leadership

We Need a Fix

Reading time – 5:15; Viewing time – 10:46  .  .  .

We’re politically polarized to an extreme not seen since the Civil War. We’re in debt to a level that most people cannot even comprehend and we have no plan to make things better. We have the highest cost of medical care in the world and only fair results compared to other industrialized countries. Congress is perpetually locked in a battle for stagnation and our infrastructure is crumbling. We wring hands over the hard-boiling of our planet and steadfastly not only refuse to make things better, we actually do things that make things worse. We honor our military people but continue to get them killed for dishonest reasons in perpetual wars. And we are angry all the time.

I’m a card-carrying member of the Baby Boomers, lodged in the leading edge of that group. I grew up in the late 1940s and 1950s, which was itself a rather odd time. We had won the war and America had the only fully functioning industrial economy in the world. Being number one was a pretty easy thing to do and we dominated the world economy and expanded our belief in American exceptionalism as the natural order of things.

We were steeped in the culture of stability, of conformity and of reverence for authority – after all, that had worked. Then Elvis wore his hair long and wiggled his hips and the Greatest Generation didn’t like that. The electric guitar put an end to big bands and music changed to something that was called everything but music by anyone who was part of the establishment and that rocked the boat even more. And we sent our military people to Vietnam and suddenly everything changed.

We were raised with the expectation that all men had an obligation to serve at least two years in the military, but the military was being sent to do something that was simply unacceptable to those who would be drafted. It was a war we were lied into (ref: the phony Gulf of Tonkin attack), a war that was never declared by a cowardly Congress and a war that eventually cost the lives of over 58,000 American men and women before we left that country.

Even larger were the lies President Johnson told us. We were told by the press that he had a “credibility gap.” That was polite speak for saying that he lied. We’re only now getting to the point where the press is willing to name it directly when a president lies – odd that it took so long. But lie he did.

So did Richard Nixon, who told us he had a secret plan to end the war, but instead was driven to continue it because, in his words, he refused to be, “the first American President to lose a war.” The plain translation of that is that his reputation as a winning war president was more important to him than the lives of the 28,000 military personnel who died while he was in office and continuing that war.

And, of course, there was Watergate. Yes, our president really was a crook, and our sense of trust ratcheted down even further.

Gerald Ford should have been a calm respite from the torrent of deceit coming from Washington, but then he pardoned Nixon for crimes he committed or might have committed. So not only did Nixon betray our trust, but the next guy in the Oval Office ensured that he got away with it. What happened to the notion of penalties for doing wrong? We couldn’t even trust those who were sent to restore our trust.

Jimmy Carter may be best known for having been the leader who couldn’t lead our 52 citizen hostages out of Iran. We trust our leaders to keep us safe, but he was unable to find a way to do that.

Ronald Reagan brought us the glamour of a Hollywood actor, with all the performance chops that implies. He told us it was morning in America and that this country was the shining city on the hill. He promised smaller government and then he tripled the size of our debt.

And he was in charge of the masterly deceitful Iran-Contra affair, which broke multiple laws. And he got away with it. His operatives barely got a slap on the wrist. How could we trust our justice system after that?

George H. W .Bush told us over and over, “Read my lips: No new taxes.” Then the burden of his and Reagan’s spending caught up with him and he had to raise taxes. Who can you believe?

Then the Clinton era began, bringing with it things we simply had not seen before. Even before Clinton first sat down in the Oval Office the Republicans started smearing him with immorality-laced charges. Ken Starr spent millions of dollars looking for Clintonian malfeasance and couldn’t find a single example. But that didn’t stop the accusers in Congress, who continue that drumbeat to this day.

Once Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House he managed to stop Congress and the government from functioning at all. He was trying to strong-arm Clinton, but instead strong-armed the country. That was before Gingrich was found to have illegally used a tax-exempt organization for political purposes and provided false information to the House Ethics Committee. He was forced to resign. So much for trust in Congress.

And, of course, Bill Clinton assured us that he, “didn’t have sex with that woman – Ms. Lewinsky.” But he did, regardless of what the meaning of “is” is.

Then we got George W. Bush. He refused to listen to the experts and 9/11 happened. His spin-meisters then spent the next seven years telling us how Bush had kept America safe. Go to the 9/11 Memorial in New York and repeat that phrase as you walk around the reflecting pools and read the engraved names of the 2,996 people who died there on that day when Bush was keeping America safe.

