conspiracies

True North, Immigration and Cwazy


During my keynotes and workshops on leadership I frequently offer attendees an exercise in self-clarity called True North. The goal is for each person to craft a simple statement of who they are at their core, a declaration of what’s most deeply important to them. The responses are often moving and self-revelatory, and it is nearly universal that attendees’ statements include a component of service to others.

The value of having such a statement in hand lies in the help it provides to make the best decisions to avoid crazy side trips and instead go our own “right way” – our True North.

I was thinking of that concept the other day in the context of our fellow citizens who quite often believe the preposterous, like physically impossible conspiracy theories or political propaganda. Are they following their True North? It seems to me that they are. To a person they declare that they want every vote counted, that they are defending democracy, that stealing elections is bad and wrong and that they’re against Democrats killing babies and drinking their blood. Who wouldn’t be against that?

The point is that these millions of people may be factually wrong about what has happened, but they are sincere and believe they are doing the right things. Even the January 6 insurrectionists believed that. Every one of them believed they were following their patriotic True North. On the other hand, as motivational speaker Les Brown says, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” Perhaps these millions aren’t as clear about their True North as they and we need them to be. But there’s something else that’s more important and it lies elsewhere.

It lies in the bellies of the liars, the crank politicians, the book burners, the homophobes, the cruel internet trolls, the haters of all stripes who lie for self-aggrandizement or to fuel their rage and sense of power. It belongs to those who long ago sold out, who surrendered their integrity for a pittance. They can’t even remember when they deserted all concern for others. If they were to craft a True North statement it wouldn’t include even a ghost of a component of service to something or someone other than themselves. They lie, cheat and steal without so much as a first thought, much less a second. They promote impossible conspiracies and Big Lies and our millions have fallen for their self-serving fictions.

That’s the power of a lie told over and over: it becomes the reality of others. History shows us plainly and clearly that we humans are easily manipulated into such beliefs and our individual True North quickly gets bastardized into something gone south and terribly wrong. So, spare a little sympathy for our rowdy crowds of citizens who have been psychologically abused by the liars and cheats, even as they are still accountable for the harm they do to others and to our nation.

This is an invitation to ask and answer for yourself what your True North is. Where is it? What does service to others look like on your compass? What will it take to get there? What obstacles must be cleared from your path for that to happen and how does that connect with the dangers all around us right now?

I submit to you that any of us can wait too long. Today is a good day to take action.

Start by reading this.

And Another Thing

Presidents since Reagan have promised comprehensive immigration reform. Reagan’s meager efforts in 1986 were limited to only two issues; one made it a crime to hire “illegal immigrants”; the second legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country prior to January 1, 1982. Not exactly comprehensive immigration reform.

Obama took a stab at this in 2012 by stopping the deportation of those who had arrived in this country as babies of undocumented immigrants – the “Dreamers”. That was done by executive order, so naturally it was ended in Trump’s pathological effort to erase everything Obama.

Mark Felt, associate director of the FBI 1972 – 1973; aka “Deep Throat”

Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden all promised comprehensive immigration reform and failed to deliver it.

Common sense tells us that if we wanted this fixed, we would have fixed it. That, then, suggests that someone is benefiting from our not creating comprehensive immigration reform, so they don’t want it fixed. Who do you suppose that might be? Try our White Supremacists, who don’t want any more brown people in this country. Who else benefits?

It seems to me that it’s time to follow the direction of “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame, Mark Felt, who told Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money.” Apply that instruction to our immigration mess. Who benefits financially from keeping our immigration laws and practices so terribly dysfunctional? Please offer your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Meanwhile, contrary to the googly-eye Republican screamers, Biden’s Border Policy is Not “Open Borders”. It’s an interesting short read from the extremely conservative – but not googly-eyed – Cato Institute.

Us Cwazy Amewicans

Yes, we truly are crazy. And we manage to find the craziest things to be crazy about.

