Friday, April 29, 2016

Just last week my Congressman Peter Roskam, issued a press release that said this about his No. 1 Bete Noir, the IRS:
         

   “The IRS needs to focus on advanced fraud-detection methods to keep up with         increasingly sophisticated identity thieves."

How ironic that Roskam introduced, then pushed through the House Ways and Means Committee his bill specifically designed to thwart the IRS from knowing the identity of foreign governments, corporations and individuals who give money to 'special welfare' 501(c)4 non-profits. Why should the IRS know these foreign contributors? Simple. Foreign money cannot be legally given or spent in federal elections. Such money is discouraged from going to these non-profits, which spend heavily on federal elections, only because current disclosure law shines a spotlight on the foreign donors.  Roskam has plenty of help from his best buddies, the Koch Brothers, who sent a letter to Committee members through their Koch Brothers Public Sector LLC, urging passage based on these foreign donations being 'free speech'. 

If Roskam were serious bout having the IRS focus on 'advanced fraud-detection methods', he should withdraw this pernicious legislative assault on oversight of foreign governments, companies and fat cats who want to illegally interfere in what should be purely American federal elections. Roskam may not qualify as an identity thief in the traditional sense. But he's sure trying to steal the identity from the IRS of the foreigners who absolutely must remain known. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New US terror war rule little solace to Iraqi, Syrian civilians

US war commander, Lt. Gen. Sean McFarland can now order air strikes in Iraq and Syria that are expected to kill up to 10 civilians without prior approval from US Central Command. What's magic about 11 or more civilians likely to die by US bombs that requires prior approval is yet to be explained. Maybe it's simply that 11 or more innocents blown to bits gets a bit more attention from an outraged world, like when we whacked 42 innocents in an Afghan Doctors Without Borders hospital last October. Iraqi and Syrian civilians take note: If you want to survive Uncle Sam's efforts to dictate who will control your government, simply never, ever go anywhere without at least 10 compatriots. Then pray that US Central Command doesn't tell good Gen. McFarland "Bomb them anyway."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trib's perfect pitch for perpetual war

Trib's perfect pitch for perpetual war

The Trib's Monday op ed 'US disengagement would be costly' is a masterful pitch for perpetual war by two of America's leading neocons, Robert Kagan and Ivo Daalder. It's masterful because it never specifically comes out in favor of perpetual war. Instead, it laments that "Americans no longer seem to value the liberal international order that the United States created after World War II and sustained throughout the Cold War and beyond." It agonizes that the outsider candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have criticized perpetual war stating "politicians in both parties dangle before the public the vision of an America freed from the burdens of leadership." It ponders whether Americans, in turning away from perpetual war "have lost sight of the essential role the United States plays in supporting the international environment from which they benefit greatly. The unprecedented prosperity made possible by free and open markets and thriving international trade; the spread of democracy; and the avoidance of major conflict among great powers: All these remarkable accomplishments have depended on sustained U.S. engagement around the world."
Who are these brilliant perpetual war propagandists the Trib used to promote their never ending obsession with regime change and rampaging American exceptionalism abroad? If there were a Mount Rushmore for neocon warmongers, Robert Kagan would be up there. Co-founder of the Project for a New American Century in 1997, Kagan has been a top promoter of regime change for three decades now, being among the most ferocious proponents of the criminal Iraq war. Ivo Daalder, though much less known, is an equally dedicated regime changer. As US Permanent Representative to NATO in 2011, Daalder was instrumental in getting NATO to lead the utterly failed regime change in Libya that has turned it into a failed state and a new playground for terrorist organizations. As thousands died and millions continue to suffer under the Daalder's ruinous leadership, his 2012 words in Foreign Affairs, "NATO's operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention" will haunt him to eternity.
Thirteen years ago the Trib was so enamored with President George W. Bush's criminal Iraq war, they boosted his 2004 re-election bid by touting his foreign policy chops. If the Trib Editorial Board was really interested in peace and stability around the world, they would shun endless war promoters of perpetual war like Kagan and Daalder. Alas they still don't get the admonition of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal that "To initiate a war of aggression is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” But the Trib knows there are no consequences in 21st century America in for being a staunch member of the war party. As oft said: 'Membership has its privileges.'


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bars should not bar right to vote

If one of the purposes of prison is rehabilitation, then it's important to let every soul behind bars vote.

Just two states, albeit among the smallest, Maine and Vermont, follow that humane principle. No one has yet to point out one iota of harm from such inclusion. The remaining 48 practice some form of disenfranchising backwardness, from a tad less progressive to abominable:

DC-HI-IL-IN-MA-MD-MI-MT-ND-NH-OR-PA-RI-UT
Only those in prison can't vote

CO-CA-NY-CT
Folks in jail or on parole can't vote

AK-AR-DE-GA-ID-KS-LA-MN-MO-NC-NE-NJ-NM-OK-SC-SD-TX-VA-WA-WI-WV
Those in prison, on parole or on probation can't vote

AL-AZ-MS-NV-TN-WY
Some people with felony convictions are permanently disenfranchised

FL-IA-KY
All people with felony convictions are permanently disenfranchised

I'm reminded about this sad state of our states regarding felon disenfranchisement with the bit of great news from Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe that 206,000 former Virginian felons can now vote.  As great as that is, about 5,000,000 former felons are still barred from the ballot box. The other millions in prison, on parole or probation must also be given the franchise if we want to truly begin the rehabilitation process and reduce recidivism. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's public, not Hastert that requires no prison time for his white collar crime

