Conservatism

A Reality Check for Trump Voters

Reading time – 67 seconds; Viewing time – 2:34  .  .  .

You’re flashing the bird at the “establishment” – the authority figures, the big money kids, the guys in the expensive suits and power ties. They have been screwing you for so long that you can’t even remember when you weren’t being screwed. You have no recollection of the last time anyone from any establishment said something that didn’t ring phony. You’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Got it. You’re right – you are being screwed.

And you’re being screwed in ways you might not realize.

Because the crazies with the megaphones have been tweaking your nose over immigration, God, guns and gays. They’ve been fanning your flames with absolutist junk, like, “You’re either with us or you’re not an American” and they have made your blood boil. And all the time they were doing their misdirection trickery they were picking your pocket.

It started with Reagan’s “supply-side economics,” which was supposed to “trickle down” wealth to you from the fat cats. How’s that been working for you? The answer is that it’s not working at all, because the fat cats kept it all for themselves. And they’re still keeping it and protecting their rights to keep their claws deeply embedded into your wallet, thanks to the laws your legislators enacted that created tax breaks only for already wealthy people. You didn’t catch even a little break.

They told you that it was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. That sounded good. Then they defeated every attempt at job-creating legislation except the one for vets. And the Republicans had to be shamed into passing that.

That’s right: They distracted you with tweaky social issues while they ate your lunch. And they’re still eating your lunch.

Just get this: Donald J. Trump has been and is an integral part of the establishment misdirection scheme that got your pocket picked. His claws are holding your cash and he’s proposed cutting taxes even more for the rich kids – but not for you. Trump won’t be trickling any money down to you.

You know a phony when you see one, even if he sounds like a really good circus sideshow barker. So, when November comes around, put your hand on your wallet and keep it there as you vote.

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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.

Edward R. Murrow Was Right

Edward R MurrowReading time – 46 seconds; Viewing time – 2:46  .  .  .

Said Edward R. Murrow, “Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

Imagine if Donald Trump understood that. Or Ted Cruz. Or Mitch McConnell or Chuck Grassley or Sarah Palin or any of the long list of people whose notion of public service is:

  1. To block any progress on anything other than bulking up the wallets of already rich people, and
  2. Saying ludicrous, flagrantly false things designed to stoke fear and anger in people who are already fearful and angry.

It was during Bill Clinton’s presidency that the Republican party went full bore obstructionist. It became the party of “no” and offered absolutely nothing that would make America better, nothing to “form a more perfect union.” Republicans were solely about clawing for power via public confrontation, even opposing things they had previously championed.

Their philosophy was perfected during the Obama presidency, as Republican lawmakers and a few others gathered at an exclusive DC restaurant on inauguration night, January 20, 2009. The purpose of the meeting was to declare their strategy to defeat Obama in every way, to deny him any victories, regardless of the stupidity of their actions and the cost to our country.

Mitch McConnell went public with that, telling us his number 1 goal was to make President Obama a 1-term president, making clear that anything to make things better for the country or for the American people was secondary. It was all about a Republican power grab. Indeed, they would refuse to do the very jobs they were hired to do and instead would focus solely on partisan warfare. For them, cooperation and compromise meant that everyone else must cave in and agree with them 100%.

None of that strategy would have made sense or been wise had it been heard at the end of the bar. It surely was a clarion call to self-destruction that was heard halfway around the world and that didn’t make it any wiser.

It still isn’t wise and we’re living with that stupidity right now, as McConnell refuses to vet a Supreme Court nominee. He claims that presidents in an election year never make such appointments. That’s absolutely true, except for Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed in Reagan’s last year in office. In fact, one of every three presidents has made a Supreme Court appointment in an election year.

Sadly, Murrow was right.

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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

Reading time – 61 seconds; Viewing time – 2:54  .  .  .

Bernie Sanders is telling us that he wants Americans to have universal health care – single payer. He is challenged by those on the left, the center and the right, asking how he’s going to get that done.

Donald Trump tells us he’s going to deport 11 million undocumented residents now in the U.S. The math for that works out to 7,534 people to be deported every day of a 4-year presidential term. How will he do that?

Ted Cruz has a plan to completely re-make the federal tax system. It would reduce the income of the government by $8.6 trillion over a decade. At the same time, he plans to dramatically increase money for the Defense Department and the National Security apparatus. The math simply doesn’t come anywhere near to working, so how will he do that?

Marco Rubio disapproves of increasing the national debt limit, but he doesn’t explain how the United States will avoid default on existing debt without raising the limit. By what magic will we not become a deadbeat nation?

Hillary Clinton has accepted many millions of dollars from big money influencers, including the fossil fuel industry, big Pharma and big banks. How will she lead without being influenced by those massive campaign contributions and the money sure to arrive for the purpose of funding her second term?

