totalitarianism

Mom


Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and the home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry. That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.

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Finally,

New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering economists or law professors or self-serving politicians) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (daily 9/11s, a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses, employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Absolute Power


Reading time – 4:36  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Thinking About Long Term Ramifications


Reading time – 4:33; Viewing time – 7:08  .  .  .

Ed. note: Read to the end – there are two treats waiting for you there.

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First, a heads up.

I talked with a woman who is involved with supply at our local hospital. I offered supplies I have on hand, including a handful of masks and a couple of large boxes of vinyl exam gloves. She said that they are in the process of setting up a receiving station for donations and will be posting on their website what their needs are expected to be. It’s not too big of a leap to expect that all 6,146 hospitals in the country will need that kind of help. So, call your local hospital or clinic or look at their website and find out what they need. You just might have it.

As this woman told me,

“We can see the train is coming fast and we’re still laying tracks.”

If they are going to be able to help others – perhaps even you – they need our help NOW. Pick up the phone.

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Everyone is stressed both by the immediate changes in our lives due to the coronavirus and by the unknown that seems to be all around us. It certainly is waiting for us up ahead.

I’ve been thinking about possible longer term ramifications of this pandemic on levels beyond our day-to-day lives. There are a lot of areas to explore and right now I want to have a look at how some might exploit this upheaval-by-pandemic for their own benefit and to the detriment of us.

First to come to mind is Donald Trump. Given that his sole focus is on what is good for himself, I can easily imagine him using this national emergency to cancel the general election in November and make himself king. Congress and the courts are going to have to grow a spine in order to stop such an outright theft of America and I have my doubts about whether they’re up to it. Trump-Republican legislators have shown conclusive proof that aren’t capable of the task and we have to wonder if the Trump-stuffed Supreme Court would would have the courage to decide against him. Trump has toyed with this idea of never leaving office and that was before there was a pandemic he could use as an excuse.

Next on the list is Russia. I don’t know what Vladimir Putin might try, but he’s all about self-enrichment and restoring his country to USSR status on the world stage (read: ego puffing). His methodology doesn’t much include growing Russia or the welfare of his people, but instead he’s all about taking down other countries. It’s the classic inferiority-complex bully tactic – making someone else less-than in order to be on top. Perhaps he’ll have Russian tanks invade neighboring countries while we’re weak. There’s nothing new about Russia doing that sort of thing. Maybe he’ll extort European countries by withholding Russian gas and oil next winter. I’m not clear what he might do to take down western democracies including the U.S., other than stealing elections using his cyber thugs, but I bet he is.

China is entirely about world domination and the U.S. is both its biggest obstacle and its easiest tool. They will come out of the pandemic months before the U.S. with a billion and a half workers who are healthy, hungry and subservient to their manipulative, diabolical government. China has issued government subsidies to help Chinese companies under-price American goods and they took over 3.7 million jobs from the U.S. just since 2001. Plus they’re holding $1.1 trillion of U.S. debt, about a quarter of our total foreign debt. That’s a lot of leverage. Would they crack down on Hong Kong or swallow Taiwan during America’s time of weakness? As with Russia, I’m not clear what they might do to harm others for their benefit, including harming the U.S., but I’m confident President Xi is.

What about North Korea? The coming months might be just the time when Kim will make a move on South Korea to annex it, to create “One Korea,” knowing that the U.S. is only hobbling along in a weakened state and can’t or won’t do much about it.

Here are the key questions:

  1. Who in our government is thinking about such things? Given the bumbling, reactionary, transactional nature of this administration, is anyone thinking strategically and beyond next Thursday?
  2. Are there plans on the shelf to deal with these threats and are they up to date? If not, who will do something about that and when?
  3. Will anyone pull the trigger on these plans if one outcome of doing so is unfavorable to Trump’s personal welfare (e.g. no Trump Tower-Moscow)?

Who and what else do you think might be in position to seize advantage over the U.S. in the next 1 – 3 years? Put your notions in the Comments section to help us all see clearly.


