patriotism

One More Time, Jeb

Bush Kept Us Safe

Jeb Bush Twitter feed – September 17, 2015

Reading time – 2 minutes, 19 seconds  .  .  .

To you: Betcha you’re going to have an opinion on this.

To Jeb: You told the lie again, a lie that has been repeated since 2002, this time at the CNN Republican candidate debate. You defended your brother’s legacy by telling us that he kept us safe. Let’s check out your claim.

The attack on September 11, 2001 came on George W. Bush’s watch. 2,996 people died that day and 422,000 New Yorkers have suffered from PTSD because of that attack. It happened after he had been warned repeatedly about an imminent attack on the U.S. by Islamist extremists, warnings which he dismissed and ignored. Jeb, you might want to check with some of the survivors and family members of those who died on that awful day as to whether your brother kept us safe.

President Bush lied to Congress and to the American people, claiming that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda, something that is absurd on its face. al Qaeda membership was entirely religious extremists and Saddam was a secularist who hated them.

Your brother lied about a WMD threat from Saddam Hussein. Perhaps you recall his National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice stoking fear by telling us that the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud. And you might also remember the lies about the yellow cake (ref: Amb. Joseph Wilson’s report) and the aluminum tubes. Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated those lies to the UN.

At the same time President Bush was calling for an authorization to use force against Saddam, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was calling for restraint. They were the experts doing the inspections and they were finding no weapons of mass destruction or even a hint of them, so, Jeb, your brother actually protected us from nothing at all.

Without question Saddam was a bad guy, but consider what had been going on in the Middle East and what the present world circumstances might be if we had not invaded and overthrown him.

Saddam’s army had fought a war with neighboring Iran for years and they were bitter enemies. Had Saddam been left in power he would have been a natural check on Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapon capabilities. He was brazen enough to have attacked Iran to protect himself from such a threat and we might not be concerned with a nuclear Iran today. Instead, we live with a negotiated agreement, hoping it will prevent an Iranian nuclear threat. By attacking Iraq, just how safe did your brother keep us?

Saddam was a brutal dictator, but he kept rival factions in check in the Middle East. Were he still in power there would be no ISIS/ISIL. There would have been no beheadings, rapes, torture, murders, destruction of ancient sites or any of the rest of the carnage. There would be no caliphate and Americans would not be getting recruited to join that savage bunch and wage jihad on fellow Americans.

6,855 American military people were killed in those unnecessary wars (counting all coalition forces the number is 8,301). About 2/3 were killed in Iraq and 1/3 in Afghanistan and over 300,000 American military people are suffering from PTSD. (Check here and here for more on that. Note that the estimate of the number of our military people with PTSD from those wars has grown significantly since the Rand Corporation report in 2008 and has been estimated at over 500,000.) And all that warring cost us trillions of dollars that we put on the national credit card for our children and grandchildren to pay and which will drag down our economy for decades. None of that would have happened without the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Your brother didn’t do a very good job of protecting our military folks or securing safety for our future.

Your brother’s administration ordered the torture of prisoners in full and obvious violation of international law and United States law. We are still detaining dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo and will never know what happened to so many who were sent to “black sites.” In the process of all that, we became despised by millions and the torture we did has been used as a recruiting tool for yet more religious extremists to volunteer to attack Americans.

Absent the dishonest invasion of Iraq there would be no flood of refugees from Iraq and somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 Iraqis would still be alive. The number is uncertain because we made no attempt to measure either Iraqi deaths or the number of those who fled their homes to avoid war or those who are doing so now.

You tell us that your brother, the former president, kept us safe, yet you offer no proof or even a hint of support for your claim. It might be inferred, based on what has been said by former Bush administration people, that because there were no additional massive attacks on America like 9/11 that your brother kept us safe. Tell that, though, to the citizens of Madrid and London and to the people who were on the airplane with the shoe bomber.

