Monday, April 27, 2015

Kirk a One Trick Pony on Iran deal


My senator Mark Kirk (R. IL) sure can't speak extemporaneously very well about the 5 power nuclear deal with Iran. Asked to comment after its announcement, Kirk, one of the Senate's most virulent proponents of Iranian regime change, also known as war, compared it to the president making a worse deal than Neville Chamberlin got from Hitler at Munich in 1938. Then he postured that the proposed deal puts Israel on the road to war with Iran. Bot...h charges are unbecoming of a senator charged with promoting peace instead of war.

But he does a bit better when he has someone write out a relatively coherent speech such as he gave in last weeks Republican radio address. Mindful of his charge from the war party and the Israel Lobby to sabotage the current deal designed to reduce the likelihood of war, Kirk tried to sound cautious and peace loving; claiming he's merely trying to prevent another holocaust and a Middle East nuclear war. But we shouldn't be fooled by Kirk's nice-guy sounding rhetoric. Without a word of support for negotiations which is the only path to peace and eventual rapprochement with Iran, Kirk played the war card throughout, promoting sanctions, sanctions and more sanctions. When he calls Iran the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism, he conveniently omits mentioning his 14 year support in Congress for unnecessary and senseless war in the Middle East that his killed hundreds of thousands and injured or displaced millions.

When it comes to diplomacy, Kirk is a One Trick Pony; sanctions that will inevitably lead to war. Rather than charge ahead as leader of the War With Iran crowd that infests Congress, Kirk could better serve his state by visiting the families of Illinois soldiers killed in the senseless wars he's promoted and apologizing for his mendacious support for them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Is Gov. Rauner Illinois' Hipster Doofus?


The more I watch newbie Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, the more I'm reminded of the character Kramer from Seinfeld. Besides a mild physical resemblance, Rauner, like Kramer, seems to have a worldview that is a little 'off'. Kramer became lovable for simply not looking at the world like everyone else. He was constantly coming up with schemes to improve life around him and society in general that were so goofy and disjointed, friend El...aine tabbed him the 'Hipster Doofus'. Like Hipster Doofus Kramer, Rauner is careening around Illinois proposing cracked ideas that he thinks are genius but are falling flatter than Aunt Jemima's pancakes. Whether it's pulling out funding for autism and homecare for single mom programs, or proposing Right To Work zones to further erode union and prevailing wage uplift to the middle class, Rauner is showing he's much better suited for comedy than governance. Check that! Rauner may be deporting himself like a Hipster Doofus, but his version is more suited to tragedy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gay marriage critic and child of gay parenting misguided


With arguments before the Supreme Court on gay marriage a week away, Canadian Dawn Stefanowiz was given nearly of full page of Tribune ink and pixels to rail against the US legalizing gay marriage, as was done in Canada in 2005. Stefanowicz spent her first 30 years under the spell of her gay father and his succession of male partners. Her beef against daddy? "I did not see my father or his partners valuing, loving and affirming women. My father's preference for one gender (male) created an inner sense of inequality for me." Stefanowicz then extrapolates from this unfortunate experience, which untold millions have experienced at the hands of a heterosexual parent, to conclude her poor self esteem was the result of same sex parenting. We could surmise that if her father was a thief instead of a successful executive recruiter, she might conclude gay parenting is associated with thievery.

Stefanowicz's other argument against gay marriage is societal. She claims Canadians have lost their personal freedoms because of government imposed restrictions against expressing any belief same sex marriage is wrong. Her solution to these restrictions, whether real or imagined, is not to lobby for change in governmental policies; it's downright discriminatory and draconian: "Marriage must remain between a man and a woman — to the exclusion of all others." That's like saying we shouldn't have given the vote to women in 1920 or to blacks in 1965 because of the unfair societal pressure on those expressing their belief neither of these enhancements to human freedom was necessary.

Regarding Ms. Stefanowicz's bizarre lobbying for continued discrimination against LGBT folks enjoying the same humanity she does, Billy Shakespeare said it best: "The woman doth protest too much, me thinks."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

At College of DuPage, taxpayers pay for the food; Foundation pays for the booze

The front page story in today's COD Daily Scandal, a.k.a. Chicago Tribune, reveals a pretty slick trick President Breuder used to buy all that fine wine and scotch consumed by Breuder and trustees at Waterleaf dinners before 25 Board meetings in the last four years. Since charging taxpayers for liquor is frowned upon at community colleges, Breuder simply split the bill; food to Breuder's Waterleaf... house account and high octane refreshments to the College of DuPage Foundation's Waterleaf house account. Those 25 meetings racked up $9,000 in bar bills expensed at the expense of needy students, who could have received many more scholarships for that $9,000. The bigger the announcement at Board meetings, the bigger the bar bill which averaged $360 per dinner. Breuder and his trustee bosses really celebrated before an August, 2013, meeting where the Board announced Breuder was named CEO of the year for the Association of Community College Trustees' Central Region. The liquor tab for that dinner was $643 which included 6 bottles of fine wine. What's worse is that COD officials denied for months there even was a Foundation house account at Waterleaf. Perseverance by COD Daily Scandal reporters and lawyers finally coughed up the incriminating info. Breuder says all those FOIA requests were simply a fishing expedition. Can't be that when no fish could survive in what Breuder was swimming around in.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kirk to Illinois voters: "No more race talk from me"

My Senator Mark Kirk sure is embarrassed by his recent remarks that Illinois should try to cultivate black billionaires to combat white-black economic inequality that forces scared white folks to speed through the black community in their cars. That promoted this Kirk clarification:

“I would say that whenever a targeted member talks about race or ethnicity, it is impossible for him to get it right. So I’ll leave it at that.”
 