Now, a Long Term Ramifications Mini-Feature

There’s something about we human beings that, whatever the issue, we typically don’t really get it until it’s relatable to us personally.

So it was for Pharaoh enduring the plagues, Exodus tells us. He wasn’t motivated until the 10th plague, the slaying of the firstborn, which took his own son. Then it was personal enough for him. That’s when he got it.

That same inability to get it without feeling a personal impact is with us today.

Mark and Heaven Frilot of Kenner, LA weren’t much moved by claims from our medical community of the coming and rapidly spreading pandemic and many in their town scoffed at warnings, believing them to be just political ploy. They did that right up to the moment when Mark wound up in the hospital and was diagnosed with COVID-19. He hasn’t been able to breathe on his own since then and friends and colleagues are wondering if contact with him has caused them to be infected. Heaven and her neighbors aren’t scoffing at the virus now, but it had to come up close and personal for them to really get it.

As the author of the report about Mark and Heaven Frilot writes, “Crises are political only until they are personal.” And people scoffing and refusing to believe the experts until they themselves are touched by this disease will inevitably be cavalier or worse about transmission. Their flip disregard will make it spread faster and farther. This age of disbelief in science, learning, experts and provable fact is fertile ground for enormous suffering and unnecessary death. And that’s a very long term ramification.

You can  read the full story about the Frilots here.

* From Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889):

“Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.”


Finally, from the “I wish I were making this up” file  .  .  .

At his press conference on Monday, March 23 President Trump explained that George Washington kept two desks and implied that one was used to run his personal business, the other for Presidential duties. He compared himself to Washington and whined that nobody complained about what Washington did.

Then he reminded everyone for the umpteenth time that he has refused the presidential salary and whined yet again that no one has thanked him for doing that.

In other words, in a time of worldwide sickness and death and economic hardship, a time of disruption and fear when all in this nation are looking for leadership, someone to trust to have their welfare in his heart, someone with clarity to lead us out of this darkness, instead it’s all about Trump and how he’s a poor victim.

Yes, many of our governors and mayors are stepping up and providing wonderful leadership, but there are some things only the federal government can do. We need reason to have confidence that they’re being done to the very best of our ability as a nation. We’re still looking for that.

Leadership is a peculiar thing and it’s most necessary in times of crisis. If it doesn’t show up soon, what are the long term ramifications of that?


P.S. #1 – Read Elizabeth Warren’s requirements for the proposed government bailout. Then see P.S. #2.

P.S. #2 – From the “How Does This Make Sense?” file: Does it make any sense to you that Congress is preparing to spend $2 TRILLION of our money – I mean yours and mine – without so much as a single public hearing or floor debate? That everything is being done in secret? That 80% of Americans don’t trust or approve of the job performance of the very people working in dark corners to spend us into unfathomable debt? What are the long term ramifications of that?

P.S. #3 – How ’bout something to make you smile? In this time of great stress, watch this. It will brighten your day. Many thanks to JA for the tip. And for sure listen to Neil Diamond sing Sweet Caroline, adjusted for our current circumstances. You supply the descending “bum-bum-bum”.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What’s The Difference?


Reading time – 1:59  .  .  .

Following Amy Klobuchar’s announcement that she was dropping from the presidential nomination race and indicated that she intends to endorse Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders was asked for his reaction.

Reporter’s Question:

Are you concerned about the moderates consolidating behind Joe Biden?

Bernie Sanders:

Look, it is no secret. I mean, the Washington Post has 16 articles a day on this. That there is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That’s not a secret to anybody in this room.  The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.

His answer gives us insight into Sanders, perhaps in ways he did not intend. Here are three points:

  1. He talked about himself in the third person. It’s a demagogue’s self-serving construct used to promote himself, this time posing as a poor victim. Apparently, we’re supposed to feel sorry for him.
  2. He cites imagined action by “the corporate establishment” and “the political establishment” as though there is an agreed definition of who “they” are and what “they” are doing. His claim that “they” will “do everything” is suggestive that those “others” will cheat, lie and do whatever bad stuff “they” would do, all this without any evidence whatsoever.
  3. He claims (without evidence) that “they” are “really getting nervous because working people are standing up.” In that one claim he makes up motivation out of nothing. He makes it sound like efforts to stop Bernie are the same as efforts to suppress working people, all this without evidence. In addition, he makes “working people” victims, promoting an us-versus-them construct.

