responsibiliy

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.

Confession

Reading time – 111 seconds  .  .  .  

I wasn’t a 60s radical. I wasn’t even politically conscious. In fact, I was essentially out to lunch regarding social and political issues. I missed the marches, the sit-ins, the banners, the demands for change, the chanting in front of the White House. Even Woodstock passed me by. “Clueless” was pretty much my M. O.

That produced unintended consequences, as choices always do. One of them was related to the Viet Nam War in ways that I could not have predicted.

President Lyndon Johnson had raised the deployment of American troops to that country to over half a million by the time I was a senior in college, with my 2S draft deferment on really short, shaky legs. I came home on winter break from college to have a most serious talk with my father. He was a WW II veteran and a hater of war, with a rock solid sense of responsibility of service to America. I inherited that sense of service from him and I knew I had a duty to serve, especially at a time of war, a time of national need.

On the other hand, that war was an abomination from the start. It was, in fact, being fought by the North Vietnamese first against the French and then against American troops by people trying to liberate their country from outside aggressors. That is to say, they wanted to be free and we were on the wrong side of that David and Goliath story, and my sense of morality and justice would not let me participate.

That produced a tug-of-war between duty to serve and duty to morality and it is what brought me to that discussion with my father. For the first time in my life I did not know right from wrong, so I asked him what was the right thing for me to do. In my mind’s eye I can still see him walking up to me and putting his hand on my shoulder and saying, “You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.”

That wasn’t the answer I wanted, yet it surely was the right answer and I thank him to this day for the wisdom he offered me with his words and for giving me the space and the imperative to grow up.

I did not serve due to a medical technicality, but the avoidance of service left a hollow place in me that should have been filled by service to America. That has stayed with me for decades and it is the unintended consequence of my choices.

Things have changed and I’ve grown up just a little more and have found a way to serve my country. It is through these blogs and the discussions they spawn. It is through my presentations of Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want* to groups around the country. Its purpose is to educate and motivate Americans to action in order to change what is happening, as big money and corporations having he same rights as people continue to muscle our country away from us.

Perhaps you remember the scene in Star Wars where Obi Wan and Luke are talking and a hologram of Princes Leia pops out of R2D2. She implores Obi Wan to help her home planet of Alderaan and she finishes by saying, “Help us, Obi Wan. You’re our only hope.”

Obi Wan then says to Luke, “We must go to Alderaan.” Luke protests, listing his reasons and excuses to avoid going, to which Obi Wan replies, “But, Luke, she needs our help.” That was all the reason Obi Wan needed.

America needs our help right how. She has enormous problems that grow greater each day and the dream of Madison and Jefferson, Lincoln and King and the millions of refugees from other countries – your ancestors – is in peril.

Perhaps you were and have been politically active. Perhaps you were disengaged, as I was. Regardless, the imperative of service remains and its call is in the air right now.

You are Obi Wan and America is Princess Leia: Help us Obi Wan. You’re our only hope.

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* Invite me to present to your group. I promise an hour and fifteen minutes that will educate, entertain and, if all goes well, motivate people to service. Besides, the program is a freebie. That’s my service to country, my give-back, my pay-it-forward to a country that has been so very good to me. Please help me to serve, Obi Wan.

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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.

The Playground

Reading time – 47 seconds  .  .  . 

Boy, was I wrong.

I grew up the same way everyone did. I was a kid. Adults were bigger. They were in charge. They knew stuff. They were really good at making a serious face. Parenthetically, as I write these words, I now wonder why I ever wanted to become like them.

In any event, they were the models. Be like this. Don’t be like that. This is how adults behave and it is a bunch different from the way children behave. Grow up.

So I did. We all did.

Except for one thing. As Al Capp, creator of the L’il Abner comics, frequently wrote in his offerings, “It is immediately obvious to the most casual observer,” that adults aren’t so different from children.

When I was 10 years old I was a part-time tough guy on the playground. When I wanted to get my way and persuasion wouldn’t work, I’d just muscle my way to it, so I understand self-centered bullying behavior that discounts the wants and needs of others. Adults would never do that, right? I mean, they’re grown ups and they’ve gotten over childish behavior, having learned that it isn’t just all about them, that they have to live with others and – dare I say it? – compromise. They get that, right?

