patriotism

We Had No Choice


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

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  . 

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

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

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

And we had no choice but to torture prisoners.

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

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

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

We need better than that.

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

Every Life is Precious


Reading time – 71 seconds  .  .  .

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal  .  .  .” My life is precious and if we’re all created equal, then all lives are precious. It’s a simple syllogism and we all believe it. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Really?The Nation Tweet

The city of New York officially observed several minutes of silence starting at 2:07PM on December 23, 2014 for Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, cops assassinated in Brooklyn, NY by a mentally ill man with a gun. They also dimmed the lights of Christmas trees in New York for five minutes starting at 9:00PM that night, this, too, in honor of those slain officers. Oddly, the city did not similarly honor Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a gang of New York City cops and whom the New York City paramedics didn’t so much as touch, much less try to resuscitate. Perhaps we have a sliding scale of preciousness.

Back in the days when Chevy Chase did the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live!, one bit went roughly like this:

“This just in: A Japan Airlines 747 crashed on takeoff from Tokyo International Airport, killing all 379 passengers and crew. But it’s okay, because there were no Americans on board.”

It’s always a relief when it isn’t us, as when we find that the fire trucks are parked at someone else’s house or that the tsunami struck half-way around the world. While we care about the suffering of the relatives of the 747 crash victims and the people living where the fire trucks are parked and the survivors of the tsunami, the farther away from us geographically and relationally, the less invested we human critters tend to be – the less precious those lives seem to be to us. That’s why those television commercials imploring us to donate money to help malnourished, pathology stricken children are so graphic and have that wailing music playing in the background. It’s what it takes to get through to us.

So, to be accurate, we don’t care to the same extent about every life until we can at least relate in a personal way or imagine ourselves in similar circumstances. For any of us to be moved to action we have to feel it – the preciousness of life – maybe our own – and that presents us with a challenge that we must overcome if America is to solve its problems.

So many young people today are disinterested in current affairs and tune in only to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for their news, and then really only for the humor. A tiny fraction of them vote, even as many of our elected officials act for self-aggrandizement instead of for the benefit of those same disinterested young people. Their preciousness seems to be less important to elected officials than it should be and that puts our next generation at risk.

We’re not going to change human nature, so young people today who are disinterested in current affairs are going to stay that way unless something precious to them is at risk, like themselves. Likely it’s opaque to them how today’s affairs dramatically and sometimes diabolically limit their future lives. But they will run this place in just a few short years, so it falls to us to figure out how to get through to them so that they feel it enough to take action.

We must do that because every life is precious, including the lives of people who will inherit what we leave to them and who don’t yet feel the peril that’s right around the corner.

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

Math


Reading time – 41seconds . . .

About 1/3 of registered voters cast ballots in the last election. That’s about as good as it gets in a non-presidential year. Let’s see what that means to you and me and all Americans.

Since most elections are decided by just a few percentage points, that means that just over half of the ballots cast were for the winner, so approximately 18% of all registered voters determined the victors. Yes, that’s right: Just 18% of all registered voters decided for the rest of us, registered or not, who will hold power. And the story gets crazier.

People over the age of 50 vote in higher percentages than any other age group. More specifically, whites over 50 show up. And while there are considerably more white women than white men, the men show up in higher numbers. People who are members of minority groups vote in a low percentages and poor people don’t show up at all.

So, what the math says is that a small bunch of old white guys decided who will be in charge in Washington and in our state capitols. Is that okay with you? Do you know any poor or minority people? If so, ask them if that math is okay with them. Because old white guys are getting what they want, but the rest of us aren’t.

And lest you think that’s as bad as it gets, think again. The big money bad kids broadcast lies, false innuendo and blatantly misleading propaganda and they do it incessantly – like Rush Limbaugh proclaiming that President Obama violates the Constitution or that he is going to come and take away your guns or that he was born in Kenya. Like Ted Cruz (R-Mars) talking about President Obama’s “lawlessness.” Like Saint Ronald Reagan railing against “welfare queens” in Chicago (there weren’t and there aren’t any – he just made that up). Of course, they aren’t the only slimers doing the sliming. The Koch brothers, the NRA, the American Petroleum Institute, the RNC and so many more do the same things, lying in order to get what they want. As bad as that is, this gets even worse.

These reality distorters keep beating their “gimme more” drum until the vitriol and falsehoods are familiar to the people who show up at the polls. It’s the Big Lie and ordinary (i.e., non-super rich) Americans fall for it and vote against their own interests.