The Trib Sunday editorial 'Hastert deserves prison, not probation' for his white collar crime of illegally structuring bank withdrawals to avoid bank reporting requirements, utterly fails to justify its lust to slam Hastert in the the slammer for five years. All the hundreds of words detailing the sad, sordid story of Hastert's sexual molestation of wrestling students decades ago have nothing to do with wasting around $150,000 in taxpayer money to get 'revenge' for Hastert's ancient conduct which, though egregious, is not the crime for which he's being sentenced. None of the factors requiring prison apply to Hastert. He's no threat to the public and incapable of repeat criminality. Prison does nothing to punish him beyond the punishment of disgrace and banishment from society already incurred. Prison will serve as no deterrent to sick individuals willingly risking self destruction to further their criminal sexual obsessions. His greatly impaired medical condition makes his imprisonment an utter travesty of 'piling on' in righteous indignation. Granting probation to a failing septuagenarian has nothing to do with mercy or recognizing his decades of contributions to his community, his state, his nation. Hastert wouldn't deserve prison for the crime for which he's being sentenced if he had been a scoundrel his entire life. The only question to be answered is simply this: Is any societal purpose being served by spending $30,000 a year to imprison an end of life person for a white collar crime when he poses no threat to public. Any decent, fair minded person would unquestionably say 'Absolutely not.' If the Trib Editorial Board is so anxious to see Hastert stagger into a prison van for the trip to the hoosegow, they should take up a collection amongst themselves and like minded revenge seekers to pay for their exercise in societal folly.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Huppke ignores broken bones for single offensive word

Apparently, Trib columnist Rex Huppke is not familiar with the wise aphorism "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." If he is, he certainly didn't absorb the wisdom of the simple truth that name calling simply doesn't rise to the level of harm that actions which physically degrade and diminish the lives of their victims does. His Trib column "CTU president's ISIS comments are Trumpian in their absurdity" spends hundreds of words agonizing over CTU President Karen Lewis' claim in a City Club of Chicago speech that Governor Bruce Rauner is "the new ISIS recruit". While I've blogged that Lewis' comments were a bit 'over the line', the fact remains Lewis is correct in calling Rauner's budgetary harm, reducing state funding for the needy to extort non-budgetary agenda items from the legislature, "acts of terror on poor and working-class people." Huppke, like the other normally clear thinking, progressive pundits bashing Lewis over her 'ISIS' comment, is immune to the real pain and suffering the needy experience at the hands of arguably the most insensitive and heartless governor in Illinois history. As a result, his sole criticism of Rauner's inhumane and outrageous treatment of struggling students, on the precipice state vendors, as well as the marginal needy, is that "I'm no fan of how Rauner is running the state." If affluent, comfortable and white privileged Huppke was one of the folks being damaged by Rauner's ruinous rule, he'd have no problem whatsoever with linking Rauner to ISIS terrorists, however hyperbolic that charge is. Comparing Karen Lewis to The Donald is totally inappropriate. The Donald now admits his neo-fascist rhetoric was just 'entertainment' to energize his base, a dastardly and cynical ploy which he'll now temper as the likely GOP nominee. Karen Lewis is engaged in an unfair struggle against a man and a system which cares nothing about the people it destroys. Focusing on a single word, utterly insignificant to the victims she represents, is pointless.

If Huppke was really interested in serving the Illinois public, he'd be urging his readers to rise up in mass civil disobedience against the debasement of powerless Illinoisans by the oligarchical near billionaire Rauner, who bought the governorship to enrich his rich base.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Maybe not ISIS, but Rauner a terrorist nonetheless

CTU prez Karen Lewis might have gone a bit over the line calling Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner "a new ISIS recruit", but her comment "the things he's doing look like acts of terror on poor and working-class people" is spot on. Ensconced every night amid billionaire splendor in one of his 6 palatial homes, Rauner is oblivious to the immense damage he does daily to the needy, dependent on state services to barely get by; the students struggling to stay in schools being decimated by his willful educational destruction; and state vendors trying to stay afloat while Rauner floats their receivables on sea of red ink. Practicing 'smash capitalism' on businesses unlucky enough to be gobbled up by Rauner is bad enough. Practicing 'smash capitalism' on the 13 million residents of Illinois is a form of public service terrorism. Rauner wasn't trained by ISIS. He's a product of the new oligarchical ruling elite of obscenely rich, nurtured right here in the Good 'ol USA

Saudi greenmail trumps justice for 911 victims

The bi-partisan Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JAST) would allow families devastated by the 911 attacks to sue governments found liable for sponsoring those attacks. The only country in the cross hairs of that law is Saudi Arabia which our government has been protecting by classifying the damning 28 pages of the 911 report witch implicate the Saudis. Now the administration has a full court press on to derail JAST. Why? Saudi Arabia is threatening to dump its $750 billion in Treasuries to jack up interest rates on US consumers. They could also stop buying US weapons of mass murder which pumped $100 billion into US merchants of death coffers this past decade. The Prez is in Saudi Arabia this week trying to calm Saudi fears Americans might just get justice that the hapless Iraqis have been paying for the last 13 years in the the greatest example of 'transference' ever. To put it simply:

                                    Money talks...and justice for 911 victims walks

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rauner running out of room in self painted corner

