Posts by: brandenpridgen

Most People

Reading time – 1:29 seconds; Viewing time – 2:31  .  .  .

womens-march

See indented paragraph below for instructions.

“Most people prefer a problem they can’t solve to a solution they don’t like.”

So says Dr. Lee Thayer, an expert in the fields of leadership and communication. He has much to teach those who would lead, especially those who would consciously lead their own lives. That necessarily translates to leading organizations and even countries. The point here is about how we lead our lives in the face of what appears to be very dangerous.

The radical right has pursued an extremist agenda for decades and it has infiltrated all aspects of American life. It has its claws in education, in radio and television, in energy, in the halls of Congress, and now a radical has assembled a vigilante group of moneyed extremists to run the executive branch of government. It’s enough to spin any centrist in circles. Worse, it makes solutions look overwhelming and unattractive enough to freeze people into inertia.

So, the first step is decide to move.

It’s hard for anyone to leave the ease and familiarity of our comfort zones to confront those who would oppress. It’s far easier to give in to believing that the problem cannot be solved than to take action on the solution we don’t like because of the very hard work that will be required.

And yet that is what we must do. We do not have the luxury of simply sitting on the sofa and complaining about what is so very wrong and cannot be fixed. We cannot just hurl curses at what we imagine we are powerless to change, because the consequences of only hurling those curses may be catastrophic. If we squint our eyes we will see that the solutions really are preferable to believing this is a problem we can’t solve. Start with this.

Go to www.WomensMarch.com, click on the “The March” tab at the top, then “Sister Marches” in the dropdown to find a march in your city – there are marches all over the country. Then bring 5 people with you to the march on January 21.

You don’t have to be a woman to attend. All that’s required is to have had a mother – that includes most of us. This is about everybody’s rights.

It isn’t enough to simply believe. You have to stand up. Because this isn’t a problem you can’t solve. The solution is to stand up for what you believe in. Prefer that!

I’ll be looking for you at The March on the 21st.

Doubts? Read this.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

It’s Always About All Of Us

Reading time – 51 seconds; Viewing time – 1:35  .  .  .

1,500 people showed up at the Armory on Clark Street in Chicago recently for Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s event. They were people who don’t like what has been promised by the incoming administration, who think this is an escalation of a war on democracy, who think that coddling Vladimir Putin while dissing our intelligence agencies is a terrible thing to do and is a threat to our national security and who see that repeal and replace is code for “You’re on your own, poor people.”

Much was said there and I want to elaborate on just one point that speaks to us today:

  • In 1963 President Kennedy told the world, “Ich bein ein Berliner.” In the fight against tyranny, we are all Berliners.
  • We are all on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.
  • It wasn’t only the 3,000 who died. We are all 9/11.
  • We are all children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  • We are all Trayvon Martin.
  • We are all Charlie Hebdo.
  • We are all at the Bataclan in Paris.
  • We are all at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
  • We are all at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
  • We are all travelers at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

When one of us is victimized we are all victimized. And that’s why, when that terrible, unconscionable register is created, we will all sign up because we are all Muslims.

It’s about all of us. It’s always about all of us.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Jax New Rules

amer-united-1-10-17

JUST A FEW SEATS LEFT – LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER – RSVP NOW AND SET YOUR DVR TO RECORD PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAREWELL ADDRESS

Reading time – 2:47 seconds; Viewing time – 3:54  .  .  .

Safety note to readers and viewers: This commentary registers 7.4 on the Snark-O-Meter.

With honor to Bill Maher for the format, here are Jax New Rules starting on January 20:

electric-chair-2Jax New Rule – People have to stop saying they’re pro-life if they continue to support the death penalty.

Jax New Rule – Americans who demand the defunding of Planned Parenthood may no longer claim that they care about women, especially poor women, and they have to stand on street corners handing out condoms.

repeal-and-what

Copyright Stantis, Chicago Tribune, 2017

Jax New Rule – Now that the Republicans control the presidency and both chambers of Congress, they can vote for roughly the 62nd time to repeal Obamacare, even as they have nothing to replace it and won’t for at least two years – that’s according to their own calculations – they have to take ownership of the healthcare outcomes of the millions of people who will no longer have access to healthcare at all. Furthermore, the Republicans will be required to provide grave markers for these millions, bearing the inscription, “I arrived here early, thanks to the Republicans.”

stoned-womanJax New Rule – Absolutist Bible thumpers must stop their cafeteria use of biblical rules and henceforth must follow all of them and in their literal meaning. So, if on your wedding night you learn that your wife is not a virgin, you must stone her to death and return the body to her father. And when you yourself commit adultery, your friends and relatives must stone you to death.

