Conservatism

We Had No Choice


Ed. note: Please help – see the note below and pass this along so that we make the kind of difference that needs to be made. America thanks you.

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  . 

“We have no choice,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zyhri in rejecting a cease fire proposal. Hamas had been launching rockets into Israel for years and nothing, it seemed, got the Israelis’ attention in the same way. Certainly, a cease fire wouldn’t help make the Israelis do what Hamas wanted. What else could they do but continue to fire rockets into Israeli cities? They had no choice.

Saddam Hussein was a really bad guy, President Bush told us. He killed his own people and was interfering with the work of the UN weapons inspectors as they searched for weapons of mass destruction. Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s national security adviser, presumably speaking for the president, told us that, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” We had no choice but to invade.

And we had no choice but to bail out the big banks and refuse to prosecute the perps.

And we had no choice but to torture prisoners.

That’s the phrase people use so very often to explain their actions. Somehow, it seems, they were backed into a corner from which there was only one course of action.

Oddly, the facts suggest that sometimes there are alternatives other than the absolutes that are brainlessly invoked. Sometimes life and death hang in the balance awaiting our more thoughtful, wise judgment. Too bad the leadership in the House of Representatives can’t figure out such things and instead constantly regurgitates the non-scandals of Benghazi, IRS-gate and Obamacare. Too bad they have no choice. The new Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told us that he intends to regurgitate those issues in the Senate, too. Apparently, he has no choice, either, any more than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) saw any choice other than shutting down the government and making innocents suffer.

The next time you hear someone invoke, “We had no choice” to explain their actions, I invite you to consider a new meaning for that sentence: It is an admission of a complete failure of diplomacy, negotiation, thoughtfulness, creativity wisdom and leadership. It is the abject failure of the very things our leaders are supposed to do, practices in which they are supposed to excel. It is incompetence run amok.

We need better than that.

————————————-

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. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Father Flannigan in Texas


Skip LeveThis is a guest essay from reader Frank Levy of Houston, TX. It was submitted as a comment to an earlier post, Father Flannigan, Your CEO and the Supreme Court, and was deemed too important to bury at the bottom of the Comments section. It is offered here for your consideration and comment.

————————————-

In Texas we are very accustomed to the “Father Flannigan phenomenon,” and much worse. Not only do we have the usual school day, pre-game, and government pre-meeting prayer, the state Republican Party primary ballot includes a statement that reads, “America is a Christian country, and Texas is a Christian state.” Voters get to agree or disagree. The “initiative” carries by over 95% every 4 years.

It is fundamentalist Christian beliefs like this that are part and parcel of the religious civil war going on across the country. The Hobby Lobby decision is but one of the skirmishes in this religious civil war.

The Hobby Lobby decision by the “Fab 5” – the 5 Catholic men on the Court – is deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with American law and legal precedent, and imposes very real long-term negative impacts on American democracy and on Americans who believe in real freedom of religion.

On the subject of the disingenuous nature of the Hobby Lobby suit and decision – as Stephanie Mencimer noted in Mother Jones in March 2014, “a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case is the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit. The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012 its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God and Hobby Lobby executives never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.”

It should also be noted that Hobby Lobby owners held significant investments in the companies that manufactured the exact abortifacients and birth control products that were the basis of the law suit.

In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims.

In Hobby Lobby the Court handed corporations religious rights for the first time in history. As Norm Ornstein points out in the National Journal, “For the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans — with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship.”

The Hobby Lobby decision also lends support to the Christian Right’s (they are neither) efforts in the new religious civil war to create a Christian theocracy in America, and to further their erroneous claims that their religious rights are being suppressed, or even outlawed.

Led by the dominion theology of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), those seeking the creation of America as an evangelical Christian nation seek to block any and all legislation that promotes real equality, as well as seeking to block legislation that opposes discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or race, especially in the areas of voting rights, access to health care, birth control and abortion and marriage, among others. These self-proclaimed Christians also oppose social programs like food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and Social Security, this based on their proclaimed religious beliefs.

These new religious warriors want an America built on their repressive and narrow understanding of Christian theology. As researcher Rachel Tabachnick explains: “Instead of escaping the Earth (in the Rapture) prior to the turmoil of the end times, they [the NAR] teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or ‘Kingdom’ on Earth.”

