will of the people

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s another chapter to this story.

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

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

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

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

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

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

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

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* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

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

What’s Going On?


First, Something Personal

Parkinson’s Disease is a miserable critter. It strikes famous people like Michael J. Fox, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond and it hits we little folk as well. Nobody knows what causes it, so nobody knows how to prevent it. It’s progressive (it gets worse over time), so all that can be done now for those stricken with Parkinson’s is to manage symptoms. There’s no cure – yet.

There are ongoing medical trials and much research happening, so hope continues, The research and trials take a long time and are very expensive. That’s why son Scott and Wendy and the boys have dedicated their hike of the John Muir Trail this month to raising money for the cause. If you click on their picture you’ll find a donation page for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Your joining in this battle in any amount will be greatly appreciated by my family, others who suffer from this disease now and for the millions in the future who will have more hope because of your help. Thanks.

And please pass this along to folks you know. Post on FB, Twitter  .  .  .  you get the idea.

Kudos to all who make the extra effort to raise funds for worthy causes. We’re way proud of this particular extraordinary help-the-cause people. You rock, kids!

Now, On To What’s Going On

I reported last Wednesday about the State of Texas proudly committing itself to denial of facts and reality and ever more firmly embracing Texas myths. The governor himself tweeted proudly that Texas children should be taught that those who died at the Alamo are heroes. No facts need be presented to impressionable minds about the real motivation of these men to fight. We wouldn’t want them to learn that Mexico prohibited slavery, so the actual (not mythical) truth about the battle at the Alamo was that Texas independence from Mexico meant free labor in Texas cotton fields.

And that’s why Texans wanted independence from Mexico. Now I get it!

But Governor Greg Abbott doesn’t want Texas school children to get it, so he’s stifling education. Pay no attention to the fact that those heroes were only heroes to slave owners. Ignore that this is the state that took two extra years to tell its slaves that they were free. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The governor also doesn’t want to allow today’s Texans to be free. He’s promised to arrest all the Democratic state legislators who left Texas to prevent a vote on his draconian voter suppression laws. There is no law that those Democrats have violated by leaving the state, but Abbott wants to arrest them anyway. He intends to incarcerate them in the state Capitol Building until the end of this special session of the legislature.

And he did more.

Abbott dictatorially vetoed funding for the legislature the first time Democrats fled his inquisition to prevent his voter suppression from becoming law. That stiffing of legislators is being challenged in court, but what can’t be challenged is that Abbott is a dictator wannabe. He thinks he’s a candidate for the presidency in 2024. If so, he’s heading the Anti-Democracy ticket.

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This was part of the TN Department Of Health Covid vaccine promotion. It’s gone now.

“The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but for all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers,” reports the Tennessean. The geniuses in the state legislature are also stopping all Covid-19 vaccine events on school property. Plus they’re ending mailed vaccination reminders to teens. All that and only 38% of Tennesseans have been vaccinated. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, and they also fired Michelle Fiscus, the state’s top vaccination official. The hollow heads in Nashville are even talking about eliminating the state Department of Health altogether. Yes, really.

Vaccine hostility at CPAC, a brain-free hate fest. Click me.

Halting outreach for ALL vaccines means that the State of Tennessee is now allowing – even encouraging – the elimination of vaccines for measles, chicken pox, smallpox, hepatitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, HPV  and more. Who cares about epidemics that maim and kill children? Apparently, not the Republicans in the Tennessee state house and in the governor’s mansion.*

Perhaps they think we should revert to the medicine practices of hundreds of years ago, like leeches, blood letting, driving out evil spirits and purification by fire. Remember, this is the state that refused to allow children to be taught evolution. It looks like they’re on the way back there again. Maybe they can burn some witches and thereby Make America Great Again.

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As reported last Wednesday, the new members of the library board in Niles, IL want to cut back hours, programs and pay for librarians by 23%. I guess the Enlightenment is so far back in our rear view mirror that we can now ignore its teachings and proudly go back to mass ignorance. Maybe the new library trustees will burn books and smash printing presses. Then they can cut the library budget by 100%.

As said about Nazis by Dr. Jones, Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,Goose stepping morons.”

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Tying It Together

All of this is being led by Republicans, who seem to be engaged in a frantic race for us to become mentally medieval. They are appealing to our most base animal instincts and would dumb us down to pounding drums in the forest. At the same time, they are scrambling for power in the most dishonest, anti-democracy ways possible. Here’s what happens when we put those two things together.

We get minority rule by autocrats – despots – dictators – leading an ignorant, uniformed public that can be manipulated into anything. We get theocracy and all its vile perversions, cruelties and suppression and a complete elimination of freedom. There has never been a theocracy that did not devolve into that and we have no reason to believe anything different will happen if the bible thumping, chest pounding, democracy smashing Republicans get their way.

Be clear that this isn’t about conservatism. There is nothing that today’s Republicans are doing that is even remotely conservative. They are anti-democracy radicals.

The actions in Texas and Tennessee and Niles, as well as children having been ripped from the arms of their parents at our southern border by the prior administration look cruel because they are, but John Pavlovitz cautions us that cruelty isn’t the point. Power is. And when some are grabbing and hoarding power, others are losing power. Others like us. Read David Frum’s Atlantic essay, There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is becoming.

The Founders didn’t have in mind that We the People should be ignorant peons enslaved by a cruel autocrat. Those conditions are exactly what led to our revolution. I sure as hell know those conditions are not what I have in mind for us and our country.

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* I recently had a nightmare about Nazis. Being an early Boomer I was raised in the aftermath of WW II when Nazi atrocities, the capture of Adolph Eichmann and so much more were commonly discussed. It’s likely I’m not alone in occasional recollections or even nightmares of those things. When I awoke I wondered if people born, say, 20 years after me – the late Boomers and those born after them – have such dreams. It’s probable they have no memories of talk of Nazi terror during their childhoods.

