Big thinking

Answers

Reading time: 2:20; Viewing time – 4:00  .  .  .

I’ve been wrong. I’ve been short-sighted and reactionary and embarrassingly foolish. The embarrassment is because I know better.

Something didn’t feel right and then I read Nick Kristoff’s A 12-Step Program for Responding to President-Elect Trump and it was then – at step #3 – that I knew that I had tripped on the attitude diving board and done a belly flop onto the political pool deck.

Step 3. I WILL avoid demonizing people who don’t agree with me about this election, recognizing that it’s as wrong to stereotype Trump supporters as anybody else. I will avoid Hitler metaphors, recognizing that they stop conversations and rarely persuade. I’ll remind myself that no side has a monopoly on truth and that many Trump supporters are good people who want the best for the country. The left already has gotten into trouble for condescending to working-class people, and insulting all Trump supporters as racists simply magnifies that problem.

I know that Kristoff is right, that nobody has a monopoly on the truth and that having voted for Trump doesn’t mean that someone is a racist. Indeed, I’m wondering what percentage of Trump voters were simply so convinced of the evil of Clinton that they were willing to ignore Trump’s negatives – or the percentage of Americans who chose Trump because at least he was speaking to the suppressed rage they’ve carried in their gut for decades due to government having so consistently ignored and abused them.

I’ve been frustrated listening to righties who claim the high ground of patriotism and love of America, who imply or outright say that they have it right and others simply aren’t patriots. I often have imaginary conversations with them and explain that I love America every bit as much as they do and I very much want to excoriate them for their closed-mindedness. At this moment, though, my aforementioned embarrassment extends yet further, as I’ve realized that I’ve been thinking about them with a closed-mindedness of my own and it’s as harmful as theirs.

Flagrantly demonizing people is wrong no matter who does it. Stereotyping is wrong when I do it. On the other hand, calling out hate mongers is the right thing to do.

Kristoff advises letting go of Hitler metaphors, so let’s play with that a bit. “Alt-Right” includes Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, militias, the Posse Comitatus and likely other fringe hate groups. Trump has installed Alt-Right hater Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as his attorney general and he’s bringing hyper-anti-immigrant hotheads like Mike Flynn and Kris Kobach into his cabinet. He has promised to round up Hispanics and to discriminate against Muslims and make them “register”. He stereotypes African-Americans as ghetto bums and continues to refuse to repudiate the hate mongers, including the seig heil morons. And Kristoff really wants me to let go of the Hitler metaphors? I don’t know if I can do that. I’m not confident that refusing to see a Hitler-like pattern is a good idea, because the hate induced catastrophes always begin this way. A key part of our answers moving forward lies in opposing the haters and stopping the bullies.

Meanwhile, we’re left with the rest of the question about what to do for our country, and I – perhaps you, too – need to take a step back and do a 12-step program – or maybe an 11.8-step program – and find some balance, accept that some don’t see it our way, but that doesn’t make them wrong or foolish or hateful or bad. Then perhaps we can all start finding some answers.

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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

– See more at: http://jaxpolitix.com/8280-2/#sthash.Vem4eKsP.dpuf

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Clouds Are Gathering

what-registering-non-christians-looks-likeReading time – 1:57; Viewing time – 3:25 .  .  .

Trump lied? Say it isn’t so!

Actually, Politifact rated Trump 19% Mostly False, 34% False and 17% Pants-On-Fire False, for a total of 70% lies. Yeah, he lied. It’s a habit with this guy.

And he continues to lie. On Friday he claimed credit for ensuring that a Lincoln automobile plant would be kept in Kentucky, preventing the job loss disaster that would have happened if Ford had decided to move the plant to Mexico. That would be great, except that Ford never considered having the plant anywhere but in Kentucky. Trump had absolutely nothing to do with Ford’s decision about plant location. Trumpian dishonesty is a constant and it will take a huge toll on American culture, our people and our safety in the world.

Significant risks will occur when Trump slathers his fatuous dishonesty on foreign leaders. They won’t take kindly to it and the safety of the world will be at risk as he undermines international trust. And we most certainly won’t like it when he lies to us about whatever he agrees to as he fawns over Vladimir Putin.

