totalitarianism

Insidious


putin-on-a-bearReading time – 1:49 plus 44 seconds for the Bonus Section; Viewing time – 2:31  .  .  .

Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and he penned a most interesting essay in the New York Times entitled How a Russian Fascist Is Meddling in America’s Election. It is a worthwhile read if you want to understand a bit of Vladimir Putin’s anti-America behavior. It seems that Putin, the object of Donald Trump’s heart-pitty-pat bromance, is much enamored of the now deceased Ivan Ilyin, whom Snyder described as “a prophet of Russian fascism”.

Ilyin was all about the demise of individuality and democrace, which he saw as evil, both of which he saw as evil. He believed in some idealistic oneness of Russia ruled by a “national dictator” who would be “inspired by the spirit of totality,” whatever that means. If you are an ordinary Russian citizen and a hammer and sickle Russian fanatic, that might sound pretty good to you, And it will stay that way until the commissars snatch you from your home in the middle of the night and send you to a Siberian labor camp. And why wouldn’t they do that if individuals – you – are evil and have no individual value?

It’s so very Soviet Union yesterday.

Which isn’t the main point for us, but it does provide context. Snyder writes,

“For a decade, Russia has been sponsoring right-wing extremists as “election observers” – most recently, in the farcical referendums in the Crimea and in the Donbas region of Ukraine – in order to discredit both elections and their observation. Since democracy is a sham, as Ilyin believed, then it is right and good to imitate its language and procedures in order to discredit it. It is noteworthy that the Trump campaign has now imitated this very practice, supplying both its own private “observers” and the advance conclusion about the fraud they will find. [emphasis mine}

“The technique of undermining democracy abroad is to generate doubt where there had been certainty. If democratic procedures start to seem shambolic, then democratic ideas will seem questionable as well. And so America would become more like Russia, which is the general idea. If Mr. Trump wins, Russia wins. But if Mr. Trump loses and people doubt the outcome, Russia also wins.” [emphasis mine]

How in the world can Donald Trump be about making America great when all that he says and all that he does rips at the very fabric of our democracy?

BONUS SECTION – PLEASE ASK THIS QUESTION AT THE DEBATE:

Mr. Trump, before and during this campaign you have said ugly things about women, including calling them dogs and worse, as well as fat-shaming one of your own Miss Universe winners. You have steadfastly refused to moderate your comments and you have refused to apologize to people you have harmed with your cruel words, much less to the rest of the women of America. Now we have seen a video of you clearly objectifying women, making cruel and lewd statements about them and claiming with pride that you are free to commit sex crimes with women because you’re a star. You responded to the unveiling of your horrific statements with a limp apology.

Given that your words and your actions loudly proclaim your disdain for women, explain to all Americans why we should even consider the possibility that as president you would care about and respect over half of us – girls, women, daughters, spouses, mothers, sisters, friends – and look out for their welfare. And don’t tell us yet again that you respect women, because it’s manifestly clear from your words and actions that you don’t.

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

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

– See more at: http://jaxpolitix.com/7836-2/#sthash.J67dlWgD.dpuf


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

About Those Deplorables


false

Click the meter to get the fact-checked story on who started the birther insanity.

Reading time – 1:37 seconds; Viewing time – 2:56  .  .  .

I instantly cringed when I heard Hillary say,

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?”

There is a difference between the act (saying something deplorable) and the person (they are deplorable) and my belief is that to condemn the person is to vilify, and that is a deplorable thing to do. So, I’m forcing myself to read between the lines and make a differentiation.

The polls have shown that a very large percentage of Trump supporters are motivated by some form of hate. The white supremacists are the extreme example, of course, but ordinary Americans with strong biases about race, gender identity, religion and national origin practice”othering” and they say and do, well, deplorable things. Like beating up protesters. My blood boils at the hatred of Trump and his cadre of brownshirts and brownshirt wannabees and I struggle to keep my “reject the action, not the person” mindset. In fact, there, I just failed again with the brownshirt comment.

