Monday, July 22, 2019

A hundred years later Trib still clueless on Chicago's racial divide

The Trib’s extensive coverage today of the centenary of the 1919 Chicago Race Riots is commendable.  While its history of the riots is detailed and informative, its editorial ‘Chicago’s race riots of 1919 and the epilogue that resonates today’ offers no value to resolving  the century long legacy of crime, poverty and despair that plague Chicago’s minority communities today. The Trib decries that prejudice and its sibling, public policy discrimination, continue. Yet, while bearing no overt prejudice toward minority communities, the Trib has spent the last century decrying virtually every societal program that will use tax dollars to rebuild decaying neighborhoods, giving those without hope jobs and opportunities that will uplift the entire community. Those proposing such programs  are  labeled ‘big government social experimenters’ who must be  kept out of the pockets of the well off. In addition, while over 2,000 annually are killed or wounded on Chicago’s mean streets, the Trib is AWOL on the need for sensible gun regulation to reduce the carnage by reducing the weapons of death flooding poor communities.
Simply calling for an end to prejudice offers nothing to communities left behind. If every prejudiced person somehow repented, the joblessness, gun violence and despair would continue apace. The highly influential and widely read Chicago Tribune must do better than “Can’t we simply  all get along”?

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Additional word needed in State of the Union introduction

Next February 5, Paul D. Irving, House of Representatives Sargent at Arms, should add one word to the famous introduction of the president as he enters the House chambers for the speech:

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A heinous crime, a heinous penalty

The more heinous the killing, the more we must all oppose the death penalty. Many wonder why Brendt Christensen is even eligible to die for the torture murder of a visiting Chinese scholar in his Urbana apartment in 2017, since Illinois abolished the death penalty eight years ago. Alas, for us death penalty opponents, the authorities used the FBI's involvement in the death of a foreigner to move Christensen's case from state to federal jurisdiction where the death penalty lives on. Sure seems like that decision was taken simply to resurrect the gallows for a truly nasty murderer.
That's unfortunate. The death penalty was not abolished just to prevent an innocent person from being executed. Since Christensen has confessed some feel that reasoning is moot. What is not moot is that the death penalty is barbaric, hearkens back to a primitive view of justice, and makes every citizen involved or supportive of it a party to state sponsored murder. There will always be horrible individuals who will commit horrendous crimes. But there is no need for society to mimic such behavior simply to satisfy the bloodlust of John Q. Public. A hundred thirty-four countries have abolished the death penalty. The United States, which lays claim to being No. 1 in everything good, needs to become No. 135 in promoting life rather than death for the worst of the worst. That will help bring out our best as a civil, sane society.

Friday, July 19, 2019

House votes for peace....Senate prefers war

Some praise is due the US House which passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with less war like features than the Senate version
1. Tho still obscenely high, the House chopped $17 billion off the Senate version.
2. It defunded America's criminal support and enabling of Saudi Arabia's near genocidal war against neighboring Yemen.
3. It pre-emptively defunded a wholly made up and senseless war against Iran.
4. It repealed the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force which have served as a blank check for the last 3 presidents to wage perpetual war.
The Senate and House must now reconcile their two versions; the former preferring perpetual war, the latter a roadmap to peace. Trump will likely veto any version which ties his hands to keep the bombs bursting in air.
Perpetual war is the coin of the realm in 21st century America. The House took steps yesterday to change the currency.

First racist prez in century

It's been a hundred years since we've had a certified racist president. Woodrow Wilson's progressive administration from 1913 to 1921 was anything but regarding blacks who saw Virginia born Wilson, who never escaped the white supremacy of his southern upbringing, re-institute segregation in DC government jobs, decimating the black middle class there. Woody Wilson invited DW Griffith to screen his 'Birth of a Nation' at the White House and exclaimed 'Fine history DW'. But Wilson didn't cynically use his racism to gain or retain power like this century's presidential racist. It was never part of his governing mantra as blacks were preyed upon by virtually the entire white establishment, with Wilson simply part of that pre-civil rights mentality. His successor Warren G. Harding, was relatively progressive in racial matters, so much so he was accused of having black blood coursing thru his veins.
A century on Trump's grotesquely cynical exploitation of color to retain the 30 red and purple states and the White House has become one of the saddest chapters in recent American history. How long it will take we can only 