Actually, no, not right. George W. Bush repeatedly told us, metaphorically speaking, that he would hold his breath until he turned blue unless he got his way. Unless they get their way John Boehner, Ted Cruz and others are all about shutting down the government once again, spitting in the face of 313,000,000 Americans.

Recently, we were treated to an audio recording of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. This five-term legislator, serving as a leader in the world’s most august deliberative body, spoke to a bunch of really rich guys on Fathers Day. He promised that if he didn’t get his way he would attach a rider to every bill to prevent any expenditure of money and thus paralyze government.

Clearly, some people didn’t grow up; they just grew older and they continue to behave like 10-year-old bullies on the playground. Tragically for so many of us, lots of them work in Washington, DC.

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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.

Ferguson, O’ Ferguson

Reading time – 87 seconds  .  .  .

“They’re just protesting and rioting so that they can loot the stores and vandalize other people’s property.” That’s what the woman said to the radio talk show host about the people in the streets of Ferguson, MO. My reply is a double, “Huh?”

If I understand her correctly, she is saying that thousands of people are in the streets protesting so that a few people can loot stores, vandalize property and shoot guns. If that were true, it would be an astonishing coordination of activities – far too astonishing to be true. Yes, some people are looting and vandalizing, yet there has been very little of that, considering the depth of the rage and sorrow that blankets that community. Suggesting that looting is the purpose of the demonstrations and protests requires a willful self-blinding to the suffering of others, this on an epic level.

Nearly all the people in the streets are there not just because Michael Brown appears to have been murdered by an angry cop, but because Brown is just the latest black male to be killed in a string of violence visited upon people of color by “the authorities” – the ones who are supposed to protect all of us from violence. Brutality like that goes back hundreds of years in America. There are too many dead kids who were treated as guilty until proven innocent and then given a trial and sentencing by Judge Service Revolver. There have been too many anguished mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. Whatever Michael Brown was, he did not deserve a hail of bullets as his hands were raised in surrender.

So, that lady who called the talk show is probably wrong in her assumption of why people are in the streets of Ferguson, MO. But why would she make such a huge leap beyond good sense? That is the second part of the double “Huh?”

We human beings have a natural fear of those who are different from us. It’s a tribal instinct born of the ancient, existential imperative to survive. Back then those who were known were presumably safe, while those who were unknown seemed different and might have been lethal to us. That was a valuable attitude 20,000 years ago. It’s not as valuable today, amidst the conglomeration of people in our urban and suburban settings.

Every one of us is uncomfortable with not knowing, so we make up stories to fill in the blanks. If you pay attention, you’ll find yourself doing it multiple times a day. The corollary to that is that when we are anxious, the stories we make up are always negative. And it is only a small, self-protective leap from not knowing someone to wild assumptions about them.

Apply that to caller lady and you might get this knee-jerk progression:

– Those people are rocking the stability of my world and that makes me feel anxious.

– They don’t live in my neighborhood and they look different from me. In fact, they look like a lot of the perps I see in mug shots on the evening news. I’m afraid of them.

– I don’t know why all those people are in the street but they look angry and scary.

– Some of them are looting and vandalizing.

– They’re probably all crooks and they’re protesting so that they can loot stores and vandalize other people’s property.

It takes just a few short steps to jump from anxious near-ignorance to the comfort of “knowing” crazy stuff. Worse, in doing so there is no need to stretch ourselves and find compassion for people in pain.

Ferguson, o’ Ferguson, I hurt for you and for all the Fergusons with different names but with the same torment. I even hurt for caller lady and her self-imposed tribal limitations that keep her small and extend the hate in America. But, honestly, not much.

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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 Aren’t Getting What You Want & Snowballs

Reading time – 91 seconds  .  .  . 

