totalitarianism

It’s a Free Country


The Jewish Democratic Council of America posted a list of what Congress must do if we are to preserve our democracy. These steps aren’t attached to any party or any religion. They are exclusively about keeping and protecting democracy – the real deal, not the cruel charade that Republicans are making of it by trying to limit voting to White Christian men.

Every one of these items must be done or we will knowingly, intentionally inscribe the name of our country on a plaque. It will hang on an obscure wall off The Great Hall in The Failures of Hope for Humanity Museum. Our failure will lead school children millennia from now to gaze at that plaque and shake their heads in sorrow and dismay. They will wonder how we could have been so petty, so lazy and so foolish as to squander this best hope.

Here’s the list.

  1. Demand Congress pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which together represent a sweeping election reform agenda that would prevent gerrymandering, restrict dark money in politics, and strike down voter suppression laws;
  2. Urge Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would establish crucial checks on executive power and prevent the presidential abuse we saw during the Trump administration;
  3. Support DC statehood and call on the Senate to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act and grant Washington D.C and Puerto Rico the opportunity to become states, which would give political representation to more than 4 million Americans, a majority of whom are people of color;
  4. Support the continued work of the January 6 commission, which aims to uncover the truth of what happened during the insurrection and hold its organizers responsible; and
  5. Call on all elected officials of all political parties to reject and publicly denounce the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. [emphasis original]

If anyone claiming to love democracy has a problem with any of this, just know that, like those school children so many years from now, I will shake my head in sorrow and dismay and I will wonder how any of us could be so petty, so lazy and so foolish.

We like being able to say what we want to say, do what we want to do and believe what we want to believe. We fortify ourselves with the simple declaration, “It’s a free country.” That’s “free” as in rights, not cost. That’s what the Founders intended, with very explicit clarity and direction for we who follow after them. No kings or autocrats or despots for us. No trampling of individual rights. The Founders’ choices and the reasons for their choices were and remain brilliantly clear.

If we fail our country now and let democracy perish, everything they risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create, as well as all we hold dear today, will vanish, because this will no longer be a free country. Instead, all of that freedom will be replaced by the forcing on We The People the beliefs, lies and punitive laws orchestrated by autocrats. We will no longer be free to say, do and believe as we want. You know the historical and present day examples, so you know that this is how it always works when the strongman, the power hungry, the manipulators take over.

Be clear about what must be done to save and preserve our democracy. It’s listed above. And emblazon in your heart this quote borrowed from Gene Kranz, Mission Director of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon:

“Failure is not an option.”
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Apollo 13 Service Module showing catastrophic damage

It wasn’t an option for those three astronauts whom our scientists and engineers successfully brought back alive and unharmed. And it isn’t an option for us today.

Overcoming all the lies and distortions that are so effective at undermining our democracy is a daunting challenge. Millions of otherwise good Americans have been conned into believing that bad is good and that threats, violence and gaming the political system are fine and honest things. They think they’re the patriots. The constant stream of lies and distortions they’re fed convinces them of that, which is why they are so impassioned in their efforts to destroy our democracy.

Just when you thought that the extremist’s low couldn’t get any lower, read this from Common Cause:

“A Waukesha County Circuit Judge has banned absentee ballot drop boxes in the entire state. That forces all Wisconsinites to vote in person – even during a pandemic – or hope that their ballot arrives on time in the mail.” [emphasis original]

Clearly, we’re not doing a good job of stopping the radical right from its selfish pursuit of money and power. We’re this close to them tossing our democracy into a dumpster, lighting it on fire and replacing it with their minority rule. If we are to save our We The People democracy we need new thinking, new ideas and fresh, out-of-the-stodgy-old-box notions.

An anti-democracy Republican spouting anti-American rhetoric. Click the pic and be appalled.

Required Reading

Tom Friedman has offered just such a path. Read his piece on how to keep our democracy.

