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Why is this time different?

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional. This year, Passover began on the evening of April 22.

We’re well into the Passover festival, when Jews recall our exodus from slavery and bondage in Egypt on our way to establishing a Jewish nation. We’re also well into the ongoing ritual of college students protesting the existence of that nation, and authorities responding with censure and arrests.

Media representatives—sorry, but I can’t refer to all of them as journalists—have portrayed this conflict the way they usually portray it: in binary terms, as in either you’re pro-Israel (and therefore pro-Jew) or against Israel (and therefore antisemitic).

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"Future Shock" is here

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

Was going through our bookshelves recently in another of our futile efforts at de-cluttering when I came upon a volume I hadn’t thought about for years: Future Shock by Alvin Toffler and his wife, Heidi (who was uncredited).

This best-selling treastise by the former editor and consultant postulated that rapidly accelerating change in nearly every life aspect—economic, industrial, scientific, and especially technology—was bound to cripple societies if they didn’t recognize the onslaught and create coping strategies.

Published in 1970, the book correctly predicted present-day givens such as personal computers and the internet, and correctly postulated that an accelerated news cycle would create instant celebrities and bury them, even within days. (It also predicted throwaway paper clothing and underwater cities, but nobody’s perfect.)

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Take away Grandpa's car keys

Photo by fatir29, available via Shutterstock

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

Forget that the special counsel’s report confirmed that his investigation found President Joe Biden committed no crimes.

Forget that the investigation was conducted by a Republican—a Trump administration U.S. attorney—and that all Republicans are pledged to march behind Trump like the rats of Hamlin behind the Pied Piper.

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Our cubicles, ourselves

Sony Sports Walkman radio cassette player from the 1980s. Photo by Nicola_K_photos, available via Shutterstock.

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

Just about everything I learned about life I learned from baseball or Star Trek. Baseball is in its off-season, so I offer you this life lesson from the other source.

In the third movie with the show’s original cast, the principal characters time-travel to the late 20th century to bring back to the future a pair of humpback whales whose songs they expect will pacify a space probe destroying the earth. In one scene, Kirk and Spock are riding on a crowded bus across the San Francisco Bay Bridge to observe their anticipated cetacean passengers when a boorish lad turns his boombox, playing a hard-on-the-ears punk-rock number, at maximum volume.

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This changes everything

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

With the indictment of Hunter Biden on nine charges of tax evasion, there can be no question now what will be Donald J. Trump’s central message to the American people in the 2024 presidential race:

“Look, I have some of the most beautiful children in the world, just beautiful. He’s a feeble old man whose son is an admitted alcoholic, crack addict, and shady foreign investor who doesn’t pay his taxes.”

Can’t you hear him repeating that, in so many words, in sound bite after sound bite, on commercial after commercial, at rally after rally?

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Who will be for us?

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

For more than five years, China has subjected its 11 million mostly Muslim Uyghur minority to imprisonment, as well as forced labor and other repressions. Yet, there is no mass worldwide movement to boycott, divest and sanction made-in-China products, as has arisen against those made in Israel.

Serbia has long been targeted as a country that routinely subjects dissidents, as well as its Roma and other minorities, to systematic human rights abuses. Yet there has been no concerted effort to expel that country from the United Nations, as the world body has frequently been called on to do with Israel.

And for years, Egyptian border patrols have blockaded the movement of goods from Gaza into Sinai, causing hardship to the 2.2 million residents living there. Yet, Hamas didn’t attack Egypt, just Israel, firing on civilians, taking hundreds hostage, and apparently murdering them.

While other nations—including the U.S. and the United Kingdom—have established empires, repressed minority populations within them and perpetrated belligerent acts many consider war crimes, no other country in the history of the world has been regarded as an international pariah as has Israel. 

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A fan's reward

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

“Where do you want it?”

Remember in The French Connection when detective “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) poses that question to a trusted informant—then maims him so it looks like the guy didn’t willingly rat?

Fans of the English soccer club Tottenham Hotspur inherited that role this past weekend when the Premier League club, located in north London, transferred their all-time leading goal scorer, Harry Kane, to top-flight German club Bayern Munich, minutes before the start of the 2023-24 season.

As a “Spurs” supporter on this side of the pond, it was a gut punch that recalled June 15, 1977, when baseball’s New York Mets traded the most famous player in their history, Tom Seaver, to the Cincinnati Reds. It took years to heal that emotional gash.

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Book ban? Whatever

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

—Gilbert and Sullivan, from The Mikado

All around the state of Iowa, and perhaps soon in the 34 other states where legislation is bubbling, school districts are making not so little lists — of books to be removed from school libraries and classrooms. In Iowa the reason is Senate File 496, which, by accident or diabolic design closely resembles the title of Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, in which a future authoritarian American government has criminalized all books and burns any they find. (The title relates to the temperature at which paper catches fire.)

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Fandom, not politics

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

A band member gave me grief when I walked into a recent rehearsal wearing my University of Alabama baseball cap. “How can you root for that backward state!” exclaimed this arch-progressive. It was not a question.

Since college football will, within four or so weeks, once again commence across the U.S., here’s my answer:

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Field day for the heat

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

If you’re reading this on Wednesday, July 12, you will likely find that Iowa has a new law prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. Legislators met in special session on July 11 so that Republicans could send this bill to Governor Kim Reynolds by cover of night for her to sign. Which made Tuesday’s protest at the Iowa capitol pretty much confined to letting off steam.

And steam they did. The steam was so thick, you couldn’t cut it with a chainsaw.

But what did it prove? Informal talks with folks on both sides—those carrying signs reading “No Bans,” as well as those carrying signs reading “No Murder”—only illustrated that the special session accomplished exactly what Reynolds and the Republicans wanted: to elevate the rhetoric on both sides to show the state and national media that only those in power can accomplish their aims, and rational discussion is impossible.

Walking amid the roaring crowds on the first floor, it was quite clear that strategy was working.

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Needed for America: A better operating system

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

Bringing in my 7-year-old Windows laptop to the repair shop—I confess I hold on to my computers as long as I hold on to my cars—made me think about how America is like a PC.

PCs, based on the Microsoft Windows operating system, are greater than the sum of their parts: a box made by manufacturer A, a motherboard from manufacturer B, a hard drive from manufacturer C, a power source from manufacturer D, and so on.

Similarly, America was pieced together as a conglomeration: 13 semi-autonomous colonies, now 50 semi-autonomous states, which differ in ethnicity, topography, religion, and economy, among others.

The Constitution was designed not as a unifying operating system but as a series of giant compromises to keep states from warring with each other. So states can mandate what is considered criminal conduct, mandate their own penalties for such conduct, ascribe and proscribe rights, and more. In fact, it took the Supreme Court to rule, in 1819, that yes, federal law had primacy over state law.

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The scourge of cynicism

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

To paraphrase George Carlin: I used to be a cynic; now, I’m a skeptic. You know; you grow.

“A skeptic is a doubter. A cynic is a disbeliever.” Thus saith the Associated Press Stylebook. The difference? In today’s polarized America, a skeptic may acknowledge that even though Supreme Court justices, as do all of us, have biases, their rulings we dislike are probably based on their knowledge of the Constitution, the intent of the statute’s creators, and what the statute actually says. A cynic believes the justices mine all that simply to impose their biases on what they want to become the law of the land.

