integrity

An Open Letter To . . .


Reading time – 32 seconds  .  .  .

.  .  .  our lip-flapping, self-serving senators and representatives

Caution: Contains snark. Sensitive readers should man up.

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Let me say with all due respect and appropriate decorum that:

– Pretending that continuing to refuse to have relations with Cuba enhances American security is idiotic.

– Treating Cuba differently than we treat any other repressive regime has completely failed to influence Cuba to change any of its policies and hoping otherwise is folly. Get over it.

– Refusing to have diplomatic relations with any country (i.e. refusing to be in dialogue) ensures that nothing good will happen.

– Limiting Cuban cigar imports to what is smuggled into America and believing that will pummel the Castros into submission is brainless.

– Treating Cuba as though it is still a Soviet satellite state suggests you’ve had complete amnesia for the past 25 years.

– Continuing a policy that has so obviously and consistently failed will not cause things to get better. (Note to legislators: Slapping your forehead and exclaiming “Duh!” right now is appropriate.)

– Having a hissy fit over at last having a dialogue with Raul Castro is grandstanding, self-serving politics that abdicates your responsibilities to the American people.

Special note for Sen. Marco Rubio (R. – Moon): Your pretty face doesn’t imply any mental ability or even common sense. Grow up. Learn something before it’s too late.

End of open letter.

Action Alert to readers: When you hear anyone in Congress telling you that the sky is falling now that President Obama has had the courage to do what generations of presidents before him should have done, change the channel, turn the page or click the “Off” button immediately. Then pass this message along to those you love and respect as an act of compassion, because nobody should have to listen to that drivel.

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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. 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.

Poison Pills


Reading time 49 seconds  .  .  .  .

We the People paid for all the losses (and far more) from the big banks having gambled with government guaranteed funds and plunged us into a recession from which we may never fully recover. Of course, we are wanting to ensure that such a thing will never happen again, so naturally our legislators, those in the People’s House whom we elected to represent us, are out front leading the battle to protect against funding the banks’ gambling addiction, right? Any governmental protection for those banks from their gambling losses would be a legislative poison pill to our representatives because they represent you, right?

Wrong and wrong. The House of Representatives passed a budget bill that ensures that you foot the bill the next time Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, gambles and loses.

And don’t think that it’s just those corrupt, bought-by-big-business Republicans ensuring a banking free pass. 57 Democrats voted for that idiotic budget, too. That’s how deep Big Money reptilian fangs are embedded into the neck of your country.

The four biggest banks handle 90% of all derivative action, so this damnable banking amendment to the budget is not designed to protect the thousands of mom and pop banks in America. This amendment is solely for the benefit of those four hideously large special boys who are too big to fail and which we ensured with wimpy Dodd-Frank legislation will continue to be too big to fail.

Too many of our legislators are focused on their own short term self-interest and that is inextricably tied to the interests of Big Money. Unless you’re a member of that club, a majority of our legislators don’t hear a word you’re saying. And that should be a poison pill for 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. 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.

Super Glue for Broken Justice


Reading time – 52 seconds  .  .  .

I haven’t a clue what percentage of our police officers nationwide are solid citizens whose intent matches what is written on the sides of their cruisers: “To Serve and Protect.” My guess is that the number is very high. For simplicity, let’s call them good cops.

There are other cops who are racist, hateful bullies. I don’t know how many of those we have, but they have a big footprint in poor and minority neighborhoods and they do a lot of harm relative to their numbers. Let’s call them bad cops.

Cops are free to think and feel whatever they want, just like the rest of us, and if some have a bad attitude toward those they are supposed to protect, they get to have that and, really, we can’t legislate away racism or hatred anyway. On the other hand, we can legislate behavior. The trick is to do it so that we actually affect behavior so that cops are fair to all. Sadly, that just isn’t happening now.