And finally,

Jax New Rule – Republicans who don’t aggressively investigate and penalize Vladimir Putin and Russia for their computer hacking and selective leaks omj-3f what they found, and for attempting to influence our 2016 election and our democracy itself may no longer wear the label of patriot nor claim they’re for muscular national defense.

For decades the Republicans have been presenting themselves to the American people as the true patriots, the ones who believe in the most robust national defense and who always fought for more money for the Pentagon, regardless of whether the Pentagon even wanted it (e.g. the F-35 Joint Task Strike Fighter). Whenever some foolish Democrat would suggest using some of those billions of defense dollars for something non-military they were ridiculed by Republicans as being weak-kneed, unpatriotic and willing to sacrifice the lives of our brave military men and women.

wp-putin-ordered-hackBut now that we’ve caught Putin with his hand in our ballot boxes, only a small handful of legislators is speaking up. Where did all that chest thumping go? What happened to their boasts of patriotism now that the President will be of their party and he’s in Putin’s pocket?

We all understand Trump’s continuing denial of the Russians having influenced the election. After all, if they did sway the election, it would be clear thatwt-3 Trump doesn’t really have the mandate he falsely boasts of having. It would be clear that he’s an illegitimate president. No, Trump has to tweet his denials of Russian influence on the election because his overblown ego couldn’t handle the truth.

But what of the many Senators and Representatives who are much too quiet now and should be calling for retribution, sanctions and greater protections for our country? Where are they? Where’s that stiff patriotic spine they’ve bragged about since the start of the Cold War?

Jax new rule for this Congress is this: Put up or shut up.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Question

Reading time – 1:56; Viewing time – 3:48  .  .  .

amer-united-1-10-17

No email link is available, so copy/paste [email protected] into an email and say you’ll be there.

I’ve been in dialogue with a small group of smart people, many of whom read and contribute to this series. They have offered great clarity and insight and have pushed me to refine what I now see as the key question of our time. The question I pose is in service of something much larger and which requires naming in order for the question to make full sense. It is about our acute political polarization and how we can bring people together so that we have the muscle to demand the change – the democracy – our country needs.

Over most of the decades of my adult life I have seen what looks to me to be an incremental loss of democracy in America, with the people losing power and an elite few gaining it. Most Americans are centrists, but most of our elected officials are either partisan zealots or they cower before the zealots, resulting in governmental outcomes we the people don’t want and helping to polarize our citizenry. For example, 80% of Americans want universal background checks on sales of firearms and a ban on assault weapons, but the legislative extremists and the powerful, well funded lobbying groups ensure that there is never even a vote on the issue. There are many other examples of how we the people (as in democracy = “rule by the people”) are not getting what we want, all of which is to say that democracy has been sorely compromised.

What requires naming for The Question to make full sense is that we must save our democracy. Perhaps you prefer “restore” our democracy. Either way, just stopping the thieves is insufficient.

So, my question is:

How can we politically polarized Americans find a way to talk with one another, not scream past one another, and come together in the common cause of democracy?

Just asking the question unmasks me as the 60s idealist I remain, but I believe that it is the question we must answer in order to change our course. I went out on a limb with my article ringing the alarm of fascism staring us in the face and I expect substantial push-back. So, too, did those ringing the alarm in Mussolini’s Italy, in Hitler’s Germany, in Stalin’s Russia and in Pol Pot’s Cambodia (yes, I know those last two were communists – the same democracy robbing principles hold) and many other places where authoritarians ruled. The danger usually isn’t obvious when change is made incrementally, but now you need only look at the cabinet and advisor picks of our President Elect, match that with his extremist promises, flagrant lies, pathological need to be powerful, his thin skin and cruelty, his obvious contempt for our laws and the Constitution and you should be able to see the fascist freight train at the other end of the tunnel barreling down on us.

It is possible that you don’t and won’t share my view of the dire future we face if we sit back and let others make our decisions for us. That’s okay, because you likely share my view that we have lost key elements of democracy and that we have to re-secure them or we will lose all.

Abraham Lincoln said it best: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We must stand together – righties, centrists and lefties –  if we are to restore our democracy.

So, back to my question:

How can we politically polarized Americans find a way to talk with one another, not scream past one another, and come together in the common cause of democracy?

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Good At Heart – Guest Essay

Reading time – 2:46  .  .  .

I promised some help and some hope in the last article and this is it.

Joel Altschul (no relation) is a bona fide smart person, a good writer and a pal. He recently sent the essay that follows as his contribution to how we can move forward and protect our democracy. See what you think.