What is scary about all this is these are exactly the things that Donald Trump does all the time.

We’ve complained about and been sickened by the divisiveness Trump creates and the painting of some as hocus-pocus enemies, like “fake news” and the “deep state,” whatever that is.

We’ve become weary of the demonizing of “others” that separates us, too, yet here’s Bernie, the front runner for Democrats, and he’s just as manipulative as Trump.

Pete Buttigieg was right at the last debate, saying that a battle between Sanders and Trump would be nothing but chaos. Worse, regardless of who would win such a contest, our norms, our decency and our democracy would be torn down.

Far right or far left – is there a difference to us which extremism we dump on ourselves?

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Enough is Enough


Reading time – 1:56  .  .  .

(Jack is standing behind the island counter in his kitchen. A sunny back yard is seen through the windows behind him. He pumps his right arm up and down for emphasis as he speaks.)

We’ve heard this socialist, communist-sounding stuff for far too long.

Bernie keeps pushing free stuff as though it might really be free and as though he thinks that government is the best solution for every challenge. He constantly demeans our business people and companies as though all of them are criminals. As if that weren’t enough, now he’s singing the praises of Fidel Castro. If you were to craft a plan designed to disgust and repel the majority of American voters, you couldn’t concoct a better one.

In 2016 Donald Trump won the votes of millions of people, largely for two reasons:

  1. People were angry at government and Trump wasn’t a politician, so they hoped he would do better.
  2. And millions of people voted for him solely because he wasn’t Hillary.
→Bernie Sanders is in the process of driving millions of Americans to vote for Trump solely because he isn’t Bernie.

 

I’ve had it up to here (points to the bottom of his nose) with Bernie’s craziness and self-defeat.

I’m sick and tired (strong right arm pumping) of this extreme lefty nonsense. His radical base loves the power of his dark side, but most Americans don’t.

Like the people in Duluth, MN, Punxsutawney, PA and Kalamazoo, MI who don’t go for that stuff. Neither do people in Dayton, OH, El Paso, TX, Charlotte, NC, Flagstaff, AZ or Tallahassee, FL. This crazy, self-defeating nonsense has to stop. RIGHT NOW! (two arm pumps). ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! (two more arm pumps).

(Shift to camera two, 90° left. The background is dark and it’s difficult to make out details.)

Recently Bernie bragged,

“I’ve got news for the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment. They can’t stop us.”

He’s wrong.

The easy way for Republicans to stop Bernie is for him to be the Democratic nominee. Then Donald Trump will win and be President for four more years. No sane person could want that (awkward gesture, arms to both sides, palms up).

The are two ways for Democrats to stop this runaway, self-destructive Bernie train. The far lefties are energized to vote, so first, mobs of non-radical Democratic voters have to show up for their primaries and vote for a moderate, non-Bernie candidate. Given our pervasive national apathy toward elections (only about 30% of eligible voters participate in primaries), this simply cannot be the only strategy.

The second way is for at least 4 candidates to drop out of the race and throw their support to the remaining moderate candidate. Economics will cause some candidates to quit the race. Others will have to volunteer. Then those who leave the race must endorse the remaining moderate candidate. That will give us an electable nominee. Otherwise, Trump will win and democracy will die. The trade off is as stark and as simple as that.

There are 350,000,000 people in America and about 50% of them meet the qualifications to be President of the United States. I want this current group of candidates to prove to us that they are better than a random selection from our citizen pool. I want them to demonstrate to us that our democracy is more important than their ambitions.

I’m sick and tired (much arm pumping) of self-defeat.

WAKE UP, CANDIDATES and WAKE UP, AMERICA before it’s too late.

APPENDIX

Read the Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected at the end of the post linked here.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

How The Country Was Lost – in Retrospect


Reading time – 4:03  .  .  .

