violence

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This


The violent far right people with AK-47s and AR-15s and basements full of ammunition don’t see themselves as domestic terrorists. They don’t think January 6 was an attempt at insurrection and they see the desecration of the Capitol Building and their causing 5 deaths as righteous fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson’s dyspeptic rant about the refreshing of the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants. That works well, of course, unless it’s your blood. Or your daughter’s or your son’s or that of anyone you care about.

Bear in mind that Jefferson had been reacting to the very real cruelty of a mad king, not to a democracy doing what democracies always do – feeling their way forward with the pendulum swinging back and forth. In other words, blood refreshment of liberty is not a solution for today’s democracy challenges. Tantrums venting a violent temper over either real or imagined wrongs is not legitimate patriotism. In a functioning democracy, seeking blood refreshment for the metaphorical tree of liberty is delusion. It’s tyranny while waving an American flag.

Which is exactly what OAN is doing.

From The Independent (be sure to click the link and watch the OAN video):

A host on the far-right cable channel One American News Network, which has amplified a fabricated narrative fuelled [sic] by Donald Trump and conspiracy theorists that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him and his supporters, has suggested “traitors” who “tried to steal power” by defeating the former president should be executed.

The OAN host is Pearson Sharp, who later claimed that he wasn’t calling for executions. Then he doubled down on calling for executions.

This is not 1776. The British aren’t coming. We pay taxes not to enrich a king, but to do together the things we cannot do individually, like building highways and providing for our national defense. We actually count ballots because that is how we determine who won our elections and we have gobs of safety procedures to ensure our elections are clean. That way no amount of reality denial based on outrageous lies and vaporous evidence can upset the will of We the People. Pretty cool, eh?

Yet we have millions – yes, millions – of our fellow citizens who believe in violent rebellion because of taxation (that’s what they say), because of those cheating Democrats and because of other awful, horrific but unspecified, fact-free government outrages. Mostly, though, they seem to be upset now because they didn’t get their way in the last election. So they endorse the Big Lie, they believe in conspiracies of sex trafficking and drinking of children’s blood and they create vast armories of real life, death creating weaponry. This isn’t a paint ball exercise. They intend to kill.

They really think they are going to instigate armed conflict against unarmed civilians (that would be you), the police and our military and then secede from the Union. They think they’re the patriots and that the rest of us are either tyranny drivers or ignorant puppets of the tyrannicists. Red, white and blue, baby, unless it’s a Trump flag. Is there a difference in the minds of these deluded people?

There are always malcontents – tyrants in metaphorical high chairs, screaming, kicking and pounding their spoons and forks on their trays. We can thank decades of power grubbing liars and cowards in government and on the airwaves for our ever-escalating passions of anger and carefully stockpiled and curated resentments. What is new is our total failure to discipline these people by telling the truth. We have instead allowed their grievance sickness to metastasize.

Our First Amendment that enshrined freedom of speech was a marvelous invention and it remains a spectacular tool of freedom. But where have the freedom of speech sane voices been for most of the past half century, as voodoo economics and Tea Party tantrums and air head stupid stuff were visited upon us? Did we think the manipulative, power clawing calls to fear and hatred by the malcontents would magically vanish? Did we think that those unimaginably rich donors funding usurpation of our democracy didn’t matter?

To quote from the trash compactor scene (at 1:37) from Star Wars, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

And this time I don’t think a cute R2 unit will come along to save us.

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From Common Cause

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is doing all he can to destroy the Postal Service. Last year, he was a major player in ex-President Trump’s plot to silence mail-in voters by sabotaging the USPS — and even now that President Biden has taken office, DeJoy is still trying to gut this vital public service.

I signed a Common Cause petition urging the USPS Board of Governors to fire and replace DeJoy — and I hope that you will, too – a couple of clicks starting right here will get the job done.

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Anthem


Reading time – 1.38  .  .  .

It is the morning of the Electoral College report to Congress. Donald Trump has encouraged militants like the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to demonstrate in the streets of DC, knowing full well that they will bring their anger and their firearms. As of this writing it is unknown if violence will erupt, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has called out the National Guard. We have a real live political and cultural divide that has the capacity to explode.

Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington DC

This kind of contentiousness, this threat to our national welfare and safety has happened before, most notably and disastrously in the Civil War. And during the 1960s we were torn apart over the concurrent crises of the Vietnam War and a renewed fight for civil rights.

It was mostly young people in opposition to an entrenched conservative power structure. That makes sense, in that it was young people being sent off to fight people they did not recognize as an enemy and perhaps to die for no good reason. They faced down generations of people who had been taught to do as they were told and who expected the 60s young to do the same.