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Ones and zeroes

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

My wife is an environmentalist. Big time. She cuts up plastic soda can rings, so they won’t trap defenseless birds. She insisted on us purchasing electric outdoor power tools, so we won’t exude noxious fumes into the air. She knows exactly what stuff you can recycle and what you can’t — regulations so arcane, they make the NFL rule book simpler than Fun with Dick and Jane.

So, when she blanched at “No Mow May,” I experienced a Walter Cronkite moment, when “the most trusted man in America” urged the U.S. to get out of Vietnam.

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How to curb gun carnage: really

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

“The problem with doing nothing,” Groucho Marx famously said, “is that you never know when you’re finished.” Our esteemed leaders embody Mr. Marx’s wisdom, because they keep doing nothing about the assassinations of innocent individuals by gun, a continuous horror that has impelled numerous countries to warn against traveling to America.

As of 8:30 PM Central time on May 13, nearly 15,500 people in America had died from gun violence in 2023. At this rate, we could surpass the record 21,000, set in 2021, before we reach Independence Day.

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Coronation streets

Ira Lacher reports from London in advance of the coronation of King Charles III.

With just days before the coronation of King Charles III, perhaps the enthusiasm in London for the royal shindig has increased over what it seemed when my wife and I, along with our son and daughter-in-law, visited London early in April: a combination of normal, hassled, and indifferent.

The weather was normal: cool, breezy with occasional rain every day. Prices, escalating since the Brexit-resulting falloff of the pound ($1.20 USD), were normal, which was to say high. Crowds, especially in the shopping destinations of Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, and in the West End theater district, were normal, which was to say mobbed, since most European schools were on spring break.

And British gentility was normal, which, to American ears, is totally quaint, such as in the elevators (“This is a lift going down,” advised a female voice straight out of Downton Abbey; watch the closing doors”) in our hotel, steps away from Westminster Abbey, where on May 6 the king will be crowned, as did countless kings and queens over the last thousand years or so.

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The racists in our midst

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

My aunt, who raised me after my parents died, would wake up early on Sunday to prepare a meal, then take a cab, at great expense, to visit her sister, confined to a mental institution. “If she were Catholic,” one of the nurses in the ward told me, “she would be a saint.”

But she also threw around the word “shvartze” to refer to black people. “Shvartze” technically means “black” in Yiddish, but it’s also the equivalent of the N-word. So, yes, my aunt was a racist. But she also did good for me, her sister, and uncounted others. And I still say a memorial prayer for her on the anniversary of her death.

No such sentiment may be forthcoming for Scott Adams, the longtime cartoonist who created “Dilbert.”

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And now: UFOgate

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional, and a recent convert to anti-absurdism.

“There is no indication of alien or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns.”—White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

“I’ll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven’t ruled out anything.”—General Glen VanHerck, commander of NORAD

Oooh, this one’s too good. The Republicans just can’t let this one get away.

The Goofball Old Party, which brought us such believe-it-or-nuts such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, just has to get going with the latest Clinton/Obama/Biden/ conspiracy theory.

Are you ready for UFOgate?

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We won't stop watching

Ira Lacher was an assistant sports editor at the Des Moines Register during the 1980s.

Wait for it.

As Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin continues to lie, inert, connected to whatever devices keep him alive, someone is sure to call for American football, a sport unique in the world, to be banned.

Certainly what occurred on the turf of Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night, January 2, 2023, bears introspection. How are you supposed to feel when you witness a 24-year-young man almost dying, in full view of tens of thousands of spectators, and millions more watching on high-definition television?

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A modest proposal

Ira Lacher offers a modest proposal for dealing with the issue of firearms.

In Chicago, a concealed-carry-holder in Chicago shoots a 19-year-old armed with a knife.

In Philadelphia, legally armed drivers foil carjackers three times.

In Des Moines, a woman walks into a Hy-Vee, is assaulted by another woman, pulls out a gun and shoots her.

Clearly, we are on to something here.

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Why I'm so virulently anti-gun

Ira Lacher shares a personal story that busted the myth of the “good guy with a gun.”

Years before Donald J. Trump placed the approval of the highest United States official on the toxic streams that run through America, I had it out with my brother-in-law one Thanksgiving Day about the granddaddy of them all: unfettered access to personal weapons of mass destruction. The stridency on both sides soared to such a pitch, the rest of the family vacated the room.

But I had to say what I said in a manner holding nothing back. Because months before, I’d learned what the seduction of a firearm can do to even those whom most of us would consider the most rational of souls.

What follows is a true story. I have eliminated names because everyone involved is still living, and they deserve anonymity, because I consider them the most rational of souls.

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Mercy killing

Ira Lacher‘s open letter to Lucas Grundmeier, opinion editor or The Des Moines Register.

Dear Mr. Grundmeier,

Ordinarily, I would submit this to you as a guest opinion essay. But you’ve announced that the Register, once counted among America’s great newspapers, will no longer consider unsolicited opinion pieces. CORRECTION: The newspaper will continue to consider unsolicited guest columns but will “accept far fewer” of them in the print edition.

So I share my views on this blog, which now exists as apparently the sole outlet for members of the Des Moines community wishing to make their opinions known, civilly and responsibly.

In the print edition dated March 13, 2022, you commented about the addition of a new columnist, saying: “I believe this demonstrates the Register’s continued commitment to providing forums for robust discussion of community topics.” My response, to you and the other top executives of the “media company,” which you now call yourself: No. It doesn’t. More about that later.

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Needed at Purim: another act of courage

Ira Lacher: Jews have not, can not, and must not support people whose mission is to undermine everything that has made the United States of America a haven for Jews.

The following is a copy of an email I sent to someone I know at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This organization, which calls itself a “bipartisan American organization that advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” recently has become anything but.

“AIPAC slammed for endorsing Republicans who refused to certify Biden’s election,” reported The Times of Israel.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency headlined: “AIPAC’s PAC endorses dozens of Republicans who refused to certify Joe Biden as president.”

And the fiercely pro-Israel Jerusalem Post, owned by the right-wing Murdoch clan that owns Fox News, noted: “AIPAC’s PAC endorses dozens of Republicans who refused to certify Joe Biden as president.” The article, which reported that the group endorsed 59 Democrats and 61 Republicans, included “Jim Jordan of Ohio, was prominent in the events surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

I know a young man who has a prominent position in AIPAC. I was honored to be present at his bar mitzvah, I remain good friends with his family, and, as such, I had to write him personally about this. What follows is the text of my email to him. I have deleted his name and position because I know that, in this stupid age, people mistakenly believe they have the right to harass someone they disagree with.

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Whose needs?

Ira Lacher: Westerners in general and Americans in particular seem to have abandoned the notion of sacrifice.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Fans of Star Trek know that trope well — Spock uses it to justify his life-threatening actions in the second Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, and Captain Kirk agrees.

Much of what I learned in life comes from two sources: baseball and Star Trek. So it would seem I must adopt this all-too-important mantra that helps make the characters the heroes they are.

We seem to be taking this sort of approach to the latest chapter of the pandemic, as infection rates, hospitalizations, and even death rates fall, and state after state and country after country begin to toss aside the necessities of keeping massive numbers from overwhelming our healthcare don’t-call-it-a-system.

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In gratitude

Ira Lacher reacts to the latest news in Iowa’s pandemic response.

On this occasion of Governor Kim Reynolds ending her COVID-19 disaster emergency declarations in Iowa, effective February 15, I thought you’d like to hear from the main beneficiary of her proclamation. Take it away, SARS-Cov-2!