Cops – even the bad ones – are necessary partners with prosecutors because they depend upon one another for prosecutions of accused perps. One implication of that dependance is that the prosecutors don’t want to get on the wrong side of the cops, not even the bad ones, because they need the cops’ cooperation in future cases. That just might lead to lax prosecution of cops accused of wrongdoing. Indeed, do you suppose that had something to do with the wimpy prosecutions presented to the grand juries in the Michael Brown and the Eric Garner cases?

If we’re to stop bad cops from harming our people, if we are to limit their behavior to what is acceptable, we must ensure that they are held accountable for their wrongdoing just as you and I would be. For that to happen, prosecutors need to be free to fire their big guns at bad cops. And for that to happen, we must remove cases against cops from the local prosecutors who depend upon those cops. How we go about that is a worthy dialogue. At the end of that discussion, though, we have to arrive at a system where prosecutions aren’t tainted by conflict of interest and cops receive the same justice all the rest of us should receive.

Once the bad cop perps are locked up they can hate as much as they like. They can hold their racist attitudes and want to bully others, although once in prison outcomes of bullying may vary from confrontations with unarmed kids. The good news is that then the rest of us will be free from their hate and their bullying.

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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. 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.

Ferguson Follow-Up 1


Reading time – 16 seconds  .  .  . 

Last Sunday I wrote about the dreadful job that was done by the attorney underlings of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, including their complete absence of any direction for the grand jury regarding criminal charges sought. That story got worse.

Take a look at this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show from December 2, 2014 entitled, Botched grand jury instructions call Ferguson ruling into question. This gives a clear picture of how tainted the county’s work was and provides a window into the grand jury’s baffling finding.

Which leaves me wondering about what happened in Staten Island, New York such that a majority of the 23 people seated as a grand jury couldn’t figure out that Eric Garner should not have been strangled to death by New York cops and that at least one of those cops should stand trial.

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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. 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.

Rodney, Treyvon, Michael Brown and Us


Reading time – 87 seconds  .  .  . 

After a high speed car chase, five LA cops took positions around Rodney King. Four of them beat the crap out of him while the fifth just watched and made no attempt to intercede. The four were charged in state court with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. They were acquitted. Two of them subsequently went to prison following their convictions in federal court for civil rights violations. Apparently, along with King, some civil rights were beaten up by those thugs. The other three cops got away with savagely beating a defenseless man.

Armed only with a package of Skittles and a soft drink, Treyvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman, who claimed he was “standing his ground.” That, it seems, is the thing to do after identifying someone as a bad guy through positive identification of his hoodie, then stalking him. Zimmerman got away with murder.

Now Officer Darren Wilson has managed to avoid even a trial following his killing of Michael Brown.

When St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision and delivered his ass covering statement, I flashed on a video that was released shortly after Brown was killed. It showed two construction workers who just happened to be working next to the killing zone. They are shown yelling at Officer Wilson, saying, “His f****** hands were up.” Another voice yells, “He was no f****** threat at all.” These guys were clearly aghast that the cop kept shooting at a submissive and wounded Brown. BTW, they are white guys. It seems some white guys in Missouri know the difference between right and wrong. I’m wondering if any St. Louis County officials do.

We know that the prosecutor presented both sides of the case, the prosecution and the defense, to the grand jury, something that is pretty much never done. The prosecutor’s job is to get an indictment and that’s always – except this time – done by presenting only the incriminating evidence. And after Officer Wilson gave his contradictory, inconsistent and self-serving testimony, the prosecutors didn’t even cross-examine him. That’s not the path to an indictment. What was McCulloch thinking?

We know that McCulloch’s prosecutors gave no recommendation to the jury as to how to charge Officer Wilson. That is odd to the point of being singular. The prosecutor always directs the grand jury to the criminal charge that is sought. McCulloch just let the members of the jury fumble through their ignorance of the law and try to figure out what to do. Now, why would McCulloch be so passive and even neglectful in his duties?

