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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.

Listen, Liberal

In his new book, "Listen, Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?", author Thomas Frank skewers the Democratic Party for abandoning the bottom 90%. Here are some excerpts from his recent commentary in the "NY Times:" 

"...The Democratic Party gave up years ago on its historic mission of serving working people and chose instead to make itself into the party of professionals, of the New Economy’s winners, of a group they love to flatter with phrases like “symbolic analysts,” “wired workers” and the “creative class.” 

"This shifting allegiance is the fundamental reason that Democrats began to identify with Wall Street back in the 1990s (and then with Silicon Valley) but what makes this story so aggravating is the way Democrats keep choosing professionals over workers again and again. One class of Americans they reward with subsidies and forgiveness; the rest of us get discipline. The 1994 crime bill and the end of welfare were all brought to you, remember, by the same Democratic administration that rolled back the rules for banks and telecoms. The North American Free Trade Agreement and its many successors have brought, well, freedom to those who employ but anxiety and diminished lives to those who work. The present Democratic administration has hounded individuals who lied on mortgage applications, but it seems to find top bankers incapable of wrongdoing. And in these years of galloping industrial concentration and power grabs by Silicon Valley, antitrust enforcement has dropped off the agenda. 

"Democrats habitually brush off economic despair with references to “globalization” and “technology,” as though their complicated free-trade deals were the unknowable doings of the Invisible Hand Itself. The problem is not changing the economic system, they say, it is adjusting ourselves to the changes sweeping the world. When they look at inequality, they see not economic failure but individual failure, usually having to do with education, a subject of pious reverence for the professional class. You’re falling because you didn’t study hard enough or you didn’t go to a good school or you majored in the wrong subject."

Candidates at the AIPAC convention

    I watched the speeches of Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the AIPAC convention.   Even though the speeches focused on Israel, I thought they gave great insight into the election in general.  So here are my thoughts.
        Hillary's speech was terrific.  It was very thoughtful and very specific. She did not back down from her support of the Iran deal.   She also said that both the Israeli people and the Palestinian  people have a right to live in their own safe and secure countries.  She advocated diplomacy over bloodshed.  She said that no one should give up hope for a negotiated peace settlement.  She reminded the crowd of the unprecedented  level of security cooperation between Israel and the United States during the Obama presidency.  And she referred to the continued construction of settlements as an obstacle for peace.  Overall I felt the same as I did in watching the Hillary-Bernie debates.  They make you proud to be a Democrat.   If there was an applause meter, I think it would show that Hillary was far more warmly welcomed than either Trump or Cruz.
          I have little to say about Cruz except he is scary.  He is a war monger. He repeated his often stated quote that on his first day in office he would tear up the Iran deal.   This is nothing more than a red meat rant.  It is a terrible thought that this man could be president.  But here is my question, How would England, France, Germany, China   and Russia feel about the United States reneging on an agreement they had all signed on to?  The answer is obvious.  I am convinced Cruz would say he could not care less about their reactions.  This is the polar opposite of diplomacy.  Cruz never believed in diplomacy in the Senate.  That's why he is despised.  He is truly scary. 
       One last thing. on Cruz.  He loves to tell the story about how his nut job father was imprisoned in Cuba and somehow escaped to the United States.  He wants to leave the impression that his father was imprisoned by Castro.  Actually if his father was really in prison, over which there is some doubt, he was imprisoned by Bautista because he was a supporter of Castro.   Then Cruz went on to say that his father always thanked God that America exists as a refuge for the oppressed.    How then can Cruz support almost total restrictions on the oppressed from the Middle East and from Central America? Needless to say he never explains the contradiction.   I will never  understand how Cruz and his ilk can claim they follow the teachings of Jesus. 
       Now to P.T. Barnum. Both Hillary and Trump get secret service protection.  I don't know about Cruz.  Hillary came to the podium with the secret service agents nearby but relatively unobtrusive.  Trump came in and departed  with a phalanx of monster thugs surrounding him.  I don't think they were secret service.  I don't advocate for anyone to watch the speech.  But see if you can find the entrance.  The thugs look like Brown Shirts with suits. The comparison to Mussilini and Hitler continues.
         It is unfortunate that the cameras did not show the people who walked out as Trump got up to speak. I was thrilled that there was a silent protest. As he took the podium I could see that less than half the people shown in the audience applauded.  I thought the applause was generally muted.  The one thing that  really made me sick was when Trump said that this is the last year of Obama's presidency  and many people applauded.
         Trump opened by saying he would not patronize the audience and then went on to patronize  the audience the entire speech.    He tried to show his creds for his long support of Israel.  This I am not making up.  To prove his support, after 9/11 Rudy Guliani went to Israel to offer condolences  to families of victims.  Trump let Guliani use his plane.  He followed that by saying that in 2004 he was Grand Marshall of the Israel Day Parade in N.Y.  He said it was a very dangerous time and many people turned down the invitation.  But he bravely accepted.  I cannot make this up, but Trump can.
        Finally, Trump said he very carefully studied the Iran deal more than anyone else. Of course, he called it a disaster.  He did not give a single specific about the deal other than the false claim that the United States gave Iran $150 billion.  (Most of it was Iran's own money which had been frozen for years.)  He said it was a horrible deal and the United States got nothing in return.  He said that all Iran has to do is wait out the time period for not producing nuclear weapons.  So actually our side did get something.  Many argue that The P5 plus 1 did not get enough and should have held out for more.  But no one credibly says that our side got nothing.  And by the way Hillary pointed out that Iran has disposed of much of its nuclear materials and its centrifuges have been mothballed.
            My takeaway is that Trump is crazy and scary.  Cruz is just scary.  I did not see Kasich's speech but I understand it was excellent.  Bernie was invited but he had commitments to campaign out West. 
        So that's my perspective.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


