Thursday, September 03, 2015

Zopp right to chide Duckworth on Iran nuke deal silence

Yesterday, Illinois Senate candidate Andrea Zopp publically called on fellow candidate Tammy Duckworth to support the President's 5 + 1 deal to defuse the Iran nuclear crisis. Till Zopp's call I was not aware Duckworth had been ducking comment on this momentous agreement which is our best hope to prevent another senseless, murderous war in the Middle East. Zopp supported the deal last month and privately requested Duckworth to do the same. Duckworth's silence is now deafening, prompting Zopp to go public. Duckworth's public support for the deal would remove any difference between two excellent Democratic candidates and prevent Duckworth from being tied by her silence on the Iran deal to incumbent Mark Kirk, a virulent war party supporter and shameless proponent of Israel's foreign policy over that of the US.

Duckworth needs to show her worth on what may be the single most important issue facing us today. On the Iran nuke deal, silence is not golden.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Two Americans slain Wednesday and few noticed

A disgruntled man aimed his gun at two young Americans Wednesday, pulled the trigger, and blew them away. But very few noticed because America's sensationalized, reality based media saw no ratings potential from their deaths. So the senseless killing of Capt. Matt Roland, 27 and Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, 31, in Afghanistan, were largely ignored by our war weary media. Instead, we get 24/7 coverage of the senseless killing of two ...young TV reporters in the grotesque daily slaughter made possible by our insane gun culture and lack of national mental health care. But the killings of Roland and Sibley are arguably more senseless and worthy of national debate and outrage because they occur with numbing regularity by a militarized and war obsessed government putting tens of thousands in harms way to promote empire and war profiteering. Until we unite to defeat war monger Senators like John McCain, Mark Kirk, Lindsay Graham, Bob Menendez, Tom Cotton and their band of war loving brothers in the House, the revenge killings of American soldiers defiling war torn lands far away will continue apace. Even worse, we meekly condone the governmental slaughter of untold thousands of innocent civilians abroad under the false claim of national security. 
 
That is The Shining City on the Hill in 2015: trillions for weapons of mass killing overseas; hundreds of millions of domestic guns to weed out the innocent at home.

Not the change we were hoping for

Former Vice President Dick Cheney popped up on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday to hawk his new book 'Exceptionalism' criticizing all things Obama and defending all things Cheney regarding the Middle East. When interviewer Lee Cowan asked Cheney how 911 changed him, Cheney replied, "It changed the way I looked at the world."

What an obtuse way of saying "It changed me into a war criminal."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Embarrassment, embarrassment

Clinton, Sanders, Webb, O'Malley, Biden: An embarrassment of riches
Trump, Cruz, Jindal, Bush, Walker et. el: Just an embarrassment

Friday, August 28, 2015

Two Americans slain Wednesday and few noticed


A disgruntled man aimed his gun at two young Americans Wednesday, pulled the trigger, and blew them away. But very few noticed because America's sensationalized, reality based media saw no ratings potential from their deaths. So the senseless killing of Capt. Matt Roland, 27 and Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, 31, in Afghanistan, were largely ignored by our war weary media. Instead, we get 24/7 coverage of the senseless killing of two ...young TV reporters in the grotesque daily slaughter made possible by our insane gun culture and lack of national mental health care. But the killings of Roland and Sibley are arguably more senseless and worthy of national debate and outrage because they occur with numbing regularity by a militarized and war obsessed government putting tens of thousands in harms way to promote empire and war profiteering. Until we unite to defeat war monger Senators like John McCain, Mark Kirk, Lindsay Graham, Bob Menendez, Tom Cotton and their band of war loving brothers in the House, the revenge killings of American soldiers defiling war torn lands far away will continue apace. Even worse, we meekly condone the governmental slaughter of untold thousands of innocent civilians abroad under the false claim of national security. 
 
That is The Shining City on the Hill in 2015: trillions for weapons of mass killing overseas; hundreds of millions of domestic guns to weed out the innocent at home.

Rauner's prison depopulation reform goes to pot

Gov. Rauner apparently blinked when short sighted members of his base balked at reforms to our dysfunctional marijuana laws by reducing liberalization for small amounts of pot. Now just 10 grams or less, not the legislated 15 grams, get's an offender a fine instead of a ride to the hoosegow. Rauner also upped the fine from a $55 minimum to $100. Rauner appears terrified at the prospect of actually doing something positive to meet his stated goal of  reducing Illinois' bloated prison population by 25%. His reason: 'Can't go to fast on this....wouldn't be prudent' is nonsense. Making matters worse, Rauner is reducing the trial period for Illinois' medical marijuana project from 48 months after first dispensary opens to just 32 months from next Monday, a drastic reduction which will greatly hinder success of this vitally needed medical help to countless sufferers.

Gov. Rauner has the backbone to attack unions, teachers, state workers while withholding help from the needy to protect his fabulously wealthy base. But when faced with something simple and wise to reform our insane War On Drugs while reducing prison inmates, Rauner's spine turns to jelly.

Too bad he couldn't amend the medical marijuana law to include on the list of maladies pot could alleviate the dreaded RAF: Rauner Austerity Fatigue.
 
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tony Marchione and the B-32 Dominator

Ten years ago I flew on the last flying B-24 Liberator Bomber, 'Witchcraft', of 13,000 built. I passed on the B-17, also flying that day out of the DuPage Airport in West Chicago. About a dozen B-17's are still flying of the 11,000 copies, so I figured I'd have plenty of opportunities to ride the 'Flying Fortress' before they were all retired. Seeing two of the three 4 engine WWII bombers (only the B-29 'Superfortress' was missing), I figured, was a coup. 