                                               Good at Heart—This I Believe

For the last month I have been hiding from a bully who threatens me, my family, my countrymen, my values, and our collective future. I want to come out of hiding, stand up, have my voice heard in a way that restores my belief in America.

Every year at the Passover Seder we read from the “Diary of a Young Girl.” Anne Frank wrote the following while she and her family were hiding from the ultimate bullies of the twentieth century. “In spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death .  .  . I think that it will all come right, and that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

I used to believe in civil discourse—that if people express themselves honestly and listen to others carefully, they will ultimately make decisions that have their own best interests at heart. It will not erase individual behavior that exudes hatred and intolerance, but I do think that the vast majority of American citizens will ultimately elect and follow leaders who guide us in a positive direction. I am not sure about the rest of the world and have grave doubts about saving our planet and protecting our environment in terms of misusing scarce resources.

I think many others feel the way I do. They express frustration and amazement at the direction outlined by our incoming administration. And no one—neither Democrat nor Republican—has emerged as a voice of reason to help us find our way out of the darkness.

My suggestion is that we establish a Shadow Cabinet during the next four years, made up of tribal elders who have no ax to grind and who have the backbone to stand up to our Bully President and his henchmen.

My nominee to lead the way is Colin Powell, who has the experience and enough bipartisan support to make this work. Just imagine a group of ten that meets regularly in person and/or electronically for the purpose of adding a voice of reason and pushing back whenever necessary. They would model how we can foster civil discourse, disagree in the spirit of our founding fathers, and successfully restore order as a team of rivals did under Lincoln.

i have enough faith in General Powell to pick his own cabinet, but I suggest three former Presidents (Obama, Bush, Clinton), three senators (Sanders, McCain, and Warren), and several  former secretaries of state (Kerry, Rice, Allbright). It is not as critical to me who the actual people are as is their ability to call out a bully, call a thug “a thug,” state a point of view, listen to opinions different from their own, and change their perspective when necessary. I admire Fareed Zacharia, who recently pointed out that in retrospect it was Romney in 2012, not Obama or Zacharia, who more accurately called attention to Putin’s tendencies toward land grabbing.

The topics needing attention will be obvious. For example, the call for strong military readiness coupled with active diplomacy, health care reform, environmental safeguards, immigration reform, and how to stimulate the economy without undue benefit to the wealthy.

Other topics will emerge with time, beginning with ethical definitions regarding conflicts of interest, justice for all, tolerance for immigrants, foreigners, people of all religions, races, creeds, disabilities, and gender preferences. Within my lifetime acceptance of the rights of women and African-Americans, for example, have made some progress, but without high visibility, I am afraid we will regress much farther than anyone can imagine.

What I hope for is the beginning of a non-partisan dialogue that focuses on issues facing our nation. It may begin with the simplest outline of what is being analyzed (such as the Affordable Care Act) and options being considered. If successful on a national basis, I could see similar groups being formed on a state, regional, or metropolitan basis to look at issues like shared water resources, transportation, border concerns, or funding and support for public education.

Full disclosure. I am much more interested in solving our problems than in promoting any one political party or politician. I was surprised at the outcome of the Presidential Election, but no matter who won, it was clear that we have done a poor job of fostering civil discourse. I do not think I am alone. I want people to have a chance to prove that in the end most of us are good at heart.

Joel Altschul
Santa Barbara, CA
December 20, 2016

Joel has set the bar high and offered his notion of how to clear the bar. What say you?

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Danger – There’s Bad Stuff Coming

New York Times, April 9, 1944

New York Times, April 9, 1944. Click the graphic to download the full article as it appeared.

Reading time – 2:55; Viewing time – 5:35  .  .  .

We need a good and optimistic start for the new year. That message is for next week. Let’s first establish in a blinding flash of the obvious and in a compelling way why we need that good and optimistic start.

You don’t need a pundit, a pol or a blogger to tell you that American institutions are at risk and look shaky. There is bad stuff staring us in the face in so many venues and there is a chance you’ve wondered how bad it can get. The answer is, very bad. Here are some examples.

Under the ultra-thin, see-through veil of ensuring decorum, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House and beloved Republican brainiac, the proposer of changes to Medicare and Social Security that he says don’t privatize those programs, except they really do, has proposed banning live streaming and photos from the floor of the House. This comes as a knee-jerk reaction to Republicans having been sucker punched by Democrats who demanded an up or down vote on universal registration of sales of firearms. Ryan ignored them and they responded witih a sit-in. Ryan tried to quash the event by closing the House session, which turned off the CSPAN cameras, but smart phone live streaming foiled his attempt at abridging free speech. Now Ryan and Republican hissy-fitters want to further restrict speech by fining Democrats and perhaps telling their mommies on them. Start thinking about abridgement of rights and be clear that practice will extend to your rights.

