Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Politics too ugly"? Sandack has nothing on Obama

Former state rep Ron Sandack (IL-81) offered the most bizarre reason ever for an abrupt resignation from state office when he said last week his decision was prompted by 'cyber security issues'. Then he offered that his Twitter and Facebook accounts had been hacked and he received uncomplimentary robocalls; again raising mystifying incredulity. In his third swinging strike he proclaimed:
“I wasn't looking forward to an ugly general election as it were; this additional stuff added undue pressure. It made my family uneasy and made me re-evaluate my priorities. Politics has gotten too ugly. I don't need it, and my family doesn't deserve it.”
Memo to Rep. Sandack: You have no idea what 'too ugly' is. Go ask President Obama about 'too ugly.' He'll educate you how it feels to have the N Word hurled at you and your family; be labeled a monkey, a Muslim, an un-American, a traitor, a foreign born illegitimate president. That's on a good day. He'll tell you that when you have the back of 40,000,000 uninsured poor, you have to get past 'too ugly'. He'll tell you that promoting wage parity for women, achieving livable wages for the working impoverished, preventing immigrant families being busted up by draconian immigration policies brings a bushel of 'too ugy' served up with relish every day by your party.
We'll probably never know why you up and quit. Maybe it's simply that having the back of a heartless governor who decimates the social safety net to promote an anti people agenda which has no chance of succeeding, is not very much fun.
Don't let the door hit your back as you turn your back on public service. There are folks out there willing to eat bowlfuls of 'too ugly' to help their constituents achieve a decent life.

Cyber security, endless talk, haunt Illinois House 81st

State Rep Ron Sandack (IL-81) jumped off the fast rising 'up' escalator in Illinois Republican politics, resigning from his Illinois house seat because he'd been trolled on social media and received hurtful robocalls. Oh, my goodness gracious, how nasty can politics get? Yet, Sandack relished social media, using Facebook and Twitter extensively to politic, and even appearing on cable show Comedy Central to promote Governor Rauner's anti union, anti teacher, anti social services 'turnaround' agenda, spiraling Illinois' needy into the ground like corkscrews. Sure seems Sandack has been hoisted upon his own petard.
As chattering as Sandack was, look out if he's replaced by GOP wonder boy David S. Olsen, the 27 year old Downers Grove resident who's never met a public job, or a speech opportunity he didn't love. Olsen, who works full time as ethics and compliance analyst for BP Corporation, moonlights as Vice Chair and board member at College of DuPage, Downers Grove Village Commissioner, and Vice Chairman of the Downers Grove Republicans. That sure gives Olsen plenty of talking ops...and talk he does, endlessly, in stream of consciousness rambling that would put the worst insomniac to sleep in seconds. Just attend a COD Board meeting to catch Olsen's shtick. Audience folks look at each other and ask, "What is he talking about." Olsen can't wait to replace Sandack on the GOP ticket, even promising to resign his Downers Grove commissioner post. His fellow commissions will now be able to get a word in edgewise at village meetings. Illinois House members won't be so fortunate.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trump's NATO lunacy masks NATO's threat of nuclear war

Can you imagine this statement from Brit Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on September 2, 1939:
"We've considered sending aid to the beleaguered Poles under attack by Nazi Germany, but due to Poland's tardiness in paying for the common defense, we've decided to just wish them luck".
That scenario is precisely the logic employed by Donald Trump in stating NATO countries under Russian attack would get aid depending on their accounts payable status. But Trump's cluelessness about NATO distracts us from confronting the real issue how NATO endangers world peace by needlessly inflaming tensions with Russia.
Such tensions have been relentless for nearly 20 years now when the US and NATO allies reneged on their 1990 pledge not to expand NATO into Warsaw Pact countries after the Soviet Union collapsed. Since then, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Albania have all all been gobbed up by the NATO Pacman. Seven years later NATO reneged again, this time injecting military forces in former Warsaw Pact countries. Hey, if it involves Russia, any agreement to promote peace can be ignored if it furthers US re-igniting the Cold War. Just last month, NATO positioned 4 battalions in Romania and Poland, claiming they did not constitute 'significant' forces proscribed by NATO guidelines. In 1999, NATO unnecessarily intervened in the Yugoslav civil war resulting in carving out the new country of Kosovo from Serbian rule. In 2002, the George W. Bush administration withdrew from the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty, in place since 1972, resulting in recent deployment of anti ballistic missile systems on Russia's doorstep in Poland and Romania. The Obama administration further exacerbated Russian fears of encirclement by greenlighting the February, 2014, coup in Ukraine, which tossed the duly elected Ukraine president simply because he did business with Russia. Another expressed reason for supporting the coup was to encourage regime change against Putin in Russia. No wonder 78% of Crimean legislators and 95% of Crimean voters opted to reunite with Russia. To top off US and NATO saber rattling, Obama is championing a $1 trillion upgrade of America's 7,000 nukes, an insane action that belies his calls to eliminate nuclear proliferation and stockpiles.
Russian President Putin has saved Americas' bacon in the Middle East twice recently; helping broker the Iran Nuclear Agreement and assisting the US to resolve the Syrian crisis without resort to war. Yet NATO pays back Russia with endless provocation which could easily spin out of control into nuclear war. Such a powder keg is no place to install a foreign policy imbecile like Trump who views even the life and death matters of foreign policy tripwires as a version of Monopoly where the player with the most money at the bell wins. Under Trump, that bell could easily be nuclear Armageddon.a