But just recently I learned of an obscure 4 engine giant whose last flight in the Good War was significant on several levels. The B-32 Dominator was developed by Consolidated Aircraft concurrent with Boeing's B-29 Superfortress as a backup in case the B-29 failed to pass muster. The early B-29's were a mess, prone to fires and engine failure which required overhaul after every few missions. But the B-29 was improved, resulting in 4,000 built including Enola Gay and Boxcar which dropped the 2 A-Bombs. The B-32, meanwhile was worse than the B-29. Only 118 were built with a handful seeing service against Japan starting in May, 1945.
  
Japan accepted peace terms on Aug. 14. All military ops ceased on both sides. On Aug. 17 Gen. MacArthur sent up a couple of B-32's to test the cease fire. One of the B-32's suffered damage when attacked by several renegade Jap fighters, but no one was injured. Next day, Aug. 18, MacArthur sent up 4 more B-32's to verify the incident was isolated. It wasn't. Two of the breakdown prone B-32's aborted the mission. The other two were again attacked by renegade pilots. On one, Pvt. Tony Marchione, 20, was pierced by a 20 mm canon shell and bled out, the last American serviceman killed in action, four days after the official ceasefire. MacArthur ended all such flights and required the Japanese to remove the propellers from all remaining fighters, something he didn't need a dead serviceman to order.

The last American killed in action likely died a needless death, flying in a giant bomber so rare most folks today, even Warbird fans like me, didn't even know existed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yemen war good business opportunity for US war party

The American war party loves the criminal, murderous war our best Middle East buddies (after Israel), Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are perpetrating against the hapless Yemenis. Over 4,000 are dead, including 1,000 civilians, since those two US backed states began bombing Yemeni Houthi rebels who over through Yemen leader Abed Mansour Hadi.  Human Rights Watch has called a recent Saudi bombing of two buildings, killing 65 civilians, a war crime. Last month the UN termed the fighting and resulting famine overwhelming Yemen a Level 3 Human Emergency, their highest such designation.

While our government and mainstream media have placed a virtual blackout on news of American logistical and intelligence support we're giving these thuggish allies perpetrating this atrocity, the war party is quietly accelerating sales of WCD (Weapons of Civilian Destruction) to the Saudis and to UAE. Last year, these two bully nations gobbled up 88% of the $60 billion in WCD sales to the Middle East.

Not an atrocity is overlooked when committed by fake national threats like ISIS whom we need to keep our bomber pilots and drone joy stick boys sharp dropping bombs on civilians. But Uncle Sam and his media lackeys utter not a peep against good military customers committing war crimes and inflicting famine on a pathetic land with no supporters in The Land of The Free.

That is a deplorable tragedy that needs correction.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Move forward...with Breuder termination inquiry

The Daily Herald editorial "Unless there's cause, COD should drop Breuder firing inquiry" is so replete with poor editorial insight, absence of journalistic integrity and obscure, sloppy reasoning a detailed rebuttal is warranted.

Would the Herald editorial have dared utter the following quote if the Board Chair's first name was Kyle instead of Kathy?

'It was a gentle question. But Hamilton recoiled as if her side had been nudged with a hot poker. With face reddening and lips thinning, she snapped: "Dr. Breuder does not represent the college." You had to be there to appreciate the abrupt shift in emotion.'

Of course not. Such language is sexist, unnecessarily prejudicial to Hamilton and has no place in a serious editorial. Using the single word quotes 'exaggerated' from Interim President Joe Collins and 'political' from Hamilton, similarly shed no light on the serious allegations that have resulted in multiple investigations of Breuder by local, state and educational accreditation agencies. The fact you conveniently overlook is that since being placed on administrative leave April 30, while being investigated, Dr. Breuder does not represent the college

Not content with your initial character assassination, you expand on editorial excessiveness by dismissing a majority Board vote, not to fire Dr. Breuder, but merely to start an inquiry into determining cause for termination, as 'something obsessive and oddly venomous about Hamilton's fixation with Breuder's destruction. Not satisfied with removing him from the stage, she seems bent now on exacting her pound of flesh.' That piles on your initial sexism against Hamilton and denigrates the studied reasoning and support of three intelligent and articulate public servants, who, with Hamilton, have the support of most faculty and much of the COD community. But even Bernstein, Napolitano and Mazzochi get the Daily Herald gratuitous insult treatment with this gem: 'Sadly, her trio of rubber stampers on the COD board seem inclined to follow her off the same cliff of vengeance.'

It's curious that your editorial strongly implies Breuder is guilty merely of being a 'strong personality' and accepting the old Board's largesse. That is an insult to the process of properly investigating the avalanche of serious charges that have already cost hundreds of thousands just to investigate. Offering not a shred of substance, you dismiss there being anything beneath the surface against Breuder by quoting Breuder's strongest supporter throughout this two year long saga, Diane McGuire, who 'suggests there isn't.'

And why does the Herald, in defending Breuder, casually toss off this snarky and inexplicable innuendo at Faculty Association President and strong Breuder critic Glenn Hanson. 'It's hardly incidental that Breuder played point in tough contract negotiations, and it's more than ironic that Collins has now given union chief Hansen a promotion and a raise.' A first year journalism student would blue pencil that bit of gratuitous nonsense if given the editing chore.

It's clear the Herald has either failed to examine or consciously overlooked the serious allegations against Dr. Breuder including manipulating the governor to grant COD $20 million for an unapproved building; possibly inflating enrollment to spike state aid; possibly authorizing risky investments in violation of established fiduciary policies, and violating policy regarding use of alcoholic beverages at school functions, among others. They and others we may not be privy to should be carefully and thoroughly examined to determine if termination is warranted. Meanwhile, the Herald's Editorial Board should put down the 'hot poker' they apparently prodded themselves with when they wrote this hit piece on new Board majority.
          