That’s a kid’s head poking out of that machine – an “iron lung”. It’s doing his breathing for him, because he can’t breath on his own. This was a common sight in the 1950s during that awful polio epidemic. I wonder if that kid survived.

Then my head scratching latched onto the Tennessee Republicans and their actions to cripple medical protection for children. I’m guessing that these politicians are young enough to have no memory of children in iron lung machines, measles epidemics, whooping cough ravaging the nation and the rest. Perhaps the same can be said for our Covid-19 vaccination refusers who simply refuse to understand.

They can “OK, Boomer” all they want, but there is so much being done in our country that suggests that we’ve lost individual and collective memory of enormous suffering and death. It seems that all that is left is a knee-jerk reaction to any public policy that contacts rugged individual freedom. And it seems they now want to force their automatic rejections onto helpless others – children.

Very strange. And very dangerous.

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Potpourri – v13.0


Curmudgeon Corner

Richard Branson has successfully staged his self-promotional space spectacular and it is most disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as geeky as most science geeks and a space shot, even a barely sub-orbital one, is pretty cool. But the science and engineering and cool factors aren’t the real story.

The real deal is the acquiescence of the national press to publicize Branson’s space tourism private business launch. They have followed this present day P.T. Barnum and faithfully done his marketing for him. What do you suppose 3 hours of cable coverage is worth? Multiply your figure by the number of stations covering the event. Now yet more rich guys will pony up a quarter of a million dollars to ride his roller coaster. Well done, Sir Richard.

That’s a perfect parallel to the non-stop free press coverage that Donald Trump got for 5 years, especially during each of his campaigns. We blame Russian hacking and Trump’s horrendous cheating for his temporarily living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But just as culpable is the press having slavishly done his marketing for him with all that free publicity. I mean, was it really legitimate news to air in full every promotional event and thousands of his inane tweets and every other outrageous thing he said and did?

All news outlets censor, in the sense that they cannot cover everything that happens. They pick and choose every day. Where was their sense of discretion for five years? Where is it today?

Re-education

If you visit the Alamo in San Antonio, TX you’ll see various artifacts of the men who defended it against General Santa Anna’s army in February 1836. Among the items is a brick from the chimney of Davy Crockett’s home in Tennessee. No clue what that has to do with the battle at the Alamo, any more than the tableware that is on display there from the far away homes of others.

The story of the battle and the men who defended the Alamo has been glorified on television, in movies and primarily in proud Texas lore. Some of that lore is accurate. Much is fictionalized to suit Texas pride and there is great Lone Star chest thumping about it going on right now.

There was to be a book tour event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin to highlight “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.” It was cancelled by the museum hours before the event because of political pressure from the state’s Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who proudly killed the session. (Is that cancel culture? If so, should righties oppose the cancellation?) As one of the book’s authors, Jason Staffords, writes, “Apparently, the state history museum was no place to discuss state history.”

Not to be outdone by his lieutenant governor, Governor Greg Abbott, he of anti-mask and voter suppression infamy, tweeted “Stop political correctness in our schools.” “Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’!”

In other words, pay no attention to facts and reality if they disturb Texans’ comfort in self-serving fantasy. It’s yet another effort of the far right to control the minds of Americans, to educate or re-educate them to manipulative “alternative facts.” We don’ need no stinking truth or learning here in Texas.

Separately, Ira Leavitt wrote about his home town library, saying, “Four new Niles-Maine District Library trustees, stealthy victors in a sparsely-voted election, want to carve deeply into the budget, resulting in staff and program cuts and a 23% reduction of hours.” He called them, “The small-minded people attacking the source of knowledge of their community” No stinking truth or learning needed in Niles, either.

Citizens for Renewing America wants to re-educate our teachers so that our young Americans are properly indoctrinated. For example, Critical Race Theory (CRT), a relatively obscure legal concept, is now a favorite boogeyman used by the far right to demonize any adjustment to its favorite narratives, facts notwithstanding, and they are staunchly against any word of it leaking out. You can download a PDF of the organization’s manifesto, Model School Board Language to Prohibit Critical Race Theory here.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent shield against discrimination, because it’s anything but that. Scroll down to the extensive list of concepts that it proudly declares are prohibited and read its proscribed penalties for violation of its Big Brother doctrine.

These people are focused on prohibiting critical thinking of any kind. They are about muzzling teachers and controlling the minds of our kids. It seems we don’ need no stinking truth or learning in our schools, either. These people and their tyranny are a harbinger of the Thought Police.

All these episodes are part of today’s version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It’s a battle for knowledge, truth, reality and critical thinking against an entrenched, pre-frontal lobe mob. We lost the Scopes battle (only to “win” later on a bizarre, wimpy technicality). Today’s fight is a battle every bit as important and we better win this one clean. Evolution is real and so is the true story – not the heroic Texas fantasy one – of the Alamo. Our need for knowledge and learning in all things is real. So is our need for librarians.

A Credible Revolution

President Trump told us that his health plan would be incredible – so good you won’t believe it – better coverage, lower cost and all the rest. Of course, it turned out that he was right. His plan was incredible – it lacked credibility because there never was a plan.

Now President Biden has signed An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy. In presenting it he said, “[W]e know we’ve got a problem—a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity.”

I don’t know how sensible his plan is, although Reagan effectively stopped our anti-trust (anti-monopoly) actions and it’s been competition elimination ever since. If Biden can reverse that, it should be a good thing for nearly all of us. Meanwhile, he started by labeling the opportunity as “incredible.”

