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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Al's Blog - Putin, the Chess Master

I believe that there is ample evidence that Vladimir Putin is destroying all the countries that have held Russia at bay in its quest to gain world domination.  Please consider one point, and I'll share more.
Putin has promised to make Russia great again.  1. He has reformed and greatly empowered the KGB to include foreign agents, 2. A string of right wing parties have been successful in elections across Europe, now including France, and possibly the Brexit election all of the focus is on Muslims and ISIS and ignores any mention of the Russian threat.   3. After you look into his European moves, consider his courting of Donald Trump and Mike Flynn.  Once he called Trump a genius (according to Trump), he had a friend for life - and we don't know what financial advantages he has dangled before him. Nor do we know how he may have used Assange in our election (but I'm sure that he did). Once Trump takes office and Putin moves against the Baltic States, will Trump risk a war with Russia?  Will anybody ever trust the USA again?
4.  Look at General Mike Flynn once a hero in Afghanistan and a key leader in our military intelligence who was suddenly "allowed" to resign. 
Has his anger weakened his patriotism? Could General Flynn allow his family's record of service to be forever linked to Benedict Arnold?
Why is he a darling of the Russian military?  I don't suspect him of giving away or selling military secrets, but I suspect that he is being prepared to see Russia as a great friend and ally - but Putin has no allies or friends, only puppets or enemies.  Is Flynn the one who will identify which generals to keep and which to "let retire?" 5.  What will Russia's ascendance in Europe and the Middle East do to America's world leadership?  Many European Right wing parties are looking at Russia for leadership, not the United States! This is only one piece of our foreign policy.  But since Putin has local right wing parties as his foot soldiers elsewhere, has he supported our own right wing?

Read more about this topic:

Al

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"The federal week in review: January 10, 2017

Following was written by friend who invited her friends to copy and paste. Read it and weep: 
"The federal week in review: 
1. Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day. 
2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee's salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State. 
3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump's first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest. 
4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA. 
5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election. 
6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it. 
7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US. 
8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department--for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don't like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it. 
We - progressive, liberal, libertarian and conservative - need to all wake up to what is actually happening to our beloved country. 
#UnitedWeStand

Monday, January 2, 2017

HOW THE TRUMP STOLE AMERICA

In a land where the states are united, they claim,
in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
lived a horrible, terrible, devious chump,
the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.

This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.

He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!
It’d be rather simple, so easily won,
I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!
Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,
I’ll be Jerk Messiah -- their souls they will sell.

And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.
I’ll toss random platitudes, phrases, and such,
They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!
They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,
”I will make their America great once again!”

The Trump told them “Fear! Here they come,” he would say,
“They’ve all come for your jobs, they will take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”

And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
He just trotted out Jesus -- all Jesus folk need.
And celebrity preachers, they crowned him as king,
Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.

And he spoke those old lies just as if they were true,
Until they believed his new lies were true too.
He repeated and Tweeted and blustered and spit,
And he misled and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.

And the media laughed but they printed each line,
thinking “He’ll never win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
So they chased every headline, bold-typed every claim,
‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.

And the scared folk who listened devoured each word,
Yes, they ate it all up -- every word that they heard,
petrified that their freedom was under attack,
trusting Donald to take their America back.
From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,
Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,
thinking “We’re making America great.”

Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,
or the fact that the Trump had not yet done Thing One.
They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
‘cause Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,
as a lie became truth she could never defend.
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—
a woman eclipsed by an insecure man.

And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
And Tuesday was Doomsday before it was through,
And when night turned to morning the nightmare’d come true,
With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
The Donald had done it, just like he had said.

And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,
they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,
with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.

But he Tweeted at Hamilton, Tweeted the Times,
And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,
and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
thinking that was what Presidents actually did,
thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
scared to learn he’d have to actually work
for every American, not just a few,
not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
for the brown, black, and tan ones, and those who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now all had a say,
and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.
And the Donald soon realized he didn’t win,
He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.

And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
for America was already quite great,
not because of the sameness -- the opposite’s true,
It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,
It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,
It’s Transgender, Christian, and Atheist too.
It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
Disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,
It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.

And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,
we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.
And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
be the greatness that makes our America great.
And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,
Almost three million more of us—voted for her.


By John Pavlovitz

Friday, December 23, 2016

Al's Blog - Open Letter to the Electors

Open Letter to the Electors who will gather in State Houses around our country today for the purpose of voting for the President of The United States of America:

Dear Electors:
You take the stage today to determine the future of our Country.  What has been a less than exciting formality in the past by anonymous citizens whose job it was to represent your state in electing the President has changed to a challenge of your conscience.  Donald Trump has shown us that he will represent his own personal interests, not those of any political party and not those of the American People!