Thank you! I don’t know what to say or tell you how grateful I am for this opportunity!

Iowa and places like it have given me and my humongous extended family such a warm welcome; a welcome that, frankly, we weren’t getting in much of the world. Why, our birthplace even denied our right to exist; then, after admitting that yes, we were really there, tried to keep us penned up, tried to keep us from engaging with our community.

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Joe Biden's game plan for the Supreme Court

Ira Lacher: Nominating Vice President Kamala Harris to the U.S. Supreme Court would accomplish two critical political objectives for President Joe Biden.

The news that Justice Stephen G. Breyer intends to retire at the end of the U.S. Supreme Court’s current term should warm the cockles of those who welcome the appointment of a justice who believes in something other than “might makes right (wing).” Do we dare to use the words “Joe Biden victory” in a headline?

We can. But to succeed, he will have to carefully plan strategy, the way a winning football team must anticipate every defense formation and tactic — along with the offense’s inevitable missed blocks, miscues, and outright fumbles. So, in this season of NFL playoff games, I offer myself as the Biden administration’s offensive coordinator.

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Dare we hope

Ira Lacher: We need to pursue hope, and we must prioritize it over our other base emotions such as doubt, fear, and anger.

On a day when the news is filled with record COVID-19 infections, the anniversary of a revolt against American democracy, societal lawlessness, and myriad other ills of our time, it would be facile to begin 2022 with a screed about how lousy it sucks to be us.

Not going to happen.

Rather, on this occasion, at least, I leave it to others to begin 2022 by submerging their keyboards in despair. To paraphrase a speech from Captain James T. Kirk, “We can admit we’ve been doomsayers, but we’re not going to doomsay today.”

Today, let’s speak of hope. Of optimism. Of ways to take comfort of the undeniable miracle we call existence.

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Over there: common sense

Ira Lacher: Europeans seem to take keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 more seriously than we do in America.

When you try to enter a restaurant, movie theater, or shopping mall in Bucharest, Romania, first you must submit the proof-of-vaccine certificate on your phone for digital verification. You can’t get in without one. Once inside, everyone — everyone! — is masked, many with an N95 or more likely a Chinese-made KN95 model, the type that is 94 percent effective against transmitting COVID-19. In the Munich, Germany, airport, you have to wear one of those; cloth masks or paper-type masks aren’t allowed. You can buy the highly effective European Union (EU) equivalent FFP2 masks in the concourse for one euro or so apiece.

The difference between COVID-19 attitudes in Europe and the United States is mind-blowing. On both continents, the omicron variant threatens to inundate intensive care units, sickening hundreds of thousands and killing tens of thousands. Here in Europe, EU and national governments take that mighty seriously.

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"Admiral on the bridge!"

Ira Lacher: Mike Franken has deliberately avoided labeling himself a “centrist” or “moderate.” But Saturday, there was no doubt where he stood.

On December 11, I attended a meet-and-greet, intending to be introduced to retired Vice Admiral Michael Franken, one of the Democrats running against Senator Chuck Grassley. Instead, I was introduced to Jean-Luc Picard.

It’s not hard to imagine Franken — a 64-year-old rural Sioux County native, who emerged from a working-class family of nine kids in a landlocked state to attain the rank of three-star admiral without attending the Naval Academy — on the bridge of the starship USS Enterprise.

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Pawn takes queen

Ira Lacher ponders the possible fallout from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that undermines reproductive rights.

When my wife and I consider a major home project, such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, we apply the principle I call “pawn takes queen.” As in chess, the idea is to consider several moves ahead so as to anticipate the ramifications. If we knock down a wall to open up the kitchen, where do we put the stove? Will we need to add new gas lines? Where? How much time and disruption will that add? And so on.

America may have to apply that principle if, as widely predicted after oral arguments December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Mississippi House Bill No. 1510M, which bans nearly all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy.

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The truth is all we've got

In the spirit of the gift-giving season, Ira Lacher offers a few pointers to see you through our ever-increasing spate of less-than-credible news.

November 22 passed last week, not with a bang but a whimper. It seems no one cares to remember that on that date fifty-eight years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Fifty-eight years ago, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t even a zygote, so the rash of conspiracy theories circulating around the shooting in Dallas — “the Mafia did it, with the help of Cuban guerrillas and the CIA!” — had to depend merely on the number of book authors attempting to take advantage of Americans’ chronic abdication of reality.

Today, of course, social media is to conspiracy theorists what steroids were to Barry Bonds. And for good reason. We know the companies who administer those platforms do so with the idea of magnifying shrillness. It’s like substance addiction: The more you ingest, the more your body wants it.

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Once again, Democrats are in denial

Ira Lacher: Why is it so difficult for Democrats to do what Republicans are great at—seize an issue and run with it in a straight line to pay dirt?

On November 2, Democrats took a shellacking, losing the governorship of Virginia and nearly New Jersey, along with many local elections, once again illustrating they can’t convince enough Americans they share their values. Three days later, proving Napoleon’s adage “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap,” some doubled down.

Despite the Democratic-controlled U.S. House finally passing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill that promises to repair dangerously broken bridges and highways, hasten to bring broadband internet to hundreds of rural counties, and enable scores of other improvements throughout much of America, six Democrats believed it still wasn’t progressive enough, and voted against it.

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"Props" to nobody

Ira Lacher: Why does Hollywood continue making movies with gun violence? Because Americans are in love with guns.

Everyone is still talking about actor Alec Baldwin’s apparently accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza on a movie set in New Mexico. Baldwin’s been a jerk on and off set, but he’s never remotely been accused of doing anything intentionally life-threatening. And indeed, no charges have been filed in the fatal shooting.

But in the wake of the sensational coverage emanating from the story, one article jumped out at me: a report in The New York Times about how movie-makers regularly use similar “prop guns” — real, functioning firearms, perhaps loaded with blanks — because they provide realistic effects. The Times quoted a piece from American Cinematographer written by Dave Brown, a firearms instructor who has worked with a number of movie crews:

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Put 'er . . . where?

Ira Lacher: Now that the Delta surge seems to be fading and we can dare to dream of being together again, an entire legion of scientific Debbie Downers is scolding us to do away with a millennium-old cultural mainstay.

Recently I attended an event where I didn’t know most of the folks, all of whom, as I, were masked. At the close, and we prepared to take our leave, I automatically did what uncounted multitudes have done to acknowledge becoming acquainted with someone new: I offered up a handshake. And a few turned it down. Some preferred the fist bump; others, a forearm touch.

Initially, I shrugged off those responses, simply complying, as requested. But on the drive home it started to bother me because I realized those requests, while perfectly understandable in our COVID world, seemed somehow forced or staged. And I couldn’t tell very much about those folks the way I could from a handshake. And that bothered me even more. Because it seems that along with the millions of lives the pandemic has robbed us of, it’s robbing many of the survivors of their humanity, specifically, the need for physical touching.

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Those magic(?) dice

Ira Lacher returns to the topic of what is owed to Americans who have chosen to remain unvaccinated for COVID-19.

Wow, unvaccinated America: Are you in luck!

Nah, not from any new discovery that prevents you from getting COVID-19, or that if you get it you won’t die (actually, you’re 15 times more likely to than if you’re vaccinated, and 29 times more likely to land in an ICU). But hey — if an emergency room is in your unvaccinated future, you’ve got unlimited dice rolls because you’re guaranteed to get medical attention. Which puts you ahead of someone who might have brain cancer. Wow! Can you buy me a Powerball ticket?