And read this, just in case you thought that Republicans aren’t out to eliminate our democracy. They’ve been working to do just that for decades. Recall the words of Paul Weyrich, Republican hate monger and cheat, these from 1980. Click the pic to the right to hear him promote the crushing of our rights that continues to be Republican dogma today. 42 years later the only thing that has changed is that Republicans are now much better at lying and undermining our rights and our values.

Cops

It’s an inherently dangerous job, but cops aren’t dying in the biggest numbers due to violent drug busts. Or due to cop killers or gang member drive-by’s or traffic stops gone bad. Not from heart attacks, strokes or cancer. Read the caption in this screenshot:

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL 10th) is a former cop and was Chief of Police in Orlando. She knows something about the dangers of the job. Turns out the biggest cop killer in 2021 was COVID. It was the biggest killer in 2020, too.

It’s a good thing this is a free country, where cops and the citizens they protect have the freedom to refuse to be vaccinated, then get sick, infect others and die.

Hospitals are overrun with COVID patients, about 97% of whom are there because they were unvaccinated and caught the virus. Likely, 95% of the unvaccinated COVID patients in hospital wouldn’t be there had they been exposed to the virus after being vaccinated. Things would be much different then.

We’d have plenty of empty beds in hospitals for you when you get into that car crash, or for your spouse who slips, falls and breaks a leg, or for grandpa when he has a stroke and for your daughter when she needs an emergency appendectomy. Instead, today all of those folks can just go home and hope for the best, because not only are all the hospital beds full, but all of the gurneys in the hallways are full, too. And the nurses and docs attending to that overload of patients are exhausted and burned out, all because of our unvaccinated fools, including unvaccinated cops.

Q: Why are the right and the far right and the way-out far right fighting vaccines, masks, mandates and they’re promoting lies about vaccine dangers and COVID hoaxes?

A. Prolonging the pandemic slows economy recovery which makes Democrats look bad, which enhances Republican candidacies. Same for cutting all family support programs. Same for voting obstruction. Tell me again how righties love Americans, because I can’t remember.

That rugged individualism, that “You can’t tell me what to do” attitude works if you’re young, strong, healthy and have no sick family members needing expensive help. Otherwise, not so much. When it hits the fan for those folks, those same rugged individuals will be able sit homeless in their refrigerator boxes and hug their Ayn Rand books, recalling the good old days before they were no longer young, strong and healthy.

Finally,

Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca. He was shocked, too. Click the pic.

You have to listen to Mitch McConnell’s tantrum in response to President Biden’s blistering speech challenging those who are attacking our democracy. McConnell’s blathering is a tutorial in Republican snow jobs.

He does what Republicans, Trumpies, insurrectionists and hate mongers always do: instead of focusing on the issues, he made ad hominem attacks; he projected Republican failures and lies onto Biden; he was outraged over what is not outrageous; he misrepresented actual, Earth-based reality umpteen different ways; and he completely chickened out of dealing with the real issues. I’m shocked, shocked! to find obfuscation is going on by Republicans.

Go ahead. Listen to that duplicitous, manipulating zombie and learn.

Then read Eugene Robinson’s critique, McConnell’s defense of the filibuster is pure hypocrisy.

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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


Existential


Steve Bannon told us long before the 2016 election that he wants to “tear it all down,” meaning the administrative state. That includes our Constitution, democracy, learning and wisdom and the institutions that uphold our moral foundation. He wants it all blown up.

He is a nihilist, a hater of authority and a manufacturer of chaos and hatred. I have no interest in understanding his deep and profoundly debilitating daddy issues that drive him to create destruction, because doing so is useless to the critical task at hand. What is important is to recognize how impactful Bannon is and has been to Trump becoming the first American dictator and what that means to us.

Trump used Bannon first to get himself elected, then to convert the presidency into a money machine for Trump. Neither of them has even a consciousness, much less a concern for all who get crushed by their maniacal, mentally ill lust for ever more power and money. And, of course, Trump has used hundreds of sycophantic goons to subvert every agency of all three branches of government, demonstrating just how easy it is to get people to sell out and be manipulated for what they think are self-serving reasons. Even with regular examples dangled in their faces they just can’t seem to get it into their heads that they themselves will be next to be fed into Trump’s guillotine.