Bush lied us into two wars that continue in one form or another and have destabilized an entire region of the world, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing millions more and with no end in sight. He was all about deregulation and lower taxes (especially for those already wealthy). The wars were put on the national credit card, making this the first time our country went to war and refused to pay for it, leaving us with trillions of dollars of debt, an amount that continues to grow.

And Bush presided over the largest crash of our economy since 1929. Presidents are supposed to have the best experts advising them about what to do to avoid catastrophe, but Bush utterly failed to protect America or Americans. At the end of his presidency over 700,000 Americans were losing their jobs every month.

The banking industry had managed to make itself doomed to collapse thanks to brainless deregulation and in the process harmed a lot of people, including the thousands of Americans whose home mortgages were foreclosed, many illegally. The entire banking industry showed itself to be untrustworthy.

The entire mess – the loss of employment for millions of Americans, the foreclosures, the banking collapse Bush poured money into and his two wars – fell into Barack Obama’s lap.

We needed a national stimulus to get the economy going, but the Republicans had dedicated themselves to making job one, “Making sure that Barack Obama is a one-term president.” That is to say, America and Americans came second.

So, the stimulus was half the size it needed to be and Republicans made sure that one-third of the money wound up in the pockets of wealthy people rather than stimulating the economy. Then they blamed Obama for a stimulus plan that failed.

In fact, they blamed Obama for everything. They opposed bills that they themselves had offered prior to Obama taking office, once Obama supported them. They opposed a healthcare plan that the very conservative Heritage Foundation and Republicans had been proposing for decades. All of the blaming and demonizing put yet more stress on Americans’ trust in our institutions, trust which was further eroded by yet another Congressionally led governmental shutdown, this time over whether we would pay our debts. How could anyone trust when we threaten to default?

The Supreme Court is supposed to be the arbiter of disputes and laws and keep us in line with the Constitution, but in 2010 Chief Justice John Roberts contorted the Citizens United case into something that was not in contest and produced the legalization of big money influence of our elections and our government. With that, all three branches of government were plainly untrustworthy.

Now we have a president who makes baseless attacks on the press, calling them the most dishonest people in the world, so now trust in the press is in question.

The list of examples of trust killing events could be many times the length of this list, but the point is that we have repeatedly been lied to, undermined, betrayed, robbed, our rights have been stolen and our needs ignored, our standard of living is dropping, the rich get richer and the number of our poor expands. And that is why:

  • Everyone knows the system is rigged
  • Over 40% of our citizens don’t bother to vote
  • We’re a nation of apathetic, disinterested citizens
  • We’re a nation of angry people
  • We are politically polarized and haven’t a clue how to have a conversation with one another

Our toxic symptoms have come about through our decades-long decline in trust in our institutions and that loss of trust is because of the untrustworthy things our leaders have done. Failing to fix that will be catastrophic for all of us. The challenge before us right now is to figure out how to do that and then get to work.

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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: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Herbie

Reading time – 1:47; Viewing time – 3:45  .  .  .

NOTE: WordPress is the utility I use to craft and offer these posts and it has gone mad. It is misbehaving in strange and limiting ways, which accounts for why this post is late, why there isn’t much in the way of pics in this offering, as well as why there may be typos, irregularities and writing that looks like something from my iPhone, whicno-place-forh often prints whatever comes into its silicon brain.

We were proud and humbled to participate in the Women’s March in Chicago on January 21, along with 250,000 others locally (they had been expecting just 20,000) and 3,500,000 people around the world. It’s curious that so many non-Americans were so interested – invested, really – that they would give up a day to demonstrate over what is happening here.

yes-we-canThere are reasons why so many demonstrated, so get this: We must stand up and be counted. Then we must do it again. And again and again. We must make our voices heard. Our elected officials must feel the hot breath of our collective voices so that they ignore us at the peril of loss of their jobs.

Get this, too: This (the marches) is what democracy looks like when people see tyranny on the way. Look for more pictures of the Chicago march as soon as WordPress fully comes to its senses.

On to today’s (Sunday’s, really) opinion piece.

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the-goalIn Eliyahu Goldratt’s book The Goal the author depicts a troop of Boy Scouts on a long march. One of the boys – Herbie – is overweight and soon has to slow down, unable to keep up with the rest of the boys. Given that the boys must stay together, the entire troop can march no faster than the speed which Herbie can maintain. That is to say, Herbie is the primary constraint for the troop of Boy Scouts that precludes completing their march and going for a swim sooner.

