patriotism

Understanding Charleston and That Flag


Confederate Battle FlagReading time – 4 seconds  .  .  .

If you want to understand Charleston, the Confederate battle flag and U.S. history, 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.

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


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Despicable Dick


 One Man Against the WorldReading time – 49 seconds  .  .  .

I just finished reading Tim Weiner’s well written, well resourced and thoughtful new book One Man Against the World. Inside the front flap of the book jacket the headline for the teaser reads, “The riveting story of a dramatic and disastrous Presidency.” Few who remember or who have studied the sordid story of Richard M. Nixon would quibble with either the book title or the jacket headline.

Richard Nixon was, if anything, a polarizing figure and an easy man to dislike and distrust, in large measure because he disliked and distrusted nearly everyone, especially those who weren’t exactly like him. Neither conventional morality nor Constitutional law were limits he honored and he was able to self-justify nearly anything in pursuit of establishing a heroic place in world history for himself. His self-centered focus allowed for the deaths of tens of thousands more of our military in Vietnam and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians.

Perhaps that self-focus sounds a bit familiar, akin to so many of our current politicians who don’t let facts or good sense get in the way of what they say and do in pursuit of their self-promotion; who never leave campaign contribution checks on the table, regardless of the soul-compromising embedded in those checks and the harm their sell-out will cause to America and Americans; who cannot seem to see past the next election to recognize the dangers they are visiting upon our children and grandchildren.

It is an age-old question as to whether the end justifies the means. Perhaps in absolute terms, as in avoiding nuclear war, it does. Absent such end-of-the-world choices, though, it probably does not. Yet it is with such an absolutist mentality that our politicians continue to attempt to justify their reprehensible actions, like torture and never-ending, undeclared war.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Interestingly, there is something we can do about such people and their despicable acts.

We can VOTE!

“Freedom without responsibility is chaos.” Rod Steiger

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This


TrumpReading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .

I’m bugging myself by writing this, as it is yet more free attention for Donald Trump. He doesn’t deserve it, but our national dysfunction does. So, Mr. Crazy Hair, here it comes.

First, read this. It is an excellent essay by marketing genius Bruce Terkel. He’s a frequent guest on FoxSnooze, so, while I don’t know Bruce’s politics, it’s clear that many on the right hear his views and likely not so many on the left. His view on self-promoting, dishonest Donald are worthy of your review, though, regardless of your political hue.

Meanwhile, my addition to the discussion is about how disconnected most Americans are, such that they have any interest in Donald Trump and his manipulation of public attention. Nobody – and I mean that in the absolute sense – should be paying him any attention, because he is nothing but a bad circus sideshow barker enticing people to a freak show. That people pay to get into Trump’s sideshow tent says more about their lack of seriousness about our very serious challenges than it does about Trump’s value. Sadly, our big media rushes its reporters and cameras into that tent and tells us that what they’ve found is breaking news. Cue the dramatic music and serious faces of TV anchor people.

So, big media, grow up. Put on your big boy and big girl pants and start behaving like adults. Cover the real news. Stop pandering to just plain stupid sensationalism.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

And, American voter, wake up and heed the words of Thomas Jefferson:

“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.”

Pay attention to the real news, because we have real challenges that require “an enlightened citizenry.” Stop allowing yourself to be sucked into the brainless vortex of useless sensationalism.

Does that apply to you? Almost certainly not, because you make sure that you’re informed. You’re interested enough to read this blog. But you know people to whom this does apply. Now you have the tools. Give ’em a wake up by passing along this blog.

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Far Too Much Love


Reading time – 64 seconds  .  .  .

Concord, New Hampsire, June 26, 2015

Seventeen announced and presumptive Republican presidential candidates for the 2016 election, all campaigning in New Hampshire today, hastily called a press conference in response to the Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage throughout America. Surrounded by the presidential wannabees, Mike Huckabee spoke from prepared text, saying,

“I’m speaking for all of us when I say that this is a very sad day for America. Everyone knows that there is far too much love in America and this airhead ruling by the Supreme Court that makes same sex marriage legal in all 50 states threatens to expand what already has flooded our land. And the story is even worse than that.

