Sunday, February 12, 2017

Constituents to Roskam: You ain't seen nothing yet

My congressman Peter Roskam has lived in an extreme right wing bubble throughout his decade in office. The election of moral degenerate Trump, whom Roskam backed as a 'wild card', has shattered that insularity from the roughly 60% of registered voters forever. Forget Roskam's 60% majorities in his bi-annaul annuity to do the bidding of the Koch Brothers, the war party, the anti abortion zealots, the greedy 1%, the extremist Israeli Likud government, among others. The 50% of registered voters who aren't served by Roskam but stay home nonetheless, have been galvanized into political activism as never before.
Roskam has publicly shown his disdain for them by cancelling meetings with constituents concerned with matters of life and death, and sneaking in and out of meetings with the extreme right choir, to avoid the folks hurt by his heartless policy positions. Roskam's response to withering criticism of his disappearing act is to blame the messenger, claiming any public gathering will be disruptive and non-productive. Bunk. Roskam needs to face, for the first time in his decade serving the elite and uncaring, the faces and concerns of the many thousands he's left behind.
Welcome to reality, congressman. Prepare to earn your salary and benefits north of a cool quarter million yearly. It's about time.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Yemen to Uncle Sam: Stop slaughtering our women and children

The tiny, war ravaged country of Yemen kicked Uncle Sam in his proverbial shins (maybe even a bit higher), kicking out our special ops killers who slaughtered a bunch of women and children while leveling their village January 29, in a botched raid against suspected bad guys we kill with impunity around the Middle East. But we're still killing Yemenis with drone bombs and aiding the neighboring Saudis in their murderous war against the Houthi faction in the Yemen civil war. Over 16,000 are dead and a quarter of Yemen's population are starving due, in part, to American support of Saudi involvement. Saudi Arabia is our best bomb buyer, causing defense makers into overdrive to replace US made ordinance depleted in the war. A US commando is also needlessly dead while Uncle wipes egg from his face and rubs the sore spots. How dare little Yemen tell us who we can't kill. Don't they know we're the greatest country on the face of the earth?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Rauner tops Payton's dazzling runs around defenses

Illinois's primary, secondary and higher educational institutions are sinking from the unprecedented and unconscionable budget crisis Gov. Rauner precipitated on Illinois students two years ago. College cuts are so drastic many of Illinois' best are crossing the border for a stable, well funded education; likely to find employment close by in a state that values infrastructure and business development as well as education. Poorly funded primary and secondary school districts are being shredded, with Chicago's $215 million in lost assistance resulting in cuts to teaching days, teacher salaries, textbook funding, instructional materials, after school programs to name a few. 

But when it comes to his own children, our billionaire governor makes sure they get the hundred thousand dollar treatment. Rauner unwittingly injected his daughter into his 2014 gubernatorial bid when it was discovered he made end run around inspector general James Sullivan who ruled she was ineligible to upgrade from elite North Shore New Trier HS to super elite Chicago Walter Payton Academy. Facing a seemingly impregnable line, Rauner happy-footed around end, calling CPS Chief Arne Duncan, who tickled a subordinate at Payton Academy. Voila! Rauner danced into the end zone as daughter entered Payton Learning Place. Five months later Rauner drops a cool quarter million on his daughter's new school. Completing the Quid Pro Quo? Hmmmmm. 

Though this occurred nine years ago, it's important to remind every student, every parent, every voter of the Rauner educational mantra: for me and mine the tops; the rest of you, the dregs. Even Walter Payton never made a move like that.

Monday, February 06, 2017

After decade Roskam must finally confront issues, voters

My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) must rue the day his 'wild card' candidate Trump was elected president. It unleashed a groundswell of pushback by a sizable minority of Sixth District voters Roskam has ignored for a decade. Roskam has never represented the Sixth District. He serves the 1%, the climate change deniers, the heartless striving to de-insure the 20 million newly covered by the Affordable Care Act, the religious zealots seeking to block women from their gynecologist, the neocons promoting confrontation with Iran, the xenophobes lusting to tear apart undocumented families, among other special interests not connected to decent public service. When a morally compromised con man offered both a path to satisfy these dysfunctional agendas and keep Roskam's similarly inclined base voting for him, Roskam didn't blink, going all in with his vote and support, even though he claimed he'd never condone within his family Trump's bragging about his penchant for sexual assault. So much for decent, responsible leadership on behalf of all his constituents.
Those Sixth District constituents will no longer ignore Roskam's fraudulent stewardship. They have exposed his refusal to serve their needs by confronting him publicly, forcing him to reveal his utter lack of interest, concern, indeed, decency. When 16 citizens showed up for a meeting to discuss his eight year campaign to abolish of Obamacare, his staff cancelled the meeting, citing a reporter present. God forbid the public learn of Roskam's cowardice to engage outraged voters. When 400 showed up to protest his preaching to a closed door choir in support of the Muslim ban, Roskam used the side door coming and going. Only the true believers get to connect with the congressman.
Roskam's imagined lifetime sinecure raking in a cool quarter million a year plus in salary and benefits has suddenly become uncomfortable. He's become the phantom to constituents looking for serious discourse on critical issues of public interest; indeed, life and death. Any congressman who conducts himself that way is not a public servant and is unfit to hold office. But the protests, the negative publicity, the confrontations are just beginning unless Roskam hides in his DC bubble for the next 23 months. And he's finding out his wild card is no joker.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Ivanka's got nothing on Anna