Rauner apology tour - Round 2

About the time I was calling out Gov. Rauner yesterday for using a stand in to make an insincere, excuse laden apology to Chicago teachers and principles for calling them incompetent and virtually illiterate, Rauner was publicly issuing a personal apology... albeit at the point of a virtual gun. Six teachers ambushed Rauner as he did a photo op signing of two educational bills at the Thompson Center yesterday. As Rauner beamed for the cameras, a teacher piped up
“Gov. Rauner, we are teachers and we are not illiterate. We challenge you to a readout — books and literature on educational justice and civil rights,” “Will you accept that challenge? It's important that we educate you about what we really do every day, 'cause obviously you don't really know.”
One by one other teachers chimed in and were led away. Rauner then ignored a reporter who requested he respond to the protesters. When the Q & A started, Rauner finally capitulated and offered:
“The remark I made in that email five years ago was both inaccurate and intemperate,” and I apologize. I am a strong advocate for teachers. Always have been, always will be.”
Let's see. It took six teachers getting tossed from a public event and reporters going to their defense that finally elicited an apology. Though starting well, Rauner ended it by claiming he's always been a strong advocate of teachers... something I'm sure Chicago teachers ain't buying. .

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rauner's apology violated first two rules of a public apology

Gov. Bruce Rauner is quite rightly embarrassed his email calling half of Chicago teachers "virtually illiterate" and half of Chicago principles "incompetent" became public. His apology, if it can even be called that, exacerbates the utter tone deafness and insensitivity of his comments, violating two cardinal rules of a valid apology. First he apologized through a subordinate, Lance Trover. It's unacceptable for the transgressor to hide while a paid assistant is forced to release an apology. Second, the apology began with an excuse for the insult of dedicated educational professionals, stating "Significant change can be frustratingly slow; this is especially true in public education. Many of us, at one time or another, have sent hastily crafted emails containing inaccurate or intemperate statements, This particular email was sent out of frustration at the pace of change in our public school system." This rendered the actual apology which followed meaningless.
One thing about failed apologies. They can be corrected. The governor needs to call in reporters and say something like: "My remarks insulting Chicago teachers and principals were insensitive, insulting and wrong. I apologize for them."
Sixteen words, Governor; less than 16 seconds. Then get back to work crafting a socially responsible budget without pre-conditions busting unions, degrading middle class pay for state workers, and cutting desperately needed social services keeping the needy afloat.

North Carolina slices off nose to save face

The North Carolina visage is missing its most prominent feature today after refusing to rescind the state's anti transgender bathroom bill, HB 2. In response the NBA pulled the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte, home of His Airness's Hornets, saying:
"While we recognize the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can do host our All Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by the current law."
North Carolina Pat McCrory, officiating at the nose slicing ceremony after conservative legislators refused to overturn their transgederphobic law, proclaimed:
"The sports and entertainment elite misrepresented our law and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most (NC) people believe boys and girls should be able to use bathrooms, lockers and showers without the opposite sex present."
The economic impact of this most recent cash cow to mosey out of North Carolina has reached a staggering $100 million. Yet, not a single incidence of wrongdoing by a transgender, or someone masquerading as a transgender, to gain access to a girls bathroom to commit mayhem, was ever offered to justify such an economically devastating and self humiliating legislative action.
Besides its nose, decent folks in North Carolina are still on the search for the state brain.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Memo to Melania

We know Michelle Obama. You Melania, are no Michelle Obama.

Monday, July 18, 2016

911: looks like Saudi's did it

It took 14 years but we finally got the 28 pages from the House Senate Joint Inquiry on the 911 Attacks regarding Saudi Arabia's likely involvement in those attacks. No other country; not Iraq, not Iran, not Afghanistan, not Syria got anywhere near the scrutiny Saudi Arabia did. Yet, the only portion of the Report kept secret from the public were these damning 28 pages, that many, especially families of the 911 victims have been demanding to know the truth.
The Bush administration didn't want an investigation in the first place and worked mightily to prevent any scrutiny of Saudi Arabia, from which 15 of the 19 hijackers originated. But the 28 pages reveal numerous connections between the Saudi government and the hijackers, none of which prompted the Joint Inquiry to declare Saudi Arabia's involvement. Nor was there any significant follow up of the leads revealed. Can you imagine if the Bush administration had a single valid morsel of Iraqi involvement, they'd have followed it to the end of the earth. Since they didn't they just made stuff up about Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands, including 4,500 GI's, pushing up daisies.
The 28 pages not only contain connections between the Saudi government and the hijackers, they omit any reference to a significant contact revealed by recently declassified FBI and CIA reports. They report that Fahad Thumairy, a Saudi consulate official, brought Khallad bin Attash, a known al Qaeda operative, into the US in June, 2000, so he could meet with Khalid al mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi, two of the 911 hijackers. The Saudi consulate official was able to escort bin Attash through INS and Customs at LAX, likely deflecting otherwise certain scrutiny.
Back in 2001, Saudi Arabia was a valued supplier of oil, huge buyer of US military hardware, and tight friends of the Bush family. Sure was a lot easier to use the 911 attacks to take out Afghanistan, Iraq, and then after being greeted as liberators, taking out Syria and Iran to complete the Middle East Grand Slam. And 15 years later, no matter how many heads the Saudi's chop off to keep domestic peace, America is still buying their oil, selling them many billions in munitions, and touting their loyalty as an ally.
With allies like Saudi Arabia, we don't need enemies.

