understanding

Education


Iran DealReading time – 53 seconds  .  .  .

Robert Dold (R-IL) represents the 10th congressional district of Illinois and it is quite obvious that he not only took a speed reading course, but he may have invented a hyper-eyeball version of it. I say that because he delivered a blistering rejection of the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a 159-page document, on the floor of the House of Representatives mere minutes after it was released. As you know from reading this column, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) verbally blasted the agreement on Morning Joe on MSNBC immediately after it was announced. How do these guys absorb so much complex material instantaneously?

Of course, the answer is that they don’t. What they do is to prepare in advance carefully worded, vacuous attacks for the purpose of their own self-interest and especially in order to ensure the goal named by the 15 Republicans who met the night President Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 – that he would be a one-term president. Oh, wait – that didn’t turn out too well for them. Regardless, the tactic of opposing anything President Obama supports, the strategy decided by the 15, is still in play, the needs and best interests of America be damned.

The point is that a lot of Rs are slinging partisan red meat into the cages of their “base.” I love that term, as though it forms some kind of foundation. Its true identity is a bunch of knuckle-dragging angry guys who believed Ronald Reagan when he told them that government is the cause of the problems in their lives and who fondly remember good old days which actually never happened.

Don’t bother yourself with the noise of the hyperbolic rhetoric of bloviating politicians. Instead, listen to this podcast from the Wilson Center and consider what a group of well-informed and thoughtful people have to say about the Iran deal. If you’re feeling ambitious, read the deal yourself and make up your own mind. Free yourself from Washington bumper sticker talking points and doomsday idiocy crafted for election season.

This is all about your own education about one of the most important international agreements of the past 50 years, one destined to have critical long term impact for the United States and the world.

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

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


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

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

Bedrock


flag3-1Reading time – 29 seconds  .  .  .

There are so many times I – we – want to scream, “You’re kidding, right?” Idiotic and often mean things are said and done and frequently for the basest of reasons. There are those who would steal our freedoms and some of those attempts have succeeded. Many of the people doing such things have been called out on this blog. Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story, the more important story.

Somehow, somewhere there is a bedrock of being an American that we all share, even in those times when a very small few of our countrymen are doing abhorrent things. Another way to say that is that we’re the ones who aren’t shouting hateful things, who aren’t trying to diminish others and we truly love this country. We’re the ones who believe that the Constitution is a pretty good document, even as we may have different interpretations of what it means and some seem to say that we’re idiots if we don’t agree with them. We are well-meaning in our passion for what we believe and in our passion for this country.

It is in that spirit that I pass along this song to you on the 239th birthday of America. Turn on your desktop speakers or plug in your headset, crank up the volume to concert level and be grateful.

Many thanks to JL for sharing this YouTube video.

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

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


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

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

Be Like Monica


MonicaReading time – 61 seconds  .  .  .

Monica Lewinsky was a 22 year old intern in the Clinton White House when she engaged in her youthful indiscretion with the President. At the time President Clinton was 49, old enough to be her father and certainly old enough to know better. He was supposed to be an adult.

– John Boehner is supposed to know not to invite a leader of a foreign government to speak to a joint session of Congress without first getting approval from the President.

– Mitch McConnell is supposed to know that hostage taking by withholding a vote on a new attorney general is harmful to our system of justice. He is supposed to know that shutting down the government and shuttering homeland security are assaults on America.

– Mitt Romney is supposed to know that 47% of Americans are impoverished, not moochers.

– Ted Cruz is supposed to know something – anything.

– 47 Republican senators are supposed to know not to meddle in foreign policy, that it is under the purview of the Executive Branch of government. And they should at least quote the Constitution accurately and they should never direct a foreign government to distrust the United States of America.

– Governor Scott Walker is supposed to know that he should not be in the pocket of the Koch brothers.

– Sarah Palin is supposed to know – oh, forget it.

What each of these people have in common is that, like President Clinton, they are old enough to know better. They are supposed to be adults. Their indiscretions are anything but youthful and theirs are enormously damaging to America, which Ms. Lewinsky’s activities most certainly were not.

She has moved on, with several painful lessons having been learned, including how our sensationalist press feeds our sensation-seeking citizenry and how that is instrumental in the painful bullying and shaming of so many people. Watch her powerful TED talk here. She has grown and is intentionally being of service to others.

Too bad so many of our “pubic servants” in Washington, people who are supposed to know better, are intentionally refusing to be of service to America.

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TODAY’S ACTION STEP: Corporations that receive government contracts secretly funnel undisclosed piles of cash to help elect and re-elect the very same lawmakers responsible for awarding those contracts.

The President has the authority to shine a light on these influence payments with the stroke of a pen on an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. Tell President Obama we want disclosure by federal contractors both HERE and HERE.

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

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


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

Our Bridge


ChurchillReading time – 69 seconds  .  .  .

You really need to take the time:

– To hear the words of John Lewis, a man who marched on Bloody Sunday and whose thanks that day was a fractured and bleeding scull. His reward – and ours – is that he has served in Congress, a representative of South Carolina, since 1987. South Carolina! That would have been impossible, unthinkable in the context of the American South of the 1960s.

– To hear President Obama, whose entire life story would have been impossible without the courage of the few hundred who marched up that awful bridge on that terrible day. Those marchers could not have envisioned a Black president, but they made a path through the darkness of hate that Barack Obama could walk.