Mark Kirk is a sitting US Senator and claims he's "a targeted member" making it "impossible for him to get it right." Therefore, he's done talking about "race or ethnicity." I must remind Senator Kirk that his predecessor, Barack Obama, has said many thousands of words about race and ethnicity since becoming president six years ago and has never once gotten it wrong.
 
Senator Kirk, is no more targeted than any other public official at any level, from president down to dog catcher, when he mis speaks about important issues affecting the public welfare. It is outrageous that Kirk, a United States Senator, would declare he's done talking about one of the most important issues affecting the public welfare. Maybe Kirk could better serve the public by declaring he's done talking about re-election next year and retire after his one and only term expires, January 2, 2017.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My senator Mark Kirk (Rep. IL) sure says the darndest things.


In February, Senator Kirk threatened to pile up coffins outside Democratic Party offices if the Department of Homeland Security shut down, conveniently forgetting Republicans set the stage for the possible shutdown.

In March he said it was time to "end the attaching of bullshit to essential items of government." and later equated Senate Democrats as "making the same mistake that Democrats made in the 1850s when th...ey defended slavery,” simply because they objected to language in the human trafficking bill that furthered Republicans' anti-abortion agenda.

Two weeks ago, he lambasted the proposed 5 power nuclear agreement with Iran stating: "Neville Chamberlin got a better deal from Adolf Hitler."

Just last week Kirk offered this bizarre solution for inner city income inequality and urban driving challenges:

“I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community. With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through.”

Try to follow Kirk's logic: The state of Illinois should magically create a class of African-American billionaires which will produce two results. It will reduce the income disparity between the white haves and the black have-nots. This will allow frightened white people like Senator Kirk to not have to drive so fast through the black community.

Maybe it's time for Senator Kirk to hire a good PR man who will vet every one of Kirk's public statements before releasing them to our delicate ears. Maybe it's simply time for Senator Mark Kirk to resign.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A gal for the $20 bill? That's easy: Jeannette Rankin

 Yesterday, NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced a bill to have a woman replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by 2020, to coincide with the centenary of women's suffrage. Notables like Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks are leading the pack to be the first women on our paper currency since Martha Washington in 1896. My pick is former Montana Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, who served two terms in the US House, 1917-1919, and... 1941-1943. Before Congress, Rankin eschewed marriage and family to earn a college degree and work full time as a lobbyist for the National American Women's Suffrage Association. Their victory in Montana is what allowed her into Congress before Universal Suffrage, making her the only woman to vote for it in Congress. In April, 1917, Rankin was one of 50 members of Congress voting against President Wilson's Declaration of War against Germany in WWI. The majority vote for senseless war was one of the worst decisions in American history. Her nay vote sealed her defeat in 1918. She spent the next 22 years working tirelessly for peace and the rights of women and children. In 1940, the cause of peace made her run for Congress again. She won and got the chance to vote against our last declared war against Japan. Facing hisses and calls demanding she change her vote to make it unanimous, she said "I can't go to war (as a woman) so I can't send anyone else." Then she ran from a mob out for blood; hiding in a phone both and calling the cops for protection. Bounced from Congress again in 1942, Rankin soldiered on for her causes of peace and justice for another 31 years.

Rankin's story is largely written out of the American Story that glorifies war and papers over our denial of full civil rights to all throughout our history whether based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Putting Rankin on the paper twenty will be a fitting way to right that story. It will make me and every peace loving and inclusive American proud every time we spot her awesome, courageous visage for the rest of our lives.
 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Roskam channels 'Chicken Little' over Affordable Care Act


My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) has spent the past six years fear mongering over health care reform, now covering 16 million previously uninsured. For the full year during its gestation and five years of its existence, Roskam has been one of the most feverish advocates promoting the GOP's signature campaign to destroy President Obama's presidency by preventing health care reform. Roskam refused to even read the ACA ...saying the thousand page bill was just too much for him. Never mind that 40 million folks shut out from the best medical care in the world suffer bankruptcy, diminished health, even death because to the heartless system Roskam still cherishes.

But now that the ACA's five year success has been certified by those 16 million newly insured, expected costs of the ACA 20% less than expected (according the Congressional Budget Office), number of part time workers seeking full time work reduced drastically, private sector job growth soaring since its full implementation in 2014, Roskam's connection to reality remains non-existent. Go to his congressional website www.roskam.house.gov and the first pop up is:

"Inspector General for the Affordable Care Act - because the public deserves answers - Roskam.House.Gov"

This is followed by:
"Roskam, community leaders tout legislation blocking job killing Obamacare regulations"
This concerns Roskam's vote for the hilariously named "Repealing the JOB KILLING Health Care law". Gee, I can just hear Roskam adding: "Pay no attention to those 62 straight months of private sector job growth that have created over 12 million jobs."
But it gets worse. Click the issues link on heath care and you get this delusional nonsense:
" The health care law has resulted in higher premiums, decreased care, and government bureaucrats standing between you and your doctor. This is unacceptable. In my oversight role on the Ways and Means Committee, I am working to ensure the American health care system is the best in the world, and that families are not forced to pay more for diminished care."

No, Congressman, you are simply a sad caricature of a decent, humane congressman charged with improving the lives of your constituents. You take advantage of the pathetic fact that only 5% of Americans know the ACA has cost much less than expected while giving a health care lifeline to 16 million Americans. If it were up to you, they'd still be without. Thanks for nothing.