Here’s Human Being 101:

1. When we don’t have all the information, we make up stuff to fill in the blanks, because we just can’t stand not knowing. For example, when some guy cuts you off in traffic, even though all you know is that you were cut off, you instantly “know” the mental limitations of that idiot.

2. When we are anxious, afraid or angry, the stuff we make up is always negative. Trust me on this. When your kid is out past curfew and you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling, you’re not thinking about the good time your kid is having. You’re wondering if you should call the police or the hospital emergency room.

Applying that understanding to the behavior of the prosecuting attorney, we can and probably do make up all sorts of stuff to explain what happened. My noggin goes directly to asking who benefits from this kind of sloppy prosecutorial behavior, this by a fellow with a reputation for being a strong prosecutor and also for having a racially – let’s call it “flexible” – history. This is the same guy who, when implored to appoint a special prosecutor in the Brown case in order to avoid both the substance and the appearance of bias, refused. Really, now, who benefits from that and from the deeply crappy and one-of-a-kind unusual prosecution?

I know who doesn’t benefit and it’s us, including the next unarmed kid who gets gunned down by a cop or a cop wanna be.

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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. 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.

Mojo


Reading time – 51 seconds  .  .  .

This week President Obama declared an executive action that redirects our immigration people so that about 40% of our undocumented residents need no longer fear deportation. Families get to stay together. American children will no longer have to fear that they will come home from school to find that mom and dad are gone forever. Some of these people might even stop being exploited by nefarious employers.

The President telegraphed the importance of this issue starting when he was a state senator in Illinois. For years he has been telling Republicans in Congress that they must take action on immigration reform or that he will. He’s stated that promise repeatedly for over 500 days, ever since the Senate passed an immigration bill and sent it to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Obstruction) for consideration in the House. Boehner is still sitting on that bill, refusing to bring it to the floor of the House for a vote. And can you believe that guy – the President? He went and did what he said he would do. He signed an executive order reforming the parts of our broken immigration system on which he has the authority to take action.

And the Republicans had a brain inversion for 24 hours, claiming his action did everything from grant amnesty to criminals to infecting everyone in America with both Ebola and Benghazi fever. (That’s a Republican-crafted disease invented by Darryl Issa (R-Meanie) which causes complete issue amnesia, such that everything has to be investigated forever.) And within 24 hours the Republicans shut up, because President Obama has the high ground on immigration and the Republicans look like jerks. They set themselves up in the clown suit suspended over the tank of water and the President obliged them by pitching a perfect strike into the triggering mechanism.

This is what leadership looks like. It is about taking a stand on the right side of the tough issues. It is about doing what can be done and setting aside whining because things are hard or can’t be made to be perfect.

This is President Obama’s last rodeo. He’s off the bucking bronco in just over two years. Do you want to see him go out in a blaze of legacy-creating, lasting glory? Encourage him to continue to lead boldly. Let him know that you respect him most when he answers the call of his own mojo. That is what you hired him to do.

For more on the frequency of presidential executive orders, have a look at this chart. Hint: No president has issued fewer executive orders than President Obama since Grover Cleveland in the late 1800s.

For a discussion on whether President Obama’s executive order on immigration is legal, read this short article.

Thanks to SDA for the references.

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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. 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.

It’s All About Us


Reading time – 17 seconds  .  .  .

I was recently facilitating workshops at a leadership conference -The Trust Summit – and it was and is all about leadership and trust.

I worked with an advanced group of leaders to explore self-trust, relationship trust and organizational trust and I’m confident that it all begins and is driven by the individual. As Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, puts it, “If you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.”

This conference was conducted by the LGL Leadership team in conjunction with the National Council on Culture & Leadership and it’s as clear as can be that without trust there is no leadership and people hunker down into self-preservation mode and we’re all worse off. Combine that with the findings of the Pew and Gallup organizations that have found that 81 of 100 Americans don’t trust our government and it is easy to understand why we as a nation are mired in paralysis.