What will happen to justice in America, which he claims to champion – like the right of every citizen to vote – when Trump makes racist, segregationist Jeff Sessions the attorney general? What will happen to America’s national security, the very same security that he brayed he will be the best at protecting, when Trump picks for his national security advisor hyperbolic Michael Flynn, a retired 3-star general who was forced to retire from the military and from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency because of his flagrantly extremist behavior.

What happens to our freedoms when Trump’s ubermeister, White Supremacist Steve Bannon, starts registering Muslims and rounding up Hispanics to shuttle them off to who-knows-where?

What happens to the climate of the entire planet now that we have a Global Warming Denier in Chief?

People are already being hurt – read the post and comments here and here.

I have been accused of helping to drive the polarization of this country. I don’t know if I’m doing that, but if I am, look for me on the pole labeled, “Facts, Reality and Equal Justice”. I acknowledge that nothing bad has happened yet on the Trump national policy level. On the other hand, the preparations for very bad things to occur are happening in front of us right now and to refuse to see that is self-defeating for this nation; it may be disastrous for our minorities. We need to take action.click-for-ten-ways-to-fight-hate

I’m in discussion with some clergy people about what we can do to address the interpersonal hate that has oozed from slimy places under the fragile rocks of American tolerance.

There is a petition going around now  urging the members of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary, as most are under no legal obligation to vote according to their state’s voting outcomes. Go ahead – click through, sign it and pass this post to your friends urging them to do the same. Make your voice heard.

What else can we do? Put your ideas for action in the Comments section below. Help us all.

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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 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Spaceship Earth

this-spaceship-earthReading time – 1:29; Viewing time – 2:34 .  .  .

SPECIAL TIME-SENSITIVE EDITION

Everybody knows that climate warming is a hoax perpetrated by googly-eye tree-huggers bent on destroying our capitalist way of life. Everybody except nearly every climate scientist on the planet. And this guy. Click through and scroll slowly all the way to the bottom. Even idiot, short-term-thinking, self-serving fossil fuel executives ought to be able to understand this.

It’s not enough to engage in arguments with people bent on stupid, nor is it enough to nod heads with all the people who are smart enough to agree with you.

News flash: We – you and I – actually have to DO something.

Which is what my pal, futurist David Houle is about. He has partnered with some smart folks and published a book, formed a non-profit and established a website (watch the video and sign up for the newsletter) dedicated to ensuring a habitable planet for our grandchildren.

If you are an adult over the age of 60, it’s likely you won’t see much climate warming effect, other than ever-more severe hurricanes, like Katrina and Sandy, along with drought in places where there hasn’t been drought for thirty thousand years. If you’re between 30 – 60 you might live long enough to see Miami under water, as well as the southern third of Manhattan, but you’ll still be able to find someplace to live. If you’re a Millennial, you’re screwed. And all of our descendants – like our grandchildren – will be fighting for food and drinkable water. So, if you can think beyond what you’re doing this weekend, do something now so that there is a tomorrow and humans present to record it.

Between noon EDT on Tuesday, September 20 and noon EDT on Wednesday, September 21,

  1. Go to the 2016 Giving Challenge.
  2. Follow the instructions.

There’s a three-fer for every donation between $25 – $100, so enter your info and send them $100. They’ll get $300 to lead the fight for a habitable planet. Note that this opportunity is only available until noon on September 21.

Don’t do this for David Houle and don’t do it for me. Not even for yourself. Do it for your grandchildren. Do it now.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Salve for the Bern

TortoiseReading time – 77 seconds; Viewing time – 2:37  .  .  .

I know you’re more than disappointed. You’re angry, disturbed, frustrated and wracked with despair. You know what’s wrong and you know what will fix it. You have a vision of how America should be and you want change from the hateful, harmful, even suicidal path we seem to be on. The urgency you feel is real and you want that change to happen right now. And the hope for reform that you invested in Bernie is dashed.

Well, buck up, Bubba, because true and lasting change takes time.