Our language has evolved to the point where up is down and incredible means credible and spectacular. That’s not okay. I’m calling for a credible revolution, where “incredible” means “not credible, not believable” just the way we applied it to Lyndon Johnson. He had his “credibility gap,” which is what people said in the 60s when the president lied. And he lied a lot.

So, let’s stop using “incredible” when we mean wonderful or better than you might imagine or spectacular or really good. Let “incredible” go where it should, to describe those who lack credibility.

Can you think of anyone or any group that fits that description, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Short Reads in Reality

Dahlia Lithwick explains The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

Republicans, those stalwart “law and order” pounders of fists on desks, seem to have forgotten themselves. Jennifer Rubin explains in Republicans Now Stand for Lawlessness and Disorder.

There’s been enough pretending that there are honest brokers in the Republican caucus. Thom Hartmann makes his persuasive case in Dear Democrats: Don’t Negotiate With Terrorist-Lovers.

Maybe you want to know why Democrats aren’t running the table. Jeff Greenfield explains Why America’s Most Popular Party Isn’t Getting More Done.

Tucker Carlson is on a pseudo-patriotic crusade against “civilization ending poison.” It’s another of his fabricated hate fests, this one attacking teachers. Read a letter to him from an actual teacher, Dear Tucker Carlson.

Are you seeing the Delta variant trend?
236 deaths every day is equivalent to a Boeing 737-MAX crash every day.
GET VACCINATED!

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

Chutes & Ladders, Knives & Guns and Karma


Most of us are taught to play by the rules from a very young age because human relationships and even civilizations require rules in order to prevent chaos and the breakdown of society. So we play Chutes and Ladders pretty much according to the rules.

Robert Frost said it best:

Good fences make good neighbors.

So we make sure that we agree about the fences, just as we agree on the rules of Chutes and Ladders.

But now we have a national problem: one side isn’t honoring the fences. It isn’t playing by the rules. It’s playing with wanton disregard for order, truth and the law. It is actively breaking down society. That is what bullies and insurrectionists do. That is what “all about me” types do. They play dirty. They cheat. They act without regard for others. They throw sand in the sand box, to invoke yet another metaphor, so they can own it.

When Democrats play by the rules, honor the fences and don’t throw sand they keep themselves at a very dangerous disadvantage. As Nicolle Wallace put it, “Democrats continue to bring a knife to a gun fight.” Wallace is right.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has repeatedly vowed to block all Biden initiatives – he has 100% focus on that. Sadly, that leaves no focus for America and the American people. His message could not be plainer: “We want all the power, so screw you, We the People.”

And Republicans are pleased to do any and everything to make that happen.

They lie, claiming a stolen election.

They enable and lie about insurrection.

They run a spy ring to sabotage our electoral processes.

They project their wrongdoings on Democrats.

They create and encourage conspiracy thinking to stoke fear and hatred.

They filibuster nearly everything.

They enact onerous, unconstitutional laws to prevent those likely to vote for Democrats from voting.

They put partisan conspiracy nut cases in charge of elections.

They enact laws to enable Republicans to overturn the will of the people.

They remove hundreds of thousands of voters from state voting registers.

Those are just some of the dishonoring of fences and throwing of sand – the “guns” – Republicans are firing in this gun fight.

Democrats respond by saying things like, “That’s awful,” and somebody gives a speech from the well of the Senate that nobody hears. That’s the knife Democrats bring to this gun fight. It’s way past time for Democrats to arm themselves properly.

Democrats need to get serious about messaging that will change the minds of the American people. We need talking heads to be everywhere calling out Republican lies and power grabs. We need elected Democrats and pundits telling Americans that Republicans don’t care about We the People and that all they care about is stealing all the power and money for themselves  We need bumper stickers that say:

“Republicans are picking your pocket and breaking your legs.”

“How do you like being lied to by Republicans?”

“Republicans are coming for you next.”

“If you like being a peon, you’ll love Republican rule.”

“You can’t love America and vote Republican.”

“Republicans are why you can’t get what you want.”

“Rs want your rights, so we stand and fight.”

We need talkers pointing fingers at cameras and scaring the hell out of voters by telling them the truth about the horrible dystopian future the Republicans are creating. Failure to fully engage, all rhetorical guns blazing, will lead to nothing less than vigilante terrorist murders and the end of democracy.

So, pass this along to your senators, representative and elected state officials. Tell them to stop playing nice, to put some starch into their spines and go on the offensive. This is not a contest against an opponent in a board game. This is a rhetorical and legislative gun fight against a well armed enemy of the We the People. Lock and load.

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A New Balance

Vaccine refusers have their reasons. Some of those reasons might even be rational and based on something real on planet Earth. I can’t think of any, but let’s assume that not everyone who refuses to be vaccinated is a conspiracy nut.

My guess, though, is that most believe in some sort of conspiracy, like the Bill Gates nanobots-in-vaccines believers and the autism wailers. My favorites, though, are the freedom screamers, the people who are certain that having to wear a mask is a tyrannical government’s abridgement of their freedom. They believe there’s no pandemic, that COVID is a hoax and it’s no worse than “strenuous flu,” as a mentally ill former president described it.

COVID doesn’t care if you’re in New York City or rural Missouri. All that’s required to contract the disease is to be un-vaccinated and in close proximity to an infected person who is still able to exhale on his/her own. And yes, that happens even in rural Missouri. Just ask the people in rural South Dakota what happened last winter. Oh, wait – you can’t do that because so many of them are dead.

Last winter South Dakota had the highest rate of death from COVID in the world. “Who needs a mask?” they said. The rest of us know the answer to that question, but the governor of SD still proudly stands for the right to contract COVID and die. And the face mask and vaccine refusing mania has become yet more perilous, as the Delta and Delta Plus COVID variants have made their way into the lungs of lots of Americans.