Well, at least 18% of Americans – old white guys – do. And the rest of us just let that happen.

So, vote on November 1, 2016. Vote in 2018, 2020 and in every election. And bring at least two people to the poles with you. Work in a call center to get out the vote. Go door-to-door in your neighborhood just urging people to vote. Put door hanger reminders on their doors regardless of whether they’re home. If we don’t do our part and our friends and neighbors fail America, it’s partly on our shoulders.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke, Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 – 1797)

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

You Know This, But Still . . .


Reading time -41 seconds  .  .  .

Thomas Jefferson told us that,

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.”

That means that we must educate the next generation so they can do their job. It means that we must stay informed about what is going on so we can do our job. It means that it is our job to “exercise oversight,” to monitor and enforce accountability. Now is the right time to do that. Of course, “now” is always the right time for accountability, but my reference here is about this week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014  is election day. If you have not already voted, show up on Tuesday. Polls are open roughly 6:00AM – 7:00PM in most states. It is time to hold accountable those who have or would represent us and govern us. And because our politics is so broken, because big money influence is so pervasive and corrosive, our job right now is to elect those who would reform our crazy system. Many have already committed to reform.

Vote for the reformers. Here’s a link to find some.

If no candidate in a race where you vote has already declared that s/he is committed to reform, vote for the person most likely to be a reformer.

Vote for the reformers.

Nothing ls likely to get appreciably better until we get election reform. Your part is to send off to Washington and your state capitol the folks who will make that happen. Then hold them accountable.

Did I mention something about voting on Tuesday? Here’s a caution: DO NOT go to the polls alone. Bring your neighbor who needs a ride or who hasn’t been actively interested. Pick up your crazy brother-in-law on the way. Make sure your significant other does the same thing.

A while back you either took a civics class or citizenship was taught in another class. You had to pass a Constitution test in order to graduate, so I know that you know that it is both your right and your duty to vote. Do it this Tuesday.

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

I Just Want You To Know . . .


Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  . 

The Forbes 400 was recently posted and we are told that the 400 richest people in America are worth about $2.29 trillion. That is more than the bottom 150 million Americans combined, or about half of all Americans. And that $2.29 trillion is up 13 5% over last year. Your wealth increased 13.5% over the last 12 months, too, right? Let’s look at this another way.

The television and radio ads that end with a candidate saying, “I’m [CANDIDATE NAME] and I approved this message,” are paid for by the candidate. If you don’t hear those words – and that accounts for the vast majority of the ads that are pumped into your head – the ad was funded by outside money through PACs, Super PACs and 501(c)4 organizations.

These outside money message manipulators have already spent over $390 million in this election cycle to twist your brain and, more important, twist the brains of low information voters. What that means is that people who aren’t tuned into politics and are just going about their lives are hearing misleading, false, disingenuous, just-this-side-of-outright-fraudulent messages and they don’t know it, so they get manipulated. They aren’t aware that they are voting against their own best interests. What you know is that they are voting against your interests and against your vision of what America should be.

About those outside money groups – 94% of the money they spend to twist voters’ brains comes from just 200 fabulously wealthy people and corporations. Now, why would these rich people contribute all that money?

Because doing so means that they keep on getting richer. They get what they want, but you don’t get what you want. You don’t get gun safety legislation, a climate bill so we stop hard boiling our planet, legislation that would create good paying jobs, healthcare reform, student loan reform and issues all the way down to pothole repair.

If that isn’t okay with you, you better do something about it. You better vote on November 4 for people who will legislate for reform. You better bring your disengaged neighbor and your crazy brother-in-law to the polls with you. You better volunteer at a call center to remind voters to show up and vote.

The big money people have a really big megaphone and they know how to use it. That means that we small money people have to band together and collectively overpower the big megaphone people to make your American dream possible for you and your kids. Watch 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. 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 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Commitment


Reading time – 19 seconds  .  .  .

We’re just past the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and, as in every year, there is much to remember. A part of that terrible day which you might not know about is recounted here in a Washington Post piece.  Watch the video and read the post. You just might appreciate commitment on a whole new level. Most of us aren’t tested in that way so we just don’t get it. Some both get it and live it. I doubt you’ll be able to read this and not be touched and perhaps moved deeply.

Be sure to note the difference between this and typical chest thumping bravado masquerading as patriotism and commitment. Then go say “Thank you” to the people who stand a post for us every day. And don’t ever, ever send them to war unnecessarily. They are far too precious for us to be so cavalier about their welfare.

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

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