Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

thoughts and prayers

Lawn Chairs and You

Ed. note: If this post describes you, this is going to hurt. If it doesn’t describe you, it still applies to a minimum of 36% – 60% of eligible voters. What will we do about that?

We were staggering in our rage and sorrow over 10 grannies, 2 teachers and 19 little kids having been murdered. For most of us it was primarily about the kids. Evolution has hard wired us to protect children, so the wanton slaughter of 9- and 10-year-olds more than rankled us.

And it rankled Christine Emba, too. She’s an opinion writer for The Washington Post and she accurately aimed her blame finger directly at those most responsible for the ongoing American massacre, this in her brilliant piece, You. This Is Your Fault.

For example,

“You, the gun-obsessed minority who lord over our politics and prevent change from being made. You, who mumble “thoughts and prayers” but balk at action.

“You, the “shooting hobbyist” or “gun enthusiast” who advocates against gun control because you think anything that makes your weekend amusement even the slightest bit more difficult to participate in is not to be borne.

“You, the performative patriot who believes that background checks, age limitations, training requirements — any reasonable regulations that could help keep people safe — are insufferable limitations on your freedom.

“You, the sophist who says “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” as if those people aren’t killing others using guns, as if it isn’t obvious that the havoc they wreak would be much reduced had they not been given easy access to weapons of mass murder.”

She goes on unsparingly and correctly, but I think there’s a missing step in her logic. You can see it clearly by recognizing that We The People want serious steps to be taken to protect us. For example, 80 – 90% of Americans want universal background checks on the sale or transfer of all firearms and it’s been in that range at least since Sandy Hook. How is it, then, that nothing has happened to deliver what we want?

Note: As this is being written a watered down gun safety bill that will accomplish very little is slow-poking its way through Congress. It is legislation that is carefully crafted not to offend gun “enthusiasts” and will protect almost nobody. Still, it’s a first step. Who knows? Maybe our school kids will live long enough to see a second step.

The answer to why We The People don’t get what we want is that we keep electing toadies who make sure that nothing happens that might upset their “base”. But that begs the question of why we elect those people, which gets to the core or our national problem.

Angry people and extremists take action – they vote. The not-so-angry people are less motivated. They vote in pathetically low numbers. Roughly 36% of eligible voters don’t vote in presidential elections and it’s often much worse than that. About 60% of voters blow off mid-term elections and very few bother with primary elections. That puts a lot of power into the hands of angry extremists who show up and vote.

They show up in big numbers relative to their overall size. They overwhelm the votes of the lazies and thereby get their way.
That’s how the extremist, Trump sucking candidates win elections.

Translation: the voices of the extremists drown out the rest of us because the rest of us couldn’t be bothered to get up off our butts and vote.

So, to use Emba’s introductory words and mimic her style,

” .  .  .  someone is to blame.

“But who?

“You. It’s your fault.”

You, the self-focused, who are unwilling to look beyond yourself to the grave harm being done all around you.

You, who can’t be bothered to register to vote because it’s a nuisance and, besides, there are millions of others taking care of that voting thing.

You, for whom Roe isn’t a big deal, so you don’t make your voice heard about the outright assault on all women.

You, who think voting rights are important, but you sit mute, as tens of thousands of our fellow citizens are having their right to vote stripped from them in Republican controlled states, resulting in stolen elections.

You, who think global warming is going to be a problem for our children and grandchildren. You worry, too, about our fellow citizens today who suffer and die from monster tornadoes and from once-in-a-century hurricanes that now happen every year, and from our forest fire “season” that lasts all year. But you sit in silence on election day.

You, who hear the horrid lies mouthed by self-serving, self-justifying traitors to democracy and all you can muster is a shake of your head and a click on the TV remote.

You, who sit immobilized as Otero County in New Mexico has become first in the nation to officially overturn the will of We The People, using bogus claims, lies and fraud. And you know that more counties and states will follow the fraudulent pretense, “If we didn’t win, then somebody cheated, so we’re officially claiming victory for our side.” And still you stay home on election day.

Again, if that’s not you, that’s great. But our problem is the passivity of at least 36% of eligible voters in some presidential elections and about 10% more than that in most. That skews outcomes in a self-destructive direction. Roughly 60% don’t show up for mid-term elections and it’s worse for primaries. These people remain idle as our rights and our very way of life are being stolen from all of us. It’s like sitting meekly on a lawn chair watching burglars empty your house and load your stuff into a moving van.

Those voices calling you to register, to vote, to contribute, to rally and more are telling you to take action now, because if you don’t, the angry extremists will not only empty your house of all you hold dear; they will take your entire house and your lawn chair, too.

We are in this terrible fix, where millions believe huge volumes of stupid stuff, including “1776 Returns,” where violence is declared to be okay in pursuit of what they individually and delusionally want, this at the expense of all the rest of us. The angry extremists are doing to our country the kinds of cruelties and injustices that King George III did and against which our Founders rebelled. Worse, our criminal faux-patriot wannabees are going to have their way, taking all your stuff and your house, unless you get off that damn lawn chair.

Thomas Paine spoke to his contemporaries, imploring them to patriotism for their birthing nation. His words live on today, but be clear that they are not for the January 6 criminals or their millions of sympathizers, who try to usurp them. Paine’s words are for you and me.

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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

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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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The Best Way Forward

Reading time – 3:59; Viewing time – 6:28  .  .  .