One of the truly unsung heroes in American History is Anna Roosevelt (1906-1975), first child of FDR. In 1943 she moved into the White House during her publisher husband's military duty, where she changed history. She became her dad's personal assistant, also functioning as First Lady during Eleanor's frequent travels. In early 1944, she saved FDR's life, enabling him to soldier on to a fourth term, overseeing the victorious Allied juggernaut, and most importantly, birthing the creation of the UN with England and Russia. In February she realized FDR was rapidly failing. She commandeered his first heart exam by Naval cardiologist, Howard Bruenn, who quickly concluded FDR was dying. No dummy, Roosevelt drastically curtailed his work, eating and smoking habits, determined to preside over first, the end to WWII, then the birth of the UN. He almost made it; showing immense vitality to win his fourth term that November, then paving the path to the UN at Yalta in February, 1945, two months before expiring. Anna almost certainly added a year to FDR's life and many contributions to the American Story.
Seventy-three years later another devoted daughter appears to be reprising the role Anna played. Ivanka Trump is filling in for her stepmom Melania, the Slovenian born fashion model who simply doesn't fit the First Lady image and and apparently won't even move into the White House. When Melania served as glittering eye candy for the rapacious business mogul Trump, she was just fine. Enter Ivanka who has the charm and grace Trump needs to burnish his sputtering presidential image.
The contrast between Anna and Ivanka couldn't be more stark. Anna extended FDR's life a year, critically maintaining continuity in both war and peace. And Ivanka? Her main task is to put lipstick on a pig.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

US destroys Yakla: Que the Big Yawn

Do even 3 in 100 Americans know we're engaged in a 2 year long murderous war in Yemen? Maybe a few more do once they learned a US commando was killed and three others injured in a botched US raid that slaughtered 57 civilians and largely leveled the town of Yakla. US officials are frantically searching for evidence we only killed high level al-Qaeda operatives, but turns out it was just the residence of a unimportant collaborator filled with innocents. Why America is both assisting the criminal Saudi war against their desperately poor neighbor Yemen and conducting their own criminal operations is known only to our Masters of War in the Military-Industrial Complex. The clueless Trump came to office oblivious of the carnage which has killed over 25,000 Yemenis and caused starvation of a quarter of their 24,000,000 disparately beleaguered souls. Now he's out front shedding crocodile tears for the American cannon fodder caught up in this madness. The only thread which connects Bush to Obama to Trump is America's murderous export: perpetual war.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

An Obama milestone Trump can't match

In 2,922 days as President, Barack Obama never had to cancel a single US event due to threatened protests. And Trump? On day 12 he cancelled planned trip to tout his American First shtick at the Harley Davidson plant in Milwaukee over fears of massive protests. Come to think of it, the meme of his administration is actually: 'Anti-Trumpism First.'

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Roskam's 'wild card' missing from political deck

Back in July my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) had this to say about Trump: "I do think time is Donald Trump's friend. I think people are saying... alright, I'm ready to hear this guy out, see what he has got to say with the flash and dash aside." In October Roskam opined: "Trump's comments (on grabbing women's genitals) are disgusting and corrosive"....they fly in the face of every lesson wife Elizabeth and I taught our daughters and sons about how men and women interact. However, this election is a binary choice in which I am choosing to vote for a wild card over an unworthy candidate."
Three months later Roskam's female frisky 'wild card' is president, putting a white nationalist on the National Security Council, defunding foreign efforts to control population, implementing a hideous, unconstitutional ban on Muslims from nations not doing business with the Trump brand; then firing the principled Acting Attorney General for challenging it...for starters.
Now that Roskam has time to 'hear this guy out' as well as see the wreckage he's caused in a week, the press reached out to Roskam, inquiring if he'd join Republican colleague Randy Hultgren who said this about Trump's trampling of the Constitution and presidential power: “We should have our arms open to those who are fleeing oppression and seeking safety, not turning them away at the door.” Alas, Roskam and staff neither answered phone calls or responded to emails. Maybe he's still wading through all that 'flash and dash' to determine what Trump really stands for. Or he's still searching for that 'wild card' which suddenly disappeared from his political deck.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Didn't take long, did it?

On Trump's tenth day as president a US commando along with some women and kids, died in US Yemen attack

Didn't take long for Trump to soak his legacy in the blood of perpetual war. Trump is so clueless, when asked about aiding the Saudis against their imagined enemies in neighboring Yemen, he said we shouldn't be getting involved in wars not in our national self interest; oblivious to the fact we've been aiding the Saudi slaughter there for nearly two years. Since Yemen doesn't have any business deals for Trump to exploit, it isn't on his ravenous radar.

Presidents come and go; Trump's may be the shortest ever at the rate he's defiling the office. But however long it lasts, he'll rack up many needless deaths in American's death spiral of perpetual war.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Atty Gen Lisa call Gov Bruce's bluff

In asking an Illinois court to stop payments to state workers absent a state budget, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has called Gov. Rauner's bluff in his cynical 18 month campaign to degrade the Illinois social safety net in favor of the business elite. Lisa argues such payments are illegal and must stop March 1. If successful, Rauner's ploy to keep the state operating, in spite of drastic cuts to state universities, needy students and non-profit public service providers will end, forcing him to abandon his use of non-budgetary items as extortion in the budgetary process. Rauner touts his efforts as an end to 'business as usual' in Illinois; ignoring that his trick of paying state workers without a budget while stiffing the students, the needy, the powerless, the marginalized, is simply 'business as usual' for a greedy venture capitalist.  