He has shown contempt for the voters by keeping his personal finances secret and staging a phony report of his health history.   He claims to know more about the military than do our top generals, even though he never served in the military and avoided the draft with six deferments, including twice having his status changed from 1A, while our country was at war.

He has shown further disdain by naming controversial appointees to his administration for positions that are not subject to approvals by the Senate.
His National Security Advisor, Lt. General Michael Flynn, who moved up to the position of Director Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed to retire from that position under a cloud of suspicion.  His anger at Hillary Clinton and others can be traced to that event and explains why he used “Fake News” to attack her. He has been photographed sitting next to Vladimir Putin at a banquet in Russia, and has been a speaker for top Russian officers.  He has business connections that could compromise his role at the White House. 

But the potentially most troubling appointment is Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon whose work at Breibart and in this election has allowed the Alt Right to surface with a sense of respectability.  When in American since the Civil War has preaching of White supremacy been acceptable.  How can we legitimatize the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and other hate groups?

The question Trump asked of the African-American community, “What do you have to lose?” the answer, “All of the above and more!”

If you vote for Donald J Trump, you are voting for Russian domination of Europe and the end of America’s voice for freedom at home and across the world.

Allen Halper,
West Bloomfield, Michigan

Monday, December 5, 2016

Genius! Pure Genius - Harry T. Cook 12/2/16

Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, apparently thinks that the election of Donald Trump paves the way not only for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but for the demolition of Medicare.
 
Medicare has been the deliverance of a generation of senior citizens. It has saved millions of us from destitution even as we have paid our way via Social Security benefit deductions for the best health insurance plan in American history. In my own case -- having been almost three years along now a prostate cancer patient -- I have not had to choose between poverty and death, in that order.
 
My oncologist continues to think that I will live a normally long life of an otherwise healthy male because of the treatment she has prescribed for me along with quarterly bone and body scans. My pension as a senior-status priest of the Episcopal Church, while modest, does come with a fine Medicare supplement. By itself, though, it would be profoundly insufficient to cover the cost of my treatment. Without Medicare, I would quite possibly be dead and, as Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge put it, have helped to "decrease the surplus population."/1
 
That calls to mind another of my literary heroes -- to be guessed by you, dear reader.
 
Hero No. 2 would say that Speaker Ryan, scurrying to make himself popular with the stern patriots in his legislative chamber, has promised that the Medicare we know -- of which all citizens of Canada and many European countries happily know some version -- will be privatized with limited cash handouts given to Social Security beneficiaries. 
 
They in turn will be referred to for-profit insurance companies to buy their policies. Soon will come your call answered laconically by a bored shoe clerk after 65 minutes of being on hold, who will tell you that whatever you had done -- like having a cancerous tumor removed from your whatever -- will not be covered. And, oh yes, have a nice day.
 
And think of the bonanza that ending the Medicare to which we have been accustomed would bring to the congressional budget-bargaining discussions. What a windfall in tax reductions for the already well-off could result if the big, bad government no longer had to fork over billions a year to pay doctor and hospital bills for oldsters subsisting on Social Security until that rug is pulled out from under them. Perhaps coming soon to a theater near you.
 
The other losers would be the owners of those awful places in which the no-longer-useful elderly are placed because taking care of them at home is no fun. Letting them succumb to whatever ailments might overtake them would save a lot of money. Problem solved.
 
And anyway, doesn't the Bible tell us that "the days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow/2" -- surely meaning that God is done with us at 70 or so? Why buck the Man Upstairs? Why not spare our elderly from the labour and sorrow of getting older than God wills? I mean, really, people.
 
As has been suggested, why continue to enrich nursing home magnates? Let them turn their charnel houses into cheap apartments and charge outlandish rent. Or they could take their millions already sucked from Medicare and Medicaid and invest them in one of Donald Trump's business ventures, seeing that he'll soon be the President of the United States for a spell. Good bet, to be sure.
 
In any event, Medicare is a tool of socialism, which in reality, is a Communist ploy to weaken the financial structure of the America that's on its way to being great again. Let's for God's sake not stand in the way of that! Anyway, the Bible also says, "God helps them that helps themselves."/3 
 
End of satire.
 
Even though their craggy faces do not appear high on Mt. Rushmore, I can sense the countenance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and that of Lyndon Baines Johnson gazing down upon the country they served as President. Both gave America promise and hope -- Roosevelt with Social Security, Johnson with Medicare. Together those federal programs have given getting older a lot more respect.
 