President Elect Trump notoriously retweeted hate group tweets and offered mealy mouthed responses to calls that he repudiate hate groups. During his campaign rallies he repeatedly called for protesters to be beaten up and demeaned them as though they were sub-human. He continues to refuse to repudiate hate groups and has brought Steve Bannon, alt-right hater of all things not white and anyone not worshiping male dominance, to be his chief strategist. Oh, and he wants to deport 11 million Hispanics and register Muslims. Start thinking discrimination and scapegoating.

Trump has hired lunatic fringe Mike Flynn to be his National Security Advisor. This is the same Mike Flynn who retweets phony stories and conspiracy crap, one example of which motivated North Carolina resident Edgar Welch to drive from his home to DC to invade a pizza parlor, believing he was rescuing sexually abused children from the basement. He believed that because Mike Flynn brainlessly retweeted the bogus story. The good news is that the bullets Welch fired into the floor of the pizza restaurant didn’t hurt anyone. The bad news is that Mike Flynn, the fool who didn’t have the sense not to retweet this blatantly false story, is and will be advising the new president on when and where to use America’s military might, including nuclear weapons. Start thinking about military adventurism giving rise to horrific catastrophes.

There are many more examples of the democracy killing efforts underfoot, including Trump’s ridiculing and criticizing of the press so that you won’t find credence in reports from investigative journalists who report on Trumpian malfeasance.

To bring this to a focus, let’s check in with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice-President, Henry Wallace. He knew something about the harm that authoritarian regimes do to democracy and the world and has agreed to speak to you from his day and explain this fully and clearly. Click here to download a PDF copy of his comments as originally published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944. Click here to download a highlighted, easier to read version. Read it, especially the highlighted parts and you just may see a parallel between then and now and you’ll begin to realize just how bad the bad stuff we’re facing really is.

No one knows who said it first, but it’s often attributed to Sinclair Lewis:

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

appoint-merrick-garland

Click me and sign the petition – because you can fight fascism right now.

Fascism? In America? Do the reading. Do an online search of fascism in America. The alarm rang a while ago, the snooze button is broken from our banging on it, hoping the alarm would go away and we all have to wake up.

I’ve heard it said and am beginning to believe that we are one or two ISIS-related terrorist attacks in America away from Mr. Extremist, everything in the false language of unearned greatness President Trump declaring martial law and suspending civil liberties. Just look at those he surrounds himself with, consider his absolutist, power-grabbing, self-congratulating nature, factor in his pathologically thin skin and the retaliatory abuse he heaps on innocent people. This just doesn’t look good for our nation.

If you had already caught a glimpse of this you likely have wondered what can be done and who will stand up to the bullies. Start with this: It’s up to us.

In addition, both some help and some hope are on the way and will be in the next post. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, it’s your turn now – in the Comments section below.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Whitefish, MT – Guest Essay

whitefishReading time – 2:54  .  .  .

An email addressed to our family from my travel writer, Montana native, daughter-in-law Wendy arrived and it was so shocking and important that I asked permission to post it here as a guest essay. You may know what’s going on in Whitefish, MT, but it’s unlikely that you’ve heard about it on such a personal level. Read on. It’s important.

I don’t know if you’ve read the headlines lately, but there’s some super disturbing news happening right now in Whitefish, MT—the town that Scott, the boys and I will be visiting next month (and where Pop just visited). Richard Spencer, the leader of the alt-right white supremacist movement, has targeted Jews in the area. The town is horrified and standing together—they’ve held packed town hall meetings to re-read the anti-discrimination laws and have done everything they can to support the local businesses that are most affected and targeted by racism. Spencer’s mom owned a building of businesses and she said that her business was affected by her son’s activities and she now is forced to sell, which Spencer is using against the Jews in Montana—it’s sick. Read these articles:

Think Progress

CNN Video [There are several videos on the page. Wait for Gary Tuchman’s Whitefish piece to load.]

LA Times

This terrifies me to my core, especially because I was born and raised in Montana and I feel so bad for the open minded and openhearted majority of Montana locals who are dealing with this. The scary thing is that this dirt bag, emboldened by Trump, has decided to run as an Independent and already has a platform: Montana First. Isn’t this what most of us feared with a Trump presidency? The trolls are coming out from under the bridges and are showing themselves. It’s up to us to support and become activists for what’s right. Missoula, MT (the biggest town near Whitefish) has started a “Light in Every Window” campaign and I think everyone, Jews or not, should stand up and show solidarity, across the nation by putting menorahs in our windows. Also, visit the Love Lives Here in the Flathead Valley site to show support for the Whitefish locals.