Last month the Senate rejected a bill that would have allowed for the refinancing of our over $1 trillion of student debt in order to take advantage of today’s low interest rates. Elizabeth Warren commented about that saying, “With this vote we show the American people who we work for in the United States Senate: billionaires or students,” And they did show us. Clearly, the 56 senators who voted nay are working for billionaires and – dare I say it? – bankers, and you and/or your kid are not getting what you want. Welcome to perpetual debt, not what you want.

We still do not have universal background checks prior to gun sales, even though 90% of Americans want that.

We still have the highest cost medical care in the world and the highest rate of infant mortality, as well as the highest rate of death from ischemic heart disease among 17 high income countries. Yes, you want the best healthcare in the world and, no, you are not getting it.

This post could be filled with critical American issues (climate warming, infrastructure crumbling, voter suppression, continuous war, children living in poverty and hunger, etc.) but the fundamental point is that we Americans are clear about what we want and our elected officials are instead delivering only to the wealthy 1%, leaving the rest of us to fight for scraps while in clear view of a rapidly collapsing American dream.

The cure for all of that is to get big money out of our politics so that our elected officials can focus on meeting the needs of Americans, instead of being beholden to the wealthy and having to do their bidding.

To that end, I am delivering a program I crafted, entitled Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want and presenting it wherever I can. It is well received and accomplishes its purposes of educating people about what is going on and providing motivation to get out of that La-Z-Boy and drive change. ACTION STEP: Invite me to present to your group.

Yet my program is not nearly enough. Creating the momentum for reform will require the voices of millions of our friends. The good news is that we’re getting more and more to join this chorus.

MoveToAmend.org is one of many organizations that is reaching hundreds of thousands of Americans. ACTION STEP: Go to their website and sign the petition.

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) has a bill in the Senate calling for an amendment to the Constitution, the purpose of which is the kind of reform we need. No, it is not perfect. No, it probably won’t even be brought to the floor of the House for a vote. Yes, it is an important step in the right direction, so: ACTION STEP: Find your senators here (use the search box in the top right corner) and call their offices. Talk to the nice staffer there and tell them that you want your senator to co-sponsor Udall’s bill and then vote aye when it is up for a vote.

Larry Lessig is doing something about getting those mountains of cash out of our politics. He has formed a SuperPAC, the purpose of which is to eliminate SuperPACs. ACTION STEP: Go to his website and kick in a couple of bucks to put a stop sign in the faces of Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and the other Billy Billionaires who are disfiguring America.

BTW – See how easy it is for you to make a difference? Keep doing it.

What else can we do? What else can I do? What ideas do you have to keep this snowball of public demand for reform rolling on, gaining size and gaining speed?

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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 do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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

Father Flannigan in Texas

Skip LeveThis is a guest essay from reader Frank Levy of Houston, TX. It was submitted as a comment to an earlier post, Father Flannigan, Your CEO and the Supreme Court, and was deemed too important to bury at the bottom of the Comments section. It is offered here for your consideration and comment.

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In Texas we are very accustomed to the “Father Flannigan phenomenon,” and much worse. Not only do we have the usual school day, pre-game, and government pre-meeting prayer, the state Republican Party primary ballot includes a statement that reads, “America is a Christian country, and Texas is a Christian state.” Voters get to agree or disagree. The “initiative” carries by over 95% every 4 years.

It is fundamentalist Christian beliefs like this that are part and parcel of the religious civil war going on across the country. The Hobby Lobby decision is but one of the skirmishes in this religious civil war.

The Hobby Lobby decision by the “Fab 5” – the 5 Catholic men on the Court – is deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with American law and legal precedent, and imposes very real long-term negative impacts on American democracy and on Americans who believe in real freedom of religion.

On the subject of the disingenuous nature of the Hobby Lobby suit and decision – as Stephanie Mencimer noted in Mother Jones in March 2014, “a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case is the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit. The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012 its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God and Hobby Lobby executives never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.”

It should also be noted that Hobby Lobby owners held significant investments in the companies that manufactured the exact abortifacients and birth control products that were the basis of the law suit.

In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims.

In Hobby Lobby the Court handed corporations religious rights for the first time in history. As Norm Ornstein points out in the National Journal, “For the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans — with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship.”