The other day Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was caught on tape saying he didn't realize how tough it would be to implement his business turnaround agenda in Illinois. By the tone of his voice, it's clear Rauner still has no idea how really tough it will be. He can't face the fact that as hard working Illinoisans get laid off, struggling Illinois students drop out of school, the neediest Illinoisans lose state services, and state vendors see their accounts receivable mushroom, he has zero chance of achieving it.
Why? Injecting anti labor, anti state worker provisions is an unprecedented encroachment on the budget process which is a simple matter of A) what we need to spend to serve the people, and B) what revenue must we raise to meet those needs. Everything else is reserved to the legislative process over gubernatorial and legislative agendas for legislative change. Rauner thought if he required passing his agenda before even discussing budgetary needs and revenue, the legislature would roll over like the companies that Rauner whipsawed into submission on his way to billionaire status.
Government, Rauner is finding out, is not like the bloodless dollars and cents of the 'smash capitalism' he's been practicing for decades. Government requires a heart, a soul and a pulse that considers the needs of all 13 million of us instead of profit, profit, profit. By extending this soulless obstinacy for nearly a year, Rauner is solely responsible for the slow collapse of state governance.
Because Rauner and his extended family are insulated by his wealth from the damage he's doing to all the little people in Illinois, he thought he could ride out any protest to his immoral abdication of simply doing his job. But he's painted himself into a corner of disgrace from which there is no exit except to face reality and negotiate a budget without non-budgetary conditions.
Alas, Gov. Rauner is still wielding the paintbrush of his self destruction....and the space beneath his feet is beginning to disappear. 
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

When Minoso lost '51 rookie award to one shade of black

When 28 year old rookie White Sox outfielder Minnie Minoso stepped to the plate in old Comisky Park for his first at bat on May 1, 1951, fans were seeing more than the man breaking the color bar on the formerly all white White Sox. Minnie smacked a Vic Raschi fastball into the center field bullpen, ushering in the Go Go era on the South Side after 32 years in the American League wilderness, following ironically, the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Watching Minoso's debut ball disappear in the bullpen was 22 year old rookie Gil McDougal, playing second for the still all white Yanks. 
Six months later McDougald edged out the Cuban Comet as AL Rookie of the Year with 13 first place votes to Minnie's 11. McDougald had a pretty good year, batting .306 with 41 extra base hits, 63 RBI, 14 stolen bases and a .396 on base percentage. And Minoso? He had a monster rookie year with a .326 average, 58 extra base hits, 76 RBI, 31 stolen bases and a .422 on base percentage. There's more: Minnie combined those power numbers with 16 more walks and 12 fewer strike outs. More again: McDougald was just a cog on a Yankee team with more stars than MGM, while Minnie was the catalyst for the Sox improbable revival.
There's no do-over for sports awards and if Minnie were still alive today he'd demur if questioned on one of the great thefts in all of sports. And McDougald? If alive today, and you asked him about the current debate over white privilege, he'd likely point to that 65 year old Rookie of the Year Award gathering dust on his mantle and simply reply, "That's white privilege".

Friday, April 15, 2016

Rauner congratulates Snyder, McCrory for keeping Rauner from winning 'Worst' award

Can't prove it but I understand Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has sent congratulatory messages to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his gubernatorial counterpart Pat McCrory in North Carolina. Rauner's compliments to both were for their valiant efforts to keep Rauner from copping the Worst Governor in America Award, given annually to the governor who does the most to damage his state's economy and degrade the life of folks most in need of responsible governance.
Rauner's year long refusal to work with the Illinois legislature to pass a budget, resulting in layoffs, students leaving college and state vendors going broke waiting for long delayed payment, got Rauner nominated for the ignominious 'Worst Governor' award. Then Michigan Governor Snyder vaulted ahead of Rauner with his ingenious tactic of pumping poor, mostly minority Flint residents full of lead tainted water to save a few bucks and show his wealthy sponsors that 'smash capitalism' business tactics can increase the power and wealth of the Michigan ruling class.
Not to be outdone, North Carolina Governor McCrory used the route of culture wars to contend for Worst Governor. Furious that gay marriage became legal in North Carolina via federal court rulings, McCrory had his compliant legislature slam dunk a law in just 12 hours that overturned a Charlotte ordinance outlawing discrimination against the LGBT community, including restrictions on transgenders using the toilets of their gender identity. His law that solved no problem created a Tsunami of economic problems for the Tar Heel state as businesses and travelers from around the land now chant "Anything's finer than to be in North Carolina."
But in the Land of Lincoln all is not well with Governor No Budget. Rauner still wakes up every day knowing his senseless political brinkmanship will cause someone to get a pink slip, some student to crack open a video game instead of a book, and some small business to become even smaller that day. When your 48th worst governor of 50, having a couple of even worse state leaders standing between you and the Worst Governor in America Award is meager consolation.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Obama's Top 10 To Do List for last 9 months


Nine months and change is still much time for the most highly accomplished president in my lifetime to add to his glowing presidential resume. He's actually second to FDR, but I was just 32 days old when FDR left office. Here are ten I'd like to see him complete, which would vault him to top of any historian's Best Prez List.

Dear President Obama:

Apologize for the unnecessary A Bombing of Japan in 1945 on your upcoming trip to Japan.

Close the Gulag at Guantanamo. Those places should only be associated with Nazis and Stalinists.

Cancel the Tuesday 'Kill List'. 'Tuesdays with Morrie' is fine; 'Tuesdays with Who To Kill Next' not so good.

End all new fossil fuel exploration permits. Earth may not succumb in your lifetime, but no guarantee for our kids and future grandchildren. 

Find a way to place Merrick Garland on Supreme Court without Senate approval. They've abrogated their responsibility to confirm. Don't abrogate yours to install. 

Stop enabling the slow Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people, including holding them under inhumane conditions in Gaza, stealing their homes, land, water and dignity in the West Bank, and systematically marginalizing them them as a people deserving a homeland.  

End criminal military ops in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and other places we don't know about. We've killed enough. 