“We all agree that it’s sad that those nine people were gunned down in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, but now some southern states are talking about getting rid of the Confederate battle flag. That flag was created and hoisted up the capitol flag posts as honorable resistance to the menace to the United States made by the civil rights movement and in honor of the Confederate dead in the War of Northern Aggression. We were just keeping their memories alive and it had nothing to do with slavery. No, really. The very suggestion of allowing full citizenship of those people now smacks of – what? – maybe respect? It’s just too much.

“Now we may be on the brink of getting ready to think about possibly preparing to have a tentative conversation about immigration – immigrants! – as though there might be room in this country for those people. That would be a horrendous abdication of our centuries old superiority over other people. How can we tolerate dropping that and allowing some liberal wave to drown our red, white and blue conservative bones?

“Perhaps it is time for term limits for our Supreme Court justices. It might even be time to begin impeachment proceedings against a few of them.

“I say again, there is far too much love in America and we are on a slippery slope toward destruction of what we hold dear. It is time to stand strong against this invasion, this attack on our establishment.”

With that the presidential candidates left the room, refusing to take reporters’ questions, although Donald Trump was heard to say that this issue is “huge.” In reply, Rick Perry admitted that he didn’t know what the issue is.

Note: The above is satire. However, Huckabee actually did lose it following the Supreme Court decision. Read about his brainless rejection of the First Amendment here.

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Addendum

Writing for the majority in the same sex marriage case (officially Obergefell v. Hodges right side of the SCOTUS home page under Recent Decisions), here are the closing comments of Justice Anthony Kennedy:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the  highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

“The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

“It is so ordered.”

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Butch


"Rooster04 adjusted" by User:Fir0002 - Uploaded by Didactohedron. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rooster04_adjusted.jpg#/media/File:Rooster04_adjusted.jpg

Photo credit: “Rooster04 adjusted” by User:Fir0002 – Uploaded by Didactohedron. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rooster04_adjusted.jpg#/media/File:Rooster04_adjusted.jpg

Reading time – 41 seconds  .  .  .

Thanks to reader JL for forwarding this cautionary tale.

Sarah was in the fertilized egg business. She had several hundred young pullets and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs. She kept records and any rooster not performing was replaced and then went into the soup pot.

This took a lot of time, so she bought some tiny bells and attached them to her roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so she could tell from a distance which rooster was performing. Now, she could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

Sarah’s favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning she noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all. When she went to investigate, she saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

To Sarah’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job, and walk on to the next one.

Sarah was so proud of old Butch that she entered him in the Fouritch Competition and he became an instantaneous sensation among the judges. The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Piece Prize,” they also awarded him the “Pulletsurprise” as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards by sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?

Vote carefully in the next election. You can’t always hear the bells.

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Extreme Agreement


Don't turn this over to corporate lawyers

Don’t turn this over to corporate lawyers

Reading time – 61 take-action seconds  .  .  .

It’s almost midnight on the Doomsday Clock to sell out our children  .  .  .

There are lots of reasons that people who have seen the ugly fine print of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) don’t like them. Here is a short list:

  1. Millions more American jobs will be sent overseas, just as happened with NAFTA.
  2. American wages and benefits will be cut, our standard of living will continue to fall and tens of thousands more Americans will be dumped into poverty.
  3. The environment will be irreparably harmed by inadequate or nonexistent regulation in third world countries.
  4. These deals will help big business and will harm American small businesses where 80% of Americans work.
  5. The Fast Track provision gives this president and every president too much power.

That’s why Americans overwhelmingly oppose these deals. Truly, though, as important as all of those are, they pale in comparison to this:

Adopting these trade deals will relinquish American sovereignty to a panel of three corporate lawyer/lobbyists.

Yes, really. Don’t take my word for it. Have a look at the examination of this issue by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker magazine. Perhaps you think this is just a lefty issue, so have a look a what a slew of righties have to say about this. And I can’t believe that I’m offering a link to what Phyllis Schlaffly has to say, but here it is. They all dislike these deals and for the same reason.

Okay, the righties also hate them just because President Obama is in favor of them. But they don’t like the idea of relinquishing American sovereignty any more than you do. So, even the extremes agree. Still, there’s all that big corporate money twisting the arms of legislators to approve these deals.

