Friday, November 16, 2018

Of gray wolves and criminal Yemen war

What do gray wolves and our criminal involvement in Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen have in common? Plenty. Over 15,000 dead, a million suffering cholera and millions more facing starvation from US bombs dropped from US planes flown by Saudi but refueled by Americans, makes the US partners on war crimes there. Wednesday, House Republicans used dirty tricks to quash a House vote on ending US involvement in Yemen without specific presidential request for Congress to approve continued US action there. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) authored House Concurrent Resolution 138 in September which would require such presidential action on Yemen. Khanna sought privileged status for H. Res. 138 which would force a vote Congressional warmongers were loathe to go on record opposing. GOP House leadership obliged, inserting a provision in obscure bill H.R. 6784, Manage our Wolves Act, stripping Kannna's critically needed peace initiative of its privileged status. That allowed the House GOP to prevent a vote on Khanna's measure. H.R. 6784, Manage our Wolves Act passed 201-187, stripping gray wolves from the List of Endangered Species, and stripping Khanna's peace measure from getting the vote it's due. Democrats opposed the bill 172 - 6, but Republicans prevailed, supporting it 115 - 5. Now gray wolves can be killed again by hunters....and Yemenis can continue being killed by US bombs. So much for unity between Democrats and Republicans to end our Yemen war involvement. And the vote tells us precisely which party loves criminal war.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Democrats, Republicans should unite to end Yemen war

Democrats and Republicans agree on virtually no domestic issues such as Medicare for all, combating environmental destruction, sensible gun legislation, reducing income inequality, free post secondary training, among others. But they can and should unite to end the criminal Yemen war. The Congress gave up war making powers specified in the Constitution 68 years ago when they allowed President Truman to intervene in the Korean civil war of 1950. Since then, Congress has abrogated its Constitutional role to declare war, allowing the president to intervene militarily at will. The result has been millions of unnecessary deaths, millions of refugees and trillions of squandered US treasure fighting senseless and failed military ventures. The new Congress will resurrect divided government with Democrats controlling the House while Republicans retain the Senate. Unlike the great divide on domestic issues, there is no Democratic-Republican, left-right, progressive-conservative fissure when it comes to supporting war crimes against the Yemeni people. What does exist is the inertia caused by not wanting to raise an issue ignored by the American people and the Congress. What does exist is fear of breaking the taboo that America never commits war crimes fighting unnecessary wars. What does exist is pure cowardice in the Halls of Congress. Ending this criminality and madness should be Job One on Day One when the 116th Congress convenes next January 3. Congressional veterans and rookies alike must coalesce to stop the slow American enabled genocide of Yemen. The current Congress simple lacks the will. Just yesterday the House voted to shut off all debate on ending US involvement in Yemen. Let's hope the new blood entering Congress January 3 will force the war enabling veterans there to give peace in Yemen a chance

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to US: 'You're wrong on Iran'

The IAEA's lastest report on the 2015 Five + 1 nuclear deal with Iran reaffirms Iran is fully in compliance with the agreement designed to guarantee Iran doesn't produce nuclear weapons. This is nothing new. Every IAEA report since the agreement was reached has verified Iran's compliance. Possibly Trump's biggest lie as president has been Iran's non-compliance prompting US abandonment of the deal six months ago. The latest IAEA report comes just a week after Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran in furtherance of his real goal in Iran: regime change to take out the arch rival of our Middle East allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. All other nations are thumbing their petro dollars at Trump by buying Iranian oil. It's simply another Forest Gump moment for Trump that 'stupid is as stupid does.'

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Neither Trump, nor Trib, can squeeze anything but failure from Iran sanctions

The Trib editorial, 'Trump can squeeze Iran to get nuclear deal 2.0" is so out of touch with the reality of US-Iran policy, it can only be described, just like the president, as delusional. Fifty, a hundred years from today, historians may well describe the 5+1 nuclear deal with Iran as the high mark of President Obama's foreign policy, being the most effective initiative to avoid a senseless and self destructive war. When clueless demagogue candidate Trump called it a horrible deal the Trib applauded, having never accepted detente with Iran as the sane foreign policy tenant it is. When Trump rescinded the deal, calling for new sanctions, the Trib signed on, oblivious to the fact the entire world save Iran's bitter rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel were horrified. Calling the many nations "scrambling to find workarounds to US economic sanctions...a desperation move", the Trib appears clueless Trump has given temporary waivers to China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Greece and Turkey to keep buying Iranian oil. That sure sounds more like desperation on the American side. It's not 'Iran's terror sponsoring leaders who are increasingly boxed in"... its the terror sponsoring American war party headed by Trump that has become isolated as it has become the laughingstock of the world. Check out Brown University's recent study, that estimates half a million needlessly killed by US Middle East wars since 911. Calling Trump "the deal-maker" when he's simply a reckless deal breaker is baffling. Breaking the Iran nuclear deal has not gone unnoticed by North Korea. Negotiations between the US and North Korea have ground to a halt. And after declaring victory from the meaningless photo op of Trump embracing the leader he called "rocket man" and urged China "to make that man disappear...very quickly", nothing. Trump is being played by Kim Jong-un and is now being played by our rapidly disappearing allies over Iran. The Trib closed there valentine to Trump's exercise in futility declaring the "2015 deal is dead." Au contraire, dear Trib Editorial Board. It's Trump's new and needless sanctions that are D.O.A.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Peace...the issue that dares not speak its name