Request a congressional investigation of the war crimes of the Bush administration. There is no Statute of Limitation for war crimes.  Call it reconciliation and offer immunity if needed. Just get the process started. History will judge you harshly for looking forward rather than back. If it was good enough for Germany and Japan; it's good enough for America. Beware the Ghost of Nuremberg. 

Release the redacted 28 pages of the 911 Report which show Saudi Arabia's involvement in the 911 attacks carried out by 15 Saudi nationals of 19 attackers. Everybody who cares already knows the truth. Prove it to the dead-end warmongers. 

Instead of expanding NATO up to Russia's borders, re-igniting the Cold War and creating a nuclear tripwire over its volatile neighbors, advise Europe to defend themselves. 

You're famous for exhorting your staff to never let up achieving accomplishments up til the movers come for your stuff next January 20th. That includes with you, Mr. President. 

Sincerely, 
Walt Zlotow


Monday, April 11, 2016

Chapman should speak only for his extreme right base

The Trib's Steve Chapman sure is spooked by the inspirational, revolutionary and utterly unstoppable campaign of Bernie Sanders to end the rigged game of billionaire bought oligarchy in which he is comfortably ensconced.  His gratuitous hit piece "Left and right should reject Sanders" may be the single most insulting opinion piece directed at millions of progressives brought fully into the process of returning governance to the people from the oligarchs. Every criticism he offered of Sanders comes direct from the extreme right playbook designed to trivialize and demonize Sanders. Two false criticisms jump out that deserve refutation: Sanders failure to accomplish anything in a quarter century in Congress, and his call to abolish fracking as one means of combating climate change.   

The phony accomplishment charge is based solely on establishment icon Barney Franks' claim Sanders accomplished nothing because he's unable to compromise. Rather than using a straw man critic supporting Hillary Clinton, Chapman could have done his homework to reveal Sanders:
  •  Passed a corporate crime accountability amendment to the Victims Justice Act of 1995  requiring white collar criminals to disclose their crimes to all victims 
  •  Passed a competitive grants to colleges and universities amendment in 1998 Higher  Education  legislation increasing grants to schools using cooperative purchasing to save    costs
  •  Passed an amendment to the Treasury Appropriations Act of 2003 stopping the IRS from 
            violating current pension age discrimination laws
  •  Obtained a hundred million dollar increase for community health centers in 2001
  •  Passed an amendment to a 2001 appropriations bill forbidding the importation of goods  made with child labor
  • Obtained a $22 million increase to 2004 legislation providing low income energy assistance and weatherization programs
  • Passed a 2005 amendment to legislation which prohibited the Import Export Bank from 
           providing loans for nuclear projects in China
  • Passed an amendment to 2007 legislation which required a minimum of 30% of hot water needs in federal building come from solar power
  • Passed an amendment to 2007 legislation which provided an additional $10 million to beef up National Guard units depleted by serving in our criminal Iraq war. 
  • Passed an amendment to 2009 bank bailout legislation which prohibited bailout funds from displacing American workers
  • Passed an amendment to 2009 legislation which required reporting on improvements in child care for military parents
  • Passed an amendment to 2012 legislation to promote transparency on defense officials entering the revolving door of defense industry employment
  • Passed an amendment to 2013 legislation to provide assistance to autistic children of military personnel 

That's more accomplishment than the entire 'de-legitimize Obama' do nothing Republicans put together. 

On the subject of climate change Chapman denigrates Sanders for being against fracking which Chapman sees as the panacea to reducing carbon emissions. Alas, carbon emissions aren't the top priority in fracking friendly Oklahoma. They're too busy grappling with the colossal increase in fracking caused earthquakes which have driven quakes there from 2 a year to 2 a day in just 7 years. 

Chapman got it half right in his Sanders piece. The right will love its anti Bernie fantasy. The left? We're too busy Feeling the Bern soon to turn its heat on the billionaire oligarch class where they sit down. 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

GOP legislators: "States rights Si! City rights Nada!"‏

The racists, homophobes, xenophobes, misogynists and other core constituencies of GOP legislatures have spent an eternity tuning back the clock on human progress with the cry of "States Rights." Small government is inherently better than big government they cry as they resisted federal attempts to bring their states into the 20th century. But here in the 21st century, with most federal efforts realized, these Neanderthals have suddenly become enlightened about the benefits of big government when confronting the progress implemented at the much smaller city level. To whit:
NC overturned Charlotte's progressive anti LGBT discrimination ordinance
AL voided Birmingham's decision to increase the minimum wage
MO banned all cities and counties from both increasing the minimum wage and requiring retailers to ban those bags that never decay
In TN, the Volunteer State, cities can't volunteer to end discrimination against gays
Arkansas' state motto: 'Regnant Populi' which translates to "The people rule", has an unwritten corollary "People in the legislature only" when it comes to banning discrimination.
Memo to NC, AL, TN, MO and AR: Find yourself another country to be part of
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn, IL

Saturday, April 09, 2016

No jail time for Denny

Denny Hastert should not become US prison member two million, two hundred thousand and one. We've already got that many souls languishing in 6,125 joints consisting of state, federal, Indian, local and juvenile facilities. While the US has just 4.4% of the world's population it warehouses 22% of the worlds prisoners. Our incarceration rate of 716 per 100,000 is second highest in the world, only exceeded by Seychelles' 899 per hundred thousand. But with a population of just 83,000, Seychelles has a mere 746 prisoners.

US prison population exploded in the 1980's and 90's, largely due to draconian crime and sentencing guidelines that were essentially racist and class based. The legacy of those policies is an $80 billion annual price tag that exceeds the GDP of 133 nations. Even worse is the catastrophic effect those policies have had on minority and poor communities; a stain on any claim we make for the righteousness of our society.