NOTE: Congressman Roskam can be contacted at 202-225-4561

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Graham's criticism of Paul only reason to consider him


The GOP, amazingly, has about 20 folks who have either announced, will announce, or are considering a 2016 presidential bid. One of them, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), is the most vehement war monger of the pack. He signed his colleague Tom Cotton's (R-AR) letter to the Iranian mullahs warning them not to ink an nuclear deal with President Obama because any Republican winning the 2016 presidency will likely abrogate it. ...He's pushing hard to derail this deal and he's always promoting war in the Middle East, going back to our criminal invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. He's downright obsessive about bombing Iran. But in his unrelenting criticism of President Obama's negotiating skills, he charged that any Republican candidate except Rand Paul (R-KY) could do better. That's peculiar since Paul was one of the 47 treasonous Republican senators who signed the Cotton letter. Furthermore, Rand jettisoned his formerly peacenik credentials and ties to his anti-war father Ron, to cozy up to the GOP crazies beating the war drums. He knows 'anti-war' and 'Republican candidate' is an oxy-moron, and he desperately wants to be president.
But Graham doesn't trust Paul. He fears a Paul presidency will continue Obama's drift away from war, from lockstep support for Israel's demand we bomb their bête noir Iran, and from insane, endless military spending. And he may be right.

In many ways Paul is a dreadful choice. He's shedding his more sane libertarian beliefs to have viability with the extreme right Republican primary voters, faster than you can say 'hypocrite'. He's showing a decidedly short fuse over uncomfortable questions; even shushing female interviewers like a good sexist. But when it comes to the most important issue of the election, war and peace, he's the one glimmer of hope that an unreconstructed war monger doesn't inhabit the White House should a Republican win next year.

Kirk post stroke health should be re-election issue


Although not mentioned yet in the media, my Illinois Senator Mark Kirk's health should be an issue in the 2016 election. His recovery from a near fatal 2012 stroke has been remarkable, but Kirk appears greatly diminished in his ability to articulate issues of war and peace, health care for all, and others, with wisdom and sensitivity. Listen to him discuss these issues now and he clearly struggles. Take health care. His reco...very cost must have exceeded $1 million. But when challenged to consider extending health care relief to tens of millions without health care insurance, Kirk, a vehement opponent of the Affordable Care Act, said simply, "We can't afford it." You could get a more nuanced answer from a Tea Party kook. But turn to defense spending and war and Kirk opens up the taxpayers' pocketbook with relish. He's never criticized our criminal involvement in multi trillion dollar wars that have killed hundreds of thousands and damaged or displaced millions. Instead, he's supported every war and voted every dollar of squandered treasure to prosecute.

But his recent statements and actions trying to scuttle the 5 Power nuclear deal with Iran really call his impaired mental acuity into question. He went off the rational rails calling the 5 Power agreement as a worse deal than British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin got from Hitler at Munich. Then he doubled and tripled down on idiotic hyperbole asserting the deal "commits Israel on a path to war with Iran", green lights Iran to "go at breakneck speed to a nuclear weapon...forcing Israel to clean up this mess", predicting "it would end with mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran." Gosh, I thought when Condoleezza Rich left office we were done with 'mushroom cloud' allusions. We could probably get more insight into the 5 Power negotiations with Iran from an overserved patron in a bar.
Kirk took a year off recovering from his stroke and came back to office more extreme and inarticulate than ever on issues of war and peace, health care life and death. He should never have come back to work. He should not be running for re-election. He can best serve Illinois, the nation, the world by retiring forthwith.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Free Blago!


God, how I miss Rocket Rod Blagojevich. Channeling Elvis, wielding the 'The Football' to keep his immaculate, shiny black 'doo' perfectly coifed, Blago was a reality show producer's dream. After seeing him sweating profusely in shorts and tee shirt, running around, grasping the crowd at the Wheaton Fourth of July Parade during his gubernatorial heyday, I knew he was more than a little bit 'off'.

But Blago was a Grabowski, not a Rockefeller, unlike his current successor, Billionaire Bruce Rauner.
As incompetent as Blago was as governor, he never consciously stuck it to the poor and the needy like Governor 1%. Blago had one pad, a North Side Bungalow. He loved living there among the working stiffs; while Billionaire Bruce has so many million dollar showplaces acquired demolishing good companies as vulture capitalist, he can bed down in a different one every night of the week. Blago connected with union workers; Bruce can't wait to disconnect them from their lifeline to a livable paycheck. Blago championed improving the lives of workers and the unemployed even though he lacked the brains and character to accomplish much. Alas, his sabre was bent, while Rauner wields a sturdy stiletto to carve away desperately needed peoples' resources that, used properly, saves many times its cost down the road while improving lives.
  
Blago comes to mind after a grainy picture of him, white haired and chastened in a federal prison, was published yesterday. What an utter waste of $40,000 per year. Blago got 14 years for being a bit crazy, and taunting the Illinois power structure, which for them is literally a federal offence. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Illinoisans are high fiving themselves, celebrating the tax breaks they're enjoying on the backs of folks they don't see, don't hear, don't give a damn about. Between crazy and heartless, I'll take crazy every time.

