Military

3 Q & As and The Supreme Court


supreme-court-minus-1Reading time – 1:49; Viewing time – 2:56  .  .  .

Much has been said about the long term consequences of the 3 – 5 Supreme Court Justice appointments that will be made over the coming 4 to 8 years by the next president. Whatever your notion of the type of Court we should have, factor the following into your voting decision making.

Donald Trump has spoken recklessly and cruelly by demeaning women, Gold Star families, POWs, Mexicans, Muslims and the disabled.

1. Two-part question: As President, what might he say about Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Peña Nieto of Mexico or President Erdoğan of Turkey? And is that a Presidential role model you want for your little ones?

Trump lost almost a billion dollars in one year. It’s not uncommon for businesses to have a bad year, but one billion dollars? Oddly, he says he is such a good businessman that he alone can lead our economy to greatness.

2. Does that make any sense to you?

Trump has spoken carelessly about the use of nuclear weapons, declaring that we should give them to at least 3 nations that are currently non-nuclear. Doing so would greatly increase the likelihood of America-hating extremists getting their hands on nuclear weapons. He has also said that he might use nuclear weapons in a first strike capacity. Such loose talk about nuclear weapons makes national leaders around the world far more than uneasy and it’s not difficult to imagine an adversary like North Korea (with its stunningly psychotic leader Kim Jong-un) perceiving that President Trump would nuke them, influencing them to strike us first.

3. Do you really want a Commander in Chief who is cavalier about nuclear weapons?

I’m no flag waver for Hillary Clinton and I have serious concerns about her as President. On the other hand,

1. She has some positive traits as a roll model and won’t insult women, men, members of minorities or the disabled, members of the opposition or international leaders.

2. She has a plan for the economy that, while imperfect, will have some good overall effect.

3. She won’t get us nuked by North Korea, nor will she start World War III.

That is to say, our choices this year may be dreadful, but these are the choices we have. We can eventually recover from brutish insults and wanton discrimination; from an insane economic policy that will add $10 T to the national debt; and from Supreme Court decisions we disagree with. We can’t recover from a nuclear war. That trumps everything, so stop sweating the Supreme Court decisions.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Reality Check for Trump Voters


Reading time – 67 seconds; Viewing time – 2:34  .  .  .

You’re flashing the bird at the “establishment” – the authority figures, the big money kids, the guys in the expensive suits and power ties. They have been screwing you for so long that you can’t even remember when you weren’t being screwed. You have no recollection of the last time anyone from any establishment said something that didn’t ring phony. You’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Got it. You’re right – you are being screwed.

And you’re being screwed in ways you might not realize.

Because the crazies with the megaphones have been tweaking your nose over immigration, God, guns and gays. They’ve been fanning your flames with absolutist junk, like, “You’re either with us or you’re not an American” and they have made your blood boil. And all the time they were doing their misdirection trickery they were picking your pocket.

It started with Reagan’s “supply-side economics,” which was supposed to “trickle down” wealth to you from the fat cats. How’s that been working for you? The answer is that it’s not working at all, because the fat cats kept it all for themselves. And they’re still keeping it and protecting their rights to keep their claws deeply embedded into your wallet, thanks to the laws your legislators enacted that created tax breaks only for already wealthy people. You didn’t catch even a little break.

They told you that it was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. That sounded good. Then they defeated every attempt at job-creating legislation except the one for vets. And the Republicans had to be shamed into passing that.

That’s right: They distracted you with tweaky social issues while they ate your lunch. And they’re still eating your lunch.

Just get this: Donald J. Trump has been and is an integral part of the establishment misdirection scheme that got your pocket picked. His claws are holding your cash and he’s proposed cutting taxes even more for the rich kids – but not for you. Trump won’t be trickling any money down to you.

You know a phony when you see one, even if he sounds like a really good circus sideshow barker. So, when November comes around, put your hand on your wallet and keep it there as you vote.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Trump Doctrine


Reading time – 66 seconds; Viewing time – 31 seconds  .  .  .

