named in squishy sound bites and some going unnamed. That makes negotiating with the extortioners like shaking hands with a ghost.

What’s clear is that not every provision originally proposed in the BBB bill is going to be included. Some people won’t get their favorite piece of that pie because the half-pie won’t include it.

The important thing is to recognize that, like the ACA, this is a step in the right direction and a really good one. Focus on the wins. We’ll come back for more when the time is right. For now, let’s do what’s possible.

And that’s another very important Thing.

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Still More Things

* Can you think of a time when people in Congress slung vile epithets at the President of the United States and it was somehow deemed to be okay behavior, even cheered? Read this from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

The Republican Party has long ceased to offer policy ideas and is focusing on culture wars and obstruction. Their big statement this week has been to throw “Let’s go, Brandon” into speeches and, in the case of Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), into a rap video in which she stars. The phrase means “F**k Joe Biden,” for those in the know; they use it because social media moderators do not flag it.

The press secretary for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted it out on Thursday morning, just after the president announced a framework for the Build Back Better bill  .  .  .”

This is what people in a rage and people clawing for power do. They become a brat-on-the-playground to egg on the rest. These people are supposed to be leaders of our country, but they’re only leaders to the 38% of Americans who are stuck in their blind anger. But those people show up to vote.

Think about that, because it’s a really big Thing, a monster that has the power to crush us and all we hold dear if we fail to stand against it. Making smug faces and hurling derision won’t help. Supporting those on the front lines, encouraging people to vote and our showing up on all election days will help. As you know, Democracy is a participation sport, just like they said in civics class. You did take a civics class, right?

** From Tressie McMillan Cottom in the New York Times:

Sinema is known for making a visual splash as a method of political storytelling. That story seems to be something like, “I am a maverick. You can’t control me. You are not the boss of me. I’m an independent thinker,” even when thinking independently may run afoul of reason or ideological positions.

Sinema is like many voters in that her identity as an independent has supplanted her actual political ideology.

If you know anyone who values their independent identity over substance, please invite them to reconsider. Sinema is damaging the country and the prospects of her constituents with her independent tantrums. That isn’t a good model to follow in a time when we have to band together to stop the ragers from destroying our country.

“All politics is based on the indifference of the majority.” – James “Scotty” Reston (Thanks, MG!)

This isn’t a good time to be indifferent.

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats


Becoming a senator or representative was not intended by the Founders to be a career. It was meant to be a temporary post, one of taking a turn at representing one’s neighbors and making decisions for the nation. After a stint doing that a person would return to whatever they were doing before, like farming, and a newbie would come along to continue the legislative work. But now most of them dig in and stay (see point 7 below). They’re rather like a persistent allergen: it’s hard to get rid of them.

Right now we have a most dangerous pollen collection in Congress. In the House is Republican Kevin McCarthy, who only once spoke truth on January 6 and who has lied ever since. Leading the Senate Republicans is diabolical, 78-year-old Mitch McConnell (he’s been there 36 years – a very mucilaginous pollen). He’s diabolical because his words and actions make it painfully clear that Mitch only cares about Mitch. He’ll throw under the bus whoever and whatever gets in the way of his maniacal grab for more power. He’s even pleased to dishonor our nation before the world by threatening to cause us to default on our debts. And his Senate caucus members seem to have lost their spines, as they do whatever he tells them to do, regardless of how damaging his orders are for the country.

Most dangerous are the Trump robots who will repeat any absurd, outrageous thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth. They will make imbecilic, evidence-free claims against science and about non-existent election conspiracies. And they repeat imaginary connections to pedophile blood drinkers, socialists and, of course, George Soros. He’s a touchstone for foamy-mouth Republicans, who will invoke Soros’ name whenever they’re soliciting contributions. Such demonizing of opponents is standard stuff of fascists and authoritarians. Some of them are in Congress and it’s hard to get rid of them (see point 7 below).

All of that is extremely dangerous, because these people are attacking our very democracy from all sides. They contort themselves into cerebrum-free pretzels to whip up their authoritarian-loving “base.” That’s a code name for angry people being played for fools, who will believe any rageful thing, whose votes can be had and whose dollars can be separated from them. The point is that those politicians are on a swamp march to gain absolute power for themselves as authoritarians. Worse, they’re doing so in a fraudulent costume of patriotism.

The rot is everywhere that is red – red states, red politicians, red cable and radio blabbers, red online trolls and liars and the red, big money turncoats willing to sell out our country to have a slightly fatter wealth portfolio. Get your expectations in line with the likelihood of a vengeful dictator instead of a president if the Rs win in 2024. That election will be your last chance to vote.