Make Cotton first impeached senator since 1799

Tom Cotton of Arkansas has only been senator for 2 years but he needs to be impeached.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Short take on Chicago mayoral election

Jesus saves....just not in Chicago.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Why is Netanyahu pallin' around with al Qaeda and the Islamic State

Check out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new best buddies and you'll find al Qaeda and the Islamic State. That's because the enemies of his enemies are his friends, and both are playing that role in Netanyahu's relentless plan to destroy his real enemy, Iran. He said as much in his March 3 speech before Congress with the line "So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” In other words, 'Fagettabout ISIS and protect Israel from our (and your) real enemy, Iran.' The pro Israel Congressmen roared approval, in part because they really put the foreign policy of Israel above that of the country that signs their paycheck, but mainly because Israel gives them an even bigger paycheck, in the form of campaign contributions. How big? Newbie, nobody Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton received over a million smackers from the Israel Lobby and immediately proceeded to smack down every precept of US foreign policy by authoring a traitorous letter to the Iran mullahs urging them not to negotiate with President Obama over their nuclear program. One of the Senate's most virulent proponents of war to further Israel's foreign policy, Lindsay Graham (R-SC), saw his Israel Lobby campaign dough triple between his 2008 and 2014 re-elections, while my patriotic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who promotes peace instead of war, saw his donations from the Lobby drop by two thirds during the same election cycle. Meanwhile Durbin's Illinois partner in the Senate, Mark Kirk, vacuumed up $1.6 million from the Lobby between 2002 and 2010. Calling President Obama's Iran deal worse than Neville Chamberlin's 1938 Munich agreement with Hitler, is sure to push Kirk's 2016 campaign coffers from the Lobby to new heights.

I may be old but I seek peace for my kids and grandkids, as well as my remaining time here. I cannot fathom why elected officials put crazed ideology and megabucks over attaining peace in our time. We should all ask: Why is Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pallin' around with al Qaeda and the Islamic State?

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Roskam almost trumps Kirk for US-Iran deal hyperbole


After my Senator Mark Kirk called the US-5 Power Iran agreement outline as worse than Neville Chamberlin's Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany, it was clear Kirk missed the deal details.
My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) mustn't have been listening either when President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry spent an hour educating the world on the historic nuclear deal with Iran. The five world powers, the US, UK, Russia, China, and France hammered out the outlines of a substantive, long term, and verifiable agreement which is the best, indeed the only alternative to what Roskam really promotes: war with Iran. His near immediate statement outrageously begins by alluding to it being announced the day after April Fool's Day, a rhetorical trick which should not go unchallenged. He rehashes the 'bomb Iran' contingent of Congress nonsense by saying it "promises Iran everything it wants" while the US and its partners get "minimal restrictions on peripheral aspects of Iran's nuclear program...more empty promises from a dictatorial regime... that calls for the destruction of the United States." He cleverly, but repulsively argues that while Obama spins a horrible deal, the nuclear centrifuges in Iran "will continue to spin." Roskam laments that the deal will "likely expire in ten years, at which point the mullahs can freely pursue a nuclear weapon." Again, by skipping the Obama-Kerry tutorial on real statesmanship, Roskam missed that many of the agreement controls will last 15 years and some will last INDEFINATELY!

Roskam's closes his mendacious statement by trumpeting that no deal is better than the Obama-Kerry deal, and bragging how, last week, he "urged House appropriators to prohibit funding for additional P5+1 negotiations with Iran in Fiscal Year 2016." That's right folks, if cynical, warmongering Congressman Peter Roskam has his way, we wouldn't even be talking to Iran, we'd be bombing them. Every sane, peace loving Sixth District Resident should touch 202-225-4561 and let the congressman know that such reckless, dangerous, false and idiotic rhetoric from a sitting congressman is not welcome in the Sixth District; indeed, the state, the nation, and the world. We've come too far to allow shills for the war party and the Israel Lobby destroy our best chance for peace.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Kirk plays the Nazi card on historic Iran deal


I'm not making this up. Here is my Senator Mark Kirk's quote within hours of President Obama announcement of the six power nuclear agreement with Iran:

"Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler. Under today's deal, the United States and its international partners will dismantle the sanctions regime against Iran, while Iran, the world's biggest exporter of terrorism, will be allowed to keep vast capabilities to make nuclear weapons."

Kirk, and his warmongering, neocon buddies in Congress, have been marginalized by the overwhelming support for the deal in America and around the world. Kirk and Company have to earn their keep from the munitions makers and Israel Lobby who demand war for all the largess they lavish on this pernicious group. Kirk supports the noxious Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which if passed over a presidential veto, allows the Senate to kill the agreement. If Kirk had served in Congress during the Kennedy era, he'd have worked tirelessly to sabotage the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which was passed after it gained support from former Republican President Eisenhower and Republican Senate Majority Leader Ev Dirksen.

Kirk's reckless rhetoric has only one endgame: war with Iran. It must be opposed by every sane, peace seeking Illinoisan. Call him at 312-886-3506 and demand he cease his shameful Nazi illusions and fear mongering concerning the 5 Power Agreement with Iran. While you're at it, encourage Kirk to resign from the Senate today. We can't wait till a true, peace loving statesman like Tammy Duckworth replaces Kirk on January 2, 2017.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

This Is The Week That Is

The good news continues this week with President Obama's announcement of a solid, sensible, verifiable nuclear deal with Iran. The warmongers in the US and Israel will be set back on their plans to bomb Iran even more than Iran has been set back on building a bomb (if they ever were). This comes on the good news that one of the Senate's most virulent warmongers, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), will have to spend more time trying to avoid the Slammer on bribery charges than ginning up war with Iran.

Earlier this week the homophobic dinosaurs couching their homophobia as religious freedom, self destructed. When a groveling politician like Indiana governor Mike Pence passed a law allowing, even sanctifying discrimination against the LGBT community (or anyone else), the vast majority of people and corporate America pushed back, threatening economic collapse for the Hoosier State or any other backward state dumb enough to copycat.