The struggle for human rights, for voting rights, for simple human dignity is not over in America. If you doubt that, consider what it means to be a Black teen and get gunned down for carrying a package of Skittles while wearing a hoodie and for the gunman to walk free. Imagine how it feels to be unable to provide for your family because you’re the last hired and the first fired. Feel the frustration and hopelessness of a parent who knows that their kids are getting a lousy education because those with money have put their kids into private schools and when they fled the public schools they left them to rot.

On October 29, 1941 the British were weary from years of the Battle of Britain. On that day, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the boys at the Harrow School where Churchill had attended years before. He spoke only a short time and, as he so often did, he found the words to buoy the spirits of an embattled nation, to help his people muster the strength to carry on. He told the boys,

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

We have work to do in America, because today there are people with apparently overwhelming might who are creating new obstacles to voting. They are standing on the necks of those who have come to be known as Dreamers. And they are keeping 95% of the wealth for themselves and leaving a paltry 5% for all the rest of us.

This is our bridge. This is our fight. This is our time.

Never give in.

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

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


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

A Bubble Waiting to be Popped


Rudy Giuliani

Associated Press

Reading time – 54 seconds  .  .  .

Rudy got it right: President Obama wasn’t raised like he was and he probably doesn’t love America like Rudy loves America and maybe, as Rudy said, he doesn’t love Rudy, either. For example:

Rudy’s dad – Harold Giuliani – was a convicted felon (robbery) and spent a year and a half in Sing Sing prison. His felony record got him out of serving in WW II. President Obama’s father figure was his maternal grandfather, who served in Patton’s army in World War II, the one Harold Giuliani missed.

Rudy married his second cousin, then later divorced her on the grounds that she was his second cousin. Yes, he really did that. He let his second wife know that he wanted a divorce by announcing it at a press conference. He was already dating his third wife-to-be at the time. In contrast, President Obama is married to his first and only wife. That’s different love for sure.

Rudy’s are just more of the extremist bubbles that need to be popped repeatedly, because people like Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz (R-TX), Donald Trump and others keep re-inflating them, like:

Bryan Fischer, former Director of Issue Analysis for the American Family Association made a career of bubble creation, telling us, “Counterfeit religions – alternative religions to Christianity – have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.” He specifically said that Jews have no right to practice their religion in America and must convert to Christianity if they immigrate. He also said that mosques should not be built in America.

Not to be outdone, David Lane, also of the American Family Association said, “America was founded by Christians for the glory of God and the Christian faith.”

Wayne LaPierre of the American Rifle Association continues the drumbeat that President Obama is coming to take away your guns.

There is absolutely no reality-based data to support any of those claims.

Pages could be filled with false, dishonest, flagrantly incorrect, self-serving echo chamber bubbles like these and they won’t be going away any time soon, because the bubble makers know that constant repetition, even of the loony stuff, will persuade some to their side. It’s the Big Lie method of manipulation.

So, this is a bit like Whack-A-Mole, in that we can pop Rudy’s latest bubbles, but they will be floated again and again. Your job is to keep your pin sharp and pop them whenever you hear them.

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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.

Republican Judge Hanen


Judge Hanen

Republican Judge Andrew S. Hanen

Reading time – 43 seconds  .  .  . 

Judge Andrew S. Hanen, a Republican judge in Republican Texas, heard testimony from the attorneys representing 26 Republican governors seeking to stuff President Obama’s executive order limiting deportations back into the president’s face. Republican Judge Hanen granted the Republican plaintiff’s petition on procedural grounds – i.e., a technicality – and did not deal with the substance of the executive order.

Before filing, the plaintiffs, those 26 Republican governors, went venue shopping for the best state in which to find the most sympathetic hearing, the best city in which to file their case and the best courtroom and judge to whom they would plead their case and they zeroed in on Republican Judge Hanen in Brownsville, TX. Their selection was doubly insightful, because the inevitable appeal of his limited and superficial ruling will be in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is in Republican New Orleans, Louisiana. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Republicans have been accused of having no compassion for our Dreamers or for the migrant workers who are sometimes viciously exploited. While that might be an accurate depiction of some Republicans, their apparent callousness really has nothing to do with the concerted effort by these 26 Republican governors and the Republicans in the House and Senate to thwart President Obama’s immigration efforts. There are two reasons for their actions and neither has anything to do with compassion.

First, Republicans continue to want to do everything possible to ensure that President Obama has no victories of any kind, regardless of the good sense of his proposals, so they oppose anything he supports.

Second – and this is the big one – Republicans are on their way to extinction. Here’s how TalikingPointsMemo described their coming tipping point in a 2012 piece:

The government also projects that in five years, minorities will make up more than half of children under 18. Not long after, the total U.S. white population will begin an inexorable decline in absolute numbers, due to aging baby boomers.

So, old white guys (the great majority of the Republican Party) are in the process of losing their majority and, consequently, their grip on power, money, control and domination.

Republicans have demonstrated for decades that they are bereft of new ideas for meeting America’s challenges or for grabbing hold of 21st century opportunities, so they can’t appeal to voters on the basis of their great solutions or clarity of the best way forward. The only way they can stay in power is to steal elections (like in 2000 and 2004) or to deprive voting rights from people who naturally tend to vote for Democrats, like people of color. Eliminating their votes by deporting Hispanics is a sure fire way to help prevent Republicans from being overpowered by future Democratic voters.

And that’s why Republicans want to deport over 12 million people and why Republicans oppose any path to citizenship and why Republicans want to kill the president’s executive order and send our Dreamers packing. For dinosaur Republicans who can already see that demographic meteor in the sky, it’s the species survival instinct played out in the political arena. They don’t hate Hispanics; they just want to continue to dominate them.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


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

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