Gershom Gorenberg, writing for Moment Magazine about the disenchantment some have with Israel, has advice that applies to our society, our politics and our hopes that we placed in Bernie:

“I can best define despair in politics as unrealistic pessimism. History gives evidence that dedicated, organized people can bring about political change. The creation of Israel is, in fact, one example. The civil rights movement in America is another. I’m certain there were people who told Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham not merely to move slowly (we’ve all heard about that), but to give up hope: “Look, Reverend, Jim Crow is entrenched policy. America’s promises are a sham. Give it up.” King didn’t. To bring about political change, you need to keep two conflicting recognitions constantly in mind. One is that it’s urgent. It must happen today, because the situation is intolerable. The other is that transformations require a very long march.

“When you despair, you exempt yourself from the slog. Declaring that nothing can be done, you stop asking what you can do. You become an un-indicted co-conspirator in the status quo.”

The hare never wins the race. In the fight for reform, we must be the tortoise. Bernie’s campaign may be over, but the fight for reform goes on. So, one thing we tortoises can do is to vote on November 8 and encourage everyone we encounter to do the same.

Pass this along to other disappointed people youThe work goes on know – they’re feeling let down, too, and need your help to rekindle their flame of hope instead of giving up. That’s what you can do, because giving up is not an option.

Thanks go to Steve Sheffey for the Gorenberg quote.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Tony Soprano in the Cabinet Room

Reading time – 54 seconds; Viewing time – 1:53  .  .  .

May 24, 2016
Chicago, IL
WLS Radio, 890 AM

Local radio talk show host Jonathon Brandmeier interviewed a caller today who identified as a truck driver. He poo-poohed criticism of Donald Trump for having connections to the mob. He said that if you want concrete for your construction project, as Donald Trump does for each of his buildings, then you have to do business with the mob. No big deal.

Brandmeier asked the caller how he would feel if Trump were elected president and brought in mobsters for every cabinet post. The caller said that he couldn’t care less. Besides, he said, those guys know how to get things done.

Brandmeier then ridiculed those who think ties to the mob is a worrisome thing, as though it’s a given that such people are fools.

And that is the attitude of dismissal of ethics and good judgment that pervades our political world right now. It’s a friendly elbow in the ribs of understanding among like-minded people who don’t care about anything they don’t feel threatened by at the moment. Hey, whatever works.

We live in an era of great political emotion. Dangerously, the emotion of 35% of Americans is destructive of learning, reason and democracy.

Talking reason to an emotionally charged person is an exercise in futility. So, our job between now and November 8 is to stop whining about the lack of sense of Trump supporters and instead speak to the 65% with both our reason and our emotion. You can begin your part right now by passing this piece to 3 people you know who aren’t politically attentive.

All that hangs in the balance is the future of America.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Bruce Rauner and Us

9,000 Illinoisans demonstrated against Rauner at the statehouse on May 18, 2016

9,000 Illinoisans demonstrated against Rauner at the statehouse on May 18, 2016 – Photos courtesy of Karl-Heinz Gabbey

DSC_5953Reading time – 1:17; Viewing time 2:42  .  .  .

There probably wouldn’t be a budget crisis in Illinois – or at least it wouldn’t be as severe – had we not spent decades in Magical Thinking Land.

State workers, including teachers – you know, the people who teach your kids – really did need better incomes, but increasing taxes to fund that was not a politically clever thing to do. Politicians wanting to keep their jobs decided that what would be better was to offer a pension to state workers. It was a promise to underpaid state workers of retirement income at a later date. That way the state could defer the additional expense and let the job of finding extra money for that to be dumped on some later generation of legislators and governors.

But the day never came when politicians in Springfield had the courage to face up to the reality that the promise of those deferred payments to workers would actually have to be honored. They just waited, juggled budget line items and hoped for some magical solution to appear, even as state liabilities continued to pile up. All that waiting wasn’t a serious problem, right up to the point when the state went broke.

At that same time we found ourselves in the dungeon of Republican thinking, where all government is bad, where all unions are bad and all taxes are bad. Then Bruce Rauner rode into town on his mealy-mouthed promise of fiscal responsibility for the state. That meant eliminating unions so that workers would have nothing to protect them from people like Bruce Rauner. We could solve our fiscal problems on their backs and on the backs of teachers. Also on the backs of mentally ill patients and school kids. This makes sense if your name is Rauner.