It started well before the 2016 election. It started with birtherism.

The formal start of Donald Trump’s campaign began with a vile slur against Mexican people coming to this country. That was the first clear indication of the torrent of hate mongering to come. It continued with his Muslim ban and all his racial, ethnic and religious dog whistles and outright verbal attacks, including his infamous Charlottesville “good people on both sides” slur.

His declaration that we need more immigrants from Norway made it clear that the only people who would be welcome immigrants would be white European Christians. His ongoing marginalization of minority populations powerfully served to divide and even polarize the citizens, which weakened opposition to Trump and continues to this day.

During the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged. He attacked the FBI, especially James Comey. Then he praised the FBI when Comey, announced – twice – the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails right before the election. When Trump won the election, oddly enough, the election was no longer rigged.

Not much later Trump resumed his back stabbing of Comey because he wouldn’t pledge fealty to Donald Trump, instead sticking with his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which included investigating Russian interference in the election. That’s when Trump declared that the FBI was both corrupt and demoralized because of corrupt, weak leadership and resumed his attacks on Comey, eventually firing him and demanding that he be investigated for some imagined wrongdoing. What is significant about all the criticism is the profound effect it had in undermining public confidence in government.

Over the next four years the attacks on government and the undermining of our institutions were constant, including attacks on the press as “fake news,” which had the effect of reducing people’s trust in those who hold public officials – like the President – accountable. He gutted the State Department, brutally criticized “the generals”, fired everyone who showed so much as a raised eyebrow of disagreement and installed Trump loyalists throughout his Cabinet. That many had been lobbyists for the industries they were now to monitor was a plus for Trump and his control.

The undermining of government was powerfully enforced through vitriolic verbal attacks, many scandalous accusations and a continuous tweet storm of rage. His angry supporters, roughly 38% of the population, loved it. His raised middle finger tantrums spoke for them and their sense of betrayal and their disgust with government. It was tolerated by many centrists because of weak, ineffectual opposition.

Republicans were terrified of crossing him because of his verbal attacks and the certainty that they would get “primaried,” the dynamic that prevented his removal from office following his impeachment. This is exactly how a minority wrests power from the majority.

During the impeachment proceedings numerous State Department and military people testified under subpoena, even though Trump had ordered all Executive Branch personnel to refuse to testify as part of his stonewalling of the investigation. His response following the Senate refusal to convict him was to fire all who had testified and even some who had not. That created a powerful deterrent to anyone who might otherwise speak up in the future, giving Trump complete power over them.

Only one more thing was needed to secure absolute power: control of the judiciary and the intelligence community, the departments of government that have the power to investigate him. After that, there would be no impediment left to stop Trump’s assuming total control of the country.

Trump installed William Barr to the post of Attorney General and Barr wasted no time in becoming the personal attorney for Trump, instead of for the nation. Most notably, when the Mueller Report was released to him, Barr quickly said that he had reviewed the entire document and released a summary, in which he claimed that the report exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing, including conspiring with the Russians.

When Barr at last released the report, it was found that he had redacted so much of the Mueller report that many of Barr’s lies about it couldn’t be fact checked immediately. What was checkable was that Mueller specifically did not exonerate Trump, nor clear him of colluding with the Russians. But Barr’s dishonest summary was out for weeks before the complete report was released and that delay controlled the narrative for Trump.

Later, Barr inserted himself into Justice Department investigations with the clear intent to protect Trump’s operatives and attack his opponents. Indeed, Barr instructed federal prosecutors that all new investigations had to get approval from him or his designee, giving himself the power to protect Trump. This is precisely the way all authoritarians operate, using the legitimate mechanisms of government to dismantle its protections against abuse.

The final act of wresting total control came when the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) reported to the appropriate committees of Congress about Russian interference in the 2020 election. Even though the briefings were federally mandated, Trump fired the DNI and replaced him with a completely inexperienced Trump loyalist. In addition, he fired other long serving Intelligence Agency personnel.

With that, Trump effectively had dictatorial control over all of government. That even gave him the power to declare a national emergency and use that to cancel the 2020 election.