Ronald Reagan is remembered for declaring the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” He first said that during the campaign for governor of California in 1965. It was and remains a pretty good directive.

The Democrats’ job now is to name the person most likely to win the November 2020 election and that won’t be accomplished with more circular firing squads like we’re witnessing in the debates.

Democrats have to stay focused on beating Trump, not on beating up one another. They diminish their case to the American people with nit-picky carping about whose program is a smidgen better, not only because of the discord it sows, but also because that in-the-weeds talk makes everyone’s eyes glaze over.

And Democrats, wise up about extreme plans. The word “radical” seems to evoke sensations of power for many on the left, but radical ain’t gonna sell in the general election. Even the Wall Street Journal has warned how self-defeating extreme lefty stuff is. So has Bret Stevens at the New York Times. Stop giving the election to Trump.

So, candidates, state your case (not the negatives about other candidates) and prepare to beat the snot out of Trump. Thou shalt not speak ill of any Democrat.

That’s a campaign best way forward. Now it’s time to examine the key question of our time and the best way forward with it.

Long ago I had had enough. A bellyful. It wasn’t just the outrages and the spewing of hate and the non-stop assault on reality and truth. It wasn’t just the flicking off of our allies and the cozying up to tyrants and murderers, or the denial of science and intelligence itself. It was the blatantly illegal stuff that came into plain sight. That’s when the line was permanently crossed.

I was right there: impeach the criminal bastard. Then I thought about it some more and the issue wasn’t quite that clear or simple.

If Trump were successfully removed from office, Pence would become president and he’d pardon Trump and his family of all their federal crimes. Definitely not good.

If Pence were to become president we would have a smarmy, self-righteous bible thumper telling lies in the Oval Office every afternoon following attempts at gay conversions in the Reflecting Pool in the mornings. Definitely not good.

If Trump were impeached in the House but protected by the spineless Republican Senate that has completely lost its true conservative way, that would give him a flag to wave to help him get re-elected. Very definitely not good.

All of that and more are why the issue hasn’t been that clear. Here’s what is that clear now.

Trump has committed multiple felonies, has stonewalled the rule of law and has flagrantly assaulted the pillars of our democracy (scroll down to The Real Reason For Impeachment). This hasn’t been mere misdemeanor stuff; these are high crimes.

The House should start impeachment hearings – an investigation to determine if they should start formal impeachment proceedings. They should do that because it’s the right thing to do to protect our democracy and the rule of law, and because I don’t think our democracy can withstand another four years of Trump’s lawlessness and assaults on what we hold dear.

It will take months to go through all the material they can subpoena. If Trump and his team stonewall subpoenas, the courts will slap them down every time. Besides, if they stonewall, it will stretch out the process even longer so we can keep the wrongdoing of Trump and his crime family in public view all the way to election day. Think: Benghazi.

The Republican Congress held seven sequential hearings into the tragic events in Benghazi, each one repeating all the same information. They found absolutely no Hillary Clinton guilt or wrongdoing. But the Republicans kept her in the center of the bulls eye with shame-on-you fingers pointed at her and snarls of disgust super-glued to their faces for so long that the public forgot about her exoneration and just assumed she was guilty of something.

That’s what Ken Starr did to Bill Clinton. He investigated all things Clinton for over four years. All he accomplished legally was to catch him lying to avoid being found out an adulterer. But he did keep his shaming finger publicly pointed at Clinton all that time.

That’s what the Democrats in the House should do – non-stop investigation into all things Trump.

Let Trump and the Republicans hypocritically howl at the unfairness, the abuse of the system and all the rest of the (did I mention “hypocritical?”) whining they can conjure over an impeachment inquiry.

An impeachment inquiry is both the politically useful thing to do as well as the morally, Constitutionally right thing to do. You just can’t beat that combination.

So, I’ve evolved over this issue. From impeach to don’t impeach, now at the sensible middle ground of impeachment inquiry as the best way forward. File those contempt of Congress charges, Jerry Nadler, and let the subpoenas fly!

From the New York Times:

Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday, conceding that he could no longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration.

That is what a million people in the streets can do. It’s a critical step in creating the change you want to see. Maybe you belong in the streets demanding an impeachment investigation.

Late Addition

The third mass shooting of the week took place in El Paso, TX on Saturday. The young gunman with an AK-47 assault rifle killed and injured dozens of shoppers in a mall.

94% of Americans want there to be required background checks for the sale of all firearms and a large percentage of us want a ban on assault weapons and extended magazines. Meanwhile, our politicians steadfastly refuse to take any action whatsoever. The good news is that our politicians have an inexhaustible supply of thoughts and prayers to spew ineffectively.

Once again the murderer in a U.S. mass shooting is a white supremacist. We ignore those guys at our peril and instead focus on Muslim extremists.

“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.” – Eric Hoffer. Thanks to M.G. for the quote.

Clearly, the best way forward is to start to deal with the real problem – angry white guys – and stop blaming others. That shouldn’t take enlightened leadership, but in the U.S. today, it will. Find and elect those people.

Final thought:
As on 9/11, thousands of people were running out of the Cielo Vista Mall fleeing the threat of imminent death. Our first responders – police, fire, EMTs and the rest – ran into those buildings to save lives. They did what every cell in their bodies told them not to do and they did it for you and me.

Go thank a first responder.


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

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