For the 8th straight election since America embarked on perpetual criminal war around the planet, the peace issue was not on the ballot Tuesday. Not a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green or fringe party candidate dare raised the most important issue in our polity. They all realize perpetual war exists outside the political arena. They know there are no votes to be gained by talking peace when no one outside the less than 1% that fight these wars are directly impacted by them. They know that our economy depends on millions of jobs connected to funding the wars with hundreds of billions in weapons of civilian destruction (WCD) both used by our military and sold to our fellow warmongering nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The know that preaching peace is viewed with the suspicion of being disloyal to the venerated few we send to fight these wars. They ignore the staggering rates of suicide, homelessness, mental illness and yes, mass murder (Thousand Oaks?), perpetrated by the vets that come home damaged in mind, if not body. The first question I ask any congressman I happen across in my political work is "What are you doing to end America's senseless wars in the eight countries we know of?" The look I get is something like "Why are you wasting my time?" Alas, nothing will change till a groundswell of the 250 million American voters ask the same question.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Friday, November 09, 2018

Blue Wave turns DuPage Blue

It's been three days since Tuesday's election ,but it's still resonating in my mind, and I'm sure in most Milton Township Democrats as well. November 6, 2018, will long be remembered as the day we achieved the challenge laid down by local Democratic leadership 14 years earlier to turn DuPage Blue. With several close races still undecided, Democratic gains in Milton and DuPage were so dramatic both the media and the state Republican party have acknowledged the seismic shift in DuPage from overwhelmingly Republican to majority Democratic. Democratic gains here were top to bottom on the ballot from governor through Congress, the state legislature, the county board and the judiciary. The Blue Wave we hoped and worked so hard for spilled over into neighboring Republican majority counties Will , Kane, and Lake as well. Many reasons contributed to the Dupage Blue Wave. Trump? Yes. Changing demographics? Yes. But both of these would have been for naught if we hadn't fielded the largest and best candidate field ever in DuPage. Once set, countless volunteers stepped up to work passionately for over a year to end one party rule in DuPage, allowing many new Democrats to serve and promote the values we cherish. Time to kick back and celebrate, as Milton Dems will be doing this Thursday at our Candidate Celebratory Fest at Cozymels. For 14 years some said it could not be done. On November 6 we did it. And in two years, with your support, we'll do it again.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Bard on Roskam, Hultgren defeats

The Bard on Roskam, Hultgren defeats
The Trib editorial 'Was Trump the undoing of Roskam and Hultgren?' tries to lay the blame for the ouster of these two previously bullet proof Republican warhorses in west suburban Chicago to Donald Trump instead of the real cause. What might that be? Let us count the ways. Both oppose reproductive choice for women. Both take money from the gun lobby while America's shooting gallery gets bloodier. Both deny global warming which most normal folks understand poses near imminent threat to our survival. Both oppose providing what every industrial country on the planet provides their citizenry; decent health care. Both offer nothing to solve the GOP manufactured immigration crisis. Both support endless tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, greatly expanding the worst income inequality in US history. Both ignore the impending deficit explosion to fund those tax cuts for the rich after previously using the deficit to oppose any help to the needy.
It took 12 years of Roskam and 8 years of Hultgren espousing these views to the detriment of their constituents for those constituents to rise up and boot them out. Yes, Trump was a factor, but nowhere near the factor of two shills for regressive Republican policies that prevented them from even engaging with their voters in a public forum. The Trib, which is in lockstep with those regressive policies, is incapable in admitting the truth of those bankrupt polices.
If Hultgren and Roskam were dissect their similar fate I can imagine this quote, paraphrasing the Bard, if they were honest:
"The fault, dear Roskam, is not in our Trump,
But in ourselves, that we lost Tuesday."