We have to trust ourselves and care enough to make change for the better.

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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. 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.

Our Greatest Hockey Game


IMG_2344Reading time – 59 seconds  .  .  .

The story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team is well known, both because of the 2004 movie Miracle and because if you were alive on February 22, 1980 you remember what happened, where you were and who was with you. It was one of those defining moments, like Pearl Harbor, the space shuttle Challenger disaster and 9/11. This, though, wasn’t a tragedy. And it wasn’t about a hockey game.

Coming into the Olympics the Soviet team had won 27 of its last 28 games. They had beaten the U.S. Olympic hockey team in an exhibition game just 3 days before the Olympics began by the bone crushing score of 10 – 3. They were simply the best.

And then the Olympics began in Lake Placid, NY and a bunch of American kids beat the greatest hockey team the world had ever seen. The pandemonium, euphoria and tears went on and on and even now those who remember find tears in their eyes and a lump in their throats just remembering.

That most unlikely of sporting event outcomes happened at a time that was particularly dark for Americans. Fifty-two of our countrymen were being held hostage in Iran. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and we were powerless to do anything about it. And we were doing an automotive conga line into gas stations to purchase 5 gallons when we could get it at all. We were a dispirited people.

And so it is today. We are feeling dispirited, distrusting and we are doubting ourselves. Our mistakes are gnawing at us and self-serving cynics with big egos and even bigger mouths are firing poison darts into our hearts every day. So many of us have simply dropped out in order to stop the pain and are hunkered down, now just going through the motions to sustain ourselves. How in the world will we get this train wreck back on track?

Wayne Coffey in his book The Boys of Winter offers his clarity about what those days in February, 1980 were really about. He writes,

“You watched them play and you were struck by the power of a simple, single thought: Hey, we really can still do it. In a time of malaise, they brought spunk and spirit.”

“It was to believe again in the nation’s capacity for greatness.”

”  .  .  .  you  came away feeling that greatness wasn’t a realm strictly for the superhuman, remote and unattainable, but rather something much closer, real and reachable, something within every one of us.”

Herb Brooks, the head coach of that team, has died and the team members have gone on with their lives, so they won’t come to rescue us from our funk. But, truly, we don’t need an Olympic hockey game because our ”  .  .  . capacity for greatness  .  .  .  is real and reachable, something within every one of us.”

The dream – the miracle – is alive if you say it is. Our greatest hockey game is still ahead 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. 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.

Crazy


Reading time – 67 seconds  .  .  . 

I’m nearly through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and have a noggin full of takeaways. Jobs was a mercurial fellow, obsessive about detail and adamant in his views to the point that compromise was virtually impossible for him. A more than substantial driver of that was his ability to envision a different world. “Think Different” was, in fact, the Apple slogan after Jobs returned to run the company in 1997. That, of course, is what Apple did and what it encouraged others to do. Think Different.

That didn’t and it doesn’t mean to think differently. It means to think and see that things can be different, that there are possibilities just awaiting your invention, your particular genius. it means that things don’t have to be as they are and that it is possible to create something that is not just evolutionarily better, but revolutionarily better. That kind of thing doesn’t happen if we are apathetic or give just enough of ourselves to get by. It requires our passion, our mindfulness and, more than anything, our belief that Different is possible.

Jobs recorded his own eulogy and it was from a promotional piece in 1997. As you read it, imagine that this might apply to you.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. They  push the human race forward.

“While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

I’m crazy enough to believe that I can change the world. One blog at a time. One presentation of Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want at a time. One conversation at a time. One vote at a time. One meeting at a time. One idea at a time. One spark at a time. One declaration that, “We won’t have it any more!” at a time. One look into my grand-children’s future at a time.

Are you that crazy? Are you nutty enough to believe and to see that things can be better, that we don’t have to “respect the status quo,” that we can shake the stuffing out of it and unmask it for the fraud that it is and make the quantum leap to the Different that is so much better and is just waiting for us?

