Big thinking

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.

In Service To America – Up Close and Personal

Reading time – 107 seconds; Viewing time – 3:55

The late 1960s was a deeply troubling time. Political assassinations, civil injustice and upheaval and a divisive war all had America in spasms of confusion and conflict, even down to an individual level.

I spent a large portion of my senior year in college,1967-1968, wrestling with what I would do when my 2S deferment would run out in spring. I felt a deep sense of duty to my country, yet the war in Viet Nam seemed so wrong to me that I did not want to support efforts to prosecute it – not even indirectly. My problem was solved at the end of my pre-induction physical, when a military doc processing the herd of fresh meat for that day pronounced me a 1Y.

That didn’t satisfy my sense of duty to country, though, and it didn’t take a great deal of introspection to realize that if I didn’t go to war, some poor kid from somewhere else would take my place. What did I owe that kid? What did I owe America? I’m guessing the avoidance of military duty left many others with similar feelings, a sense of lack of obligation fulfillment.

I looked into running for Congress as a way to serve my country, but after much investigation realized that I couldn’t stomach the continuous begging for campaign cash that our elected representatives have to do, so I looked for a better way to contribute. That was around the same time that I came to realize the corrosive effect big money has on our politics and on our democracy.

The influx of big money into our politics is the mother lode of our national dysfunction. Jimmy Carter calls it “legalized bribery.” It drives our insanely expensive and second rate healthcare outcomes, our too-big-to-fail banks that are once again driving us to the precipice, our continuing refusal to create and follow any energy policy for this new century (or even the last one) in order to avoid catastrophic global warming, the entrenched refusal to do anything to prevent three dozen gun murders per day – the list goes on and on, and 4 out of 5 Americans who know about the big money in our politics that drives our dysfunction want that changed. Once I saw that with sufficient clarity, not surprisingly, an idea emerged and it turned into a program.

I deliver leadership keynote presentations and workshops for a living, so it was a natural fit to harness the skills I use in the business world to educate and motivate Americans to action over our campaign finance and lobbying dishonesty. That is to say, more Americans need to know what’s really going on, because 80% of those who know will demand that we clean up this cesspool of political corruption. I set out to let them know about it.

I created Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want. It is a 1 hour, 15 minute presentation that outlines how we got to where we are, the mess we’ve made of our democracy such that We The People aren’t getting what we want and, most importantly, what we can do about it. The program is non-partisan and is not aligned with any political candidate for any office. It is an equal opportunity exposure of the outrageous mess that is our campaign finance and lobbying systems. It is designed to open eyes and catalyze Americans to demand change, the nation-defining transformation we need if we are to remain a democracy.

Here’s the call to action: Connect me with groups where I can deliver this message. I don’t want anything other than to have the opportunity to serve our country and change it for the better. This is about our duty – my duty – to make a difference for America. Will you help me do that?

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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.

ACTION STEP: 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.

Change?

Professor Alan King

Professor Alan King

Reading time – 21 seconds  .  .  .

Alan King was a brilliant comedian. He brought sophistication to the discussion of street level life and backed it with his mostly undisclosed intellectualism, as he poked a stick in the eye of human foolishness.

We are faced today with great challenges and it’s plain to see that they are of this day. These are modern problems demanding answers, right? Well, yes and no.

Have a look at some instruction about the 1980s middle-east from Alan King. Once again we see that:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thanks to FA for pointing out the Alan King tutorial.

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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.

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

Occam’s Razor Flipped

Paul Ryan - Hayfield

Paul Ryan, Managing Partner Hayfield Financial – New York

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .  NOW IN VIDEO!

Ed. note: Be sure to read the P.S. at the end – it’s not in the video.

What you don’t know about Paul Ryan – no, not that one – the other one – the main guy at Hayfield Financial in New York – is that he is a Wall Street guy who supports Bernie Sanders. And Sanders is the guy who wants to bust up the Wall Street Banks and tax hedge fund managers at the same rates you’re taxed. Seems like a strange pairing. Oddly, Ryan is not the only financial guy backing Bernie.

Ryan was interviewed on NPR’s Here and Now on November 30 and he talked about the complex products and transactions that go on every day in the black box that is Wall Street. Ryan is a smart guy, with a degree in economics from Harvard and a law degree from Fordham University, but he says he can’t make any sense of the crazy stuff that Goldman Sachs and others are doing. In describing his view, he invoked a paraphrasing of Occam’s Razor:

That which is the simplest is the most likely explanation.

He followed that with his criticism of Wall Street:

That which is most complex is probably fraudulent.

I had to check myself before celebrating Ryan’s validation. But after all, credit default swaps are so convoluted and cynical that not even really smart people fully understand them, perhaps not even the sociopath who invented them.

Just before the 2008 meltdown Goldman Sachs was enthusiastically promoting collateralized debt obligations to its clients, selling them at a blistering pace as though they were magic beans going to a gullible Jack (not me). At the same time, Goldman was dumping its own holdings of those worthless things. What was it that Ryan said?

That which is most complex is probably fraudulent.