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

A good night; an historic night

The Blue Wave which swept the Trump Republicans from US House leadership washed ashore in DuPage County and Milton Township as well. Three Milton Democrats won elective office: Mary Ozog was top votegetter in a 4 candidate field for County Board 4, most of which is in Milton. Linda Davenport won the first DuPage County Circuit Court Judgeship in DuPage history. Jean Kaczmarek capped a decade of good citizenship as watchdog over County Clerk and Election Commission shenanigans by decisively winning the County Clerk post. In DuPage, five and possibly a sixth Democrat will join formerly sole County Board Democrat Liz Chaplin who won her re-election bid in a walk. On a federal level the Blue Wave swept two of the most regressive congressmen ever in DuPage from office: Peter Roskam in the Sixth and Randy Hultgren in the 14th. DuPage voted decisively for Sean Casten over Roskam 54% to 46%, while Lauren Underwood trounced Hultgren 63% to 37% in the small slice of DuPage in the 14th. Every statewide Democratic candidate won DuPage, In Milton and York Townships Terra Costa Howard, dedicated to serving ALL her constituents, ousted religious zealot Peter Breen from the state house in the Illinois 48th District.
Excellent candidates and thousands of volunteers made this possible. Much difficult work ahead....but today is a day to kick back and celebrate. Onward.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

New Iran sanctions simply protecting our biggest war crimes ally

Most of the industrialized world is repulsed by our draconian new sanctions imposed Nov. 4 on Iran. Intended to devastate the Iranian economy and cause regime change there, they have nothing to do with Iran's adherence to the 2015 5+1 nuclear agreement. They have everything to do with destroying Iran as a rival to our biggest buyer of weapons of civilian destruction (WCD) and Yemen war crime ally Saudi Arabia. Let's see...the Saudis chop up a pesky journalist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey while dropping thousands of US bombs from US made warplanes on the hapless Yemenis, causing death, disease and starvation to millions. What does Trump do? He says the hundreds of thousands of US jobs the Saudis create buying our death stuff is worth it. Then, he pivots to our real bete noir Iran, ratcheting up new self destructive sanctions the rest of the world will ignore or work around to keep Iranian oil flowing. One tactic will be to move away from the US dollar as the major currency of world commerce.
While Trump is busy imposing sanctions on all of his imaginary enemies round he world, we need to impose our sanctions against the madness of his administration with our vote.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Senseless death must galvanize opposition to Afghan war

Major Brent Taylor, 39 year old mayor of North Ogden, UT, was murdered in Afghanistan Saturday by one of the Afghan commandos he was training. Taylor, father of seven, died there as a member of the Army National Guard. According to Utah governor Gary Herbert, colleagues of Taylor discouraged him from volunteering for a fourth tour saying "You've done enough". But Taylor "thought he could do some good in Afghanistan, to help the people be liberated."
Bunk. Taylor was simply cannon fodder for the US war party which wants America to continue its senseless, criminal war in Afghanistan forever to bring endless riches, power and glory to the Military-Industrial Complex. Insider attacks by Afghan forces are so common that the Pentagon discourages contact with Afghan forces. But since our primary mission there is training, such dangerous contact is unavoidable. The Afghans want to be liberated all right...from America's criminal intervention. That is why they try, and sometime succeed, in killing our trainers. Taylor is US coalition death number 3,509. Afghan deaths are in the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands. Squandered treasure may exceed a $trillion. We can honor Taylor's misguided service to the war party by demanding our congressmen and president end our Afghan mis-adventure. We pay for it...we can stop it.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Senseless death must galvanize opposition to Afghan war

Major Brent Taylor, 39 year old mayor of North Ogden, UT, was murdered in Afghanistan Saturday by one of the Afghan commandos he was training. Taylor, father of seven, died there as a member of the Army National Guard. According to Utah governor Gary Herbert, colleagues of Taylor discouraged him from volunteering for a fourth tour saying "You've done enough". But Taylor "thought he could do some good in Afghanistan, to help the people be liberated."
Bunk. Taylor was simply cannon fodder for the US war party which wants America to continue its senseless, criminal war in Afghanistan forever to bring endless riches, power and glory to the Military-Industrial Complex. Insider attacks by Afghan forces are so common that the Pentagon discourages contact with Afghan forces. But since our primary mission there is training, such dangerous contact is unavoidable. The Afghans want to be liberated all right...from America's criminal intervention. That is why they try, and sometime succeed, in killing our trainers. Taylor is US coalition death number 3,509. Afghan deaths are in the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands. Squandered treasure may exceed a $trillion. We can honor Taylor's misguided service to the war party by demanding our congressmen and president end our Afghan mis-adventure. We pay for it...we can stop it.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