Separating out these people who expressly promote hate, like David Duke, former Grand Peabrain of the Ku Klux Klan, and Alex Jones, Right Wing Village Idiot (and no, I won’t provide links to these two haters), I think a lot of Trump supporters are in his Kampf for far more benign reasons. They are frustrated at being lied to over and over by elected officials. They are suffering because so many good American jobs have disappeared (Fact: a large percentage of jobs are gone because of automation – off-shoring and bad trade deals aren’t the only boogie men). And they have been fed a steady diet of lies and hate from politicians, telling them that others are the cause of whatever their woes might be, all this in the absence of any facts that might be at least tangentially connected to reality.

All that doesn’t make these people innocent. At the very least they are guilty of allowing themselves to be ignorant. In their black and white world, they refuse to allow for the complexities of the world and foolishly insist on simple answers. And they allow themselves to be led by nothing more substantive than bumper sticker slogans.

And they are getting all of that from Donald Trump.

Stretch yourself, though, to allow that in their heart-of-hearts they love America just as much as you do and that they believe in right over wrong and good over bad. If you can do that, then Stephen King can explain our national obsession with delusion in this way:

the-trust-of-the-innocent

Think about that as you watch the debates.

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

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


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

Stop Obsessing About the How – v2.0


Reading time – 2:01; Viewing time –   .  .  . 

Last month I explained that challenging the presidential contenders to the throne on how they would accomplish the things they say they will do is folly, but we keep hearing such useless challenges. Indeed, cable news picked up the story from the April 1 interview of Bernie Sanders by the New York Daily News editorial board and somehow found a fatal lack of how-ness in his responses and they obsessed over that.

The Daily News interviewers said to Sanders, ”  .  .  .  you expect to break up [the big banks] within the first year of your administration. What authority do you have to do that? And how would that work? How would you break up JPMorgan Chase?”

Oddly – and this may be news to our cable news obsessers – it just isn’t useful to ask him that, because – BREAKING NEWS! – our presidents are not dictators. They don’t get to wave their hand and have the country “make it so.” What they get to do is to name the things they see as critical and which they will influence to the best of their ability to come about if they’re elected. That’s all they have.


Hillary Clinton tells us on her website that she will reform campaign finance. She has a 3-step program to do that. First, “Overturn Citizens United.” Next, she will “End secret, unaccountable money in politics.” Third, she will “Establish a small-donor matching system to amplify the voices of everyday Americans.” Good ideas. But as president, she wouldn’t be able to do any of that. Presidents don’t get to overturn Supreme Court decisions or make laws. Again, all she would be able to do would be to try to influence those in other parts of government to accomplish those things. That’s it.

Donald Trump tells us that he’s going to build a 1,989 mile long wall along our entire border with Mexico and he’s going to get Mexico to pay for it. Setting aside the belly laughs that are coming from Mexico City, when asked how he will get the Mexican government to pay for it, his most specific answer that is understandable to a normally functioning human being is that he claims he’s a hard negotiator. Here’s what he said:

“Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico. We will not be taken advantage of anymore.”

Don’t be troubled by your inability to understand most of that, because some of it is vapor from Trump’s imagination and the rest are things he cannot do by fiat. Assuming he is serious about doing the things he mentions, he cannot do them – at least not on his own.

There are exceptions, like Bernie Sanders telling us how he would fund tuition at our state universities through a tax on financial transactions. There are other candidates who list some how stuff, too.

For the most part, though, we can examine all the issues detailed by all the candidates, but in fact, there isn’t much to examine. From a practical point of view, the only thing of use to you is that you can get a general idea of how a person thinks, what they believe and the things they want you to believe they will do if they are elected. You get to sort through all of that noise, jettison the stupid stuff and then make your selection.

So, one more time: Stop obsessing about the how.

And pass this along to whatever broadcast or cable news outlet you follow, telling them to chill about the how.

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

YOUR ACTION STEPS: 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.