The Hobby Lobby decision also lends support to the Christian Right’s (they are neither) efforts in the new religious civil war to create a Christian theocracy in America, and to further their erroneous claims that their religious rights are being suppressed, or even outlawed.

Led by the dominion theology of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), those seeking the creation of America as an evangelical Christian nation seek to block any and all legislation that promotes real equality, as well as seeking to block legislation that opposes discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or race, especially in the areas of voting rights, access to health care, birth control and abortion and marriage, among others. These self-proclaimed Christians also oppose social programs like food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and Social Security, this based on their proclaimed religious beliefs.

These new religious warriors want an America built on their repressive and narrow understanding of Christian theology. As researcher Rachel Tabachnick explains: “Instead of escaping the Earth (in the Rapture) prior to the turmoil of the end times, they [the NAR] teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or ‘Kingdom’ on Earth.”

Their favorite, and most powerful lie used to gather fellow warriors is their lament that their religious rights are being eliminated or oppressed. A. Jay Michaelson writes in, ”Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights” published by Political Research Associates in March, 2013, “While the religious liberty debate is a growing front in the ongoing culture wars, it is actually an old argument re-purposed for a new context. In the postwar era, the Christian Right defended racial segregation, school prayer, public religious displays and other religious practices that infringed on the liberties of others by claiming that restrictions on such public acts infringed upon their religious liberty. Then as now, the Christian Right turned anti-discrimination arguments on their heads: instead of African Americans being discriminated against by segregated Christian universities, the universities were being discriminated against by not being allowed to exclude them; instead of public prayers oppressing religious minorities, Christians are being oppressed by not being able to offer them.

In the “religious liberty” framework, the Christian Right attacks access to contraception, access to abortion, same-sex marriage, and anti-discrimination laws—not on moral grounds (e.g., that contraception is morally wrong or that LGBTQ rights violate “family values”) but because they allegedly impinge upon the religious freedoms of others (e.g., by forcing employers to violate their religion by providing contraception coverage).

In fact, there is not a single “religious liberty” claim made by the Christian Right that does not involve abridging someone else’s rights.

When any religious group tries to impose its beliefs on others we ought to be afraid and strenuously oppose such efforts. We need to be extremely vigilant in opposing any effort by one group to impose its beliefs on anyone else, no matter how light or innocent that imposition might be claimed to be. If you don’t want your religious beliefs questioned, then don’t impose them on others. When push comes to shove, real religious freedom can be just as simple as that.

I wonder how the Court would have voted if the Hobby Lobby suit had been filed by a Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Hindu owned business instead of the Christian owned Hobby Lobby.

Frank Levy, M.A., MFA. is Director of Outreach Resources, which provides consulting services to local and statewide disaster and public health preparedness and response agencies and to non-profit agencies engaged in improving the lives of the most vulnerable and at-risk residents. Frank currently lives in hiding from the thought police in Tom “the Exterminator” DeLay’s Congressional district outside Houston, TX.

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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 do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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

You’ll Koch On This – Chapter 2

Reading time – 41 seconds

The city of Nashville, TN is expecting major growth over the next 20 years, including the expansion of its population by about a million people. To help deal with current congestion and to get ahead of the coming glut of cars on Nashville area roads, the city is proposing a 7.1 mile bus line with a dedicated highway lane in order to reduce commute times and the frustration of everyone. What could be bad about that?

Apparently, the Koch brothers can find something bad about it. They are major supporters of Americans for Prosperity (hmmm, for which Americans’ prosperity might that be?) and that organization is working to ban the proposed bus line. They have named any number of brainlessly dumb reasons for that, but they have put their money muscle into action. That’s probably a good idea for them, because more buses means fewer cars and that might ding the profits of Koch Industries – especially if the disease of public transportation spreads to other cities and fossil fuel consumption is curtailed.

That is a bit like opposition to solar power. Sometimes the solar panels on the roofs of houses produce more electricity than is consumed. That results in the electric meter running backward, a reasonable financial credit for the homeowners. The Kochs are fighting that, too. They don’t like incentives for clean renewable energy. It’s bad for their fossil fuel business.

