unemployment

Live and Die Loud, The Economy and Ottawa


We have a Second Amendment and it was enshrined into something holy and untouchable as if directly from God by Justice Antonin Scalia, the NRA, bobblehead Republicans and every red state absolutist. Just two things about that.

The First Thing

That amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
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That’s the complete text. Gun thumpers are big on the second phrase – that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. They view that right as absolute, this in spite of their Supreme Court champion, Justice Scalia, clearly stating that no right is absolute.

Worse, they always ignore the first phrase – that Militia thing. Our militia is called the National Guard and there is one in every state, so there’s no need for tough guys to be creeping through the woods in camo with their AR-15s, playing soldier and scaring the hell out of bunnies and Bambi.

The reason for the Framers believing that there was a necessity for a Militia is because early on the federal government had no money to maintain a standing army and needed citizens to be at the ready when – not if – the British returned, which they did just 26 years after the Constitution was ratified. That well regulated Militia was never intended to be a force to overthrow our own government, even if the gun thumpers believe that’s what it’s for, and even if they think they’re a well regulated militia (they’re not), and even if the date is January 6.

The Second Thing

This, too, is about that phrase that our Second Amendment enthusiasts love.

Is there some reason ordinary citizens cannot own more sophisticated weapons than rifles and pistols? Actually, not so much. If you want to own a rocket launcher, land mines, machine guns and more you can do it legally. It’s very pricey. But maybe some cabal of super wealthy right-wing oligarchs who want you to overthrow the government and put them in charge will send you the cash.

The point is that the Second Amendment doesn’t say muskets, although that was the state of the art at the time that amendment was drafted. No update of weapons of war was contemplated, so that’s what the Framers had in mind. Still, they wrote “Arms,” not “muskets” or “guns.”

I think we should crank up the volume of our explosions. Come on now, everybody grab your pre-1986 50 caliber machine guns, your rocket launchers and your fertilizer bombs and we’ll make the Second Amendment sing. We’ll live and die loud in a national conflagration of primitive chest thumping and self-righteous rage. Justice Scalia would be so proud! So would Justice Clarence Thomas and his far-right wife, GIni.

Or we could pass sensible gun safety legislation and begin to reduce the bleeding and dying. Over 80% of the American people prefers this choice. I wonder why we can’t get what we want  .  .  .

It’s The Economy, Stupid

Everybody knows that Republicans are the party of business, the geniuses of the economy, the ones to be entrusted to hold the reigns of power to shepherd our national financial well being. The Democrats just give away the tax money collected from hard working people and spend it on their touchy-feely, socialist, tree hugging programs. They’re clueless about how to run an economy.

Well, maybe.

Have a look at this chart. The data covers the period since World War II. CNN recently published much the same information.

                                     S & P 500             GDP            Job Creation     Unemployment
                        Ave. Annual Gain  Ave. Growth  Ave. per month  Rate Movement
.

DEMOCRATS              11.2%                 4.1%               164,000                   – 0.8%

REPUBLICANS              6.9%                 2.5%                 61,000                   +1.1%

Note, too, that 10 of the 11 U.S. recessions between 1953 and 2020 began under Republican presidents.

Gotta hand it to those Republicans. They sure do protect us from those economy dopey Democrats. Plus, they have such great claims of fiscal responsibility, low taxes and small government. Just don’t think about deficits (see the tweet to the left from 2019). Bummer they can’t find a sustainably strong economy, even using two hands and a flashlight (thanks go to Aaron Sorkin for the phrase).

Just imagine if the economic and employment growth under Democrats were to continue instead of leaving it to the Republicans to muck it up.

When you’re done imagining, go canvass, phone bank, contribute and vote in order to bring your imagination to life.

Last thought on this: How come Democrats aren’t making enormous noise about all of their success?

The Definitive Solution to the Trucker Anti-Vaxx, Anti-Mask, Temper Tantrum “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa
  1. Impound all the trucks immediately. Keep them while slow-walking prosecutions.
  2. Encourage truckers to show proper behavior that their moms would like by requiring that they publicly apologize for their anti-social, rude behavior and promise to never do such things again. Plus, make them clean up the mess they left in the streets of Ottawa. If they refuse, lock ’em up longer.
  3. Enroll them in Breakfast Club for a couple of months. After that, if they have perfect attendance they can have their trucks back. Then show them the highway out of town and tell them to never come back.

The truckers have selfishly made everything about themselves and the imagined curtailment of their freedom. They’re heedless of the $55 million in lost wages they’ve caused others or the hundreds of millions of dollars of trade they’ve imperiled or the small businesses they’ve caused to be shuttered.