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Title set for Rauner gubernatorial history

It's still early in Bruce Rauner's one and only term as Illinois governor, but if the middle class, the infirm, the students, the unemployed, the neglected elderly, the caring citizens of Illinois were writing a history of his tenure, it would be titled:

        THE GRINCH THAT STOLE ILLINOIS

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Trump in the crowd


No need to tune in talking heads to gain any insight into the Donald Trump presidential phenomenon. Just watch the 1957 flick 'A Face In The Crowd' in which director Elia Kazan told us all you need to know about Trump and the dull, fading imitations of him now mimicking his lunacy to inspire the boobocracy cheering him on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Senate Torture Report almost gets Manning tortured....again

The difference between we true patriots in the peace party and the false patriots of the war party is this: They tortured former Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning for a year and then sentenced her to 35 years for disseminating information on our criminal Iraq and Afghan wars. We would give Manning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, possibly even the Nobel Peace Prize for essentially giving up her freedom for decades to publicize criminal governmental war conduct.

But Uncle Sam isn't through punishing Manning, threatening to send him to solitary confinement, considered by many in the criminal justice system as torture, for get this, possessing and reading the Senate Torture Report which identified systematic torture practiced by the US government and military. That is bizarre beyond all comprehension, but when it comes to defending and covering up war crimes, nothing is too bizarre and too despicable for the war party. If the Senate Torture Report was too thin a reason to put Manning in solitary, there were other grievous transgressions; a copy of Vanity Fair featuring fellow transgender Caitlin Jenner, and a tube of expired toothpaste. Fortunately, Manning, though denied counsel in the hearing on her violations, benefitted from world wide public outrage and was merely sentenced to three weeks loss of privileges in the library, gym and exercise yard.

Meanwhile, the real traitors who lied us into criminal war getting hundreds of thousands killed and splintering Iran into smithereens; Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld, live in splendid luxury with their millions garnered from fealty to the war party.

To sum up in seven words: Free Manning; jail Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld

Harper, COD Boards paved Breuder's path of gold


Reading the timeline of current College of DuPage president Robert Breuder's career at Harper College from 1998 through 2008 and at COD from 2009 through, possibly, March, 2016, would make the strongest taxpayer cry. At both schools Breuder alienated faculty, achieving the dubious distinction of garnering a faculty 'No Confidence' vote at two consecutive college presidencies, possibly a record unmatched in American academia. He ...provoked a 12 day strike at Harper in 2002, and dragged along faculty contract negotiations at COD for 15 months in 2011-2012. During his tenure at COD, valued programs, such as the Buffalo Theater Ensemble, were cut; investment guidelines were ignored to spike earnings, only to result in losses; millions were squandered on a vanity restaurant and outrageously expensive landscaping and unneeded buildings; and enrollment figures were inflated to justify increased state aid. Cynical manipulation of the governor was revealed, causing the governor to rescind an unneeded $20 million grant. Oh yes, tuition went up year after year to pay for these goodies and inflate Breuder's image as a business mogul, not an educator. 
  
As bad as Breuder leadership was at both colleges, the real onus for his academic and financial mismanagement rests with the Boards of Trustees. Both the Harper and COD Boards handed Breuder fabulous compensation packages and contract extensions that gave him financial leverage to negotiate swollen severance should either Board tire of his shenanigans. And Breuder cashed in handsomely, extracting $508,000 from Harper and $762,000 from COD when the Boards could no longer ignore faculty, student and public pressure. Breuder even negotiated a super majority of 5 instead of simple majority of 4 COD Board members to fire him. Then, regardless of cause, he negotiated a 45 day period to fix any fireable offences. His seductive influence over the old COD Board was so great he was even able to get a majority to censure the one Board member willing to both privately and publicly criticize his pathological, out of control rule. Instead of doing the faculty, student and taxpayers' business, the Board was basking in the glow of a Xanadu like campus and inhaling free stuff at the vanity restaurant.

Hopefully, the voting taxpayers have learned their lesson. They are showing up at COD Board meetings in droves and dumped two incumbents who dared seek re-election after such negligent tenure. A reform majority is in place and functioning, but holdover Breuder apologists and dreadful presidential contracts weigh down prompt, corrective action, such as the termination proceedings against President Breuder announced yesterday.

Months, maybe years from now, and millions of dollars later, we may finally get a COD that truly serves the students, the faculty and the public.

Monday, August 17, 2015

U of I should do right and rehire Professor Salaita‏

As one who painfully watched my Glen Ellyn neighbor, College of DuPage, squander millions during and cleaning up after the six year reign of president Robert Breuder, it's like Deja vu to see the University of Illinois embark on the same wasteful path.

I refer to the enfolding scandal that may yet cost a million or more over their illegal firing of professor Steven Salaita and near illegal withholding a $400,000 retention bonus to retiring chancellor Phyllis Wise.

Salaita is the Native American studies specialist who gave up a tenured position at Virginia Tech and moved his family to Urbana to begin a prestigious post at Illinois' best. But before starting he was illegally fired by Wise and VP of Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre for exercising his First Amendment rights to criticize Israel on Twitter for their July 8, 2014, Operation Protective Edge pounding of Gaza which left 2,000 Gazans dead, including 400 children. As one who also exercised my First Amendment rights to publically criticize Israel for what I believed were war crimes in their disproportionate bombing of civilian areas, I'm disturbed that our venerated state university would shred free speech, stifle academic freedom and disgrace the aims of education to placate wealthy, pro-Israeli donors who essentially said, 'Dump Salaita or lose our six figure dough.' Now the meter is running on the tab we taxpayers will have to pay for the cowardice and stupidity of administrators Wise, Pierre and the Board of Trustees who allowed themselves to be duped into carrying water for special interests who will trash our most cherished democratic principles to prevent criticism of Israel, regardless of its validity.
 