I’m not talking about being crazy about the Cubs (you remember them, right?) or crazy about Chunky Monkey. I’m talking crazy about things like saving our own lives. Why would we push back against the very things that can keep us from an early and ugly death?

But we fight vaccines, we fight boosters, we fight masks and we fight each other. Of course, we have our reasons, like our individual freedom (“You can’t tell ME what to do!”) and our love of extending our middle fingers to demonstrate how strong and powerful we are, and our love of conspiracy nonsense run amok. And, of course, we love our nit-picking to find fault in information and logic that doesn’t comport with our made-up minds in order to justify our craziness. And that’s really crazy.

As I wrote that last paragraph it occurred to me that those reasons are the same reasons we’ve used to throw a national hissy fit against seat belts, motorcycle helmets, OSHA, efforts to fight global warming, the stop sign you didn’t want at the end of your street and pretty much every sensible governmental regulation. At least we’re consistent in our craziness. *

So, are you brave enough to drop the crazy for a  moment and have a look at reality?

– like that we lag far behind every other first world nation but one at getting boosted.

– and that we have a 50 – 100% greater death rate per capita during Omicron than the people in all those other first world nations and many second world nations.

– and that our governors are lifting mask mandates, caving to the whiners and putting us all at greater risk.

– and that we comprise 4% of the world’s population but have over 20% of global COVID cases and deaths. We’re still losing over 2,400 of our fellow Americans to COVID every day, contributing to our

OVER 921,000 ALREADY DEAD**

.

We have everything we need to be the world leader in protection against COVID, but instead we lead the world in deaths. These are not just statistics. These are – or were – people. So, say it with me: We’re Number One!

Read David Leonhardt’s clear explanation and his guesses as to why we prefer to gamble against death.

Hint: It’s because we’re vewy, vewy cwazy.

To be fair, Leonhardt didn’t say that, but I quite confidently do.

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* There is some lack of consistency. In the 1950s kids were dying, becoming crippled or left to the prison of an iron lung due to polio. When a vaccine became available parents rushed their kids to get it. That vaccine was okay. So were the vaccines that eradicated smallpox and the one stopping measles and more. Somehow, those vaccines, back then, were good. We trusted our government. There was very little push back.

Today is different. Perhaps it’s because mostly old people are dying from COVID-19, rather than children. Or maybe it’s because of how fractious our times are now and the enormous anger toward “elites” or anyone in charge that’s built up over the decades, as we broke trust over and over. It’s all too easy to lash out against mandates when you believe the ones creating them are just trying to bring you down – again.

** It took the Nazis about a year to kill the first million holocaust victims. By the time we hit one million deaths from COVID it will have taken us about 2.5 years.

34.5% of our population refuses to take easy precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. They put everyone else at risk with their complete indifference to the suffering and death of others. That’s hauntingly familiar human behavior.

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.The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

You Can’t Tell Me


I’ve heard it so many times and early on I realized something. It starts by them declaring, “You can’t tell me that .  .  .  ” fill in the blank. What I realized is that they’re right: I can’t tell them.

I can’t tell them that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen (this in contrast to the 2000 election, which actually was stolen).

I can’t tell them we should have gun safety laws.

I can’t tell them there wasn’t widespread voting fraud.

I can’t tell them that the mainstream media isn’t biased against true Americans.

I can’t tell them that immigrants we allow into our country aren’t rapists, murderers and drug mules.

I can’t tell them that there weren’t young girls being sex trafficked from the basement of that DC pizza restaurant or that the building doesn’t even have a basement.

I can’t tell them that Hillary isn’t a puppet of a global cabal of Satan worshipers.

I can’t tell them that Barack Obama was born in this country.

I can’t tell them that the forest fires in the west weren’t ignited by Jewish space lasers.

The list is long, but that’s a good representation of what I can’t tell these people. They are quite right that I can’t tell them. I can say the words, but the point is that their minds are closed, so I can’t reach them.

And I was so very surprised to discover that I had my own list of what you can’t tell me.

