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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The 2014 Election - Opinion

The Letter to the Editor below is one I sent to the Detroit Free Press after the 2014 Election results were out.  While it focused on Michigan, it pertained to the whole nation! The philosophical and financial radical element to which I was referring is: The John Birch Society.  One of its founders was Fred Koch, also the founder of Koch Industries.  Two of his sons, David and Charles, were behind the growth of the Tea Party and are the driving force behind ALEC (where they decide which laws are written and then transmitted) and a network of "think tanks" that promote the party line in almost every state.  While they have posed as Conservative Republicans, they are, in fact, Libertarians.  Their work has helped to inflame the hatred of government that feeds the frenzy behind Trump and other demagogues.   Many of their goals can be found in the John Birch Society Blue Book.  These are the people who called Dwight Eisenhower a communist! We are now seeing how 40 members of the US House of Representatives who are committed to an agenda formed by a single, well funded group can control the 455 elected* representatives of the people. * Several of those only represent districts that are no longer competitive because of the 2010 gerrymandering!

 Tuesday, November 18, 2014, Subject: A Test for the Governor:
"When I wrote to the Free Press before the November elections, I included my belief that Governor Snyder would not stand up to the radical elements in his party by using his influence, and when necessary, his veto.  I hope that I was wrong!
When Republicans finish their victory lap around the country, they may wake up and find out who will be controlling them.  The goals for this radical element were established long ago by people who were so far to the right that even William Buckley, who set the standards for modern conservatism, considered them dangerous.
In 2010 and in 2014 they threw unlimited and untraceable money into campaigns they needed to control Congress and as many state governments as possible.   In 2014, their job was easier because their plan of redistricting had worked so well that now only a handful of state and federal elected offices are competitive.  In Michigan we will likely have five Democrats and nine Republicans going to Washington for this election and the next, no matter what the voter turnout looks like. That fact accomplished their next step which is to change Presidential elections so that the size of the Democratic turnout doesn’t matter.  They want to change our method of selecting Electors, who actually vote for the president.  Their plan is to change from majority vote to a vote by Congressional District.   They will then complete their coup with an almost certain group of nine Republican and five Democrats voting for the President of the United States in 2016.  If the Democratic candidate wins the popular count in Michigan by a million votes, it won’t likely matter! The plan is not just for Michigan. It is a national plan to control the United States by a handful of Oligarchs whose names and goals we can only guess! While the Republicans thought they won this year, they will soon see that the real power behind their Party will control every decision they make! The onus is on Governor Snyder to stop this coup, at least in Michigan!".

Post Writing note:
Of course, the Governor went along with the right wingers on every important issue!
And in the Congress, even the very conservative John Boehner was in their way and had to be removed.
The Liberty (Libertarian) Caucus will rule the House of Representatives unless the Republicans wake up!

Al Halper

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Latest Failure of the American Jewish Establishment - Haaretz

What imprint will the fight over the Iran deal leave on organized American Jewish life? Much is still not clear. But this much is: If you thought young American Jews were alienated from their communal elders before, just wait.
Older American Jews are closely split on the Iran nuclear agreement. Younger American Jews are not; they support it overwhelmingly. According to a late July poll by the Jewish Journal (the only one I’ve seen that breaks down Jewish opinion by age), American Jews under 40 back the deal by 34 percentage points, almost twice the margin among American Jews as a whole.
But what’s most important isn’t merely the fact that younger American Jews back a deal that the most powerful American Jewish organizations oppose. It’s the reason why. The American Jewish establishment’s response to the Iran deal is a case study in the attitudes and behaviors that have been alienating young American Jews for years.
Think about the assumptions that underpin the American Jewish leadership’s antipathy to the deal. First, that an Iranian nuclear weapon, or even an Iranian nuclear weapons’ capability, poses an “existential” threat to Israel. Listening to establishment American Jewish leaders, you’d never know that Israel has its own nuclear arsenal, capable of being delivered by air, land and sea to ensure maximum deterrence. Instead, American Jewish leaders endlessly imply that Israel’s Jews are defenseless against a potential Holocaust. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Abe Foxman, the recently departed head of the Anti-Defamation League, have both compared today’s era to the 1930s.
Younger American Jews don’t believe that. (As it happens, neither does Israel’s security establishment). Because young American Jews have experienced less personal anti-Semitism than their parents and grandparents and because they’ve grown up seeing Israel as a regional superpower, they’re more skeptical of claims that Israel’s enemies are about to destroy it. In 2010, when the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Jack Wertheimer compared attitudes among older, establishment American Jewish leaders to the views of those younger leaders who had created new Jewish organizations, he found that the latter were 36 points less likely to see combatting threats to Israeli security as central to their Jewish identity.  A 2007 study of the new religious communities formed by young American Jews found that they dwelled less on memories of Jewish victimhood, like the Holocaust, than on memories of Jewish moral obligation, like civil rights and labor movements.
If the specter of another Holocaust is one narrative underlying the American Jewish establishment’s opposition to the Iran deal, uncritical support for the Israeli government is another. In the American Jewish establishment, it’s an article of that faith that when it comes to Israeli security, American Jews should not second-guess Israel’s leaders. And they should do their best to ensure that the United States government does not either.
Most younger American Jews reject that. It’s partly because they’re less tribal. A 2010 study of committed younger American Jews found that, “they see supporting the state of Israel as obligatory only insofar as the state acts in accordance with highest principles of democracy, tolerance, human rights, and Jewish ethical values as they understand them.” And most younger American Jews don’t think this Israeli government embodies those principles. According to the sociologist Steven M. Cohen, who conducted the study, the same Jewish Journal poll that found young American Jews overwhelmingly supportive of the Iran agreement also found that almost two-thirds don’t consider Netanyahu’s government serious about peace with the Palestinians. (That’s almost twice the rate of American Jews over 65).
Young American Jews are also more thoroughly American. When the pollster Frank Luntz surveyed younger American Jewish opinion about Israel in 2003, his number one lesson was that “most of our respondents … reserve the right to question the Israeli position.” His lesson number two was that “young Jews tend to view themselves as Americans first and Jewish second.” For top American Jewish leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement that members of Congress should judge the Iran deal based on whether its serves “the national interests of the United States,” smacked of anti-Semitism. For many younger American Jews, it’s self-evident.
Finally, many young American Jews resent the way the organized American Jewish community limits free discussion about Israel. Two years ago, Jewish college students created “Open Hillel” to challenge the restrictions Hillel imposes on which speakers Jewish groups can bring to campus. But in their fight against the Iran deal, American Jewish organizations have exhibited the same secretive, anti-democratic tendencies that young American Jews find so alienating. In Los Angeles, according to the Jewish Journal, a handful of members of the executive committee determined that the Federation would oppose the Iran deal “without consulting the larger 45-person Federation board or, of course, the community at large.”
In declaring its opposition to the agreement, The Jewish Federation of Greater Miami declared that “this issue must remain above politics and reflect our collective determination to ensure moral clarity and absolute resolve in dealing with one of the world’s most dangerous regimes.” In other words, open debate inside the Jewish community about the Iran deal constitutes “politics,” which is a bad thing. 
Just because young American Jews believe something, of course, doesn’t make it right. If American Jewish leaders sincerely oppose the Iran agreement, one can’t fault them for doing what they believe is right. But many of those same leaders have spent the last few years agonizing over the generational divide in American Jewish life. It’s almost certain now that the struggle those leaders have waged against the Iran deal will fail. But in their ongoing efforts to alienate their own children and grandchildren from the institutions they’ve built, they will have succeeded all too well.       