What’s significant about these variants is how much faster and efficiently they spread to others’ lungs and that they are far more deadly than yesterday’s COVID-19. Let’s consider what that might mean.

I bet that a huge percentage of vaccine refusers are rugged individuals and Trump supporters. Imagine what would happen if tens or hundreds of thousands of them manage to get themselves infected with the new ultra-deadly COVID variants. Without their being vaccinated and with anti-viral drugs largely ineffective in people with these variants, the die off this winter will be ghastly.

Here’s the Machiavellian craziness of it all: That die off might be great enough to counter-balance the Republican purging of black, brown and young people from voting rolls in swing states.

Not hoping for any such thing, but karma always has its way.

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Commissar DeSantis announcing re-education camps for Florida students and teachers. Click me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not DeSantis’ mother – but the words fit. This was originally targeted at unruly airline passengers. I’m aiming it at an unruly governor.

..

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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.

Legislation Republicans Will Champion – The KBL Act


It seems so obvious that I just don’t understand why no member of Congress and no state legislature officials have proposed this. It comports perfectly with today’s Republican Party and its policy of having no policy other than obstructing all progress and stoking cultural wars to aggregate power for itself at the risk of our democracy. They find unconstitutional laws to be very attractive, so I have one for them. First, the substantiation for it.

It has yet to be judicially established that Republican members of Congress and/or their staffs took January 6 insurrectionists on tours of the Capitol Building – scouting missions – on January 5. However, other members of Congress witnessed these “case the joint” expeditions, so we can safely believe they occurred. These reconnaissance operations were critical to the insurrectionists if they were to have a chance of finding Mike Pence in order to hang him and to find Nancy Pelosi in order to murder her. That’s wrong.

After the bloody destruction and vile befoulment of our most symbolic building happened, the confirmation of the Elector’s votes took place, as proscribed by the Constitution. But even after the insurrection that put the lives of all members of Congress and their staff members in peril, 8 senators and 140 congressmen/women voted to reject the will of We the People. They succumbed in subservience to the Jackass-In-Chief, who constantly brayed lies about election fraud. Only a single example of voting fraud could be found. It was a guy in Pennsylvania who tried to cast his dead mother’s vote for Trump. That near-total lack of evidence of fraud (one in 160,000,000 votes cast = 0.0000006%) is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. Still, the 148 cowards voted to undermine our democracy. That’s wrong.

Those 148 legislators and more also blocked the formation of a special commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Some of these investigation refusers are the same people who were insane fanatics for investigating the Benghazi tragedy TEN TIMES OVER! But this time, when our entire democracy was threatened, they refused to look even once. Whatever their reasons (feel free to suggest your views on that), they voted to continue their attack on the Constitution. That’s wrong.

Captain No

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has done to Biden what he did to Obama: he vowed to block any and all things promoted by the President and has pretty much made good on his obstructionist promise. That subverts the will of the people and threatens our democracy. That’s wrong.

Our Senators and Congressmen/women have said some dazzlingly, on-the-face-of-it blatantly false things. Call them stupid, if you want, for saying that the January 6 insurrectionists were ordinary tourists visiting the Capitol Building (on a day when it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic), but they saw what you saw and they aren’t stupid. What they are is dishonest and cowardly. That’s wrong.

Republican state houses and Republican governors are stampeding their voting suppression laws through their legislatures to make sure that they can maintain minority rule. They’re even attacking their own structure and processes in an effort to remove impartial election officials and replace them with Republican/QAnon operatives. That’s wrong.

That’s a lot of wrong going on and defeating that at the voting booth level will take a very long time. Actually, it may be impossible to reverse the damage. We must do something far more expeditious, so I propose my unconstitutional act of democracy restoration and protection. Its very unconstitutionality should be like mother’s milk to Republicans.

The Kibosh Illegal Lying Liars Babbling In Government and Legislatures Idiotically Eliminating Self-government
(“Kill Big Lies” ) Act

.

Provisions of This Act

Section 1: It shall be illegal to promote small or big lies whenever the aim is to undermine our democratic processes and/or our democracy.

Section 2: All federally elected and appointed officials, as well as all their staff members shall be held personally responsible for any and all harm to persons and/or property caused directly or indirectly by their efforts to aid or abet insurrectionists or democracy threatening actors. Liability shall be determined based on the stupidity of statements uttered, actions taken and obstructions attempted. Penalties shall be doubled for obviously self-contradictory claims.

Section 3: All state level attempts to prevent or limit voting shall result in the immediate removal from office of perpetrators, be they legislative, executive or judicial, and the permanent removal of voting rights from them. In addition, they will be required to deliver pizza and bottled water to voters waiting in line to vote.

Penalties for Violation

Section 4: All violations of this law shall be deemed a felony with penalties of not less than 1 year nor more than 112 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines. In addition, violators of any provision of this Act shall immediately be placed in stocks in the public square of the municipality where they live, to be ridiculed by the citizens as the laughing stocks that they are. This public humiliation shall continue for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 112 years.

Attempts to Avoid Compliance With This Act and Penalties

Section 5: No state shall be allowed to declare a states rights objection to this federal law. Each and every attempt to do so shall cause the proscribed penalty to be doubled and one Republican congressperson or senator of that state per attempt shall be removed from office. If, due to prior penalties, there are no longer any federal representatives or senators from a state which has again violated this provision, the penalties shall shift first to the governor of said state, then sequentially to members of the state legislature. Should all of those have been removed from office for their attempts to violate or circumvent this law, random registered Republican voters in the state will be selected for prosecution, including eliminating their right to vote.