And that, in shorthand, is how the country was lost.


Buy and read this book. Click on it.

Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected:
  1. In order to win the 2020 election, it must be – it must only be – a referendum on Trump. You must attack and continue to attack. You must never stop putting before the public his criminality, his racism, his cruelty (at every opportunity decry his putting children in cages), his attempts to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, his sell out of hard working Americans, his neutering of our national security in order to benefit Putin and the rest of his un-American outrages. Say it with me: UN-AMERICAN. Conservative and center-right voters see themselves as bedrock Americans, so this labeling of Trump will drive a wedge between them and the un-American president. Say it again: UN-AMERICAN.
  2. You must stop the circular firing squad. Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, you must obey the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Democrat. Don’t do Trump’s work for him. Ever.
  3. Of course the primary election is important, BUT, every word you say in the primary season can and will be used against you in the general election. So, if you want to win the general election – you’re going to hate this –  you must stop promoting far left policies and memes, regardless of how fervently you believe in them. That includes Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college tuition, erasing student debt, socialism, calling out to “brothers and sisters” and the rest. Promoting those things will ensure that you only get the votes you already have from your base. You’ll drive away all the other votes that you need in order to win in the general election and Donald Trump will be reelected. Stop pissing off the 78% of the electorate that doesn’t embrace those ideas, because you need their votes in order to win.
  4. Stop your wonkiness about policies altogether. You bore listeners (i.e. voters). Okay, your true believers love it and they cheer wildly and you puff up and ride a high with each cheer. Everyone else has changed the channel. In all debates and speeches, you must make every issue solely a referendum on Trump. Park your wonk on your desk and don’t go back to find it until the general election is over.
  5. Following the Milwaukee DNC convention when you’re the nominee, you must make the election solely a referendum on Trump. Refer to points #1 and #4 above for further clarification.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week.

Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families. Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.


Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book Running Against the Devil. It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Eulogy


*  *  *  BREAKING NEWS  *  *  *

 

The Senate of the United States has officially declared the Rule of Law to be dead. The declaration of death was ensured by an almost perfect party line vote.* The Secretary of the Senate has recorded the death certificate into the formal Senate historical record so that future generations will know the truth of what was done in order to help them to understand what caused their dire circumstances.

Mourners noted that the succumbing of the Rule of Law to the terminal illness of cowardice had long been predicted because of the absence of what should have been protecting it. Many had suspected rigor mortis at the upper levels of government for quite some time.

In an impressive impersonation of a potted plant, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, where the final battle for the Rule of Law took place. His black robes gave an air of dignity to the mostly tawdry affair.

Sadly, it was clear from the start that the black robes of the nation’s chief jurist, absent any action on his part to preserve and protect, weren’t up to the task of ensuring that the Rule of Law would endure. The task was made far more difficult by the efforts of the counsels for the defense to mask truth and even rewrite the Constitution. They went so far as to prevent pertinent evidence from being presented and declared that the President is above the law and is officially allowed to do whatever he wants to do. One Republican senator was overheard declaring to colleagues, “We don’ need no stinking laws on the President.”

Said one observer, “The Rule of Law had a long and fine run. It did what it was supposed to do most of the time and it has served us well. It seems, though, that the Senate has decided that we no longer need it and that we should revert to the divine right of kings and dictators. No telling how we’ll adjust to a Kim Jong Un type of autocrat.”

In lieu of flowers, mourners are invited to make contributions to Democratic candidates for the November election. They are further encouraged to secure promises from candidates that, once elected, they will resurrect the Rule of Law and restore it to its proper stature and function in our democracy, should our democracy still exist then.

  • * Note to Mitt Romney: The nation turned its lonely eyes to you, but try as you did, the job of saving the Rule of Law was too big for one man. Nevertheless, we honor you for your integrity and courage to do what is right. Perhaps in some distant future others will hear your call. For now, though, know that millions of Americans stand with you in the face of the threats and hatred thrown at you by people who just don’t understand.

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Profiles in Cowardice


Reading time – 3:47  .  .  .