I suspect if Professor Salaita were teaching in 1930's Germany, he'd be the sort of patriot who would speak out against Nazi anti-Semitism. Of course, that would have ended his academic career just like his Twitter posts did to him here. But just because 21st century academia didn't send him to a gulag and an early death, doesn't excuse the wrong done and the likely legal and settlement bills that will be sent to every Illinois taxpayer by the taxman.
 
Come on, University Trustees, give Steve Salaita his job back. You'll be improving Native American studies at U of I. You will be saving us beleaguered taxpayers from paying for your folly. You will be enhancing, not disgracing free speech and academic freedom. Let Salaita Twitter away...and stop being twits.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Proud Day: Old Glory flying again over Cuba

Watching the US flag rise again in Cuba brings a redemptive bookmark on our 56 year war of hate and fear over the Cuban revolution which ended decades of US capitalist and underworld exploitation of that beleaguered island. JFK nearly blew up the world in his obsessive drive to overthrow, indeed murder Fidel Castro, for seeking end to our domination going all the way back to our murderous, criminal war against Spain in1898, that acquired Cuba as a prize for Uncle Sam to plunder, first as a possession, extending long into its conditional independence. Substituting one tyrant for another was no bargain.

If we didn't want Russia to put nukes on our doorstep, what were we putting nukes on Russia's doorstep in Turkey. Then to save face, we forced Russia to pretend we weren't trading Cuban nukes for Turkish nukes. Let Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio slug it out for the elderly and dwindling Cuban vote in Florida based on fear and loathing of the Castro regime. The rest of the world left them behind decades ago. Can't wait to see all those pre Castro American car classics still tooling around Havana before being scarfed up by collectors free to do business in Cuba, and American car makers making a mint selling their 21st century versions.

Another day, another transformational bit of progress from the greatest president in my lifetime (FDR included).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Roskam makes taxpayers fund vicious IRS hit piece

If my congressman Peter Roskam were a capitalist instead of a career politician, he'd make his company go broke faster than your can say ENRON. That is because his first brilliant idea for success would be to look at the Accounts Receivable department and...slash its budget. 'They're a bunch of thugs exploiting the beleaguered small businessmen who owe us money', Roskam would pontificate.

Silly, you say? Not in the least. Roskam is at it again, sending dog whistle mailings at our expense to inflame his anti IRS, anti taxation base who, like Roskam, care not a whit about the commons which breaths life into our society.

Roskam and his GOP have been at war with the IRS for two decades now, and their war is paying off handsomely for the only crowd they serve. A new study estimates 400 billion is lost annually  from tax cheating. Most of that could be recovered but for one silly detail: Roskam's GOP keeps cutting IRS funding. This April they extracted $600,000 in cuts to the IRS in return for not shutting down the government over the spending bill. This year the IRS is $1.3 billion short of funding needed to close the tax cheat gap. Yet, every dollar the IRS spends on enforcement brings in ten dollars of legitimate taxation. And guess who gets the biggest break in a decimated IRS? Yep, the greedy rich. A GOP crippled IRS hasn't a chance against their high priced mouthpieces so they now primarily audit lower income taxpayers unable to afford F. Lee Bailey. When the GOP failed in its attempt to permanently repeal the estate tax, it retaliated by forcing layoffs of IRS lawyers responsible for estate tax enforcement. Yet, the meager audits of large taxable gifts found Uncle Sam got shortchanged 85% of the time, prompting the Treasury Department to tell Congress that its major problem was tax cheating by the highest earning Americans. Tax fraud by the wealthy creates a "non-compliance tax" on the average household of $2,700 a year; a fun fact you'll never get in Roskam's irresponsible taxpayer paid IRS mailing.

Returning to the idea of Peter Roskam as capitalist I have advice; stay a career politician. Companies don't hire CEO's who consider collecting the lifeblood of continued existence a frivolity.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jeb doubles, triples down on criminal war



In a 15 person field of dreadful GOP candidates, none can match the mendacity of Jeb Bush. He is utterly incoherent when asked to second guess his brother's criminal war in Iraq, which left hundreds of thousands dead, including 4,500 GI's. He's hired many of his brother's neocon advisors, and promises more troops, more bombing, more regime change and utterly no negotiation in the world's most volatile region. He blames all the current carnage on the Obama, Clinton team for withdrawing from his brother's criminal war, conveniently forgetting brother George negotiated the withdrawal from Iraq in order to keep Gi's from being prosecuted by Iraqi authorities for their random torture and murder of Iraqi civilians. Jeb is defiant about sabotaging the Iran nuclear deal, substituting ever severe sanctions instead, oblivious that the rest of the world will gleefully scarf up the billions in trade that Jeb leaves on the table. The're done with America's fear and war mongering over Iran.  

George W. Bush's support for brother Jeb's presidential bid involves more than politics and family loyalty. He knows Jeb will leave any investigation of his war crimes off the presidential 'to-do' list. Giving George W. a pass on his war crimes may be Obama's single most disgraceful policy, and  it likely won't be touched by any one else who might ascend the presidency. But Jeb's lust to riff off his brother's criminality and promote a scorched earth policy against anyone he defines as terrorists in the region his brother destabilized is the worst choice possible in 2016.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Et tu, Charlie?