That generational struggle also made sense because while young Blacks certainly had suffered racism, they weren’t yet beaten down by a life of racial discrimination and they refused to live with that injustice. So, they stood up to the entrenched conservative power structure, too, and were joined by white activists.

All that opposition led to violent confrontations and a lot of people were injured and some were killed. Some were assassinated by police, like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leaders of the Black Panthers. The Chicago Police didn’t knock, didn’t announce themselves, but simply started shooting, firing nearly 100 bullets into their residence late one night as the men slept. Some were killed by National Guardsman, like the student demonstrators at Kent State in 1971. Some were clubbed mercilessly by Chicago Police in what the Kerner Commission labeled a “police riot.” The times were indisputably violent and deadly. People in power don’t willingly give up their power.

There were calls by some for moderation and many tried to find a way forward that avoided violence, but passions ran high and Americans were polarized. Does that last sentence feel familiar? Isn’t that what is going on right now?

It’s clear that we didn’t resolve that basic conflict 50 years ago. George Santayana told us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and surely we’re doing that right now. Mark Twain told us, “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Take your pick. Either way, our national divide isn’t new and it has all the capacity for delivering terrible results just as before, especially when so many on one side seem to act as though violence is the the best solution. Plus, they’re very well armed.

I have some suggestions for an anthem for our time. Both of these are from the late 60s and even if you know them well I encourage you to listen with fresh ears. Perhaps the messages from these can provide some sane direction.

Maybe you have a notion for how we can move forward safely. Maybe you have a suggestion for an anthem to guide us through these very dangerous times. Please share them in the Comments section below.

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield – 1967

Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Little Help for You, Mike Pence


Reading time – 4:42  .  .  .

WARNING: Contains extra-crispy snark.

Mike, at the V.P. debate you said lots of things that are – well, let’s not call them lies; this is politics, so let’s just say they’re “creative.” We can’t look at everything, so we’ll pick just one thing to look at. Perhaps I can help you with that.

You said, “This presumption that you hear from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that America is systemically racist, and as Joe Biden said, he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, it’s a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”

On the slim chance that there are some facts (you remember what those are, right?) that somehow have slipped past you, here’s some help for you, Mike – just in case the issue of systemic racism ever comes up again in conversation.

When a White kid – say, your kid – gets busted for marijuana possession, one of two things happens.

  1. You get a call from the police to come down to the station to pick up your dumb kid. Before you leave the station the cop in charge says to your kid, “I don’t want to see you here again.” He turns to you and apologizes for having had to bother you. You take your kid home and ground him for a month. Or,
  2. Your kid gets charged, goes to court and the judge sentences him to 30 days of community service. He tells your kid that if he completes that satisfactorily his record will be expunged.

Here’s what happens when a Black kid from the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago gets busted for marijuana possession.

  1. He gets slammed into the side of a police cruiser, handcuffed and thrown into the back seat. While all that is going on he’s called a lot of cruel and abusive names.
  2. He spends every night in jail until somebody scrapes together enough cash to post bail. Or he just languishes there until his court date, which could be years away.
  3. The judge sentences him to a few years in prison, where he is surrounded by hardened criminals.
  4. He gets out of jail but can’t get a job because he has to check that box on the job application form that says he’s a convicted felon.

That’s how the system works, Mike. That’s why it’s called “systemic racism.” Let’s look at this another way.

Here’s a chart showing the rate of police fatal shootings per million people broken down by race. Review this carefully, Mike, and feel free to click the chart for the source material.

Are you seeing a problem here, Mike? Does any kind of discrimination jump out for you, like that the rate of fatal police killings is way higher for Blacks than for Whites? It’s 2.5 times higher. Does that look systemic to you, Mike? Okay, maybe you’re not seeing it, so let’s look at this yet another way.

Here’s a different chart. This one shows the number of people shot to death by police over a 4-year period and the data is broken down by race. Click the chart if you want to dig into the facts.

Let’s look at 2019, Mike – the gray bars – the last full year represented on the chart. You can see that fewer Black people were killed by police than Whites – about 1/3 fewer. The thing is, Mike, that Blacks are only about 15% of the U.S. population, but they have been killed by cops disproportionately more often. Does that look like a system of racism to you yet, Mike?

Tell you what: Watch this video. I’m recommending it to you because at the debate you deplored, with practiced, plastic passion, the awfulness of violent protests and looting. Oddly enough, though, you failed to deplore the conditions that lead to violence and looting. This video will help you to understand and appreciate those conditions. But I warn you that if you watch this video you’ll be in danger of understanding systemic racism. Your willful ignorance will be at risk, Mike. Still, be brave – watch the video. I think you can handle it.