In these cases and in the case presented in You’ll Koch On This – Chapter 1, the Kochs are acting in their short term self-interest and in each case the interests of the rest of the American people are at risk. Screwing public workers and screwing the air we breathe is just fine with them.

Getting past that myopic vision requires thinking that goes beyond the life expectancy of the Koch brothers and any of the billionaires who fight progress to keep their claws dug into their very profitable status quo.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with self-interest. Our job, though, is to understand the unbridled greed that is harming us in a thousand ways, to wake up and take action to stop the economic bullying being done by the few at the expense of your lungs, your wallet and the planet you live on.

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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 passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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

What Your Bloodhound Knows

Reading time – 77 seconds  .  .  .

In a most accessible essay entitled The Umwelt, David Eagleman gives perspective to a 1909 concept of Jakob von Uexkull explaining the varied perceptions different animals have to their environmental signals. Snakes, for example, are practically blind to what humans see, but they have amazing vision in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum where we can’t see a thing. Were we without special scientific equipment, we would never know that it exists. In fact, we are only able to see about one ten-trillionth of the electromagnetic spectrum, so limited are we. And we go about our daily lives largely ignorant of even the possibility of so much more to be seen.

And that is the point.

Cliven Bundy is a cattle rancher in Nevada who has refused to pay his bill for grazing rights on public lands for over two decades. By definition, he is a cheat and a thief. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at last decided that enough was enough and sent some people to confiscate his cattle. They were met by an army of angry white supremacist radicals equipped with automatic weapons and threatening to kill the BLM people. Interestingly, those belligerents brought their women and children and placed them in front of themselves so that if there were a firefight, the BLM folks would wind up shooting innocents. Such is the courage and integrity of Bundy’s extremist pals.

(Side note: If the Black Panthers had greeted law enforcement officials that way in the 1960s, how would they have been treated? Actually, we know the answer to that question, as do the survivors of the Cook County state’s attorney’s police raid that killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in their beds. But, of course that doesn’t matter any more, as the Supreme Court has recently assured us that ours is a post-racial society, where, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” – Chief Justice John Roberts. Gosh, that sounds easy – let’s all just do it.)

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/Has_the_Supreme_Court_ended_affirmative_action_at_the_college_level.html#Xg7uUszwidafvzHS.99
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/Has_the_Supreme_Court_ended_affirmative_action_at_the_college_level.html#Xg7uUszwidafvzHS.99
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/Has_the_Supreme_Court_ended_affirmative_action_at_the_college_level.html#Xg7uUszwidafvzHS.99

On April 24, 2014 Bundy held a news conference and reiterated that he doesn’t believe that the U.S. government even exists. Furthermore, he told the attending reporters and his sycophants about “The Negro” on welfare and wondered aloud if blacks were better off being slaves picking cotton. Oddly, that brings us back to Eagleman’s essay – by way of your dog.

The olfactory capability of a bloodhound is a thousand times more powerful than that of a human being. We humans recognize the smell of fresh baked bread, the delight of a rose and the odor of a freshly relieved skunk and it would be common for us to assume that we know all of what is available to be smelled. But if your bloodhound had the intellectual capability for such an analysis, he would laugh at us for that.

Back to Cliven Bundy. He is certain that he knows the truth. He is not just an extremist; he is an absolutist. He knows. Yet to borrow from Eagleman’s essay, what if Bundy and his white supremacist buddies, ”  .  .  .  could be infused with the proper intellectual humility that comes from appreciating the amount unseen?” Bundy and his blind army of hate haven’t a clue what resides outside their bigoted view and your bloodhound would laugh at them for their ignorance.

There are a lot of people in positions of power and there are also many in other positions that provide them with a very loud megaphone, like Sean Hannity at FoxNews. Even with their severely limited vision, myopic as Bundy’s army, they are certain that they know the truth. What if they could be infused with that intellectual humility and they could acknowledge that there might be more in the universe than the tiny slice they know? What if all of of the absolutists could?

Yeah, I know. That’s just too crazy a dream.