Their favorite, and most powerful lie used to gather fellow warriors is their lament that their religious rights are being eliminated or oppressed. A. Jay Michaelson writes in, ”Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights” published by Political Research Associates in March, 2013, “While the religious liberty debate is a growing front in the ongoing culture wars, it is actually an old argument re-purposed for a new context. In the postwar era, the Christian Right defended racial segregation, school prayer, public religious displays and other religious practices that infringed on the liberties of others by claiming that restrictions on such public acts infringed upon their religious liberty. Then as now, the Christian Right turned anti-discrimination arguments on their heads: instead of African Americans being discriminated against by segregated Christian universities, the universities were being discriminated against by not being allowed to exclude them; instead of public prayers oppressing religious minorities, Christians are being oppressed by not being able to offer them.

In the “religious liberty” framework, the Christian Right attacks access to contraception, access to abortion, same-sex marriage, and anti-discrimination laws—not on moral grounds (e.g., that contraception is morally wrong or that LGBTQ rights violate “family values”) but because they allegedly impinge upon the religious freedoms of others (e.g., by forcing employers to violate their religion by providing contraception coverage).

In fact, there is not a single “religious liberty” claim made by the Christian Right that does not involve abridging someone else’s rights.

When any religious group tries to impose its beliefs on others we ought to be afraid and strenuously oppose such efforts. We need to be extremely vigilant in opposing any effort by one group to impose its beliefs on anyone else, no matter how light or innocent that imposition might be claimed to be. If you don’t want your religious beliefs questioned, then don’t impose them on others. When push comes to shove, real religious freedom can be just as simple as that.

I wonder how the Court would have voted if the Hobby Lobby suit had been filed by a Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Hindu owned business instead of the Christian owned Hobby Lobby.

Frank Levy, M.A., MFA. is Director of Outreach Resources, which provides consulting services to local and statewide disaster and public health preparedness and response agencies and to non-profit agencies engaged in improving the lives of the most vulnerable and at-risk residents. Frank currently lives in hiding from the thought police in Tom “the Exterminator” DeLay’s Congressional district outside Houston, TX.

————————————————–

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. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Father Flannigan, Your CEO and the Supreme Court


Prayer Meeting

Town Board meeting, Greece, NY, June, 2013. Photo, Bloomberg News

Reading time – 79 seconds

“And now Father Flannigan will lead us in an invocation that will be meaningful and appropriate for all of us.” With that the head coach of our public high school varsity football team opened the season kick-off meeting for parents and team members on that warm August evening in 1963. Father Flannigan stepped up to the microphone and in his deep baritone voice said, “We pray together  .  .  .” and he invoked and intoned for a couple of agonizingly long minutes, at last ending with, “This we pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”

My father and I looked at each other with a “Huh?” expression. Father Flannigan’s invocation was something other than appropriate for us. Indeed, it was inappropriate for any non-Christian and even some Christians. So much for “appropriate for all of us.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution tells us, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Of course, our public high school was and is a government institution and Father Flannigan’s very specifically Christian Catholic words were part of an official school function. His prayer – indeed, any prayer –  was not appropriate for the occasion, as it clearly expressed religious favoritism, the very thing the Pilgrims left Europe to escape. That tacit favoritism is what “prohibits the free exercise thereof” of any religion other than the one mentioned and it also prevents the free exercise of no religion. And today’s Supreme Court, that interpreter of the Constitution and the intent of the Framers, can’t seem to figure that out.

They ruled in a 5-4 decision on May 5, 2014 that governmental meetings may include Christian prayer. The picture above shows members of the town board in Greece, NY bowing their heads in prayer at the start of their meeting in June, 2013. They were the plaintiffs in this lawsuit seeking effectively to establish a government sanctioned religion – Christianity – for their town. That would necessarily mean a concurrent prohibition of the free exercise of any other religion. In the past the Court has ruled that prayer in public schools isn’t kosher (had to throw that in), primarily because the school children are effectively captive and cannot escape the drubbing of another’s version of religion. And it is the “captive” part that, for this court, is the critical issue, rather than the “Congress shall make no law  .  .  .” part. Apparently, the Greece, NY town board members and other meeting attendees are not captive, which means that government sponsored Christianity – specifically Christianity – is okay, this according to 5 male, Roman Catholic members of this Supreme Court who ruled as such.

This is a companion piece to the fundamentalist surge that, for example, makes idiot Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore declare that the First Amendment only protects Christians.