Oh, and one other thing about violence and looting.

You demand, “Law and order!” and Trump proclaims, “I am the law and order president!” Sounds great, Mike. Works as an election bumper sticker almost magically. And you warn Americans against a Biden-Harris administration, letting us know in no uncertain terms of the carnage that will ensue if they get into office. The suburbs will never again be safe! There will be riots! Violence! Looting!

What’s interesting about that is that the violence and looting you claim to deplore are and have been occurring during your administration, Mike. It’s been stoked by your boss for four years. You remember El Paso, right? And Poway and Tree of Life Synagogue and Parkland and Jersey City and Gilroy? There are lots more. Not a lot of law and order going on there, Mike. And it’s all happened on your watch. Isn’t that fascinating?

Are you sure that Biden and Harris will do worse? Really? Honestly, that doesn’t seem possible, Mike.

Except, of course, that your boss is calling on militias, white nationalist and white supremacist groups to “Stand by.” It’s just the most recent of his barely disguised calls to arms to our thug-right, to whom he’s given cover for four years (Ref: “Good people on both sides.” Trump said that after a white nationalist murdered Heather Heyer with his car.). So, America might become more violent once you and Trump are out of office, as he rage-tweets for the violent minority to attack the rest of us in a civil war. He’ll call them the true patriots.

Important safety tip, Mike: Once you’re out of office and living in your affluent suburban home, you really ought to make sure your security detail is up to standing against Trump’s army of angry delusionals. They might mistake your house for someone else’s.

I feel so bad for you, Mike, because you’re stuck in your comfortable ignorance and I really want to help you. But the thing is, Mike – and there’s no getting around this – nothing I do will help you until you let go of pandering solely to old White guys, far right extremists and the Bible thumping closed-mindeds. Not even your over-practiced syrupy-ness or your God-thing certainties, or your robotic, disingenuousness will help until you at last give up your self-serving self-righteousness and embrace the actual reality out here where the rest of us live.

I’ve done all I can for you, Mike. Now it’s up to you. But in a final gesture of heartfelt support, let me suggest to you that you acquire an urgency for updating your résumé. Good luck to you, Mike, in whatever you do next. It will be here before you know it.

BREAKING NEWS

There was another Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration in Northbrook, IL yesterday, October 10. The groups were planted on their own corners of the intersection by the coronavirus death count sign. The vast majority weren’t locals – I know because I asked. They were mostly outside agitators. One proudly announced who he would vote for in South Carolina – clearly not a townie.

About 2 hours into the demonstrations a shaved head, mask-less tough came strutting over to the Biden supporters’ side and got face-to-face with demonstrators. The Biden supporters wore face masks, but the mask-less tough got in the face of some freshman high school girls, yelling and frothing COVID denials at them.

I have tried mightily to understand Trump supporters, to seek middle ground, to simply have a respectful conversation, but all I’ve found is anger, hatred, bluster, reality denying and, worst of all, puffing and posturing to demonize and dominate others, just like that frothing tough tried to do. This is a collection of adult bodies whose development was stunted at age 10, so they act like playground bullies, brats, the kids your mom and dad told you to stay away from. And they feed on the sense of power they get from chanting brainlessly. Their behavior reminds me of Nazi goose-stepping morons.

If they want to be miserable and ruin their own lives, it’s their choice. The truth is that now that they’ve done so much harm to others and they’ve attacked our democracy while cloaking themselves in a false mantle of patriotism, I don’t care about their misery. When they plot to kidnap a state governor, when they surrender all their reasoning to a cult tyrant and when they threaten COVID infection of 14 year old girls, our country is truly in peril and it is critical that we shut these bullies up using our votes.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

As Smart as Squirrels – v2


Reading time – 3:32  .  .  .

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump continues, even as more revelations arrive almost daily that paint a very dark picture of his actions. Whether witnesses will be called and evidentiary documents will be presented at his impeachment trial remains unknown. Whether he will be convicted and booted from office remains an extreme long shot. Nevertheless, he will leave office either by impeachment, by election this year or, worst case, in 4 more years. That leaves us with what appears to me to be a critical and un-examined issue: the threat of hate group backlash when Trump is removed.

You saw all those angry looking (mostly) men with loaded assault rifles and handguns on the streets in Virginia last weekend. They were carrying their firearms to send a testosterone-fueled, anger-fired message. Perhaps these are the same people who deliver death threats to politicians and pundits who dare to oppose Trump. Perhaps these are the same people who show up at churches and synagogues and movie theaters and outdoor concerts to murder innocent strangers. Perhaps they are a powder keg just waiting for the right stimulus, some perceived wrong, to light their fuse, like Trump’s removal from office.