This great good fortune favoring you, unvaccinated America, results from what is known as the “duty of care” doctrine: A doctor has a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to treat a patient to the best of the physician’s ability; failure to do so can invite a malpractice suit. Further, hospitals that participate in Medicare must, under federal law, stabilize an ER patient’s condition, regardless of the person’s ability to pay, or at least transfer that patient to a suitable institution.

But not everyone loves someone on a winning streak. Health care providers may have to treat you — but they may not want to.

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Goodbye, T-Bird

Ira Lacher: With his COVID-19 vaccine mandate, President Joe Biden has taken the T-Bird away. Someone had to.

“@JoeBiden see you in court,” Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota tweeted. “Not on my watch in Texas,” chirped Ken Paxton, that state’s chief law enforcement official, who faces trial for two counts of securities fraud. And just in case anyone forgot what this is really all about, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey added: “the Biden-Harris administration is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way.”

Right. President Biden’s executive order requiring millions of Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine, damn it, has nothing to do with ending a planetary crisis that has killed four and a half million persons around the world, including 660,000 Americans. It’s about impinging on personal freedom — to put fellow Americans six feet under.

“Personal freedom.” God, how we’ve abused it!

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Secession? Maybe it's time

Ira Lacher: “America is now a continental landscape of fifty siloed entities, hopelessly divided by religion, attitude, ethnicity and the resulting politics.”

The Labor Day Weekend heralds the return of America’s favorite pastime — no, not hating our neighbor who may be vaxxed / unvaxxed or a Democrat / Republican or any sort of adherent to What Must Be Classified As Evil. No, that pastime is, of course, college football. It is a months-long occasion to don the colors of institutions of higher revenue — oops, make that “higher education” — you may never have attended and down a few beers with friends while rah-rah-ing for the hired mercenaries who probably aren’t from the state corresponding with the line on the scoreboard.

College football is unique because it embodies the true American ideal: rooting for your state against all other states.

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The dreams are alive

Ira Lacher reflects on attending the first Major League Baseball game played at the “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is fashionable to bash baseball these days. One reason is more baseballs are being bashed to the exclusion of almost everything else — bunts, hit-and-runs, stolen bases, and other examples of “small ball” that cling to the hearts of purists like the stirrups extending from the bottoms of baseball uniforms’ trimmed trousers, de rigueur during my growing-up years but which have been supplanted by pants worn below the tops of high-top shoes.

For perhaps the first time since records were kept, more strikeouts will be recorded than hits, the result of hitting coaches instructing batters to swing upwards to take advantage of the momentum generated by contact with 98-mile-an-hour fastballs, thrown by an endless succession of seemingly bionic-armed pitchers.

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What do we owe the unvaccinated?

Ira Lacher: Should a person who has done the common-sense thing be mindful of others who have chosen to stay unvaccinated for COVID-19?

In Texas, a doctor can legally discriminate against trans patients, as well as women who have had abortions.

While this seems to empower healers to substitute their Hippocratic Oath with legal immorality, it is hardly an aberration of human behavior. The researchers Fang CuiNing Ma, and Yue-jia Luo have found that the human response to the pain of others — described by some as morality — can differ based on whether we perceive that person to be worthy of a moral response.

“What distinguish[es] moral judgments from other items such as preference, aesthetics or non-moral good and bad,” they wrote, “is that moral judgments entail a belief that someone should be rewarded or punished.”

Or, as Nahum the beggar famously says in Fiddler on the Roof, when given less than his usual alms of two kopecks, “If you had a bad week, why should I suffer?”

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Our failure of federalism

Ira Lacher: Federalism leaves the U.S. with an inability to centralize a means of combating a disease that has killed 607,000 in America. And counting.

“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory. The equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less space we leave this virus to circulate.”

Way to go, President Biden! That’s what . . . huh? Oh. That wasn’t President Joe Biden. It was French President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address Monday, explaining why all health care workers in that country are being ordered to vaccinate against COVID-19, and why everyone in France will need proof of vaccination to shop in a mall, eat in a restaurant, or travel by air or rail.

Instead, this was Biden, speaking to reporters in the White House’s South Court Auditorium on July 6:

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What July Fourth Means

A year ago in The New York Times, David Brooks asked us on the Fourth of July to renew our national spirit, asserting that failing to take pride in America has caused many of the inequities and inequalities that have led to our comprehensive failure to conquer the pandemic.

Any such feeling has to include the reality that America was never a single nation to begin with. And that we remain separate nations today, kept apart by ingrained notions that bar too many of us from achieving this country’s promise: that each of us can use what our creator has bestowed upon us to the best of our abilities for the betterment of us all.

We began as a confederation of thirteen separate states, settled by different peoples, with different philosophies of how to live, achieve liberty and pursue happiness. (Many of us did agree, however, on driving out and killing the indigenous peoples.) Other “settlers” of diverse backgrounds came to these shores and added to the stew.

Today, separate Americas remain:

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America is mentally ill. Let's treat it

One in four American adults believe the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” One in four say they won’t get a COVID vaccine. About one in five Americans believe one or more QAnon conspiracy theories.

But it is interesting how closely those numbers correlate with this one: Nearly one in five Americans (52 million) “live with a mental illness.”

The evidence is mounting that our dysfunctional politics are the result of mass mental illness.

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Greater Heights

Ira Lacher ponders growing diversity and anti-immigration sentiment.

I’m coming down off an incredible high — not from a substance I ingested but from a substance I viewed, specifically In the Heights, director John Chu’s cinematic interpretation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony Award-winning musical about the dwellers of the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City.

Many of those residents, and the actors, actresses, and dancers who portray them, are descended from Latino immigrants. Movies being what movies are, all of them display an energy that derives strength from their ancestry, whether from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Ecuador, or other.

But regardless of “cinema o-verite,” that energy from the actual residents is real, and is pure American; the energy of hope, anticipation, and freedom.

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Our pre-existing condition

Ira Lacher: Institutional racism is America’s pre-eminent pre-existing condition. And until we can acknowledge this, we will never rid ourselves of it. -promoted by Laura Belin

Japan has apologized for its actions that precipitated World War II in the Pacific.

South Africa has apologized for apartheid.

Pope John Paul II apologized for the Catholic Church’s historic treatment of Jews and other sins.

Germany has repeatedly apologized for the Holocaust.

America has not only refused to apologize for its institutionalized racism against Black people, but Qpublicans are enacting laws to penalize the fact that it has been a linchpin of our structure throughout history and continues to exist.

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Operation Warp Speed: The Next Generation

Ira Lacher: Star Trek postulated that galaxy exploration is a never-ending mission; we must consider combating COVID-19 in the same vein. -promoted by Laura Belin

Remember “flatten the curve”? That was the former administration’s non-policy, which basically involved keeping America’s woefully inadequate hospital system from being overwhelmed and our nation becoming the nonstop outdoor crematorium that is today’s India. Even under that mismatched crazy quilt of how to deal with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, nearly 600,000 and counting have died on these shores, and cases, though declining, continue to add up, by the thousands per day, with lasting consequences unknown.

It was thought that the advent and mass distribution of superbly effective vaccines would eliminate the threat since, public health officials surmised, once we attained herd immunity through vaccination, there would be little fear of virus spread.

