Conservatism

What Are We Becoming?

Confederate Battle FlagReading time – 46 seconds; viewing time – 2:07  .  .  .

We’re seeing many more Confederate stars and bars, now that Donald Trump has assumed the mantle of Leader Of the Crazy Opposition (acronym: LOCO). These are the terminally angry people who want to return America to their America, whatever it is they imagine that was. But let’s check out what that really means.

There are a number of things that conservatives hold dear and value more and in different ways than do liberals. One is loyalty.

While we all value loyalty, it’s a huge value for righties and the further right you look, the more fervently you’ll find that loyalty is embraced. But the original stars and bars waving Confederates were so insanely reactive with their “You can’t tell me what to do!” tantrums that they crossed the line and made themselves traitors. There is no loyalty in that. It is the ultimate betrayal.

Conservatives also place huge value on individual freedom. Who wouldn’t? But the original Confederates believed in individual freedom only for themselves and they demanded slavery – the complete lack of freedom – for millions of people. They had good reasons for that, of course. It gave them a sense of power to have that kind of control over others. Far more important, though, is the financial gain they received by not having to pay laborers to work their fields. Reasonably translated, they sold their declared personal value of individual freedom, sold out themselves, for money. They chased their greed, no less than our 1% chase their greed today. That’s ironic, because today’s stars and bars wavers hate today’s greedy 1%-ers for doing what the original Confederates did.

So, please, if you want to wave your Confederate flag, don’t tell me that it’s about individual liberty or freedom or loyalty. The damned thing stands for slavery, greed and disloyalty  .  .  .  and the millions of Americans motivated to wave that flag are supporting Donald Trump.

What are we becoming?

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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.

Trust

Reading time – 47 seconds; viewing time – 2:23  .  .  .

Thirty-five years ago we learned that the nine most frightening words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Ronald Reagan told us that over and over as he campaigned to become president of the United States, effectively appealing to people’s fears and accelerating our loss of trust.

Here’s a chart from the Gallup Organization on trust in our own government. (Click on the graph for an expanded view.) Gallup Trust in GovernentThe downward trend is unmistakable and is due in part to the continuing message from Republicans that government cannot be trusted. Obviously, trust is undermined by hard facts, too, like Johnson’s “credibility gap,” Nixon’s criminal activities, Clinton’s philandering and Bush II lying us into two wars, but do not underestimate the power of the Big Lie.

Predating Reagan’s attack on government  was a Republican attack on our news media. You may recall that Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew was President Nixon’s public hatchet man and he rejoiced in calling the members of our news media, “effete intellectual snobs,” and “nattering nabobs of negativity.” He saved his choicest words for what he called the “eastern liberal press,” a sneaky way to divide and conquer. Then he resigned in the face of charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. He is considered by many to have been the worst vice-president in U.S. history. Still, he was successful in starting the smear campaign on our news media.

That campaign continues unabated today, with more than Gallup Trust in Media Graphscreechy Sarah Palin invoking the label “lame stream media,” to the point that now less than half of Americans trust our news media.

Surely, there are many reasons for our distrust, but there is no doubt that the constant repetition from Republicans that you can’t trust our news media has hastened the decline of our trust.

The Republican drum beat of distrust of government and the press has continued unabated for decades. Why is it, then, that Republicans don’t understand it when fringe, hateful pretenders to the throne are preferred by “the base” – the pissy people who show up and vote – and they throw establishment Republican politicians into the political gutter? Gotta be painful when the crap they threw to manipulate us gets tossed back in their faces. They won’t get any sympathy from me any time soon.

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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.

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder - a Republican affliction

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder – a Republican affliction

Reading time – 77 seconds  .  .  .

I heard a comedian explaining that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who laugh and those who make people laugh. Hard to argue with that.

And it turns out that there are always two kinds of people in the world. For cabbies it’s people who drive and people who need a ride. For children it’s kids who are fun to play with and kids who aren’t.

My view, too, is that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who divide people into two groups and those who don’t. And that is the most important difference we’re being shown by the presidential candidates.

The Republicans – every one of them – are dividing us into two kinds of people:

  • – We good Americans and immigrants who are taking our jobs.
  • – The makers and the takers.
  • – The straights and the gays.
  • – Those who know that military solutions are best and the weak-knee wimps.
  • – We good Americans and the terrible government.
  • – The gun-toters and those who would take their guns from them.
  • – The Christians and all those who are wrong.
  • – Good Americans and the “lame stream media.”
  • – The cops and the Black Lives Matter people who incite the murdering of cops.