So, go ahead, Father Flannigan, and offer prayers in church and in your Sunday School classes and in your parochial school. Those are expressly for that purpose and your prayers are appropriate there. But keep your benedictions out of our government, our public institutions and our laws. They aren’t appropriate there, regardless of the wrong-headed decisions of our inappropriate Supreme Court.

The next step toward theocracy just happened, as those same 5 all male, Republican, Roman Catholic old guys decided in the Hobby Lobby case that employers can cite their religion as sufficient reason for withholding insurance coverage for birth control from their employees. Surely the next step will be a Christian Science CEO claiming he doesn’t have to supply medical insurance for his employees at all and those same 5 Justices will go along with that First Amendment tarnishing, protection destroying foolishness, too.

There are quite a few million Americans – including many religious leaders –  who believe there really is supposed to be a separation of “church and state” and a freedom from anyone else’s religion. If only the Supreme Court could figure out this simple concept.

One last thing: As you can see, the righty majority five keep legislating from the bench, this time by warping the First Amendment. How come we’re not hearing a howl from conservatives about that?

————————————————–

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. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

New Ryan Budget Adjustment


Reading time – 23 seconds  .  .  .

Washington DC – In a press briefing in front of the Washington Field Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced new details of his updated budget plan. “To help save the economy,”  Ryan announced, “we’re making  an important change to our proposed budget. Upon adoption of the plan, we will start deporting seniors instead of illegal immigrants, in order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs. That simple change will extend the life of both programs by decades. It will also cost far less to administer than the current INS rules because older people are easier to catch and will not remember how to get back home.”*

____________________

*The picture above is from a spoof piece making the rounds on the Internet Machine. Thanks go to ES for passing it to me.  I have taken liberties with the text for satirical purposes. Note that Congressman Ryan has not yet contacted me to indicate if his mother, Elizabeth Ryan, will be eligible for deportation.

____________________

Eric CantorSUNDAY TWO-FER!

Reading time – 11 seconds

Good-bye, Eric Cantor, latest loser to a new extremist fool.  For years you had the power to be the driver of betterment for the American people and you chose instead to be a petty obstructionist.

We will not miss your arrogance and lies, your demagoguery and fraudulent misrepresentations, your partisan posturing and your dedication to failure. Your mother may be proud of you, but most of us are not.

————————————————–

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. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Nothing Conservative To See Here – Move Along


Reading time . .  .  43 seconds

There are so many programs that the Republicans used to support, like healthcare reform, gun background checks and programs that suggest something science-y, like cap-and-trade.  For six years, though, they have been focused solely on opposing anything President Obama supports, so they have turned their backs on their own programs trying to out-testosterone one another and promoting governmental paralysis. Indeed, many Republicans used to be conservatives, but that seems to have fallen into disfavor over on the right, which is now well short of the neocortex.

The Republicans are big promoters of a fire breathing, smoke belching military. They support the troops and wave flags and insist that we continue to spend money on defense at the same rate or even more than we spent when we were engaged in a cold war opposing a country that now no longer exists. Let nobody suggest that the R’s are military wimps. They got their camo mojo on and it’s cookin’ all the time, supportin’ the troops. Conservative bedrock in action, right?

Except when our troops come home broken up, messed up and throwing up. Then the R’s aren’t so supportive of the troops. That’s when they adjust their bean counter eye shades and sleeve garters to cut budgets. That’s when it’s clear that the “political right” has departed from conservatism. Indeed, Poppy Bush would be aghast to learn that there are no compassionate conservatives.

Read Carl Gibson’s excellent article Fake Political Outrage is the Real VA Scandal and see for yourself. These R’s who are refusing to properly care for our wounded are the same right wingers who authorized “supporting out troops” by lying to the American people, trumping up “evidence” for an unnecessary war and then sending our troops into battle without body armor, without vehicle armor and without an exit plan. Then they sent another 100,000 troops to attack Afghanistan, yet another country that did not attack America. Tough beans now for the 1.6 million vets who have cycled home, need help and are applying to the VA for what was promised.

Are you looking for conservatives? Don’t bother looking at today’s Republican Party, because there’s nothing conservative to see there. Move along.

 Ed. note:  Thanks to EBC for bringing Gibson’s article to my attention.

————————————————–

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. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Certainty of Infallibility


Reading time: 73 seconds  .  .  .