Cops vs. criminals no zero sum game

To some folks I've dialogued with, the issue of cops versus criminals is  a zero sum game. Any criticism of the police as a group detracts from good law enforcement which protects all us law abiding folks. One even claimed the shooting of Laquan McDonald started out as a 'good' shooting that went wrong only because the officer kept shooting after McDonald was motionless, setting off civil unrest. In his world view excessive   police force on either innocent citizens or non life-threatening offenders doesn't exist.  

That mindset needs to change. Cops versus criminals is not a zero sum game. As we've learned from Chicago's half billion dollar excessive force settlements in the past decade, most of that dough was coughed up by a tiny slice of Chicago's 12,000 finest. Retrain or remove such cops and not only will our disappearing treasury stabilize, public trust of the police will increase, and less citizens will be unnecessarily harmed, or even killed.

We should treat the small percentage of unfit cops like we treat the small percentage of unfit surgeons: we prevent them from operating. We should no more allow an unfit cop to protect our safety than we would allow an unfit surgeon to operate on a loved one. There is one big difference: the good doctors don't depend on the unfit ones to protect their hide on the street. The 'blue code' is not designed to protect the public; it's designed to protect the partners and colleagues of the bad cops who have their back. While understandable, it is not acceptable in  our fractured, assault weapon soaked society. Every segment of society, especially including the vast majority of good police, must work together to weed out the unfit so the vast majority can do effective police work to protect us all. 

Trib's Pence editorial confuses 'principled conservatism' with mendacious politics

Anytime a right wing organization wants to praise the loony, misguided or even hateful policies of a favored politician, they tab him a 'principled conservative'. That theme was on full display in the Chicago Tribune's bizarre piece "Mike Pence a far better candidate than Donald Trump". That title itself is a masterful example of damning with faint praise as Trump represents a hideous political cocktail of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, compulsive lying and vicious personal attacks presenting a bar lower than Hell to exceed.
But Mike Pence flies over that bar because he's a "principled conservative who understands and shares his party ideals... has congressional and legislative experience...and is a disciplined communicator who exhibits a mature temperament befitting his self description as 'Rush Limbaugh on decaf."
Missing from the Trib's glowing endorsement is that Pence failed to pass a single one of the 90 bills he introduced in his 12 year congressional stint. Back in 1997, Pence laid claim to being the last public servant shilling for Big Tobacco when he said "Smoking doesn't kill." The Trib lauds his executive experience as Indiana governor in spite his his misguided and hateful support for an anti LGBT bill which created a firestorm of criticism and $60 million in lost revenue from protesting business. Religious fanatic Pence's opposition to women's reproductive freedom is so extreme that restrictive anti abortion bills weren't enough. He proudly said the fight to defund Planned Parenthood was worth a government shutdown.
If Trump's mendacity is not enough faint praise to lavish on Pence, The Trib Editorial Board is thrilled that compared to Sarah Palin, possibly the worst vice presidential pick in history, Pence actually looks presidential.
America doesn't need Rush Limbaugh on caffeine. Nor do we need, indeed diverse, Mike Pence's version on decaf.

Roskam, Hultgren chief Trump lipstick appliers

The wise adage 'If you apply lipstick to a pig...it's still a pig' surely applies to the Illinois congressmen Peter Roskam (IL-6) and Randy Hultgren (IL-14) efforts to legitimize unfit presidential candidate Donald Trump. Both have offered tepid endorsements of Trump that require applying more lipstick than can be produced by a Max Factor factory. Roskam is unintentionally hilarious when he boils down his support to making the election a referendum on Hillary Clinton and pondering Trump's challenge of 'communicating' to voters their bright future under a Trump presidency. Roskam never utters the 'will vote for Trump' words his Sixth District Trump fanatics are clamoring for. Hultgren goes a tad further saying he'll "support the Republican nominee" likening Trump to Oscar Wilde's transgression 'the love that dare not speak its name.'
Actually, pigs throughout America are horrified to be compared in any way with The Donald. Rather than applying lipstick to a pig, Roskam and Hultgren are applying respectability to a racist, xenophobe, misogynist, insulter of the disabled, and champion of torture and killing suspected terrorists without due process.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trib editorial calls for more doomed, perpetual war