We who are in our late septuagenarian years began paying our way in the former with every paycheck that came to us over as many as 60 years and to the latter through deductions from our monthly Social Security checks for the past dozen or so years. For many of us who never made much money due to the career paths we chose -- or which chose us -- both the former and the latter have contributed to a relatively peaceful retirement and older age. Most of us don't have much, but we have enough -- and enough to share because we think that's how life should work.
 
We do not consider Social Security and Medicare to be entitlements. We are entitled to nothing that we did not earn, even as our flight paid our parents' Social Security and our kids are paying ours. So many of us pay so little for Medicare precisely because there are so many of us paying into it. We have not asked for and have not taken something for nothing. To manage the program wisely for the long term, our Medicare deductions could be increased by a few dollars a month, perhaps matched by a bit of tax revenue from the coffers of the fabulously rich 1%. From each according to her/his ability; to each according to her/his need.
 
Meanwhile, we'd like it a lot if Speaker Ryan and his colleagues would refrain from tearing down a sound and needed structure and calling the process "reform." Far from reform, it would be grand larceny. It would rob the now-healthy of their health care and therefore of their health. 
 
1/ A Christmas Carol. London, G.B. Chapman & Hall. 1843. 14
2/ Psalm 90:10
3/ The Bible says no such thing.
 


Copyright 2016 Harry T. Cook. All rights reserved. This article may not be used or reproduced without proper credit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Breitbart News

Whenever you hear about a right-wing conspiracy theory somehow making its way into the mainstream of political dialogue, there's a good chance that Breitbart News had something to do with it.

Never heard of Breitbart News? It's a fringe website where there's no opinion too ugly, too divisive, or too outright crazy to be worth breathless promotion.

The one about President Obama being a secret Muslim born in Kenya? Breitbart was all over that "story."

Or maybe you heard about the time they attacked an opponent -- a conservative Republican, no less -- by calling him a "renegade Jew."

Why does this matter?

Donald Trump just hired Breitbart's executive director to be his new campaign CEO.

Now, we've had a conservative media in this country for a while. I don't always like what they have to say, but I respect their role and their right to exist.

Breitbart is something different. They make Fox News look like a Democratic Party pamphlet. They're a different breed altogether -- not just conservative but radical, bigoted, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy peddlers who never have been and never should be anywhere near the levers of power in this country.

But Donald Trump just gave them a broad new mandate to shape his campaign, his message, the future of the Republican Party, and quite possibly the country.

It goes without saying that we have to beat these people. But I want to beat them so decisively that their kind never rises again.

Doing that is going to take hard work, moral clarity, unshakeable determination, and enough resources to make sure that every last voter in America hears from us every single day about the choice in this election.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fear Mongering about Terrorist Attacks


     Question:  How many American deaths  have occurred since 2001 as a result of terrorist  attacks?
 
      Answer:     About 50
 
      Question:  What are your chances of being killed in a terrorrist  attack if we include 9/11?
 
      Answer:     1 in 4 million
    
      Question:  What are odds if 9/11 is taken out of the equation?
 
      Answer:     About 1 in 100 million
   
      I do not minimize the horrors of terrorist attacks.  But they have to be taken in perspective.  After 9/11, all security experts said that future attacks in the United States are inevitable.  I think our security agencies have done an excellent  job of keeping terrorist attacks to a very low level.   It is extremely difficult to prevent terrorist attacks before they happen.   Small groups of terrorists have multiple soft targets where large numbers of people congregate.   Yet the above statistics show the relatively small risk of attack.
     The Republican and right wing media rhetoric, not only this year, but for the past 7 years has done  nothing but fearmonger.   They have been pretty successful in instilling fear  throughout our country.  It is ironic that these tough talking warmongers  are in reality cowards, panicking with every attack both here and abroad.  I have not heard Bernie's reaction to the Paris attacks, but I have heard Hillary's and President Obama's.  They  correctly describe the complexity of the fight against terrorism.  President Obama referred to killing the beating heart of terrorism which will be done.  But its cancerous cells are more difficult to eradicate.  It will take time, sophistication and intelligence.  Hillary correctly stated that  Republican call for militarism will be counter productive. 
        I think a good way to put the threat of terrorism in perspective is to compare it with gun violence.  Since 9/11 there have been about 430,000 gun related deaths in the United States.
       As this election cycle continues, the importance of a Democratic victory becomes more clear by the day.  The Republicans will not solve the problem they will exacerbate  it.   From global warming, to the Supreme Court, to the war on terrorism, the election will be the most consequential of our lifetime.  I hope everyone will be fully engaged  in this  election whether it is Hillary or Bernie.  We must win.
        As always, thanks for listening.
 
Richard