Remember: Lack of accountability promotes more wrongdoing. We either hold them accountable or they and others will be emboldened to do worse.

NOTES
  1. Traditional conservatives would have recommend and enthusiastically supported this solution. Recall, if you’re able to remember that far back, that they used to be all about law and order. Not so much today.
  2. Consider that when people act out, their motivation may be deeper and likely founded on real and legitimate grievances. So, we can swat at the symptom of the traffic clogging – we really have to. More important for the long term is to figure out the driving forces and deal with them. I suspect that disrespect and betrayal are involved.
  3. For an examination of rights (like freedom) and responsibilities, read Tom Friedman’s essay, America 2022: Where Everyone Has Rights and No One Has Responsibilities.
Quote of the Week

From Maureen Dowd’s column of February 12 centered on James Joyce’s Ulysees:

Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s self-portrait, captures our incomprehensible politics in a remark that burns brighter than ever: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

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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. 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.

Root Causes


Regular readers will likely recognize that over the years I have tried to understand why citizens on the far right portion of our politics consistently vote against their own interests. I’ve dabbled in guessing why they’re willing to believe fantastical fantasies and why they are so violent in spirit and in actions. Perhaps most important, I’ve scrambled for a foothold of understanding of why they gladly do unpatriotic things, yet consider themselves patriots. I think I’m coming to a more complete answer. Let’s start with a little walk through history.

Seattle Hooverville, 1932

Republican Herbert Hoover was elected in 1928. He had been a mining engineer, a business oriented fellow. Eight months after he took office the economy began its greatest crash and Hoover sat on his hands and watched as the savings from lifetimes of work evaporated and 25% of Americans wanting work were out of work. Their families were in terrible distress. Hoover told Americans to carry on, that things would get better, but in his complete absence of vision he did nothing to help, which led to Hoovervilles all across the country. By 1932 things had become far worse. That’s when ordinary Americans decided that a wealthy patrician understood them and their challenges better than the Republicans did and they elected Democrat FDR to be president. It turned out that they were right.

FDR invented the WPA and the CCC and mounted massive infrastructure projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Hoover Dam that brought electricity to millions of people. More important than that, those projects brought honest work and good pay to Americans, which brought with it the dignity of being able to care for one’s family and oneself. FDR was so popular that he was elected to the presidency four times, with his last victory coming even as the nation knew he was dying. He was that popular.

And that’s why Republicans hated him and his projects that put Americans back to work. They have been trying to kill all social and commons programs since then. And preventing that kind of success for Americans is exactly why today’s Republicans want Joe Biden to fail.

Several Republican presidents wanted to get Social Security privatized to benefit fat cats, like the ones who brought us the Great Depression and the Great Recession. When President Johnson created Medicare, Medicaid and his Great Society Program, Republicans were apoplectic and they have tried to kill all of those programs, too. I don’t know what they want to do about President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System – maybe they want to privatize them and let the fat cats charge tolls. Here’s the thing:

Republicans hate anything that smacks of work done in the commons and things that directly benefit the people. But the people love that stuff. And people become very angry and feel betrayed when things they’ve counted on are taken away. Think about what Republicans have to do, then, to get elected.

That’s right: they lie.

Reagan told lies about non-existent Black welfare queens living like actual queens. He told of “young bucks” – his term – meaning young Black men scamming the welfare system. His doing that makes sense, because it appealed to White fear, which brought him support. Bear in mind that Reagan opposed not just welfare, but also the Brown v. Board of Education decision. How convenient it was for him to latch onto welfare lies and appeal to White supremacy, not bothering to mention that the majority of welfare recipients were White. He just threw out hateful dog whistles that appealed to the fearful and the haters.

Then he stoked distrust and hatred of government itself, even as he was leading the government. He told Americans that, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” It was a new verbalization of opposition to all social programs. Surely, we wouldn’t want to support anything that helps those lazy, shiftless “others,” right?

As I said: lies.

Bush II was a lie spewing machine, corrupting the Constitution every day and calling it patriotism. And the patriotic thing played well. He told us, “You’re either with us or you’re against us,” and Americans lined up, not wanting to be left behind and thought of as unpatriotic. Republicans are still playing that card. They do that even as they ended programs that would help Americans.

Manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas and citizens were left with nothing. They were betrayed by their own government. (Full disclosure: Clinton was complicit in that.) They call that patriotism and rugged individualism, “right sizing” and freedom and a lot of other fine sounding names. They use their superb propaganda machine to get people to believe their fantasy, just like a circus sideshow barker. It turn out they really can fool some of the people all of the time, even as they are being betrayed.