The Trib's July 8 editorial 'Why Obama can't leave Afghanistan' makes no case for maintaining the longest war in American history. You discredit your plea for more war in the first sentence when you accurately state Afghanistan has been at war for centuries, beginning with the reign of Alexander the Great, and that "war has been a way of life in Afghanistan." After 15 years of US failure there, what makes you think we can change that? Without one iota of evidence that the civil war in Afghanistan represents an existential threat to our Homeland, you frivolously call for indefinite warfare that has buried 3,509 US and coalition soldiers, and a trillion dollars of badly needed resources to rebuild America. You are unintentionally hilarious when you posit "some Americans will wince at that decision." No dear sirs and madams, it will make the millions of us peace loving Americans cry, contemplating the utter waste you encourage while America crumbles and the needy go without. And how dare you claim "Obama’s Iraq experience showed him what can happen when U.S. troops pull out en masse and leave poorly trained, poorly equipped local security forces to safeguard citizens." Iraq was largely destroyed as a functioning country from the criminal 2003 US invasion which you championed and have never apologized for enabling. We peaceniks know how difficult it is for a media giant like to Trib to toss out 15 years of warmongering and admit the truth of the colossal and deadly failures of Afghanistan and Iraq . But there is no better time than now for the Trib Board to help steer the US Titanic "Perpetual War" around so the next generation of Trib editorial writers can start with fresh and peaceful slate.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Roskam lonely Illinois GOP presence at Trump coronation

Talking heads at the GOP Convention next week will have a limited number of Illinois GOP'ers to interview on the impending coronation of racist, xenophobe, misogynist Donald Trump as their presidential candidate. The only Illinois GOP biggie who hasn't bailed on the loathsome Donald is my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6). Pete sees all the KKK and white nationalists flocking to the Trump bandwagon and gloats 'he's bringing new voters into the GOP.' If Roskam is concerned about Trump leading the cheers to smack around Trump rally protesters, even offering to pay legal bills for their shenanigans, he's keeping mum. He's knows his conservative Sixth District base loves Trump, giving him a resounding Illinois Primary win. No way will Roskam follow the lead of his principled Republican Senator Mark Kirk and disown the poisonous racism infecting the Trump campaign and spilling into our body politic. Besides Kirk, state GOP head Governor Bruce Rauner has bailed on the Trump coronation, as well as all other seven Illinois GOP congressmen, DuPage County Chair Dan Cronin, Illinois Highway Authority Chair Bob Schillerstrom, Illinois Manufacturers Association President Greg Baise, top GOP fundraiser Ron Gidwitz and Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Kirk Dillard.
Decency, principles, public good all take a back seat to the Roskam agenda of restricting women's reproductive rights, degrading the IRS's ability to keep the republic solvent, preventing national health care, sabotaging rapprochement with Iran, protecting the NRA's lucrative assault weapons juggernaut, and ignoring climate change concerns. Hey, what's more important: Protecting the commonweal or breaking predecessor Henry's Hyde's record of 16 Sixth District victories?

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Bombing Mullims, shooting unarmed blacks produces 'blowback'

Though horrified, I'm not surprised we experienced a ghastly attack on police from a person admittedly disturbed by two near simultaneous deaths of black males appearing to pose no imminent threat to the police encountering them. Nor am I surprised we've experienced several bloody shooting massacres from persons expressing anger at endless US warfare against Muslims involved in Middle East civil warfare. Both constitute a form of 'blowback' which, once incurred, tends to produce copycat incidents within years, months or even weeks. Add to that incendiary recipe is the ability of such lone gunmen to acquire massive firepower from military style weaponry that produces nothing less than a killing field in our streets, our military bases , our nightclubs and our churches.
This should not happen in America. We must end our culture of perpetual war against peoples posing us no existential threat. We must find a way to train police better and weed out the incompetents, the criminals and the psychologically unfit who demonstrate their unfitness in video after video after video. How many hundreds, maybe thousands have died without a shred of revealed truth before the video revolution we'll never know. But now we do know nearly every new one and yet we do nothing. Our wars against the Muslim world exist in a vacuum utterly removed from any congressional, legal or citizen oversight or debate. We let the gun lobby buy up Congressmen like so many chess pieces to thwart the will of the majority repulsed by readily available weapons of mass civilian destruction.
Cable news will focus on Dallas round the clock for a few more days before returning to vacuous election news, just like they did after Orlando and San Bernardino and Ft. Hood. But our perpetual wars and perpetual senseless police killings have the next incidence of blowback lurking just around the corner.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The last should be first

It was a matter of state pride that the Land of Lincoln was the last of the 50 to legalize conceal carry. That pride was shattered when Illinois caved in to the the gun fanatics, the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists to end that distinction. Illinois can regain a measure of pride by being the first to rescind conceal carry. Guns have no legal or moral place on amateurs in the public square.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

A blank check that killed thousands

Quote of the Day
"I will be with you, whatever." 
- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to President George W 
Bush, eight months before the US-British invasion of Iraq.
A shaken, chastened Blair faced the cameras yesterday and apologized for the 'mistakes' he made in his support of the war, in response to the 2.6 million word Chilcot Report, seven years in the making, offering a devastating assessment of Blair's involvement.
The question for the day is: Where is the US version of the Chilcot Report? Unlike the Brits, Americans are still searching the blowing wind.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