Many of us want to preserve our democracy and don’t agree with the 20% of Americans who are both Trump followers and who think violence is justified in order for them to get their way. That leaves us with critical challenges, chief among which is to answer the question, “What are you going to do about it?”

One option is to give in to the threats. History is teeming with examples of people cowed into submission by the threat or use of force. That means that they willfully made themselves serfs without rights, just pawns to be played and sacrificed for the benefit of the bullies. It’s understandable how fear could make people allow that, but if we do that we invite the despotism the bullies seek to create and which you and I don’t want.

In a recent webinar presented by The Atlantic one of the topics discussed was how to deal with millions of our fellow citizens who accept accusations that are completely untethered to any facts and who reject out of hand any observable evidence that counters their beliefs. The point made by the experts is that we don’t have an option of changing such peoples’ minds because they are set in concrete. They are impervious to all information that doesn’t support their predetermined certainties, so we must do things to appeal to those who have at least one foot on real ground if we are to protect our democracy.

I don’t have confidence in the Democrats’ willingness to face reality and do what needs to be done. Test my lack of confidence by listing all the times in a week you hear or see any Democrat directly and specifically unmasking the insurgents, the liars, the cheats and the haters. Include the times that you see the bad guys get punished for doing things like Lauren Bobert’s attack on Muslims and the White supremacist, anti-Semitic statements of Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene and the homicidal representatives with their AR-15 Christmas cards. Where are the smack downs of Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz? Add up all the incidents of push back to the crazies that you find in a week. I’m betting that the number on your list will be zero or very close to it. I’m afraid that we just can’t count on the Dems to do the right and necessary things – yet.

But what if we can turn up the heat on them?

We need people who will primary our confrontation avoiding senators and representatives. We need those people to be on the fiery point of the arrow aimed at the Trump conspiracy to end our nation. We need people who will organize giant protest marches in the streets of our towns and cities. We need people to show up at the protests and demand justice be visited on the law breakers and that democracy be assured for We The People. We need people to canvas door to door and encourage the non-voters to show up because that’s in their own best interests and because they’re screwed if they don’t.

We need you and I to get up off our BarcaLoungers and make noise. Lots of noise. We need for us to show up at protests and put lawn signs out front where the neighbors will see them. We need to write opinion pieces online and in local and regional newspapers (where they still exist). We need us to call into online talk shows and blast back against the hypocrites and haters so that other listeners might have their eyes cracked open just a bit. We need to go to town hall meetings and smack down the smack of the violent ones.

We need people who will challenge every calm and reasonable approach to our crisis of democracy, because those calm and reasonable tactics are powerless to stop an authoritarian coup backed by 20 million armed people who believe violence is okay. Doubt that? Grab your history book and read about Nazi Germany in the 1930s – and no, that isn’t hyperbolic and yes, it’s an apt comparison. We are in that kind of danger.

This is no thought experiment. This is existential – an actual life and death battle for democracy. Steve Bannon and the rest of the bad guys say they want to tear it down. I say, “Not on my watch.”

What do you say?

475

That’s the number the Associated Press published in an illuminating examination of our bemoaned, hallucinatory plague of voting fraud.

They looked at the 2020 election votes in the six so-called battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where 25.5 million votes were cast. The total of all suspicious votes (like people voting for dead relatives) reported by those states was just 475. That’s 0.00186% of the total vote.

President Biden’s cumulative margin of victory in those states was 311,257, which places the suspicious votes at 0.15% of the margin. Even if all those sketchy votes actually were fraudulent and even if all of them were added to Trump’s vote count in just one battleground state (pick one, any one), they still wouldn’t come close to making a difference in the outcome.

Some of us think that there is a firm reality that can be counted upon, like gravity, verifiable facts and counting. The rest aren’t interested in reality. For them, it’s evidence, schmevidence. So, sadly, nobody’s views will be modified even a little by the AP reporting. Such is the state of our political trench warfare and the failures of education to overcome primitive beliefs. Turns out we really aren’t much beyond beating drums in the jungle.