Thus, Goldratt introduces the Theory of Constraints. It’s a most useful scientific approach to problem solving, finding root causes and optimum solutions, strategic planning and more based upon identifying and dealing with the lowest performing factor. And, entertainingly, analysis and planning can be done with a pen, a pad of sticky notes and a wall.

I participated in a two week course to learn to do this kind of analysis along with a half-dozen colleagues several years ago and came away with an elegant plan for my business and several profound revelations, one of which is that I’m more of a big picture guy and not so much a detail guy. That was both useful and painful to realize. Nevertheless, I learned that whatever the endeavor, there is always a Herbie, a constraint that prohibits further improvement and it is the pinch point that must be dealt with first if things are to get better.

That leads me to wonder what our national Herbie is right now. You may be tempted to say it’s Donald Trump, but that might be both of little value and factually incorrect, because something put Donald Trump into the White House. Something created the political polarization in which we live and something created the problems we refuse to deal with. It is the key challenge to us in moving forward.

If you agree that we are well short of where we could and should be, I offer this question to you: What is our national Herbie? What is the key constraint that prevents us from having a healthy democracy? Give this some thought and pen your ideas in the Comments section 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.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

 

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Most People

Reading time – 1:29 seconds; Viewing time – 2:31  .  .  .

womens-march

See indented paragraph below for instructions.

“Most people prefer a problem they can’t solve to a solution they don’t like.”

So says Dr. Lee Thayer, an expert in the fields of leadership and communication. He has much to teach those who would lead, especially those who would consciously lead their own lives. That necessarily translates to leading organizations and even countries. The point here is about how we lead our lives in the face of what appears to be very dangerous.

The radical right has pursued an extremist agenda for decades and it has infiltrated all aspects of American life. It has its claws in education, in radio and television, in energy, in the halls of Congress, and now a radical has assembled a vigilante group of moneyed extremists to run the executive branch of government. It’s enough to spin any centrist in circles. Worse, it makes solutions look overwhelming and unattractive enough to freeze people into inertia.

So, the first step is decide to move.

It’s hard for anyone to leave the ease and familiarity of our comfort zones to confront those who would oppress. It’s far easier to give in to believing that the problem cannot be solved than to take action on the solution we don’t like because of the very hard work that will be required.

And yet that is what we must do. We do not have the luxury of simply sitting on the sofa and complaining about what is so very wrong and cannot be fixed. We cannot just hurl curses at what we imagine we are powerless to change, because the consequences of only hurling those curses may be catastrophic. If we squint our eyes we will see that the solutions really are preferable to believing this is a problem we can’t solve. Start with this.

Go to www.WomensMarch.com, click on the “The March” tab at the top, then “Sister Marches” in the dropdown to find a march in your city – there are marches all over the country. Then bring 5 people with you to the march on January 21.

You don’t have to be a woman to attend. All that’s required is to have had a mother – that includes most of us. This is about everybody’s rights.

It isn’t enough to simply believe. You have to stand up. Because this isn’t a problem you can’t solve. The solution is to stand up for what you believe in. Prefer that!

I’ll be looking for you at The March on the 21st.

Doubts? Read this.

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

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Question

Reading time – 1:56; Viewing time – 3:48  .  .  .

amer-united-1-10-17

No email link is available, so copy/paste [email protected] into an email and say you’ll be there.

I’ve been in dialogue with a small group of smart people, many of whom read and contribute to this series. They have offered great clarity and insight and have pushed me to refine what I now see as the key question of our time. The question I pose is in service of something much larger and which requires naming in order for the question to make full sense. It is about our acute political polarization and how we can bring people together so that we have the muscle to demand the change – the democracy – our country needs.

Over most of the decades of my adult life I have seen what looks to me to be an incremental loss of democracy in America, with the people losing power and an elite few gaining it. Most Americans are centrists, but most of our elected officials are either partisan zealots or they cower before the zealots, resulting in governmental outcomes we the people don’t want and helping to polarize our citizenry. For example, 80% of Americans want universal background checks on sales of firearms and a ban on assault weapons, but the legislative extremists and the powerful, well funded lobbying groups ensure that there is never even a vote on the issue. There are many other examples of how we the people (as in democracy = “rule by the people”) are not getting what we want, all of which is to say that democracy has been sorely compromised.