And even slave wage corporate giant McDonalds bowed to public pressure to increase wages a buck over the poverty level minimum wage in restaurants it owns. While only giving relief to 90,000 of 900,000 low wage McDonalds employees, due to independence of the 90% employed by franchisees, it turns up the heat on those skinflints to follow suit.

Weeks like this don't come to often. Let's savor this one for a bit, (I'll sip a shot of Jack Daniels Sinatra Select) and then get back to work moving the ball of human progress forward. It's heavy, but when wise leaders and tens of millions of supporters push... it moves.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not Bergdahl's, the Trib's dishonor

How dare the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board smear Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in their editorial 'Bowe Bergdahl's dishonor'. One would think that after cheering on two criminal wars in the Middle East that killed hundreds of thousands, the Trib would avoid calling attention to their malfeasance by demanding jail time for a American hero who had the decency to walk away from one instead of legitimizing it by serving. But instead, you plow ahea...d with your chicken hawk talk about soldiers having to "accept a grave obligation to perform their duties no matter what the circumstances, even at the cost of their lives." But when those "circumstances" are lies and propaganda to entice soldiers to kill in totally unwinnable wars which have no connection to our real national security interests, we are better served with soldiers like Bergdahl just walking away. Bergdahl should get an honorable discharge; all his back pay; and thanks for letting every American know that there are thousands of Bowe Bergdahls out there who suffer terrible mental problems and often kill themselves rather than just walk away, like Bergdahl did.

And how dare the Trib take a cheap shot at President Obama for releasing the five Guantanamo prisoners to get Bergdahl home. You and the neocons, like former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who despicably urged we bomb Iran in fellow neocon paper NY Times, energize more folks to fight against American imperialists in the Middle East than those five released detainees, now under the control of Qatar, ever could.

Time for the Tribune Editorial Board to stop glorifying our failed militarism in the Middle East and creating an endless army of the maimed...mentally as well as physically.
Thanks for your service, Sargent.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New state song needed after Indiana anti LGBT law repeal


It's great to see smug, arrogant, nasty governor Mike Pence squirming over the outpouring of disgust at Indiana's fake religious freedom law designed to sanctify discrimination against gays by Indiana business owners. The prospect of lost revenue by companies and individuals saying NO to doing business in a state harkening back to 'Jim Crow' mores of the Old South may force Pence and his legislative Neanderthals to reco...nsider this law, not even a week old.
If Indiana does repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, they will need a PR campaign to polish up Indiana's stained image. Given the tone deafness of this unfortunate member of our union they might well come up with a new state song titled:

                                                      'Back Homo Again In Indiana'

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Start packin' Senator Kirk

Although the election is 20 months out, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk can start planning for the next stage of his life. On Monday, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth announces her candidacy for Democratic Senate nominee in 2016, to oppose Senator Kirk in the general election.

Sadly, Kirk's current stage, member of Congress since 1991, has been squandered spending trillions on criminal wars that have killed hundreds of thousands. Kirk surveyed the carnage he championed every day in Congress and decided, "We need more war." He has taken over a million dollars from the Israel Lobby, delighted in listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defile the Congress with a speech to sabotage the delicate Iran nuclear talks, and signed a traitorous letter to the Iranian Mullahs telling them the Republicans will rescind any nuclear deal between Iran and America if the GOP wins the 2016 presidency. 
 
After getting a million or more in medical care to partially recover from a devastating stroke, he went on national TV to oppose Obamacare for the needy. He says "Tough luck" to all the little people who go bankrupt, suffer devastating health problems and die, simply because they don't have the silver spoon of Congresscare that not only saved his life, it enabled Kirk to continue promoting war full time.
Tammy Duckworth, deceived by the criminal Bush war cabinet to fight in Iraq, paid dearly for it with devastating injuries. She's on record opposing criminal wars. Kirk served in the military but avoided 'harm's way'. Then he padded his military resume to score points with the 'Military Always' crowd. Though caught, he sneaked into the Senate due to a woefully weak challenger.
Memo to Kirk: Tammy Duckworth is no Alexi Giannoulias.

After the election Kirk can always find work as lobbyist for the war party. That way he can continue to promote senseless war... behind a desk on K Street.

Did Art Vandelay do sign work at College of DuPage?

Carla Burkhart must be a big fan of Seinfeld, and in particular George Costanza. Whenever George needed a resume boost to get a job or win a girl, he adopted the alter ego of Art Vandelay, architect. As George, I mean Art put it, "There is no higher calling than an architect."

 Carla Burkhart, and her company Herricane Graphics, are now under local and state scrutiny for possibly mis-representing herself as an architect to get no bid contracts from College of DuPage for mundane signage work. A 2012 contract worth a cool $107,000 was written an a boilerplate architectural contract; Herricane Graphics was listed on the first page as project architect, and the 25 page contract contained the word architect 324 times. Under state law architectural contracts are exempt from no bid contracts. Since 2011, Burkhart has enjoyed $630,000 in no bid work at COD, much of it tied to the now suspicious architectural contract. Why suspicious? Burkhart is not an architect. That's OK, says COD's new $250 per hour PR firm, Res Publica, because signage requires a "high degree of professional skill", which also qualifies for a no-bid exemption under state law. That didn't stop Governor's State University and the Illinois Tollway Authority from bidding out their contracts for mundane signage. They probably got a much better deal than COD since their bidding process surely weeded out all those Art Vandelay wannabes.