But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to that practicality: millions of Americans, and many American civic leaders, have brainlessly rejected this totally efficacious — and, it is reminded, FREE — solution that can do for COVID-19 what we did with polio and smallpox: get rid of it.

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All right: What's it gonna take?

Ira Lacher considers how to address COVID-19 vaccine resistance. -promoted by Laura Belin

Volunteering at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic recently, I encountered something making me start to believe that regardless of all the gloom surrounding who’s getting shots in America, we may be better off than we think.

A former colleague, one of the most egregious Trump supporters I’ve ever known, was there. For their second shot.

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Healing our collective trauma

Ira Lacher considers whether “the only way to heal is to treat our society the way we would treat traumatized individuals: small-group therapy.” -promoted by Laura Belin

America has a mental health crisis.

Not the type conservatives insist makes someone turn a movie theater, shopping mall, or hotel parking lot into a kill zone. A mental health crisis that is contributing to a monumental, perhaps unprecedented loss of ability to connect with reality. The reason is extreme trauma on a national scale.

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Courting an Ex

Ira Lacher: It’s long past time for women’s college sports to again be governed by an organization committed to promoting women’s college sports. -promoted by Laura Belin

Anyone who tuned in on Saturday, March 27, to watch the University of Iowa take on top-seeded Connecticut in the women’s NCAA college basketball tournament should have been made aware of how poorly the NCAA has treated the women’s game.

Since the tournament in San Antonio, Texas, began, articles have repeatedly evidenced the utter inequality between it and the men’s tournament, in Indianapolis. Optics that include no on-site TV commentators until the round of 16, the dearth of marketing presence around the Texas city, inadequate weight rooms, the outright ban on the term “March Madness” for the women’s tournament, and the investment disparity, prove more than ever that the NCAA’s treatment of women’s sports is how W. C. Fields deals with annoyances: “Go on, kid, ya bother me.”

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No shirt, no shoes, no shot, no service?

Ira Lacher: If you want to kennel any watchdog proposal in America, no matter how beneficial, just scream “freedom!” -promoted by Laura Belin

“COVID passports” may be well on their way to fruition. The idea of having to produce documentation before you can do what we used to take for granted — like go to a ballgame or board a plane — is gaining traction overseas, where proof of an ultrarecent negative COVID-19 test or vaccination is required to travel freely among European Union countries. Many airlines flying domestically or internationally require similar proof, and you can’t enter the United States from abroad without it.

The next step, proponents argue, is to import the idea. Such proof would be required for interstate travel, and perhaps for more mundane access such as attending a concert or sporting event. Advocates say this would allow more than a small percentage of stadium or arena seats to be filled, permit restaurants to operate at full capacity, and eliminate quarantine requirements for out-of-state visitors.

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Banishing our inner Eeyore

Ira Lacher: Many of us remain even more pessimistic — and not just about the pandemic. -promoted by Laura Belin

It’s hard not to feel optimistic when there’s less snow and ice on the ground each morning, shorts and sandals feel comfortable outdoors, and the gas grill fires up with ease.

Remember how this time felt a year ago? Now, we can dare hope again. Optimism is awakening.

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Meghan and Harry: Yes, we should care

Ira Lacher: The modern world has been shaped by the British monarchy, a white supremacist institution for centuries. -promoted by Laura Belin

Of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Henry and Duchess Meghan Markle on Sunday, which attracted 17 million viewers in the U.S., a letter writer opined in Tuesday’s New York Times: “Aww, they were mean to me, says one of the two privileged spoiled brats. Why should I care? Why do you?”

“Somebody didn’t read her rule book closely,” Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post criticized Meghan for speaking out against the British royal family.

Anna Pasternak, a biographer to the royals, told the BBC that the interview was “an exercise in torching the house of Windsor.”

So why should we care that a man who wouldn’t be king and his former-actress wife rebelled against the world’s most prestigious cocoon?

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Green Eggs and Cancel

Ira Lacher weighs in on the controversy of the week. -promoted by Laura Belin

They’ve canceled Dr. Seuss. Doctor Seuss!

It seems that back in the mid-twentieth century, when too many Americans believed the world consisted solely of good, smart, credible white people and everyone else, Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote a couple of books for children, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937, and If I Ran the Zoo in 1950.

Because of what Americans believed, and because Geisel was an American, those books have items that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the late author’s business estate, said in a statement released Tuesday, March 2, Geisel’s birthday.

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Junk the caucuses? Extend neck. Cut.

Ira Lacher makes the case that the Iowa caucuses are too important for Democrats to do without. -promoted by Laura Belin

Kill the Iowa caucuses? Really, Jason Noble and Kevin Cooney?

Yes, the 2020 edition of the quadrennial Iowa Winter State Fair was a worldwide embarrassment, at least on the Democratic side, due to poor results reporting, stacked atop tremulous party management, training, and supervision. (Don’t look so smug, Republicans; you’ve had your kaukus kerfuffles too.)

But the arguments published recently in the Des Moines Register by those otherwise well-regarded gentlemen, who have been close to the process, as journalists and then (for Noble) as a Democratic Party insider, are far less convincing than the Pepsi Challenge.

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Texifying Iowa

Ira Lacher: Maybe Iowa has become a place to grow hatred, especially of government, because the state, as has its rural neighbors, lost much of its small-business economy, community institutions, and sense of self. -promoted by Laura Belin

The harrowing news coming out of Texas is a warning of what could happen in Iowa.

Fortunately, we believe our power installations could freeze, and our elected officials didn’t blame last summer’s derecho on the Green New Deal.

But make no mistake — we are heading in that direction by punching our ticket on the reactionary railroad, terminating at Denialville, where science, education, and common sense are mothballed on rusted tracks.

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Democrats' survival strategy: Back to the Future

Ira Lacher: To regain the trust of critical voting blocs between the coasts, Democrats need a new Marshall Plan for America. -promoted by Laura Belin

It was in 2016 that Lenka Perron, a self-described long-time Democrat, jumped off the bridge into QAnon hell-hole oblivion.

The suburban Detroit resident told The New York Times how she saw working-class jobs disappear after the passage of the Bill-Clinton-inspired NAFTA trade agreement, despaired over how her preferred presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, succumbed to what she considered an orchestrated campaign to anoint Hillary Clinton, and lamented that Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails unmasked a let-’em-eat-caviar disregard for those Americans the party of FDR was supposed to champion.

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Guerrillas in our midst

Ira Lacher wonders, “Will America bring to bear on white-power domestic terrorists the same tools it hauled out to fight ‘Muslim extremists’ after 9/11?” -promoted by Laura Belin

Donald Trump didn’t start the white supremacy fire; it was always burning since Europeans used the fabricated concept of “race” to justify human slavery.

Of course, no president has used it to justify his election and call for re-election. In his 2016 campaign and four-year reign of terror, Trump emitted enough dog whistles to stage his own Iditarod.

But until an organized, armed phalanx of militant white people pillaged the U.S. Capitol on January 6, threatening the vice president and Congressional leaders, the existence of a longstanding white-power militant movement escaped the myopia of most Americans.

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The following Wednesday

Ira Lacher: The latest U.S. House vote on impeachment may further isolate Trump’s running dogs in Congress. They deserve to be isolated. -promoted by Laura Belin

Republican sanctimony and mendacity were on naked display Wednesday, January 13, in the House chamber where, one week earlier, members of both parties were evacuated as a mass of bloodthirsty fascists, egged on by the president of the United States and his treasonous fellow travelers, screamed for their heads.