US flack channels Baghdad Bob over ISIS

Remember Baghdad Bob? Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, was Iraq's Minister of Information during our 2003 criminal Iraqi invasion. US warmongers loved to laugh at his hilariously rosy proclamations of Iraq's pitiful defense against American invaders. "They're not within 100 miles of Baghdad...They're not anyplace...This is an illusion", Baghdad Bob beamed into the camera as the split screen showed the real Baghdad burning.
US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken has been doing his best Baghdad Bob imitation over horrendous ISIS bombings that have left hundreds dead around the world. After 215 were killed and 175 wounded in, guess where, Baghdad, destabilizing America's puppet government there, Blinken didn't blink as he told the camera, "Bombings themselves are a signal of America's military success....the US is beating ISIS by every single measure."
Blinken is far from the first to lie to us about the failure of perpetual warfare in the Middle East and Africa that has no chance of ending the civil wars there we ignited with our military madness. Remember when unindicted US war criminal Dick Cheney, when asked about the horrific insurgency killing thousands of Iraqis and US soldiers, replied, "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
Baghdad Bob, Vice, Tony Blinken are all reprising the only thing you need to know about the masters of perpetual war: "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"b

Monday, July 04, 2016

CDC issues public health advisory for Illinois residents

The Center of Disease Control in Atlanta has issued a public health advisory for all 12,880,580 Illinois residents. A virulent new strain of virus has been reeking havoc on them. The CDC has named it the RRV, short for Rauner Retro Virus, after the first resident who came down with it. Apparently, the virus attacks the soul of the sufferer rather than the physical body. In its first victim it produced hallucinations which led the the self made billionaire to spend $27 million of his fabulous wealth to buy the Illinois governorship in order to implement a delusional economic agenda he promised would turn Illinois into an economic nirvana. It consisted of cutting funding, tossing cash strapped students off campus; ending many social welfare programs for the most vulnerable, including day care so poor women could actually work to support their families. It demanded a reduction in the Illinois minimum wage to the even further federal poverty level, and demanding state workers and union members give back some of their barely adequate middle class wages to entice more billionaires to invest in Illinois. All small businesses serving the state are given R.B.'s instead of cash. These are known as Rauner Bucks.
A milder form of RRV afflicted a staggering total of 1,823,627 Illinoisans who became hypnotized by its most virulent sufferer, elevating him to the governorship in 2014. There is no known cure for its namesake. Those afflicted with the milder form are being treated with truth, moral clarity and a smidgen of humor. Alas, it will not be known if their cure is effective till November 6, 2018.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

What really bugs Roskam about Trump

My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) sure has a bizarre way of expressing concern over the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. 

Is he concerned over Trump's racism, xenophobia and misogyny? No.

Is he concerned over Trump's slash and burn personal attacks against his Republican primary opponents and now Hillary Clinton? No. 

Is he concerned over Trump's relentless lying which has the Trump fact checkers working overtime? No. 

Is he concerned over Trump personally mocking a disabled reporter? No. 

Is he concerned over the flood of white nationalists jumping on the Trump bandwagon? Oh contraire.  Roskam loves the fact that Trump is bringing 'new' voters into the Republican camp. 

Well, pray tell. What does concern the Congressman? 

Roskam is upset that Trump appears to support Planned Parenthood. The thought of women having any say in their reproductive health never has and never will be a Roskam priority. To Roskam, all those other concerns over Trump's candidacy are just noise. 

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Saudi Arabia: Terrible for humanity; great for war party

One of America's best allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, uses tens of billions of war party weaponry to kill thousands in criminal wars. For the past two years the Saudi's have been using our best killing stuff to kill Houthi rebels (and many innocent civilians) in neighboring Yemen. The Saudi's claim the Houthi's are proxies for Iranian hegemony was all justification needed by Uncle Sam to grease arms sales to them. The worst of the worst are US made cluster bombs, banned by 119 decent nations but neither the US nor Saudi Arabia. They randomly spray hundreds of “bomblets” across a wide area and, almost invariably, some kill innocent civilians. They are also not very reliable weapons as many of these bomblets do not explode upon impact. Often these unexploded bomblets are then picked up by children, who are seriously injured or killed when they set them off. The US finally bowed to worldwide condemnation in May and banned further cluster bombs to the murderous Saudis. But the rest of America's finest is still flowing, and the Yemenese body count keeps rising.
How mendacious is Saudi Arabia? A month ago today the UN had enough and put Saudi Arabia on their blacklist of children's human rights violators for their war crimes in Yemen. But when the Saudi's and their Gulf buddies threatened to cut off funding for UN relief efforts in Palestine, S. Sudan and Syria, the UN caved and quietly reversed their noble effort to isolate the Saudi's.
As bad as that was it pales in comparison to the US, fully aware Saudi Arabia was heavily involved in the September 11 attacks, but giving them a pass to implement regime change in Iraq, instead. Hey, what's more important? Justice for the victims of 911...or endless profits for the war party.
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Friday, July 01, 2016

Trib demanding more US terrorism in Middle East

The Trib's editorial 'To stop attacks here, stop Islamic State there' is simply more criminal regime change that the Editorial Board has been promoting for 15 years. Your support of our criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq changed their regimes but turned both into failed states with hundreds of thousands dead, millions dispossessed, and trillions of US treasure squandered. Not satisfied with that madness you supported regime change in Libya, getting thousands killed, squandering billions and guess what, turning Libya into a failed state. Now the Trib is seeking a regime quadfecta, demanding we listen to 51 delusional diplomats calling for massive bombing of Syrian President Assad's regime to turn it over to forces likely to slaughter Syria's Christian, secular and Shi'ite citizens only alive due to the protection of the elected Syrian president. Our funding anti Assad groups in 2013 when a truce was at hand, simply because we felt Assad was about to fall, squandered a chance to achieve peace then. 