So, shame on all of us for allowing our politicians to let us believe that there was a free lunch that extended for generations. Taxes were low – everyone liked that – but now we have a crisis of epic proportions, paired with an intransigent governor who seems to believe that he is an emperor and is above compromising with the pitiful representatives of the people.

We’re approaching a full year without a budget and Illinoisans – once again, these are real people – are suffering. It just might be that Bruce Rauner is monumentally wrong for Illinois, but we’re stuck with him unless he is found guilty of some impeachable offense. Sadly, being arrogant, mean and a tool for the 1% are not such offenses.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

National Courage

 Source: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

World Population – Source: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Reading time – 2:10 – Viewing time – 5:29  .  .  . 

When there were just one billion people (about 1804), this planet was able to tolerate a lot of abuse in various forms of pollution, including fouling of lakes and rivers, putting toxic gasses into the air and dumping nasty materials into the ground. The ratio of humans to planet was just too great for us to have lasting, significant impact.

As we now approach eight billion people, the ratio is vastly different and human impact on the Earth is both obvious and threatening. That leaves us just two options for actions to save ourselves from substantial danger.

First, we can take steps to reduce the pollution that we create and perhaps even reverse some of it. That will take a united and sustained global effort if we are to avert wars over fresh water and food. It is hoped that such an effort has been started with the accords developed at the Paris Climate Conference in December, 2015, attended by 195 nations. The fundamental agreement is that each nation is to devise its own plan. What is needed, of course, is for all to follow through both with plans and with actions.

The second thing we can do is to cause world population to stabilize and then decrease, because obviously, with fewer people we will have a reduced impact on the planet. Accomplishing that is the trick.

Jonathan Swift offered us direction on that with his 1729 offering to ease the burden of the poor in Ireland by selling their children as food, this in his powerful work, A Modest Proposal. What could be simpler and have the twofer advantage of both decreasing the population and helping with food shortages?

With that clear and compelling logic in mind, I suggest that we are already on a similar journey and offer these examples:

Let’s face the facts.

We stubbornly refuse to change our lifestyle habits and that’s good, because that helps to solve our population problem.

Interestingly, there are now more homicides by firearms each year than deaths due to car crashes. Part of that is due to the safety systems now built into our cars, like seat belts, air bags, ABS brakes, traction control and newer features like frontal crash protection. There is even some braniac’s invention of a system to keep your car in its lane, even when you’re distracted by texting something that’s so important that it can’t wait for you to stop the car.

Unfortunately, all of those automobile safety features run counter to our desired reduction of the population, so some serious consideration should be given to abandoning all of them and bringing back the days when holiday weekends were marked by tallying the hundreds of fatal car crashes across the nation.

For the gun part of this issue, it’s time to stop pretending that background checks, fingerprint ID and trigger locks are good things. It’s time for a national return to both open and concealed carry, with all adult citizens being required to carry a loaded gun. That will bring us back to the days of the Old West and we will be able to settle our differences quickly and help to reduce over-population and pollution all at the same time.

As for the suicides of military veterans, we may have to become better at this, as there are roughly 21.8 million vets in America, so the 22 suicides per day probably won’t have sufficient impact to make a dent on our over-population problem. Perhaps we can entirely eliminate PTSD treatment for returning vets and also string out medical attention for war-related injuries even longer.

Source: “NIH Research Funding Rebounds in President’s FY 2016 Budget”, by, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Finally, and perhaps obviously, it’s time to end our mania over disease treatment and prevention. Infectious diseases have the same potential today to solve a great many of our population challenges as they did during the bubonic plague in medieval Europe and the influenza epidemic in the early 20th century. Sadly, we have recently taken a step in a counterproductive direction.

As you can see from the dashed light blue line on the chart on the right, we have wisely been reducing funding  for the National Institutes of Health for 13 years. Just this year, though, in a wrong-headed move, the President increased funding just slightly. That will have the long term effect of increasing our population and pollution problems. What could he have been thinking?

Clearly, there are things we can do to increase our death rate and achieve our goals. All we need is our national gift for innovation and the courage to rededicate ourselves to continue on our path.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stop Obsessing About the How – v2.0

Reading time – 2:01; Viewing time –   .  .  . 