I’m still looking for the perp walk of the criminals who brought down our economy and cost you and me trillions of dollars. I still want exposed the creeps who twisted political arms to make legal what was illegal, who got permission to imply morality for what is clearly immoral and who believe with supreme, egotistical confidence that their pursuit of greed is all that matters.

Perhaps this Paul Ryan reassures us that there are some in the world of big financial dealings who possess some integrity and good sense. That’s hopeful.

And maybe, just maybe, Bernie Sanders has some good ideas.

Maybe, just maybe, we can get past the stupid, bully-on-a-playground mentality of politics to look at substance and elect someone who will lead the way to restore sanity to American politics and the American economy.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s your job to see that that happens. It’s time to get to work.

P.S. While our politics are surely crazy and not what our founders intended them to be, there are some who offer us reminders to keep us focused. Please have a look at this video of 500 high school kids in Kentucky (be patient, as it may load slowly). Turn up your computer speakers and take it in. Feel the timeless message that Francis Scott Key intended for those boys on the battlements of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in 1814, as they were withstanding the brutal British naval bombardment.

Those soldiers did that for us. What is our obligation to those who will come after 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.

ACTION STEP: 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.

Keep Heart

Oh no ThinkerReading time – 46 seconds  .  .  .

We Americans have a short little attention span.

Does anyone remember the terrible floods in the desert country of Oman in June or the floods in Los Angeles 3 weeks ago or the students who were killed at Umpqua Community College in Oregon just last month?

Our news is currently obsessed with terrorism in Europe and Africa and with Syrian women and children refugees (have a look at this for a fresh perspective) who might come to America and kill you. We see talking heads speculating endlessly over things about which they have no facts. Experts rattle on as though oracles of the gods, while relatives of victims and witnesses to terrorism are interviewed in bouts of heart-tugging pandering for the cameras.

The good news is that this will pass. It will happen just as soon as the next sensational awful thing happens. The even better news is that the political stupid stuff that’s being sprayed in toxic levels over the current events will also start to abate, but the political pandering will have made its mark.

Ben Carson’s support has dropped 40% because people are at last realizing that he is clueless. Support for the circus barker with the strange hair has gone up because he is sucking up to people’s need for security with his inane pronouncements. And Ted Cruz sounds ever more like the idiot that he is not and ever more like the manipulator that he most surely is.

So much certainty and so little wisdom is vying for our attention. What’s a thinking person to do?

Keep your eye on the ball: The mother lode of our political and governmental dysfunction is the big money influence on our elections and lobbying practices. Fix that and the rest of our challenges will be handled promptly and well.

So, keep heart and work hard to elect a Congress – your senators and congressman/woman – that will reform our criminal campaign finance system. And work extra hard to elect a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices who aren’t wacko righties bent on creating an oligarchy and subverting your rights.

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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.

ACTION STEP: 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.

Imagine

apollo11Reading time – 2 minutes 31 seconds  .  .  .

It was 1961 when President Kennedy proposed – challenged us, really – to send a man to the moon and bring him safely back to Earth by the end of the decade. It was a daring choice. At the time we didn’t have propulsion technology for the job. Not just the propulsion itself, the rocket engines, but the technology to construct the massive engines that would be needed. We didn’t have the metallurgy or computing capability that would be required and didn’t even know how we would provide food for astronauts on a lunar journey. We just had a bunch of people with slide rules, most doing things that had nothing to do with NASA and who weren’t prepared for such an enormous, complicated and dangerous endeavor.

And on July 20, 1969 Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong put their footprints on the dust of the moon, as Michael Collins circled above in the command module. Imagine that.

Now we are faced with a far bigger challenge and we don’t have a choice on this one. The climate of the Earth is heating rapidly, perhaps as part of a natural cycle, but this time it is exaggerated because of human activity, largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels. The heating of the planet is making each successive year the hottest on record and it is already creating disasters of storms and drought. Sarah Palin, most of the Republican presidential candidates and the rest of the ostrich community may refuse to see that, but, as John Adams was fond of saying, facts are stubborn things. Things are getting worse regardless of whether the ostriches acknowledge that fact. Further, doing nothing about global warming is inherently self-defeating.

And that is a major driver of why Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) is promoting a bill to slash carbon emissions in California 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, based on a 1990 emission levels baseline. He is being opposed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats in the California legislature who represent economically suffering districts in central California and who fear the impact on their communities and perhaps on their political careers.

He is also opposed by the Western States Petroleum Association, which is airing fear mongering ads on television projecting awful things that they say will happen if this legislation is passed. All of this is detailed in a New York Times article which captures well the mindset of this organization, which at its core is designed to protect the profit of its fossil fuel selling member companies. The president of the association, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, is quoted:

“I can’t figure out any other way to reach a 50% reduction in that [time] frame without doing some pretty dramatic measures. If it isn’t gas rationing, what is it?”

“We think there should be a lot more detail and it should be articulated pretty clearly about how one thinks they are going to be about this super-aggressive mandate.”

And that’s it. Ms. Reheis-Boyd can’t figure it out. It’s simply beyond her; therefore, the legislators of California should scuttle Brown’s proposal. And she needs all the details before anything is done, so nothing should be done. It’s all about her and her limited abilities, so make this legislation go away, she tells us.