The trail grows colder indeed

Once again the Trib editorializes over the ongoing slaughter of innocents on Chicago's south and west sides without a single word of value in alleviating the problem. In 'Three months after Chicago's most violent weekend, the trail grows colder', all the Trib can muster is a wish that community-police relations will improve and that more of the mountain of unsolved murders and woundings can be cleared. Those obvious items are pure fantasy in the real world of societal breakdown in those areas. That breakdown has existed throughout the existence of these essentially third word swaths of poverty and despair established by institutional racism which may actually be getting worse instead of better. Only in the last decade or so has an avalanche of guns made those mean streets significantly meaner...and bloodier. Increased violence and low clearance rates have little to do with the police department which essentially functions as the clean up crew for the bodies piling up every day. A knowledgeable ten year could offer better solutions than the Trib to these intractable problems.
Instead of endless pontificating about something the Trib is not serious in solving, how about demanding a sea change in the manufacture, sale and distribution of hundreds of thousands of guns into the Chicago area. On this issue the Trib has done nothing. How about dropping support for regressive conservative principles that focus exclusively on tax cuts for the rich funded by cuts in essential services desperately needed in Chicago's poorest communities. Their residents suffered for two plus years without a state budget to meet their needs and the Trib endorsed the heartless governor who created that disaster for a second term. How about lobbying the state and federal government for massive investment in education, health care, infrastructure and new businesses on the south and west sides to bring down the staggering unemployment rates which breed crime, gang activity and hopelessness. The Trib is AWOL on these substantive solutions. You could have backed a presidential candidate in 2016 who did focus on these solutions, but chose instead to demonize her, encouraging your readers to squander their vote on an bizarre libertarian candidate.
The editorial ends with this unhelpful lament: "Another Friday night approaches. Soon police radios will crackle with reports of gunfire. More victims — many of them innocent — will fall. Chicago’s carnage, and its shame, will grow." The Trib knows very well Chicago cannot solve this slaughter. It's not just Chicago's shame, it's that of the Illinois and the federal governments as well. Indeed, by offering virtually nothing of value, it's also the shame of the Tribune.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

A president shunned

We witnessed an unprecedented event Tuesday: the shunning of a president at a critical moment requiring presidential leadership. President Trump went ahead with his planned visit to Pittsburgh to mourn with victims and political leaders as funerals began for the 11 gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue three days earlier. Many called for Trump to cancel his visit citing his three and a half years of endless inflammatory rhetoric against individuals, groups and institutions that began his presidential campaign in June 2015. They charge his posturing has coarsened America's political culture, possibly even inciting the spike in threats and actual violence against the targets of Trump's verbal venom.

Steve Halle, nephew of murder victim Daniel Stein, rejected Trump's offer to meet with the Stein family saying Trump's comments that an armed guard would have prevented the tragedy "immediately" were unhelpful and disrespectful of the community. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called on Trump to cancel his visit and wouldn't meet with him when he didn't. None of the 4 GOP and Democratic House and Senate leaders would join Trump in Pittsburgh. Ditto for Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Richard Fitzgerald, who leaves near the Synagogue. Immediately following his visit Trump renewed his verbal war against the media as the cause of current US political extremism; then changed channels on the massacre by touting his bizarre and unconstitutional plan to end birthright citizenship.

The shunning of a president at such an important event may never have occurred before in US history, but with the boundless hate inspiring rhetoric which appears wired into Trump's character, it is not likely to be the last.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No death for Bowers in Pittsburgh massacre

Within hours of his capture after killing 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue, calls rang out for the execution of alleged mass killer Robert Bowers. The president was first to chime in, forgetting he still owes the Central Park Five an apology for his public calls for their execution for the attack on the Central Park jogger back in 1989, a crime they were exonerated for after serving 14 unjust years in prison. While Bowers most likely will not be exonerated for the current crime, he does not deserve death regardless of his guilt or its heinousness. Why? No murder is justified whether carried out by an evil or mentally deranged person or by the government in the guise of achieving 'justice'. It's simply state sponsored murder to feed the bloodlust of a segment of the population which demands it. It's doesn't bring back the dead. It doesn't discourage other disturbed folks bent on murder. It doesn't elevate our society; it debases it by legitimizing murder as an acceptable tool of social policy. One hundred forty-one countries understand that and have abolished capital punishment in law or practice. The US is one of only 54 countries engaging in this barbaric practice, putting us in company of Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and many more with atrocious human rights resumes. The United States can and must join with the great majority of nations to end capital punishment on Earth. Let's not make Robert Bowers murder victim number 12 in the the latest US gun massacre.