All the propaganda and all the betrayal has stoked the anger of the people. Plus, it’s plain that Whites will no longer be a majority in this country in just a couple of decades, so Whites fear their hands will slip from the reins of power. The knowledge of that has brought more levers for Republicans to manipulate the people, like gerrymandering, the filibuster and voter suppression.

People are left in quite a confusing and simplistic mess.

Their anger is so great that they’d rather infect and kill their loved ones and die themselves, than follow simple government health guidelines crafted by doctors and scientists.

They’re so blinded by their distrust of government that they believe conspiracies too loony even for a cartoon and they agitate for autocracy that would make them serfs to the ultra-wealthy.

Their sense of betrayal is so overpowering that they refuse simple and obvious realities and reject as cheating anything that doesn’t go their way.

Their fear and anger are so great that they metaphorically have a middle finger extended at all times just to feel powerful.

All of that is orchestrated and overheated by big money puppet masters who manipulate fears and anger, so that the people blindly follow leaders and a party that literally have no policies other than to obstruct and disempower everyone but themselves.

So, the people cheer and send contributions to politicians who stand against the very things that would help the people, like the infrastructure bill and the good jobs that will bring; like voting rights, gun safety, reasonable cost pharmaceuticals, child care, medical insurance and broadband. With every vote or obstruction to voting on those issues and with every manufactured barrier to voting and with every appeal to fear and anger, the manipulators appeal for donations to Trump-fearing GOP sycophants in congress and in the states and municipalities. Those dollars are then used to further diminish the future of the voters and the voters’ children.

But the people don’t see that, because they are so angry. Worse, they don’t realize they’ve been hoodwinked for generations. And that is why our citizens on the far right of the political spectrum consistently and unknowingly vote against their own interests, leaving them nothing but their rage and whatever weapons they own in order to feel powerful and in control of themselves.

It’s all about anger, fear and hopelessness and how easy it is to manipulate people who feel that way.
.

Do you doubt that? Watch Adam Kinzinger’s short video and his appeal for Country First.

A Tale of 4s In 2021

Unemployment dropped from 6.2% to 4.2%.

– Wages rose approximately 4% – the final annual numbers aren’t in yet.

– The economy is so strong that there are 4 million more job openings than Americans seeking employment.

– We added 4.6 million jobs. Or is it 6.2 million? Not sure, but it’s a good number.

Republicans, please stop telling Americans how awful our economy is and how the Democrats are ruining it, because that’s just another Republican lie.

————————————

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.

Can We Stop Wringing Hands?


Economy Hand Wringing

The August jobs report said that we added a net of “only” 235,000 jobs. That’s a big decrease from the 962,000 added in June and 1.05 million added in July. That has caused innumerable hand wringers to wail, sob and bemoan a looming catastrophe in our economy.

The truth is that our economy is continuing to expand, albeit at a slower rate in August. Unemployment went down from 5.4% to 5.2% in August and – did I mention? – a net of 235,000 people found jobs and employers found 235,000 employees. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has regained all the losses due to the pandemic.

Of course, there are lots of factors related to the pandemic that affect our economy, including ever-more people working from home, which impacts lunch revenues at restaurants and gym memberships. It also includes the economic impact of all the people who are not traveling due to Covid, as well as the enormous supply chain disruptions of the past 18 months due to Covid. Still, our economy is expanding.

The slowdown follows perfectly the immense expansion of sickness and death due to the Delta variant. If we really want to keep the economy growing robustly, all we have to do is to follow the direction of the CDC to curb the pandemic. It’s as simple as that.

Take that, economy hand wringers!

Immigration Hand Wringing

You know where you were and who you were with when you learned what had happened on 9/11. The horrific images are burned into your brain and your heart and perhaps passion still rises in you when you see those painful pictures. Maybe you remember our senators and congressmen on the steps of the Capitol Building late that day, singing God Bless America in an impromptu, non-partisan, heartfelt song of solidarity. You can see that again here. In an odd contemporary way, that was a most peculiar moment.

Israel Bellin was born in Telochin, Russian Empire in 1888. He arrived in this country with his family at age five. Fourteen years later he published his first song and went on to become one of America’s most prolific and beloved songwriters. His name was misprinted on a piece of sheet music from one of his early works as “I. Berlin” and the name stuck. Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America in 1918 during WW I and it has been a national favorite ever since, with many believing it should be our national anthem.