And, if you think that what happens in one small town in northwest Montana doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong—this hate mongering is happening everywhere and it’s growing. We need to stand up for our brothers and sisters who are being discriminated against.

When I asked Wendy if I could post her comments, here’s how she responded:

Of course.

I’m so disturbed and sad. The hate groups are growing exponentially and I really feel like non-Jews and non-people-of-color need to stand up and SHOUT, “THIS IS NOT OK.” Whitefish has known about Spencer for years and they’ve stayed quiet until Spencer grew emboldened by Trump and became louder. Now, this little picturesque town is getting torn apart by the attention and association with this dirt bag. I’m proud of the people I know who live there and of this little town that could, but I fear that it will harm them beyond repair.

I also feel like my job of visiting and writing with the purpose of tourism is more important now than ever. The majority of Whitefish residents don’t feel this way [like Spencer]. The majority believes in love and diversity and community.

My pal Brian Muldoon is an attorney and mediator living in Whitefish and he keeps his finger on the pulse of the town, so I asked for his comments about what is happening there. He wrote, “And the people of Whitefish are NOT deeply divided about this, as some media have reported. It’s Richard Spencer v. Everyone Else.” That’s reassuring. What is not as reassuring is that, as Brian notes, it’s very hard to shut down the trolls and the haters, in part because they have a First Amendment right to spew their hatred – plus, they revel in the publicity.

It’s important that you understand that this is not just an intellectual, “Oh, that’s interesting” exercise. Brian just advised that the FBI has sent one Whitefish family into hiding. They only do that when there are credible death threats.

Hatred has consequences. For some valuable context, read Brian’s short essay, Why Racism Matters – just click the title to download the PDF.

Do you imagine this is an isolated case of hatred? It isn’t. Here’s yet another independent, ongoing tally of hate crimes, with the Whitefish situation detailed second on the list.

Simply watching in horror is what allows the scourge of hatred to expand. Silence is not an option. Do as Wendy implores: Stand up and, “SHOUT, ‘THIS IS NOT OK.'”

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    Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

    YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Eye Opening

Reading time – 3:13; Viewing time – 5:30  .  .  .

I’m still trying to figure this out and I think I’m making progress. Reality keeps telling me that I better hurry it up.

Why did people vote for Donald Trump even when he promised to do things that would harm them?

It’s easy to dismiss such people as ignorant or stupid. It’s also both factually inaccurate and counterproductive. First, nobody wakes up on election day and decides to do something harmful to themselves. We all act in what we perceive to be our best interests and feel we have good, sensible reasons to back that up. Second, if you want to encourage someone to see things in a different way, starting with, “You’re stupid,” probably won’t be useful, so a different approach is called for. In very short order that is going to become critically important. Stay with me to see why.

Sarah Kliff wrote a most interesting article in Vox entitled Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Trump. The sub-head is “In Whitley County, Kentucky, the uninsured rate declined 60 percent under Obamacare. So why did 82 percent of voters there support Donald Trump?” Good question.

The short answer comes from a woman living in the area who signed up thousands of people for Obamacare and then voted for Trump. Interviewed by Kliff, she said, “I found with Trump, he says a lot of stuff. I just think all politicians promise you everything and then we’ll see. It’s like when you get married — ‘Oh, honey, I won’t do this, oh, honey, I won’t do that.’” Kliff later reports, “I kept hearing informed voters, who had watched the election closely, say they did hear the promise of repeal [of Obamacare] but simply felt Trump couldn’t repeal a law that had done so much good for them. In fact, some of the people I talked to hope that one of the more divisive pieces of the law — Medicaid expansion — might become even more robust, offering more of the working poor a chance at the same coverage the very poor receive.”

In other words, they heard Trump’s message that he would repeal Obamacare and simply didn’t believe it. Here’s another example.

Watch the “Bernie Sanders in Trump Country” discussion that was aired on Chris Hayes’ program on MSNBC on December 12 and pay special attention to the panel members. They consistently expressed the same views as Kliff’s interviewees in Kentucky. They just figured that Trump was saying what he needed to say to get elected and, once elected, would do whatever these people viewed as the right thing, even when the right thing was in conflict with what Trump said he would do.

