Conservatism

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.

The Question Still Haunts Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

Who Should I Vote For?

Reading time – This guest essay is longer than typical Disambiguations & worth it. Grab a second cup o’ Joe and settle in for some thinking  .  .  .

Following a recent post about a Wall street guy who supports Bernie Sanders I received a private email from boyhood pal Frank Levy (boyhood nickname: Skip). That’s him in the pic. I don’t know how he got to look so old.  The Skip Levy I knew looked much younger.

He expressed some concerns about who can actually win a general election and that resulted in some back-and-forth across the email machine. The meat of his concerns were substantive and I asked for and received his approval to offer them to you in the guest essay that follows. The views expressed are his own and you just might find that some could be yours, too.

You should know in advance that Skip is an irritating blend of idealist and pragmatist, so be forewarned that if you possess an idealist’s purity of progressive ethic, your purity may be about to get tweaked by his pragmatism.

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Skip LevyJack – Here is my reply as to who to vote for.

in the primary, vote for who you feel best meets your sense of what America can and should be and who can beat ALL of the Republican candidates still standing at primary time. Then work for and vote for the Democratic Party nominee, whoever that may turn out to be.

One tactical concern about Bernie is that while he generates enthusiastic crowds and a reasonable small-donor base, I don’t think he will be able to generate enough black and brown supporters to win the national election. Right now Bernie’s support among non-white democrats/voters is slim to almost non-existent and he does not seem to be working to change the situation. Bernie and his supporters truly believe that his economic and climate change message will be heard and responded to by black and brown voters like it is by old white voters. So far that is simply not the case.

The black and brown voters I talk with want to hear a message from candidates that speaks directly to them and their specific concerns. They rightfully demand that Bernie or Hillary or Martin listen to them and respect and understand their needs and issues. They are not looking for a “translated” solution to white America’s problems. They want and deserve solutions to the injustices, intolerance, segregation, racism, joblessness, incarceration, lack of quality educational and educational opportunities, and to the violence they live with every day. I do think that Bernie and Martin are still tone deaf when it comes to the issues of non-white voters.

Just looking at the fundraising needed to run a 50 state national election campaign I think Bernie is in trouble. His supporters are mostly our old hippie friends – old, white, and middle-class – not big donor class. And while I long for the day when small donors are the financial engine that drives elections, the ugly reality is that today candidates need major donor-class donors to win elections. That is where Hillary is being pragmatic. She is building an Obama-like donor base of small donors AND taking large donations from big donors while calling for the end of Citizens United. That is not hypocritical; it is pragmatic. You cannot change things unless you get elected.

I am also not convinced that the young people who attend Bernie’s rallies will work for his election or come out on election day. I see a lot of rallies that are well attended but I do not see a lot of ground campaign infrastructure being built in 50 states. I think he is counting on the “revolution” taking hold and providing the motivation and financial support to win. History reminder: revolutionaries have a tendency to be passionate, motivated, poor and not particularly good at recruiting people to the cause, raising money or governing. Unfortunately, ISIS may be the exception to that rule. Revolutions typically take a long time to build and even given all the anger and frustration we all feel, I am not sure we are there just yet.

I am very worried about the 14% or so of Democrats who say they will sit out the election (in essence giving a vote to the Republican candidate) rather than vote for Hillary (bold mine – Ed.), as if she were some evil spawn of the devil. No party has ever nominated a perfect, pure and totally honest candidate.

I do not understand this cloud in the air that makes people say they do not trust Hillary. Hillary is what she has always been – a political animal. She is a pragmatic, driven, type-A, a calculating, intelligent, woman who has more times than not taken the right side of the issues that are important to progressives. As a senator and Secretary of State she got things done, which requires knowing how to work with the opposition party. Personally, I am not interested in a president who, by his or her very nature is such an idealist that they cannot grasp a win when it presents itself just because it is not a perfect win.

It makes a difference, a big difference, who is the White House. All three Democratic candidates are significantly better for the country than any of the Republican candidates. If we fail to work for and vote for the Democratic nominee we will assure the next SCOTUS nominations (as many as four of them) are conservative Republican judges.

I am not willing to see SCOTUS become a conservative Republican court that will never rule in favor of a woman’s right to choose, that will never rule against voter suppression, that will never rule in favor of LGBT rights, that will never rule in favor of religious tolerance, that will never rule in favor of the 1st Amendment or against Citizens United, for sensible guns laws or for equal pay for equal work, or in favor of the best interests of the American people over the gun lobby and the money and corporate class.