Though not entirely unexpected, it's terribly disappointing that New York Senator Charles Schumer publically came out against the 5 + 1 nuclear agreement with Iran. Schumer looked at his Uncle Sam, who signs his government paycheck; looked at his Uncle Bibi, who gives him his marching orders to support Israeli foreign policy over that of the United States; and opted to support the latter. The only glimmer of optimism in Schumer's egregious insult to his party, his country and his president is that his NO vote will likely not prevent the agreement from becoming effective and defusing our endless and insane policy of confrontation and war in the Middle East.

Israel and their lockstep supporters in the US government, including Senator Schumer, were heavily involved in inciting the US to launch a criminal and murderous war against Iraq which shattered that country and greatly destabilized the region, possibly for decades to come. ISIS is the bastard offspring of that monstrous pillage. The only logical alternative to the Iran agreement is another war; priority one for the Israeli government, but a certain catastrophe for America and the rest of humanity, including Israel.

The rest of the world is beginning to trade with Iran and this trend will accelerate should the Israel Lobby succeed in the US substituting more sanctions instead of reasoned détente, something we practiced with Russia for decades in avoiding nuclear Armageddon.  They will be ecstatic in scarfing up the billions in trade that we will leave on the table to placate a country that does not consider our national interests whatsoever.

Senator Schumer simply doesn't get it, and likely never will.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Roskam, GOP, no friend to Cecil; future Cecils

My congressman Peter Roskam, is nothing if not loyal to GOP tenants opposing every government program to help the species of man here in the US. By extension, they also oppose any efforts to help endangered species of animals around the world.

Take the case of Cecil, the majestic African lion wantonly killed by Walter Palmer. The GOP, with Roskam's lockstep support, opposes all efforts to strengthen the Endangered Species Act (ES...A) by including African lions as 'threatened', making the importation of their trophy heads or pelts virtually impossible. African elephants are protected which is why Palmer was tracking Cecil and not Dumbo. Since 2011, the Humane Society and other animal rights groups have been petitioning the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to include Cecil and Friends under the ESA. Had they been successful, Palmer would still be off the radar, planning his next kill of something less cherished. But Roskam, mindful of Republican fealty to special interests and science deniers, participates in the GOP's six fold increase, since 2011 (compared to the previous 15 years) to gut the EDA and hamper the FWS' ability to apply its protections (according to a Center for Biological Diversity study released Tuesday). Last month Roskam's GOP House buddies submitted an appropriation bill that would cut more than 50 percent of the requested budget for the FWS’ overworked, undermanned foreign conservation division. Don't look for Roskam to support Raul Grijalva's (Dem. AZ) bill Rare Cats and Candids Act, which would fund big-cat conservation projects. That money is reserved for endless military interventions, the only government program Roskam supports 100%.

Maybe it's time for Roskam and his GOP to change their party symbol. Friends to no endangered species, they might consider swapping out the beleaguered elephant for a filthy rich shotgun totin' dentist.

Palmer first to be Cecilized

Dentist Walter J. Palmer pumped lots of lead into wealthy teeth to pay to pump lethal lead in Cecil, the beloved lion Palmer killed on his manly hunting expedition. Now, thousands have turned Palmer into the hunted, using social media to paralyze his personal and professional life. But Palmer won't suffer Cecil's fate, wounded bu a crossbow, then tracked for two days before the fatal gunshot. We might say Palmer has been 'Cecilized', something that should befall any blood sportsman who kills nature's innocent denizens of the animal kingdom. That sort of justice might be a fitting tribute to Cecil, who was cruelly and viciously taken before his time.

Brady needs a disguise

Although I fret not over QB Tom Brady's suspension for tampering with the tools of his trade, I'm annoyed whenever his face floats across  my screen expressing shock, shock, anyone would consider him a cheat. Finally determined the source of the annoyance. He reminds me of Pat Boone.

Monday, August 03, 2015

A special Billy Pierce memory

Sox pitching great Billy Pierce died yesterday at 88. I followed Pierce's career for the last 11 of his 13 seasons with the Pale Hose (1949-1961). He was worth the price of admission, flashing a compact southpaw motion that won 211 games, including 38 shutouts, 193 complete games, 1,999 strikeouts, 4 one hitters and 7 two hitters; stats far beyond the reach of virtually every pitcher today. Opponents couldn't muster even one for four against Billy the Kid. He is one of a select few to start 3 All Star games.

There was no night home game TV back on June 27, 1958, as I tuned to Bob Elson on WCFL radio to hear another Pierce victory over the visiting Washington Senators. Staked to a 3 run lead, Pierce mowed down the first 26 DC'ers, and seemed poised for a Perfecto. The Washington manager sent utility man Ed Fitzgerald to pinch hit for the pitcher. Elson sighed as Fitz laced Pierce's first pitch just inside the right field line for a double. I was still in shock as Pierce blew 3 fast ones past Albie Pierson to end the game for one of his 211 victories.

Maybe the 16 member committee voting on Hall of Fame candidates from Baseball's Golden Era will announce Pierce's election to the Hall at baseball's winter meetings December 8. Sox fans and anyone following baseball in the 1950's put this classy hurler in their Hall of Fame decades ago.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

PENS draws dark picture psychology's collusion with torture



As a lifelong student of social phycology, it's dismaying to learn about the collusion between the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Bush administration's torture program following the 911 attacks. Under a joint task force with the military known as PENS (Psychological Ethics and National Security) the Association trained and advised torture interrogators and supervised the "breaking" of torture victi...ms. It turns out PENS was rigged. The military and their compliant military psychologists dominated the task force to manipulate APA members and their formerly esteemed organization to go along with facilitating torture. 
 