Friday, March 27, 2015

How NY Times enabled Iraq war

Between September 11, 2001, and the March 19, 2003 kickoff of criminal Iraq war, the NY Times was instrumental in the successful propaganda campaign to legitimize it. Bush war cabinet puppet from Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, fed false information about an imaginary WMD program of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Judith Miller, star NY Times reporter. Miller dutifully reported these lies which somehow passed the Times smell test, 'All the news that's fit ...to print.' Bush administration war criminal Dick Cheney then went on cable news and cited Miller's reporting to justify the war. That is a successful use of propaganda that would bring a gleam to the eye of some dude named Goebbels. And here we are over 12 years later and the Times is giving valuable ink and pixels to John "Bonkers" Bolton to drum up support for another needless, murderous and criminal war, this time against Iran. That is why yesterday I called for the Times to change their motto to "All the warmongering unfit to print."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A satire it wasn't


My sleepy 6:00 AM eyes spied the last headline on my electronic edition of the NY Times and thought I must be viewing an Andy Borowitz satire in Reader Supported News. "To stop Iran bomb, bomb Iran" winked, winked the pixels. Then spotting the author, John Bolton, I knew this was no satire. John "Bonkers" Bolton, virulent neocon operative in the Bush administration, gleefully wears the bloodstains of hundreds of thousands killed in the criminal Iraq war he ...promoted with every fiber of his warmongering being. Unlike some who promoted that failed exercise in murderous American exceptionalism, he has never waivered in his commitment to launch new wars against bête noirs, large and small. I'm not going to dignify the substance of his argument that to prevent war with Iran, we must launch war with Iran. And what is worse? Failed human being John Bolton once again promoting war, or failed news organization NY Times, once again promoting war. Maybe the Times should change their motto to: "All the warmongering unfit to print."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Netanyahu fastest flip flopper ever

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set a record for fastest flip flopper in history on way to winning re-election last Tuesday. On the eve of the election he promised his extremist Likud Party supporters there would never be a Palestinian state under his watch. He further compromised the cause of peace in the area, for Israelis as well as Palestinians, by warning his supporters to turn out because the dreaded Arab Israelis were "coming out in droves." But within two days he walked backed both cynical statements, saying he was mis-interpreted. 

Too late, Mr. Prime Minister. Your action in cavorting with your paid lobby, the Republican Party, to undermine our best chance to avoid war with Iran; dismissing the only chance for peace and justice for Palestinians; and your racist, xenophobic appeal for votes, has forever changed the debate in America about your false friendship. We'll now be able to have a healthy debate about endless, $3 billion a year giveaways and sole vetoes at the UN to enable your continued subjugation, indeed destruction, of the Palestinian people.  That is the main takeaway from your Pyrrhic re-election victory.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aftershocks: GOP needs a new darling to be relevant


GOP leaders are in a tizzy over the precipitous flameout of their Golden Boy, Congressman Aaron Schock, who resigned Tuesday amid endless financial shenanigans. Schock's new gig is trying to avoid jail. Likely, we won't see any pics of Schock's chiseled pecks on his Instagram account as he huddles fully clothed with legal council.

If Schock was the new 'face' of the GOP, they have zero chance of becoming relevant. If up to ...him, 16.4 million desperate folks would not have health care under the ACA; our Guantanamo Gulag would be busting at the seems; there wouldn't have been an economic stimulus which kick-started the spectacular Obama recovery. If up to him, considered the most closeted gay Congressman, gays would not be marrying and not serving in the military. Oh yes, Schock thinks water boarding, indeed all forms of torture are cool, and abortion is best reserved for the back alley.

But Aaron Schock did show us "You can play in Peoria." As of now he plays nowhere else.

Scorecard needed for 12 COD Board candidates


Getting folks to run for College of DuPage Board was no problem this year due to endless ongoing scandals, presidential hubris and an unanswered, unresolved NO CONFIDENCE vote by faculty. Fourteen started out and twelve made it to the ballot. How can one decide?

For starters, I excluded the four who are current/former incumbents or related to an incumbent. They had their chance to govern COD effectively and blew it; appearing to be both seduced and bullied by their primary employee, President Robert L. Breuder.

Of the eight others only two stand out: former six term state rep Sandy Pihos and COD alumnus, union member, union leader, and registered nurse, Dan Bailey. Pihos brings decades of commitment to education and a wealth of experience and knowledge of state government that will make it impossible for her to be bamboozled by Breuder and any successor. Bailey also has decades of community involvement and a passion for public service. He is the only candidate I've heard, besides Pihos, who has spoken up against the shameful lack of response to the COD Faculty Association's NO CONFIDENCE vote against the Breuder administration. For the other six, concern about faculty, the single most critical element in a successful educational institution, appears to be an afterthought.

While I'm still pondering my third and last vote, Sandy Pihos and Dan Bailey get my first two.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Mulligan to the Mullahs

There are no do-overs for traitorous letters sent to foreign leaders to derail delicate negotiations designed to prevent the next Middle East war. But let's pretend the 47 GOP senators, signatories to that traitorous letter, were given a Mulligan, the golf term whereby after making a terrible shot, the owner yells "Mulligan," to take the shot over.  Here's how the senators' Mulligan might unfold:

Dear Iranian Mullahs:

Regarding that letter of March 9 you received, please be advised it never happened. We thought it was a joke cooked up by that goofy looking newbie senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). We just found out he's not playing with a full deck, given that his surname was shortened from Cottonforbrains.
The fact is we would never knowingly send a such an obvious act of treason to you or any other country. Sure we want to blast you to smithereens for remaining an existential threat to the country that really pays our salary: Israel. Collectively, we get millions of dollars from the Israel Lobby here in the good ol' USA to do their bidding and alas, that means you have to go. But we normally like to work in secret, behind the curtain of senatorial privilege and shadowy governmental machinations. So please disregard that letter which was due to the stress of being unable to destroy the presidency of man who doesn't love America, according to the sage of New York, Rudy Giuliani. Even though you're a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and have never attacked another country (unlike we who do all the time), we simply can't let you even think about a nuclear weapon. Just being years away from even one, would totally disrupt the balance of power with Israel which only has about 150 to defend itself. Besides, destroying Iran is in our DNA. Sixty-two years ago we got together with the Brits to overthrow your Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Operation Boot, as it was known, sure gave the boot to that democratically Mosaddegh, who had the audacity to try and control his own oil reserves without consulting their real controllers, British Petroleum. OK, bye for now. But remember, tell the world this was simply all a big joke to see if the press and that guy who hates America were paying attention.

Burn after reading,
47 of the worst legislators money can buy

Friday, March 13, 2015

Free speech trumps racial sensitivity in UO case


As a lifelong advocate for civil rights and free speech for all, the immediate expulsion of two University of Oklahoma students poses a dilemma. Their facially offensive song sung in private, neither involved violence, nor advocated violence. It was not sung in the presence of the minority group it targeted. If the two students sue they are near certain to win re-instatement and possible compensation for arguably the rash actions of University president David Boren. He cited Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in support of his expulsions, but Title VI involves "literal discrimination", not privately protected speech. While the University has a code of “rights and responsibilities” prohibiting “conduct that is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, harassing or humiliating,” courts would likely rule Constitutionally protected free speech prevails over the code. Put a bug in the home of any respectable person and you'd likely hear the most terrible things. Nobody would be safe from swift and unjust, justice. That is why free speech protections are so vital in a democracy.

The incident should be used as a teachable moment to promote racial inclusiveness and understanding. One action might be requiring every fraternity, indeed, every university organization, to recruit minority members. SAE's racial exclusiveness, which it celebrated in its now self-destructive song, is what led two reckless teenagers to destroy their futures. If just one minority was on their bus that fateful day, songs like "There'll never be a ------ in SAE" would enter the dustbin of history.

Only fallout should be COD Board

College of DuPage officials said Thursday that they had hired a prominent public relations firm to help manage fallout from a series of recent financial scandals. The college declined to provide any details about its agreement with Chicago-based Res Publica Group, which has worked with Metra, the CTA and the Chicago Blackhawks, among others, but board Chair Erin Birt said the firm was hired to "ensure the public and media have the facts."

While not an expert on the workings of public relations firms, I'd bet Res Publica could earn their five figure bill for their services on Day One if they recommended that Chair Birt and her entire Board (save Kathy Hamilton) resigned forthwith.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Only 6 days for new traitorous GOP move on Iran

I truly thought one traitorous GOP action over the US-Iran nuclear negotiations would suffice. Apparently, the GOP House invite to Israeli President Netanyahu to speak of sabotaging the negotiations before Congress, against every decent tenant of a US bi-partisan foreign policy, didn't satisfy the GOP Senate. It took just 6 days for 47 GOP senators to one-up their House counterparts by sending a letter to the "Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran" designed to sabotage the negotiations directly, instead of through their Israeli intermediary. They told Iran that any deal with the Obama administration won't be approved by a Republican controlled Senate, and if a Republican is elected president next year, the whole deal could be abrogated with "the stroke of a pen."

Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif's sensible, measured response shamed the GOP warmongers' feeble attempt to put America at risk for another Middle East war with this smack down: "In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content."

Maybe these two disgraceful actions by the GOP are simply their version of a Six Day War against Obama.

Monday, March 09, 2015

When GOP celebrated wrong rights in the South

Much criticism has fallen on the 3 GOP House leaders, Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise for skipping the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday on Alabama's Edmund Pettis Bridge. It is understandable they stayed away. They'd be a tad uncomfortable as President Obama said this about Republican attempts to suppress the minority vote in the 21st century to roll back advances gained by civil rights pioneers of the 20th century:

"With effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge – and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor."

The GOP absence brings to mind a time, 35 years ago, when the GOP did come to celebrate rights in the South. Back on August 3, 1980, GOP presidential nominee Ronald Reagan kicked off his successful bid by communing with the white southern majority he needed to become president. His choice of location was grotesquely symbolic: Philadelphia, MS, where 3 civil rights workers were slain by county authorities during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Reagan didn't come down to Philadelphia to preach civil rights. He came to preach states rights which was the cornerstone of the Jim Crow society being dismantled by the force of strong federal action. In contrast to President Obama, here is what Reagan promoted:

"I still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people. I believe in states' rights and I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment. I promise to restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them."

Some claim today's GOP is inclusive and promoting full political rights for all. I believe their efforts on behalf of people peaked when they came out against slavery during their founding in 1854.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The improbable career of Jungle Jim Rivera