What requires naming for The Question to make full sense is that we must save our democracy. Perhaps you prefer “restore” our democracy. Either way, just stopping the thieves is insufficient.

So, my question is:

How can we politically polarized Americans find a way to talk with one another, not scream past one another, and come together in the common cause of democracy?

Just asking the question unmasks me as the 60s idealist I remain, but I believe that it is the question we must answer in order to change our course. I went out on a limb with my article ringing the alarm of fascism staring us in the face and I expect substantial push-back. So, too, did those ringing the alarm in Mussolini’s Italy, in Hitler’s Germany, in Stalin’s Russia and in Pol Pot’s Cambodia (yes, I know those last two were communists – the same democracy robbing principles hold) and many other places where authoritarians ruled. The danger usually isn’t obvious when change is made incrementally, but now you need only look at the cabinet and advisor picks of our President Elect, match that with his extremist promises, flagrant lies, pathological need to be powerful, his thin skin and cruelty, his obvious contempt for our laws and the Constitution and you should be able to see the fascist freight train at the other end of the tunnel barreling down on us.

It is possible that you don’t and won’t share my view of the dire future we face if we sit back and let others make our decisions for us. That’s okay, because you likely share my view that we have lost key elements of democracy and that we have to re-secure them or we will lose all.

Abraham Lincoln said it best: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We must stand together – righties, centrists and lefties –  if we are to restore our democracy.

So, back to my question:

How can we politically polarized Americans find a way to talk with one another, not scream past one another, and come together in the common cause of democracy?

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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: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Danger – There’s Bad Stuff Coming

New York Times, April 9, 1944

New York Times, April 9, 1944. Click the graphic to download the full article as it appeared.

Reading time – 2:55; Viewing time – 5:35  .  .  .

We need a good and optimistic start for the new year. That message is for next week. Let’s first establish in a blinding flash of the obvious and in a compelling way why we need that good and optimistic start.

You don’t need a pundit, a pol or a blogger to tell you that American institutions are at risk and look shaky. There is bad stuff staring us in the face in so many venues and there is a chance you’ve wondered how bad it can get. The answer is, very bad. Here are some examples.

Under the ultra-thin, see-through veil of ensuring decorum, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House and beloved Republican brainiac, the proposer of changes to Medicare and Social Security that he says don’t privatize those programs, except they really do, has proposed banning live streaming and photos from the floor of the House. This comes as a knee-jerk reaction to Republicans having been sucker punched by Democrats who demanded an up or down vote on universal registration of sales of firearms. Ryan ignored them and they responded witih a sit-in. Ryan tried to quash the event by closing the House session, which turned off the CSPAN cameras, but smart phone live streaming foiled his attempt at abridging free speech. Now Ryan and Republican hissy-fitters want to further restrict speech by fining Democrats and perhaps telling their mommies on them. Start thinking about abridgement of rights and be clear that practice will extend to your rights.

President Elect Trump notoriously retweeted hate group tweets and offered mealy mouthed responses to calls that he repudiate hate groups. During his campaign rallies he repeatedly called for protesters to be beaten up and demeaned them as though they were sub-human. He continues to refuse to repudiate hate groups and has brought Steve Bannon, alt-right hater of all things not white and anyone not worshiping male dominance, to be his chief strategist. Oh, and he wants to deport 11 million Hispanics and register Muslims. Start thinking discrimination and scapegoating.

Trump has hired lunatic fringe Mike Flynn to be his National Security Advisor. This is the same Mike Flynn who retweets phony stories and conspiracy crap, one example of which motivated North Carolina resident Edgar Welch to drive from his home to DC to invade a pizza parlor, believing he was rescuing sexually abused children from the basement. He believed that because Mike Flynn brainlessly retweeted the bogus story. The good news is that the bullets Welch fired into the floor of the pizza restaurant didn’t hurt anyone. The bad news is that Mike Flynn, the fool who didn’t have the sense not to retweet this blatantly false story, is and will be advising the new president on when and where to use America’s military might, including nuclear weapons. Start thinking about military adventurism giving rise to horrific catastrophes.

There are many more examples of the democracy killing efforts underfoot, including Trump’s ridiculing and criticizing of the press so that you won’t find credence in reports from investigative journalists who report on Trumpian malfeasance.