Back in my 1964 college course "Social Psychology" taught by fabulous teacher Richard Flacks, I first learned of the Milgram Study, in which Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram was able to manipulate ordinary citizens to administer torture on unseen subjects who gave wrong answers to ludicrous questions. Milgram showed how unsuspecting dolts could be unwittingly manipulated to do inhuman acts when directed by authority figures. The torture administered by these subjects was not real. The unseen people screaming in pain were acting. No damage occurred save for the anguish the subjects must have felt during and after their participation in this truly disturbing study.

Alas, life imitates research insofar as the APA is concerned. Real authority figures manipulated trained psychologists and their safeguard professional organization to administer real torture on thousands of real victims, some of whom died. Milgram was interested in the pernicious effect of renegade authority on ordinary citizens. He likely never imagined the dolts he exposed eventually would include his own learned profession

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Kirk's comments on Iran deal un-Senatorial, untrue, unhelpful


Illinois has the dubious distinction of being home to the most incendiary opponent to the 5 power nuclear deal with Iran in the form of firebrand Senator Mark Kirk. His vituperative string of outrageous comments must be read by every Illinoisan to understand Kirk is not fit to serve in the Senate.
“Tens of thousands of people in the Middle East are gonna lose their lives because of this decision by Barack Hussein ...Obama.”

This from a Congressman and Senator who had no trouble supporting our criminal Iran war which killed hundreds of thousands. By the way, Senator, using Obama's middle name is a dog whistle to the 'Obama is a Muslim crowd.'

“This agreement condemns the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf,”

Kirk's stunningly perverse logic is that war, not negotiation, is the only means of preventing possible war.
"It condemns our Israel allies to further conflict with Iran.”

Now we get to the meat of Kirk's frenzy over an negotiated agreement: its not in the national interest of Kirk's true master: Israel. Between 2002 and 2010, Kirk has received over $1,600,000 in campaign help from the Israel Lobby. That's not 'walkin' around money'; that buys endless support for Israel in Congress over US interests.

“This is the greatest appeasement since Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler... and that the deal means “Israel will now have to take military action against Iran.”

Really, Senator? If your Israel Lobby handlers told you that, isn't that blackmail? Or are you simply making it up to promote their interests?

“The president will make this a viciously partisan issue, leading most Democrats to standing with the Iranians"...to get nukes to Iran.”

In Kirk's confused and distorted worldview, President Obama is traitorously working to give Iran nuclear weapons.

Without a word of reasoned analysis of the 100 page agreement, Kirk simply calls it "unremitted garbage."

Very classy, Senator.

New York may be No. 1 in being home to America's most anti immigration racist Donald Trump, but Illinois is second to none in hosting America's most virulent war monger, Mark Kirk.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Roskam, Kirk, really pushing war with Iran

 
The end game for anti Iran hard liners like my Congressman Peter Roskam and Senator Mark Kirk is war with Iran. Though they'll never use the 'war' word, war is the logical outcome of their incessant calls to derail the Iran nuclear deal and re-instate crippling sanctions. Such action will blow up the best chance for peace in the region; inciting Iran to proceed unilaterally with a nuclear program without 5 power scrutiny, and giving the Congressional war hawks figurative as well as literal ammunition to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. 
 
And on the sidelines, cheering on Roskam, Kirk and their pro war faction, will be the Israeli Likud party. They have been promoting US war with Iran since their successful lobbying helped fuel our rush to criminal war with Iraq in 2003. After the Iraq disaster, the one sensible, sane action by President Bush was to cancel an impending Iran war. But Israel, and their minions in Congress, will never give up. Israel cannot crush it's rival for hegemony in the region alone. It needs Uncle Sam to do the heavy killing.

Roskam and Kirk may never have heard JKF's greatest speech; the one on nuclear détente with Russia, given at American University, June 10 , 1963, just 5 months from Dallas. In it, he boldly announced the way forward to nuclear détente with Russia, announcing negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty. Kennedy was addressing the Roskams and Kirks of his day with these words that resonate just as sensibly and urgently today:

"So, let us not be blind to our differences. But let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal."

Are you listening Congressman? Are you listening Senator?

Hooray for Gov. Walker

Gov. Walker showed great independence and compassion yesterday in defying his legislature to expand Medicaid to his states marginally poor under the Affordable Care Act.

No, I'm not referring to Koch Brothers sycophant and heartless Affordable Care Act hating Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. I'm congratulating Alaska Governor Bill Walker, who rejected his inhumane Republican legislature to announce use of his  gubernatorial powers to implement Medicaid expansion under the ACA which will cover 42,000 desperate Alaskans in need.    

Walker talks straight: “This is the final option for me. We are not going to step away from this opportunity to help fellow Alaskans, period.” The other Governor Walker speaks with a forked tongue, claiming God inspires him to run his state against all Christian and humanitarian principles of fairness, decency and compassion.

Alaska becomes the 30th state to grant relief to millions under the ACA through Medicaid expansion, in which Uncle Sam picks up the full cost through 2016 and 90% thereafter. Millions more in the remaining 20 states suffer under governors channeling Ebenezer Scrooge, trumpeting their extreme conservative bona fides on the backs of the medically uninsured. Gee, wouldn't it be nice if Gov. Scott Walker could have a troubled night's sleep in which he's visited by the ghosts of Governance Past, Governance Present and Governance Future? He might determine it's never too late to redeem one's soul.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Roskam, Kirk, offer fear, not substance on Iran nuclear deal

"This deal all but ensures Iran will become a nuclear power in our lifetime, defeating from the outset the Obama administration’s own long-stated goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran."
  - Congressman Peter Roskam (Rep. IL-6)

“I am gravely concerned that the nuclear agreement will condemn the next generation to living with an Iranian nuclear power in the Persian Gulf and ultimately endanger the security of the United States, Israel, and other regional allies over the long term."
  - Senator Mark Kirk (Rep. IL)

That's about you'll get from my Congressman Peter Roskam and Senator Mark Kirk on the historic nuclear deal struck by the P5+1 (US, Russia, China, England and France) with Iran yesterday. It puts the world community on a path to peace after two decades of incessant warfare. The Vienna agreement is our best and last hope for peace in the Middle East. That the US and other major powers could preserver against unrelenting pressure from Israel and its lock-step allies in Congress, including Roskam and Kirk, is a testament to their independence and fortitude. We owe them our grateful support to end the near endless cycle of fear and loathing against substantive negotiation.