Shanahan, Esper: foxes in charge of the hen house

Shanahan, Esper: foxes in charge of the hen house

Patrick Shanahan and Mike Esper are the last two nominees for Defense Secretary. Shanahan dropped out recently over a messy divorce that he tried to hide from his congressional questioners. Mike Esper is next up for confirmation which will likely sail through to confirmation. Shanahan and Esper both come from top jobs at Boeing and Raytheon, the number two and three defense contractors respectively, with annual defense goodies of $51 billion. This represents our tax dollars that could be better spent on infrastructure, education, renewable energy, health care and others instead of senseless, perpetual war. Ike warned us back in 1961 about letting the foxes guard the henhouse of our national treasure. Fifty-eight years on the foxes are still in charge.


It's disappointing the House tabled an impeachment inquiry yesterday. Trump's blatant racism, xenophobia and demagoguery has caused irreparable harm to the targets of his venom. Indeed, it has caused great harm to our entire populous, including his supporters. It has brought discredit upon the presidency and consigned its perpetrator to a place in infamy regardless of any impeachment inquiry outcome; even his possible re-election.
This is not a new or one-off course of misconduct. It was on display from his June, 2015 announcement calling the undocumented, murderers and rapists who must be marginalized.
The damage to our republic increases every day he's allowed to foment his cynical hatred unchallenged.
To paraphrase what we in the peace movement call the need to end perpetual war: Impeachment...if not now, when.

Ives should start campaign with apology to Sixth District voters

No surprise former state rep Jeanne Ives has joined fellow conservative Evelyn Sanguinetti to unseat Democrat Sean Casten as Illinois 6th District Congressperson. Getting 48.5% of the GOP vote against former Governor Bruce Rauner last year virtually assured Ives would seek to expand her role as chief proponent of the GOP's extreme conservative wing.

But Ives has a despicable homophobic history to overcome if she wishes to make inroads among highly educated and tolerant Sixth District voters who gave 53.6% of their votes to Casten, whose campaign was devoid of fear and loathing. Casten campaigned wholly on common sense solutions to climate destruction, health care and other issues to send absentee incumbent Peter Roskam packing.

How despicable? Ives called gays seeking to marry "disordered" with gays "trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy... and we can't allow that to happen." Having lost the battle to prevent marriage equality, Ives turned her fury on school administrators seeking to offer dignity to transgenders, likening them to dirty old men in trench coats lying in wait to expose children to sordid things.

As a believer in human redemption, I would welcome an Ives candidacy if she would first apologize for her destructive comments and renounce the politics of hate. If she doesn't, the first question from any voter or any reporter at a campaign stop should be: "When will you apologize, not just gays and transgenders, but every citizen of the Sixth"?

Friday, July 12, 2019

Worse than misdemeanors

A little over half of Americans believe the House should either impeach Trump or continue investigations to determine if impeachment is warranted for political and financial irregularities tied to his presidential campaign. The Constitution authorizes impeachment for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Trump may be guilty of all four but we'll never truly know till a thorough Congressional investigation is undertaken.

But what is happening right before our eyes are high crimes and felonies Trump is committing at the border with his administration's treatment of asylum seekers.The splintered families, thousands confined in deplorable conditions, a few dead are all a a piece with Trump's demonization of these folks as "murderers and rapists" at the beginning of his campaign. Those charges and subsequent real life treatment of the weak and powerless are red meat to his xenophobic base. They contain not an iota of decency or humanity, the first order of business of every president. And every one of the 43 men who preceded Trump avoided such cruel, heartless conduct to gain election or re-election. Every one governed the entire populous, not the howling mob.

Trump's treatment of asylum seekers is a seamless transition from a signature Trump initiative to withdraw health insurance coverage from the 20 million who gained it under his predecessor and prevent the remaining 20 million uncovered from gaining a medical lifeline to a healthy life.