The place to start is to believe.

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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. 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.

Backlash Quiz


Reading time – 127 seconds  .  .  .

Mohammed Mosaddegh was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. In 1953 he was deposed in a coup d’état orchestrated by British MI6 and the American CIA, along with foreign oil firms. They established Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as the absolute ruler of Iran. That was a handy thing for the Brits and the Americans, as it ensured an uninterrupted supply of cheap Iranian oil. On the other hand, the Iranian people did not like that very much.

The Shah turned out to be a brutal dictator. Not surprisingly, his people did not care for that either, and in 1979 he was shoved out of the country as part of the Iranian Revolution. To express their displeasure with America for forcing this monster on them, the Iranian Guard took 52 people from the American embassy and held them hostage for 444 days. Today the Iranians are making atomic bombs. Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

The west and most notably the United States has maintained an enormous footprint in the Middle-East for over one hundred years. For example, we have provided the assurance of control of Saudi Arabia by the House of Saud. That has kept American oil interests firmly established and has ensured – guess what? – an uninterrupted supply of cheap Saudi oil, often to the detriment of the local population. Come to think of it, Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. Hmmm. Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

In addition, over those decades the cultural imprint of the U.S. has been both enormous and anathema to the locals. Again not surprisingly, the locals haven’t liked that and that, in part, led to al Qaeda. Those people want their section of the world to themselves and have devised a strategy to get it back. Here is a part of their strategy:

  1. Provoke the United States and the West into invading a Muslim country by staging a massive attack or string of attacks on US soil that results in massive civilian casualties.
  2. Incite local resistance to occupying forces.
  3. Expand the conflict to neighboring countries, and engage the US and its allies in a long war of attrition.
  4. Convert al-Qaeda into an ideology and set of operating principles that can be loosely franchised in other countries without requiring direct command and control, and via these franchises incite attacks against the US and countries allied with the US until they withdraw from the conflict, as happened with the 2004 Madrid train bombings, but which did not have the same effect with the July 7, 2005 London bombings.
  5. The US economy will finally collapse by the year 2020 under the strain of multiple engagements in numerous places, making the worldwide economic system which is dependent on the U.S. also collapse leading to global political instability, which in turn leads to a global jihad led by al-Qaeda and a Wahhabi Caliphate will then be installed across the world following the collapse of the U.S. and the rest of the Western world countries.

Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

Which brings us to ISIS/ISIL. They are barbaric. They rape, torture and kill indiscriminately. They have beheaded two Americans and a Brit and we want revenge, our pound of flesh. While that may be a normal human reaction, think about the consequences of killing more Muslims. Those still living would not like that and, well, it’s funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

This post touches on just a few examples of predictable retribution for our long history in the Middle-East and of course there are more. The point is that when we do things that produce impoverishment, suffering and death for others, those remaining want to hit back, just like we want to hit back at ISIS/ISIL right now. If we do that, if we allow ourselves to be sucked into that rope-a-dope, we will be playing right into the strategy outlined by al Qaeda and ensuring the next atrocity that will be visited upon Americans.

If you always do what you’ve always done,

you’ll always get what you always got.

I understand muscular chest-thumping and I appreciate the desire for simple solutions to complex problems. But, really, we’ve seen this movie and we know how it never ends.

Pop Quiz

  1. Are we dumb enough to set ourselves up like that again?
  2. Exactly who will benefit if we stay at war in the Middle-East? Hint: Follow the money.
  3. Bonus question: The Soviet Union collapsed in large measure because they had to keep up with U.S. militarily expenditures and at the same time they bogged themselves down in a long term war in Afghanistan. In the process, they spent themselves into economic collapse. Is there anything in that for us to learn? If so, what is it?

You get 10 points for each correct answer and a perfect score gets you entered to win an all expense paid trip to the next Ground Zero.

Insert your answers below.

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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. 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.

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