Period of Applicability of This Act

Section 6: This law is retroactive to January 20, 2017 and there is and shall be no statute of limitations on any act of dishonesty or unconstitutional manipulation to which this law applies.

Severability

Section 7: If any part of this Act should be found to be unconstitutional, it shall be considered severed from the Act, leaving all other provisions intact. So there.

Who Is Eligible To Vote For This Act

Section 8: All members of the duly constituted voting public shall be eligible to vote for this bill in the Comments section below. No onerous voter ID is required. Early voting has started. Black, brown, poor and young people, high school seniors, college students and naturalized citizens are all eligible to vote – always. Plus old white guys and angry young white guys (“guys” is gender neutral here), as well as Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jesus freaks, droolers and both conspiracy nuts and sane people. Also white collar, blue collar and no collar workers, as well as unemployed non-workers, the physically challenged and all convicted felons, whether they’re now free or still in prison. Urban, suburban, rural and wandering citizens are eligible and encouraged to vote. Gun ownership is not required for voting privileges, nor is an Armageddon hiding place, nor is a facility with the English language required. Those under the physical care of a Republican are encouraged to grab a laptop when the obermeister isn’t looking and register their vote. Polling places are everywhere internet electrons can reach, so no worries about a long journey to vote or a long wait in line or threats from Republican intimidation thugs. Bring your own pizza and bottled water.

Republicans like this kind of heavy-handed, blatantly unconstitutional legislation. It’s their style, their M.O. to promote anti-democracy things, so we might expect them to champion this Act.

On the other hand, this proposal puts the sting to them, so I don’t expect to hear a chorus of “D’OH!!!” from the Capitol Building and all Republican state houses, nor do I expect to see pictures of these Republicans posted on their FaceBook pages showing them slapping their foreheads. Still, we know who and what they are.

They are so busted.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Serendipity


The word “serendipity” stems from the ancient Persian tale, Serendipity and The Three Princes. It’s sometimes called The Three Princes of Serendip.* It was translated in 1557 into Italian as The Peregrinaggio. It is a tale of “the gift for discovery by accident and sagacity of things  .  .  .  not in quest of [it].” It’s commonly thought of as finding something of value while looking for something else.

I just had one of those moments when I came upon one of my long forgotten essays from shortly before the 2018 mid-term election. This isn’t about being self-congratulatory. Because of our current circumstances, I think it’s worth revisiting.

By 2018 we had endured a year and a half of Trump’s general election outrageousness and cruelty, then two years of him in office. That he was greatly popular with a substantial swath of Americans led to a search to understand his voters. The search was more than to satisfy our need to understand why otherwise sensible people voted for this brutish thug. If we were to stop his worst, those who would stand up to his behavior had to be voted into office. Quickly.

I did some research and posted an essay to help in the search, taking care to understand, rather than to persuade. The video is embedded below and I encourage you to have a look at it with fresh eyes, because we are still fighting to stop authoritarian rule.

Here’s that video:

Originally posted October 28, 2018, just before the mid-term election

Every bit of what was going on two and a half years ago is still going on. Indeed, some is far worse now. Republicans will not stop it. They have become a cult of anger, hatred, cowardice, violence and subservience. That means that we have to elect Democrats to stop the authoritarian stampede and to keep our democracy.

Click me for the Bamboo Ballot idiocy story

Expect the illicit Arizona election recount  of Maricopa County – the non-audit done by partisan ignorants and QAnon conspiracy believers, as they violate election ballot integrity – to report massive voting fraud that neither they nor anyone else can substantiate. After watching the video above, consider how our angry citizenry will react to the deceitful reports from Arizona that confirm their biases.

The 2022 mid-term election is of the same critical nature as that in 2018. It’s just 506 days away, with Republicans working every day to cheat their way to long term minority rule by gerrymandering, purging voter roles, requiring oppressive voter identification, closing polling stations, intimidating professional voting administrators and more.

We have two key jobs. The first is to fight voter suppression. We’re attacking that in the courts and, because there are potentially hundreds of repressive anti-voting laws, that will be a massive challenge.

We’re also attacking that in Congress. There are two bills – the For The People Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Act – that we need to get through the McConnell-strangled Senate. The key obstructionist this time is, of course, Joe Manchin. We need a magic wake-up pill for him. It seems that those holding that pill are West Virginia voters. That’s why phone banks to those folks are so important right now.

The second job is to figure out a way to appeal to our voting citizens who feel blown off by the establishment. They aren’t all crazy. They are all angry. Please jot your ideas of how to appeal to them in the Comments section below.

Meanwhile, we best not count on serendipity to aid us in this mission. It’s time to be intentional. If we find something else of great value along the way, then lucky us.

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* Serendip is the classical Persian name for Sri Lanka.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Proper Names


Ed Note: This post begins in a dark way, because there is substantial darkness over our democracy. But keep your hopes alive, because we may be at the start of a new day. Read to the end for the unmistakable rays of sunlight of the dawn.

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Trump has gotten away with an enormous dung heap of wrongdoing. One of the reasons for his constantly skating from accountability is that before anyone can pin up his picture in the post office he’s done something else outrageous and likely illegal, so our attention is thus diverted and “poof!” goes the prior malfeasance.

Now we’ve found that he directed OUR Justice Department to snoop on Democrats and major news organizations. Under both of his Attorneys General, Sessions and Barr, investigations were conducted on those whom Trump saw as opponents. Emails and phone records were snatched and gag orders were issued so that Trump could dig for dirt on Eric Swalwell, Adam Schiff, their staffs, their families, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, their reporters, someone’s underage kid and whoever else the Tantrum Tyrant wanted investigated. All are Democrats. Except for the president’s own lawyer, Don McGahn and his wife, on whom he also snooped.