Here’s the point: You’ll never get a satisfactory answer to “How?” from any of the candidates. Nobody can tell you how a Democrat as president will get what they want through a Republican Congress. Nobody can tell you how an absolutist Republican president would accomplish his absolutist ends with the filibuster alive and well in the Senate.

All you can get is an idea of what these people believe in and the direction they would take the United States if they could take it some place. Decide for yourself if their values and ideas match yours (or if they are totally cuckoo bird) and stop fretting about the “How?” stuff, because most of what is promised during a campaign will never be done.

And VOTE. Illinois, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina primary elections are on Tuesday, March 15. Show up and VOTE.

Here’s some happy news: If you’re an Illinois resident and are not already registered to vote, you can register on election day. Yes, we have same-day registration now, so bring a few forms of ID, like your drivers license, passport, student ID, credit card, utility bill with your name on it – you only need one, but bring more just in case. Show up at your poling place and you’ll be able to register and VOTE right then and there.

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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.

Gitmo Solved

Camp_Delta,_Guantanamo_Bay,_CubaReading time – 41 seconds  .  .  .

When President Obama was running for the presidency in 2008 he pledged that his first action as President would be to close our prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. What was done there – torture – was illegal. Gitmo was an ongoing recruiting poster for those who would kill Americans. We were continuing to flaunt our own habeas corpus laws and there wasn’t even a need for the facility, as terrorists could be held in any of our federal maximum security prisons in the U.S. Let’s close it, he told us.

Once he was in office, the Republicans in Congress balked at closing Gitmo on the basis of the national security need to make sure that President Obama would have no accomplishments throughout his entire presidency. Okay, that’s a compelling argument.

The blocking was the result of our statesmen and -women in the House of Representatives, that protector of the national purse, who prohibited any funds from being spent to relocate prisoners, thus ensuring that Gitmo would have to stay open for business, even to today.

According to the New York Times Guantanamo Docket, “Of the roughly 780 people who have been detained at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 680 have been transferred [to other countries] and 91 remain. In addition, nine detainees died while in custody.” That’s not exactly a set of statistics to make us proud, especially since so many of the detainees (that’s politik-speak meaning “prisoners”) were just poor schmoes who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They wound up in prison, charged with no crime, they were denied legal representation and were never tried in any court. It was and is indefinite detention. That’s the kind of stuff that we abhorred about the Soviets for their treatment of prisoners, but somehow it’s okay now that we’re doing it. Maybe Gitmo had to be kept open, since what we were doing violated U.S. law and could not be done on American soil.

Wait a second – we claim Guantánamo Bay to be American soil, just as we do our embassies around the world. I guess that American soil argument doesn’t hold water boarding.

There is a solution for what to do with our prison at Guantánamo Bay. Andy Borowitz explains in his New Yorker piece. I promise that you will like his idea.

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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 Real Problem With America

Reading time – 54 seconds; Viewing time – 2:39  .  .  .

The insults hurled about in what passes for our politics are flagrant judgments that polarize us. As harmful to our republic are the insidious accusations buried in attack speak by those seeking to steal power for themselves.

Just the other day Republican candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) went on another robotic rant, saying that one of his first acts as president, should he become that, will be to cancel all of the unconstitutional executive orders of President Obama. That, of course, was raw meat dripping blood for his angry followers and it was a great power trip for all. The only problem with it is that President Obama has not invoked a single executive order that is unconstitutional. Not even one. Perhaps Rubio doesn’t like any of them. That’s fine. His declaration of their unconstitutionality is not fine, and for more reasons than that he knows that what he’s saying is not true.

That kind of attack is exactly what puts more gasoline on the fire of distrust in government, which is now at 81%. So, too, are the repeatedly invoked descriptors of incompetent, loser, feckless, unlawful and others. When former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was interviewed on MSNBC last week she sneaked in a barb – really an assumptive “everybody knows” comment – about the unlawful Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). It might have been politically useful to make that accusation, but it was just as wrong as Rubio’s false accusation, as Obamacare has been challenged all the way to the Supreme Court repeatedly and with only one narrow exception, has been found to be quite constitutional.

These statements, along with the googly-eyed blathering of talk radio wing nuts are powerful forces for anger, hate, distrust and dysfunction. They represent the Big Lie told so often that people hearing it truly believe the anti-government, anti-anybody who disagrees with them talk. It polarizes our country even more, making it next to impossible for our government and our country to work and even for us to be civil with one another. It incrementally destroys America.

Read David Brooks’ essay The Governing Cancer of Our Time. His explanation is as insightful and powerful as any I’ve seen of the political polarization we’ve endured for at least three decades. Note especially his final point about what all the dysfunction leads to. Then come back here and offer your comments about what we can do to stop us from going further down this self-destructive path.