To bring this to a focus, let’s check in with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice-President, Henry Wallace. He knew something about the harm that authoritarian regimes do to democracy and the world and has agreed to speak to you from his day and explain this fully and clearly. Click here to download a PDF copy of his comments as originally published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944. Click here to download a highlighted, easier to read version. Read it, especially the highlighted parts and you just may see a parallel between then and now and you’ll begin to realize just how bad the bad stuff we’re facing really is.

No one knows who said it first, but it’s often attributed to Sinclair Lewis:

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

appoint-merrick-garland

Click me and sign the petition – because you can fight fascism right now.

Fascism? In America? Do the reading. Do an online search of fascism in America. The alarm rang a while ago, the snooze button is broken from our banging on it, hoping the alarm would go away and we all have to wake up.

I’ve heard it said and am beginning to believe that we are one or two ISIS-related terrorist attacks in America away from Mr. Extremist, everything in the false language of unearned greatness President Trump declaring martial law and suspending civil liberties. Just look at those he surrounds himself with, consider his absolutist, power-grabbing, self-congratulating nature, factor in his pathologically thin skin and the retaliatory abuse he heaps on innocent people. This just doesn’t look good for our nation.

If you had already caught a glimpse of this you likely have wondered what can be done and who will stand up to the bullies. Start with this: It’s up to us.

In addition, both some help and some hope are on the way and will be in the next post. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, it’s your turn now – in the Comments section 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.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Eye Opening

Reading time – 3:13; Viewing time – 5:30  .  .  .

I’m still trying to figure this out and I think I’m making progress. Reality keeps telling me that I better hurry it up.

Why did people vote for Donald Trump even when he promised to do things that would harm them?

It’s easy to dismiss such people as ignorant or stupid. It’s also both factually inaccurate and counterproductive. First, nobody wakes up on election day and decides to do something harmful to themselves. We all act in what we perceive to be our best interests and feel we have good, sensible reasons to back that up. Second, if you want to encourage someone to see things in a different way, starting with, “You’re stupid,” probably won’t be useful, so a different approach is called for. In very short order that is going to become critically important. Stay with me to see why.

Sarah Kliff wrote a most interesting article in Vox entitled Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Trump. The sub-head is “In Whitley County, Kentucky, the uninsured rate declined 60 percent under Obamacare. So why did 82 percent of voters there support Donald Trump?” Good question.

The short answer comes from a woman living in the area who signed up thousands of people for Obamacare and then voted for Trump. Interviewed by Kliff, she said, “I found with Trump, he says a lot of stuff. I just think all politicians promise you everything and then we’ll see. It’s like when you get married — ‘Oh, honey, I won’t do this, oh, honey, I won’t do that.’” Kliff later reports, “I kept hearing informed voters, who had watched the election closely, say they did hear the promise of repeal [of Obamacare] but simply felt Trump couldn’t repeal a law that had done so much good for them. In fact, some of the people I talked to hope that one of the more divisive pieces of the law — Medicaid expansion — might become even more robust, offering more of the working poor a chance at the same coverage the very poor receive.”

In other words, they heard Trump’s message that he would repeal Obamacare and simply didn’t believe it. Here’s another example.

Watch the “Bernie Sanders in Trump Country” discussion that was aired on Chris Hayes’ program on MSNBC on December 12 and pay special attention to the panel members. They consistently expressed the same views as Kliff’s interviewees in Kentucky. They just figured that Trump was saying what he needed to say to get elected and, once elected, would do whatever these people viewed as the right thing, even when the right thing was in conflict with what Trump said he would do.

Before you slip into smug mode, wondering what kind of fools these people might be, consider what you expected from Barack Obama in 2008. There’s a good chance that you imagined that he would consistently do the right thing. Later it’s possible you were disappointed in him for failing your right thing test.

There’s a psychological term for hearing what we want to hear and dismissing as insignificant what we don’t want to hear. It’s called confirmation bias and we are all subject to our own version of self-delusion powered by that bias.

Here’s the bottom line to this: Be slow to ridicule Trump voters as stupid or ignorant or racist (yes, clearly some of the really loud ones are that). All that most of them were doing in this past election was being human. And they will respond to you a lot better when they realize that you respect them. In fact, that may be the key both to understanding what happened in this election and, more important, the key to a better future for you and our democracy.

Millions of voters have buyer’s remorse right now because they really voted against establishment Hillary, not for Trump. And they got Trump and now they are horrified. It’s time to respectfully invite them to join you and others to do something to stop the extremist agenda of the oligarchs and generals who are about to take the reins of power.