The Board simply mimics every warmongering, neocon group or individual using massacres thousands of miles from the US to demand more war. The only attacks here since 2001 have been US citizens inspired by our relentless bombing of innocents and suspected evildoers alike. Stop US bombing in the Middle East and you remove the most likely motivating factor for such home grown attacks. Your lust for war places us all in danger, including yourselves.  And don't blame the European refugee crisis on the President's 'restraint'. It's the result of 15 years of endless and needless killing to keep US weapons makers scrambling to fill the insatiable demand for WCD (weapons of civilian destruction). 

Your insincerity about getting tough with the Islamic State is breathtaking. Endless bombs only inspire endless recruits to their cause. Put your military age relatives where your pro war pixels are: demand a million man/women army, including them, to conquer the entire region. Anything short of that is simply more business for the war party.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Da Coach passes on soulmate Da Donald's Cleveland invite

Da Coach and Da Donald are soulmates. Both use the five magic letters of their last name to accumulate fabulous wealth selling everything from soup to nuts with a brand tax which enhances the product not a whit. You might say there's an endless supply of nuts willing to buy their nuts. 

Then their is their politics. Ditka loves Trump's politics and Trump loves that Ditka loves his. Ditka on Trump during a recent phone call:  “Everything you say about things, about the country, I agree with your opinions. You resonate with my kind of people. I believe in what you say wholeheartedly.”

When Trump inquired if soulmate Ditka might reiterate those comments at the Cleveland convention, Ditka demurred:   “I’m not big into doing things like that. I’m not going to change opinions; opinions are like -------s. I believe in the way the Constitution was written. But people want to change that. Immigration. Same thing. People want to change things. I believe in you and what you are saying.”

Don't know about you, but a Da Coach speech for Trump might just be the funniest bit at a GOP shindig since Dirty Harry romanced an empty chair at their 2012 Fest. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hawk Kirk needs replacement by dove Duckworth

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is a dedicated war lover. He never met a failed military intervention he didn't love. Kirk voted for the Iraq war and never wavered in its prosecution in spite of hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, millions displaced and trillions squandered. Not satisfied with that madness, he's supported bombing Syria and Libya. A huge promoter of confrontation, i.e., war with Iran, he compared the sane Iran nuclear deal ...to another Munich. His Senate opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, nearly died fighting in Kirk's Folly. She's learned her war lessons well, opposing every crazed, warmongering blathering emanating from Kirk, who lost his dignity embellishing his military record while Duckworth lost her legs serving bravely.
Duckworth trumps Kirk on every progressive issue America faces. . But issue No. 1 will always be ending America's descent prosecuting perpetual war. A vote for Duckworth is a vote for sanity...and peace. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Roskam channels Jack Benny on Trump: "I'm thinking it over!"

Thief to Jack Benny: "your money or your life"
Thief to Jack Benny - louder: "Your money or your life"
Jack Benny: "I'm thinking it over!"

That famous Jack Benny comedy bit showcasing his cheapness and love of money comes to mind as I question my congressman Peter Roskam's refusal to 'come out' for or against Donald Trump for president. Twice now I've called his political office, 630 221 0006, and twice the befuddled young man who answered says he has no idea if and when Roskam will make a statement either supporting or disavowing The Donald. Roskam's silence on the presumptive GOP nominee is unprecedented in Roskam's 23 year lifetime political career. Could it be Trump's widespread support from the racist white nationalist Republican fringe including former KKK champion David Duke? Could it be Trump's xenophobia in branding Mexican immigrants rapists and calling for a religious test to exclude all Muslims from entering the US? Could it be the way he mocked a disabled reporter? Could it be his long time litany of disgusting sexist comments to degrade and demean women?

I guess if Roskam himself instead of the befuddled young man answered the phone at campaign headquarters, the conversation would go something like this?

Me: "Congressman Roskam, are you supporting the racist, xenophobic, misogynist, name caller Donald Trump"?
Me: "Mr. Roskam, your political future or your integrity?"
Congressman Roskam: "I'm thinking it over!"

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Be Like Mike

The Rev. Michael Pfleger's blistering condemnation of Gov. Rauner's treatment of the inner city resulting from his budget impasse imposing draconian harm there, was both appropriate and necessary. Pfleger's comments helped prompt Rauner to cancel his plan to speak at a Juneteenth event at the DuSable Museum of African American History on the South Side. Juneteenth, commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement that the Civil War and slavery were ended. Civility and respect are due public officials. Claiming our first black president is a foreign born Muslim with an agenda to help terrorists is an example to incivility and disrespect. But publicly calling out our governor for the abominable and unconscionable collective punishment meted out to the must vulnerable to extract his pro-business turnaround agenda, is in the best traditions of ground up democracy. Pfleger simply told the truth about the callous hypocrisy of Rauner's showing up at such an historic event to speak hollow words of brotherhood with the black community while systematically adding to its current pain and suffering.
Illinoisans of every demographic must turn out at every public event Rauner attends and silently protest his silence about the damage he inflicts, almost with a sense of pride. A good form of protest would be to simply turn our collective backs on a governor who has turned his back on the most vulnerable among us. Rauner cancelled over concern for public safety implied in the criticism his tone deaf scheduled appearance inspired. Nonsense. Rauner cancelled to avoid the humiliation and embarrassment of public exposure of his being the servant of the 1% instead of his entire constituency.
When it comes to serving the interests of all Illinoisans, we should ignore the inhumane preachings of the Man of the Rich and channel the 1982 Gatorade commercial to: "Be Like Mike".