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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 passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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

The Almost Perfect Dumb-pocalypse

Reading time – 54 seconds  .  .  .

For decades we have had a most efficient, self-reinforcing cycle in our politics of incrementally allowing more and more money into our political infrastructure. As we did that, the Big Money Interests gained incrementally more influence over our laws, our bureaucracy and our courts to drive ever-larger piles of cash into the hands of those same Big Money Interests. That has made it easier for them to throw even more cash into the political infrastructure, which has driven more legislation and correspondingly more cash to the Big Money Interests.

That cycle is the destruction of our democracy (origin: Greek “demos” – the people; “kratia” – power, rule), because it takes power away from the people. The Big  Money Interests simply focus on themselves and all that cash and they lubricate the machinery of elections and government for their hand-picked politicians, so our politicians do the bidding of the Big Money Interests. That means that our legislators are not focused on the needs of ordinary Americans, so our problems have become worse.

Maybe you think that the murders at Fort Hood and Sandy Hook Elementary School are problems.

Maybe you think that your spouse being unable to secure full time employment is a problem.

Maybe you think that oil spills and toxic fracking chemicals leaked into our fresh water supplies is a problem.

Maybe you think that preventing Americans from voting is a problem.

You’re right – those are problems. And our Big Money influenced politics is the reason these issues continue to get worse.

The Citizens United case allowed unlimited and undisclosed corporate and individual money to flood our election process. Now the McCutcheon decision has unleashed nearly unlimited personal funds for direct campaign contributions, so we have The Almost Perfect Dumb-pocalypse. All that is needed to make it The Perfect Dumb-pocalypse is another airhead Supreme Court decision that takes the stops off the maximum donation to a single candidate in a single election.

Coke bottle glassesBut that may not happen, because our Supreme Court thinks that unlimited donations to a single candidate might look like bribery. Actually, it’s the only thing the Court thinks of as political bribery. Maybe we should give new eyeglasses to those on the 5 side of all those democracy killing, hope and trust destroying 5-4 decisions so that the Supremes can begin to see reality more clearly.

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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 passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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

A Modest Proposal

a-modest-proposalReading time: 68 seconds  .  .  .

There was a time when we Americans believed in the strength, resiliency and the fortitude of each of us. We took responsibility for ourselves and didn’t look to others to solve our problems. We were proud and independent.

Then things started to go awry.

The Sixteenth Amendment (ratified in 1913) authorized a federal income tax and that was the beginning of a non-stop grab at the wallets of honest Americans. Then the Great Depression came along and offered the perfect opportunity for bleeding heart liberals to suck dry the wealth of we self-reliant Americans. The feds used pictures of people in breadlines to increase taxes on hard working Americans and give it to poor people. Then there was an Old Age tax, as though anyone needed the government to tell them to put something away for a rainy day.  And the government gave money to widows and orphans and anybody with a sob story. And then it started paying for people’s medical care. And public television. And support for opera. Opera!

Things have gone way too far and government has stuck its nose into everybody’s business, so it’s time to turn things around, to go back to what made this country great.

It’s time to eliminate all government programs except for national defense. Correspondingly, we’ll eliminate all the taxes we collect for all those giveaway programs and instead allow strong, resilient, independent Americans to stand proud again. All those lazy people who have had their hands in the pockets of the rest of us can deal with the consequences of their decisions.

Getting the government out of where it doesn’t belong will be easy. For example, meat producers that make foods that kill people with salmonella will lose their customers, so the market will take care of policing that. Who needs the USDA? Same thing with medicines – the market will police that, too, so who needs the FDA?

There are lots of benefits to doing this, like the way we’ll end the population problems of our inner cities because those people won’t have food or medical care. And fewer people means lower oil consumption so we will end our dependence on foreign oil. Illegal immigration will end, because those lawbreakers would starve if they came here. And those other countries to which we are currently sending foreign aid can just take care of themselves and stop expecting us to be responsible for them.

Really, now, this just isn’t that difficult a problem to solve. A simple and modest proposal like this should slip right through our Congress.

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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 passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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

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