Not convinced that’s happening? Go here and here and click through the links there to learn what this open season of American hatred looks like. And as you do that, recognize that this brutality is sanctioned from the top. Protections you take for granted are on the edge of being eliminated by Presidential cabinet appointments, people who are dedicated to eliminating the agencies they will lead, the ones that now provide those protections you take for granted.

There is extreme danger on the very near horizon and we better make our voices heard. And we better reach the millions of Americans who voted for Trump and are now horrified so that they make their voices heard along with ours.

On a livestream on the 19th there was a critical clarity that was offered: Love doesn’t trump hate; Organizing trumps hate. As I have written repeatedly, if things are to change for the better, we’ll actually have to do something.

So, now that you see the looming danger and understand Trump voters a little better, get up, get involved and get organized – while we still can.

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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: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

EMERGENCY FLASH MESSAGE

This is not about what Trump might do the the departments of energy, EPA, Social Security or Medicare. This is about our national security.

The Founders created the Electoral College for several reasons, but the most important was to ensure there would never be any interference by a foreign agent, government or institution that might compromise our republic. Here’s a link to what Alexander Hamilton had to say about this in Federalist 68. It’s short, clear and exceptionally compelling. Read it.

Alexandra Chalupa was a consultant to the DNC looking specifically into Donald Trump’s connections with Putin’s Russia and has written a clear and riveting analysis of this situation, concluding with this:

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. Trump won the electoral vote by less than 80,000 votes combined in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where Republicans went to great lengths to block recount efforts. Based on the facts, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia influenced the 2016 U.S. election which helped Trump win the White House. Trump’s consistent refusal to admit Russia’s involvement, especially given his access to highly classified information, demonstrates he is either unreasonable and possibly of unsound mind or he is aiding and abetting Putin. This is a national security issue that the Electoral College must take seriously when casting their votes on Monday. In the meantime, it is imperative that a thorough investigation is conducted as to the extent of Russia’s operation, and that this information pertaining it be released to the public.

The net of this is that you MUST contact the Electors and urge them not to vote for Trump. 20 GOP electors have already indicated that they will not (watch this video and listen to what one elector has to say) – we need 17 more. Here’s how to make that happen.

Bruce Mainzer has compiled all you have to know/do into the text below. I’ve pasted his work below. Just follow the bouncing ball and you will have done your part – except for this last piece.

Forward this post to everyone you know and urge them to take action RIGHT NOW. Our national security and our safety in the world may hang in the balance. Don’t put it off until later when everyday activities might distract you. Do this now.


As promised here is information about the Electoral College. Please email this to everyone tonight as Monday Dec. 19th is fast approaching for the date of the Electoral College vote. As I mentioned in the meeting, Laurence Lessig, Harvard Professor of Constitutional law, is reporting that 20 GOP Electors have already told him in confidence that they will not be voting for Trump. It takes only 17 more GOP Electors to defect, and Trump does not get the 272 Electoral College votes necessary for being President Elect. Everyone should therefore be writing the electors, and they can use the information on this email. What looked like a long shot last week is now a distinct possibility.

First, here is my email to Electors, but everyone should feel free to write their own version. My letter focuses on the possibility that Donald Trump will not act in the interest of the United States foreign policy, which Alexander Hamilton stated was one of the conditions that the Electoral College would be justified in not voting for a candidate. Hamilton also was concerned with a demagogue being nominated, so that is another reason that someone can state their objection to a candidate.

Dear Elector,

My name is _________ from CITY NAME, STATE.

It is becoming quite apparent that Donald Trump is in collusion with President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation to hijack the foreign policy of the United States and enrich himself and others. One need not investigate the election tampering issue, but instead view the plethora of statements and actions taken by the candidate. These actions have included selection of an NSA director Michael Flynn with known ties to Russia (paid consultant to the Russia Tonight news cable network) and selection of ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, who violated existing U.S. policy to meet and conduct business with Vladimir Putin over the past few years. Carter Paige, former campaign aide, met with Russian financial interests and reportedly promised lifting of sanctions in Moscow last summer. Paul Manafort, former campaign manager, was a paid consultant for Putin ally and deposed Ukrainian  leader, and now Mr. Manafort is reportedly is still serving as an unofficial adviser to the transition team of the President Elect. Trump positions on sanctions and relationships with NATO and protection of the Balkan states from Russian aggression are at direct odds with 40 years of current U.S. foreign policy.