Last month I explained that challenging the presidential contenders to the throne on how they would accomplish the things they say they will do is folly, but we keep hearing such useless challenges. Indeed, cable news picked up the story from the April 1 interview of Bernie Sanders by the New York Daily News editorial board and somehow found a fatal lack of how-ness in his responses and they obsessed over that.

The Daily News interviewers said to Sanders, ”  .  .  .  you expect to break up [the big banks] within the first year of your administration. What authority do you have to do that? And how would that work? How would you break up JPMorgan Chase?”

Oddly – and this may be news to our cable news obsessers – it just isn’t useful to ask him that, because – BREAKING NEWS! – our presidents are not dictators. They don’t get to wave their hand and have the country “make it so.” What they get to do is to name the things they see as critical and which they will influence to the best of their ability to come about if they’re elected. That’s all they have.


Hillary Clinton tells us on her website that she will reform campaign finance. She has a 3-step program to do that. First, “Overturn Citizens United.” Next, she will “End secret, unaccountable money in politics.” Third, she will “Establish a small-donor matching system to amplify the voices of everyday Americans.” Good ideas. But as president, she wouldn’t be able to do any of that. Presidents don’t get to overturn Supreme Court decisions or make laws. Again, all she would be able to do would be to try to influence those in other parts of government to accomplish those things. That’s it.

Donald Trump tells us that he’s going to build a 1,989 mile long wall along our entire border with Mexico and he’s going to get Mexico to pay for it. Setting aside the belly laughs that are coming from Mexico City, when asked how he will get the Mexican government to pay for it, his most specific answer that is understandable to a normally functioning human being is that he claims he’s a hard negotiator. Here’s what he said:

“Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico. We will not be taken advantage of anymore.”

Don’t be troubled by your inability to understand most of that, because some of it is vapor from Trump’s imagination and the rest are things he cannot do by fiat. Assuming he is serious about doing the things he mentions, he cannot do them – at least not on his own.

There are exceptions, like Bernie Sanders telling us how he would fund tuition at our state universities through a tax on financial transactions. There are other candidates who list some how stuff, too.

For the most part, though, we can examine all the issues detailed by all the candidates, but in fact, there isn’t much to examine. From a practical point of view, the only thing of use to you is that you can get a general idea of how a person thinks, what they believe and the things they want you to believe they will do if they are elected. You get to sort through all of that noise, jettison the stupid stuff and then make your selection.

So, one more time: Stop obsessing about the how.

And pass this along to whatever broadcast or cable news outlet you follow, telling them to chill about the how.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v1.0

Reading time – 2:07; Viewing time – 5:21  .  .  .

A while back Paul Ryan offered an updated version of his budget plan that would at last make our national economy whole, solid and debt free. The only problem with his plan is that it will not make our national economy whole, solid or debt free. In fact, it would create an additional $1.8 trillion of debt, while making wealthy people far wealthier and  middle class and poor people even poorer. It is based on outright fraud, the wishful thinking of fairy dust sprinkled upon us (“I can fly!”) and it is the plan that Ryan continues to promote today. Have a look at Paul Krugman’s analysis in his essay, The Flimflam Man.

Gary Klaben is one of those guys who manages to be sensible in a world that – let’s face it – usually doesn’t seem too sensible. Watch his most recent video, where he compares how we believe certain things, even in the face of a very different reality. It isn’t always easy to see reality, as our news media only brings us the sensational. Example: CNN’s month-long, non-stop coverage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearance, even as there was never any new information. That very sensationalism causes our understanding of reality to be skewed in the direction of fear and danger. Pay special attention to that part as you watch Gary.

Wonderful news!

We no longer have to enforce sanctions against North Korea or Iran, nor do we have to worry about cutting off funding for terrorist groups.

We no longer need civilian leadership to set the priorities or address the needs of the U.S. army, which has been at war since 2001.

We no longer have to deal with our southern border security or the influx of Central American immigrants, nor do we have to concern ourselves with counter-narcotics efforts.