It’s all but a done deal that Donald J. Trump, the real estate serial failure guy with all the presidential right stuff of a circus sideshow barker, will be the nominee of the Republican party. There is poetic justice in that.

The Republicans have been sowing the seeds of distrust and anger toward government for decades, certainly since Ronald Reagan campaigned in 1980, telling us that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

They have compounded that by paralyzing government for the past 6 years, including shutting it down altogether. The public anger that has stoked has now come back to bite the Republicans in the person of Donald the Arsonist, spraying gasoline on anything that has the kindling material of “establishment”.

In advance of the Indiana primary, Trump garnered the endorsement of Bobby Knight*, the flamboyant, abusive and fired former basketball coach of the Indiana Hoosiers. That endorsement was a notable pairing with Trump’s foreign policy speech just a day earlier, wherein he offered vague, belligerent claims, supported by incorrect information. For example, Trump promised that once he is president, ISIS will disappear, “very, very quickly.” Said Trump, “We must as a nation be more unpredictable.”

Yet we now know how Trump will defeat ISIS, thanks to his new endorser (so much for being “unpredictable”). Click on the bottom left corner of the video and you will understand the foreign policy methodology of The Trump Doctrine.

  • * Click through to the link in the text above and listen to the crowd after Knight waxed red-white-and-blue over the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan. That should add to your understanding of the people who support Trump. (Note to historian Knight: It happened in 1945, not 1944.)

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Betrayal


WWPReading time – 88 seconds; Viewing time – 3:36

One of the most difficult things to deal with is betrayal. It is the very thing that is driving the popular success of the Donald Trump f#&k you campaign. People feel sold out – betrayed – by our government and they are livid and they gravitate to a candidate spewing outrage. That sense of betrayal – the stab in the back by those we trusted – is part of the reason why treason is a capital crime.

And it is exactly why I have a problem with the Wounded Warrior Project. I’ve always had an unease about the slick commercials that show wounded vets in rehab, families with a disabled parent and they’re all smiling, a popular country singer tugging at hearts in a practiced baritone voice and a sound track that begs that we say a prayer for peace. The commercials are slick, because nowhere in the ads is there a statement about services actually delivered to vets and the benefits vets get and the recoveries they experience due to Wounded Warrior Project services, so the ads don’t quite pass the sniff test. What is really going on?

In a stunning January 27, 2016 article in the New York Times online, Dave Phillips detailed the lavish spending – hundreds of millions of dollars per year – that Wounded Warrior Project spends on its executives, not vets, for travel, dinners and hotels, its draconian employee practices and other questionable activities of the organization.

Wounded Warrior Project urges us to donate $19 per month and they give a WWP blanket as a token of thanks. That would be nice, were the monthly ding on your credit card account actually going to helping our vets. Phillips reports that, “About 40% of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead  .  .  . which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs  .  .  .” That means that $7.60 of every $19 monthly donation goes to executive pay and fancy hotels at $500 per night, instead of helping wounded veterans. To put that into perspective, ”  .  .  .  the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group .  .  .  spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead.”

Ugly fact: Phillips reports that Mr. Nardizzi, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project, ”  .  .  .  was given $473,000 in compensation in 2014.” Is it okay with you that all that money went to a very healthy, never-been-in-the-military CEO instead of going to vets suffering PTSD or amputations? If you have donated to Wounded Warrior Project, are you now feeling duped?

We hold our veterans in highest esteem, as they do for us what we don’t want to do ourselves. They intentionally put themselves in harms way to protect us and they too often need our help when they come home. I’m all for supporting our veterans and I’m definitely not for supporting Mr. Nardizzi, who probably won’t be sending me a Wounded Warrior Project blanket any time soon. And that’s okay, because I think he is betraying our veterans.