Because Mr. Trump has not released any financial information or tax returns, we are left to speculate as to the motivations of this President Elect. For many years, Mr. Trump had received financing from Russian oligarchs when credit was unavailable to him in the US. In addition, Trump has sold quite a bit of luxury real estate to Russian individuals in Panama, Florida and other locations. Reports of debt that Mr. Trump has to individuals or institutions in Russia have been estimated at approximately $500 million.

We do know the motivations of Vladimir Putin. While there is evidence that Putin did not believe that Trump would be elected despite the Russian interference in the campaign, now that he has been elected, there is a definite attempt to achieve a number of goals with this incoming President. Lifting of the sanctions will allow Russia to finally execute its stalled deal with ExxonMobile to drill in the arctic. Revenues from this almost $7 trillion dollar oil reserves (15% of the known reserves in the world), will do much to rescue the Russian economy. It has been estimated that these oil reserves will represent 2/3rds of all exports of Russia. ExxonMobile also stands to make billions of dollars from this one deal, and obviously enrich the current CEO and nominated Secretary of State. This new Russia US rapprochement already has had disastrous consequences for innocents across the globe as Russia’s latest inhumane attacks in Aleppo Syria were undertaken a day after a congratulatory phone call between Putin and the President Elect. Russia has been accused of similar election interference in the Ukraine and Sweden. Currently, there is speculation that election tampering by Russia is underway in Germany.

The issue for the Electoral College is therefore not whether or not Russian interference affected the election results. Instead, the issue that needs to be investigated is whether or not Donald J. Trump as President will act in the interests of the United States or if he is a foreign agent acting on behalf of Russia and will implement a corrupt administration to enrich himself and reward the Russian government. The preponderance of circumstantial evidence is considerable. Even without a full financial disclosure from the President Elect, it would be a violation of the responsibilities of the Electoral College as stated in Federalist Paper 68 to elect Donald J. Trump as President due to the already known facts about his positions and selections of individuals for his administration. I urge the Electoral College to at least postpone their vote until after all financial records of Donald J. Trump are disclosed. If the President Elect refuses to release all his financial information, I believe the Electoral College has every right to not vote for Donald J. Trump since it is clear that he is a danger to all citizens across the globe and cannot be the President of the United States.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Sincerely,

To email the electors, I have provided a list below.

I suggest not sending one email, but 8 emails with only 30 names per email, otherwise your email service may block the email for being a spam. Here are the groupings for several emails of all the addresses. Please copy and paste into eight separate emails

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected] [email protected];, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], biker50jim@yahoo.com, hankfuhs@juno.com, jguzman@msu.edu

KHARE@PENN.COM, jmcerlane@lambmcerlane.com, tpickett@pahousegop.com, PICKETT528@GMAIL.COM, areilly@swartzcampbell.com, CSIDES3@COMCAST.NET, rws@jdsw.com, lawrence.tabas@obermayer.com, ChristineJToretti@mac.com, sheriffbunny@comcast.net, Dylan@iowagop.org, rcarlisle@nd.gov,  larry@larryahern.com, julietbarnett@yahoo.com, jbrown0185@comcast.net, denasurvey@gmail.com

After emailing, the next step is to make sure all the Electors get a full briefing from the CIA on the Russian interference in our elections. Many Democratic electors have asked for this, as they know that will increase the likelihood of more GOP defections. So the Democratic Electors are asking all of us to do the following:

(1) Contact your representatives and governors to ask that they demand that the electors be briefed on the CIA information on Russian interference prior to Dec. 19, and to delay the electoral vote if that’s not possible, given the time-frame;

(2) Contact the U.S. Attorney General and ask that the Electoral College vote be postponed until a full investigation of Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s potential coordination with Russia is complete.

You can reach the Attorney General’s office at 202-514-2000 (Comment line…press 4)

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Time to Get Off the Barcalounger

barca-3Reading time – 1:37; Viewing time – 2:49  .  .  .

This should be BREAKING NEWS! – but it isn’t, because Donald Trump has spent his entire life bending and breaking rules and laws. He campaigned for 18 months, bragging about the illegal, unconstitutional things he will do. On top of that he has promised to eliminate safeguards we’ve come to believe make good sense, like those that ensure safe, clean air and water. More on that in a future blog.