So the issue is getting our legislators to wake up and do what they were sent to Washington to do – represent you and me. And they will be voting again on Fast Track. That’s why you must

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS TODAY

Do it here:           http://www.senate.gov/

Just enter your state in the top right corner of the web page, then click GO. Then click the Contact line for each of your senators.

In Illinois, call:

Sen. Dick Durbin   (202) 224-2152
Sen. Mark Kirk      (202) 224-2854

Tell them or copy/past into your email:

I am a constituent and I want you to vote NO on all votes related to the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, including Fast Track. Defeat these bad deals for Americans.

Email or call now. And forward this blog to your righty and lefty buddies so that they take action, too.

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Some Get That It’s Hotter


Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Reading time – 53 seconds  .  .  .

Galileo Galilei published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in 1632 in order to defend his heliocentric theory of the universe, his theory being based upon his scientific findings. For his exacting efforts he found himself tried and convicted by the Roman Inquisition for being “vehemently suspect of heresy.” He spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest because of his reprehensible notion that the Earth is not the center of the universe.

It took over 400 years – into the 1950s – for the Catholic Church to admit that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution just might be a useful and credible scientific notion. Pope Paul VI rejected all forms of contraception except abstinence (Q: What do you call couples who  use the rhythm method of birth control? A: Parents). Pope Benedict XVI told us in 2009 that condoms would make the HIV/AIDS scourge worse, not better.

The history of the Catholic Church accepting and embracing advances in knowledge is rather spotty.

But now Pope Francis, the new guy, has a very different view of science, even proposing the crazy notion that our planet actually is warming and that we humans are making things worse. Go ahead and read his Encyclical Letter and you just might be amazed that it was written by a pope. Apparently, this pope doesn’t have his head stuck in the understandings of 2,000 years ago and really gets that we’ve learned a few things along the way.

Wouldn’t it be just great if our climate denying legislators had as much sense?

Worse, if they do have as much sense but continue to act as though they don’t, what is motivating that behavior? Another way to ask the question is, “Who benefits from their baseless denials?” As always, follow the money.

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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 blog along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

President Obama’s Nefarious Ad Campaign


TPP-Fast-Track-Congress-400x209Reading time – 21 seconds  .  .  .

President Obama is pushing a million dollar ad campaign to twist the arms of Dems in the House to vote to fast-track the Trans Pacific Partnership (Read: Global Rule by Corporations).

Just get this: it’s a  BAD DEAL FOR AMERICANS, because it will:

  1. Kill millions more American jobs, just like NAFTA did. (Remember that “sucking sound” of jobs going to Mexico? They’ve moved on since then, but they’re still gone from America.)
  2. Allow the Banksters to continue to be unregulated, too big to fail and a threat to our entire nation and to your savings.
  3. CEDE OUR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY TO A PANEL OF INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE LOBBYISTS.

The list of bad things TPP will do  is so long and so bad that there’s no way to detail it all here. But just the three things listed above ought to boil your blood. So stop being a passive victim of organized governmental crime and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

The House votes Friday, June 12, 2015 on Fast Track. Call your representative and demand a NO vote. It’s easy:

Call (202) 224-3121

and ask to speak to your congressperson – they’ll ask for your zip code.

or go to

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

and enter your zip code to find the phone number of your congressperson. Then dial your phone.

Tell the nice staffer who answers the phone (they really are pleasant and easy to talk to) that:

  1. You are a constituent
  2. You want your congressperson to VOTE NO ON FAST TRACK.

DO THIS RIGHT NOW. STOP READING THIS BLOG AND DIAL YOUR PHONE OR CLICK ON THE LINK. REALLY, NOW.

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fear Mongering


President George W. Bush at the Cincinnati Museum Terminal, October 7, 2002, claiming Iraq had WMDs and Saddam was in partnership with al Qaeda
President George W. Bush at the Cincinnati Museum Terminal, October 7, 2002, falsely claiming Iraq had WMDs and that Saddam Hussein was in partnership with al Qaeda

Note: On Friday there was an error in the link from the email notification of this blog to the blog itself. Apologies for the mistake and thanks to all who sent a heads-up that the link didn’t work. JA

Reading time – 17 seconds  .  .  .