Gov. Rauner provoked an unconscionable crisis for the most vulnerable Illinoisans with his scheme to widen the gap between the haves and have nots. Degrading state services to the needy, stopping critical educational and infrastructure investment, signaling the critically needed capital markets Illinois is not in the game, is a governing catastrophe unprecedented in Illinois history. Rauner has been able to maintain this twisted 18 month long saga through a dubious legal maneuver that pretends Illinois is functioning under a budget when it isn't. The Attorney General's move may finally get the judiciary to pull the plug on the bathtub in which Gov. Rauner is drowning Illinois.

Friday, January 27, 2017

David E. Smith channeling 'Chicken Little' on stagnant population growth

David E. Smith, Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute, has sure fallen on hard times with his doomsday scenarios for US population growth (Lombardian Letter, January 19). A decade ago it was gay marriage that was threatening the US economy, claiming that allowing gays to marry would ding the 2.1 replacement birth rate necessary to maintain a thriving economy. Smith spent years railing against gay marriage, imagining its legalization
would inspire all those fertile heterosexuals to forego procreation with an opposite sex person to enjoy their newfound freedom to marry a non-reproducing partner.
Alas, gay marriage finally came to Illinois and the nation; and those fertile heteros have largely forsaken the gay lifestyle to make babies at an increasing rate. Demographers attribute the rise to a rising economy, which tends to influence population rates infinitely more than bizarre theories like legalizing gay marriage. Not to be distracted from tilting against windmills, Mr. Smith has come up with a new theory: a US Dept. of Agriculture report claiming the cost of rising a child to age 17 is $233,610. Somehow this will inhibit sufficient
procreation. Of course, Smith doesn't advise that USDA statistics are affected by education, income and location. A poor Appalachian couple won't earn $233,610 in 17 years, much less spend that amount to raise a child. A billionaire like the current governor can drop a $233,610 donation on a charter school to help get his daughter admitted without blinking an eye.
For Mr. Smith's theory to hold water, the entire population of child bearing couples have to read it to even consider foregoing child bearing to avoid its hyped long term cost? Besides David E. Smith and me, I can't imagine another one in the entire country who will.

The man in the White House needs the men in the white coats

Donald Trump is crazy. He displayed crazy the moment he entered the presidential race in June, 2015. He campaigned crazy for the Republican nomination and won. He campaigned crazy as the Republican nominee and won. At that point many hoped he was simply 'acting' crazy to get elected. Then as President Elect he continued to display crazy. Many now hoped against hope he was still just acting. A week into his presidency it is clear he isn't acting. He's certifiably crazy.

Of course, crazy is a simplistic word to define deeply aberrant behavior. What is more specific is that Trump is intellectually, morally and temperamentally unfit to be president. Intellectually, he may have a high IQ, but he disdains any pretension to intellectual study or curiosity, essentially nullifying whatever intellectual potential he possesses. Morally, he fails on every measure imaginable: compulsive lying, sexual predation, unending personal attacks against critics, ravenous greed, unquenchable egomania. Temperamentally, he is so erratic the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists cites his erratic temperament as one of the reasons they've moved the Doomsday Clock, the harbinger of potential nuclear annihilation, to two and a half minutes to Doomsday, the closest to Doomsday since 1953.

Article 4 of the 25th Amendment provides two avenues to remove a president for aberrant intellectual, moral and temperamental behavior; one by the cabinet and one by the Congress, both in conjunction with the Vice President. That is both a long shot and unlikely at this early stage. But what is clear to those of use with sound minds, morals and temperament is that the man in the White House needs to be taken care of by the men in the white coats.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thousand police vehicle procession for fallen officer impinged upon public safety

I was one of hundreds or maybe a thousand or more motorists caught on the wrong side of Roosevelt Road Wednesday during the 1,000 plus police vehicle procession for a fallen officer. Cars were racing to find an outlet only to be blocked at major intersection after major intersection. Didn't see any accident during my time in the traffic labyrinth, but wouldn't be surprised if one occurred. After about 30 minutes trying to find a north-south cross street I remembered the Route 53 Roosevelt underpass and finally made it home. 