Alan Dershowitz has never seen an opportunity for attention that he didn’t covet. He hasn’t exhausted his reservoir of outrageousness, nor fully plumbed the hollowness of his integrity; however, he may have come close last week.

As a member of Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, Dershowitz proclaimed the absence of Constitutional guardrails limiting a president, a concept that isn’t just outside the mainstream; it bears no resemblance to the Constitution at all.

Alan Dershowitz told the world that if a president believed that his/her reelection was in the best interests of the country that they could do whatever they wanted to do in order to ensure their reelection – including the soliciting of foreign interference in our electionand it would not be impeachable!

Apparently, in DershowitzLand there aren’t any limits on what presidents can do, so perhaps they really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not be subject to prosecution or impeachment.

This is the same nonsense as Richard Nixon telling David Frost, “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” That’s Kim Jong Un murdering anyone he’s a little cross with today. That’s Vladimir Putin killing political rivals in Red Square. And Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milošević, Josef Stalin and all the other murderous, genocidal, ethnic cleansing maniacs getting away with what they do because there are no guardrails. That’s Trump saying, “Then, I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Dershowitz is telling us that Trump is correct and 53 Republican senators are refusing to say “NO!” If this craziness comes to pass, they will have invited dictatorial brutality into America. Not today and maybe not tomorrow, but not too many tomorrows from now. Can the very despotism that the Founders rebelled against be far away?

I can’t handle the ache it would cause to fully refute Dershowitz’s stupid, idiotic, unpatriotic befouling of the Constitution. The point for now is the cowardice he displays by sucking up to this president with his outlandish behavior.

Professor Dershowitz is not alone in his Constitution demolition efforts. His un-American words were compounded by defense attorney Patrick Philbin’s argument that, “American politicians can accept damaging information on their opponents from a foreign country.” Yes, he’s telling us that it’s okay for foreign governments to contaminate our elections and that America is for sale to the highest bidder.

Patrick Philbin is just as cowardly and just as guilty as Alan Dershowitz in claiming idiotic views of the Constitution that would have gotten them both laughed off the Senate floor just a generation ago. Adam Schiff called this craziness, “The normalization of lawlessness.” Schiff is right.

And let’s recognize what the Republican senators are doing as they sit in quiet cowardice, shooing the Constitution off a cliff with their refusal to acknowledge truth and stand up to this lawless president.

I still can’t get my head wrapped around the fact that there had to be a debate over whether there would be witnesses and documentary evidence presented in this trial. Why was this ever a question? How do these senators manage to look in a mirror, knowing they have sold their souls for a handful of beans?

On the other hand, the beans really are magic. They ward off Trump calling these senators mean names and lets them keep their seats in Congress. Yes, that does mean that for each of them, their seat in Congress is more important to them than democracy and their oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Tough beans for the rest of us.

Of course, this is all about Trump and his base, as exemplified by Rex Huppke’s “humor-ish” piece (that’s what he calls it) in the Chicago Tribune.

“As a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, I demand that Republican senators in charge of the upcoming impeachment trial swiftly acquit the commander in chief before any more truth leaks out.”

“The last thing we need is to see a great president, who we Trump supporters have built up to be an avatar of American strength and decency, get knocked down by stupid things like facts.”

This is supposed to be a caricature of Trump supporters. Clearly, though, our Republican senators are acting as though these are their marching orders.

A minimum of 75% of Americans wanted witnesses and documentary evidence brought before the Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial. 51 senators rejected it.

Q. How could the Senate refuse the wishes of three-quarters of the American people?

A. The same way they refuse the wishes of 92% of the American people who want gun safety legislation.

Add these cowardly senators to Dershowitz and Philbin and we are left with three profiles in cowardice and precious little to protect us from a dictator the Founders feared.

Here’s a clip from the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop that illustrates the Republicans’ relationship to facts and reality. Think of Paul Reiser’s character as today’s American people and Eddie Murphy’s character as the Congressional Republicans.