Before you slip into smug mode, wondering what kind of fools these people might be, consider what you expected from Barack Obama in 2008. There’s a good chance that you imagined that he would consistently do the right thing. Later it’s possible you were disappointed in him for failing your right thing test.

There’s a psychological term for hearing what we want to hear and dismissing as insignificant what we don’t want to hear. It’s called confirmation bias and we are all subject to our own version of self-delusion powered by that bias.

Here’s the bottom line to this: Be slow to ridicule Trump voters as stupid or ignorant or racist (yes, clearly some of the really loud ones are that). All that most of them were doing in this past election was being human. And they will respond to you a lot better when they realize that you respect them. In fact, that may be the key both to understanding what happened in this election and, more important, the key to a better future for you and our democracy.

Millions of voters have buyer’s remorse right now because they really voted against establishment Hillary, not for Trump. And they got Trump and now they are horrified. It’s time to respectfully invite them to join you and others to do something to stop the extremist agenda of the oligarchs and generals who are about to take the reins of power.

Not convinced that’s happening? Go here and here and click through the links there to learn what this open season of American hatred looks like. And as you do that, recognize that this brutality is sanctioned from the top. Protections you take for granted are on the edge of being eliminated by Presidential cabinet appointments, people who are dedicated to eliminating the agencies they will lead, the ones that now provide those protections you take for granted.

There is extreme danger on the very near horizon and we better make our voices heard. And we better reach the millions of Americans who voted for Trump and are now horrified so that they make their voices heard along with ours.

On a livestream on the 19th there was a critical clarity that was offered: Love doesn’t trump hate; Organizing trumps hate. As I have written repeatedly, if things are to change for the better, we’ll actually have to do something.

So, now that you see the looming danger and understand Trump voters a little better, get up, get involved and get organized – while we still can.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

ptsd2Reading time – 3:46; Viewing time – 6:44  – longer than most, still respectful of your time  .  .  .

NOTE: Email addresses listed in the prior blog have been repaired. If that kept you from taking action, please make your voice heard right now – tomorrow is too late.

Let’s see what we have now for Trump administration picks to run our country – just a little taste test. Note that the first three do not require Senate confirmation. We’re stuck with them.

Steve Bannon is Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon is the former chairman of Breitbart News, an Alt-Right (i.e. White Supremacist, hate mongering, lying) website of – dare I say it? – scum bucket fake news stories and attacks. And this guy will have the President’s ear full time. What could possibly go wrong? Late addition: Click here and scroll down to section IV to learn about Bannon’s possibly treasonous activities that would invite Russia into the White House.

Rience Priebus, former head of the Republican National Committee with an exceptionally fluid connection to facts and reality, has been named as Trump’s Chief of Staff. That means that Priebus will largely be in charge of who and what comes before the President of the United States. What could possibly go wrong?

Michael Flynn has been named Trump’s National Security Advisor. Flynn is the guy who was fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency for his flamboyant and fatuous notions and ways. He had the astoundingly poor judgment to retweet anti-Semitic comments and to tweet fake news 16 times in the last few months. He even had the complete lack of sense and absence of good judgment to tweet baseless, brainless nonsense about non-existent Hillary emails, supposedly connecting her with money laundering and sex crimes with children (the so-called “Pizzagate”). With Flynn as the nation’s National Security Advisor, what could possibly go wrong?

Jeff Sessions is Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. This is the same Jeff Sessions who was rejected for a federal judgeship a few years back because he’s a racist and a segregationist. As a senator from Alabama, he’s opposed nearly every piece of immigration legislation that’s come before him. The AG is the one in charge of deciding which cases will be prosecuted – that is to say, which laws will be enforced. With a segregationist and anti-immigrant in charge of our civil rights laws, again, what could possibly go wrong?

Scott Pruitt to head the E.P.A. is a noteworthy choice. As the Oklahoma Attorney General he sued the E.P.A. repeatedly and berated it, saying it was anti-energy. He dislikes E.P.A. regulations – you know, those pesky things that, for example, keep corporations from polluting our water – and he is a de facto climate warming denier. With those bona fides at the head of the agency, what could possibly go wrong?

Dr. Ben Carson is Trump’s pick to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Carson has repeatedly declared that he has no experience in running anything other than a neurosurgery. While his doctoring skills may be fine, they don’t qualify him to run any agency of government at any level. He’s clueless. So, what could possibly go wrong there?