Compare that to President Kennedy’s challenge to America, when nobody had a clue how to do what he proposed, yet we proceeded anyway, figured it out and succeeded.

Here’s a piece of Human Being 101: Change always involves moving from what is known to some unknown future where we don’t know what the consequences may be. Change feels scary and is always resisted.

Here’s a piece of Albert Einstein: Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.

Here’s a piece of observation: When a group of 10 people are presented with a new idea, 8 will immediately explain all the reasons why it cannot be done. One will sit quietly with a deer in the headlights face. After all the naysayers have calmed down a little, the 10th will offer an idea for how to start.

We Americans are fond of seeing ourselves as can-do and proudly announce to ourselves and to the world our American exceptionalism. We have done wondrous things that have benefited not only ourselves, but the entire world and we continue to have the natural and human resources to do so much more. What is puzzling is how people with a big public voice can extol the wonders of our American exceptionalism and at the same time tell us how we can’t do anything about global warming. It is further puzzling that our fossil fuel industries, having such enormous resources, are doing nothing to create the new energy technologies that will be required when we run out of oil within the next 100 years. Where is the exceptionalism in that?

It is time to stop resisting change that is inevitable and to imagine a healthy, sustainable energy superstructure. It is time to imagine a planet that can sustain the billions of us who don’t want to die in a climate catastrophe.

To Ms. Reheis-Boyd, Sarah Palin and all the others with myopic vision or who willfully blind themselves: Stop resisting and instead, imagine.

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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.

ACTION STEP: 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

Pope Francis arriving in US - CBS News

Pope Francis arriving in US – CBS News photo

Reading time – 72 seconds  .  .  .

Pope Francis is visiting the United States this week and there is a question that begs an answer. Here are the facts.

  • By the time his visit is complete he will have been received at the White House and will have visited the homeless.
  • He will have addressed both a joint session of Congress and the United Nations.
  • He will have said mass multiple times for well over a million people, doing so both in English and in Spanish and he will have visited the birthplace of American democracy in Philadelphia.
  • He will have been serenaded by both Andrea Bocelli and Aretha Franklin and he will have visited prisoners in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.
  • He will have gone on parade through Washington DC and Central Park in New York and hundreds of thousands of Americans will have seen him.

Not all the people who show up to see the pope will be Catholic. They are not all there to pay homage to their religious leader, yet they come by the hundreds of thousands. They inconvenience themselves, standing and waiting for hours, often in profound discomfort – some overnight – just to catch a glimpse of him.

The question is: Why do people do that?

The answer: hope.

You don’t have to be a Catholic to want a piece of what this pope represents. You just have to have a hunger for something that you can’t seem to find, something that gnaws at you and creates a hollow spot within that is frustrated for something substantial.

We’ve come to a time in America and in much of the rest of the world when our challenges seem overwhelming, when cooperation has been displaced by crude hostility. Neither our politicians nor those in Great Britain, Israel, Greece and many other countries seem to be able to carry on a civil conversation, much less solve problems.

We are far more than weary of the selfish, greedy posturing of politicians, lobbyists, and of slick marketing lies. We are far more than weary of self-destructive denials of reality and the rejection of learning. We are far more than weary of being marginalized and of seeing the hopes for our children crushed under the heel of brutes. Little wonder we feel nearly hopeless.

Pope Francis arrived in America with a message. It isn’t one of proselytizing or bible-thumping and, in fact, other than the masses he will say, his message isn’t particularly religious.

Even without saying a word his message is one of hope. It is a message we hunger to hear. It is a message we want our leaders to hear and act upon.

We need hope for a better tomorrow. It is the only way forward and every one of us knows that in our bones.

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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.

ACTION STEP: 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.

Coming Together for Survival

http://bit.ly/1ORt5Yu

copy/paste into your browser: http://bit.ly/1ORt5Yu

Reading time – 41 seconds  .   .    .

A while back we had some assurance that there wouldn’t be a nuclear war with the Soviets. It was called “mutually assured destruction” – acronym MAD – and, not surprisingly, the Soviets wanted to continue to live as much as we did. That calculus for the prevention of nuclear war fails completely, though, when those on the other side long to be martyrs. It’s like threatening a suicide bomber with capital punishment. It just doesn’t work.

That makes mandatory the continuing prevention of a nuclear capable Iran and it will take the best efforts the world can muster to accomplish that. We need people in Congress who will keep their eye on the ball. Otherwise, global warming, income inequality and the rest of the American political battlefields will become less than incidental.

Brad Schneider published an essay in The Times of Israel that speaks to this issue. His level-headed attitude and call for a coming together isn’t just sensible: it will be critical for survival. You can trust that people living just few hundred miles from Iran, which has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, are quite clear about that and intent on ensuring that Iran never has a nuclear weapon. And America – we – referred to as “The great Satan” by the Ayatollahs – are next on Iran’s hit list. See what I mean about survival?

Have a look at what Illinois 10th Congressional candidate Schneider has to say and see what you think.

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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.

ACTION STEP: 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.

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