In all these cases Republicans tell us that the cause of the problems of the first group is all those in the second group. No need here for personal responsibility or even good sense. As Church Lady would say, “How convenient.”

At the last Republican debate, divisions like these and attacks on those in the “other” group are all we heard. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We also heard about taxation plans based on math with rounding errors in the negative trillions of dollars, but which would put trickle-down economics on steroids, thus accelerating the transfer of all money in this country to 158 families.

In contrast, at the Democratic debates we heard about bringing us together:

  • – Healthcare for all Americans as a right.
  • – Economy-stimulating infrastructure rebuilding that will create millions of good paying jobs.
  • – Ending income inequality so that everyone benefits from a growing economy.
  • – Ending our corrupt election finance system and driving special interests out of control of government.
  • – Common sense gun safety laws so that we begin to end our self-inflicted, ongoing massacre of innocents.
  • – A shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy so that we don’t all die on an uninhabitable planet.

This list could be much longer, but you get the idea. It’s about all of us, not a dividing of us.

Again, and with a few extra words this time, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who try to manipulate us with fear and hate in order to divide us from one another; and those who don’t.

The key is this: Fearful, angry people are motivated, so they vote. They may vote in self-destructive ways, but they show up on election day and vote. People who aren’t fearful and angry aren’t as motivated, so they don’t bother to vote. That distinction is exactly what led to a Tea Party wacko getting elected governor of Kentucky last week.

The Republicans are affected with Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder (dividing us over mostly bogus issues) which they spread to unaware Americans via media contact. The acronym is ISAD, and I assure you that I am sad over this debasement of America.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who vote and get what they think they want; and those who don’t vote and are willing victims of the manipulators who divide 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.

The New History – Texas Style

TEAReading time – 41 seconds  .  .  .

Norman Goldman likes to rename our southern states because in so many ways they resemble third world despotic countries. I’m talking about things like voter suppression, denial of women’s rights and more. So, for example, Goldman has renamed Texas, calling it Texassistan (“tex-ASS-i-stan”), and with good reason.

Texas is one of several southern states vying to be the most fervently ignorant among an unenlightened few which deny the brutal reality of the “forced migration and enslavement of Africans in America.” * They even deny that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. I understand that denial of guilt-provoking reality feels better than facing the truth, but it doesn’t change what happened. It does change people’s perception of reality, and that’s a problem for the next generation.

In a recent New York Times article, How Texas Teaches History, author Ellen Bressler Rockmore discusses how slight grammatical construct changes and focus shifting can dramatically alter our understanding. For example, she looks at a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt text called Texas United States History and points out that,

” .  .  .  in the sentences that feature slaves as the subject, as the main actors in the sentence, the slaves are contributing their agricultural knowledge to the growing Southern economy; they are singing songs and telling folk tales; they are expressing themselves through art and dance.”

Really? That’s what slavery in America was about – singing songs and telling folk tales, art and dance? Apparently, there’s no need to dwell on the unpleasant stuff, like slave owners and field foremen beating, whipping, branding and killing slaves, children ripped from their mothers’ arms and sold down the river. Dem happy blackies, jus’ singin’ ‘n’ dancin’ and havin’ a good ol’ time** is the history of slavery that Texas wants to teach its children.

And that Pablum version of slavery gets multiplied, because Texas is by far the largest purchaser of school texts in America – they buy for 5 million school kids – so creating books that satisfy the Texas State Board of Education is a financial imperative for publishers. What that means is that history text books used throughout the nation are getting poisoned by the Texassistan far right wing dishonesty and cruelty. The result is that your kid is reading that version of history.

If you click through to Rockmore’s article, be sure to review some of the many comments. They’re enlightening, something that cannot be said of the Texas State Board of Education.

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*That phrase is lifted from Rockmore’s article referenced in the next paragraph and is done so because it so accurately captures the truth.

**I do recognize how deeply offensive those stereotype words are and I intend no offense to anyone who has even as little as a mere foothold in reality. Those words are used to illuminate the deeply offensive attitude expressed in Texas’ revisionist history and they are used mockingly toward the Texas State Board of Education.