Late addition to this post: Read Paul Krugman’s piece, Twilight of the Apparatchiks for greater understanding of the institutionalized undermining of government and politics. Click through the despise government link and listen to the audio, too. Prepare to be shocked, but perhaps not surprised. JA

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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.

To Hell With The People

Reading time – 49 seconds; Viewing time – 2:17  .  .  .

Trump says they should stall. McConnell said he will stall in the Senate. All the Republican candidates for president insist we must wait to appoint a new Supreme Court justice until the next president takes office. They hope that a Republican will win the general election in November, in which case they can get a new justice that matches their extremist notions.

So, the political rant is all about dragging feet for almost a year – until after January 20, 2017, to fill the vacancy on the court. What’s conservative about that? Can you think of a single reason – even a bad one – that the court should be limited for a year if its job is to be the the final arbiter of disputes and the interpreter of laws, as established in Marbury v. Madison over 200 years ago? Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe can’t and he derided the Republicans’ behavior, saying the Republicans were, ”  .  .  .  holding the court and America hostage.” He said that’s shameful.* He’s right.

It is the obligation (i.e. requirement, duty, responsibility) of the president to nominate candidates to sit on the Supreme Court. It is the obligation of the Senate to vet the president’s candidates and approve or reject. Nowhere in the Constitution are there words suggesting that any of these required duties should be postponed for a year because it’s a presidential election year and the Republicans want to pack the court with their lapdog justices. Indeed, there have been 8 justices put on the court during election years since 1900, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated by Ronald Reagan in  his last year in office.

This Republican hair-on-fire tantrum is just their current denial of reality, another flick of the middle finger to America, saying to hell with the people. The Republicans will likely cave in and hold hearings but will reject whoever President Obama nominates just to string out this process for a year and to deny President Obama another victory.

Isn’t America supposed to be better than that?

* Said to Chris Matthews on Hardball, February 15, 2016.

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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.

Etymology for Today

Reading time – 26 seconds. .  .  .

Perhaps you know that anything that reads the same forwards and backwards is called a palindrome. Thus, “mom” is a palindrome. So is “tattarrattat,” a word coined by James Joyce to mean a knock on the door.

There are phrases and even sentences that are palindromes, too. Example: “A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.”

Of greater interest in the realm of current events is a new form. It’s called a Palin-drome. It is defined as a sentence which makes no sense either forward or backward.

Thanks, MA for helping us with that important piece of etymological clarity.

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

The 2,700 Club

Reading time – 69 seconds; Viewing time – 3:04  .  .  .

Point #1

There’s plenty of data showing that moments of anger can escalate to crimes of passion and somebody’s death occurs far more easily when there is a gun present. That’s exactly what happened in the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC last month, when two people got into an argument and at least one of them had a gun.

The same principle is true of suicide, which is a specialized form of homicide. It’s a lot easier to pull a trigger than to jab a knife into one’s chest or slit one’s wrist. Just the daunting task of slicing into your body or imagining a wrenching death from poisoning is enough to prevent many people from ending their lives and they are later grateful there wasn’t a gun within reach.

Point #2

The TSA recently announced that almost 2,700 handguns were confiscated from carry-on luggage at U.S. airports last year. That number is up 20% from 2014, perhaps suggesting that we were 20% more stupid in 2015 than in 2014. That may be an incorrect analysis, but let’s consider who would try to get a gun past security at an airport.

Idiot #1 – An ISIL operative bent on taking down an airliner and killing people on the ground in a seventh century leap for martyrdom.

Idiot #2 – A true-blue American with absolute faith and belief in the Second Amendment and who is standing up for his right to do stupid things. His back is straight, eyes alert and ahead, proud to be a pistol packing cowboy believing himself to be a direct inheritor of the intent of the Founders, as he passes through the body scanner without his boots.

Idiot #3 – “Oh, yeah. I forgot it was in there.” I had a discussion recently with a TSA agent at O’Hare, who told me that’s what they commonly hear when they find some fool’s gun in his luggage. They forgot they had a loaded Smith & Wesson in their suitcase? Forgot?!!! Actually, it doesn’t matter if they forgot. Trying to get a gun past security is a crime and each of the 2,700 were quickly given an opportunity to meet new and – let’s say, interesting – people at the local slammer.

Therefore,

Every one of these idiots is a form of terrorist, regardless of his hijacking intent. That includes the one who is the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” and who thinks he’s going to gun down bad guys on an airplane. In reality, that scenario is the Northlake Mall shooting all over again. It’s the crime of passion or the depression-driven attempt at suicide that turns into someone being murdered solely because there was a gun handy.

2,700 fools with guns is a terrible statistic, because one of those guys who didn’t get caught could have been on your flight with his  loaded 9mm. Next time you go through screening at the airport, instead of being annoyed by the delay, thank the TSA folks for doing a great job to protect you.

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

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.

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.

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