Trump's treatment of asylum seekers is a seamless transition from his withdrawal from global climate accords, promoting the return of King Coal. and denigrating the climate science that must be heeded to preserve Mother Earth for our future generations, including Trump's.

High crimes and misdemeanors doesn't quite capture all the damage Trump is doing to our people, our country, our planet. They are high crimes and felonies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Taft Iran warning 69 years ago resonates today

"If the President can intervene in Korea without congressional approval, we can go to war in Malaya or Indonesia or Iran or South America.” 

- Sen. Robert Taft (R-OH) on President Truman plunging US into Korean conflict of June, 1950, without Congressional Declaration of War. Sixty-nine years on Taft's warning has special meaning with manufactured Iran crisis.

Can't buy love but sure can buy freedom

"I don't care too much for money, cause money can't buy me love" The Beatles

If we've learned one thing from fabulous wealth and the fame and influence it provides, is that it can delay justice for horrible crimes for years, decades, even forever.

Cases in point: Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and now Jeffrey Epstein. Cosby's persona as America's Dad shielded him from scrutiny as a parade of women came forward with tales of sexual assault. When the heat on Cosby increased he used a parade of publicists and lawyers to question, even denigrate his accusers. If nothing else worked he dipped into his fabulous fortune for payoffs with NDA's (Non Disclosure Agreements). Weinstein had none of Cosby's adoring fame but he had the anonymity, along with the wealth, to keep his accusers at bay. Epstein is a special case. Caught outright, he worked his billionaire magic to get the proverbial slap on the wrist instead of a possible life sentence back in 2008. How much his array of movers and shakers he cultivated since the 1970's aided his Houdini like escape and eleven subsequent years of freedom till re-indicted has yet to be determined. Suffice to say it helps to have friends in high places.

That brings us to Donald John Trump who has roamed the public stage for 48 years now since taking over his late father's real estate empire. Trump is unique in that his alleged transgressions span the sexual, business and now political spectrums. His machinations with wealth, fame and influence make Cosby, Weinstein and Epstein look like amateurs. If he was singing along with the Fab Four he'd change the lyrics to:

"I do care much for money, cause money can buy me freedom"

Sunday, July 07, 2019

"Must be done in responsible manner". Translation: never

Prez contender Kamala Harris said the right first word "Yes" when asked if the US should withdraw from Afghanistan. But then she qualified it by saying it must be done "in a responsible manner". That is simply U.S. war party speak for "never". Go to her website and Harris expands on that 'responsible manner' by saying she'll consult with "generals and ambassadors". That also is war party speak for 'never' since every political leader who says that avoids any such experts who wisely advocate prompt and complete withdrawal from America's endless wars. 

Harris says she'll be tough on Iran over their "nuclear threat" when she knows that threat has been non-existent since 2003 and current US withdrawal from the 5 + 1 Iran nuclear agreement is the most dangerous step Trump has taken since becoming president.  She goes on to say one of our challenges is the "chaos and oppression in Venezuela" when she knows our senseless and cruel sanctions are causing starvation and degraded life there. 

If Kamala Harris becomes president she will break the string of 44 men who preceded her. But she will not break the recent string of presidents controlled by the war party practicing the fine art of saying "never" to ending America's perpetual wars. 

Saturday, July 06, 2019

King of Coal devoid of foresight to prolong Mother Earth

Never heard of billionaire coal baron Chris Cline till his helicopter crash death reported today. Dubbed the 'King of Coal', Cline did pretty well for someone growing up dirt poor working West Virginia's foreboding mines. He started coal giant Foresight Energy in 2006, which peaked at $2.6 billion, giving Cline an island chain in the Bahamas to go along with his US mansion. But with coal's inexorable collapse, Cline's fortune dropped by a billion, prompting his embrace of Trumpism and every politician willing to trade Mother Earth's future to keep the coal cash register ringing. Cline dropped a cool million on Trump's Inauguration Committee and many thousands to fellow climate change denier pols to keep the world's fever rising. West Virginian Governor Jim Justice lamented "West Virginia lost a super star, a giving, good man and benefactor to Southern West Virginia. West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney described Cline as “a very farsighted entrepreneur” with a “Midas touch.” Tho still worth $1.7 billion at his death, Cline's estate fortune will continue to head south, as will the future of Mother Earth unless we change our outlook. Cline's company name Foresight Energy was anything but.