The Real Problem With America


Reading time – 54 seconds; Viewing time – 2:39  .  .  .

The insults hurled about in what passes for our politics are flagrant judgments that polarize us. As harmful to our republic are the insidious accusations buried in attack speak by those seeking to steal power for themselves.

Just the other day Republican candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) went on another robotic rant, saying that one of his first acts as president, should he become that, will be to cancel all of the unconstitutional executive orders of President Obama. That, of course, was raw meat dripping blood for his angry followers and it was a great power trip for all. The only problem with it is that President Obama has not invoked a single executive order that is unconstitutional. Not even one. Perhaps Rubio doesn’t like any of them. That’s fine. His declaration of their unconstitutionality is not fine, and for more reasons than that he knows that what he’s saying is not true.

That kind of attack is exactly what puts more gasoline on the fire of distrust in government, which is now at 81%. So, too, are the repeatedly invoked descriptors of incompetent, loser, feckless, unlawful and others. When former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was interviewed on MSNBC last week she sneaked in a barb – really an assumptive “everybody knows” comment – about the unlawful Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). It might have been politically useful to make that accusation, but it was just as wrong as Rubio’s false accusation, as Obamacare has been challenged all the way to the Supreme Court repeatedly and with only one narrow exception, has been found to be quite constitutional.

These statements, along with the googly-eyed blathering of talk radio wing nuts are powerful forces for anger, hate, distrust and dysfunction. They represent the Big Lie told so often that people hearing it truly believe the anti-government, anti-anybody who disagrees with them talk. It polarizes our country even more, making it next to impossible for our government and our country to work and even for us to be civil with one another. It incrementally destroys America.

Read David Brooks’ essay The Governing Cancer of Our Time. His explanation is as insightful and powerful as any I’ve seen of the political polarization we’ve endured for at least three decades. Note especially his final point about what all the dysfunction leads to. Then come back here and offer your comments about what we can do to stop us from going further down this self-destructive path.

Late addition to this post: Read Paul Krugman’s piece, Twilight of the Apparatchiks for greater understanding of the institutionalized undermining of government and politics. Click through the despise government link and listen to the audio, too. Prepare to be shocked, but perhaps not surprised. JA

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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.

Change?


Professor Alan King

Professor Alan King

Reading time – 21 seconds  .  .  .

Alan King was a brilliant comedian. He brought sophistication to the discussion of street level life and backed it with his mostly undisclosed intellectualism, as he poked a stick in the eye of human foolishness.

We are faced today with great challenges and it’s plain to see that they are of this day. These are modern problems demanding answers, right? Well, yes and no.

Have a look at some instruction about the 1980s middle-east from Alan King. Once again we see that:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thanks to FA for pointing out the Alan King tutorial.

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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.


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

Trump and Us


Reading time – 39 seconds  .  .  .

There is only one reason I would give any e-ink to Donald Trump. It isn’t to examine and refute the flamboyant, xenophobic, homophobic, baseless, factless, insulting, unconstitutional (see cartoon tweet below) things he’s saying. That’s being handled to excess by our broadcast people. In fact, yesterday I wanted to find out what was going on other than in the despicable world of Trump and had to go to non-U.S. media to find out. What can we learn from that?

New York Daily News Tweet, December 9, 2015

New York Daily News Tweet,
December 9, 2015

No, the real reason to comment about Trump is because of what it says about us that 28% of Republicans like what he’s saying and will vote for him. And it is because there are a bunch of Democrats who like his unconstitutional discrimination of Muslims and they, too, intend to vote for him.

Donald Trump is showing us who we really are and what I see is terrifying.

No, I don’t think he can win a general election. That isn’t the point. The point is that it has become reasonable to ask whether in this blizzard of sensationalism he could. And that’s so because, through their support of Trump, so many Americans are displaying their fear and hate and anger and are eager to support a candidate who plays to their basest instincts.

We better get to the bottom of our self-destruction or we will become something that is very un-American and very dangerous to every one of us.

To understand more of Trump’s “sell,” look at what master marketer Bruce Terkel has to say.