And Just For Fun

Thanks go to SS for the pointer.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Little


Note: This is the promised follow up to last Sunday’s post. JA

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Anyone who is watching can see the naked assaults and the unscrupulous dismantling of American democracy. Everywhere, the angry little people are attacking our institutions, taking away our rights and freedoms, keeping power for themselves and replacing all that we hold dear with rule by an anti-democratic minority.

This frightened savagery of little men and little women with little intellect and little vision, club their way through democracy, beating primitive drums to frighten the people and destroying all that is in their path to ever-more power and money for themselves.

Truth has no place in their little world. It has been completely replaced by propaganda, by projections of their own failings onto others and by yet more cruel lies layered upon the carcasses of prior lies. They do this with their faux patriotism and their shams about freedom and independence. The smallness of these little people leads them to constantly scheme to create control over others’ bodies, minds and lives in their conspiracy mania to control We The People.

From Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

And that is exactly how democracies die: gradually, then suddenly. In case you have difficulty seeing the assaults on our own democracy, just look to the recent histories of other countries like Hungary, Russia, Turkey, the Philippines and elsewhere. They’re just a little further down the road to despotism. Here’s the really bad news about that:

Right now we are at a moment of inflection, a tipping point, between gradually and suddenly.

We suffer from a good but distracted populace, too myopic and stressed to notice much of what is beyond their daily lives. If we are to prevent the sudden fall, the crash that breaks everything, we must open the eyes of everyone to the truth and reality of the danger before us and we must then marshal our forces to push back the little people who would bring us tyranny.

Truly, this is a Thomas Paine moment.
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“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
.

The bugle has sounded. It’s time for us to stand by our country and by We The People.

You know what to do to stop the little men and the little women of little intellect and little vision from destroying our democracy.* Look at the graphic below and you’ll realize that the countdown is relentless and that there is no time to waste. It’s time to grab your metaphorical musket, report for duty and stand a post for democracy.

Required
A photo of a crowd with a MAGA hat in the foreground and people standing on scaffolding with a Second Amendment flag and Trump banner in front of the smoke-obscured U.S. Capitol

January 6, 2021 – A day which will live in infamy

A lot of people are investigating threats to our democracy, most notably the members of the House January 6 Commission. They’re interviewing, issuing subpoenas and referring refusers for criminal prosecution. Likely, their report is almost a year away.

Other well informed people have plenty to say and you’re in luck, because some experts are convening on the 13th and you can watch this must-see event. From The Atlantic:

The January/February issue of The Atlantic is devoted to examining the crisis of American democracy.

Join Jeffrey Goldberg, along with Pulitzer-winning staff writers Barton Gellman and Anne Applebaum, on Monday, December 13 at 11 a.m. ET for a virtual event revisiting the Capitol riot, one year later. Register for free.

Here’s a link to the cover story of the January/February issue, Trump’s Coup Has Already Begun, and here’s a link to another piece, The Election That Could Break America. Like the virtual event, both of these pieces are a must.

Many thanks to LP for the heads up.

Finally

This can all feel overwhelming and unstoppable, but just in time the right message has arrived.

“December 7, 1941 – A day which will live in infamy” – FDR

Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on our naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field in Hawaii. 90-year-old Dan Rather has some things to say about that. He was 10 years old then and today passes to us some wisdom from his father and from his own experiences. He concludes his piece, writing,

“I call upon those memories many times to return me to equilibrium. Especially on this day. December 7. A day that not only lives in infamy, but a day that also spawned a repudiation of despair.”

So, step off the ledge. Come back inside. We’ll roll up our shirtsleeves and do what Americans did then, what we always do. And we’ll repudiate the despair we’ve felt so deeply.