I honor and respect folks paying tribute to a fallen family member, friend, or work colleague. But shouldn't some restraint be exercised by the folks hired to protect public safety from causing a monumental traffic jam in the middle of the afternoon? 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump enables slow genocide of Palestinian people

Just two days into his presidency, Donald Trump has inspired a building boom. Alas, it's not in the US. Israel announced two massive housing settlement projects on Palestinian land they are systematically gobbling up; 566 in East Jerusalem and 2,500 in the West Bank. Israel had put those projects on hold due to rightful pressure from the Obama administration, which included abstaining from the UN Security Council's recent condemnation of Israeli settlements in violation of humanitarian and international law.
Trump's total support for Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians' efforts to gain their humanity through statehood was signaled early on as President Elect when he picked David Friedman to be his Israeli Ambassador. Friedman is to the right of extreme right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He's got Trump's blessing to argue these despicable settlements on Palestinian land are legal, that the two state solution is dead, and that the Israeli capitol should be moved to Jerusalem. Such a move would surely create more havoc in the region as the Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capitol.
Even the Russians couldn't be happier Trump was elected. When you've got the leader of the so called free world enabling your slow genocide of the Palestinian people, no one could be more ecstatic.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Roskamspeak only response to renewable energy advocates

Over 200 Sixth District folks gathered near my Congressman Peter Roskam's office Monday to protest his continued denial of climate change and need to focus on renewable energy solutions. While Roskam's decade long support in Congress of the fossil fuel industry, in lieu of renewable energy, is well known, the protesters' action was promoted by Roskam's support of his 'wild card' Trump, who alludes to roll backs of Obama administration renewable energy programs.
Neither Roskam nor an aide negotiated the few steps from Roskam's office to the protest site. But a Roskam spokesman offered this in defense of Roskam's environmental record:
“American ingenuity has made it possible to rid ourselves of our dependence on foreign oil and eliminate a major national security threat. Each year, new advancements in technology and research allow us to better provide for our energy and security needs while safeguarding our natural resources for the future.”
The fossil fuel lobby, which helps fuel Roskam's lifetime congressional sinecure, loves that version of what we in the district know as Roskamspeak: in this case 49 words that say absolutely nothing of substance to 200 constituents in desperate need of a substantive response to possibly the biggest threat to our long term survival.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump evil Trojan House returning Republicans to power

Few Republican congressmen embraced the Trump candidacy. Fewer still outright rejected his cynical appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny and utter contempt for decent political discourse. The vast majority blanched when he grabbed the Republican brass ring with the glee he's long enjoyed grabbing certain lady parts, and went all in for his election. They had no choice. He embodies their values: redistribution of wealth to the already wealthy, xenophobia of foreigners, utter disregard to women's reproductive rights, loathing of the LGBT lifestyle, endless buildup of the world's most obscenely bloated military, and denial of climate change to name a few. They disavowed his most egregious comments; some like my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6), calling them 'slap and dash from a wild card' while promoting his election nonetheless.

They dishonor the profession of politician and lay no claim to statesmanship. They no doubt shrink from examining the pleas of the millions; women and their male compatriots, who took over America's public squares yesterday to vent outrage against a moral monster assuming the presidency. But they don't care; ensconced in the bubble of their safe district or state, thrilled, no doubt, at the prospect of implementing the Trumpian and their agenda for America.

The only remaining question is: now that they used the Trump Trojan Horse to capture the government, how quickly will they move to discard their vehicle to power.

Trib Editorial Board's violent crime surge solution: "Can't we all just get along?"

Every couple of weeks the Tribune Editorial Board trots out another meaningless editorial on the Chicago crime problem, devoid of any sensitivity, substance or solutions. The January 17 version 'What's behind Chicago's surge in violence' follows that tired script. Almost the entire editorial simply cites a University of Chicago Crime Lab study knocking down the usual suspects such as increased gun availability, warmer weather, drastic decline in police 'street stops', growing teenage gang members, release of police shooting unarmed citizen videos, and comparison showing Chicago little different from other high crime cities.
The editorial than comforts its privileged, middle class readership by reminding them much of the bloodbath is occurring in five poverty stricken neighborhoods their readership will likely never encounter. That precisely symbolizes how out of touch the Trib is to the festering shame of America: throwaway people and throwaway communities left to rot in a land where all the wealth rises to the top. Never does the Trib call for a reversal of trillions for perpetual war around the world to rebuild that shame which leaves generation after generation of disaffected youth with no avenue out except crime. Never does the Trib call for a concerted effort to curtail the gun lobby so effective controls can minimize the shooting gallery those poverty areas have become. Never has the Trib called for financial reforms that have expanded the redistribution of wealth to the very rich never before experienced in our 241 years.
But the Trib Pundits in The Tower have a solution. Better relations between the beleaguered police and the law abiding folks locked into the shame of America will foster "better cooperation and less conflict". The Trib does allude to unnamed 'other' changes but those pesky 'better relations' are Priority One. The entire editorial could have been accomplished by quoting LA police beating victim Rodney King: "Can't we all just get along?"

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Roskam to 18 million: "I've got gimme back yours!"

If you read the heartless rhetoric from my Congressman Peter Roskam's website, you'd surmise he's never received a single constituent communication expressing profound gratitude upon receiving first time health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are 20,000,000 given that lifeline so based on evenly distributed population, about 45,000 of them live in the Sixth District. But last Friday the 13th sure was an unlucky day for those 20,000,000 as Roskam joined the Republican majority to abolish it. Just four days later the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office published a devastating analysis warning that 18,000,000 of them would lose coverage the first year under RoskamRepeal, and upwards of 32,000,000 would go without over a decade. In addition, RoskamRepeal would jack up rates 20% to 25% in that first year. 

Peter Roskam and family enjoy the finest medical assistance that his CongressCare provides; not just a Cadillac policy, a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. He's spent the last eight years sowing fear and loathing of the ACA because he panders to the anti government wing that re-elects him every two years; the public interest be damned. What's more important? Twenty million folks in need covered, with 50,000 of them avoiding death; or a lifetime ticket to the House?   