I’m not from Louisiana and I don’t follow politics there, so the first time I knew of Gov. Bobby Jindal was when I watched the Republican response on February 24, 2009 to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress.  I was powerfully impressed by Jindal’s brainless droning of Republican talking points, like opposition to President Obama’s economic stimulus plan without even a hint at what government might do to help the country out of our national economic meltdown.

More astonishing than anything was his citing of Hurricane Katrina as the show piece to warn against government solutions.  This is the city in Jindals’ own state that suffered more than any other because of the incompetence of the Bush administration and its inept leadership of FEMA (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job“).  One more time: The prior administration had done a total pratfall, causing millions of people to suffer.  Jindal tried to get Americans to believe that this was clear evidence that government shouldn’t be a part of the solution to any of our major challenges.  Let us say that my opinion of Jindal at that moment was less than favorable.  Clearly, he was a tool.

Fast forward a few years to just past the 2012 election.  Things didn’t go well for Republicans and Jindal was one of the out-front Republican explainers, saying, “We have to stop being the stupid party.”   Is it possible he meant that the Republicans had to stop denying science?  That they should stop attacking people for being intelligent?  That they should stop flagrantly lying?  “We have to stop insulting the intelligence of voters,” he said.  He sure looked like a brave guy saying those things and was anything but a tool in those moments.

Then the Republican party slapped him down and he morphed back into a Republican talking points tool.  He reverted to the dishonest, ignorant, insulting, inflammatory talk for which the GOP has made itself known for decades.  Like the RNC talking points, Jindal tries to make it sound like the Republicans have the certainty of infallibility and all we have to do is give all  power to them and all will be right with the world.

There is a pleasing comfort in being certain of one’s infallibility.  It makes the discomfort of uncertainty disappear and choices are simple..  There’s just one thing: life is not simple or certain.  When anyone invokes infallibility, they are being fundamentally divisive and destructive and they are doing exactly what Jindal warned against during his brief moment of good sense.  They are being the stupid party and they are insulting you.

————————————————–

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.  Please help by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Is For You If You’re Unemployed


On January 20, 2009, the night of President Obama’s inauguration, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and others met for a late dinner at a posh DC restaurant.  They weren’t there to eat.

They were there to plot their strategy following the Obama mandate and it took them just minutes to decide how to move forward.  Their number one objective, as stated repeatedly by McConnell and others since that date was to ensure that Barack Obama was a one-term president.  To that end, their strategy was to block anything that the new president proposed even if he proposed programs that Republicans believed in or had introduced themselves.  They planned to make a political eunuch of the leader of the free world.

And that strategy, like every strategy, has had consequences.  One consequence is that we do not have universal background checks for gun sales, even though 90% of we Americans want them.  Another is that the Congress has spent enormous time and energy fighting healthcare reform the likes of which Republicans had promoted for decades and which a Republican governor instituted in Massachusetts.  Still another is that the Congress has blocked every program that would create an economic environment that would produce new jobs.  If you are unemployed, there is a good chance that the Republican power strategy is the reason.

The Republicans have filibustered in the Senate over 200 times and thus have abolished majority rule and prevented progress in that chamber.  John Boehner has refused to bring nearly any bill to the floor of the House that would improve employment opportunities and has even blocked help for the unemployed (read: hungry and dispirited).  Effectively, the Republicans in Congress have held hostage all American workers in order to stymie President Obama and make him look wimpy so that Republicans could regain the White House in the next election.  We’re five years into that self-immolation policy with a net effect that there isn’t a Republican in the White House and over 7% of our people who want a job cannot find one.  Approximately the same percentage of Americans are vastly underemployed, either in position or because they could only secure part-time work.

Some say that Republican intransigence on unemployment and their gleeful withholding of food stamps from poor children indicates a lack of compassion, but that isn’t the problem.  They care about the suffering of Americans.  But they care about themselves and having more power far more.

If you are unemployed, the accountability lies with the Republicans in Congress for holding you hostage for the purpose of their own self-aggrandizement.  Clearly, they believe that they are more important than you.  If you vote them back into office – any office – in November, you will have proven that you agree with them.

————————————————–

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.  Please help by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

No, Mr. Godburn, They Are Not


Mark R. Godburn, an antiquarian bookseller in North Canaan, CT, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the December 8, 2013 New York Times, along with responses from several readers.  Mr. Godburn cautions us that, “Relying on one source, or even on several sources with the same bias, will leave you with only part of the story.”  He seems to be saying that we need to consider both (perhaps all) views in order to see the full landscape.  Fair enough.