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* I’m researching the best things for us to do to make sure those who would stab democracy in the heart are defeated. It’s often a confusing and even frustrating fight, because every cause seems to have a story and a hand extended toward your wallet. You want to do what will be most effective so that democracy wins, but you don’t know where to put your support. It’s just plain hard to divine where that is or what to do. If you have a suggestion, please pass it along. Meanwhile, expect a report soon. After all, the mid-terms will determine control of Congress and that election is just 335 days away.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Antipodean


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

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

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

The Economist reports that

Antipodean anti-vaxxers are learning from America’s far right
.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And That’s Related To

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

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

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

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

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

Finally

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

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

Nine Republican controlled states have banned school mask mandates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Freedom


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

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Freedom of Speech

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

                                                   Amendment I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-White Freedom

That’s an oxymoron.

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

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

The Courts and Freedom

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

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

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

The behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get.

People Need To Be Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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:
.
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.
.
Must Read
.

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
.

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.

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* Please see the comments below for more specific clarity.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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

Things Should Not Be This Way


I got to thinking about why I write these posts and came up with a few reasons. One is the hope to persuade others to value a point that seems to me to be important. Another is to inspire people to take action when it’s needed. Yet another, and likely my most important, is to try to understand for myself what seems to be chaotic, senseless and sometimes dangerous – to figure out why things are as they are instead of as they should be. Here are some examples.

Vaccine Refusal

In the 50s and 60s nobody questioned whether science was real or valuable. Indeed, in 1955, many Americans had an especially deep respect for science. In those days there was a panic over kids contracting polio and winding up in iron lung machines, so when Dr. Jonas Salk came up with a vaccine, there weren’t parents refusing it. They just got their kids vaccinated and the polio epidemic ended. Cheers for science and reality. And parents.

Years later Dr. British Quack came along and claimed that vaccines cause autism. His claims were investigated and immediately debunked – repeatedly – yet a lot of parents continue to believe Dr. British Quack and they refuse to get their kids protected from potentially killer diseases. What happened to our belief in science and objective reality?

And yes, everything is subjective, except those things that can be proven with observable facts (you remember those, right?). That’s the stuff of objective reality and people are rejecting it. Things shouldn’t be this way.

Here’s another example

This is from STAT:

They shared their expertise on Covid-19. Then the threats began to come
.

Death threats. Racist and sexist abuse. Photos of hanged corpses. These are some of the responses scientists get after speaking out about Covid-19, a Nature survey of 321 scientists in seven countries reports.

Click through and read the report. People have switched to full-on Insane Mode. They’d rather that millions die than be vaccinated. They prefer that to facing up to objectively provable reality. That intentional not-knowing and its rage are not okay and they’re extremely dangerous, even lethal.

Note that opposition to vaccines goes back to the early 1800s and claims of abridged freedom are a constant. What’s new is the violence. Things shouldn’t be this way.

Conspiracy Hoaxes

Why do some people still believe that our moon landings were frauds created on a Hollywood sound stage? There is objective proof of our moon landings that’s just a look through a telescope away in order to see the flags and other things we left there. But the disbelievers don’t do that. They just spew conspiracies. Things shouldn’t be this way

Sandy Hook really happened. So did the Holocaust. So did cruel, miserable slavery and no, the slaves weren’t happy little minstrels, grateful for their masters’ beneficence. The wilful fools spewing crap to the contrary are, well, spewing crap. Things shouldn’t be this way either.

The Big Lie

I’ve been warning about The Big Lie since Trump was elected. It was my failure that I didn’t recognize it when George W. Bush and Darth Cheney were lying about WMDs. I also failed to tag Newt Gingrich’s insanity during the Clinton years. There’s nothing new about Big Lies, as any student of the work of Joseph Goebbels and Hitler can tell you. Now we have one worthy of those maniacs.

The 2020 election was the cleanest on record. It’s been investigated repeatedly and there was no fraud. Nothing was stolen. This has been established with observable facts. So, why are people ignoring the reality?