Before the House voted to impeach the president of the United States for the second time in little more than a year, Representative Tom McClintock, Republican of California, pontificated that the president really didn’t say what he was documented as saying. “He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically,” McClintock claimed.

Uh, no, he didn’t. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules,” the president said before the riot.

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Ira Lacher: “If there were any discussion, Wednesday’s events should eliminate it. Trump needs to be impeached. Again. And criminally charged with inciting sedition.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Wednesday, January 6, America witnessed an armed insurrection. Revolt. Treason. It was fomented by the president of the United States.

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported: “Hours before unrest hit the Capitol, President Donald Trump arrived to his rally to embolden supporters to charge the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to show ‘fight’ for his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud ahead of a congressional vote count to affirm Joe Biden’s election victory.”

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2020: It was so . . . alien

Ira Lacher: We now know that the events of 2020 were no accident. We have uncovered heretofore classified recordings of a plot by a heretofore unknown alien race to inject chaos into America so as to make us ripe for a heretofore unknown takeover.

What follows is the complete transcript of those heretofore classified recordings.

“Greetings, distinguished leader of the Grand Assembly of the united planet Wwwvvsso. I am here to report on our project of the last four of the solar cycles of the planet known as Earth, which we have identified as the most agreeable planet for our colonization.”

“Thank you, Explorer Rrrkkppa. We have only a few questions since you have done very well to annotate your experiments in understanding how the dominant species on planet Earth perceives reality. The implications could be profound for all Wwwvvssoians, as we seek to expand our galactic empire through military force. Now, then, briefly recap your findings.”

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Caucus postmortem: Don't blame the DNC

Ira Lacher highlights key points from the internal review of the 2020 Iowa caucuses, conducted for the Iowa Democratic Party. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa political junkies have another reason to be thankful that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in on January 20.

Since a Democratic nomination fight for the 2024 elections appears unlikely, it means that, like a baseball pitcher undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a horribly injured shoulder, the Iowa caucuses have more time to rehab from their 2020 kerfuffle, which earned worldwide derision.

When the party on December 12 released its postmortem on the 2020 debacle, news outlets were quick to blame the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for much of the trouble. “Iowa autopsy report: DNC meddling led to caucus debacle,” was the headline from Politico. “Iowa caucus mishap fueled by DNC interference, state missteps: autopsy report” chimed in The Hill. From CNN: “Review largely blames Iowa caucus problems on Democratic National Committee.” USA Today and The New York Times also treated the story similarly.

And they were all wrong. Because that’s not what the 29-page report says.

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Lessons we must learn

Ira Lacher: “If we are to avoid another four years like the last four years, we need to start learning our lessons — now.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It’s almost December, which means it’s almost New Year’s, which means many of us are preparing New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because they are almost always too broad, too vague, too unattainable and too stressful. Which is why most of us abandon them before the flowers return in the spring, tra-la.

But rather than making disappointing promises I can’t keep, let’s look back on this year and learn from our mistakes. And hoo, boy, did we make mistakes. Particularly:

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Needed: A ceasefire

Ira Lacher calls for Republicans and Democrats to declare a ceasefire in four areas that escalate tensions on both sides. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Since Election Day and for weeks prior, Trump has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic, which so far has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million and choked the country’s economy,” reported for the the Washington Post reported on November 14.

In doing so, Trump has disregarded every imperative set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution. His latest impeachable offense is one of many throughout his term. But what did Congressional Democrats impeach him for? A quid pro quo with Ukraine that no one understood.

It’s just one example of how the Dumpstercratic Party has lumbered from one blunder to another: from failing to take advantage of its majority status in the Senate under President Barack Obama (“Maa … Mitch McConnell hit me!”), to spending a two-year primary season quibbling over what it stands for, to feebly sponsoring weak candidates in the general election. The party needs a massive reboot. But not the one you’re thinking of.

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Refuting Superman

Ira Lacher spoke with two young women who were severely affected by COVID-19 despite their low-risk profiles. -promoted by Laura Belin

When President Donald Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being treated last month for COVID-19, he trashed every poll that predicted a Democratic presidential election rout.

Joe Biden won the electoral college and the popular vote, but Trump still collected 8 million more votes overall than he did in 2016, and won some states by larger margins than his first run at the presidency.

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First impressions

Ira Lacher‘s takeaways from the presidential election. -promoted by Laura Belin

No matter how this election turns out, two things are certain:

1. Polling remains hopelessly flawed. The “Bradley effect” took hold once again, as it did in 2016. The theory is named after former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the California governor’s race in 1982 despite hugely favorable pre-Election Day polling numbers. Reason: people tell pollsters what they want to hear instead of the perhaps socially unacceptable truth — like they beat their wives, smoke cigarettes or intend to vote for Donald Trump. And pollsters have never been able to account for that.

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Bumper cars as Tuesday approaches

Ira Lacher shares what’s on his mind two days before a momentous election. -promoted by Laura Belin

When deadline nears for sports columnists and they don’t have a clue what to write coherently about, many resort to “three-dot” columns, emptying their notebooks and typing whatever comes to mind, separated by three dots: “Iowa needed to play better Saturday. … How ’bout them Clones?”

As I write this, the election is just two days away and I don’t have a clue of long-form coherency. Instead, like bumper cars, a jumble of thoughts continues to career around my head; some colliding, some narrowly evading one another, but always in motion. Such as:

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The COVID fatigue factor

Ira Lacher explores the phenomenon of COVID fatigue, which is “no surprise to psychologists” despite the devastating impact of the pandemic. -promoted by Laura Belin

With more than 224,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 and perhaps another 25,000 more to join them in November, you would think just about everyone would consider the coronavirus pandemic to be the top issue in the election.

And, that reasonable conclusion would join others from the Bizarro World.

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Three days, three words

Ira Lacher‘s take on the bombshell news that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19. -promoted by Laura Belin

Our moral makeup is really being tested this week. First, it was the prospect of forgiving during this season of atonement. Now, it’s whether we should feel sorry for someone who crashed to earth after jumping out of a plane while refusing to wear a parachute.

Mixed feelings are flowing like Clorox following the White House announcement that President Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. The past 72 hours can be summed up in three words: “apparently,” “schadenfreude,” and “hubris.”

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On forgiveness

Ira Lacher reflects on a major theme of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which begins at sunset on September 27. -promoted by Laura Belin

This is the season when Jews all over the world are bound to examine themselves and their actions, even their thoughts, emotions and feelings. During this time, culminating on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, we are told that “for the sins of man against God, the Day of Atonement forgives. But for the sins of man against another man, the Day of Atonement does not forgive, until they have made peace with one another.”

I’ll be honest: This is the hardest year of my life to forgive.

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The virus: Trump's Fifth Avenue?

Ira Lacher: This is about refusing to do anything that could have saved your neighbor from dying. -promoted by Laura Belin

Imagine if, on December 8, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt had told the American people, on the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor:

“There’s this little thing we’re having with Japan. But it’s fine, and it’s going to go away. It’ll be like a miracle.”

Or if on September 12, 2001, President George W. Bush had said:

“Shame on the lamestream news media for reporting fake news that passenger planes were hijacked by terrorists yesterday and crashed intentionally into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”

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Reclaiming what we believe

Ira Lacher asks, “Why do we continue to treat this president, who has lit a bonfire and thrown convention onto it, in a conventional manner?” -promoted by Laura Belin

The 2016 election was all about convention.