Roskam and Kirk want none of that. They remind me of Bob Dylan's warning in 'Masters of War': "You play with our world like it's your little toy."

Since they'll likely never read, much less comment intelligently and decently on the deal, let's offer just a few safeguards contained in this 100 page, technically complex agreement.

  • 20 years of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring of uranium ore concentrate produced by Iran for 25 years
  • Containment and surveillance of centrifuge rotors for 20 years
  • A reliable mechanism to ensure speedy resolution of IAEA access concerns for 15 years
  • All sanctions to be lifted but only after Iran complies with its obligations
  • Iran reduces stockpile of uranium by 98%
  • Enrichment cannot exceed 3.67%, far below threshold necessary for a nuke
  • Iranian Centrifuges will drop from 20,000 to 6,104
  • IAEA inspectors will have access to all Iranian nuclear facilities
  • The Arak nuclear reactor is being dismantled and rebuilt in accordance with the requirements set forth in the Plan of Action. This will make it impossible to produce weapons grade material.
  • Most importantly, the P5+1 and Iran agree that "the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT) remains the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

That language puts Iran squarely within the 191 member world community which has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The four states who haven't? Pakistan, Sudan, India, and possessor of 100 to 200 nukes, Israel. The deal makes Israel, not Iran, the rogue nuclear state.

Israeli loyalists in Congress like Roskam and Kirk, are so desperate to derail nuclear détente, they will say and do anything to achieve their goal. We negotiated with Russia for half a century after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even though Russia possessed thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at us. If leaders like Roskam and Kirk were calling the shots, we wouldn't have a world to save today. We must stand up to their bullying and fear tactics or they may yet succeed in war to remove Israel's only Middle East rival. 

Don't let them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Creepyness emerges from GOP clown car


"We thought about that".
- Gov. Scott Walker responding to prank call in which fake Koch brother asked Walker if he considered planting 'agent provocateurs' among the Capitol protesters to discredit them.
...
“If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”
- Gov. Walker responding to question on his ability to deal with ISIS threat.
The extreme right loves these quotes. I find them creepy...and scary.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Knowing your right from your left


Some folks say they can't figure out their right from their left to justify their stance as a 'middle of the roader.' As a proud member of the latter, I offer this partial list of differences.

Right reveres pre-ACA health insurance system that generated 40 million losers in the health care lottery. Left reveres day when single payer health care for all jumps the 16 million newly insured to 40 million.
...
Right equates end of Confederate flag in public places as denying regional heritage. Left sees little difference between Confederate flag and Nazi flag.

Right has given up on denying about 15,000,000 gay folks the right to marry, turning it into a fake religious freedom test. Left will never give up expanding rights to all as the true test of religion...and government.

Right believes best defense is spending trillions on offense, killing hundreds of thousands without cause. Left believes best defense is ending murderous military adventurism which puts us all in endless jeopardy from 'blowback.'

Right believes there is no limit to how far wages and wealth must flow to the rich. Left believes there is no dignity and no freedom in slave wage employment.

Right acts like a bull seeing a red flag when gazing upon the undocumented. Left recognizes their enormous contribution to our economic success without the protection of citizenship and seeks to green light their path to same.

Right sees crumbling infrastructure as good trade off to keep a few extra tax dollars in their pocket. Left sees crumbling infrastructure as metaphor for our crumbling position as world leader.

Next time you declare yourself neither right nor left, ponder your position on those issues.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Two on The Donald

Having observed a hundred of more candidates in the 17 presidential elections I've followed, starting in 1952, 'liking Ike', I've got two observations on current media star Donald Trump.

The former candidate he most closely resembles is George Wallace. LIke Wallace, Trump is a brilliant, charismatic speaker using racism and zenophobia to energize that segment of the population starving for a dynamic candidate to validate and foment their hate and alienation from sensible democracy. His fearlessness of and contempt for the media and political critics is a strength which adds to his appeal.   

If Trump ascends to the White House, an appropriate Secret Service moniker for this toxic human being might be "Agent Orange."

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

What's in a name?

I love the creative way lawmakers tag bad laws with fancy-schmancy names to fool the public. Back in 1989, the Illinois legislature wisely banned Happy Hours, the binge drinkers' delight, where cash strapped rummys could imbibe reduced price hooch between 4:00 and 6:00 PM or thereabout.

Twenty-six years later the Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act awaits Gov. Rauner's signature to re-open the cheap booze spigots. While two for one isn't included, cheap booze is still on the fare, for up to 4 hours a day; 15 hours a week.
Full disclosure: I love liquor; but sparingly sip my Jack Daniels Sinatra Select to preserve both pocketbook and bod.