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Prop 1 went down in flames

OK, so that's that. For good or for bad, Prop 1 went down in flames.
While I did vote Yes in the end, I did so only grudgingly, and have no ill will whatsoever towards anyone who voted No. It's done.
Now, there's three things which could happen:
1. Nothing. The GOP legislature has proven themselves damned good at doing that. The roads will continue to fall to shit.
Odds of happening: About 10%...and under the circumstances, "Nothing at all" may prove to be the BEST scenario going forward.
2. A sensible and fair solution: Making corporations start paying a reasonable share of taxes again.
Odds of happening (at least before January 2017): HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!
3. Schools, the poor, the elderly and other critical safety net services get slashed even further, continuing our progress towards Michissippi. The roads get partially repaired, but with a lot of corruption and kickbacks along the way, resulting in a lousy job being done at twice the fair price.
Odds of happening: 90%.
I'm not saying this to make No voters feel bad...because the GOP-held legislature would very likely have STILL slashed things to the bone even if Prop 1 had *passed*. In my view this was a lose/lose situation, which is why I've remained pretty quiet about it until now: There was, in my view, no "right" choice here; both of them sucked eggs.
Either way, no matter how bad you thought things were before, just watch...and pray that the voters of Michigan FINALLY wake the fuck up.

Charles Gaba

Monday, May 4, 2015

Riots in Baltimore

What rioters in Baltimore have done is wrong, criminal, and inexcusable, and should be punished.

But, who is the real blame? These rioters are responsible for their actions, but shouldn't constant negative influences, throughout their lives by family, community, and government share the cause of the results?

It certainly is not one group or one individual, who contributed to this mindset. Whether we deny it or not, we are all partially at fault, we have all contributed to this malaise that is tearing away the fabric of our country, and yet not a daily discussion. Evidently, if you don't talk about it ,it doesn't exist.
Is it our judicial system that has taken away the voting rights act, and allowed various states to implement draconian actions when it comes to casting a ballot for minorities, mostly black, making a right and duty difficult to exercise, rendering many,many minority voters politically impotent?
Is it our justice system that allows those few malcontents and racists in law enforcement agencies to do unmitigated harm in minority communities in our country, without fear of challenge or punishment for their deeds? Or the fact that many of these agencies continue on their inept path, never considering change until challenged by the abused citizens, or the Federal government?
Is it those white conservative legislators who have not passed a single youth summer's job program in six years, and yet demand increases in budgets for defense? What they have done by not funding summer youth job programs is to deny young people, both black-and-white, mostly minorities, the experience of learning responsibility in the workplace and to earn the money they need. Many of these same white legislators obtain summer jobs for their own children from their political networking, while totally ignoring the plight of low income youth.
These same legislators reduced funding for education from 2008 through 2013, depriving our children, many of them minorities,of the opportunity for self-improvement, self esteem, and pride. Yet, they found funding for many projects that would appease their constituency.
It appears that a small minority of white (sometimes not) law enforcement officers, in too many incidences, and in too many cities, abuse their power concerning the black community, as well as to other minorities, without fear of discipline.
You don't have to be a liberal to recognize both blatant racism and the innocuous appearance of racism that still exists in our country today. I do not defend, and will never defend those guilty of this destruction by rioting, I've only tried to remind others that deprivation of certain rights enjoyed by most but denied to a large segment of our society helps contribute to the type of lawlessness,
Jerry Soble    Orchard lake, MI