The peculiarity is that Berlin was a Jewish immigrant raised in poverty. There was no job waiting for his father when the family arrived at Ellis Island and Berlin had to drop out of school at age eleven to help support the family. According to a large segment of our politicians and citizens today, the only thing that would make him an acceptable immigrant is that he was White.

What would happen to this poor, non-Christian immigrant under today’s discriminatory immigration laws?  And, more to the point, how many others, who could contribute so much to this country, are being kept out now? What would they build here?

Under today’s immigration paranoia would we have Sergey Brin from Russia to co-found Google? Or Hamdi Ulukaya who left Turkey and founded Chobani Yogurt? Would we have jeans to wear if Levi Strauss had been forced to stay in Germany? Would we have the microprocessors that power everything that uses electrons if Andy Grove hadn’t come from Hungary and remade Intel? Would you be able to sell that baby crib on eBay if Pierre Omidyar’s Iranian family had been forced to stay in France?

Would members of Congress have God Bless America to sing if Berlin’s family were to apply to immigrate today?

Take that, paranoid immigration hand wringers!

Afghanistan Exit Hand Wringing

Other than the permanent hard right Biden detractors, nearly everyone agrees that ending our war in Afghanistan and bringing home our troops and extracting the Afghans who helped us was and is the right thing to do. As the president said, the alternative was to continue to bleed people and money with no possibility of any gain. He was not willing to put yet another generation of our best into harms way for nothing.

The main criticism has been over the messy exit that left 100 – 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan helpers and their families in Afghanistan. That is truly awful and even some Democrats have been critical, while the hard line accusers and demonizers, the Trumpyist of Trumpists, want Biden impeached. Don’t bother looking for valid reasoning there.

There’s just one thing: Not a single one of the denigraters has an idea for how the extraction process could have worked better. Not one. All they have is fatuous, flamboyant criticism. That brings to mind the admonition to either lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps we should have a congressional rule like that.

Some have said that we should have started the evacuation sooner, but that would only have generated the chaos at an earlier date. Some have said that we should have stayed there to prop up the charade of an Afghan government, but that would just prolong the bleeding and dying and deepen the bottomless money pit. Some say Trump should have included the Afghan government in the negotiations with the Taliban to underscore its legitimacy. They’re right, but that wouldn’t have prevented the chaos.

Got a better idea? Glad to hear it. Post it below. But let’s stop this national hand wringing over a war that we should have exited many years ago. Better yet: We should not have invaded that country at all. There were other ways to get bin Laden. In fact, George W. Bush turned down two of them before starting that war.

Take that, Afghanistan exit hand wringers!

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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.

Oh, Kevin


New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd annually gives her Thanksgiving column space over to her brother Kevin, whom she calls a conservative. I’ve read several of his offerings and have come away with the sense that Kevin is not a conservative; he’s a Trumpy, which is distinctly not conservative. And in this year’s essay he gives us an exquisitely clear example of why it is so difficult for moderates (Republicans and Democrats alike) to have a constructive, seek-to-understand conversation with a Trumpy. That is the focus of this post.

I want to be clear that in my comments below I am cherry picking his essay, this for brevity. Here’s a link to his complete comments. Also, full disclosure: I agree with some of what Kevin wrote. Most of that is not covered here because that isn’t where the problem lies.

Here are some examples of obstacles to conversation. The wording in green is verbatim from Kevin’s essay and the substantiating data that he presents is included in the same color.