Facts no longer seem to matter to millions of Americans. Accusations alone are now perfect proof for them. There’s a perverse logic they use that says if they don’t get their way then someone cheated them – the system was rigged. If they say the Covid vaccines have killed more people than the disease itself and are then presented facts to the contrary, they just claim that the facts are a pack of lies. No grounding in reality is necessary for them.

There are dishonest arguments made up, on the spot to counter any unwelcome fact. It’s coming from politicians, radio blabbers, angry parents at school board meetings, irate citizens at town hall meetings, unhinged hate callers to scientists and, importantly, from the Fox News and One America News liars.

The hate is coming from politicians who refuse to condemn racism, anti-semitism and more. It comes from weasel-word politicians who know full well that the election wasn’t stolen, but who exercise their well developed inner coward, which allows The Big Lie to fester and grow. And it comes from angry Americans who love to hate. No, things should not be this way.

Distortions

In a recent post, No, Australia Is Not Actually An Evil Dictatorship, journalist Van Badham details the offshore bad actors fomenting false rage and posting photo-shopped propaganda pieces in his country. He ends his essay with this:

After all, Australia’s lockdowns, masks and social distancing have kept total nationwide deaths from the virus under 1,500. With its slightly smaller population, Florida — over which Governor DeSantis presides — has lost 57,000 already. It’s that cold reality the propaganda, lurid and outlandish and ridiculous, seeks to banish. But it can’t.

This is but one example of the distortions so easily made by those who would gladly scramble your brain in their bid for power and self-puffery. The internet makes that easy, whether you’re in Austin or Australia. But why should we have to wade through online lies to understand truth? Why should we feel at risk for simply embracing reality? Things should not be this way.

Occasionally Intelligent

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was interviewed on Jake Tapper’s program last Sunday. In the face of Arkansas’ current half a dozen required vaccines for school children, he was asked whether the soon-to-be-approved COVID vaccine for children ages 5 – 11 should be mandated in his state. He said this isn’t the time for that, adding some contorted logic to support his statement.

What he left unsaid is the obvious true reason, that doing so will cause him to lose his job in the next election. I yelled at the TV, asking how many more kids have to die before it will be the right time. What is the tipping point at which dead kids are worth more than his career?

Asa Hutchinson occasionally seems intelligent and says the right thing. This isn’t one of those times.

Things should not be this way.

Power

Millions want to put people in power whose only interest is to have power. The millions mindlessly, ragefully cheer the power grabbers, even though the usurpers will soon steal their independence and personal power. This has happened so many times in so many places over so many centuries that it is historically obvious. And don’t imagine that American exceptionalism will prevent us from plummeting down into that swamp. We aren’t exceptional enough for that.

I’ve told myself that writing about these posts is my part, the way I contribute. That’s great, but who will unite us to stop the theft of our democracy, stop the glorification of rage and hate and who will hold the lamp to light the way to the clarity we so desperately need in order to quiet the chaos and self-destruction?

As I said, I write to make sense of what seems to be chaotic, senseless and sometimes dangerous – to figure out for myself why things are as they are instead of as they should be. I don’t have answers for the big questions. We need someone who does.

I’m losing hope. The red, white and blue I’ve loved, the place for which I’ve had stars in my eyes all my life, is fading so very quickly. If we fail to counter this craziness, soon this will be just a hollow shell of boisterous bravado and vigilante violence that has no more value than something meekly going “poof”.

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

So Many Crises, So Little Time


Fiddle (or golf) while America burns?

The vast majority of Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired.¹ ² We’re sick of the things about which we disapprove and we’re tired of them being tolerated. We’re sick of disrespect everywhere we look and tired of fighting it. We’re sick of self-righteousness and tired of its mob. We’re sick of assaults on what we hold dear and tired of those attacks being countenanced. We’re sick of selfishness and tired of hoping for something better. We’re sick of helplessness and tired of despair. We’re sick of attacks on our democracy and tired of finding yet more vicious attacks on it.

And all of this is happening as we are besieged by impatient crises that simply cannot wait.