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Diplomats join the warmongers

The George W. Bush administration is infamous for its neocons from Vice President Cheney, to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld over ruling the State Department to ignite criminal war. We usually look to the career diplomats, whose experience and wisdom argues against unnecessary war, to keep the presidential warmongers at bay. That's why is troubling that 51 career diplomats used the State Department 'Dissent Channel', a mechanism whereby diplomats can voice their dissent without fear of career reprisal, to argue for more bombing of the elected Syrian regime of President Assad. They're upset by their claim Assad is violating the tenuous civil war ceasefire, arguing we can bomb him to eternity without fear of Russian intervention on behalf of their ally. 

General Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewicz (1780-1831) was a political theorist who wrote in his famous tome 'On War', "War is the continuation of politics by other means."  Alas, that wise aphorism is lost on the diplomatic corp we should be relying on to avoid more murderous and criminal war. Too many of them are joining the neocons outside of State to twist von Clausewicz's wisdom into 'War is America's first diplomatic choice to control the world'. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Trumpty Dumpty

Trumpty Dumpty is having a ball

Trumpty Dumpty will take a great fall

All GOP oligarchs and angry white men

Can't salvage the GOP from Trumpty Dumpty again

Saturday, June 18, 2016

AUMF anyone?

Ask a hundred random Americans what an AUMF is and you'd be hard pressed to get a single correct answer. But ask the 535 members of Congress about an AUMF and they'll recoil in horror as if it combines AIDS, Zika and Ebola viruses all rolled into one. AUMF stands for Authorization for Use of Military Force, a congressional requirement from the War Powers Act of 1973 to reign in unilateral presidential war making so murderously abused by President Nixon in his secret war in Cambodia during the Vietnam era.
We haven't had an AUMF since the 2002 AUMF to prosecute the Iraq war. Yet today the President is expending thousands of bombs and billions of dollars trying to destroy imagined bad guys in the Middle East. Our war making today is so absurd we're both bombing Sunni Muslim followers of ISIS/al Qaeda at the same time we're supporting the very same folks trying to overthrow the hated Shi'ite government of Syrian President Assad. For the US war party, everyone is a potential target. On top of that absurdity is all this carnage is being carried out under old, obsolete AUMF's dealing with the 911 attackers and Saddam Hussein's non-existent WMD.
Neither the president nor Congress wants a new AUMF. Obama doesn't want Congress interfering with his License To Kill. Congress doesn't want their bloody fingerprints on any documents supporting such madness should things go badly. And the American people? We long ago ceded any interest or involvement in criminal warfare. We're willing to watch our defense stock portfolios rise in direct relation to Middle East bodies that fall from our ceaseless bombing.
A new AUMF to prosecute perpetual war? Not for the world's only superpower.

Friday, June 17, 2016

We've been warned

A really bad president does much to conceal their unfitness for office during the campaign. Such is the case with the two worst in my lifetime, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Nixon rose to power in the McCarthy era; smearing Democratic incumbent Jerry Voorhis as a communist sympathizer in 1946 to win his California House seat. He reprised that line, branding Democrat Helen Douglas as the 'Pink Lady' to grab the Senate seat in 1950.  We got a glimpse of his mental instability from his little seen 1962 post gubernatorial defeat press conference showing a clearly unhinged Nixon. But such ruthlessness and mental unfitness were largely forgotten by 1968 when Nixon won the presidency on a promise to end the Vietnam War. Then he went berserk in a futile effort to prevent America's first lost war, before self destructing from paranoia and personal insecurity pursuing his imagined domestic demons. 

George W. Bush slithered into the White House as the affable (though largely failed) son of President George H.W. Bush; the guy you'd like to share a beer with instead of the smart but stiff Al Gore.  Bush campaigned on a promise to pull back from nation building but then went Full Monty after 911 unleashed the war mongering neocons who played Bush like a Stradivarius to bust up the Middle East, sending hundreds of thousands to an needless death.  

While Nixon and Bush voters get a pass on electing truly dreadful presidents, anyone voting for Donald Trump knows exactly the tsunami of fear and loathing he represents. He wears his unfitness as a badge of honor, leading his 12 million primary voters to act out their hatred of the 'other' that has gotten some measure of relief and support from that foreign born, secret Muslim traitor for the past eight years. That was Trump's pitch from Day One. 

Republican leaders hate Trump for exposing the sick underbelly of their constituency. They despise him for not using the established GOP code for garnering that disaffected vote without resort to overt xenophobia and racism. A Trump presidency will be no mystery and no surprise. 

We've been warned.   