All of those things must be true, since the Republicans in the Senate continue to block appointments of people who would be charged with leading our efforts to deal with these issues. Have a look at this article from the New York Times editorial board and you’ll see that partisan politics is far more important to Republicans than having our nation safe and operating well, notwithstanding their chest thumping and promises to carpet bomb and torture. And, lest you believe that we should be apportioning responsibility for this insanity equally between the political parties, have a look at Ezra Klein’s explanation here.

You already know that Donald Trump couldn’t possibly get any crazier or more dangerous, right? Yet, maybe he’s just warming up and this is the minor league of his xenophobia, his bigotry, his misogyny. Have a look at this MoveOn.org video and decide for yourself what’s coming at future Trump rallies and, if total insanity grips our nation, what will happen if Trump is elected president. It isn’t difficult to imagine storm troopers smashing down your door in the middle of the night and then Trump telling the nation, “It’s a beautiful thing. Believe me.” Maybe staying silent right now isn’t an acceptable option for you.

You’ve heard Bernie Sanders tell us the truth, that no president can reform our nation on his/her own because this is not a dictatorship. Instead, he calls on us for a political revolution, for millions of us to demand the reform we need. Thom Hartmann tells us in his book Unequal Protection that he believes that it will take 10 – 20% of us to stand up and make our voices heard. That is exactly why I offer this platform for our discussion of the truth and encourage you to comment, to make your voice heard. Go ahead – offer your ideas in the What Do You Think? section below.

And that is why I crafted and deliver my program, Money, Politics & Democracy: You’re Not Getting What You Want. I’ve reached hundreds of people from across the political spectrum and not a single person has given me push-back because this is strictly a non-partisan presentation of the truth of what is going on in America. It is also a call to action.

If we are to become the millions of Americans making our voices heard and demanding reform, I’m going to have to bring this clarity to a lot more people. Will you help me to do that?

We need to educate young people who will live for a very long time with the consequences of our actions today. We need to reach poor people who are suffering and don’t understand why life is so hard for them or how to make things better. We have to reach blue collar workers like those at Carrier Corporation in Indianapolis who are all losing their jobs, as their manufacturing plant and all 2,100 of their jobs are being sent to Mexico.

I don’t want money to do my part to educate and motivate Americans. I just want to shove us back to being a democracy. That will make all the difference.

So, make the connection with a group you know who will listen to my message. Tell me when and where and I’ll show up.

Thanks for being part of the solution.

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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: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Question Still Haunts Us

Ed. note: This was my response to a letter from a friend, updated only very slightly, and was posted three months before the 2012 general election. Sadly, the question still haunts us.
 

Reading time – 3:34; Viewing time – 8:36  .  .  .

Thanks so much for your comments.  I completely and enthusiastically agree  .  .  .  You said we have bigger fish to fry and we certainly do have enormous financial issues.

We really have been living beyond our means for decades and our politicians (both R’s and D’s) have done a good job of protecting their jobs instead of doing their jobs and, in the process, they have led the public to believe that there is a free lunch.  We, the public, somehow went along with them when, to paraphrase Richard Pryor, the politicians said to us, “You gonna believe me or your lying good sense?” And we believed them. Go figure.

Notwithstanding the stupidity of all parts of that dynamic, my original comments that perhaps seemed polarized were and are intended to be focused on the broader issue. You used the word “reprehensible” and it is both apt and at the heart of my meaning. Here are a few data points, all of which raise a singular question.

The Republicans, led by Ted Cruz, held hostage the entire nation – even the entire world economy – to their fiscal demands. I understand that it was a leverage point, but the debt ceiling and a new budget are two entirely different things and the authorization to increase the debt ceiling should have been done as an independent issue. It should have been done immediately in order to declare our resolve to remain the standard for the world economy. Threatening financial disaster can be seen in another way: It is a statement of the kind of America the Republicans are trying to create. Is that really who we Americans are?

Conservatives Reagan, Bush I & Bush II, each in his time, ran up the biggest deficits/debt in the history of the world. Reagan and Bush I increased taxes to pay for their spending. Bush II instead both decreased taxes and started two unnecessary wars. All of that pushed us to the brink of financial disaster. Is that really who we Americans are?