Friday, July 05, 2019

North Korea and Iran: Divergent paths for regime change

The U.S. has been trying to change North Korea's regime for 69 years since the 1950 Korean War. No success so far.
Iran, however has been a partial success story. When Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh tried to nationalize US and British oil interests in 1953, the CIA tasked Teddy Roosevelt's grandson Kermit Jr. to instigate a coup. It worked, bringing our chosen puppet the Shah to power for 26 years till the Iranian revolution kicked him out in 1979. starting a forty year project for Iranian regime change, round two.
But a curious development has sidelined North Korean regime change while adios to Iran's rulers is on the front burner. After initially blasting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as 'Rocket Man' and threatening to flatten North Korea, President Trump initiated a bromance with Kim that included an arm in arm walk across the DMZ. Half a world away the U.S. came within minutes of bombing Iran on the flimsiest of pretexts and seems determined to provoke a war with crippling sanctions virtually destroying Iran's economy.
Two factors help explain this divergence. First, North Korea has nukes they'll never give up as an insurance policy against a U.S. attack. Iran has no nukes, and no plan to get them since 2003, making them quite susceptible to U.S. aggression. Kim is not stupid. He's seen the grisly demise of Saddam in Iraq and Muammar in Libya who gave up their nukes only to give up their lives to US regime change. That fate will never befall Kim. Iran's failure to become nuclear may have sealed its fate for a second time
Second, none of our best weapons customers for weapons of civilian destruction (WCD) are demanding we overthrow the North Korean regime. But Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel, who fuel America's economic miracle with hundreds of billions in WCD purchases, are demanding Iran regime change as part of the relationship.
Neither North Korea nor Iran threaten America's national self interests. But unlike North Korea, Iran is both vulnerable to attack and connected to our economic self interest fueled by world leading weapons sales. Consider regime change in Iran as a cog in 'The Art of The Deal'.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

"Be safe" just doesn't cut it in Chicago's shooting gallery

"Be safe". Is that the best the Trib can do to help reduce the daily gun violence on Chicago's mean streets (July 3 editorial). Though slightly down in 2019, gun murders still average 9 a week, with another 29 wounded. That is every single week, resulting in nearly 2,000 shot for the year. This is a local catastrophe that can only be alleviated by a massive and coordinated city, state and and federal effort It must also be the first priority of influential media outlets like the Trib. But it isn't. In another editorial on Mayor Lightfoot's solemn responsibility to reduce the slaughter, the Trib offers these bromides that sound nice but add little value to solving the problem:

1. Re-establishing trust between violence prone
communities and police 2. Intervention to help boys and young men to avoid violence
3. Let everyone who can contribute do so

But the Trib always opposes two of the most meaningful solutions: substantive gun legislation and enforcement reducing availability of guns, and massive rebuilding of Chicago's ghettos which breed joblessness, poverty, despair and....violence. Until the Trib gets behind these efforts, its weekly hand wringing about society destroying violence is a waste of ink and pixels.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Zorn's atrocious Three Little Words

We get it that Trib columnist Eric Zorn is OK with the death penalty for heinous killers whose guilt is indisputable. His support for killing the death penalty in Illinois 8 years ago stems strictly on practical grounds it sometimes murders innocents, is influenced by racism, doesn't deter murderers and is more expensive than life in prison. Many folks of good will hold that opinion. But Zorn goes further in his column on killer Brendt Christensen by stating "Yes, he deserved it (death penalty). He deserves worse". The only thing one can surmise from those last three little words is that Christensen deserves being tortured before being executed. Zorn has every right to hold that belief. As an influential pundit he should be ashamed of admitting that belief and wish to his thousands of readers.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