Least Roskam join the Republican chorus blasting the CBO report, he should consider that Keith Hall, the CBO Director who signed off on the inconvenient truths Roskam ignores, was selected and appointed by Republican Congressional leaders in 2015. 

Don't wait 48 years to prove Trump's treason

"My God, I would never do anything to encourage South Viet Nam not to come to the table."

Thirty-nine years after Richard Nixon proclaimed his innocence in 1977, we now know he did exactly that nine years earlier to help win the 1968 election by working to delay the Vietnam Peace Talks till after he was elected. Recently discovered notes of his top aide, H.R. Haldeman show Nixon directed him to utilize Madamn Anna Chennault, WWII wife of General Claire Channault, to back channel Nixon instructions to Vietnam President Thieu on getting a better deal from Nixon than Hubert Humphrey. President Johnson uncovered the plot but couldn't go public since he didn't have the smoking gun tying Nixon to the plot.

Today, we have smoke, but no gun tying Donald Trump to Russian hacking of Democratic information used to damage the Clinton campaign. After vehemently denying Russia had anything to do with the hack, Trump swallowed the irrefutable intelligence reports and sputtered 'Yes, they did.'

But Trump refuses to even answer the question whether anyone connected with his campaign was in on the shenannigans. And of course, no such evidence has emerged. But given the secrecy of Trump's extensive ties to Russian business and political leaders, the smoke is thick enough to cut with a machete.   

Nixon's treason rests on laws against a private citizen doing anything to 'defeat the measure of the United States.' We don't know if Nixon's treason sealed his victory. Nor do we know if South Vietnam scuttled peace talks with Johnson to aide Nixon. But we do know that another 28,000 US boys died while Nixon spent his entire truncated presidency grasping for a face saving peace treaty that may have been within reach of Johnson in 1968. 

Let's hope it doesn't take another 48 years to determine if Trump committed similar treason just a few months ago.  

No need to imagine of Rauner gone

The Illinois Policy Institute's Diana Rickert spent hundred of words in her Tuesday's Trib op ed pondering an Illinois General Assembly without Michael Madigan as House Speaker. Since Madigan will surely be re-elected Speaker, Rickert was left with 'imagining' a General Assembly without Madigan, who has served as speaker all but two years since 1983. She congers up the possibility of term limits for Assembly leaders, loosening of House rules and closer cooperation with Republicans.

But you don't have to imagine what Madigan accomplished during his long reign as Speaker: negotiating budgets with both Democratic and Republican governors which cared for the needy, funded higher education for deserving low income students, paid state vendors, and improved state infrastructure. Once Bruce Rauner assumed the governorship two years ago, that spirt of compromise was shattered. Rauner held the budget and the people of Illinois hostage to implementing a budget with non-budgetary wish list items for the wealthiest Illinoisans that must remain the subject of the legislative, not the budgetary process. That form of political extortion which betrays the state's less fortunate was an unconscionable breach of political bi-partisanship and has rightly been resisted by Madigan and his Democratic caucus.

Unlike a General Assembly without Madigan, we don't have to imagine a General Assembly without Gov. Rauner. We know exactly what it would promptly do ...pass a budget.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A sad day

I've lived thru some truly sad days in American history among my 26,225 and counting. But never have I witnessed a man about to assume the presidency, display his unfitness to hold office in such clear and striking fashion as Trump did in his first post election news conference. He revealed his unfitness as Republican candidate and Republican nominee, but ascended to the presidency with a minority vote and a demogogic appeal to the electorate, securing his election on a fluke of the process and a mere 80,000 votes in three swing states.

But no votes can save him from the self destructive character and temperament on full display to the American people Wednesday. Richard Nixon, arguably the most temperamentally unfit man to achieve the presidency, hid his character flaws through his first term and reelection, before self destructing. Trump's have been on display since he announced 18 months ago.

Only two questions remain.
How long will it take Trump to self destruct?
How much damage will he do to America and the world before he does?

Walt Zlotow
Glen Elly

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Don't make Dylann Roof tenth murder victim

"I haven't shed a tear for the innocent people I killed." With those words and bizarre conduct in his sentencing hearing, 22 year old Dylann Roof appears determined to elicit a death sentence from the jury for slaughtering 9 blacks in a Charleston, SC church in June, 2015. Roof acted in his own defense, he claims, so his defense counsel couldn't enter evidence about his psychological condition Roof is determined to protect. "There's nothing wrong with me psychologically" Roof protested.
Psychology aside, Roof is clearly a defective human, acting out his violent fantasies the vast majority of us keep in check. But we expect better from our Uncle Sam who should be ennobling those of us living instead of callously degrading our political culture with calls for bloodlust. The US has become an outlier, one of only 53 countries of 193 that still practice state sponsored murder. Twenty-one of our fifty states have abolished it as well.
Murdering Roof won't bring back the victims. Executing him won't deter similarly disturbed creatures who haunt our life. Injecting him with lethal drugs is the wrong fix for what ails America. As the Bard wrote so well:
"The quality of mercy is not strain'd
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown"
Or in your case, Uncle, it's your funny hat.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Killing Obamacare sorta like killing polio vaccine