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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Adjunct Quiz*


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

WARNING: SNARK AHEAD

Question 1:

What do you get when you combine the bottomless need for attention of Donald Trump and Alan Dershowitz with the boundary-less conceit and snark of Jay Sekulow, the arrogance and disingenuousness of Pam Bondi, the fanatical, hypocritical self-righteousness of Ken Starr and all of that is paraded on television and before the Senate of the United States of America, where all the senator-jurors have already made up their minds whether they will both recognize and accept Earth-based reality? Important note: Answers containing biologically impossible acts are not allowed.

Question 2:

Where is (the thankfully former) Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) now that we need him in the Senate gallery during the impeachment trial to blurt repeatedly at Trump’s defense team, “YOU LIE!“?

Question 3:

Richard Nixon claimed that, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Compare and contrast that with Trump claiming, “The law is on my side, the President can’t have a conflict of interest,” and also that the Constitution gives him, “the right to do anything I want.” Factor into your answer that the Constitution specifically contradicts these statements, that Nixon was forced out of office in disgrace – by Republicans – and that those claims are really stupid. Citing Article II of the Constitution in your answer is mandatory. Extra credit will be given for answers that rhyme.

Question 4:

What is the commonality among these things:

    1. The foreshortened arguments of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, roughly half of which will occur after most Americans are asleep
    2. The pledge under oath of the Majority Leader to be impartial in the impeachment trial, yet he has declared he would be in “total coordination” with the White House?
    3. The refusal of the Senate to have given Merrick Garland a hearing as a nominee to become a justice of the Supreme Court
    4. Hundreds of bills that have passed the house and are now in sloppy stacks on the floor of the Senate Majority Leader’s office.

Earn an extra 5 points each for the use of “turtle,” “Moscow,” and “grim reaper” in your answer.

Question 5:

1. Taking into consideration all federal, state and local courts, in what percentage of trials in the United States are witnesses and/or documentary evidence explicitly and unconditionally prohibited?

2. Taking into consideration all federal, state and local courts, in what percentage of trials in the United States are witnesses and/or documentary evidence produced after prosecution and defense arguments are completed?

Use a No. 2 pencil for both sections of this question and show your work. Winking face and googly eye emojis are allowed.

Question 6:

Of the eight primary Founding Fathers (George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Jay), which of them would be most horrified by what Donald Trump has done to this nation and most shocked by the cowardice of the members of Congress who have steadfastly refused to hold Trump accountable? Include in your answer appropriate reference to the Founders’ abominable experience with King George III and their justified abhorrence of rule by despot. References in your answer to The Federalist Papers is both allowed and, if appropriately cited, that will be really impressive and cool.

Answer hint: Choose “All of the above.”

Question 7:

What is the date of the general election in 2020? Use of a Google search is permitted for this question.

Question 8:

Extra credit opportunities:

Five points for each criminal offense you can list which Donald Trump has committed since starting his campaign for the presidency

Ten points for each Constitutional violation you can name that Trump has committed

Fifteen points for each purple state senator you can name who is up for reelection this November and right now is scared out of his/her skin because they are facing the possibility of having to get a real job in 2021

If you do an excellent job with this question it is possible to achieve a score greater than 100%. Pat yourself on the back.

The first person to answer all questions correctly will have a gold sticker of his/her likeness placed on the title page of all copies of the Constitution to be printed in the future. Further, following Trump’s eviction from the White House, the winner will be given a seat in the gallery at Trump’s first money laundering and fraud trial, plus a Whoopee Cushion imprinted with the words “BIG SUCK” to put on Mitch McConnell’s chair.

All persons who are at least 18 years of age and a citizen of the United States are required to take and pass this adjunct quiz and vote on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Oops – I gave away the answer to Question 7. All participants will receive a red, white and blue “I voted” sticker and the thanks of a grateful nation.

WARNING: If you fail to participate in this adjunct quiz and, most important, its associated election, there may not be another election.


*Adjunct quiz:
  1. a test added to the main and most important event
  2. an examination intended as an orienting supplement
  3. a “Hey, wake up!” message
  4. having a little fun with dopes and babies

————————————


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

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

Thanks!

Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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