Jail should be reserved only for those who represent a physical or financial threat to society by their inability to control their criminal impulses. All others can be handled in less costly and more humane ways such as home confinement except for time out for community service.

Regardless of the heinousness of Hastert's behavior 35 to 50 years ago, imprisoning the shell of a man broken in body and spirit, unable to care for basic human functions and quite likely near death, does nothing sitting in a prison hospital wheel chair except waste money and show the ignorance and callousness of our society.

The Denny Hastert who was two heartbeats away from the presidency became a prisoner of his own making ten months ago upon his indictment. The man who know every soul in his small town of Yorkville, IL has vanished within the recesses of his own tortured soul.

That is punishment enough.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Just wonderin'


Do you suppose when Gov. Rauner has trouble sleeping...instead of sheep, does he count all the people who've got laid off, dropped out of school or got stiffed for the goods and services they provided the state in good faith months ago? Just wonderin'.


Monday, April 04, 2016

Neocon money on Cruz over The Donald

The neocons who helped launch our criminal war against Iraq have been mostly sidelined since the election of Barack Obama. But they see Ted Cruz as their ticket back to power and unfettered war on Islam. They want nothing to do with The Donald, who, in calling out Bush's lies to attack Iraq, lies they put in his unintelligible mouth, is the only Republican honest enough to charge him, inadvertently, with war crimes. They revel in Cruz'splan to tear up the 5 Power-Iran nuclear agreement, the most war preventing measure of the past generation. He pledges to utterly destroy ISIS, even if it makes the sand glow in the Middle East, an unsubtle reference to nuking what is merely a rag tag group of ten to twenty thousand members dispersed among millions of innocents. Cruz loves empire building up to Russia's doorstep through NATO, even though that may be the most likely tripwire to another US-Russia nuclear confrontation. Most important, Cruz grovels at the feet of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, a leader who is arguably Cruz's real Commander In Chief. The neocon assault against The Donald, led by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, Charles Krauthammer and others, does not serve the interests of peace. President Carter was correct in tabbing the fanatically Evangelical Dominionist Cruz a bigger threat to peace than soulless panderer The Donald, who like a broken clock, gets it right twice a day, at least regarding criminal war.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Time for abortion on demand?

GOP presidential candidate leader Donald Trump has called for criminal punishment for women getting an abortion. Second place candidate Ted Cruz has started a "Pro-lifers for Cruz" coalition co-chaired by Troy Newman, on record calling for execution of abortion providers and treating aborting women as murderers.

While neither is unlikely to implement these ghoulish prescriptions should either become president, it's time to push back to a signature culture war issue of the rapidly disintegrating Republican Party.
What both promote about abortion, could, in the mind of some religious fanatics, be applied to any medical help for life threatening, or life impairing medical condition. In our relatively sane society we punish parents who refuse such medical care for their powerless child. Are principled religious folks lobbying to maintain the growth of an unwanted fetus (regardless of the reason) in contravention of a woman's right to control her reproductive health, any different from similarly principled folks who believe God doesn't want them to destroy the cancerous tumor He planted in their body? How would Ted Cruz react if some of those zealots lobbied to prevent him doing that as a desecration of God's Will? I suspect he'd claim the imaginary God he worships is OK for excising the cancer his benevolent God chose to give him.
We've come too far saving thousands of women from botched back alley abortions since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. But we're inexorably sliding backward as heartless states drastically eliminate abortion providers. Those legislators and governors are oblivious to the reality that unsafe abortions rise inversely too the decline of safe and accessible abortion providers. Their perverse effort to eliminate abortion disproportionally affects the poor who can't travel long distances to find one of the dwindling facilities. The rich merely tap into their discretionary wealth to get services that should be fully available to all.
Abortion on demand should be a plank in a national health care system that this backward country still doesn't have. Abortion must be completely divorced from all religions as a matter of critical public policy. Any religion working to limit abortion through legislation should lose their tax exempt status. They have one right when it comes to abortion: preaching against it to their followers.
Trump appears devoid of a single religious bone; his loony call to criminalize women who abort is pure pandering to his ignorant, angry followers. A President Trump would likely forget he ever mentioned the subject. Cruz has 206 religious bones, every one in his body. As a Dominionist, Cruz believes it's his duty to gain the presidency to impose delusional Evangelical concepts on our secular society. Neither Cruz nor Trump would bring America to a just point where abortion is available to all on demand from a humane society.
 


What do you call Illinois' worst deadbeat dad?


When a man abandons supporting and caring for his kids, he's called a 'deadbeat dad' and if caught, is made to care for them. Failure to comply carries severe sanctions on his livelihood and possibly even his freedom.

But what do you call a man who abandons supporting and caring for the 13,000,000 citizens who are dependent on him for their health, education and well being?

Governor.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Roskam should reprise Whitmore role in 'Palestinian Like Me'.

My Congressman Peter Roskam is cool with the subjugation and inhuman treatment 8 million Israelis practice against 4.5 million Palestinians. Keeping 1.8 million Palestinians penned up under quarantine in Gaza, the world's largest open air prison, or inexorably gobbling up Palestinian land, water and other natural resources from from the 2.7 million Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank makes no dent on Roskam's conscience as he never even acknowledges their existence. At his websitewww.roskam.house.gov, Roskam always displays a homepage feature touting his role as Co-chair of the GOP Israeli Caucus, dedicated to promoting endless US 'free stuff' to beef up the gargantuan Israeli defenses against the existential threat of one of the most persecuted groups on earth protesting for their freedom, a home country, indeed, their very survival. Apparently, those 80 nukes that Israel possesses in contravention to world norms against nuclear proliferation, are not nearly enough to satisfy Roskam's thirst to maintain totalitarian rule in that sorrowful land with endless US largess.