Tweeted Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, “[G]ood God, they were running a police state. Barr needs to be hauled in and at the very least disbarred.” She’s right, and it shouldn’t stop with Bad Boy Barr.

Something to hope for. Image by LORRAINE DAY from Pixabay

This is truly horrible stuff, typical of Trump’s moral bankruptcy. It breaks yet more norms that are fundamental to a democracy. But what I have not heard yet are words like “illegal” or “felony” or even “misdemeanor.” Is anyone going to dig into these corrupt actions and bring charges?

So far we’ve seen nothing from Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland to indicate that he’s willing to bring wrongdoers to justice if they were a part of the prior administration. And what will happen  to the focus of the public, our news organizations and Congress when the next bright, shiny object of Trump’s unscrupulous weaseling is dangled before our eyes? How many prior wrongdoings will we forget?

The Biden administration is a mixed bag of resetting our values. It is blocking Congress in its efforts to unearth Trump’s manipulations to enrich himself at the Trump International Hotel, the DC facility he leased from the federal government. Biden’s Justice Department is asking the judge to dismiss lawsuits against Trump for violently clearing Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters. AG Garland is continuing what the former AG did to block the defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll. One has to wonder why Biden would want to protect Trump from litigation.

This has huge implications for the future of our country. Allowing people in high office – like the President – to “get away with shooting someone on 5th Avenue,” like Nixon getting pardoned by Ford, like Reagan getting a pass on Iran-Contra, like Trump getting away with breathing while in office, which meant that he was doing something illegal, assures that future presidents will commit crimes, knowing that they will get away with them. They’ll leave office, skate free and recast themselves as statesmen, while We the People remain betrayed.

Do you want this to be a democracy? If so, then there’s a lot of bad news for you now, like this from Jewish Dems:

American democracy is in danger. Over half of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen because GOP leaders continue to exploit Donald Trump’s Big Lie, and they are now using it as an excuse to suppress the right to vote. Fourteen states have already enacted 22 voter suppression laws making it harder to vote, and hundreds more have been proposed. New data shows that voter suppression laws enacted in Georgia will have a disproportionate impact on Black voters.

Today’s Republicans have no interest in facts, truth, reality or integrity. They are solely interested in power and money. So, they recast the January 6 insurrection, the assault on our democracy, on the Capitol Police and on that symbolic building as (take your pick):

– a normal gathering of tourists

– a peaceful protest

– justifiable actions because the election had been stolen by (impossible to find) fraudulent votes

– something in the past – we should move on

And the lack of Republicans’ interest in facts, truth, reality or integrity allows them to claim they are protecting our national honor and the integrity of our elections, even as they viciously attack both.

Just be clear that your eyes tell you what you need to know and that “alternative facts” are just a rebranding of lying. But those who wallow in the pig slop of alternative facts have legislative power in two-thirds of the states and they are engineering voter suppression of such magnitude that they may well achieve anti-democracy minority rule that will last for decades. That’s insurrection without the street mobs.

From Confucius:

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”

Mobs in the streets, mobs in the state legislatures and the elected Republican mob in the Capitol Building are all insurrectionists. Call them by their proper name.

Our democracy is already compromised and so far there hasn’t been even a hint of a light at the end of our long, dark insurrection tunnel. It’s time for Merrick Garland to break from the cowardly Justice Department he inherited and file five indictments against Trump for obstruction of justice. The details and the prosecutorial roadmap are all in Mueller’s report. Click here for a copy and focus on Section 2.

Now here are those promised rays of sunshine.

Last Friday Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the entire Justice Department Civil Rights Division to drive a stake in the ground for voting rights. Here is some of what he declared:

  1. Because this is a huge battle, he will double the number of lawyers in the Civil Rights Division specifically in order to protect voting rights.
  2. The Criminal Division will prosecute all violations of civil rights laws.
  3. All lawful citizens will have the right to vote, will have equal access to the polls, their votes will be counted, they will have access to voting registration and they will be protected from voter intimidation.
  4. Early voting and voting by mail will be protected, as will the post-election integrity of ballots. (Arizona Republicans, brace yourselves.)
  5. Voting officials, poll workers and volunteers will be protected from efforts to intimidate them.

Just brave words so far, but it’s a good start. At last we have a warrior for democracy with the muscle to do something about it. And we have to hold him to his word.

Garland ended his presentation by quoting from John Lewis’ final address published just after his death.

“[Dr. King] said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

Our country is calling on you and me to do that, to help clean house, hold accountable and name names. So, you and I must do more than just hope and vote. Obey the dictum of the bumper sticker:

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Under Attack


We have a lot of huge challenges before us. The problems are complex and not susceptible to simple thinking or uncomplicated solutions. In consequence, our indelicate dances around gun safety, education, healthcare, jobs, infrastructure, race and so many more issues continue to vex us, even as they are all secondary issues. There is one that lies like a death shroud over our country and resolving it has, is and will continue to bedevil us until we at last find the courage to assertively confront it.

We are a nation perpetually drunk on power, so we have a large minority that wants to get its way vigilante style. They are certain that they are right and that they are the true patriots, but they are ironically using unconstitutional means while thinking they are protecting the Constitution. They don’t believe in majority rule. They are ready and even eager for physical confrontation and they thrill to the message of a megalomaniac autocrat wannabe. They don’t want democracy and have demonstrated their intentions against it many times.

In short, we’re beset by people who are appallingly angry agents of unconstitutionality, who are somehow content in their dishonesty and who love the power rush of minority rule. That applies to both cowardly politicians, as well as to the mobs in the streets.

Our democracy is under attack from within.

We’ve been warned many times that this was happening, but we’ve done far too little to combat it. It continues almost exclusively because of elected leaders and appointees promoting hatred and spewing lies powered by their mindless and cowardly obeisance to a cult leader.