What makes this even more frustrating is that the Democrats have good ideas for desperately needed projects and services that have been neglected for over 40 years. They have the opportunity to do what’s needed to make that stuff happen, as well as to blunt the Republican march to the bottom of the swamp. But instead of doing what’s needed, they’re having sibling fits of obstinance.

Another sad DNC bumper sticker – GET MESSAGING HELP!

There are moderates (two senators) and progressives each insisting on getting all of what they want. In President Obama’s terms, they are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the process, they are ensuring that nothing gets done to make things better and that the Republicans won’t even have to break stride on their swamp march.

This is an exercise in self-destruction and an undermining of trust in government.

To restore faith in government and hold off the would-be fascists, we’re going to have to stop doing the things that undermine our form of government. The Republicans are the problem, so the Democrats are going to have to learn to be bold and take on the challenge themselves. Here’s a message to them.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats
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  1. Compromise on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill to get the ball rolling so that voters get the feel-good of it well in advance of the 2022 election. They need a visceral sense of the benefits of Democrats being in charge. You can revisit the rest of what you want to do after that election, assuming you don’t screw up the election and wind up in the minority.
  2. Carve-out an exception from the Senate filibuster rules, to allow legislation pertaining to voting rights to pass on a simple majority vote. Then pass the two bills that will ensure full voting rights for all Americans and will block Republican thefts of elections. Do that now so that political gerrymandering can be prevented from distorting the 2022 election. If you aren’t willing to do all that, you will perpetually be played by a vicious minority and you will lose forever. This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up. Here’s a reference, just in case the reality isn’t obvious enough.
  3. Start playing hardball for House and Senate seats (ref: points 4 and 9). Make the Rs squirm by highlighting their cowardice, their dishonesty, their anti-American attacks on our democracy and their almost homicidal behavior that has allowed and encouraged Covid-19 to kill over 715,000 Americans. They’ve pulled the plug on granny. Hey, that’s a bumper sticker you can use! See point 10.
  4. Stop using typical Democratic Party wimpy tactics and instead hammer these guys in the knees. Fog out the message next year about how the Republicans voted like goose steppers AGAINST the programs that the overwhelming majority of voters want. Rub their noses in it. If you’re not willing to do that and more, drop out of the race to make room for someone who actually intends to win.
  5. Expand the Supreme Court with 4 new centrist-to-left justices after the 2022 election to offset the McConnell bastardization of the Court (see the chart below). And fill every open federal bench with similar people. Caution: This will require you to grow a pair.
  6. Fix Congress and the Supreme Court – Say it with me: “Term limits.” This is a requirement for survival.
  7. Offer statehood to Puerto Rico and DC in 2023, both to improve Democrat headcount in Congress and because it’s the right thing to do.
  8. Treat rural and non-college educated citizens with respect. It will be a refreshing change. Start by fielding really good congressional candidates in red states and fund them well so they can connect with voters just as though they’re human beings, not elitists.
  9. Aggressively attack the blabbers who indirectly kill people by lying about Covid, those online, on cable and in Congress. Call them mean names that they so richly deserve. Call out the “stop the steal” liars in Congress. Do it in the well of the Senate and House. Do this aggressively. Translation: Grow a pair.
  10. Get help with messaging. The Republicans came up with “Stop the Steal.” However dishonest, it’s a great bumper sticker and rallying cry. What’s yours? “We’re working on a Build Back Better compromise and maybe we’ll have something in a couple of years or so”? “Gosh, Mitch is a meanie?” Will Rogers said it best: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” It’s time to both end such self-defeating stuff – it isn’t cute anymore – and present a compelling message to the country that people can remember and champion.

Start playing the right game. This ain’t beanbag; this is hardball. If at any time you’re unsure what to do, ask yourself what Mitch McConnell would do were he in your circumstances.

I repeat: This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up.

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Approval Rating of Supreme Court Drops to Lowest Level – EVER
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Our approval of the Supreme Court has plummeted 18% this year alone.
Expect it to get worse, unless we do something about it.

Click the chart for the Gallup report.

Resources

Hungarian-Style Soft Fascism Is the GOP’s Ruthless New Brand, by Thom Hartmann

Do Democrats Have the Courage of Liz Cheney?, by Tom Friedman

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, by Robert Kagan

This Is Why We Need to Spend $4 Trillion, by David Brooks

Protests Are Taking Over The World. What’s Driving Them?, by Zachariah Mampilly

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

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Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
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