  1. Trump gave us a strong economy.
    1. Actually, the economy continued on the same trajectory from throughout the Obama years. Until it didn’t. Trump promised 4% GDP growth. Before our current recession we had an “economy like no one has ever seen,” when we had GDP growth that averaged just 2.5%. Overall it’s 1% since Trump took office. It never hit 4%.
  2. Trump achieved the lowest unemployment in 50 years.
    1. True, but  .  .  .  Actually, unemployment continued to decline on a straight line trajectory passed on from the Obama years. The best you can say for Trump is that he didn’t screw up a good thing. Until the pandemic arrived. Then he screwed up everything, including unemployment.
  3. Trump fortified the border.
    1. There were only 9 miles of new border wall constructed over the 4 years of Trump’s presidency. All the rest of the construction was replacement for old, dilapidated fencing. And Mexico hasn’t paid a dime for any of it. Does that qualify as “fortified”?
    2. Our southern border has been turned into concentration camps on the U.S. side and death in the desert on the Mexican side. Does that qualify as “fortified”?
    3. Our immigration system refuses to grant asylum to most of the people fleeing rape and death in the Central American countries they left behind. No clue how that makes our border fortified. It does make us complicit in assault and murder.
  4. Trump has guaranteed the integrity of the judicial system by appointing over 200 judges and three Supreme Court justices.
    1. Appointing judges does not guarantee integrity of the judicial system. It only guarantees butts on benches.
    2. 10 of Trump’s nominees were rated Not Qualified by the American Bar Association and 67 were rated only Qualified (i.e., they’re marginally OK warm bodies to hold down a bench).
    3. Two of Trump’s appointees had never practiced law or even been inside a courtroom. That doesn’t sound like integrity.
    4. There was a huge deficit of federal judges when Trump came to office because Mitch McConnell had shoved a stick in the spokes of judicial appointments for nearly all of the Obama years. If there was any additional integrity it was only because more judges meant swifter justice for the accused. Trump doesn’t get integrity kudos for that.
  5. Trump had foreign policy successes, including:
    1. Renegotiating NAFTA – into essentially the same agreement but with Trump’s name attached.
    2. Abandoning the Iranian nuclear deal.
      1. Which allowed the Iranians to resume both enriching uranium and building their bomb making capabilities.
      2. Kevin doesn’t mention it, but after abandoning the multi-nation agreement Trump slapped sanctions on Iran that have been labeled “crippling.” On the other hand, they don’t seem to have curtailed any of Iran’s military activities. Not seeing a foreign policy success here.
      3. Kevin claims that we gave the Iranians a $400 million bribe to get the nuclear deal done. That claim was a standard right wing talking point when the JCPOA was being negotiated and was wailed about afterward by the anti-Obama crowd. What actually happened is that because of Iran’s past bad behavior we had frozen their assets during the Obama administration. Returning to them what was rightfully theirs was part of the Iranian nuclear deal. So, it wasn’t a bribe; it was a return of stolen property. And it was $300 million, not $400 million.
    3. Trump brokered Middle East peace deals and was the greatest friend Israel ever had.
      1. Two recently concluded agreements between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain had been in process since 2015. These agreements were essentially “normalization” documents to formalize what already existed. Trump had nothing to do with the negotiating or finalizing of the agreements. He did claim credit for them.
      2. Might not Harry Truman be the greatest friend of Israel, since he was the first world leader to recognize the new state in 1948? Or President Obama, who handed the Iron Dome defense system to Israel in 2011? Or every other president who has sided with Israel against brutal attacks in the U.N.?
      3. Note that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem did not help Israel. It only served to inflame Palestinians and make a 2-state solution even more difficult to achieve.
      4. It’s interesting that the “greatest friend Israel ever had” meme is quoted. It’s word-for-word what Trump has said repeatedly and his followers pick it up as though making the claim is the same as stating reality. It’s akin to his saying that he’s been the greatest president for Blacks, with the possible exception (or since) Abraham Lincoln. Making the claim isn’t the same as saying truth, but Trump’s followers repeat his phony superlative opinions of himself anyway.
  6. Trump made the Republican Party tougher, teaching it to counter punch harder than its opponent.
    1. The Republican Party was intransigent and spiteful long before Trump showed up (think: Gingrich, McConnell, Boehner, anyone from the Tea Party, etc.) and they played dirty before Trump came along, doing things like filibustering everything with Obama’s name on it, essentially exterminating majority rule. For verification of Republican cheating, check with Judge (not Justice) Merrick Garland.
    2. We need to understand why “counter punch[ing] harder than its opponent” is important. Doing so guarantees no cooperation, so America’s problems don’t get solved. This sounds like being macho is more important that doing what is best for America and honoring one’s oath of office to protect and defend. I do understand the momentary puff-up feeling of being powerful that comes from dominating others.
  7. Kevin writes, “The Democrats remain mystified by the loyalty of Trump’s base. It is rock solid because half the country was tired of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted. Trump was unique because he was only interested in results.”
    1. First sentence: I agree. Surely, I agree with the “mystified” part. It is what underlies the question of this post.
    2. Second sentence: How much of these beliefs of being patronized, lied to and taken for granted is due to people being fed a constant stream of right wing propaganda, rather than the facts? Hatred of ordinary Americans by elites is a standard of righty talking heads and that constant drumbeat stokes belief and ratings. And anger and hatred. Show me the facts, though, or this is just another hateful Big Lie.
    3. Counterpoint to #2 above: I don’t know about the patronizing, but there have been a lot of promises broken and without question the Democrats have taken some people for granted. Nobody likes to be treated that way.
    4. Third sentence: Trump was, is and forever will only be interested in results for Trump, not for America. And he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process (think: playing golf throughout the pandemic). His continuing lies to undermine our election are corroding our democracy and pouring more fuel on the fire of hatred. Further, ask any contractor who worked on a Trump Building and got stiffed about what results were important to Trump. Or ask the State Department, which has consistently been overcharged for everything during the Trump administration. Secret Service personnel were forced to patronize Trump properties and rent rooms at far above standard rates. And I know it’s a small thing that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago billed the U.S. $3 to serve Trump a glass of water, but it’s a satisfactory placeholder for all his grifting. I agree that Trump is focused on results, but are results like these what we should want?