“That’s why the much maligned right-wing media is just as important as the so-called mainstream press,” he tells us.   He then launches into a series of Fox vs. MSNBC, right vs. left comparisons that leave me – let me say this so that it is suitable for more sensitive readers – waving my arms in the air and screaming, “What the BLEEP are you talking about?!!”

First correction: MSNBC is anything but the mainstream media.  Look to ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS for that in television.

Next, Mr. Godburn looks at the IRS tax exempt and Benghazi stories.  He reports accurately that Fox obsessed on these, looking for smoking guns.  There weren’t any.  Indeed, the real story was that the IRS was actually doing its job of ensuring that we don’t give tax exempt status to organizations that do not meet their criteria for it.  He further reports that the, “.  .  .  mainstream press was determined to take the Obama administration’s word for it that it did nothing wrong in either case.”  Really?  In all the reading, watching and listening I did I didn’t hear such a thing from anyone in the center or on the left.  I did hear comments that we should wait until the evidence is in before making a judgment.  Come to think of it, that’s a very “fair and balanced” approach.  It was absent from the coverage on Fox.

Mr. Godburn begins to close his argument by letting us know that, “.  .  .  not every story or point of view [should] receive equal weight, but that every valid position [should] receive equal respect.”  Agreed.  “Thus the pro-life position should be treated with the same validity as pro-choice;”  Okay there.  And, “.  .  .  small-government conservatives with the same respect as tax-and-spend liberals  .  .  .”

Whoa there, cowboy.  Did you say “small-government conservatives”?  Like our last three conservative Republican presidents, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush?  The guys who, each in his turn, both grossly expanded government and ran up the biggest debt in world history?

It appears that Mr. Godburn’s thinking and certainly his vocabulary have been polluted by right-wing propaganda, rather than steered by the facts, and it shows in his use of the label “tax-and-spend liberals.”  That is a term favored by Ronald Reagan to demonize opponents on the left, even as he raised taxes and spent the US into enormous debt.  Somehow those facts never make it into the discussion on Fox.

And that’s the thing: the facts.  Mr. Godburn is right, that there is room for right, left and center positions.  There is a valid and important discussion to be had, for example, about differing views on Obamacare.  But the right continually pollutes any discussion with lies, false innuendo and propaganda labeling.  We simply can’t have Chuck Grassley, Sarah Palin and the rest telling us that, “They’re gonna pull the plug on Granny” and also have a meaningful exchange of reality-based ideas. There are not and never were “death panels,” even though Fox News continues to use that term.

We cannot evaluate President Obama’s job performance in the presence of righties obsessing on “birther” idiocy.

We cannot have a reasonable conversation about women’s health in the presence of Rush Limbaugh’s ongoing, filthy and dishonest rant about Sondra Fluke, nor can we discuss the same issue in Congress when not a single woman is called to testify before a Darryl Issa (R-CA) controlled House committee.

We cannot have meaningful dialogue or even maintain our democracy when Fox and its extremist equivalents elsewhere perform their googly-eyed and hyperbolic demand that we constrict voting rights because of a baseless and fraudulent claim of voting rights abuse.

There is plenty of room to disagree with views and positions espoused by hosts on MSNBC; however, I have yet to hear anyone there spew lies.  And that’s the difference that applies to Mr. Godburn’s letter to the editor.

So, Mr. Godburn, don’t compare Fox News and its equivalents in the various media with anyone else.  They don’t even represent conservative views.  They simply lie.  And distort.  And obsess.  And manipulate.

Clearly, you think that Fox News and MSNBC are equivalents.  No, Mr. Godburn, they are not.

————————————————–

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.  Please help by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Another Shot In The Foot


The recent government shutdown over a stupid power play by right wing extremists, along with their threat to cause the United States to default on its debt, were more than just political theater and more even than a showdown episode.  It was an exercise in self-destruction.

Yes, it was destructive to the Republican Party.  On the other hand, the Republicans stopped being true conservatives at least 35 years ago and instead have focused on transferring wealth to the already rich from all the rest of us, ensuring our prisons are full of chronically voiceless people and starting unnecessary wars.  So, who really cares if the Republican Party is in self-immolation mode?  Just let them burn to the ground and perhaps some sane voices will emerge from the ashes.