This is stuff that promotes vicious attacks, mob violence and civil wars. This is stuff that leads to autocracy and fascism. This is stuff that violates everything we say we hold dear.

Read what Professor Timothy Snyder has to say about that in his brilliant New York Times essay and in his little book, On Tyranny. Read what Professor Jason Stanley has to say in his book How Fascism Works.

Our democracy is under attack from within.

Just in case you have even a tiny bit of doubt that an angry, animated minority hates democracy, is intentionally working to take away your vote and whose members want to steal power for themselves, read this piece that unmasks Republican voter suppression, this in their own words, as reported by Mother Jones. The report is horrifying, even as it is completely unsurprising.

This kind of cheating and manipulating has been championed and practiced since Paul Weyrich* announced his voter suppression strategy four decades ago. Indeed, this kind of effort has a long and sordid history, as Heather Cox Richardson explains here.

If we don’t get a handle on that, if we don’t find ways to stop that attack, none of our other problems, challenges or opportunities will matter, because all will be lost. This is no time for complacency or willful self-delusion. This is no time to sit on the sidelines and expect someone else to do the critically important  work.

From Thomas Paine in The American Crisis #1,** December 23, 1776:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Paine was right then and he’s right once again.

The anti-democracy mob is angry and motivated. They vote in large numbers and joyfully suppress others. Democrats aren’t as constantly angry and have a way of failing to be active, failing to vote and, of course, they’re nice. That’s a liability when facing an insurrection.

Stacey Abrams did an amazing job in Georgia last election. Can we replicate her 49 times? That, plus our active foot soldiering and the For The People Act are what we need in order to protect democracy and stop the thieves from stealing the next election.

Isn’t that an odd thing to be able to say? The insurrectionists – both politicians and the mobs – are having tantrums over what they’re calling a stolen election. Yet at the same time they are erecting barriers to voting so that they themselves can steal the next election. And they’re still trying to steal the last one. Pathetic irony.

Our democracy is under attack from within.

Fun Section

We all have to use our talents and energy in our own way to do our part. These posts, for example, are some of what I do to make a difference.

Randy Rainbow does his part, too, and I think he’s topped all of his prior offerings, as good as they are, with this musical paean to insurrection loving Josh Hawley and his duplicitous pals. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this.

Many thanks to brother Jim for the pointer.

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  • * Weyrich laid out his intention to suppress voting, saying,

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

** “General Washington found Paine’s first essay so inspiring that he ordered it to be read to the troops at Valley Forge.”

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

The Performance of Our Economy


We all know that the Republican Party is no longer the Republican Party. It has become a mob dedicated to obstruction, hate mongering and voter suppression, all in pursuit of clinging to White supremacy and power just a little longer. Minority rule. Anti-democracy. Gone is the party promoting small government and low taxes, conservation of traditional norms and fidelity to the intentions of the Founders. No news there.

The Republican mantra chanted mechanically for decades has been that the evil Democrats were the tax-and-spend party, the socialism devils who will bring down our economy. Perhaps that’s a relic of conservative opposition to the New Deal nearly a century ago. They were against pretty much everything proposed by FDR and have never let go of that reflexive, unexamined opposition. You can check with Barack Obama for verification of that. He’s the president toward whom the Rs dedicated 100% of their effort to make him a one-term president, the needs of the people be damned. All opposition, all the time.

But were the Rs’ predictions of Democrat-driven job killing, economy destruction and a slide to socialism accurate? Do we suffer more economically when Ds have the reigns of power? Let’s check with the Office of Management and Budget and some other sources for data – you know: facts – to help us understand what has actually happened.

Here are four bar graphs comparing how we’ve done under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations from when Truman took office in 1945 through Trump. See if you can spot a pattern.

Graphic courtesy of David Doney and Karl Faulstich of NWSOFA-Indivisible

Because these charts use data over such a significant span of time they pretty well neutralize the impact of spikes, like the high tech expansion of the 90s and the bust of 2008-9 and any of the tax rate adjustments.

We all get that pat political phrases are useful for bumper stickers and they’re great for frothing up true believers at political rallies, but sometimes they bear no resemblance to actual happenings on planet Earth. While saying that is not much of a revelation in our post-truth era (and that goes back way before Trump was lying and leading his cult of personality), what’s important is that those of us still within shouting distance of reality understand the empirical data: Democrats deliver a far better economy and all the goodies attendant to that, including jobs.

If you are a Republican and are choking on this information, please respond in the Comments section below about how Republicans are more fiscally responsible or more advantageous to the American people. For example, show us how George W. Bush started two wars and also reduced taxes twice, making it impossible to pay for his wars and how that was somehow good for us. Help us all understand how we’ve been duped by Democrats and why we should believe the Republicans’ bumper stickers.

That’s especially important to keep in mind now that Mitch McConnell has announced that he is “100 percent” focused on opposing all Biden initiatives, the needs of the people be damned. How’s that going to work for us and our economy?

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA

 

 


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

Fairness Triple Crown


1. Tax Fairness

Everyone likes government programs that benefit themselves; we just don’t want to pay for them. Consequently, President Biden’s tax plan is hugely popular with we common folk, because it calls for somebody else to pay for the goodies. Good for us!

Not so good for the proposed payers.

On the other hand, those proposed payers are the very people who have consistently benefited from government policy and programs that for many decades have filled their piggy banks with massive wealth. It seems to most of us that turnabout is fair play.

Brendan Bechtel, CEO, Bechtel Corporation

But not to poor, picked on Brendan Bechtel. He runs Bechtel Corporation. It’s the same company that was happy to get those no-bid contracts from the George W. Bush administration for construction work in Iraq and still more no-bid contracts following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. That Bechtel Corporation.