Any Republican who campaigned against the Affordable Care Act these past eight years is despicable.
Whatever defects the ACA has pail in comparison to the benefits they've provided the 20 million covered by it. They pail in comparison to the 50,000 lives the ACA has demonstrably saved. They pail in comparison the the 300 other million of us who feel gratitude our government provided some relief to the least fortunate, medically speaking, among us.
Whatever defects the ACA has are the result of these despicable lawmakers who devoted every penny of their political capital to prevent any health care coverage for the uninsured, or improve the coverage for the insured. They are the result of these despicable lawmakers who forced Democrats to enact less than what was required, single payer Medicare for all, then, despicably sought its repeal because of those despicably engineered defects.
It's not uncommon for an uninformed Republican voter to tell me "Obamacare is horrible and must be repealed." My answer? "If up to you, 50,000 of your fellow citizens would be dead. Shame on you."

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Alex Warshawsky in good company seeking answers from Congressman Roskam

My fellow Illinois Sixth District constituent Alex Warshawsky, featured in today's Daily Herald over his frustration in getting a straight answer from our Congressman Peter Roskam's office on Roskam's position on gutting the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, is in good company. Dozens if not hundreds of Roskam's constituents had the same experience Tuesday. After several calls to both Roskam's DC and suburban offices failed to go through, Ed, a pleasant young man, finally answered from DC. He quickly became discombobulated by my request to for a straight answer to a straight question. When I asked to speak to his boss, he said nobody else was home. He did promise to have someone call me with an answer but rest assured I'm not holding my breath waiting. Even Houdini couldn't hold it 48 hours.
The Herald lamented in their editorial today on the tone deafness of Republicans trying to gut House ethics oversight, citing a Politico report Roskam spoke in favor of the gutting in Monday's closed door GOP session. Giving the independent panel caused Roskam major embarrassment over his $25,000 Taiwan paid for freebie vacation in 2011, before the House cleared him, his opposition is understandable, though inexcusable.
When penning a bill, such as gutting the Affordable Care Act, that plays well with his base, Roskam is front and center media savvy. But when playing the cynical, career politician whose conduct insults every Sixth District voter, Roskam turns into the Invisible Man.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Vote Clemons, Bonds into Hall

The NY Times reports younger sportswriters, with little direct experience of the baseball steroid era, are increasingly likely to vote super duper stars Jim Clemons and Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame. The pitching wonder (354 wins) and home run king (762) have been blackballed by the blue noses who run baseball even tho they've awarded Hall lockers to Commissioner Bud Selig and manager Tony LaRussa, both of whom thrived with likely full knowledge of the player steroid shenanigans during their baseball tenure.

Even this old codger who followed their steroid fueled stats would vote them in if I could. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, 'talent is talent.' No amount of junk could make a .250 hitter or a .500 pitcher into a Hall of Famer. Every inductee has skeletons, personal and professional, that could be used to deny entry should they come out. The Bambino was a boozing, skirt chasing lout for much of his career, while racist Ty Cobb would vault into the stands to beat up a black fan who annoyed him.    

How 'bout voting them in - time is running out on their getting the 75% vote total - and include a blip on their alleged drug use in their bronzed Hall bio. Let's not bury fabled reality. Let's celebrate unbelievably athletic wonders...warts and all. 

Full measure of man not reason to vote for Trump

I can understand how some uninformed, fearful, and yes, hateful voters could fall for narcissist lies and hate relentlessly served up by Donald Trump and still vote for him. Take for example, Daily Herald letter writer Charles Danyus, who excused Trump's utter debasement of our electoral process to galvanize voters, by saying it's not his prickly personality, but his courage and guts in truthtelling; likening Trump to the unfriendly guy they'd follow into combat. Danyus continues the war metaphor to claim our electorate was at war with the media, wealthy elite and political establishment; who he claims, caused their paychecks to shrink and their voices to be ignored. The solution according Danyus, was to vote for a wealthy elitist who shamelessly preached fear and loathing of the society to ensnare their vote. Elected on a fluke, losing the popular vote by 2.8 million, Trump immediately assembled a group of equally wealthy elitists determined to shrink Mr. Danyus' paycheck even further than he implies was reduced under Obama, those 14.3 million new jobs and a ceiling busting stock market notwithstanding. 

But what I can't understand is how Assistant Managing Editor Jim Slusher could read that nonsense and proclaim it one of the best letters of the year, calling it thoughtful. Two words that will never coincide except in the minds and the uninformed, the fearful, the haters, and yes, Daily Herald Assistant Managing Editor Jim Slusher, are Trump and thoughtful. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Putin passes on playing diplomatic expulsion poker

US unilateral sanctions on Russia for alleged hacking lasted a single day before Russia hinted at retaliation, matching Uncle Sam's ouster of 35 Russian diplomats with 35 Yankees, before Russia's Putin declared he wouldn't play the diplomatic tit for tat game. Get real. Nations hack like they spy and lie, relentlessly. But nobody matches US mendacity when it comes to regime change; hundreds of thousands dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. And yes, the next big target, Russia's Vladimir Putin. The warmongers and neocons infesting our government and media, having failed in every regime change venture, would love to add Russia as a failed regime change target. Does even 1% of Americans know Putin saved our bacon twice in three years; first by using diplomacy to derail imminent US bombing of Syria over likely false claims Syria used sarin gas on rebels, then facilitating the 5 plus 1 Iran nuclear agreement which likely prevented war with Iran. Putin's help preventing further regime change in those two countries is precisely why the neocons want him out as Russian leader, oblivious to the reality any successor may be less inclined to assist our 240 year old Uncle safely across the street, as Putin gallantly did. To the neocons, disfavored regimes are like be changed daily. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