So, back to your original question. If you think Bernie or Hillary or Martin can beat ALL of the Republican candidates still standing at primary time, then vote for the candidate who best represents you and your ideals. If, on the other hand, there is only one candidate who appears to be able to beat ALL of the Republican crazies, then vote for that person because we cannot afford a Republican president. Then go out and work for, donate to and vote for the Democratic Party candidates (local, state, and national) on November 1, 2016 and in 2018.

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That is the end of Skip’s comments.

If we sit on our idealism and fail to vote, it will be especially dangerous when in 2017 Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is sending his “privatize Social Security” bill to the President for his signature and the president is a Republican because we – let me say this delicately – sat on our self-righteous, idealist asses and didn’t vote. And when the lawsuit is brought to challenge that law, it will wind up in front of a Supreme Court that is no longer 5-4 conservative; it may be 7-2 and stay that way for a really long time. So, we may have to hold our idealistic noses and vote for the best flawed candidate in the race.

Go ahead. Write your response below. I know you have one.

And Skip, thanks for continuing to care about America and to work to make it better for all of us.

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P.S. From the email signature of a colleague: “Be a good ancestor.” I just might adopt that for these Disambiguations. Be a good ancestor, indeed.

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

Imagine

apollo11Reading time – 2 minutes 31 seconds  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Advice From Marvin

Marvin GayeReading time – 26 seconds  .  .  .

This is amazingly good. The current Quinnipiac Poll shows that only 28% of Americans approve the Iran nuclear deal, while 57% oppose it. That means that 85% of Americans have read the 159 page, very technical document and have considered its provisions and the likely consequences. They have conversed with people of both similar and differing views and formed their well thought out opinions on this issue of critical importance to our country. Hooray for our well-informed and involved public!

What’s that you say? You didn’t read the agreement? And you don’t so much as know of anyone who did? And neither does anyone else? If that’s true, how come 85% of us have such clear, firm views about it?

The answer, of course, is simple: We’ve been fed a fire hydrant flow of misinformation by political blatherers who created their opposition long before they knew a thing about the provisions of the agreement.They have formed organizations with fear stoking names, like Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran and American Security Initiative in order to bend your brain to their liking, which is to dislike with mindless consistency everything proposed by this administration. Once again we are being fed Big Lie propaganda designed for the benefit of a few rich guys and with no concern for the welfare of the country.

Marvin Gaye gave us some good advice for this situation in his song Heard It Through The Grapevine:

“People say believe half of what you see,

some or none of what you hear.”

When you’re listening to political mouthpieces, I recommend following Marvin’s direction.

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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.

Education

Iran DealReading time – 53 seconds  .  .  .

Robert Dold (R-IL) represents the 10th congressional district of Illinois and it is quite obvious that he not only took a speed reading course, but he may have invented a hyper-eyeball version of it. I say that because he delivered a blistering rejection of the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a 159-page document, on the floor of the House of Representatives mere minutes after it was released. As you know from reading this column, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) verbally blasted the agreement on Morning Joe on MSNBC immediately after it was announced. How do these guys absorb so much complex material instantaneously?

Of course, the answer is that they don’t. What they do is to prepare in advance carefully worded, vacuous attacks for the purpose of their own self-interest and especially in order to ensure the goal named by the 15 Republicans who met the night President Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 – that he would be a one-term president. Oh, wait – that didn’t turn out too well for them. Regardless, the tactic of opposing anything President Obama supports, the strategy decided by the 15, is still in play, the needs and best interests of America be damned.

The point is that a lot of Rs are slinging partisan red meat into the cages of their “base.” I love that term, as though it forms some kind of foundation. Its true identity is a bunch of knuckle-dragging angry guys who believed Ronald Reagan when he told them that government is the cause of the problems in their lives and who fondly remember good old days which actually never happened.

Don’t bother yourself with the noise of the hyperbolic rhetoric of bloviating politicians. Instead, listen to this podcast from the Wilson Center and consider what a group of well-informed and thoughtful people have to say about the Iran deal. If you’re feeling ambitious, read the deal yourself and make up your own mind. Free yourself from Washington bumper sticker talking points and doomsday idiocy crafted for election season.

This is all about your own education about one of the most important international agreements of the past 50 years, one destined to have critical long term impact for the United States and the world.

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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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