Hey, maybe legislative euphemisms have a point. As a supporter of legalized muggles (WA just cashed a $70 million dollar tax revenue check for 2014) how about IL passing a new law (wink, wink) entitled: The Native Plant Appreciation Modernization Act of 2015. Who could oppose that!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Rauner playing Zero Sum Game with 13 million Illinoisans


You don't become a billionaire in venture capitalism by considering the interests of all and providing for the Commons. You (and your partners) win every time. The other side, the workers, the Commons, lose every time. Once you are fabulously wealthy, you assuage your guilt giving large amounts (but a pittance of your fortune) to charity. That is a fair description of Bruce Rauner's modus operandi. Sadly, he decided to ...continue it into his governorship. Whether stumping for the expiration of the desperately needed temporary tax increase extension to give his base an unnecessary tax cut, rolling back Illinois' minimum wage to the Federal level, busting unions, along with their livable wages and working conditions, and ending prevailing wage standards, Rauner displays zero interest in economic fairness and responsible governance. That is Rauner's Zero Sum Game: everything for the elite; nothing for the masses.

But Illinois isn't a tantalizing company that Rauner can make a big score on or dump if it's a payday dog. It's 13 million folks who depend on a leader who considers a semblance of their needs versus the fat cats for whom Rauner truly celebrates and provides. They know for certain that Rauner is not now and likely never will be in their corner. But what Rauner will never replicate in Illinois is the disaster that a Walker has created in Wisconsin, Brownback implemented in Kansas, or Jindal foisted upon Louisiana. They had a pliant legislature to do their dirty work. Illinois has a legislature beholden to the people.

At age 58, Bruce Rauner will finally learn that the billionaire's Zero Sum Game in the business world doesn't play in the public arena.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Greeks stand up to European bullies

When 19th century Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle tabbed economics the 'dismal science', he may have been foreshadowing the dismal treatment of Greece by its wealthy European creditors. If so, the beleaguered Greek Davids struck a mighty blow against the EU bankster Goliaths Sunday with their surprisingly large vote against another round of heartless, cruel austerity against Greece. The Greek debt crisis would surely has worsened under new austerity with only the Greek people doing the suffering while the irresponsible moneylenders call all the shots. But the Greek people showed that no matter the overwhelming power of the moneyed interests, the suffering masses with a vote can level the negotiating field. First up? Turning the flow of money to Greek banks back on to end the latest, EU imposed hardship.

All decent Illinoisans, especially the needy now being threatened and intimidated by Governor Austerity, should take note as we push back against an economic oligarch who gained power with personal millions and slick sophistry to promote the interests of his wealthy base.

Doing the right thing in Illinois should be Greek to us.
 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

A nice difference

Some of those fireworks you heard were ignited by folks celebrating a nice difference between July 4, 2015 and July 4, 2010: 16 million more Americans with health care insurance.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Dump life without parole along with death penalty



Only 40 of Illinois' 48,000 inmates have been imprisoned since before 1976. That number will drop to 39 with the release of Joseph Bigsby, 58, imprisoned since age of 16 in 1973, for killing a cop. Bigsby won parole on his 28th try in an 8-6 vote, which included two from Parole Board members with strong ties to the police fraternity. “I’m never going to forgive him for what he did, but it’s not about my forgiveness" noted retired Champaign cop Donald Shelton who voted to parole Bigsby. “I saw in this inmate more proof of change than I believe I’ve seen in any other inmates that I’ve interviewed or in any of the other cases I’ve heard in the last two-and-a-half years."

What promoted Shelton's parole affirmation was four decades of redemption and productivity, including getting an associate’s degree and two credits shy of a bachelor’s — before the program was canceled. He’s been trained as a master electrician and carpenter, and worked as a teacher’s aide, newspaper reporter and even a locksmith. Also, pertinent was the fact that the Supreme Court now bars death or even life sentences for juveniles. Edith Crigler, whose late husband, son, daughter-in-law, cousin and uncle were/are all police officers, also voted for parole, arguing that recent human development studies show adolescent brains often do not possess adult decision making processes.

Bigsby will relocate to Maryland to live with his sister's family. How many of the remaining 39 geriatric prisoners soaking about forty grand per year of Illinois' bankrupt treasure are fit to rejoin society remains to be determined. What is certain, is that life sentences, like the death penalty, should be abolished. With guidelines to ensure an aging heinous criminal, like Bigsby, can rejoin society without jeopardizing public safety, we can move to a more sane, humane and cost effective penal system. We need the best penal system in the civilized world, not the most populated. In addition, Illinois should restore college education for every prisoner worthy of it.  
        
       

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

History teacher Roskam flunks Magna Carta test


Although the Magna Carta, issued by English King John in 1215, was designed to determine the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of all men, it has become the iconic symbol of liberty and the rights of ordinary people. Lord Denning (1899-1999), famed British judge and legal scholar, described it as "the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot". In eighth grade civics, we pre Baby Boomers learned its important influence to the writers of the Declaration of Independence. Explicitly taught to revere it, we were implicitly taught never to demean it for crass political purposes.

Sadly, that lesson was missed by my congressman Peter Roskam (IL, 6). His June 28 email trumpets his connecting reverence for the Magna Carta to the endless Republican vendetta against the Internal Revenue Service. Astoundingly, Roskam compares the beleaguered government revenue collector, who pays Roskam's quarter million dollar annual salary and benefits, to the tyranny kings. This is simply a dog whistle call to the greedy rich and greedy rich wannabes, who return Roskam to Congress term after term to make war against any taxes that might benefit the commons and the needy. Some of the more crass Republicans promoting this agenda such as Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and GOP National Chair Reince Prebus, actually call for outright abolishment of the IRS.

Congressman Roskam should issue a retraction of this unfortunate email. Better yet, former history teacher Roskam should honor the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta by visiting every eighth grade class in the Sixth District to apologize for this reprehensible politicizing of our revered founding documents.