CBS reported on this issue, too, and if you’d like to read the weasel words Wounded Warrior Project had to say in response, click here. Perhaps the reporting is wrong. Maybe they spend 20% on overhead, as Nardizzi claims in his rebuttal. But 8% is even better – and there’s still that sniff thing.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crimes of Passion and Packing Heat


Northlake Mall Shooting

Northlake Mall, Charlotte, NC

Reading time – 53 seconds; viewing time – 2:56   .  .  .

Crimes of passion are exactly that: crimes of passion. When the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in, the amygdala is screaming out imperatives at about 10 times the rate of our analytical, logical pre-frontal cortex. In other words, we act solely in response to the passion of the moment and we slay that dragon and obliterate the danger before us. And we believe that imperative is justified if we see ourselves as having been victimized. Have a look at Arthur C. Brooks’ brilliant piece in the December 20 New York Times for more on that.

On December 24, 2015, some pistol packing fool got his impassioned conflict with another person violently solved in the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC. What might have prevented that from happening?

The NRA says that we need more “good guys” to be packing heat in order to alleviate the slaughter that continues unabated in America. They push back against any attempt to promote gun safety, ideas like universal background checks and prohibiting violent felons from owning guns. Their push-back is most commonly anchored in the claim that such laws would not have deterred shootings like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA. It’s a stupid argument, but let’s apply its logic to the North Carolina mall shootings and another from not long ago.

More people packing heat in that mall would not have stopped that slaughter because it happened way too fast. In fact, more people packing heat likely would have made it unclear who the bad guys were and even more innocent people would likely have been injured or killed by ignorant shooters.

Think next about the movie theater in Aurora, CO where in 2012 that idiot opened fire during the Batman movie. What do you suppose would have happened if a few dozen other movie goers were carrying guns? The additional carnage that would have been created by the NRA’s so-called “good guys carrying guns” and doing their version of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but this time in a dark movie theater, would have been horrific. And they wouldn’t have even have stopped the shooter from killing and wounding people.

Now let’s apply the NRA’s “it wouldn’t have stopped certain killings” logic to these shootings and their push-back against gun safety measures.

More people packing heat would not have been useful in stopping either the killing at the North Carolina mall or in the movie theater in Aurora, CO. In fact, they would have made things much worse in both cases. Therefore, according to the NRA’s own logic, we should not have more “good guys” carrying guns.

Quod Erat Deonstrandum.

Dear NRA: Stick that up your Glock.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Is My Country


Edmund Burke, 1723 - 1792. MP and supporter of the American Revolution

Edmund Burke, 1723 – 1792. MP and strong supporter of the American Revolution

Reading time – 3.5 minutes; viewing time – 8:15  .  .  .

Necessary preface:

Je Suis Paris

In solidarity with the people of France in this terrible moment

This offering has been scheduled for quite a while and has been pushed back until today because of more pressing issues. Now we have a most pressing issue, the unholy slaughter of innocents in Paris on Friday night. Almost oddly, that makes this essay more urgent, because one of the reasonable, if self-destructive, reactions to a threat is the surrender of liberty in the frantic search for security. Recall that Hitler came to power via a free, democratic election.

———————————

One thing worth noting about reality is how stubborn it is: denial doesn’t change it; wishing away the unpleasant parts doesn’t disappear them. Little children playing peek-a-boo cover their eyes so that they cannot see you. What is notable is that their momentary inability to see you causes them to believe that you’re actually not there. They fail to recognize the reality – the you that remains even when they don’t see. Reality. It’s stubborn.

Almost precisely eleven years ago Rev. Davidson Loehr of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, TX published an essay entitled Living Under Fascism. I urge you to click through and read it but caution you to first be sure that you are brave enough to face reality. Your courage to look won’t change reality. It will, however, change you.

In his essay, Loehr quotes a scholarly political science work, writing,

In an essay coyly titled “Fascism Anyone?,” [click here to download the PDF] Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 “identifying characteristics of fascism.” .  .  .  See how familiar they sound.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos [sic], slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights 

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.