US foreign policy elite still blind to Saudi - US war crimes in Yemen

In 830 words, Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, and James Lindsey, senior vice president at the Council of Foreign Relations, fail to utter what the Saudis and the US are doing in Yemen; committing war crimes. Their op ed 'How Trump should, but probably won't, confront Saudi Arabia' in Monday's Trib Perspective, agonizes over Trump's bromance with Saudi strongman Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which explains Trump's tepid response to the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi August 2. Daalder and Lindsay's prescription for the Khashoggi murder and apparent cover up calls for a UN investigation of the murder, a suspension of arms sales till that investigation is completed, and last, the US ' to pressure Riyadh to end its indiscriminate bombing and brutal war in Yemen'.  Without context one might surmise the Saudi's criminal war against Yemen exits outside of direct US encouragement and massive support of US bombs, planes, midair refueling of Saudi bombers and critical intelligence. Those actions constitute war crimes since they're directly enabling criminal war that has killed over 15,000 civilians and inflicted cholera and starvation upon millions more. Daalder and Lindsey avoid the 'war crimes' tag because they, as well as the entire US foreign policy establishment, support the US proxy war the Saudis are fighting against Iran, the real target of the ongoing Saudi genocide in Yemen. By publishing the Daalder-Lindsay puff peace hinting around but not confronting US aggression against Yemen, the Trib buys into the fiction that the US is innocent of war crimes there which destroys every vestige of America's moral standing in the world.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Deficit time bomb...Roskam's cruel legacy to the Illinois Sixth

Coasting to 5 re-election victories as my congressman in the Illinois Sixth by twenty point margins, Peter Roskam entered his sixth term with two electoral anchors weighing down his incumbency. First was his wholehearted embrace of the vulgarian Trump, whose lies, bullying, calls to his most fevered supporters for violence against rally protesters repulsed much of his decent voting base. Second was a Book of Accomplishments with all blank pages, be it opposing health care for the needy, women’s reproductive rights, decent pay and job opportunities for all, establishing a fair immigration system, sensible gun control. Possibly the most egregious blank page bore the title ‘Environmental Sanity.’
But the beginning of 2017 gave Roskam an opening. As Chair of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy, he shepherded the signature GOP tax cut for the rich through Congress, leaving but a pittance for the majority of middle class voters Roskam must have for re-election. His cynical campaign ads imply the dubious claim of $1,400 in tax relief to every middle class family, while ignoring the impending deficit time bomb that’s already here and likely to impede rather than stimulate economic growth. That ignores every fiscal fiber in Roskam’s bones that he’s preached to the Sixth when opposing critically needed infrastructure, medical assistance to the poor, education and every other important service needed to improve our society. Upon passage of the Jobs and Tax Cut Act, Roskam’s GOP predicted a $440 billion deficit in Fiscal '18, down $226 billion from Fiscal ’17. Instead it went up $113 to $779 billion, a 17% increase. But hang on…Fiscal ’19’s deficit is now pegged at $981 billion, a whopping 27% increase. What Roskam has really accomplished is decoupling economic growth from lower deficits such as we had under the last two Democratic administrations. Should the slightest economic downturn occur, the deficit could soar to uncontrollable levels never before experienced.

Seeking a seventh term, Peter Roskam has filled in but one page in his Book of Accomplishments. Ominously, it’s written in red ink.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

2,000 soldiers in Syria threatens larger war

Ask Uncle Sam why he maintains 2,000 soldiers in Syria, in spite of the nearly complete government victory in the Syrian civil war, and you'll get the one word answer ISIS. That's the magic word for our war mongering Uncle who compulsively sends over bomb dropping drones or stations actual troops in any country he deems ripe for US regime change. That is the primary reason we're in Syria. Just ask former rulers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Syria, like those three, has nothing to do with US national interests, unless you consider funneling unlimited wealth and power to the Military Complex as representing US national interests. Syria was next in line for regime change after we conquered Iraq within weeks, with Iran earmarked to become the last prize in a regime change trifecta. Though the Iraq insurgency stopped the US cold within months, the dream of knocking off Syria and Iran still burns brightly in the White House and Pentagon.