No death penalty for Brendt Christensen

The more heinous the killing, the more we must all oppose the death penalty. Many wonder why Brendt Christensen is even eligible to die for the torture murder of a visiting Chinese scholar in his Urbana apartment in 2017, since Illinois abolished the death penalty eight years ago. Alas, for us death penalty opponents, the authorities used the FBI's involvement in the death of a foreigner to move Christensen's case from state to federal jurisdiction where the death penalty lives on. Sure seems like that decision was taken simply to resurrect the gallows for a truly nasty murderer.
That's unfortunate. The death penalty was not abolished just to prevent an innocent person from being executed. Since Christensen has confessed some feel that reasoning is moot. What is not moot is that the death penalty is barbaric, hearkens back to a primitive view of justice, and makes every citizen involved or supportive of it a party to state sponsored murder. There will always be horrible individuals who will commit horrendous crimes. But there is no need for society to mimic such behavior simply to satisfy the bloodlust of John Q. Public. A hundred thirty-four countries have abolished the death penalty. The United States, which lays claim to being No. 1 in everything good, needs to become No. 135 in promoting life rather than death for the worst of the worst. That will help bring out our best as a civil, sane society.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Quotes from the Dems' most antiwar candidate last nite

"War with Iran would be worse than war with Iraq. Donald Trump and his chickenhawk cabinet—Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and others—are creating a situation where a spark would light a war with Iran. Trump needs to get back into the Iran deal, swallow his pride, and put America first."
Responding to Rep. Tim Ryan's claim the 2 deaths Wednesday of US soldiers in Afghanistan justify our continuing war there: "Will you tell the parents of those two soldiers that were killed in Afghanistan that we have to be engaged? That is unacceptable. We have lost so many lives, we have spent so much money,"
"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace,"
Why can't more Democrats rise to talk common sense about America's descent into the madness of perpetual war?
Thank you, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Thursday, June 27, 2019

US deaths trending upward in Afghan war

Two US soldiers were killed in a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan Wednesday. This brings US deaths there to 9 in the first 6 months of 2019, on track for 18 US deaths. That would continue the upward trend of 11 in 2017 and 13 in 2018. The increase is attributable to US ratcheting up military ops in 2017 ahead of negotiations with the Taliban for a complete US withdrawal. But after 18 years of senseless war, what's the hurry? It sure is to the remaining 9,000 soldiers wondering which of them will be the last of the 2,382 (and counting) that have needlessly died there since 2001. US negotiators talk...and US soldiers die.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Threatening regime change, economic sanctions represent criminal war

President Trump continues his fairy tale Iran is bent on restarting its nuclear weapons program it renounced in 2003. By pulling out of 2015's 5 + 1 nuclear agreement and imposing renewed sanctions crippling 80% of the Iranian economy, Trump has essentially declared war on Iran. It would take a psychiatrist, maybe of team of headshrinkers, to figure out the madness of Trump's Iran policy. He's got Secretary of War, oops, that's Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, racing around the Middle East trying to line up a worldwide coalition to complete regime change in Iran. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel are on board. The rest of the world thinks we're nuts. Good luck with trying to establish a friendly government to govern Iran's 80 million beleaguered souls if Trump succeeds. They'll to be as happy with Trump's degrading of their country and their lives as the Iraqis were of George W. Bush when he got hundreds of thousands killed while smashing up their country in his criminal Iraq war sixteen years ago.

Regime change policy underpinned by life debilitating sanctions amounts to criminal war as surely as dropping bombs from planes and drones. We're starving the powerless in Venezuela simply because they are a socialist country refusing American capitalist exploitation. The small, pitifully poor country of Cuba has been enduring US sanctions for sixty years simply for returning its natural wealth to its people instead of its former US masters. Iran, Venezuela and Cuba have plenty of company with 27 other nations the US sanctions in its delusional lust to control the world.

If some mythical country could magically announce regime change for America and follow up with sanctions impacting 80% of our economy, they would likely not see the sun rise tomorrow. It's time for the US to stop its murderous bullying of numerous nations via economic sanctions as well as by those more direct aerial bombs.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The loudest drunk in the bar

President Trump reminds me of the loudest drunk in the bar. He's petulant, brags incessantly, offers smug, insulting nicknames for his rivals, makes outlandish policy statements; then either forgets he ever said them, claims he never said them or simply does the opposite. He appears only happy when he's leading the chorus of his fearful, hateful, know nothing followers at incendiary rallies. His braggadocio and false bravado disgraces himself and humiliates our country with virtually every utterance. 