Consider Britt’s challenge: See how familiar these things sound. Has the creep of fascism by our political creeps given you the creeps? Not yet? Well, uncover your eyes, because pretending that this scourge is not here hasn’t, doesn’t and won’t make it go away.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil

is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

This is my country. And yours. And it needs us to stand up and speak up.Flag with Clouds

 

That’s why there’s a flag right here.

Thanks go to JL for pointing out Loehr’s essay.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Somebody Please Tell Me


Obama - Afganistan drawdown

October 15, 2015 – President Obama announcing he will keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term in office

Reading time – 69 seconds  .  .  .

We were told by President Bush that we should invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and because he was in cahoots with al Qaeda in the 9/11 attack. Besides, Saddam was a bad guy. Okay, at least he got the bad guy thing right. So we attacked a nation that had done us no harm. In fact, they had been our ally just 20 years earlier.

Before that we invaded Afghanistan. At the time I thought about the British, who tried to subdue that country (1839-1842) and were humiliated, with thousands of British killed. A hundred years later the Soviets tried to subdue Afghanistan and gave up after ten years of frustration, death and enormous expense. How is it that our leaders didn’t see the pattern? How is it that they still don’t?

We were told the invasion of Afghanistan was to go after (i.e. kill) the al Qaeda members hiding there, plus to deny al Qaeda safe haven – as though preventing their use of that geography would somehow prevent any further al Qaeda training for attacks on America. Then the purpose was somehow stretched to include driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan, or at least removing them from power. We weren’t given much of a reason for the stretch; the goal posts were just moved to include waging war against people who had not attacked us. It was the same song as with Iraq a couple of years later, including that they had been our ally just a few years earlier.

Afghanistan is a country that has never had a strong central government and which was mostly a bunch of tribal clans within Afghanistan’s geographical borders. Oddly, after deciding that we were going to drive the Taliban from power we once again adjusted our purpose for making war there to include planting a national democracy. What could possibly go wrong with that? Oh wait – that’s exactly where and how we failed in Iraq.

President Obama campaigned in 2007-2008 promising to end the war in Iraq. At least most of our troops were withdrawn, but we left behind the chaos that the world continues to deal with now. Then we were going to have all of our troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. That didn’t happen and now the President has informed us that not only will at least 5,500 troops remain in Afghanistan through the end of his second term in office, but that he will be leaving the entire mess for the next president.

What remains perfectly opaque is the reason that the U.S. should have any troops in Afghanistan. What is the compelling national security purpose of putting our troops at risk, such that some number of them will be killed and about 8 times as many will be wounded? How are we better off by intervening in that country, killing some of its people and continuing to be the chief recruiter for yet more angry Islamists to want to attack the U.S.? What is the return on our investment of trillions of dollars?

Somebody please tell me why we should continue to be at war in Afghanistan.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Vice


Reading time – 67 seconds  .  .  .

Happy Columbus Day, as we celebrate some guy who found an island over 500 years ago and we have no clue about the reason we remember and celebrate, a reason which has been lost for over 100 years. It’s just another day off work for some. So, the message today is, “Who cares?” Read on.

The vices of the rich and great are mistaken for errors,
and those of the poor and lowly for crimes.
– Marguerite Gardiner (Lady Blessington)*

And so we jail young black men for possession of a small amount of marijuana, but we allow government torturers to go unindicted.

Banking swindlers foreclosed fraudulently on the home mortgages of millions of Americans, forcing them onto the street and nobody went to jail for fraud or conspiracy. At the same time our legislators cut funds for food stamps that took food from the mouths of millions of kids, as those legislators congratulated themselves on their fiscal prudence. None was held to account for the empty stomachs of poor kids.

Goldman Sachs aggressively and fraudulently sold collateralized debt obligations (“CDOs”) to its clients, while at the same time dumping their own holdings because they knew those CDOs were worthless. No one went to jail for their SEC violations, fraud or conspiracy. They just got a slap on the wrist. Gotta wonder if the absence of Goldman asses in federal prison has something to do with the revolving door between Goldman and the FED.