It's one thing to squander our treasure on senseless and always failed military ventures when we could be rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, combating climate change and giving decent health care to all. But this insanity could possibly draw us into war with Iran, even Russia, who maintain military forces in Syria to prevent instability in their neighborhood. We may not like their presence there, but it impacts our national security interests not a whit. Violating Syria's sovereignty is unconstitutional unless Congress declares war, which it never will. So each president pounds his chest and engages in its military adventures, the Constitution and the Congress be damned.

Trump talked military retrenchment in the campaign but was schooled by the entrenched war party upon entering the Oval Office. Hiring John 'Bonkers' Bolden, National Security Adviser, James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, Defense Secretary and military hawk MIke Pompeo, Secretary of State sets the table for continued US perpetual war. When it comes to foreign policy, practitioners of peace need not apply.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Most valuable workers not polled in Fortune survey touting Hyatt

Michael D'Angelo, Hyatt Hotels VP for Labor Relations, issued a patronizing, insulting public statement of self congratulation following Hyatt's new 5 year contract with striking cooks, servers, housekeepers and doormen. These folks, arguably the most important workers hotel guests encounter at Hyatt, have been cruelly denied heath insurance coverage every winter when these 'full time' employees get dumped from the payroll due to reduced business. 6,000 of these workers struck a month ago to get what every employee is entitled to for a decent life...year round health care. Hyatt's main competitors Marriott and Hilton already settled but Hyatt held out. Why? Maybe D'Angelo was worried a fair settlement would put a crimp in the annual $26 million in salaries to the top 5 Hyatt Big Wigs. But a month of business pain and public embarrassment was enough. Hyatt capitulated, giving their workers what they should have gotten on day one of their Hyatt employment.
D'Angelo's touted Hyatt's new 5-year collective bargaining agreement with the hotel workers union stating Hyatt will continue to offer its workers  competitive wages and benefits, omitting they had to strike, losing a month's pay, just to get year round health care. D'Angelo than boasted to these beleaguered workers that Hyatt ranks in the Top 10 on Fortune magazine’s most recent 'Best Companies To Work For' list.”
I'm guessing these valued cooks, servers, housekeepers and doormen weren't included in Fortune's survey.

Unhelpful defense comments mar just Van Dyke verdict

The just verdict in the Jason Van Dyke murder trial should begin a time of healing for all Chicagoland. Prosecutor Joseph McMahon solemnly remarked "the verdict was gratifying", adding "it sends a message of hope that our justice system works for everyone." Whatever healing occurs won't result from defense attorney Daniel Herbert who called the verdict "a sad day for law enforcement. I can only imagine if police officers think they can never fire against someone who is acting the way Laquan McDonald had whey they're 12 feet away from him." What Herbert laments is precisely what every one of our million cops must think when encountering  another Laquan McDonald.  Alas, Herbert's unhelpful words were topped by Illinois Fraternal Order of Police leader Chris Southwood who said "This is a day I never thought I'd see in America where 12 ordinary citizens were duped into saving the asses of self serving politicians at the expense of a dedicated public servant.

Herbert and Southwood's comments only serve to inflame tensions over inner city policing and must be called out and resisted by all of us of good will.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Trump mandates $16/hr minimum wage for Mexico; $7.25/hr just fine for US

Some of my progressive friends are touting Trump's NAFTA revision because of its 2023 mandate for 40% of components of all cars in NAFTA countries be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. As Tribune pundit Steve Chapman points out, that move will largely punish Mexico, enticing auto makers to abandon Mexico manufacturing with its low wage rates. If Trump's GOP had any interest whatsoever in minimum wage workers' welfare, they would cease their relentless opposition to any increase in the US minimum wage of $7.25/hr, a slave wage that has not increased in over 9 years. As with any imagined goody Trump trumpets, there is not only no beef...there's no bun and no ketchup. 

Thursday, October 04, 2018

When did bulging eyes become a lethal weapon?

I listened to police officer Jason Van Dyke's live testimony with dismay in his trial for murder of Laquan McDonald. Just before shooting, Van Dyke offered this bizarre explanation:
“His [Laquan’s] face had no expression, his eyes were just bugging out of his head. He had these huge white eyes, just staring right through me.” Having remarked about McDonald's bulging white eyes several times before he shot him 16 times, it was clear Van Dyke was trying to invoke sympathy, even justification for his conduct.
Do you suppose instructors at the police academy warn all new recruits to beware the 'bulging white eyes'?