Retired General James Mattis is Trump’s pick for Defense Secretary. Most acknowledge that Mattis is a capable fellow, but he retired only three years ago from the military and our laws require that he be separated from the military for at least seven years to hold such a position (it used to be ten years). Oddly, Trump seems to believe that flaunting the law is okay (go figure). But the seven year limitation is there for a reason – so that we maintain civilian control over our military. Conservatives should be all over this as a flagrant attempt to violate the law and Mattis should go find something to do that is both useful and legal. Otherwise, we will have codified lawbreaking. What could possibly go wrong from that?

Betsy DeVos is Trump’s nominee to be Education Secretary. This is the same Betsy DeVos who wants to reform education to “advance God’s kingdom” and wants to use “school choice” to do that. Be clear that school choice means vouchers of public money doled out to spend on kids’ education in private religious schools. So much for separation of church and state. There’s way more to DeVos’ lunacy, but the key here is that she is an opponent of public education, a religious zealot who wants to run this country according to the laws of the Bible (are you ready to stone adulterers?) and she’s Trump’s pick for Education Secretary. What could possibly go wrong?

Saving the most insane for last, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon/Mobil, is the nominee for Secretary of State. He proudly signed a $500 billion deal with Vladimir Putin and his government’s 70% share of Russia’s state oil company to drill in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. Tillerson was awarded Russia’s BFF (Best Friends Forever) award by Putin himself. Everyone agrees that national defense, the security of our nation, is the primary job of the federal government. How is this guy, who cozies up to our key adversary, going to look out for America’s national security interests? Oh, and by the way, Trump wants John Bolton to be Tillerson’s sidekick. That’s the same John Bolton who thinks we should nuke Iran and insists to this day that Saddam Husein had the weapons of mass destruction that reality has proven never existed. With Tillerson and Bolton at the Department of State, what could possibly go wrong?

There are more nominations we can examine (including a nominee for Treasury Secretary who’s direct from Goldman Sachs, a woman to head the Small Business Administration who’s a reality TV mogul, heading World Wrestling Entertainment, a Labor Secretary who opposes overtime pay and is anti-labor, an Energy Secretary who wants to eliminate the Department of Energy – the list goes on) but the point is clear.

Trump promised to drain the swamp, but instead has brought before us establishment types and billionaires who are blatantly at odds with the agencies they would lead. Given the power in their hands, each would worsen the condition of ordinary (read: not billionaire) Americans. There is nothing that can be done to excise those who do not require Senate approval; that swamp will remain polluted. For all the rest,

senators-stop

Otherwise, we will, indeed, find out exactly what could go wrong.

  • ————————————-

    Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

    YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

EMERGENCY FLASH MESSAGE

This is not about what Trump might do the the departments of energy, EPA, Social Security or Medicare. This is about our national security.

The Founders created the Electoral College for several reasons, but the most important was to ensure there would never be any interference by a foreign agent, government or institution that might compromise our republic. Here’s a link to what Alexander Hamilton had to say about this in Federalist 68. It’s short, clear and exceptionally compelling. Read it.

Alexandra Chalupa was a consultant to the DNC looking specifically into Donald Trump’s connections with Putin’s Russia and has written a clear and riveting analysis of this situation, concluding with this:

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. Trump won the electoral vote by less than 80,000 votes combined in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where Republicans went to great lengths to block recount efforts. Based on the facts, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia influenced the 2016 U.S. election which helped Trump win the White House. Trump’s consistent refusal to admit Russia’s involvement, especially given his access to highly classified information, demonstrates he is either unreasonable and possibly of unsound mind or he is aiding and abetting Putin. This is a national security issue that the Electoral College must take seriously when casting their votes on Monday. In the meantime, it is imperative that a thorough investigation is conducted as to the extent of Russia’s operation, and that this information pertaining it be released to the public.

The net of this is that you MUST contact the Electors and urge them not to vote for Trump. 20 GOP electors have already indicated that they will not (watch this video and listen to what one elector has to say) – we need 17 more. Here’s how to make that happen.

Bruce Mainzer has compiled all you have to know/do into the text below. I’ve pasted his work below. Just follow the bouncing ball and you will have done your part – except for this last piece.

Forward this post to everyone you know and urge them to take action RIGHT NOW. Our national security and our safety in the world may hang in the balance. Don’t put it off until later when everyday activities might distract you. Do this now.


As promised here is information about the Electoral College. Please email this to everyone tonight as Monday Dec. 19th is fast approaching for the date of the Electoral College vote. As I mentioned in the meeting, Laurence Lessig, Harvard Professor of Constitutional law, is reporting that 20 GOP Electors have already told him in confidence that they will not be voting for Trump. It takes only 17 more GOP Electors to defect, and Trump does not get the 272 Electoral College votes necessary for being President Elect. Everyone should therefore be writing the electors, and they can use the information on this email. What looked like a long shot last week is now a distinct possibility.