$123 million degrades democracy, good governance in Illinois

With some ignominious competitors, such as 758 dead and thousands more shot in Chicago, the most ominous and disturbing Illinois story this year was Gov. Bruce Rauner surpassing a hundred million Washingtons in his anti democratic (that's small d democratic) campaign coffers. Counting the 27 million he dropped on his election, 46 million more to unseat Democrats in the mid-term, and the cool fifty just deposited in his re-election vault, Billionaire Bruce's personal piggy bank to debase Illinois hit 123 million this year. Toss in the millions from his Forbes branded billionaire buddies Ken Griffin, Eli Broad, Joe Mansueto, Tom Siebel and Nick Pritzker II, Rauner's assault on Illinois politics sours over $150 million. 

That must be shouted from the Sears Tower and the John Hancock. That must be placarded and held high at every event Rauner insults with his presence. It must be mentioned at every political gathering of decent folk seeking the most basic state services Rauner has defunded, delayed, denied to achieve his billionaire business agenda. Refusing to implement a state budget for two years is an assault on Illinoisans not capable of insulating themselves from that harm with obscene wealth. 

While Rauner shells out $123 million to buy Illinois, a working single mom can't come up with $123 to pay for child care services Rauner's cut; a student losing state aid can't come up with $123 to pay tuition; a ex-con can't come up with $123 to pay for rehabilitation services whose funding evaporated.

With Governor Rauner it's not 'After moi the deluge'; it's 'During moi the deluge'.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Roskam fights campus anti-Semitism but ignores that in Trump phenomenon

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) has proposed legislation, The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, designed to broaden the Dept. of Education's anti-Semitism criteria. Read a summary and it's likely the bill is part of the campaign to de-legitimize any criticism of Israel's massive settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land which is rapidly foreclosing the creation of a Palestinian state. College campuses are in the forefront of efforts to end these illegal and immoral settlements which inexorably spell doom for the basic humanitarian rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and justice for Palestinians under economic blockade in Gaza. The legislation includes vague, catch-all phrases like "harassment of Israel" and "requiring of Israel a behavior not demanded of any other nation" which are utilized to quash legitimate protest of undeniable inhumane treatment of Palestinians.

If Roskam were truly concerned about rising anti-Semitism, we'd expect him to focus his efforts on disturbing trends unleashed by hate wing of Donald Trump supporters, including speech by The Donald himself. Evidence? Trump stirred up the haters with traditional anti-Semitic code talk of 'international banks', 'global power structures' and 'those who control the levers of power'. This provocative and disturbing pattern flows directly from the anti-Semitic alt-right playbook of Trump advisers like Steve Bannon, who referred to Trump critics Bill Kristol as a 'renegade Jew' and Anne Applebaum as a 'Polish, Jewish, American elitist.' Roskam not only ignores such hate speech, he embraced Trump as a 'wild card' who deserved to be president. 

Could it be that Trump's unconditional support for the extreme right wing Israeli government's Palestinian policy caused Roskam to totally ignore the anti-Semitic strain in the Trump phenomenon? Illinois Sixth District voters should get informed....and make up their own minds. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

US still No. 1 in selling weapons of mass killing

One reason our stock portfolios keep rising is our war loving Uncle Sam keeps leading the world in arms sales. 2015 was another banner year with $40 billion racked up, fully half of the entire world's output. And $25 bill of that went to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries in the world whose state religion is Wahhabism and which fund its activities worldwide to the detriment of us all. Hey, so what if Saudi Arabia has its fingerprints all over the 911 attacks. They pay in cash.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Peabody Coal, black lung both up with Trump

Within days of his election the stock of bankrupt Peabody Coal shot up 50%. Guess what else shot up lately and likely to go even higher? Black lung disease. The NY Times reported today black lung has recently seen a dramatic increase of a new virulent strain called PMF (progressive massive fibrosis) caused by thinner coal streams more infectious coal dust. Of course the recent increase is not related to Trump's election, but his vow to put thousands of miners back breathing that dust bodes ill for the poor folk of Appalachia. What also looms for those afflicted? Loss of special help current sufferers receive from the Affordable Care Act Trump lambasted as a disaster and vows to repeal. All those Trump supporters in Appalachia didn't realize Trump's campaign motto was actually 'Make America gasp again.'