The self-destruction you need to pay attention to is that of the United States of America.  We have threatened the entire world with financial catastrophe.  We have demonstrated repeatedly that our primary goal is national dysfunction.  We have marginalized the majority of Americans.  We have dramatically expanded the ranks of our poor.  We have declared that we don’t want to fund the education of our children.  And we do want to arrest and torture people without so much as charging them with a crime and then keep them imprisoned endlessly.  All of this stands in stark contrast to the values we say we believe in like truth, justice, democracy, fairness, opportunity and other worthwhile attributes.

Given that contrast, what do you suppose the people in the rest of the world think when they hear the happy words but see the not-so-happy deeds?  Surely, our mixed messages pull the rug from under their trust and confidence in us.  Don’t imagine that is a small thing.

Trust is the cornerstone of relationship and we are in continuous relationship with a global society.  For many decades the standard of world trade has been the American dollar.  It is the symbol of global influence enhanced not just by military might, but also by trust and confidence in our values and our dependability.  Once those things are gone, the money of some other country will step in and be the global standard and the United States will be a second tier country.

We are in a headlong rush to hand over world leadership to China, led with daring forcefulness by crazy Americans who tell the world that the United States cannot be trusted.  They do that by paralyzing our government and threatening creditors with our default and those exercises are scheduled for a replay in the middle of January.

For more on the American Brand and the crazy messages we give the world, review Bruce Terkel’s blog here.  Then comment below with your ideas about how to stop us from repeatedly shooting ourselves in the foot.


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

R2D2 And You


A few days after one of my Money, Politics and Democracy presentations, an attendee wrote to me, saying,

“After asking you a question at the DUUC presentation, I went home and began re-reading the Constitution, thinking that the Supreme Court decision re: Citizens United basically indicated that corporations were persons and therefore were entitled to freedom of speech.  I got as far as Article 1 Section 2 [paragraph 2]: ‘No person shall be a Representative .  .  .’ and thought, ‘No corporation could be elected a Representative,’ so how can those esteemed justices equate corporations with persons?  Surely, the Founding Fathers didn’t envision corporations as persons, so those strict constructionist justices violated their own philosophy and stretched the applicability of the amendment to make it possible to rule in favor of corporations.”

It seems an absurd stretch to extend all the rights of human beings to inanimate objects, in this case called “artificial persons” – that seems to be some kind of a legalistic term for corporations – but that is what the court did.

My view is that money is not speech, but instead, quite obviously, is property.  The view of the Supreme Court is that money is the equivalent of speech and, therefore, cannot be regulated.  While I don’t care for their interpretation, at least a  thin case can be made for that equivalency.  For example, it will cost me money to make a documentary based on my Money, Politics and Democracy presentation.  Given that my presentation is an exercise in free speech, the money spent to produce the documentary has some rough equivalency to free speech.  That is a stretch, but, as I said, at least a thin case can be made.

Not so much with rights for “artificial persons”.  In fact, I can make the case that a robot is an “artificial person”, but it is pretty difficult to envision extending all the rights and protections of citizenship to R2D2 or your Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.

It seems to me that a strict constructionist would see that, strictly speaking, only people are people and that only people are given rights and privileges by the Constitution, a document which makes no mention whatsoever of corporations or “artificial persons”.  Yet somehow we find ourselves with five justices of the Supreme Court who can’t tell the difference between people and robots.

Strangely, an amendment originally designed to protect the then-freed former slaves has now given way to protection of corporations just as though they were flesh and blood human beings.  It seems that for today’s Supreme Court, the 14th Amendment has been lengthened by an additional sentence, such that it now reads:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  All of the foregoing shall apply equally and without limit to any corporation or institution of any kind or any inanimate object.“ (text in bold italics mine – JA)

And if that is true, then the 1st Amendment protection of free speech applies equally to those same corporations, institutions and inanimate objects.  Just imagine how repugnant the post-Civil War congress of 1868 would find that.

And things may get worse.

In the McCutcheon v. FEC case now before the Supreme Court the plaintiff seeks to remove all limits to political contributions.  Should those five justices continue to fail to understand consequences and continue to be unable to make simple differentiations that are readily apparent to most of us, then our politicians and our government will go to the highest bidder and the sale of our American democracy will be complete.

————————————————

News Bulletin from AT News
Dateline: Washington DC

 
The Washington Redskins are changing their name because of all the hatred, violence, and hostility associated with that word.
From now on they will be known simply as the Redskins.


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

1 4 5 6 7 8  Scroll to top