I want to know someone is thinking about how to handle this situation when it arrives on our doorstep. Better yet, before it arrives on our doorstep. Who in government is forging a strategy to prevent the carnage that these haters have promised, like a new civil war? I want to know what we are doing to interdict post-Trump violence. There aren’t enough security guards in the world to protect all the people in all the churches and synagogues and movie theaters and outdoor concerts.

You and I and everyone else know it’s coming. Maybe there will be a lot of violence; maybe not so much. Regardless, the bad guys have promised violence on our country. We can make a plan to prepare for that every bit as surely as squirrels plan and prepare for the harsh winter they know is on the way.

Squirrels aren’t very bright. Their brains are about the size of a walnut and survival activities are about all they are capable of mastering. Can we do that? Can we master what’s needed for our own survival? Are we as smart as squirrels? I have my doubts.

Sarcasm Corner

With the promise of white supremacist violence on the horizon, this is the right time to express our gratitude, so:

Thanks so much, George W. Bush, for allowing the ban on assault weapons to expire.

Thanks so much to the NRA-funded politicians who refuse to do anything to curb gun violence except mouth pitifully inadequate thoughts and prayers.

Thanks to the Supreme Court for greasing the skids to oblivion by making so much corruption possible, including the gun lobby purchasing of politicians and laws made possible by the Citizens United decision 10 years ago last week.

Really, thanks to all who have made it possible – and even desirable to many – for America to have become a supremely well equipped arsenal of anger. You know who you are.

Who will save us from ourselves?

Last thing  .  .  .

The Trump defense team finished up on Tuesday and honestly, the wrap up by Pat Cipollone was masterful. Most impressive was his playing of a series of videos from the Clinton impeachment, featuring many of today’s House managers and other top Democrats appearing to have argued that Trump’s deeds are not impeachable, exactly the opposite of their earnest pleading today. It was a brilliant job of displaying hypocrisy, just as the recordings shown by Democrats of Lindsay Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr and others from the Clinton impeachment days have unmasked their hypocrisy. Great showmanship from both sides. Of course, while all of this was riveting courtroom drama, none of the tearing down of others deals with the substance of the charges against Trump.

As impressive as Cipollone’s videos were, my key takeaway from the entire body of defense work has led me to some questions. I didn’t go to law school so I need help finding answers from someone who did.

  1. Exactly which course in law school trains litigators to create fantastical arguments entirely out of fiction, to mislead and to blatantly lie?
  2. Who schools law students to misrepresent, to turn reality upside down and to say the most outrageously false things they can conjure, telling people not to believe their own eyes?
  3. What is the process they’re taught for selling out their integrity?

Yes, that is a brutal indictment of Trump’s team. That’s how it’s intended.

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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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Wrong – Just Wrong


Reading time – 69 seconds  .  .  . 

T.M. Luhrmann is a professor of anthropology at Stanford University and she wrote a most intersting opinion piece for the New York Times entitled Where Reason Ends and Faith Begins. In it she wrote, “Most people, whatever their religious persuasion, assume that there are decent human beings with good intentions who interpreted the evidence differently and who are wrong” (emphasis mine). Does that kind of absolutist thinking sound at all familiar?

ISIS is terrorizing the Middle-East, killing Shia, Christians and now Yazidi’s. They are warring to create a caliphate (from “caliph” – successor to Muhammad) not just across the area, but across the entire Muslim world. They believe that they have the one true faith and interpretation of the words of Muhammad and, as such, anyone who sees things differently is wrong. Fatally. And since their quest is in service to God, any brutality they commit for their cause is justified and no compromise is possible.

The same kind of closed thinking is what drives Hamas to kill indiscriminately and to set up Palestinians to be collateral damage in order to drive world sympathy. That is not to say that there are no legitimate grievances. That area of the world is founded on perpetual grievances, with each injustice being the basis for the next act of violence. Still, for Hamas it’s their way or the highway. The one toward which they aim their rockets.

Be slow to imagine this kind of mental intransigence is confined to killers in the Middle-East. Recall the murderous enormity of the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades. On a smaller scale, Dr. George Tiller was murdered in Wichita, KS by an extremist with the same kind of religion-justified cranial impasse. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered by a self-proclaimed Christian. Our government was shut down by a band of Tea Party absolutists for whom compromise is not just unacceptable; it is Bible-thumping blasphemy.

Don’t think for a minute that attitudes like that are unproductive. Throughout history that kind of thinking has produced millions of dead bodies, tortured people, refugees and failed nations. People have been made to live in abject poverty and continually in fear for their lives. And how odd that all is, when so much of this evil is done in the name of God and of religion.

God save us from the God-inspired absolutists.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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