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The moves one makes

The apparent moves Brett Kavanaugh made against unwilling women decades ago are rightly being scrutinized by the Senate, the public and now the FBI. But it's the more recent Kavanaugh moves that may decide the fate of his Supreme Court confirmation. Reports that he may have moved to line up friendly faces to discredit the earlier moves before those earlier moves were made public may yet result in one final move: to withdraw his nomination.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Other big story is invisible

Rarely have I seen an important story grab hold of the public like the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Many I encounter bring up the fateful confrontation between Brett and his accuser without being prompted. "Did you see that hearing" they exclaim. As important as Kavanaugh's Supreme Court appointment is, there is another big story I lament gets nary a word of coverage in the media or from the lips of people I encounter. It concerns our criminal war of near genocide we're conducting against Iran inside the decimated country of Yemen, fought by our Saudi and Gulf State proxies. If that sounds incredibly is. Suffice to say the Saudis intervened in the Yemen civil war in March, 2015, with our complete support, to deflect growing Iranian influence in the region. Over 15,000 dead, a million suffering cholera, and millions more displaced or starving has had virtually no impact on Congress which has sole war making power short of handing it off to the president; in this case first Obama, now Trump. But the carnage has gotten so grotesque that 24 House members, including 2 from America's war obsessed Republican party, have introduced a bi-partisan bill under the War Powers Act to end US war crimes in Yemen. Rep. Ro Khanna of California introduced a similar bill last year that war mongering House leaders wouldn't even bring to a vote. Khanna's 24 member coalition will demand a vote this time round. Why? Casualties have skyrocketed 164% since June with 500 killed in a 9 day period, including 51 kids in a school bus hit by a US bomb dropped by a Saudi plane refueled by Uncle Sam. When the other 411 House members get to vote to end these atrocities, they should contemplate how they might feel about another country dropping a bomb on a school bus carrying their kids or grandkids. Don't count on them to do that. The eventual vote will be a lop sided and ringing endorsement of perpetual war, America's most profitable export, and its plague on humanity.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ask the people of North Lawndale...about Bruce Rauner

Gov. Rauner habitually and falsely disparages his Democratic opponents to explain away his governing failures. But when challenged during a Crain's Chicago Business interview to explain substantial Chicago job growth under Mayor Emanuel, Rauner added the entire African American community to his false disparagement. His answer, "Ask the people of North Lawndale about Chicago job growth" was breathtaking in its insensitivity to the community most adversely impacted by his withholding a state budget for two and a half years. That act of refusing to implement the most important element of state governance; funding critical social, health, education and economic growth services, had devastating effect on Chicago's poorest communities. Jobs lost, day care and health services shuttered, school resources withdrawn all resulted from a war of spite Rauner initiated to extort anti union, anti worker provisions from the Democratic legislature that had no chance of being passed. Rauner's comment implied that only he was concerned about the lack of job growth in minority communities, when his conduct exacerbated the economic despair for the folks ten years of prosperity has bypassed. Instead of demeaning Democratic governance, Gov. Rauner should visit North Lawndale and ask the people about supporting his re election. The silence will be deafening.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Calling Colin Kaepernick

Confess I'm not a huge football fan, though I played a lot of sandlot ball as a kid. Just a few games in H.S. as a 125 lb. defensive back cured me of any interest in further play so I got out before serious damage to body and brain. Nearly 60 years on that remains a good decision. 

But it does seem to me the Bears could use a real QB like unemployed Colin Kaepernick instead of another in the long line of potential QB's who never pan out. 72 TD passes with only 30 picks in 69 games sure beats 10 TD's, just one more than interceptions, in 15 games. Besides, Kaepernick embodies the best in character with his social activism that should make all of us proud every time he takes the field, regardless the outcome of what is essentially a meaningless human activity. 

With Kaepernick the Bears may still not finish first in game standings. But by ending the foolish, demeaning 3 year boycott of Kaepernick's services, they would be tops on the leaderboard of decency and good sportsmanship.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

US bomb maker CEOs' millions drenched in blood

​Crime may not pay, but making bombs for US and Saudi war crimes in Yemen sure does. Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy made a cool $24.8 million last year delivering hot bombs for the Saudi genocidal war against neighboring Yemenis. Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson's $20.2 million proved that war profiteering isn't just a man's game. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg's $18.5 million didn't just derive from building airliners. When one makes that kind of dough getting thousands of innocents obliterated all over the Middle East and Africa, it would be nice if these folks see the result of their handiwork against humanity first hand. How bout requiring these unholy three to visit Yemen after the next bombing of a school bus, a church or a residence. We could issue them plastic bags and sponges to pick up the civilian body parts and wash away the blood. One thing that can never be washed away is the blood on their obscene millions...and the blood on their souls.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2 cents of advice for the Pope