2,996 people died in New York, 6,855 of our military are dead, hundreds of thousands are dead or displaced in Iraq, ISIS poses one of the greatest threats to humanity, Iran has made great progress toward getting a nuclear bomb to use on Israel and on the United States  .  .  .  the list of horrible things caused by your brother could go on and on and none would exist if we had not invaded Iraq.

Your brother kept us safe? It’s a great, chest-thumping bumper sticker, Jeb, but it’s a lie.

PS – pass this along to Dick Cheney.

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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.

Candidate Don Quixote

Miguel de Cerrvantes

Miguel de Cerrvantes

Reading time – 44 seconds  .  .  .

Miguel de Cervantes told the tale of Don Quixote, an old man, perhaps with dementia, who did things that looked crazy to more able-brained observers. In a peasant hag he saw a lady – his lady – a woman of the highest order and worthy of his adoration and of his defense of her honor. She was inspiration to his knightly duty.

To him, the flea-bitten mule he rode was a great and noble steed and he tilted at windmills, seeing instead dragons that must be slain to protect the people. These and more are metaphors for the dignity, honor and duty to do what is right, not because of an expected reward, but simply because it is the right thing to do. It was, for Don Quixote, an honor and an imperative, irrespective of the scoffing and judgments of others or the cost to himself. Don Quixote stands as a fine and lasting metaphor for a life of service and it is a primary reason for the enduring popularity of Cervantes’ tale.

To our candidates for public office at all levels of government:

If you cannot see the duty of service in the way of Don Quixote, if you cannot do what is right simply because it is right, regardless of what is in it for you – some reward of power or money or fame that you imagine should be yours – then you are unfit to hold office. If you are not in service of what is right you haven’t the stuff to be a leader of the people. Stand down before you confuse and degrade things still more.

I want to know who is stepping up to do what is 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.

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.

Congressional Monkeys

Rhesus monkey

Rhesus Macaque

Reading time – 1 minute, 19 seconds  .  .  .

My brother recently sent along a story (thanks, JHA) that is an adaptation of the findings of a 1967 ground-breaking experiment with rhesus monkeys performed by Gordon R. Stephenson. It is presented here for your review. See if you can read this without nodding your head in fundamental agreement at the end.

Start the experiment with a tall cage containing four monkeys. Hang a banana on a string dangling from the top of the cage, out of the reach of the monkeys. Then place a set of stairs under the banana. Before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana. As it does so, spray all the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt to reach the banana. When the second monkey starts up the stairs, spray all the monkeys with cold water. The next time a monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will assault and stop it. There is no further need for cold water.

Next, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey. The new monkey, having no experience with the cold water spray, will see the banana and attempt to climb the stairs to reach it. Immediately, all of the other monkeys will attack him to keep him off the stairs in order to avoid another spray of cold water. After another attempt and attack, he will know that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted and he will not try again.

Next, remove another of the original four monkeys, replacing it with a new monkey.  The newcomer will head for the banana and will then be attacked by the other monkeys. Note that the previous newcomer will take part in the punishment and do so with enthusiasm.

Then, replace a third original monkey with another new monkey, followed by a fourth.  Each time the newest monkey takes to the stairs in an attempt to get the banana he will attacked by all the other monkeys and will not try to reach the banana again.

Having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, none of the monkeys will try to climb the stairs for the banana, because in their experience, being attacked while trying to get a banana is the culture of the group. It’s the way it has always been.

And that is how today’s House and Senate operate, with no members having a memory of a time when hard negotiations led to compromise for the betterment of the country. Instead, we see near-universal demand that, “It’s all about me and my getting my way and I’ll attack you if you disagree with me because I’d rather get nothing done than to compromise.” (Look for a Disambiguation on this topic soon.)

And that is why, from time to time, we need to replace all of the monkeys at the same time.

Note: This narrative is meant as no disrespect to rhesus monkeys.

Here is a link to the publication of the original work by Stephenson.

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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.

You’re So Smart

Sen. Martin Heinrich, (D-NM)

Sen. Martin Heinrich, (D-NM)

Reading time – 9 (not a typo) seconds  .  .  .