The irony is Trump's a lifelong teetotaler, the first and only of the 44 men who served as president. His reason is laudable; he saw his beloved brother Freddie die at 42 of alcoholism. Trump resolved to never even try booze. "If you don't start you're never going have a problem. If you do start you might have a problem. And it's a tough problem to stop."

Alas, teetotaler Trump is worse than the loudest drunk in a bar. Such a lout, if he awoke from a hangover to find himself master of the White House, would immediately shut his mouth and defer to wise men and women responsible for his doing as little damage as possible. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Trump bombing restraint delays inevitable war with Iran

Let's all extend one hand clapping for Trump's last minute cancellation of airstrikes against Iran for its likely justified shootdown of a $100 million dollar unmanned drone near its border. Justified because the US offered no evidence its drone was outside Iranian airspace while Iran released coordinates showing it was well inside. International law allows such shootdowns, something the the US would have down reflexively had the situation been reversed. Trump's claim he cancelled to save 150 innocent lives (his estimate) rings hollow. He was ecstatic after firing 60 missiles on Syria in April, 2017, and double that number a year later on completely unproven charges Syria used chemical weapons on its opponents in their ongoing civil war. Meanwhile we're dropping bombs daily on at least 7 other countries in the Middle East and Africa, killing untold multiples of those 150 Iranians yearly Trump claimed his conscience kept him from sending to Kingdom Come.
Trump likely didn't feel a massive retaliation for the measly drone shootdown would play well on the world stage. Clearly the US is maneuvering to goad Iran into a more dramatic action which will trigger the war he, his hawkish advisers and our major allies Saudi Arabia and Israel are lusting for. The US has already declared diplomatic and economic war on Iran by tearing up the 5 + 1 nuclear agreement and imposing drastic sanctions crippling their economy. If another country did that to the US they'd be pulverized withing days if not hours.
Iranian leaders look to their former rival Iraq, now an ally thanks to America's 2003 criminal invasion, and realize time is running out on their effort to survive the bulls eye Uncle Sam has placed over them. And unless we all push back against looming war with's running out for America and the world as well.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Trib ignores sound negotiations that ended Iran war threat in 2015.

The Trib's editorial 'The U.S. can protect tankers from Iran, with help from allies' implicitly accepts Trump administration falsehoods about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and recent attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. In so doing the Trib exacerbates Trump's greatest threat to world peace: his blowing up Obama's signature foreign policy accomplishment last year and his seeking a casus belli to attack Iran outright now.

First the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. To state "The 2015 nuclear deal Trump shelved was too narrow in its scope" is preposterous. Iran had abandoned its nuclear program years before the 2015 deal. US war hawks never wanted a deal because the final agreement signaled an end to their years long effort to take out Iran as a rival hegemon to the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East. Trump ran on repeal both to placate his war mongering base and to satisfy his lust to undue every Obama accomplishment. The Trib is whistling past the graveyard in calling for European support for a new nuclear deal. They're outraged by the folly of US policy, know the current agreement is working, and will never go along with Trump's true agenda: Iran regime change.

Regarding the current tanker attacks, Trump has rushed to judgement, ignoring reports from the owner of the Kokuka Outrageous that the explosion was above the water line and not an Iranian mine as Trump insists. With false US reports of attacks/threats used to justify war going back to the USS Maine explosion in 1898 (Spanish American War), Gulf of Tonkin attack in 1964 (Vietnam War) and the Mother of All fairy tales, 2002's Iran WMD (second Iraq war), the US has zero credibility when fomenting war.