Recorded live in a hotel room in New Jersey.

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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.

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder


Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder - a Republican affliction

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder – a Republican affliction

Reading time – 77 seconds  .  .  .

I heard a comedian explaining that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who laugh and those who make people laugh. Hard to argue with that.

And it turns out that there are always two kinds of people in the world. For cabbies it’s people who drive and people who need a ride. For children it’s kids who are fun to play with and kids who aren’t.

My view, too, is that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who divide people into two groups and those who don’t. And that is the most important difference we’re being shown by the presidential candidates.

The Republicans – every one of them – are dividing us into two kinds of people:

  • – We good Americans and immigrants who are taking our jobs.
  • – The makers and the takers.
  • – The straights and the gays.
  • – Those who know that military solutions are best and the weak-knee wimps.
  • – We good Americans and the terrible government.
  • – The gun-toters and those who would take their guns from them.
  • – The Christians and all those who are wrong.
  • – Good Americans and the “lame stream media.”
  • – The cops and the Black Lives Matter people who incite the murdering of cops.

In all these cases Republicans tell us that the cause of the problems of the first group is all those in the second group. No need here for personal responsibility or even good sense. As Church Lady would say, “How convenient.”

At the last Republican debate, divisions like these and attacks on those in the “other” group are all we heard. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We also heard about taxation plans based on math with rounding errors in the negative trillions of dollars, but which would put trickle-down economics on steroids, thus accelerating the transfer of all money in this country to 158 families.

In contrast, at the Democratic debates we heard about bringing us together:

  • – Healthcare for all Americans as a right.
  • – Economy-stimulating infrastructure rebuilding that will create millions of good paying jobs.
  • – Ending income inequality so that everyone benefits from a growing economy.
  • – Ending our corrupt election finance system and driving special interests out of control of government.
  • – Common sense gun safety laws so that we begin to end our self-inflicted, ongoing massacre of innocents.
  • – A shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy so that we don’t all die on an uninhabitable planet.

This list could be much longer, but you get the idea. It’s about all of us, not a dividing of us.

Again, and with a few extra words this time, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who try to manipulate us with fear and hate in order to divide us from one another; and those who don’t.

The key is this: Fearful, angry people are motivated, so they vote. They may vote in self-destructive ways, but they show up on election day and vote. People who aren’t fearful and angry aren’t as motivated, so they don’t bother to vote. That distinction is exactly what led to a Tea Party wacko getting elected governor of Kentucky last week.

The Republicans are affected with Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder (dividing us over mostly bogus issues) which they spread to unaware Americans via media contact. The acronym is ISAD, and I assure you that I am sad over this debasement of America.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who vote and get what they think they want; and those who don’t vote and are willing victims of the manipulators who divide 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.

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.

Watch This


TPP-Fast-Track-Congress-400x209Reading Time – 27 seconds  .  .  .

The call to action last week was to defeat the fast track bill, which would  have eliminated congressional oversight from a major trade deal. In case you are a President Obama supporter and think that he should have had free reign on such matters, think for just a moment how you would feel if that same power were vested in President George W. Bush. Bad idea.

This TPP issue isn’t over, though, because while fast track has been removed from consideration, it can be reintroduced and more arm twisting of legislators can be done. Even more to the point, though, is the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty itself. It represents a horrid abdication of American sovereignty and a turnover of trade power to lobbyists from big international corporations. Is that really what you want to see happen?

This bill is just one more iteration of big money influencing our politics and corrupting our democracy all for the benefit of – guess who? – the big money people. It is called plutocracy or corporatocracy – rule by the corporations. That means this is no longer a democracy – rule by the people – and you lose.

You can roll over and play dead so that your children will become chattel for the corporations or you can stand up to this abuse. There is no middle ground. You are either fighting for the America you believe in or you are ceding America to the rich.

Watch this space for a call to action as we get closer to voting on TPP. Then take a stand. Meanwhile, 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.

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.

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.

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