You can’t tell me that the January 6 insurrectionists were patriots, regardless of the self-justifications they told themselves, like that Blue Lives Matter, as they stomped the life out of cops.

You can’t tell me that the various efforts to chip away at Roe over the years aren’t the efforts of some to have their religious beliefs forced upon the rest of us. No way that doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause.

You can’t tell me that the Roberts court didn’t write law from the bench in the Citizens United case, deciding to give large corporations all the rights we actual humans have. They unlocked hundreds of millions of dollars for corporations to buy their very own senators, congressmen, state legislators and president with a ruling that wasn’t in contest in the case before the Court.

You can’t tell me that McConnell didn’t steal a Supreme Court seat from Obama using twisted, false logic, and then reverse the logic when Trump was in office so he could get his far right judicial cranks installed there and in the lower courts.

You can’t tell me that the Republican Texas governor and legislature care about the Constitution or the rights of the vast majority of Texans.

This group is a reasonable start of what you can’t tell me. And I’m right about that – you really can’t tell me. The difference between me and those to whom I can’t tell anything is the difference between fact and fiction.

Plus, I really will listen to someone with a fact-based argument that counters my views. Give me your best shot to challenge my notions and I’m eager to hear you. Maybe you really can tell me.

Here’s one more, “You can’t tell me.”

You can’t tell me that the terrible storms and the resulting floods that repeatedly inundate the eastern parts of the U.S. and the Gulf Coast aren’t from the Framers, mad as hell at what we’ve done, and spitting on us from above. Maybe worse.

Disingenuous Comment of the Month

Click me for the story. Better yet, use your time more wisely than that.

Gruden got caught spewing cruel, macho, put down stuff, trumpeted in order to feel tougher, more testosterone-y. The point of including this is the last sentence in the blurb. Gruden says, “I never meant to hurt anyone.”

YES HE DID! Hurting others was the whole point of his saying those vile things.

Sadly, this is the kind of thing that today passes as an apology. It’s a non-apology apology, a disingenuous, cowardly attempt to avoid responsibility. It’s a refusal to own up to the harm he’s done to others and to begin to make amends, just as though he actually cares about those he’s hurt. Which, it’s obvious to say, he doesn’t.

This is now standard sleaze from public officials who get exposed as sexual predators or harassers or idiots who wore blackface back when they were young and stupid, in contrast to what they do now, when they’re old and stupid.

Back to the main theme, You Can’t Tell Me.

You can’t tell me that Gruden didn’t mean it. He passed out his cruelties like they were candy. His hate was meant to harm others. You can’t tell me he didn’t mean it, because he did and he does.

Same for officials who get caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. You can’t tell me they’re sorry for anything other than getting caught, like two indignant Supreme Court justices who got away with it.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Are You Seeing a Pattern? Ug!


We humans are predisposed to look for causes for what we see, relationships to explain the way things work and patterns of events to help us predict the future. For example, if caveman Ug leaves his cave, turns left and runs into no danger, and if this happens the next day and the next, Ug is wired to see the pattern and he will expect to be able to leave his cave safely, as long as he turns left. Such is the power of repetition.

This observed pattern is reinforced when one day his cave mate Gug leaves the cave, turns right and is attacked and devoured by a very hungry, grouchy carnivore. In that moment Ug will have thoroughly internalized his important lesson on cave exiting.

It’s the same for us today. You find a restaurant you like so you go again with the expectation that you’ll like it again. If you do, you’ll likely eat there a third time. By then the pattern is clear and expectations are reinforced by the evidence and by repetition. We’re quick to pick up on such things, just like Ug.

That pattern recognition can carry over to our politics, although it can be badly warped. For example, Trump continues to make the demonstrably false claims that the election was rigged, that there were millions of fraudulent votes cast against him and that hundreds of thousands of votes cast for him weren’t counted (only in swing states). He whines as though making the claims is enough to make them true. Both his true believers and his cowardly sycophants repeat those lies over and over until they seem to many otherwise sensible people to be true. The repetition, not evidence, drives their belief. That is the essence of The Big Lie throughout history.