I’ve been wondering and worrying for many years about the enormous rise in worldwide fear and anger. The world seems so much more polarized today, more us-versus-them. What is driving that?

Today I got a piece of the answer via this essay on the Daily Kos. The short answer is that for years our government and political mouthpieces manipulated us by means of fear. They made sure we stayed scared by flashing in our faces the idiotic color-coded threat levels, by telling us to line our windows with duct tape and by warning us to scan airplanes for bad guys. And they did it with outright lies.

Fear mongering was and still is being used as a propaganda tool. And don’t think for a minute that you’re somehow immune to this sick use of power, because it doesn’t work that way.Goebbels

Just click through and read the essay. Do it now and you will understand. And you won’t like what you read because it is so – what’s the word? – Goebbels.

Be sure to give some thought to exactly who benefits from the fear mongering. It isn’t 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.

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


Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Absolutely


Finger pointingReading time – 91 seconds  .  .  . 

To the best of my ability to understand them, our far right religious conservatives believe:

  1. That they got it right – about God, about religion, about right and wrong, good and bad.
  2. That anyone who disagrees with point #1 is wrong and eternally damned, because there’s no heaven for them.
  3. That this should be a Christian nation, but not because of what demographics indicate. Rather, they think this should be an expressly Christian America ruled by biblical laws – a theocracy – because of what they think God has said to them.
  4. That following their notion of biblical laws is both required and it is self-justification for pretty much anything.
  5. That compromise in any way from the above is unholy and, therefore, intolerable.

Now, substitute Islam for Christianity, the Qur’an for the Bible and make a geographic adjustment. Somebody please tell me what the difference is between these two groups of fundamentalist, absolutist, arrogant people. I say “arrogant” because these absolutists seem to be saying, “I’m not just right; I’m divinely right.” That’s a lot of turf grabbing for a mere mortal.

Setting aside the Islamist fundamentalists for the moment, explain to me how to deal with the Christian absolutists, because they are making a lot of noise and politicians are getting elected by sucking up to them. Then the politicians are incrementally distorting America to create the theocracy the absolutists want, as recently happened in Indiana. That’s why we need to know how to deal with these people, because this isn’t supposed to be a theocracy, regardless of what Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum  and Sen. Ted Cruz want you to believe. Check with Thomas Jefferson and his pals about that and you’ll see that it’s true.

As for the Islamist fundamentalists, we have the same intractability problem with them. Their world view is steeped in centuries of absolutism, making it a brain contortion to deal with them for those from a Western culture. It’s complicated, frustrating work and every step of every path is fraught with cultural impasses and Through The Looking Glass contradictions.

If you’d like to explore how difficult this is, read Mark Bowden’s remarkable bookGuests of the Ayatollah  Guests of the Ayatollah, which chronicles the Iran hostage crisis. This book was recently recommended to me personally by one of the former hostages whom I met while delivering a leadership workshop. It is a major insight into a critical piece of recent American history. The double benefit of reading this book is getting a peek into the tent of militant Islamic culture in the MIddle-East and its apparent house-of-mirrors world view. Indeed, it provides some understanding of what we will be dealing with for a very long time and with a great deal at stake.

Back once more to our American far right religious conservatives, we need to deal with the challenge they bring, because if this is to remain America, it’s critical that we both stop and roll back the absolutists’ spread of theocracy. What are your thoughts? Post them in the Comments section below.

Source: The Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/23/ted-cruz-presidential-campaign-evangelical-christian-voters-gay-marriage-values

Source: The Guardian, March 23, 2015

Note: Click on the bar chart on the left from The Guardian for an expanded view. One way to interpret the results of this poll is that of the 58% of American voters who identify as white and Christian, roughly 2/3 of them see themselves as Republicans and are susceptible to the theocratic appeals espoused by the Bible-thumpers. That’s very dangerous for a democratic (small “d”) America, as these people are reliable voters and because it assaults the First Amendment. That Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution, which the far right religious conservatives say with fierce absolutism that they honor. That yes-we-do-no-we-don’t  support of the Constitution is the same kind of up-is-down logic used by militant Islamists. Are you afraid yet?

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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 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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