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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.

Spirit

Reading time – 47 seconds  .  .  .

Religion is all about rules laid down by people who lived a long time ago, rules commonly called dogma. Those people said (or somebody else said) that the words of their dogma were given to them by God or inspired by God. It is an act of faith to believe what cannot be proven, like the holiness of those written words. Billions of people make that leap of faith willingly. That is their religion.

Spirituality is different. It has no rules. There is no dogma and it requires no faith. It is simply about how we live our lives and the energy and passion we put into the world. Whether we’re living in the tiny cracks of life or on the mountain tops, we are all spiritual. The only question is whether we recognize it and the effect of our spirit on ourselves and on others.

And that is what has me troubled these days, as we see that about 30% of people who self-identify as Republicans say that they support Donald Trump. He lashes out in mean spirited ways and declares his judgment of doom on those he doesn’t like. He has simplistic and misleading answers for any question and everything is metaphorically punctuated with a middle finger. The more he does his crazy, angry dance, the more Republicans seem to like him. Compounding that are the other candidates who carpet bomb the country with their negativity, their mean attacks and their outright lies. Each of them has followers, too.

What is that saying about the spirit of all these followers? Not their religion. I’m talking about the spirit in them. It’s looking pretty mean and angry, judgmental and vindictive.

Spirit is about how we live our lives. We demonstrate our spirit in that way and it appears that a lot of Americans are living in very dark ways. That’s an evil spirit that affects 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.

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 Endarkened Right

Endarkened RightReading time – 54 seconds  .  .  .

This is just too strange – read through to the end and you’ll see why.

And, yes, I know that “endarkened” isn’t a word. For now, though, let it stand as the polar opposite of “enlightened.” And let “right” mean not “correct,” but the stupidly polar opposite of stupidly polar “left.”

On May 11 Charles Murray’s essay was published in the Wall Street Journal and is entitled, Regulation Run Amok-And How to Fight Back. His contention is that there are just gobs of government regulations that are strangling the America out of America. Indeed, he tells us in what he appears to believe are self-evident terms,

“Then, with FDR’s New Deal and the rise of the modern regulatory state, our founding principle was subordinated to other priorities and agendas. What made America unique first blurred, then faded and today is almost gone.”

Gosh, that sounds as though instead of melting the Wicked Witch of the East, we liquidated Glinda, the bubble-traveling Good Witch of the North – on purpose. Note, too, how he invokes “the modern regulatory state,” as though it is some agreed upon, fact-worthy construction, like ancient Athens as a city-state. It isn’t.

Murray goes through a litany of innuendo and shadow puppet notions to support his case and then tells us what we good Americans should do about all those terrible regulations: we should just ignore them. Civil disobedience. Do what makes sense to you, even if you break the law, he tells us.

No cars have come down your street for over five hours and it’s 3:30AM. Why in the world should you have to stop at that stop sign? Just blast on through the intersection.

You own the land, so you should be able to do what you damn well please with it. Those regulators can’t tell you what to do, by golly, so you build your boutique toxic chemical plant in your garage and if the stuff sometimes spills and runs down the driveway toward the sidewalk where the little kids are walking to school, no biggie.

Let ’em come after you, because you have your good sense to protect you against those annoying experts the regulators will call as witnesses when your delusional ass is hauled into court. But you’ll be okay financially, because Murray also proposes a Legal Services Corporation (his words) as a kind of people’s insurance against those pesky regulators who strangely think they are supposed to uphold the law.

Look, nobody thinks that we don’t have some stupid regulations and that some have long outlived their usefulness and may now be nothing more than foolish obstacles. But the way to correct those is not to create a nation of chaos-inducing vigilantes pretending that they know better than anyone else. It’s to change the law. Isn’t that what righties say when civil rights activists push the limits?

Can you believe it? As a left-of-center moderate, I’m giving “obey the law” instruction to an endarkened righty. Surely, we are living in strange times.

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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.

Babble, Rinse, Repeat

HillaryReading time – 36 seconds  .  .  .

An open message to Hillary:

This just isn’t working. Pretending that email-gate is laughable or of no consequence makes it look like you’re being flippant about national security. That’s making red meat Republicans absolutely giddy over the scent of scandal in their flaring nostrils. It’s also making solid Democrats and Independents uneasy and your poll numbers show it.