First, here is my email to Electors, but everyone should feel free to write their own version. My letter focuses on the possibility that Donald Trump will not act in the interest of the United States foreign policy, which Alexander Hamilton stated was one of the conditions that the Electoral College would be justified in not voting for a candidate. Hamilton also was concerned with a demagogue being nominated, so that is another reason that someone can state their objection to a candidate.

Dear Elector,

My name is _________ from CITY NAME, STATE.

It is becoming quite apparent that Donald Trump is in collusion with President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation to hijack the foreign policy of the United States and enrich himself and others. One need not investigate the election tampering issue, but instead view the plethora of statements and actions taken by the candidate. These actions have included selection of an NSA director Michael Flynn with known ties to Russia (paid consultant to the Russia Tonight news cable network) and selection of ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, who violated existing U.S. policy to meet and conduct business with Vladimir Putin over the past few years. Carter Paige, former campaign aide, met with Russian financial interests and reportedly promised lifting of sanctions in Moscow last summer. Paul Manafort, former campaign manager, was a paid consultant for Putin ally and deposed Ukrainian  leader, and now Mr. Manafort is reportedly is still serving as an unofficial adviser to the transition team of the President Elect. Trump positions on sanctions and relationships with NATO and protection of the Balkan states from Russian aggression are at direct odds with 40 years of current U.S. foreign policy.

Because Mr. Trump has not released any financial information or tax returns, we are left to speculate as to the motivations of this President Elect. For many years, Mr. Trump had received financing from Russian oligarchs when credit was unavailable to him in the US. In addition, Trump has sold quite a bit of luxury real estate to Russian individuals in Panama, Florida and other locations. Reports of debt that Mr. Trump has to individuals or institutions in Russia have been estimated at approximately $500 million.

We do know the motivations of Vladimir Putin. While there is evidence that Putin did not believe that Trump would be elected despite the Russian interference in the campaign, now that he has been elected, there is a definite attempt to achieve a number of goals with this incoming President. Lifting of the sanctions will allow Russia to finally execute its stalled deal with ExxonMobile to drill in the arctic. Revenues from this almost $7 trillion dollar oil reserves (15% of the known reserves in the world), will do much to rescue the Russian economy. It has been estimated that these oil reserves will represent 2/3rds of all exports of Russia. ExxonMobile also stands to make billions of dollars from this one deal, and obviously enrich the current CEO and nominated Secretary of State. This new Russia US rapprochement already has had disastrous consequences for innocents across the globe as Russia’s latest inhumane attacks in Aleppo Syria were undertaken a day after a congratulatory phone call between Putin and the President Elect. Russia has been accused of similar election interference in the Ukraine and Sweden. Currently, there is speculation that election tampering by Russia is underway in Germany.

The issue for the Electoral College is therefore not whether or not Russian interference affected the election results. Instead, the issue that needs to be investigated is whether or not Donald J. Trump as President will act in the interests of the United States or if he is a foreign agent acting on behalf of Russia and will implement a corrupt administration to enrich himself and reward the Russian government. The preponderance of circumstantial evidence is considerable. Even without a full financial disclosure from the President Elect, it would be a violation of the responsibilities of the Electoral College as stated in Federalist Paper 68 to elect Donald J. Trump as President due to the already known facts about his positions and selections of individuals for his administration. I urge the Electoral College to at least postpone their vote until after all financial records of Donald J. Trump are disclosed. If the President Elect refuses to release all his financial information, I believe the Electoral College has every right to not vote for Donald J. Trump since it is clear that he is a danger to all citizens across the globe and cannot be the President of the United States.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Sincerely,

To email the electors, I have provided a list below.

I suggest not sending one email, but 8 emails with only 30 names per email, otherwise your email service may block the email for being a spam. Here are the groupings for several emails of all the addresses. Please copy and paste into eight separate emails

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected] [email protected];, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], m[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

After emailing, the next step is to make sure all the Electors get a full briefing from the CIA on the Russian interference in our elections. Many Democratic electors have asked for this, as they know that will increase the likelihood of more GOP defections. So the Democratic Electors are asking all of us to do the following:

(1) Contact your representatives and governors to ask that they demand that the electors be briefed on the CIA information on Russian interference prior to Dec. 19, and to delay the electoral vote if that’s not possible, given the time-frame;

(2) Contact the U.S. Attorney General and ask that the Electoral College vote be postponed until a full investigation of Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s potential coordination with Russia is complete.

You can reach the Attorney General’s office at 202-514-2000 (Comment line…press 4)

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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