Instead of the fantasy that Europe will support an even more onerous and senseless nuclear deal, the Trib should demand end of cruel, inhuman sanctions which already constitute war on the Iranian people. We've been disrespecting, degrading, destabilizing Iran since we partnered with the UK to overthrow the democratically elected leader Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953. Sixty-six years is enough.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Hat's off to hat retriever

It happened at Chicago and Western Avenues in Ukrainian Village. Crossing the busy intersection with my hand firmly grasping three year old grandson Alex's tiny paw, a gust of Chicago wind sent my favorite baseball cap flying. Reaching the east side of Western I looked back to see my chapeau resting in front of a car tire just seconds away from grinding it into the pavement. Had I not been tethered to Alex I might made a dash for it as the crossing light was still green. Just as I thought 'nice knowing ya', a young man appeared from one of the waiting cars, scooped up the Nike, bounded across Western to drop it in my outstretched hand before retreating to his vehicle. Didn't even get to thank him properly. He's probably already forgotten his incredible act of daring and simple kindness. I never will.

West Virginians should re-evaluate 68.5% Trump vote next year.

No truth, like no good deed, goes unpunished. In the 2016 election Hillary told West Virginians coal was in death spiral and it was time to get 21st century job training skills. Donald said 'Nyet. I'll bring coal back...don't vote for Anti-Coal Hillary'. West Virginia responded with a 68.5% Trump vote, his best among the 30 states he won.
Last August he proclaimed "The coal industry is back" He should have said 'It's still going backwards'. More coal plants have closed in his first 2 years than in Obama' eight. Coal continues its 4 decade slide with declines of 7% and 8% forecast for this year and next. Coal exports are down 15% due in part to China's 25% tariff on US coal in response to Trump's self destructive trade war.
Soothing words from a propaganda genius will never bring coal jobs back to West Virginia. Every Democratic candidate should highlight Trump's cruel demagoguery to West Virginians and work to turn West Virginia not black with coal, but blue with hope for a renewable energy turnaround in The Mountain State.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Poprocki shoveling dirt on Catholicism's grave

Bishop Thomas Poprocki, head of the Springfield, Illinois Catholic Diocese needs a new job title. Henceforth it should be Chief of Catholic Membership Removal. His call to deny the sacraments to Illinois legislative leaders Mike Madigan and John Cullerton for supporting abortion rights, expands his decade long denial to US Senator Dick Durbin for his pro abortion stance. That move may be applauded by the dwindling hard line faithful, but it's only likely to accelerate declines in Catholic church membership which leads all religions in a two decade decline.
Since 1999, Americans identifying with a church has declined from 70% to 50%. Folks identifying with no religion has more than doubled from 8% to 19%. Catholicism leads the shakeout with church membership declining from 76% to 63% among those professing to be Catholics. The generational decline is alarming: My Traditionalist generation (born before '46) still at 74% church membership while the current Millennials (1980-2000) just 57%.
If Poprocki had his way, one third of all Catholics who support Madigan, Cullerton and Durbin would hear Poprocki bellow "No communion for you".
Is any other religion in the world as self destructive as Catholicism? Don't let women be priests? Check. Don't let priests marry and enjoy sex? Check. Don't let the faithful follow their conscience? Check. With leaders like Poprocki, the Catholic Church does not need the Devil to sow its destruction

Monday, June 10, 2019

Starving Latin American socialists nothing new for Uncle Sam

Though not firing on Venezuela's military, the US is engaged in a war of regime change in Venezuela. Using cruel and crippling economic sanctions causing deprivation, even starvation upon the Venezuelan people, we've targeted the hated socialist regime of Nicholas Maduro. The US has groomed Kennedy/Obama lookalike US puppet Juan Gaido to assume power to protect US business interests there. Since we're reluctant to invade, we've doing it the old fashioned way; pain and suffering on the hapless citizenry to rise up and overthrow Maduro for our guy. It should be no surprise this monstrous policy is not working. We've been inflicting citizen deprivation on the 11 million souls of Cuba for 60 years now but the Castro, Diaz-Canel socialist regime soldiers on because no amount of US cruelty will force overthrow of nationalist leaders committed to preventing renewed US imperialism.

A once secret US State Department memo from 60 years ago describes this policy as "A line of action which, while adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government".