With the death of Minnie Minoso, just two 1950's Go-Go Sox remain standing: Billy Pierce, 87, and my favorite, 93 year old Jungle Jim Rivera. If Billy Pierce was Ozzie Nelson, Jungle Jim was Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown, and his ten year career as sparkplug of the Go-Go Sox a near miracle.
One of 12 children of a destitute Puerto Rican immigrant couple in Spanish Harlem , Rivera was farmed off to a orphanage at age six for ten years after ...his mother died. Back in circulation at 16, Rivera bounced around at a number of body building construction jobs and honed his athletic skills in boxing and baseball. Rivera joined the Army Air Corp in 1942, won a service boxing championship and played on a service baseball team. But in 1944, Rivera's future was grim; sentenced to life for attempted rape and assault. His disproportionate sentence had much to due with his being Puerto Rican, committing his crime in the South and choosing a victim whose father was an Army officer. But in the 40's, many prisons fielded baseball teams who played both other prison teams and civilian teams, needing good exhibition opponents. Rivera so impressed the owner of the Atlanta Crackers minor league team, he finagled Rivera's parole in 1949, after just five years. Rivera went on to lead the Class D Gainesville G Men and the Class D Pensacola Flyers to pennants in 1949 and 1950, batting .335 and .338 with 142 and 139 runs scored respectively. Playing in the Puerto Rican league after the 1950 season, Rivera encountered another angel; the ornery curmudgeon Rogers Hornsby, managing a rival Puerto Rican team. Hornsby, who said Rivera was the only player he'd ever pay to see play, arranged for Rivera to make the jump to Triple A Seattle in the Pacific Coast League. In 1951, Rivera carried his third straight team to a pennant, batting 352, while garnering 135 runs and 231 hits. Rivera's luck held as Hornsby was tapped by Bill Veeck to manage the '52 St. Louis Browns. Hornsby convinced Veeck to sign Rivera, completing his spectacular jump from the Joint to the Big Show. But it took Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick to let Rivera into the Bigs, after the St. Louis Bluenoses tried to oust the ex-con from playing in their city. Rivera slumped early and was traded to the White Sox in July. He became a perennial fan favorite with his head first slides and fabulous running catches in right field. He homered in the 1959 pennant clinching game to give the Sox an insurance run in their thrilling 4-2 victory of the Indians.

Prisons today are a neglected and oft privatized Hell, where opportunities for salvation and redemption are nil. How many thousands of Jim Rivera's are languishing in these disgraceful edifices to heartless austerity we'll never know. But for ten years we South Siders got to see one fabulous success story, which comes to mind with the passing of the Cuban Comet.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

I'm shocked, shocked, Schock would squander public funds on the Bears!


As a huge Downton Abbey fan, I forgive Peoria Congressman Aaron Schock for wasting $40,000 of government funds for an office re-do in Downton Abbey "Euro Trash" style. Now that errant Aaron has paid back Uncle Sam from his personal piggybank, the matter is moot; leaving Schock to ponder, in the privacy of his office, whether 40 G's to mimic the Granthams was worth it. But blowing 1,200 of my tax dollars f...or private jet service to watch a semi-pro team like the Bears in beyond the pale. That shows a lack of judgment in terms of taste and personal style that is unforgiveable in a corrupt congressman. Schock should have the decency to retire early from Congress to work in a homeless shelter. But as someone who apparently spent all his spare time chasing the rich and famous on the public's dime (when he wasn't pulling the remaining crumbs away from the needy), Schock may need a little assistance in finding one to work in.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Is Roskam relocation in the future?

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) sure knows how to add insult to injury. First, he enthusiastically supported the villainous action of GOP Speaker Boehner to invite Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress to promote sabotaging the Obama administration's delicate negotiations with Iran; negotiations which are possibly our last best hope of avoiding another Middle East war. Then, he gifted the Israeli president with a patriotic painting of the Capitol Dome, pained by wife Elizabeth.  Maybe its time for Roskam to consider renouncing his American citizenship. Then he can move to Israel, become a citizen and run for the Knesset. This might allow him to serve in the actual government he appears to most fully support.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A bittersweet Minnie memory


It was September 22, 1959. This 14 year old Sox fanatic could barely breath watching the White Sox try to clinch their first pennant in 40 years, and bury the shame of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. With the Sox ahead 2-1 in the sixth, Al Smith, for whom the Sox traded Minoso to Cleveland before the '58 season, lofted a long fly to left. Minoso, drifted back and leaped at the wall to make an apparent catch. But the ball hit his glove and dropped into ...waiting bare hands for a home run and the clincher in the joyous 4-2 triumph. Minnie had played a literal hand in the Sox one and only pennant during his five decades in the Big Show. I recalled that game due to the tragic news of Minoso's passing, found dead in his car, returning from celebrating, appropriately enough, a friend's birthday. And every time I do, my mind's eye still sees Minnie, head down, talking to his glove, which unwittingly helped push his beloved Sox over the finish line.

GOP, placeholders, to ensure Netanyahu gets full house for divisive speech

    

House Speaker John Boehner gets a 'twofer' this morning. In the most villainous action he and his anti-Obama, pro war buddies have taken in their disreputable control of Congress, Boehner welcomes Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress without the protocol of presidential approval. It simultaneously undermines presidential authority in foreign affairs while working to sabotage the delicate administration negotiations to prevent war with Iran over their nuclear programs. It is such and unprecedented and reckless action that 53 congressmen, 10% of the entire Congress, will boycott Netanyahu's speech. That number is sure to swell by "kick off Obama" time takes place. But don't look for any empty seats if you tune in. Taking a cue from the Oscars, Speaker Boehner has supposedly arranged placeholders to fill the seats of the principled congressmen who still put America first when preserving presidential authority and preventing war.

One of those placeholders will hold the seat of Jan Schakowsky, the only Jewish American member of the Illinois delegation. If she was giving a speech she'd reprise what she said when announcing her boycott:

"As a Jew, support for Israel is in my DNA", but... "This is not the first time that the Republicans have tried to divide the Democrats and paint themselves as the only true supporters of Israel. The reality is that, when it comes to tangible deliverables, the Obama administration has been unfailing in its cooperation with Israel — more so than most, if not all, administrations over the last 40 years."