As you can see, there are sweeping claims, but almost no supporting facts. That’s standard M.O. for Trumpies and it does not lead to any possibility of a meeting of the minds. In fact, it is one of three major reasons that a fruitful conversation is so difficult. Another major reason is the denial of provable, observable facts, as is a commonly found belligerent attitude.

Kevin ends his essay with dire warnings for the media and especially for Fox News, which has recently been slightly less of a lapdog for Trump. I’m sure Kevin is right in claiming that Biden’s TV ratings will be lower than Trump’s. What is far more disturbing is that anyone would care about such a thing.

It’s worrisome that anyone would equate TV ratings with the quality of the job a president is doing for the country or even whether a president is popular. Nobody paid attention to such things until the circus sideshow barker came to town and constantly bragged about his TV ratings, as though his primary job was to get high ratings. It’s akin to Trump bragging for months about having had the biggest inaugural crowd ever, which, of course, he didn’t. He bragged that way as though that’s what was important. For most of us, it wasn’t and isn’t. It shouldn’t be for any of us.

I appreciate Kevin’s passion and understand that he has his certainties – I have my own passion and certainties – and both of us are sorely infected by confirmation bias, of course. But I need someone to bring us real world stuff to examine and which will help us to understand one another, not bring just sweeping, baseless superlatives.

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The important question is how to deal with people who refuse facts, truth and reality. They are our countrymen and -women, after all, and we are obligated to figure out how to live together.

Roughly 80% of those who voted for Trump believe his lies/fantasies/distortions that the election was rigged and riddled with fraud. They believe him when he says he won the election and that “everybody knows it.” That’s around 60 million Americans who are living in an alternate reality. I’m guessing that to them this is just another example “of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted.” And I’m also guessing that they are very angry they didn’t get their way, especially because they believe they were cheated. That makes conversation extremely difficult.

These folks are supported by the continuing refusal of nearly all elected Republicans to stand up and speak up about the Big Lie that is Trump and Trumpism. They provide tacit approval to believe Trump’s hateful and anti-democratic venom. These elected officials do great damage to our country with their cowardice (read this). They make it ever-harder to have a conversation with Trumpies, because they stoke the macho bravado posturing to “counter punch harder than its opponent.” That relegates us to communicating via fistfights. Or worse, like attempting to kidnap and execute a sitting governor. It’s worth noting again that our macho, bravado angry citizens are the ones who own most of the guns in this country.

So, you tell me how to bridge this insane divide that is America today, with half of us believing the untrue. And if I got any of this wrong, please set me and everyone straight.

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

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The Fine Print:

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

Stomach Turning in 4 Parts and 5 Questions


Reading time – 4:49  .  .  .

1. Immigration Vile

We’re all appalled by the forced, medically unnecessary, inept and deceitful sterilizations of would-be immigrants at the hands of at least one doctor at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”),  Irwin County Detention Center. It is a privately owned (LaSalle Corrections), for-profit immigration jail in rural south Georgia. We don’t yet know if such things are happening in other ICE prisons.

First question: Why do we pay private corporations to run this and many other prisons, where they have incentives to lock up as many people as possible and perhaps perform stomach turning additional revenue enhancing acts?

The hideousness of these forced sterilizations – by some counts as many as 18 known and medically unnecessary, non-consensual surgeries – is now known and the full story isn’t out yet. This is a new chapter in American immigration cruelty. The good news, of course, is that this has never happened before.

Except it has. Many times.

In the 20th century alone (and it didn’t start there) tens of thousands of men and women were forcibly sterilized and it will come as no surprise to you who the targets were. From a report on this travesty (and here’s another report on this):

More than 60,000 people were sterilized in 32 states during the 20th century based on the bogus “science” of eugenics, a term coined by Francis Galton in 1883.

Eugenicists applied emerging theories of biology and genetics to human breeding. White elites with strong biases about who was “fit” and “unfit” embraced eugenics, believing American society would be improved by increased breeding of Anglo Saxons and Nordics, whom they assumed had high IQs. Anyone who did not fit this mold of racial perfection, which included most immigrants, Blacks, Indigenous people, poor whites and people with disabilities, became targets of eugenics programs. [emhasis mine]

But that was way in the past, right? Wrong.