Recall for a moment the Reagan-initiated frenzy for deregulation, a Republican mania that continues today. That led directly to the financial collapse of 2008 and, yes, D’s were complicit in that. All those trillions of bail out dollars are gone and with no accountability and nearly no mechanisms to prevent another round of “too big to fail.” Strangely, the Republicans are howling for still more deregulation which would put us at ever greater risk. Is that really who we Americans are?

A violent storm went through my area this morning and a power line was downed by a broken tree limb just a block from my house. The police were out in the violent storm within minutes, cordoning the area and protecting everyone from the continuous blast of 600 volt sparking and fire. Before heading to my basement due to a tornado warning, I saw more flames from another direction, called 911 and was connected to the fire department. I reported the situation and a bunch of guys saddled up and headed out in a fire truck, this while most of us were huddled in our basements from the continuing storm.

Consider, too, the school teachers to whom we entrust most of our kids’ education and those who drive snow plows through blizzards so we can go where and when we want. All these people protect and support us, including in dangerous situations and often in terrible conditions. They are also the people who the Republicans want to strip of some of their pay, their pensions, their right to bargain collectively and the Republicans want to lay off a bunch of them, too. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker wants to take nearly all of the savings from the heavy load put on the backs of Wisconsin cops, firemen, teachers and others and give it to rich people. Is that really who we Americans are?

Paul Ryan wants to kill Medicare, send everyone and their money to a few private medical insurers and leave millions of those who need health care adrift in their poverty. 70% of the savings from his plan to kill Medicare would go directly to rich people and corporations. Is that really who we Americans are?

In Michigan, the Republican controlled state government has decided that they have the right to take over any local governmental body in the state if the geniuses in Lansing decide that the locals need their help. [Update: Take a look at the Flint, MI lead-poisoned kids to get an idea of what a fine job those geniuses are doing.] They have effectively stripped voting rights from entire communities and imposed a dictatorship on the state. Is that really who we Americans are?

In Arizona, former governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio enshrined discrimination into the law and into desert concentration camps. Is that really who we Americans are?

Rand Paul says that it’s immoral that we helped the victims of Hurricane Katrina. That pretty much captures the America he and so many of the hair-on-fire R’s want us to become. Is that really who we Americans are?

The Republicans voted in lock step to continue to give tax breaks to the biggest oil companies which have the greatest profits in the history of the world. Huh?

Everything I see tells me that the Republican party wants to turn the clock back to the days of the robber barons. Life was very good then for the very rich. For everyone else, well, it wasn’t so good. The Republicans seem to be in favor of anything to kill those hated programs that help people who need help. Yes, I know there are plenty of dim-witted and even self-defeating programs that never should have been started or which have long outlived their usefulness. And don’t misunderstand me:  There is nothing wrong with being rich. The wrong is in excluding everyone else.

The financial burden from the past is enormous and vexing. The financial challenge of the future will look different from the free lunch nonsense to which we are accustomed. There is plenty of fixing to do. The key, though, is our clarity of vision of who we want to be – our national True North. That direction is being decided right now, in part, by people doing reprehensible things. The reprehensible behavior is not one-sided, of course. The bulk of it that I see, though, comes from the right.

I wish I could find one of those moderate Republicans you mentioned who has the backbone to speak what s/he believes, rather than what they thought would get votes from “the base” and who would offer reasonable centrist views. I’m hoping that you are incorrect about them being extinct, but instead find that they are in hiding, waiting for the chest thumping storm of temper tantrum insanity to pass. I will welcome an honest exchange that focuses on making a better America.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I believe we are right now at an important crossroads in the battle for the soul of America. We are in a defining moment of setting a vision – a self-image – of who we Americans really are.

In my Money, Politics & Democracy presentations I break the news about our American vision in this way:

We are crafting the America our children and grandchildren will inherit – and we’re doing it right now!

We better get about the task. We better speak up about the task, because:

If you don’t make your voice heard, people who want a very different America from the one you want will be heard, because they will be the only ones talking.

Speak up! In the Comments section below. With your friends, your family and, yes, even your crazy brother-in-law. Speak up or you and your children will have to put up with what you’ve tolerated.

 

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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