Adding the $600 billion given to the Pentagon annually to the hundreds of billions thrown at the NSA and the rest, our annual defense spending is about $1.5 trillion, which supports our state of perpetual war, often on the wrong side of other peoples’ conflicts. That’s very profitable for the war matériel manufacturers, for so-called contractors (read: mercenaries) and others. It’s homicidal for people underneath our drone-launched rockets. Clearly, the profiteers care more about their profits than the lives of those they kill, yet no one is held to account.

Our leaders lied us into wars (think: Viet Nam and Iraq), nothing good came of it for the people of those countries or for the US, monstrous bad things happened and none of our leaders has been held accountable for the lying that resulted in millions slaughtered. Then a guy in New York got busted for selling cigarettes illegally, cops strangled him to death and no one called paramedics or attempted to resuscitate him. They just got put on administrative leave for a while. Makes me wonder: Black lives matter, but to whom?

We keep our privately run prisons full of people guilty of not much (sometimes guilty of nothing at all) because it’s profitable for our prison industry and helpful to “tough on crime” politicians. At the same time, the rich and powerful torturers, defrauders and even murderers go free.

Sadly, accountability is applied in inverse proportion to wealth and power.

So, many of the rich and powerful get away with their vice, largely because the laws are made by the rich and powerful; the rest of us are subject to the law. It’s that way in most places, so in this respect, America isn’t exceptional.

But we could be.

So, who cares? If we don’t care enough, things are certain to get worse.

*Thanks to MG for the quote.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Silent Majority


Silent Majority

President Nixon’s “Silent Majority Speech” November 3, 1969

Reading time – 58 seconds  .  .  .

Donald Trump has resurrected the term “silent majority” and I must take issue with both a directly stated and an implied message.

To my recollection, the term “silent majority” was coined by Richard Nixon in the late 1960s as code for “real, patriotic Americans,” in contrast to those who spoke out against the Viet Nam war, Lyndon Johnson and then Nixon. Those not in the silent majority were, apparently, a non-silent minority, with all that implies. That labeling was an “other-ing”, a way to divide Americans from one another and suggest that those who protested that awful war were unpatriotic. It seems that we humans always need a boogeyman, someone who is worse, so that we can feel better about ourselves. We are manipulated so easily.

For the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency that kind of rhetoric proved most useful to him, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of that administration who went to “the Dark Side,” as Cheney put it. That is to say, if you disagreed with them, especially in their lust for war in Iraq and for torturing prisoners, then you were unpatriotic. Worse, they said, if you disagreed, then you didn’t support our troops. Cheney has reiterated that sentiment about President Obama frequently. It’s quite a leap to jump from disagreeing with the administration to not supporting the troops. So, I don’t like the term “silent majority,” as though most Americans think that the Iraq war was a good idea or that torturing is okay. The term is a false and destructive divider. And I’ve yet to hear any American speak out against our troops. Quite the contrary: support of our military people is nearly universal.

I travel quite a bit and more than once I have been among the people in airports who  have stopped and applauded service men and women as they walk to or from their airplanes. I was at a lunch counter at an airport when a fellow in uniform sat near me. The guy immediately to his left reached out his hand and thanked him for his service. This goes on all the time – as it should – and there is nothing silent or even political about it. It’s simply Americans of all political stripes honoring those who wear the uniform and has nothing to do with the slimy manipulation politicians use as a false divider in order to promote themselves.

So, Mr. Trump, put a sock in it. The same goes for all the rest of the political manipulators. Just put a sock in it.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

One More Time, Jeb


Bush Kept Us Safe

Jeb Bush Twitter feed – September 17, 2015

Reading time – 2 minutes, 19 seconds  .  .  .

To you: Betcha you’re going to have an opinion on this.

To Jeb: You told the lie again, a lie that has been repeated since 2002, this time at the CNN Republican candidate debate. You defended your brother’s legacy by telling us that he kept us safe. Let’s check out your claim.