One of the worst of his nose thumbings is over his conflicts of interest. We have no way to have any confidence that the decisions he will make as President will be in service to the United States rather than to his own wallet. He flaunts the secrecy of his financial holdings and dealings so that we’re left to guess how much sucking up to Vladimir Putin he will do for his own interests, while putting the rest of us at risk.

You said you want to know what you can do to stop this madness, so let’s start by slicing off his most obvious conflicts of interest, those that are disallowed by statute or by contract.

The new Trump Hotel, opened by the President-Elect in Washington, D.C., is leased to him by the federal government. There’s a clause in the lease that says that no elected official can have an interest in the hotel.

Email the GSA—General Services Administration—and urge them to terminate this lease before the inauguration. A receptionist at the GSA said they are taking a tally on this matter. She suggests that emailing is the most effective route for this and she said they are taking both names and phone numbers on this issue. There are no links in what follows, so copy and paste the short paragraph below into your own email.

Email to: media@gsa.gov

Subject: Trump Hotel lease violation

I write today to ask the GSA to immediately terminate the lease for the Trump Hotel at the former post office in Washington, D.C. The President-Elect is in clear violation of the terms of the lease, which state that no elected official may have any interest in the leased property.

Sincerely,

Your name, Your Address, Your Phone number

(Make sure you sign with your name, address, and phone number – I’m not confident they’ll log your request without all of it.)

There, now you’ve done something to stem the tide of the Trump assault on America.

Next, attend a meeting to Demand Democracy/Expose Corruption/Stop the Alt-Right (the hate mongers). Here’s a link to find a meeting in your area. Show up. Learn how you can make a difference. Because, as I’ve written before, it isn’t enough to care about this or to agree with those in your bubble. If things are to change for the better, you’ll actually have to do something.

Like sending that email to the GSA and showing up for the meeting on December 14.

There is and will continue to be plenty we can do. So, watch this space – and get up off that Barcalounger!

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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: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

To the Woodshed

Reading time – 49 seconds; Viewing time – 1:42  .  .  .

Andrew Young was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter. He was an active and passionate leader for civil rights and was the first African-American to hold that ambassadorial position. Young created a bit of controversy when he was interviewed by the French newspaper Le Matin de Paris in 1978. While discussing the plight of dissidents in the Soviet Union, he referenced events in the United States, saying, “We still have hundreds of people that I would categorize as political prisoners in our prisons.” That commentary earned Young a visit to the White House woodshed.

President Carter made it clear to Young that he no longer represented just himself or the civil rights movement, nor was he speaking any longer as the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. As the Ambassador to the United Nations he now represented the United States of America and everything he said publicly was a statement representing our country, our views, our positions and our values. Ambassador Young never made that kind of mistake again.

Donald J. Trump is the President-elect. He is nearly always short on specifics, long on broad brush generalizations of often unintelligible meaning and he frequently changes his positions, sometimes doing so within a single sentence. Worse, he is an ongoing fountain of ad hominem attacks. Now that he is representing the United States of America to our fellow citizens and to the world, who will take him to the White House woodshed?

————————————-

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: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Sleeplessness

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .

I am bewildered – terrified of what this megalomaniac might do with both houses of Congress in his lap. The Iran nuclear deal, NATO, the Middle-East – so much may be undone or destructively overdone that can shatter the tenuous grasp of world stability that this man doesn’t understand.

Larger still is that this country contains 58,000,000 people who knowingly elected this sociopath.

What kind of country is this when Trump events look like the Nuremberg rallies?

What kind of country is this where women, African-Americans, Hispanics, veterans and active military people were insulted, belittled and abused, yet millions of them still voted for him? Who are these people? How can we understand them voting for someone who hates them and would discriminate against them?

What kind of country is this when the winner intends to jail his political opponent? Was that just campaign talk? His followers don’t think so.

The Constitution expressly prohibits any religious test, yet Trump has pledged to prevent any Muslims from entering the country. Who’s next on his list for discrimination?

What kind of country is this when a candidate commits to deporting 12 million people (over 8,200 people per day, every day) and his idiocy is cheered by 58,000,000 others?

What kind of country is this where white supremacists’ voices of hate are welcome and where hate crimes have already soared?

What will happen to the Supreme Court? Whatever it is will shape America for decades and I’m very afraid of the shape it will take.

Is this how the really bad stuff starts? That is the question that is keeping me from sleeping well.

————————————-

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: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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