Maybe we should replace the words on the Statute of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", with "Throw off your socialist leaders or we'll starve you to death".

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Free Chelsea Manning...and Julian Assange as well

Is it not the supreme irony that the US gives presidential libraries and six figure pensions to its war criminals but imprisons the blokes that call out US war crimes in the Middle East and Africa. Former Pvt. Chelsea Manning did her job obeying the Constitution by outing such crimes in Iraq nine years ago. Her reward? Seven years in prison, several of which the UN described as torture, before being mercifully pardoned by Obama. When she stood on principle to refuse further cooperation, her government jailed her again for another sixty-two days, with more jail time ahead if she refuses to talk at the next Grand Jury investigation.

Then there's Julian Assange, forced into wretched conditions at Ecuador's London embassy for seven years to escape extradition to a cruel America bent on imprisoning this courageous journalist for publishing Manning's revelations. The US exerted pressure on Ecuador to cough up Assange from his Ecuadoran asylum upon which the Brits immediately imprisoned him for 50 weeks for jumping bail on a Swedish sex charge investigation. That provides the US nearly a year to snare Assange before he's once again free.

The US does pay lip service to justice for its real villains, imprisoning low down on the war crime chain soldier William Calley who served just four years for following superiors' orders to snuff out 500 innocents at Vietnam's My Lai massacre in 1968. Twenty-seven of his follow murderers were set free. Flash forward to today where the president is mulling the pardon of Navy Special Ops Chief Edward Gallagher for the grisly knife killing of a teenage captive, as well as others convicted of war crimes in our forever Middle East wars. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is pushing the pardon claiming he too killed many innocents during his tour of duty as an artillery officer in Iraq...and it was no big deal.

This is a grotesque country where our leaders can launch criminal wars, give a pass to heinous individual crimes; then seek decades in prison for the true heroes seeking justice. It's time to give our support and demand freedom for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Email to Clarence Page on Julian Assange

Clarence, nice post on defending Julian Assange as a journalist, which of course he is (What is a journalist? Don't let the government decide, Trib June 5). 

Couple of nits to pick. Calling Assange an "often disturbingly and even dangerously freewheeling example of the breed"  is both unnecessary and hurtful to the defense you so admirably present on his behalf. Are you concerned you'll incur the wrath of your readers and editors if you don't include the standard mainstream media disclaimer Assange is not a good journalist; indeed, an unworthy person as well. I wish Trib journalists had been as dangerously freewheeling as Assange when they failed to vet Bush administration lies that got several hundred thousand dead, including 4,497 GI's in our criminal Iraq war.  You folks didn't do your job then and you're not doing it now giving an endless pass to US perpetual wars in the Middle East and Africa. 

Second, ending your piece with "Assange may fall way short of being a model journalist" is simply not true and further supports the mainstream thesis that he is somehow beneath the decency and competency of the journalistic establishment.

By all means defend Julian Assange as the journalist he is. But please drop the disclaimers. 

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Prisoner/felon voting expansion completes Pritzker's grand slam

The Fair Tax ballot initiative, cannabis legalization and nation leading women's reproductive health are getting all the attention in Gov. Pritzker's first legislative session. But let's not neglect passage of SB 2090 which supports increased voter participation with two wonderful programs to provide that for Illinois' marginalized citizens. SB 2090 requires that county jails and election authorities collaborate to ensure pre-trial jail detainees can vote along with those of us on the outside. It also assures that voting eligible felons leaving Illinois prisons receive a voter registration application and information about restoration of their voting rights.

Bravo Governor and legislators who supported this measure to move Illinois closer to 21st century enlightenment on prisoner rehabilitation. Voting gives persons awaiting trial or completing their sentences a stake in seeking progress for society as well as themselves. But Governor Pritzker should not rest after signing SB 2090. Next up will be for Illinois to join Vermont and Maine in allowing its 40,000 convicted prisoners to vote in prison. Least anyone thinks this might impair crime prevention, think again. Vermont and Maine rank 49th and 50th in violent crime per hundred thousand residents.

A grand slam in your first legislative session is a great start. Don't stop now, Governor.