Mr. Bechtel recently said of the Biden jobs program funding proposal, “it doesn’t feel fair.”

“Fair” is an interesting concept. From my observation post as a behavior geek it appears that “fair” usually means, “That isn’t what I want for me.” In other words, there is no link to the concept of even-handedness or a reasonable distribution of responsibility and obligation. “Fair” is solely about “I get what I want.” Let’s add one more piece of information and then test the concept.

Here’s a chart reported by The New York Times, sourced from Gabriel Zucman of UC Berkely.*

The graphs represent average federal tax rates for top earners, like Mr. Bechtel. Note how low taxes have been in recent decades relative to most of the last century. Note, too, that these are nominal rates, not what anyone actually paid after their highly expert accounting ju jitsu was applied.

Please tell us again, Mr. Bechtel, about how unfair (meaning “not even-handed”) a relatively slight increase in your taxes will be. You and your family and your top executives have been bathing in the flood tide of money that you’ve been able to amass for half a century. And you’ve been able to keep ever more of it for yourselves, because special tax loopholes and lower top rates have sent your actual, send-IRS-a-check tax bill on a near-constant downward trajectory. So has the employee attrition from the IRS that has minimized scrutiny of tax returns of those at the top of the wealth distribution pyramid.

Another way to say that is that the 99% of the rest of us who don’t have those tax loopholes available to us or the cash to pay high priced tax attorneys have borne a higher burden to support the commons because you’ve skated. I’m talking about the roads, bridges, schools, national defense, emergency services and the rest of the things we do together in this country. You haven’t paid your fair share for a really long time. So, “It doesn’t feel fair” is just too much for we common folk to hear.

You could take a page from Warren Buffett’s book and demand higher tax rates on the ultra-rich. It won’t affect your lifestyle a bit and the next generation Bechtel lucky sperm club winner will still inherit enough money to buy a small country.

So, go ahead and publicly demand our legislators and president raise taxes on the ultra-rich so we can fix the bridges, provide pre-K for our little ones and all the rest of the vitally needed actions in the commons that are decried so absurdly by Republicans.

Your gesture would be a most patriotic thing. It still won’t be what you want, but we’ll be most grateful for your having progressed to something that looks a lot more fair – as in “even-handed” – to the rest of us.

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2. A Jonathan Swifty Solution for Pandemic Fairness

Extremists have taken full control of the Republican Party. These people are angry and vocal and violent and they show up in huge numbers to vote. They openly carry guns, they like to intimidate others, they refuse masks and vaccines and they’re certain they’re the true patriots. That’s a problem for the rest of us who prefer boring negotiations to settle differences, rather than mob violence. And we’d rather not be infected by the mask and vaccine refusers. Fortunately, I have a modest proposal to tame all of that.

Caution: snark follows.

Let’s give them their own country. We’ll cede the Dakotas, where they can refuse masks and vaccines and embrace their Second Amendment remedies with wanton abandon. The Dakotas should be enough space, as they’ll kill one another in gun fights and die of Covid pretty quickly, so they’ll cull their own herd. Tucker Carlson will fit right in.

More immediately important is the issue of the pandemic, as it’s estimated that over 905,000 Americans have already died from it and the extremists overwhelmingly refuse masks, social distancing and vaccines. That imperils our ability to achieve herd immunity, which means their stubborn refusal puts the rest of us at risk. Here’s how to fix that.

By late summer we will have had sufficient vaccine supply and the distribution network for all of us to be vaccinated. Anyone not vaccinated by then can be considered a refuser. These are the people most likely to wind up in hospitals, then on ventilators and finally in the morgue. These are the people who will put our healthcare workers at risk and overload them. They’ll tie up our entire medical system, which compromises everyone else’s access to healthcare. Indeed, it’s been reported that 94% of cancer screenings over the past year were not done due to the pandemic. Our refusers threaten to make that permanent, which imperils all the rest of us.

I propose that after August 31 that we refuse to deliver medical service to anyone who contracts Covid and can’t produce a vaccination card.

It’s their choice to refuse to be vaccinated and that choice, like every choice, comes with consequences which shouldn’t be dumped on the rest of us. They made their bed; now they can lie in it – at home in the Dakotas, where they can’t infect the rest of us with the Covid variants they carry.

This is fair to the rest of us who don’t want to deal with the extremists and their Covid threats and their constant threat to our democracy. It provides freedom of choice, a true American value. It’s in line with the absolute freedom demands of our rugged individuals. And it gets all of us what we want.

This is another in an ongoing offering of simple Swifty solutions for complex problems and for fairness in our country. Please sign the petition at www.ExtremistsGoAway.com.

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3. Fairness Quotes of the Week

From David Brooks in the New York Times:

“That [WW II] victory required national cohesion, voluntary sacrifice for the common good and trust in institutions and each other. America’s response to Covid-19 suggests that we no longer have sufficient quantities of any of those things.”

That’s observationally accurate and fair to say.

From John Pavlovitz on vaccine refusal:

“Conservatives: you’ve been brainwashed. You are afflicted with partisan politics and bad theology, and you are unable to think clearly because of it. You are so intent on validating your vote that you will do anything to feel that way.”

Pavlovitz’s words actually apply to Trump brain slaves. True conservatives would be demanding that we all get vaccinated, this as a patriotic duty. It’s entirely fair to say that.

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* Click the link on Zucman’s name and download any of his papers – say, the top one: Tax Evasion at the Top of the Income Distribution: Theory and Evidence. Just read the abstract. Then give some thought to how the Trump administration’s IRS focused on middle income taxpayers and didn’t even glance at most of the wealthy.

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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.
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JA


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

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