Though the Catholic Church is worth billions, I'm offering two cents of advise to the Pope ahead of his pow wow with church leaders, five long months from now, on how to deal with the century's long clerical sexual abuse scandal. For what it's worth your Excellency, here goes:

  1. End celibacy for the clergy forthwith
  2. Identify and fire every priest, Bishop or Cardinal who covered up or otherwise enabled clerical sexual abuse of children
  3. Resign the Papacy

The solution, one might say, is as simple as One, Two, Three. Come to think of it, my two cents worth might save another $billion in settlements. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Roskam's lasting legacy? Fiscal irresponsibility

It's a tough call but fiscal irresponsibility will be Congressman Peter Roskam's lasting legacy to the Illinois Sixth District. Whether he's retired this November or goes on to another 12 years or more, the financial ruin he helped author last year in his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may well outlive his tenure, however long. In championing that bill Roskam abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility he raised every time the Obamaadministration sought to spend wisely on infrastructure, health care, education and environmental sanity. Roskam's imprint is all over the tax bill that has already added $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, with a 21% deficit increase already in fiscal 2018 versus fiscal 2017. But instead of investing in America, Roskam's foolish deficits are investing in the wealthyist Americans who form his base, with a few dollars reserved for the middle class voters he needs for re-election. Since he has nothing else to run on, Roskam has decided to double down on the 2017 bill by supporting the next version of irresponsible tax cuts known affectionately as 'Tax Reform 2.0' that will make permanent all of last year's tax cuts as well as the $10,000 cap on property taxes that was inserted merely to punish voters in primarily blue states such as Illinois. Roskam's reforms depend on a pyramid scheme of endless prosperity to prevent a financial collapse. Even a mild recession will cause a dramatic crisis which Roskam and company will use to cut the social safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Peter Roskam has no record to run on regarding the environment, gun safety, education, health care, sane business regulation; indeed every issue of concern in the Sixth. He's become a One Trick Pony handing out a pittance in tax cuts to workers, while enriching the already rich to obscene levels. That is not a conservative agenda for America's wealth and resources. It is a radical roadmap to economic ruin.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Moonves legacy: Trump

There won't be any GofundMe event to help out Les Moonves, ousted as head of CBS after 12 women came forward with horrific tales of his forced oral sex, gropings and career retaliation for their resisting. At $700 million and working to salvage a $120 million severance package pending the CBS investigation into the women's charges, Moonves can easily afford the $20 million he's promised the Just Say No movement if he gets it.
The scandalous news brings to mind the other scandal on the Moonves resume, this one political. Moonves will forever to saddled with the tag of chief enabler of the 2015-6 Trump phenomenon of free publicity CBS and the rest of mainstream media showered on Trump as his demagogic ravings of racism, xenophobia, insult mocking and lies propelled him to the White House. CBS and the rest of the entertainment titans masquerading as worthwhile news organizations, broke into their talking heads' programs to follow every word of fear and loathing Trump bleated at his hate rallies, knowing the ratings cash register was cha-chinging. While all followed suit, CBS gets the prize for Trump enabling with this Moonves quote from February, 2016, that will forever dishonor their coverage of 2016 election:
"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS. Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? The money's rolling in and this is fun. This is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Your place in this election is a good thing.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Catholic Church has torn families apart - in more ways than one

Eighty years ago my pretty young aunt fell in love with her Prince Charming; a tall, handsome, charismatic fellow on Chicago's North Side. Alas, they couldn't follow a conventional route to happily ever after because of one roadblock; Prince Charming was a priest at her local parish. So they did as other star crossed lovers in those days; eloped. They tied the knot in DuBuque, IA, fled west to Denver, where he apparently partnered with another fellow in a gas station. Then it was off to La La Land where the 1940 census lists him as a hat salesman, while my aunt aunt was unemployed, expecting her child, my cousin, in December. Apparently, the child and his 34 years kept him out of WWII which found him working in a dairy. Around 1944, consumed by guilt at leaving the priesthood, he petitioned the Chicago Archdiocese to be re-instated. Sympathetic to his plight the Church advised no such consideration could be given while married so a divorce was obtained in 1946. Consultation with the Vatican followed and my former uncle was granted provisional status as a priest, having to serve a year's probation before re-instatement. Alas, during that year he became ill with cancer. Two weeks after being fully restored to the priesthood, he died. 

When I hear endless stories of priestly sexual abuse of children, which I firmly believe are rooted in the bizarre, destructive, unconscionable centuries long practice of celibacy, I ponder my own family's experience of three ruined lives and an extended family deprived of knowing and caring for them because of it.