Such practices are documented as occurring as recently as 2010. Over 1,400 forced sterilizations were performed in California prisons in just over 13 years. These were all state-sanctioned, non-consensual sterilizations.

To give you an idea of the cruelty of eugenics, the Nazis copied it, using the laws of Indiana and California as models for their 1930s laws that led to roughly 400,000 forced sterilizations. The Nazis weren’t the kind of people to whom we would want to be compared, and yet in this sense we can be.

Second question: Why do we tolerate this cruelty as part of our stomach turning immigration practices?

 

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2. COVID-19 Deaths

Trump’s cruelty and ineptitude remains exactly what the Oxford study said it was. Worse, he continues to do what is counterproductive to beating this pandemic and he avoids doing what would make things better. Nevertheless, there is more to this story and it’s likely not exactly what you think.

If you want to know why some countries have had relatively good results dealing with COVID-19 and why the U.S. has fared much poorer, read this.

Third question: Why have we tolerated a stomach-turning hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths?

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3. RBG’s Seat

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, progressive, civil rights icon of the Supreme Court has died. Separate from her loss and ours we must contend with Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, promising to hurry Trump’s replacement pick through the Senate. He announced that less than two hours after the news of her death broke. His was truly astonishing disrespect.

This is the same Mitch McConnell who declared from a dark corner of his manipulative, power-grabbing mind that in the last year of his administration President Obama couldn’t refill the seat left empty by Antonin Scalia’s death. It wouldn’t be fair to the voters, McConnell told us. The next president should handle that, he said. Besides, he informed us that no president had ever nominated anyone for a Supreme Court seat in his last year in office.

And he was right. Except for Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in his final year in office. And William Rehnquist and Louis Powell, who were nominated in the last year of Nixon’s first term – you get the idea. But it was really important to the Grim Reaper to prevent President Obama from having a Supreme Court pick in his last year in office, so McConnell made up precedent and put a knee on the neck of Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Now, though, we’re hearing from the other fork of McConnell’s tongue. Somehow his phony precedent doesn’t matter so much, now that Trump is the one doing the nominating. Now McConnell has promised to ram Trump’s pick through the Senate before the November 3 election.

Fourth question: What does that do to your stomach?

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4. American Wars

From Sheila Markin’s recent post:

Trump has called himself a wartime president. Yes, America is at war. Our country has been beset by 4 huge assaults at once.

First, there’s the pandemic which, because of Trump’s interference and mismanagement, has cratered our economy and devastated the lives of Americans, resulting in lost jobs, lost health care, lost health, lost homes, and food insecurity for millions of Americans.

Second, there’s climate change which has created huge raging fires in the West with smoke that turned into cyclones with their own embedded lightning, more powerful hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and ice caps melting at a rapid rate which will cause sea level rise, imperiling coastal areas.

Third, there is social unrest and mainly peaceful marches to support the Black Lives Matters movement in response to the unfairness documented by cell phone footage proving that people of color are treated horribly and are killed by police in disproportionate numbers.

Fourth, our democracy and cherished “free and fair elections” are being attacked by Russia working in tandem with Trump and Republicans to suppress the vote, discourage Dems from coming to the polls and cast doubt on the reliability of mail-in ballots.

America IS at war and Trump is not on our side.

It’s time for we soldiers to report for duty, leading to the

Fifth question: It appears that we have perfected the art of complacency. It’s time to abandon that dark art in all of these issues before our stomachs go terminal. Are you ready?

From Rosh HaShanah commentary:

“If you want to see God save the innocent, you need to get off the couch and save the innocent. If you want to see God feed the hungry, you need to feed the hungry. If you want to see God stand by while the innocent suffer, all you need to do is stand by and do nothing yourself.” (emphasis original) – by Rabbi Brent Chiam Spodek and Ruth Messinger.

—————————————-

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

Consequences In One Long and Two Short Parts


Reading time – 5:36  .  .  .

Part 1. Healthcare Wake-Up

The Kaiser Family Foundation just reported that, “.  .  .  nearly 27 million people will lose health insurance as a result of being laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Some will go on the ACA exchanges; the majority will wind up on Medicaid; and 6 million poor Americans will have no insurance at all to cover the enormous expense of battling COVID-19 or any other malady and will have to figure out the impossible. Said another way, these folks are already struggling to stay financially afloat and a COVID-19 anvil may be dumped hard onto their little boat.