The attack on September 11, 2001 came on George W. Bush’s watch. 2,996 people died that day and 422,000 New Yorkers have suffered from PTSD because of that attack. It happened after he had been warned repeatedly about an imminent attack on the U.S. by Islamist extremists, warnings which he dismissed and ignored. Jeb, you might want to check with some of the survivors and family members of those who died on that awful day as to whether your brother kept us safe.

President Bush lied to Congress and to the American people, claiming that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda, something that is absurd on its face. al Qaeda membership was entirely religious extremists and Saddam was a secularist who hated them.

Your brother lied about a WMD threat from Saddam Hussein. Perhaps you recall his National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice stoking fear by telling us that the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud. And you might also remember the lies about the yellow cake (ref: Amb. Joseph Wilson’s report) and the aluminum tubes. Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated those lies to the UN.

At the same time President Bush was calling for an authorization to use force against Saddam, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was calling for restraint. They were the experts doing the inspections and they were finding no weapons of mass destruction or even a hint of them, so, Jeb, your brother actually protected us from nothing at all.

Without question Saddam was a bad guy, but consider what had been going on in the Middle East and what the present world circumstances might be if we had not invaded and overthrown him.

Saddam’s army had fought a war with neighboring Iran for years and they were bitter enemies. Had Saddam been left in power he would have been a natural check on Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapon capabilities. He was brazen enough to have attacked Iran to protect himself from such a threat and we might not be concerned with a nuclear Iran today. Instead, we live with a negotiated agreement, hoping it will prevent an Iranian nuclear threat. By attacking Iraq, just how safe did your brother keep us?

Saddam was a brutal dictator, but he kept rival factions in check in the Middle East. Were he still in power there would be no ISIS/ISIL. There would have been no beheadings, rapes, torture, murders, destruction of ancient sites or any of the rest of the carnage. There would be no caliphate and Americans would not be getting recruited to join that savage bunch and wage jihad on fellow Americans.

6,855 American military people were killed in those unnecessary wars (counting all coalition forces the number is 8,301). About 2/3 were killed in Iraq and 1/3 in Afghanistan and over 300,000 American military people are suffering from PTSD. (Check here and here for more on that. Note that the estimate of the number of our military people with PTSD from those wars has grown significantly since the Rand Corporation report in 2008 and has been estimated at over 500,000.) And all that warring cost us trillions of dollars that we put on the national credit card for our children and grandchildren to pay and which will drag down our economy for decades. None of that would have happened without the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Your brother didn’t do a very good job of protecting our military folks or securing safety for our future.

Your brother’s administration ordered the torture of prisoners in full and obvious violation of international law and United States law. We are still detaining dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo and will never know what happened to so many who were sent to “black sites.” In the process of all that, we became despised by millions and the torture we did has been used as a recruiting tool for yet more religious extremists to volunteer to attack Americans.

Absent the dishonest invasion of Iraq there would be no flood of refugees from Iraq and somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 Iraqis would still be alive. The number is uncertain because we made no attempt to measure either Iraqi deaths or the number of those who fled their homes to avoid war or those who are doing so now.

You tell us that your brother, the former president, kept us safe, yet you offer no proof or even a hint of support for your claim. It might be inferred, based on what has been said by former Bush administration people, that because there were no additional massive attacks on America like 9/11 that your brother kept us safe. Tell that, though, to the citizens of Madrid and London and to the people who were on the airplane with the shoe bomber.

2,996 people died in New York, 6,855 of our military are dead, hundreds of thousands are dead or displaced in Iraq, ISIS poses one of the greatest threats to humanity, Iran has made great progress toward getting a nuclear bomb to use on Israel and on the United States  .  .  .  the list of horrible things caused by your brother could go on and on and none would exist if we had not invaded Iraq.

Your brother kept us safe? It’s a great, chest-thumping bumper sticker, Jeb, but it’s a lie.

PS – pass this along to Dick Cheney.

————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

1 2 3 Scroll to top