A suggestion for my congressman. How bout reprising the James Whitmore role in the 1964 true life flick 'Black Like Me. In it Whitmore played John Howard Griffin, a white Southerner, who darkened his skin to go on a six week odyssey of the 1959 version of today's Israel, where being black in the South was hazardous to one's health. Roskam's remake would be titled 'Palestinian Like Me' and feature our endless Israel cheerleader posing as a Palestinian sampling life in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Roskam wouldn't even have to darken his skin; just lose a lot of weight and dress like he was destitute, which would allow him to fit in quite well with the 4.5 million folks he pretends don't even exist. Rather that Griffin's six weeks in South as a black, six days in a Palestinian adverse Israel should be enough to give Roskam an epiphany that being a member of the human race, not to mention Congress, requires one to stand up for the downtrodden, demoralized and demonized in society, wherever they reside.

Who knows, when he returns from the true life set of 'Palestinian Like Me', Roskam may resign being Co-chair of the GOP Israeli Caucus and form new new group: The GOP Palestinian Caucus.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Free political prisoner Blago

The 14 year sentence currently being served by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for public corruption is more disgraceful that anything he illegally did as governor. Five years into being removed from his family, Blago's imprisonment has cost taxpayers about $150,000, exactly $150,000 more than he cost us during his 7 years as governor. Now that the US Supreme Court has denied hearing his appeal based on his contention he was convicted of mere political bantering practiced by every office holder, Blago goes before 'hanging judge' James Zagel, who could reduce his sentence due to 5 of 14 counts being overturned..or he could increase his sentence. Blagojevich was impeached, disgraced and prevented from ever holding office in Illinois again. That was punishment enough. Squandering precious treasure warehousing him is strictly political payback for an incorrigible jerk who couldn't refrain from taunting the political elite in Illinois. They prefer political shenanigans to be practiced in private, with not a whisper of disdain for the establishment which endlessly wastes our money and squanders opportunity for betterment far from the glare of TV news.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Traveling light

Ever see the pic of Bernie flying coach scrunched in middle seat? What you don't see is what really terrifies the GOP when he gets the nomination: NO BAGGAGE. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

End war on ISIS

The war on ISIS is simply the latest version of our immoral, illegal and criminal war against the Muslim world in the Middle East. It's time to question it, debate it...then mercifully end it. Anytime Western powers declare war on any group in the Middle East, they inspire thousands of folks, Muslims and non-Muslim supporters from around the world, to journey to the emerging new geography of the Middle East to wage war on the West. It also inspires like minded folks to commit atrocities in their home countries, inflicting as much carnage as possible in retaliation. Trumpeting a war and blasting thousands to bits with bomb spitting drones is a ghastly waste of precious treasure that could be used to build up rather than tear down society.
The West must acknowledge its role in smashing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, to name six, into failed states, making them ripe for the ensuing chaos we now declare war on. That vicious circle of perpetual war promotes, guarantees, if fact, blowback in the form of asymmetrical suicide bombings or suicidal shooting rampages that can never be completely stopped.
Ending perpetual war reduces inspiration for these highly infrequent, but highly effective revenge attacks. As we kill thousands, many if not most of whom are innocents; mainstream media yawns and skips to the latest neo-fascist soundbites from grotesque contenders seeking to lead the US war party to more war. But when suicide bombers kill dozens in retaliation, it's wall to wall coverage for days till the next ratings diversion emerges. The West's role in this perpetual cycle of violence is never revealed, never questioned.
US policy in the Middle East endlessly channels Forest Gump's 'Stupid is as stupid does. That must change. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sanders stands alone on Israeli, Palestinian issue


One of many reasons I'm supporting Bernie Sanders for president is that he is the only candidate from either party that doesn't pander to the Israel Lobby. Sanders criticizes Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu for his grotesque and disproportionate use of violence that killed 2.220 Palestinians in the 2014 war, 31 times the number of Israelis killed. He supports a two state solution when Netanyahu speeds ahead with illegals settlements and inexorable theft of water resources that marginalize Palestinians into a pitiful, powerless and subjugated people. Sanders bemoans the inhumane and intolerable conditions that 8 million Israelis have inflicted on 4.5 million Palestinians. Sanders won't say it, but his opposition to the Iraq war was based in part on his knowledge Israel egged on the US to invade Iraq to remake the Middle East with regime change in Syria and Iran to follow, promoting absolute Israeli hegemony in the region. Every other presidential candidate panders to the Israel Lobby, putting the interests of Israel above that of the country issuing their passport.
That's why I support Bernie Sanders for president: doesn't pander; never has; never will.

Monday, March 21, 2016

No. 4,498 died 4 years after Iraq war officially ended

On Saturday, the 13th anniversary of our illegal, immoral and criminal Iraq war began, a US Marine was killed by rocket fire, the 4,498 soldier killed, since March 19, 2003. We never left Iraq after the Iraqi government forced the end of our combat operations December 31, 2011. We were granted residual force of several thousand for non combat training and security. We exceeded that quota some time ago and those residual forces are engaging and sometimes dying from the new enemy ISIS, which evolved from our monstrous destruction of Iraq 13 years ago. That's Perpetual War in America: Endless, bankrupting...and deadly.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

LaRoche: bad DH; worse parent

After quitting the Sox over VP Kenny Williams requesting Adam LaRoche 'scale back' the extensive time his 14 year old son Drake was spending in the Sox clubhouse, LaRoche had this to say about education:

   "We're not big on school. I told my wife 'He's gonna learn a lot more useful information in the clubhouse, than he will in the classroom, as far as life lessons.'" 