"As a local businessman and an official Laker, I care about my hometown and want to bring peace and prosperity to the township board. The residents deserve community leadership that will listen to them and also help guide them with positive decisions made with integrity and candor." 

Some of Sam's local endorsements include Rabbi Joseph Krakoff (Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network), Charlie Brock (State Jr Vice Commander of the Disabled American Veteran Association), Academy Award Winner Sue Marx and President of the Rotary Club of West Bloomfield Dr. Henry Maicki.

"I pledge to champion our wonderful community and accentuate the high moral values our residents. Our diversity of population is a wonderful thing and the glorious aesthetic of our shared Lakes area is a gem of metro-Detroit that is resplendent."

Sam himself is also an active member of the Rotary Club, as well as the Optimists Club of West Bloomfield, Tuskegee Airmen Inc Organization, SAG/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences - Michigan Chapter. Sam is also a member of the West Bloomfield / Lakes area Democrats Club and is being brought in as a board member next week.

Last month, Sam partnered up with his alma mater West Bloomfield High School (Class of 2001) and Frankel Jewish Academy as the co-founder and sponsor of the West Bloomfield Student Film Festival and Exhibition.

"Arts and Music education are pivotal to the growth of any community as part of the school system. The youth of West Bloomfield have the drive to take us forward in a positive direction and I am proud to play a part of giving them an opportunity to showcase their wonderful talents."

Sam holds an undergraduate degree awarded from University of Michigan; a Master's degree in Communication Management from the world renowned Northwestern University (Illinois) and also studied abroad at London's historic Guildhall School.

A proven resume of bringing economic value to Michigan, having success with contracts, handling finances and being in a position of team management are a staple of Sam Logan's endeavors - most recently having served as a Supervising Producer on the Emmy winning nationally syndicated health and wellness TV Series "Ask Dr. Nandi" (made in Michigan and airing in over 85 million homes across the USA) and as Executive Producer on "Approaching Midnight" - a military themed feature length film which donated a portion of its box office proceeds from Emagine Theatres to the American Legion. Sam's passionate media work for non-profit organizations has included the Safe House Center of Ann Arbor women's shelter and the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Please use the debate tonight to expose the ruthlessness of our Michigan Tea Party dominated government.  Flint is only the tip of the iceberg.  The Governor, the Legislature, and the courts have conspired to destroy public education, the Democratic Party and democracy itself.  We now have the most oppressive state government since Jim Crow!
Our legislators use a law forbidding a referendum against any law including an appropriation; so they write an appropriation into every bill they expect the public would want to overturn!
When the citizens had a chance to vote on the Emergency Manager proposal, they voted overwhelmingly to turn it down.  However,
Governor Snyder and his legislature rewrote the law and added an appropriation clause that made it impervious to the public will. 
 “This legislation demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters,” Snyder said. “It builds in local control and options while also ensuring the tools to protect communities and schools districts’ residents, students and taxpayers.”  It was essentially the same law!
All major predominantly Black cities were taken over and crushed by the emergency manager law.   More than half of our African-American citizens were placed under the absolute dictatorship of Emergency Managers who could break contracts  - except those with a bank, and fire elected officials.  The toothless elected city councils and school boards were required to meet, but not allowed to decide anything!
The straight ticket that is the preferred way that over 250,000 voters in Wayne County express themselves, but it was written out of our voting choices by a new law including an appropriation clause passed by the same legislature and signed by the same governor.
And now for the last straw:
This legislation was the last bill to pass the Legislature in December, growing at the last minute from a non-controversial bill that had passed the Senate unanimously at 13 pages, into a totally revamped 53 pages that was passed with no public hearings and with only Republican votes.
The bill prohibits local (school and library) officials from publicly discussing ballot proposals or millage issues in the 60 days leading up to an election. It has been blasted by municipal and school district officials as an official state “gag order” and a violation of free speech.

For more about the leadership of our state view the following video from the Rachel Maddow blog:
Rick Snyder policy ideas yield string of disasters for Michigan: http://on.msnbc.com/1pr2Yys 
Al Halper

Report from Make Government Work Forum #3