The time is growing short for Congress to figure this out. Happily, you can help.

This is your time to be the smartest kid in class, the first in your neighborhood, the person in the know.

About the Iran deal.

Everything you need is right here, oddly in New Mexico.

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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.

If I Agreed With You

http://www.zazzle.com.au/if_i_agreed_with_you_wed_both_be_wrong_t_shirts-235415623791821038

http://www.zazzle.com.au/

Reading time – 16 seconds  .  .  .

Frequent business travel offers many opportunities to learn.

For example, I saw a guy wearing this T-shirt at O’Hare Airport last week. It pretty well defines our national attitude toward open-mindedness, eagerness to learn, tolerance of change and even to creativity.

How’s that working for us?

If it isn’t working well, what can you do to help to change things for the better? Try this notion.

My pal Ozzie Gontang likes to say, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” As you can see, he’s a pretty smart guy. He’s wise.

So, what you can do about all that closed-mindedness in America is to be open-minded. Go ahead – I promise that just listening to people with whom you disagree won’t damage you or compromise your integrity. And for one brief shining moment America will be the better for your effort.

Then, after listening to those people with different thinking than yours, you still have the opportunity to call them an idiot and things will be back to what passes for normal in America.

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

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

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

The Endarkened Right

Endarkened RightReading time – 54 seconds  .  .  .

This is just too strange – read through to the end and you’ll see why.

And, yes, I know that “endarkened” isn’t a word. For now, though, let it stand as the polar opposite of “enlightened.” And let “right” mean not “correct,” but the stupidly polar opposite of stupidly polar “left.”

On May 11 Charles Murray’s essay was published in the Wall Street Journal and is entitled, Regulation Run Amok-And How to Fight Back. His contention is that there are just gobs of government regulations that are strangling the America out of America. Indeed, he tells us in what he appears to believe are self-evident terms,

“Then, with FDR’s New Deal and the rise of the modern regulatory state, our founding principle was subordinated to other priorities and agendas. What made America unique first blurred, then faded and today is almost gone.”

Gosh, that sounds as though instead of melting the Wicked Witch of the East, we liquidated Glinda, the bubble-traveling Good Witch of the North – on purpose. Note, too, how he invokes “the modern regulatory state,” as though it is some agreed upon, fact-worthy construction, like ancient Athens as a city-state. It isn’t.

Murray goes through a litany of innuendo and shadow puppet notions to support his case and then tells us what we good Americans should do about all those terrible regulations: we should just ignore them. Civil disobedience. Do what makes sense to you, even if you break the law, he tells us.

No cars have come down your street for over five hours and it’s 3:30AM. Why in the world should you have to stop at that stop sign? Just blast on through the intersection.

You own the land, so you should be able to do what you damn well please with it. Those regulators can’t tell you what to do, by golly, so you build your boutique toxic chemical plant in your garage and if the stuff sometimes spills and runs down the driveway toward the sidewalk where the little kids are walking to school, no biggie.

Let ’em come after you, because you have your good sense to protect you against those annoying experts the regulators will call as witnesses when your delusional ass is hauled into court. But you’ll be okay financially, because Murray also proposes a Legal Services Corporation (his words) as a kind of people’s insurance against those pesky regulators who strangely think they are supposed to uphold the law.

Look, nobody thinks that we don’t have some stupid regulations and that some have long outlived their usefulness and may now be nothing more than foolish obstacles. But the way to correct those is not to create a nation of chaos-inducing vigilantes pretending that they know better than anyone else. It’s to change the law. Isn’t that what righties say when civil rights activists push the limits?

Can you believe it? As a left-of-center moderate, I’m giving “obey the law” instruction to an endarkened righty. Surely, we are living in strange times.

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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.

Nothing Has Changed

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he will not run for president in 2016. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)Reading time – 19 seconds; Listening time – 2 minutes  .  .  .