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Two cheers for US abstention on UN Israeli settlement vote

For the first time in 36 years the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israel's illegal, immoral and inhumane settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. The vote was 14-0 with the US abstaining rather than casting their customary veto to any UN measure attempting to hold Israel accountable for their continued subjugation of Palestinians seeking statehood. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid all the blame for the condemnation on President Obama claiming he "colluded against Israel." That would be like the President of South Africa condemning efforts to oppose black Apartheid as colluding against South Africa.
President Elect Trump, whose pick for Israeli Ambassador David Friedman, is to the right of Netanyahu, lobbied for a US veto, placing himself fully on the side of continued Israeli crimes against Palestinian humanity. Friedman argues these despicable settlements on Palestinian land are legal; the two state solution is dead; and the Israeli capitol should be moved to Jerusalem which is also claimed as their capital by the Palestinians, a move sure to create more havoc in the region.
The US said it "fully supported the language of the resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements", which should have prompted a 'yea' vote. That costs the US one cheer, but two cheers for the abstention are better than none.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

29 Days

Mr. President, though you've accomplished much in 1,432 days, there is much to do with your last 29 days. Here's a few to consider:
Close the American gulag at Guantanamo. While it doesn't reach the level of Nazi concentration camps or the Russian gulags under Stalin, it has been a inhumane blot on the American Story. Release the sixty remaining souls detained and tortured for years so you can leave the White House completing the promise you made 1,432 days ago.
Find a legal way to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. When the Republicans refused to give him a hearing, they abdicated their right to advise and consent.
Pardon every last soul languishing in prison merely for small amounts of drug possession. They are essentially political prisoners in the war on minorites, the poor, the throwaways of our society.
Make good on your false claim you ended the senseless, failed and criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bait and switch doesn't cut it; thousands of soldiers there refute your claims. Remove every soldier and contractor from those countries and work through the UN and the regional neighbors to reduce the violence we enable by our presence.
Renounce regime change as an element of American foreign policy. It failed in Afghanistan, failed in Iraq, failed in Libya, failed in Yemen, failed in Syria, and will fail in Iran and Russia, which many in the war party lust for. It causes senseless death, destruction and serves as a recruiting tool for individuals or groups seeking revenge against America.
Do what you can to protect the undocumented who drive up our stock portfolios with their productive work while being demonized.
Oppose every initiative you can that promotes self destructive fossil fuel exploration.
Take every measure you can to expand women's reproductive rights.
In 29 days, Mr. President, a soulless, obscene con man inexplicably takes your place vowing to unravel your good work to heal a fractured nation and expand the American Dream. Don't waste a single one of those 29 days; not a minute; not a second.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

State ID and 2 bucks buys ex-con cup of Joe

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner basked in the praise he received signing legislation requiring Illinois to issue a valid state ID to ex-cons leaving prison. According to Rauner "To combat recidivism we need to remove some of the hurdles offenders face when they are released from a detention facility and begin to re-integrate into society. This will help us end the cycle of recidivism and give former offenders more tools necessary to be successful and thrive and gets Illinois on step closer to safely reducing Illinois' prison population by 25 percent before 2025."
Bunk. Issuing a valid state ID to felons exiting prison is a simple administrative function that requires virtually no cost, no risk, no sweat. Lack of a state ID is a barely noticeable bump in road to a productive life for ex-cons. What Rauner's disingenuous rhetoric hides are the walls taller than Trump's he's building keeping ex-cons on the path to recidivism: lack of a state budget to fund the substantive services they critically require to stay straight. Illinois' social service agencies are north of a $100 million behind in state payments to serve their clients, including Illinois' burgeoning ex-felon roll. Youth unemployment help? Nyet. HIV services? Sorry Charlie. Affordable housing? Take a hike. Social and psychological counseling? The doctor is out.
We're tens days short of 18 months with no budget to help Illinois' one million plus needy, including ex-cons that Rauner imagines his state ID will magically rehabilitate. Rauner would gladly implement a budget if the ornery Democratic legislature would simply grant him term limits to rid him of those ornery opponents. To jeopardize the lives of thousands of ex-cons for a anti-democratic and cynical political agenda is a moral, if not an impeachable offence. Instead of touting an insincere gesture with words of self praise, Rauner should have told the truth at the state ID law signing: "Here's your state ID. This, and two bucks, will buy you a cup of Joe."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kirk's actions more damaging than his rhetoric

"I hope I'm remembered as a careful, bipartisan lawmaker.... someone who was in the end not judged by the heat of his rhetoric but by the effectiveness of his actions."

So stated outgoing Illinois Senator Mark Kirk summing up his 16 years in the House and Senate. I certainly don't judge Kirk by his post stoke verbal gaffes, the most notorious of which was his racially insensitive remark that white folks speed up when driving though black neighborhoods to avoid being shot. Though comments like those made me wince, it was his actions that revolted me. 

Kirk spent every one of his sixteen years voting trillions of dollars for our senseless and failed post 911 military ventures that got hundreds of thousands needlessly killed, including 7,000 GI's. Kirk became so obsessed about regime change in Iran he signed on with 46 other Republican senators to urge Iran to quash the 5 power nuclear deal which likely avoided another catastrophic Middle East war. He can never live down that arguably treasonous dagger at sensible, successful American diplomacy. 

Kirk went on TV to tout his miraculous post stroke recovery that allowed him to return to promoting crazed militarism in the Senate. Kirk's medical miracle was actually fueled by million dollar medical care courtesy of the US taxpayer. When asked whether the forty million shut out from simply normal health care should also be provided for, Kirk callously retorted "We can't afford it." Kirk was true to his belief, working endlessly to defeat, defund, discredit and dis the law that has likely saved 50,000 lives and $12 billion in medical cost to date. 

No, Senator Kirk. It's not what you say we'll remember. It's what you did.