Donald J. Trump pledged he was going to “drain the swamp” — toss out conventions that had made government the enemy of “real Americans. ” And millions, who believed themselves the victims of an unfeeling, bloated, radical-liberal bureaucracy biased in favor of minorities and coastal elites, believed him.

Trump didn’t disappoint. He has fulfilled the wet dreams of conservatives by gutting many regulations on business, slashing the federal non-defense workforce and rolling back environmental protection.

But he also has thrown out almost every unwritten rule pertaining to the presidency since George Washington was handed the keys.

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Sister Souljah Redux

Ira Lacher: We need Joe Biden to speak before Donald J. Trump succeeds in making “law and order” the number 1 issue of the 2020 election. -promoted by Laura Belin

If there ever were a need for a Sister Souljah moment, it’s now.

In 1992, Bill Clinton, locked in a  tight race with President George H. W. Bush, blasted the rapper known as Sister Souljah for urging blacks to kill whites in retaliation for the death of Rodney King at the hands of Los Angeles police, who were acquitted of any crime. Speaking to the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, the Democratic nominee from Arkansas repudiated her comments as incendiary.

“If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black,’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech,” Clinton told the group, referring to the then-leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Ira Lacher: Donald Trump is Cain, who slays his brother Abel, hoping to gain favor from God. Joe Biden is Job, who suffers so much yet remains faithful. -promoted by Laura Belin

What did we learn from the just-concluded Zoom meeting organized by the Democratic National Convention? We learned that the 2020 election is a battle of metaphors.

Donald Trump is the greaser you’d shoo away from your daughter with a shotgun. Joe Biden is the kid who always gets your daughter home by curfew, walks her to the door and sees that she gets safely inside, all without even trying to steal a goodnight kiss.

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Props to sports without props

As some sporting events return without spectators due to COVID-19, Ira Lacher has changed his mind about attending games in person. -promoted by Laura Belin

Not long ago, I vowed to not watch a single minute of a sports event played in an empty stadium or arena. What’s a game without fans?

I was totally wrong. And it’s not because I can’t live without soccer, now that the English Premier League is restarting. Heck, I’ve lived without it for four months, and I’m still here.

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What's a white person to do?

Ira Lacher: It is appropriate for me to admit that I benefit from white privilege, and humbly suggest ways we can learn to combat and one day overcome it. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2016, I told anyone who would listen (and more than a few who wouldn’t) that if Donald Trump were elected president, there would be riots in the streets.

I take no satisfaction in being prescient.

All over America, people rioted over the weekend, stoked by anger and desperation at continued and unending wrongful deaths of black people by police and vigilantes, combined with the despair at a hapless federal government unable to save people from dying, whether from a virus or institutional racism.

I refuse to join the chorus of those who have admonished protesters on how to react to this latest in an unending series of violence against African Americans. But it is appropriate for me, as a white person, to admit that I benefit from white privilege, and humbly suggest ways we can learn to combat and one day overcome it.

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The diIemma of reopening

Ira Lacher: “For better, or God forbid, much worse, America has decided on a path: Reopen, urge common-sense caution, and come what may.” -promoted by Laura Belin

My friend’s daughter caught COVID-19. Experiencing high fever and labored breathing, she visited an emergency room of a New York City hospital, where she spent several days in intensive care, before finally being allowed to go home, where milder symptoms continued for weeks. But physical symptoms gave way to mental health symptoms, specifically, severe panic. Those same symptoms have befallen her father, hundreds of miles away from her.

The effects of the pandemic have been duly reported: physical symptoms, sometimes leading to death; economic symptoms, careering the world toward financial collapse; societal symptoms, including increasing disregard for civil authority. Now, the United Nations is adding another effect: mental health symptoms.

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America's Eugenics President

Ira Lacher: Eugenics forces us to consider how Donald Trump first reacted to the COVID-19 threat, how he dealt with its onset, and how he wants to “reopen” America. -promoted by Laura Belin

Forced sterilization.

“Better baby” contests.

Social engineering.

Selective breeding.

These attributes pertain not to Nazi Germany but the United States. They are components of the white supremacist pseudoscientific movement known as “eugenics.

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The divide that's conquered . . . us

Ira Lacher: We may don masks to keep ourselves safe from the novel coronavirus, but no amount of #We’reInThisTogether can mask that we are far apart. -promoted by Laura Belin

“REOPENINGS EXPOSE U.S. DIVISIONS” proclaimed Saturday’s New York Times.

A Google search for “divided America” returns 417 million pages.

Writing in The Atlantic, George Packer reveals what should be as plain as the masks on our faces and the gloves on our hands: Because of our many divisions, America is rapidly becoming a failed state:

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Warning: Journalists doing deference

Ira Lacher: Too many media leaders still don’t seem to understand that by not calling out Trump for who and what he is, they are perpetuating his legitimacy. -promoted by Laura Belin

Why aren’t we being told what is obvious to anyone with a brain: The president of the United States is a lunatic. A dangerous lunatic.

That inescapable fact was brought home on April 23, when the person holding the office that for decades has been revered by hundreds of millions of people speculated that Americans could inject themselves with chemical disinfectant or submit to exposure of heat and light as a way to cure COVID-19.

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Needed: National Health Corps

Ira Lacher: For years, America has debated the need for some form of mandatory national service that does not necessarily include the military. The need is clear now. -promoted by Laura Belin

After 9/11, our leaders determined that a public agency was necessary to prevent further acts of terrorism on passenger airlines, and the Transportation Security Administration was born, as part of the new Department of Homeland Security. Now, everyone who travels has become accustomed to these uniformed “wanders at airports,” as per many a crossword puzzle clue.

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Should it stay or should it go?

Ira Lacher considers ten cultural shifts occurring because of novel coronavirus, and whether each should and will outlast the pandemic. -promoted by Laura Belin

The world during COVID-19 is vastly different from the world before. But what about the world after?

What changes that we see now are likely to survive the transition when things settle down?

A select few know who will win the Academy Awards, but in this case, no one knows. But that doesn’t stop us from predicting who will win and, more important, whether they or someone else should.

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News you cannot, should not use

Some advice from Ira Lacher, who spent two decades working on newspapers. -promoted by Laura Belin

Quit looking at the news!

That seems to be counterintuitive in an era when we are crying out for the latest information. But that’s the point: We’re mostly not getting good information. What we’re getting is a lot of speculation, and that’s driving us nuts, or, as many mental health professionals assert, into anxiety and depression — which makes us even more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

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What better time?

Ira Lacher reflects on the unprecedented crisis we are facing. -promoted by Laura Belin

What will we have learned after this has ended?

How will America and Americans be different?

How will America and Americans be better?

What kind of nation will America be in the year 1 A.C. (after COVID-19) that we were not in the year 1 B.C. (before COVID-19)?

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The unchanging red light

Ira Lacher: “Drastic measures” to address novel coronavirus “need to be carefully weighed for their presumed benefits vs. their unintended consequences.” -promoted by Laura Belin

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about “flattening the curve” as it pertains to dealing with COVID-19. The premise is to keep down the number of patients needing hospitalization because America lacks the beds to treat them.

Health experts agree that doing so can reduce the number of severe cases. “If you don’t have as many cases coming to the hospitals and clinics at once, it can actually lower the number of total deaths from the virus and from other causes,” says Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan, who has studied epidemics. “And, importantly, it buys us time for university and government scientists, and industry, to create new therapies, medications and potentially a vaccine.”