Last year LaRoche made $12 million being the worst designated hitter in the American League, hitting a paltry .207 with just 11 home runs. Bad as that was, LaRoche is already having a worse year in 2016...as a parent.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Honest Abe to Dishonest Trib: "Cancel my subscription!"

One hundred fifty-five years ago, Trib co-owner and managing editor Joe Medill helped secure the second Republican presidential nomination for Abe Lincoln. The current Trib Editorial Board likes to remind us of that fact, as they did today in "Let the convention decide: Party of Lincoln or party of Trump." The editorial makes a totally false comparison between the front runner, avowed neo-fascist Donald Trump, and the rest of the Republican field. To liken the more refined candidates Cruz, Kasich and the recently departed Rubio to Honest Abe would provoke a firestorm of protest from the Rail Splitter if he could drop in on the freak show that is the current Republican Party. He would remind the fine writers of the Board that the difference between The Donald and The Rest is purely one of style, not substance. They all want to lavish hundreds of billions more on our grotesquely bloated defense budget. They all want to ratchet up the mindless violence we perpetrate on any folks we deem are worth of instant death in the Middle East and Africa. They all deny the approaching Armageddon of climate change. They all propose a tax plan to inflate the engorged portfolios of the greedy rich. They would all have prevented 16,000,000 needy folks from getting their first health care insurance; including 50,000 that would have otherwise died, had they been able to cast the deciding vote on the Affordable Care Act. They would all push the Palestinians under the bus of Israeli domination and inhuman treatment; and put the national interests of Israel above that of Uncle Sam. They would all try to rescind the Iran nuclear agreement which has reduced the insane threat of war with Iran. They all 'high five' the Citizens United decision which allows a mother-lode of money to pollute our electoral process.
Honest Abe would have no part of those folks, including the entire ruling structure of the Republican Party. If given the choice of coming back to life as titular leader of the Republican Party at Cleveland this July, or resting peacefully at Oak Ridge Cemetery, his reply might be: "All things considered...I'll stay in Springfield."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Trump, Hitler parallel that applies

A recent history '1932', by David Pietrusza, chronicles the rise to power of Adolph Hitler and FDR in Germany and the US, respectively. Throughout this fascinating tome the scary 2016 Republican presidential campaign featuring neo-Fascist Donald Trump was never far from mind. 
Trump rallys, punctuated with violence and chaos, culminating in cancellation of his Chicago rally, mirror the path to power trod by Hitler in 1932 Germany. Hitler was a spellbinding rabblerouser, who offered virtually nothing of substance or specifics besides 'making Germany great again.' He offered his legion of followers meat issues of racial hatred, extreme nationalism, and demonizing the 'others' including Jewish bankers and communists. His followers engaged in endless violence against communists and other radicals which became useful to the military, the industrialists, the monarchists and the rulers who wanted those elements confronted. They used Hitler and the Nazis, never imagining Hitler would ever succeed in taking power. They felt they could control Hitler's more extreme tendencies and believed his inability to garner more than a third of the electorate in election after election meant he could never become Chancellor. When the government teetered near collapse, aging and out of touch President Hindenburg finally appointed Hitler Chancellor, fully expecting he could damp down and control his extreme rhetoric and conduct.
In failed candidate Ben Carson's endorsement of Trump today, he said Trump the extreme campaigner would moderate as Trump the nominee.
"There’s two Donald Trumps. There’s the Donald Trump that you see on television and who gets out in front of big audiences, and there’s the Donald Trump behind the scenes. They’re not the same person. One’s very much an entertainer, and one is actually a thinking individual.”
Carson may know brain surgery, but he doesn't know history. The parallel between Trump and Hitler is not the level of their racist and violent rhetoric, it's that they both used such rhetoric to mobilize their followers and gain new adherents.
2016 America is not 1932 Germany. But if one candidate in 2016 learned how to take over a party's base by appealing to the lowest fears and hatreds of the electorate, it's Donald Trump. That is a valid parallel to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler 84 years ago. We ignore that parallel at our peril.
Walt Zlotow

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bernie's Grand Slam earned my vote

I early voted for Bernie Sanders cause he crushed a Grand Slam on the 4 issues most dear to me. 

First, he's the most vocal candidate on the colossal failure and waste of our Middle East wars and the need to reduce rather than expand our military footprint in the Middle East and Africa. 

Second, he's the strongest and most eloquent spokesman for addressing climate change which threatens our very existence. 

Third, he's the only candidate calling for universal health insurance...Medicare For All. 

Fourth, he's called for slowing, even reversing the massive income inequality which threatens the economic well being of all but the very wealthy. 

After crossing home plate after his Slam, I'm hopeful Berrnie can cross into the Oval Office and begin the work to address and implement progress on these four crucial issues. 

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Lovie's news conference displays America's distorted priorities

Turned on the hopeless little screen yesterday to see former Bears coach Lovie Smith being introduced as the new University of Illinois football coach in a special live news event. The thought occurred to me if we’d see a live news event of the fabled Land of Lincoln flagship school introducing a great scholar or researcher. Nah. The United States doesn’t value scholarship or research. That’s why Lovie gets a $21 million deal (before incentives) while the professors who do the real work of the institution and society get the scraps. Maybe we should change Lovie’s job title to “Professor of Future Concussions.”