Set aside the Republican circus sideshow barker for now, because he is exactly what Steve Schmidt labeled him: The candidate of middle finger Republicans. The reason his poll numbers don’t go down when he says offensive things is because his vulgarity feeds their hostility.

What is left is a field of 16 presidential wannabees who are essentially interchangeable with one another regarding what they would do to America if elected.

That notion brought me back to the 2012 election. Here’s a mock commercial I created for that contest. Listen to it and in your mind’s ear replace Mitt Romney’s name with that of any of the 16 current contenders and you’ll find that nothing has changed.

Note: Click near the left end of the black bar to play the audio.

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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.

Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune MastheadReading time – 52 seconds .  .  .

A recent poll showed that 96% of Americans deplore the influence of big money on our politics and want that changed. But that hasn’t happened and that big money is the mother lode that drives our national dysfunction.

After 20 little kids and 6 teachers were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary school nearly three years ago, 90% of all Americans and 80% of National Rifle Association members wanted universal background checks for all sales of firearms. We didn’t get what we wanted. The big money interests blocked the will of the American people.

Jeb Bush has raised over $114 million (“Jeb Bush, super PAC raise” July 9) and a Hillary Clinton fundraiser in Chicago cost $2,700 per seat (“Major donor to Obama, Emanuel to host Hillary Clinton fundraiser” July 21). Once they and other candidates receive these enormous sums, they are beholden to the wealthy who contributed and the candidates ignore the voices of regular Americans.

That’s why we don’t have laws to help small businesses and it is why our health care system caters to powerful insurance companies. It’s why we haven’t undertaken a critical updating of our education system and it’s why we wait for bridges to collapse and kill people before repairing our crumbling infrastructure. The list of serious problems ignored by Congress is long and ugly and our corrupt campaign finance system drives nearly all of them.

I’ve spoken to groups that span our political spectrum about our legalized bribery system that gives wealthy special interests an advantage and opens the door to corruption. Not once has anyone voiced any push-back. This is a bipartisan issue. We the People want reform.

As an Eisenhower Republican, my vote in 2016 will go to whichever candidates come out in support of fundamental election reform that truly puts government back in the hands of the people. In the 10th Congressional District, that rules out Robert Dold.

All candidates can show that they are serious about this issue by supporting the Government by the People Act (H.R.20). This bipartisan bill (with 160 cosponsors) will create a voluntary system of tax rebates and other incentives for small donors to have more of a voice in elections, including public financing of our elections. I hope the candidates campaign on this reform bill to ensure politicians are accountable to voters rather than catering only to a well connected few.

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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.

The Iran Deal

Iran NuclearReading time – 29 seconds  .  .  . 

We endured the knee-jerks, with their instantaneous, hyperbolic, fact-devoid rejections of the Iran nuclear deal before they had so much as laid their eyes on it and the brainless criticisms have continued unabated. Indeed, for many in DC, self-serving politics designed only to destroy is the norm.

Here’s the real deal about the deal: It’s all we have and all we’re going to get. Pressing for a perfect deal is moronically ignorant. All the attacks on President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and on our supposedly inept negotiating team and the goose-stepping insistence upon getting a better deal from the Iranians is at best a fantasy about a deal that can never happen. None of the lip flappers has offered any alternative to this deal, leaving the implication of war with Iran as the default action.

War? Really? Our only international tool is killing huge numbers of people in never ending war and spending ourselves into bankruptcy like the Soviet Union did? Perhaps there are some people with clearer thinking about this.

Read Steve Sheffey’s article in The Hill, Opposing Iran Deal Endangers US and Israeli Security and think for yourself about this deal. Read Nicholas Kristof’s piece in The New York Times, Why The Naysayers Are Wrong About The Iran Deal. Then write or call your senators and representative and tell them to give the deal their yea vote when it comes up in Congress, because opposing it will likely lead to a nuclear Iran within one year. And that would be a bad deal.

The deal being considered right now is in America’s best national security interests. Let’s not blow this chance for a negotiated peace with yet more cowboy swagger, because we tried that in Iraq and it hasn’t work out too well.

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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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