The pandemic

The horrendous wealth gap and the misery of our poor and middle class people

Attacks on civil rights and voting rights

The obvious and looming climate crisis

Our decrepit infrastructure and lack of preparedness for the future

Our incendiary immigration dysfunction

The idiotic, dishonest Republican brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. See the graphic to the right, courtesy of JN.

The crises pile atop one another and we get only partisan warfare instead of serious action – and we tolerate that. In short, we’ve stopped believing in ourselves. This is how democracies die.

The drumbeat of the daily report of Covid infections and deaths has faded into elevator music that we no longer hear. After all, “just” 1,625 people are dying of it every day and it isn’t you or someone you knew, unless you know more than 500 people. Its easy not to feel it.

The mobs that swarm our state capitols and the thugs who make death threats against public officials and volunteers at polling places are remote and impersonal for over 99% of us, so it’s easy to fail to react. Besides, all of that has become background noise because of a perverse familiarity.

Congress has been set in rigor mortis for decades, with intransigence the norm, as the system is gamed. We’re desperate for leadership that is worthy of our trust. Disappointingly, our politicians have proven to be mere humans after all, focused on self-interest first, last and always.

Nero Destruction Award – NOT a Trump non-disclosure agreement

Absurdly, our search for better brought us Donald Trump, the most totally self-interested of all. Indeed, the fires burning our democracy had been smoldering for decades, yet Trump golfed and, to complete the metaphor, continues to throw gasoline on those fires. He was and is worthy of a Nero Destruction Award.

We have millions who believe that cheating is not only acceptable, but that it is good, that the end justifies the dishonest means. They believe that “Don’t tread on me” and that “.  .  .  the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants”³ are calls to arms against fellow citizens, and all the while they believe they are the true patriots. There is nothing so destructive as a holy war and that’s what they think they’re waging.

All of that angers and either energizes or deflates us. But wallowing in our being sick and tired of being sick and tired simply isn’t an acceptable option. We either do what needs to be done or both we and this democracy will be interred in permanent despair.

We Have a Democracy To Save

That is, by far, our most urgent need, the crisis that overwhelms them all. And it can’t wait another moment, because if we fail to stand and be counted in this challenge, the other crises will soon look quite small.

We distract ourselves with our sports. They’re our modern gladiatorial contests. We exhaust our powers of attention on the trivialities of Facebook and designer eyebrows and Britney Spears and pointless Zoom calls and deleting emails and washboard abs and more. But those all-too-abundant dilutions of our focus are what allow for the destruction of our democracy.

Thomas Paine

So many crises, so little time, yet be clear that we have to focus on the overriding issue, the most important and most urgent: saving our democracy. Both history and the future of our children require that we set aside our distractions and rise to this occasion.

We start by ensuring voting rights for all, fairly accepted and impartially implemented as the will of We the People. That’s why those two voting rights acts need to be passed into law immediately.

“`These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls.” Again.

Resources – a Wake Up Call

I’m no Democrat — but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy, by Max Boot

We are Republicans With a Plea: Elect Democrats in 2022, by Christine Todd Whitman and Miles Taylor

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

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here. by Robert Kagan

Anything by Anne Applebaum

How Democracies Die, by Sam Levitsky and Daniel Zieblatt

How Fascism Works, by Jason Stanley

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

How the South Won the Civil War, by Heather Cox Richardson (on recommendation – in my reading queue now)

How Far Down the Road Towards Fascism Has America Gone?, by Thom Hartmann

I Know This Is Crazy, But Maybe We Should Live Under Majority Rule, by Jamelle Bouie

September 27 Twitter thread by Mark Jacob

IMPORTANT: Book links to Amazon are for informational purposes only. Please see Note #4 below.

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¹ From the Merriam-Webster dictionary: thoroughly fatigued or bored; also: fed up

² As quoted from Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH and candidate for governor.

³ Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Stephens Smith, son-in-law of John Adams, 1787.

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

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

This is a proud JaxPolitix moment, as we have officially received our first vile, disgusting and politically inane troll message.

To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

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

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

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