Big Ugly Fat Fellow readied to kill again

Next month marks the 64th anniversary of the maiden flight of Big Ugly Fat Fellow (BUFF). . Deployed in February, 1955, BUFF, better known as the gigantic B-52 bomber, slaughtered untold thousands in America's criminal Vietnam War. It was resurrected to slaughter again in Persian Gulf War, the NATO war on Serbia and Operation Iraqi Freedom. BUFF will be deployed next month for the first time in our made up, unnecessary war against Sunni extremists redrawing the artificial WWI boundaries in the Middle East. BUFF can carry 70,000 lbs of death dealing ordinance including gravity bombs, precision guided cruise missiles, joint direct attack munitions and the war criminal's favorite: cluster bombs. That's America's Big Ugly Fat Fellow; 64 years of dealing death to the folks Uncle Sam don't like. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

A proud vote

Early voted for Bernie today in the Illinois Primary. Proudest vote for Prez aside from my 2 for O. Bernie has been a true progressive, caring actor on the public scene since college days at U of C starting in 1960. That's 56 years of keeping faith with the highest ideals of public citizenship and public office. He's one candidate who never has to pander, waffle, lie or disassemble. His message is simple, just and desperately needed. If he secures the nomination, he will only inspire tens of millions of us to work even harder for his election. If not, we must all keep faith to create the sane, fair, decent society and world we and future generations deserve.


Neocons pick for Prez? Rubio

here's oodles of reasons to despise neo-Fascist presidential candidate Donald Trump. One I can't abide by is the neocons' terror at a Trump presidency ending the neocon perpetual war gravytrain. Aside from a few blips such as "I'll bomb the shit out of them (ISIS) and "There won't be one square inch of it (ISIS territory) left", neocons bristle at Trump sins of calling out George W. Bush as a war criminal (lying US into war is ipso facto a war crime), saying Putin isn't our enemy, opposing new and endless Middle East wars, and possibly worst of all, arguing for a reasoned approach to the Israeli, Palestinian dispute.

The neocons two-fold approach is to join the chorus of Republican factions trashing Trump's candidacy and to pour millions into the candidacy of young Florida Senator Marco Rubio who slavishly supports their war always agenda. Rubio vows to overturn the 5 power Iran nuclear deal on Day One should he get elected. He's pledges further riches to expand our annual $900 million give away to the bloated military, intelligence and anti-terrorism programs. Spending more than the next seven countries combined on defense is not good enough to neocon Rubio. He's been supported for years by some of the richest and most virulent neocons including casino mogul and Israeli settlement fanatic Sheldon Adelson. Hedge fund billionaire Bill Singer, board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and strong ally of Israeli President Bibi Netanyahu, was Rubio's second largest contributor between between 2009 and 2014. A third billionaire Norman Bramen has been financing Israeli settlements on Palestinian land for years and according to the NY Times, bankrolling Rubio's campaigns, legislative agenda and even his personal finances, hiring Rubio as a lawyer and his wife as a Bramen foundation consultant. With all the dreadful statements Trump has uttered that are racist, sexist, xenophobic, ignorant and demeaning, this is what Rubio chooses to criticize about Trump: “His position is an anti-Israel position. You cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith," Rubio charged, not seeing the irony of Israel's dishonesty.

Rubio is the most likely of the four dreadful Republican candidates left to pursue a neocon foreign policy agenda. He's in hock up to them up to his slicked down hair and has no conscience regarding perpetuation of a bellicose foreign policy which puts us at all at risk.

Marco Rubio is oft likened as the most moderate and electable alternative to Donald Trump. But he's merely a stooge for the war party, bought and paid for, and grasping at their riches as he grasps for the brass ring.


Thursday, March 03, 2016

Book Review: 1932 by David Pietrusza


Thought I knew much about these two giants of 20th century leadership till Pietruza's new history with one focus: their simultaneous rise to power in 1932; a truly momentous year. Pietrusza fills in the gap that most histories skim over, the minutia of how both schemed endlessly to grab the reins of power in two countries near collapse from Depression and failed leadership.
Neither had a clear path to power at the start of the year. Hitler used extreme violence, masterful propaganda and demonic energy and will to overcome both his inability to garner an electoral majority in repeated elections, and the hatred of him by virtually everyone else in power, including revered old President Paul on Hindenburg who vowed the 'Bavarian Corporal' would never become Chancellor...till he did just after 1932 mercifully ended. FDR was as cool and reserved in his quest for power as Hitler was hot and ego-maniacal. He deftly overcame incredulity of his ability to lead America out of Depression by party bosses who largely supported another run by Catholic Al Smith, who lost to Hoover in 1928. They and much of the electorate during the Democratic campaign viewed FDR as a wealthy, elite lightweight who offered no real program of economic salvation other than his cheery charisma.
A joy of this tome is the detail devoted to the incredible cast of characters drawn to the Hitler/FDR orbits. One who traversed both titans was Ernst Franz Sedwick "Putzi" Nanfstaegl, described by Pietrusza as "Der Fuhrer's clownish American descended intimate ("Hitler's Piano Player"). FDR's old friend from New York's posh Harvard Club, who said 'Roosevelt made himself by conquering an infirmity of the body; Hitler by conquering the infirmity of the German people'. "
The scary 2016 Republican presidential campaign featuring the neo-Fascist run by Donald Trump was never far from mind as I read this fascinating history of how the right man and the wrong man grabbed the top spot in America and Germany 84 years ago. If you think that's a stretch consider the wise words of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and activist Chris Hedges:
"Fascism is about an inspired and seemingly strong leader who promises moral renewal, new glory and revenge. It is about the replacement of rational debate with sensual experience. This is why the lies, half-truths and fabrications by Trump have no impact on his followers."
Neither Trump nor his followers would ever read "1932". The rest of us all should to understand how it can happen here.