To be sure, this is the latest in a multi-decade series of Republican witch hunts. These are attempts to smear anyone with the name of Clinton with anything that looks, sounds, smells or might remotely seem as though it is somehow bad and then keeping it in public view until people think it’s real. The difference this time is that it looks like there could be some “there” there.

Bill has an amazing facility for getting himself into complex and self-defeating situations and somehow saving himself from disaster. And he has the charisma thing going for him, so that after his disaster avoidance magic he somehow still holds remarkably high approval ratings. He shares that with Ronald Reagan, the “Teflon president.”

You don’t. You don’t have that mastery of the disaster dance and you don’t have the public charisma. That’s why your babble, rinse, repeat about the email server in your house and those possibly classified emails that might have been a national security breach just doesn’t work. It’s making happy Republicans and unhappy Democrats.

Start talking sense and being accountable.

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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.

Nothing Has Changed

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he will not run for president in 2016. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)Reading time – 19 seconds; Listening time – 2 minutes  .  .  .

Set aside the Republican circus sideshow barker for now, because he is exactly what Steve Schmidt labeled him: The candidate of middle finger Republicans. The reason his poll numbers don’t go down when he says offensive things is because his vulgarity feeds their hostility.

What is left is a field of 16 presidential wannabees who are essentially interchangeable with one another regarding what they would do to America if elected.

That notion brought me back to the 2012 election. Here’s a mock commercial I created for that contest. Listen to it and in your mind’s ear replace Mitt Romney’s name with that of any of the 16 current contenders and you’ll find that nothing has changed.

Note: Click near the left end of the black bar to play the audio.

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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.

Gaseous

Cassius Clay, aka Muhammed Ali

Cassius Clay, aka Muhammed Ali

Reading time – 109 seconds  .  .  .

Cassius Clay renamed himself Muhammed Ali shortly after becoming the boxing heavyweight champion of the world in 1964. He was known for his speed, his agility and for the prolific and colorful nature of his speech. He was dubbed “Gaseous Cassius” by the press, but the public enjoyed his remarkable presentation. And he was black, a Muslim and he refused to participate in the establishment’s war, so he gave the haters many opportunities to show off their skills. Remarkably, he never returned their hatred. During his public decades he was always a class act, regardless of one’s views of his bombast.

Sadly and destructively, our politics hasn’t had that same class for a long time. Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but it has been much more in evidence for many years, certainly since the Republicans decided that scorched earth was their best strategy. They have made fear, hatred and sheer meanness their tools to achieve power and have consistently appealed to the worst in us.

Doubt that? Donald Trump is all about demonizing, hating and meanness. Amazingly,  one-quarter of Republican voters now favor him to be their presidential candidate for 2016 and he is the personification of exactly the fear, hate and meanness that Republicans have been practicing for decades. He is also the poster boy for the fact-less spraying of of idiotic slurs.

Other examples: George W. Bush knocked John McCain out of the Republican primaries in 2000 by questioning his patriotism, just as he did with war hero and triple amputee, former Senator Max Cleland (D-GA). He did the same to former senator (D-MA), now Secretary of State John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.

And it’s not just Trump and Bush who have appealed to fear, hate and meanness. It’s the birthers and the fools now criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, the stupid and fact-devoid attacks on the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the dozens of substance-free congressional hearings and investigations into the Benghazi incident. It’s former Representative Darryl Issa (R-CA) refusing to allow any woman to testify about reproductive rights and former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who continues to this day his baseless WMD accusation, as well as former national security adviser Condoleeza Rice and her imaginary mushroom cloud.

Gasseous

Gaseous

All of that and more is at the heart of Republican strategy. Read Timothy Egan’s column in the July 26 New York Times article, Trump Is the Poison His Party Concocted. The only difference for Republicans now is that their own poison strategy is being used by Trump on them. Oddly, they don’t seem to like that.

That Trump is gaseous is self-evident. That he and his Republican cohorts do it without class is equally self-evident.

Blog Bonus: Here is a special quote for our politicians who haven’t grown beyond the narrow-minded notions they had when they were 19 years old:

“Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.”

                                                                                                                Ayn Rand

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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.

Understanding Charleston and That Flag

Confederate Battle FlagReading time – 4 seconds  .  .  .

If you want to understand Charleston, the Confederate battle flag and U.S. history, 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.

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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