But it can also mean extending the disruption of virtually everyone’s life. And that’s not going so well with one of my neighbors.

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The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad way to pick a nominee

Primaries and caucuses allow only a small fraction of the electorate to influence the nomination, Ira Lacher writes. Is there a better way? -promoted by Laura Belin

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary a few weeks ago, collecting 25.6 percent or 76,324 votes.

There were 276,385 New Hampshirites eligible to vote in the Democratic primary. Which means Sanders was the choice of a quarter of less than a third of the state’s registered Democrats.

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Oy, the debate

Ira Lacher reflects on the February 19 six-candidate clash in Las Vegas, which drew the largest television audience yet for a Democratic debate this cycle. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Welcome to the NFL, kid.” — The sarcastic greeting veteran players give to highly touted rookies who are roughed up and even injured in their first pro football contests.

“Welcome to the party, man.” — The sarcastic greeting Joe Biden gave to Mike Bloomberg as they exited the stage after Wednesday’s debate.

Based on Wednesday’s pro wrestling show in Las Vegas, the former New York City mayor is being compared to Ishtar. The 1987 film cost a then-unheard of $40 million and was pilloried as one of the worst disasters in movie history.

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Pete's "gay problem" that isn't

Ira Lacher: Demonizing Pete Buttigieg for his sexual orientation might be the worst political blunder the Trumpanistas could make. -promoted by Laura Belin

Been Skyping for years with a longtime friend from my Bronx growing-up days, and when he’s fed up with venting about the ineptitude of the New York Mets, our discussions turn to politics.

He’s still undecided, and has a long time before he votes in the New York primary in late April, but he’s willing to support anyone who’s not a self-described socialist, a gaffe-prone warhorse, a Hillary clone, a billionaire, or a quixotic Hawaiian. So his choice is between Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, about whom he doesn’t know enough, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, about whom he knows too much. As in, he’s gay.

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Testing, testing

Ira Lacher ponders: What if President Trump had to take the citizenship exam? -promoted by Laura Belin

Donald J. Trump has proved himself so incredibly ignorant about history, geography, civics and almost everything else that some have speculated he wouldn’t even be able to pass the test that prospective American citizens have to pass.

What do you think? Some of the real questions (and his very possible answers) are below:

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An ending -- and a betrayal

Ira Lacher: “While Democrats throughout America will justifiably point to Iowa and demand an end to this farce, Democrats throughout Iowa should demand a reckoning from their party leaders.” -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa caucuses are done.

Frankly, I don’t see how the national Democratic Party has a choice. We took their Lamborghini out on the road Monday night, ignored every single road sign, and ran a beautiful machine headfirst into an ever-expanding sinkhole.

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Requiem for the Constitution

Ira Lacher comments on today’s proceedings in the U.S. Senate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Hello. I’m the Constitution. And if you’re reading this, I’m dead.

Oh, you may see me around, from time to time. Someone or other will always wave a copy of me around, pointing to me as the glue that’s the foundation of America. Abraham Lincoln said of me, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Then, there was this from Rush Limbaugh: “We are hated because we are free. We are hated because of the idea that is the United States of America. We are hated because of our Constitution.”

Yeah, but my organs have shut down. By breaths have ceased. I have flat-lined. And so, I’m dead. Here are a few examples why.

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Iowa niceties

Ira Lacher reacts to a Des Moines Register guest editorial by an Iowan living in New York, who has encountered “ignorance toward Middle America.” -promoted by Laura Belin

As you may have guessed from my posting name, I was born closer to West Farms Road in the Bronx, New York, than to any farm in Iowa. But when I was 22, I left New York City and moved to America.

So it was with great bemusement that I noticed the give and take on social media surrounding Colleen Connolly’s op-ed in The Des Moines Register about how New Yorkers and East Coasters in general dis Iowans and other Midwesterners.

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An alternative to the tPhone

A lighthearted look at the Democratic presidential field from Ira Lacher. -promoted by Laura Belin

Does this election cycle remind you of your phone? Let’s call it a tPhone.

Say that in 2016 you bought your tPhone because you’d seen it on TV. You knew the brand and liked its brashness, simplicity, appearance and how chic it looked among the glitterati. Also it talked to you in words you’ve always wanted to use but didn’t dare in mixed company.

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What's wrong with us?

Ira Lacher reflects on the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. -promoted by Laura Belin

It was jarring but not surprising: The Washington Post reported this week that politicians and the military lied to Americans about the prospects of success for the war in Afghanistan and that actually, we had no idea of what we were doing there, militarily or politically.

Sound familiar?

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Americans--not House Democrats--should impeach Trump

Ira Lacher: “Acting alone in a partisan snit fit can’t cut it.” -promoted by Laura Belin

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on December 5 that the House Judiciary Committee will draft articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump. Want to bet that no Republican will vote for them?

In all likelihood, the articles will focus entirely on Trump abusing the power of the presidency to make a foreign leader do oppo research on his likely election opponent as a condition for releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that was approved by a coequal branch of government.

But you know what? Most Americans do not believe that this is an impeachable offense and it wouldn’t be wrong to change the motto on the greenback from “e pluribus unum” to “quid pro quo.” Long before the election of 2016, three-fourths of Americans believed that our government is corrupt, that the needs of the privileged few outweigh the needs of the many.

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They is us

Ira Lacher plans to caucus for Pete Buttigieg. -promoted by Laura Belin

A guy I’ve worked with a for a long time believes whites are overlooked in favor of minorities, people who enter America illegally should be sent back, college graduates on the East and West coasts look down on those who haven’t a degree, and Christianity is under attack by atheists who want to remove God from our lives.

He has never said it outright to me, but I would bet everything I and my children will ever own that he voted for Donald Trump and will do so again.

Is he a bad person?

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Britain’s would-be Trump-alike

Ira Lacher reports from London. -promoted by Laura Belin

The egotism of an obsessed man has been on public display for nearly three years now, and no, it is not whom you think.

Saturday, October 19, an estimated 1.5 million people marched throughout central London, demanding a second people’s vote on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. Exuberant and cheerful, many occupying Parliament Square and the streets beyond were draped in EU flags and attire sporting its logo.

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Tears for the top tier

Ira Lacher: “Democrats have never gotten it through their heads that the primary season is not about picking the person who would make the best president.” -promoted by Laura Belin

“I think the vast majority of primary voters are now realizing there’s only one of two or three possible winners.” — Paul Maslin, Democratic pollster, in Saturday’s New York Times

I suppose those would be the candidates who have led the polls from the get-go: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

If that remains the case, get used to four more years of Donald Trump.

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Saturday's other presidential candidate event

Ira Lacher reports on the People’s Forum in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

While thousands sat in single-lane traffic at Water Works Park hoping to hear seventeen presidential candidates deliver ten-minute stump speeches, several thousand Midwesterners from five states crammed into the Iowa Events Center on September 21 to listen to four candidates explain at length why they deserved the votes of progressives.

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Burying us by burying the lede

Ira Lacher: “To save America and perhaps the world, the media must shuck off its outmoded approach of how to treat the president.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Why does the mainstream media not get it? Why do they continue to publish fake news?

No, not that kind of fake news. The kind that insists that we have a president who is able, competent, and dealing with 12 eggs per dozen.

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