I know a fellow who commented on a different catastrophe, offering a Machiavellian (or Ayn Randian) comment that sounded like this: “It’s sad, but they made their choices and now they have to live with the consequences.” Is that our official attitude toward poor people?

We’re now being told to get out there, go back to work and go shopping, where we will encounter lots of nice people, some of whom will be disease carriers and may send us to the hospital. I worry what will happen in 2 – 3 weeks to those who are packing bars now and are not wearing face masks. Indeed, the CDC tells us that the likelihood of infection is growing greater in many parts of the country.

Wait, greater? And we’re supposed to go back to work and drive the numbers still higher?

Yes, because we’re warriors, wartime President Nero tells us. So, get out there and fight. Drive up herd immunity, which to the best of my understanding, means that those who manage to survive this deadly virus will probably have immunity. Or not. The experts really don’t know how that will work. And you have to get sick first to get that immunity but you might die from the infection long before you would have become immune. Further, well over 6 million Americans won’t be able to pay for their healthcare if they survive the disease.

Can we agree that we need to figure out the best way for all of us to be able to get healthcare when we need it? Actually, we don’t all agree about that, but the overwhelming majority of us do. If that’s the goal, then how do we get there?

What I see is that we’re about to pay for the healthcare, one way or another, for an additional 27 million Americans who got laid off due to the pandemic and who have little or no insurance. What if we just put on our big boy and big girl pants and face up to the facts that the bumper stickers are right, that shit happens, and that we think everyone should be able to get healthcare irrespective of their wealth? We’re paying for much of it anyway, so what if we were intentional and created a really good solution?

I can hear Libertarians wailing and can see Ayn Rand true believers bent over with cramps. I only have two problems with that rugged individualist philosophy. First, it only works for people who are young, healthy and strong. If you can’t check all three boxes, you’re screwed. Second, Ayn Rand wrote novels – fantasies – all of it was not-real, didn’t happen stuff. Doing so brought her fame, fortune and popularity with idealistic (mostly) young men during their formative years. Most of us grew out of believing in the made-up story not long after finding out that there is no Tooth Fairy. Sen. Rand Paul and members of the House Freedom Caucus, however, didn’t get the message and are still looking under their pillows every morning. Okay, that was snark.

We’re living in the real world where not everyone is young, healthy and strong – or wealthy. Not everyone had open to them the path to true free market enlightenment and success. Some are being cast adrift due to layoffs. Doing nothing while watching that little boat of theirs sink after the anvil crashes into it is a cruel consequence of our own design.

There is a Jewish imperative – Tikkun Olam – which means “repair the world.” The Boy Scout version of that is to always leave your campsite better than you found it. Pretty good ideas. No, actually they are imperatives. What repairs are we doing to leave things better than we found them? It is our obligation to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they are counting on us to do the right things right now.

Which brings us to,

Part 2. Napoleon

There is no shortage of commentary about both what Joe Biden should be doing now, as well as speculation about his relative lack of visibility. I’m reminded of a quotation from Napoleon used by Theodore White in his book The Making of the President 1964. White wrote,

“Never were Republicans denounced [by President Johnson] as such; the opposition was involved in its own civil war, and the president obeyed Napoleon’s maxim: Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself.”

That proved to be a big help in sending Johnson’s opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, back to Arizona and I’m wondering if that is the advice Joe Biden is following today.

In that light, you must read Frank Bruni’s piece from April 26, “Trump Self-Destructs.” He ends his essay this way:

“Americans who take any comfort from [Trump’s nightly coronavirus briefings] were Trump-drunk long ago. The unbesotted see and hear the president for what he is: a tone-deaf showman who regards everything, even a mountain of corpses, as a stage.”

Which brings us to,

Part 3. The Math Update

Our first reported death from coronavirus was on February 6; the next two deaths were on February 26. Things ramped up slowly at first and then, as you well know, the death count ramped up very quickly.

It has been 100 days since that first case and we now have a minimum of 89,000 of our fellow citizens dead from coronavirus. We’re losing about 2,000 of our friends, neighbors and family every day, which translates to a Pearl Harbor every 1.2 days and a 9/11 every 1.5 days. The White House tells us that things could get worse and predicts that 100,000 – 240,000 Americans will die from this disease.

Well, things are worse right now. We better be really careful how we “open up” our economy, including doing COVID-19 testing in numbers a couple of orders of magnitude greater than we’re doing now or we may find out that the White House finally got something right – the counting of our dead. And that is a disastrous consequence of our federal ineptitude.

——————————-

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

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