Last week the House voted to establish a January 6 commission to learn the full story behind the insurrectionist domestic terrorists that killed 5 people, brutalized police, vandalized the Capitol Building and threatened to kill the Vice President and members of Congress. 175 Republicans voted against that bill, even though they themselves had been targets for violence on that awful day.

From the Washington Post:

Republican leaders denounced the commission as a partisan Democratic plot. [House minority leader Kevin] McCarthy [R-CA] accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of not negotiating “in good faith” and wasting “time playing political games.” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-KY]  chimed in to accuse House Democrats of having “handled this proposal in partisan bad faith going back to the beginning.”

I count 4 baseless claims and zero evidence in those 2 sentences and the rest of the article puts no evidentiary meat onto those bones. And the bad faith thing – in negotiations over the creation of the commission Republicans were given everything they asked for and – did I mention? – 175 of them, including all of Republican House leadership, still voted against the bill. These are the same people who declared unequivocally following the domestic terrorist insurrection that a full investigation was required. Perhaps they disliked having a bulls eye on their backs that day.

Apparently, giving Republicans all that they asked for was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “partisan bad faith.” Absurdly, their claims about the evil Democrats, having been repeated in the extremist echo chamber, and are now believed. That rejection of the legislation after getting everything they asked for makes me wonder what Republicans don’t want uncovered by a commission.

Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) is a guy with a most pliable memory. He delivered the fantastical claim that the violent, murderous, defiling insurgents were only making “a normal tourist visit.” To give credit where it’s due, Clyde did offer cherry picked, misleading “evidence.” Of course, that’s actually worse than offering no evidence. On the other hand, on the day of the insurrection he was screaming and helping to erect barricades inside the House chamber, hoping to stop the terrorists.

Sen. Rob Johnson (R-WI) is always reliable for a fantasy-based quote, now claiming that the insurrection was largely a “peaceful protest.” It’s entirely possible that murdered Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s next of kin might see things a bit differently. Nevertheless, it’s likely that huge numbers of believers of evidence-free claims think Clyde and Johnson have it right. Once again, outrageously false and evidence-free claims got repeated and people believed them because of the repetition.

For a clear statement of the insanity of baseless, hollow claims and the harm they do to America, watch this 52-second clip of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) excoriating Republicans for their detachment from reality and perfidy to the Constitution.

QAnon claimed that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking operation out of the basement of a pizza shop in DC. That  conspiracy claim was extra crispy crazy, if only because that pizza shop has no basement. But those claims were made and repeated in the vaporous, conspiracy-echoing universe and then believed by millions.

Are you seeing the pattern? People with large megaphones are making wild, ought-to-be unbelievable claims, offering no evidence (because there isn’t any). They repeat their fictitious claims over and over and people start to believe. And it’s worse than that.

Otherwise normal Americans are now trained to repeat these evidence-free claims themselves, as though making the accusations alone causes them to be true. These millions of Americans require no factual evidence.

Indeed, for true believers, continuous repetition of fraudulent claims at last becomes its own evidence that proves the claims.

That’s the kind of thing that could cause Ug to foolishly leave his cave and turn right, only to come to a very brutal and ugly end, just like Gug.

Speaking of Patterns

I’m an enthusiastic fan of John Oliver and I commonly appreciate his sense of outrage over very real outrageous issues. Here comes the “but.”

But last week he weighed into the Israeli-Palestinian carnage, making simple judgments about complexities he apparently doesn’t understand. He’s in good company, as most public commentary has done the same thing. I encourage you to view these videos (here and here) for a response to Oliver, because at the very least, they shed some light on the complexities and skewer the simple, easy and misleading judgments that so many are making.

I’m still a fan, but this time, as he sounded like he was making sense, John Oliver was actually making very little sense.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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