Thursday, June 16, 2016

NY governor curtails free speech over BDS

Progressive Americans would have been rightly outraged had the Governor of Alabama in 1955 issued an executive order to punish black groups and individuals boycotting the Montgomery, AL bus company which led to integration on the buses and sparked the modern civil rights movement.

Progressive Americans would have been rightly outraged had the governor of California in 1964 issued an executive order to punish migrant groups and individuals boycotting California produce growers which led to contracts finally giving migrant workers fair wages and working conditions.
Progressive Americans would have been rightly outraged had an American president issued an executive order to punish groups and individuals boycotting the Apartheid government of South Africa which led to the end of Apartheid and freedom for South African blacks

Yet, there is much progressive silence over the executive order issued by progressive NY governor Andrew Cuomo to punish NY groups and individuals who boycott Israel over their colonization and subjugation of Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. Depriving Palestinians of basic services, food and water, while displacing Palestinians to build illegal settlements and inflict collective punishment such as the current water reduction over a recent terrorist attack, is reviled around the world. Collective punishment is considered a war crime.

Cuomo's order directs all agencies under his jurisdiction to discontinue all dealings with companies and organizations that support BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions). It also mandates that Cuomo's commissioner compile a list of institutions and companies that support a boycott of Israel. The blacklist will be publicly posted. The burden of proving that these entities do not support the boycott is on the companies and institutions themselves. Cuomo issued the executive order because the NY legislature rightly refused to enact laws stifling the free speech of participants in BDS.

Cuomo's directive is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech as well as being cruel and immoral in furthering Palestinian suffering. It must be opposed by every American who values free speech; and justice, citizenship and statehood for Palestinians.

My 50 year old membership card in the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't make a free speech exception to perpetuate man's inhumanity to man.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trib Editorial Board warmongering hiding behind Chapman's sanity

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman quite rightly faulted President Obama's failure to truly end our Middle East wars in his June 9 op ed 'Obama prolongs unwinnable wars'. So good was Chapman's analysis it was picked up by www.antiwar.com, the Holy Grail of anti war news and opinion.
But nowhere in Chapman's piece is that some of the blame for both starting and prolonging these criminal excursions in mass death goes to the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board, which Chapman has participated in since 1981. Sadly, in those 35 years, Chapman's influence on the Board's support for endless war and American exceptionalism has been zero. They were all in for our senseless and lost war in Afghanistan. They were all in for our senseless and lost war in Iraq. They loved the Libyan intervention where "We came, we saw, he died" referring to the gruesome execution of Libyan President Qaddafi, one of thousands whose blood is on US hands. The Board argued mightily against rapprochement with Iran and helped foment new Cold War with Russia over Ukraine by supporting US involvement in the February, 2014, coup, unraveling that sorrowful land and prompting Russia to protect their backside.
The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board is a board member of the neocon war party. Every so often they let Chapman loose to tell truths they will never reveal to placate the folks who still buy the Trib hoping for some sanity in their coverage of America's death spiral.

Is Breen following Trump into political gutter?

My Illinois State Rep Peter Breen (IL-48) knows better. Yet, he begins his constituent email with a gratuitous insult and falsehood:
"Mike Madigan's 'Madigoons' are on the loose in the 48th District! Madigan has hand-selected an opponent for me in the upcoming General Election, and we have now seen proof that his campaign workers, including some of his top staff, have been walking precincts in our district, trying to unseat me."
Breen may think it's clever to connect the name of Illinois House Speaker to 'goons', the well known moniker denoting hired political operatives who use violence to further a political cause, but it's not. If merely demeans reasoned political discourse, desperately needed in our culture, with unhelpful name calling. Citizens who spend time gathering signatures so that voters will have choice, a clear choice in November, are not 'goons'. They are the folks who make democracy work.
Worse, Breen spreads the falsehood, likely a conscious lie, that his unnamed opponent was 'hand selected' by Speaker Madigan. The only hands that picked his opponent were his own, and those of the Nominating Committee of the DuPage County Democratic Party.
Breen's opponent has a name. It's Steve Swanson, a soon to be retired minister from Lombard.
Two things you can count on in this campaign. Steve Swanson will never engage in gratuitous insults or spread falsehoods. And Peter Breen, likely taking cues from the master of gratuitous insult and lies at the top of the Republican ticket, will nod and follow suit

Monday, June 13, 2016

Roskam's 'A' is a grade of shame

My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) is very discreet about the A grade he receives from the National Rifle Association for his work on their behalf to prevent any sensible gun legislation. He's just as discreet about the money he receives from the NRA to help keep him in Congress working to promote their agenda. Go to his congressional website www.roskam.house.gov and you won't find a single reference to the NRA, assault weapons or gun violence. You can ignore the two references to 'gun control' that pop up from 2013. They contain the words 'gun control' in passing on articles having nothing to do with possibly the most important public health issue facing the Illinois 6th District, and all America.
That's my congressman Peter Roskam, getting a cool quarter million a year in salary and benefits keeping the 6th District safe for America's gun merchants. For Roskam, when it comes to the slaughter going on in our streets, our churches, our schools, our places of recreation; it's 'hear no gunshots, see no gunshots, speak no gun control'. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

GOP furious November 8 ballot spots filling up

How does the DuPage County Republican Party resemble the old Communist Party? Simple. They don't like to see other party candidates on the ballot. Take their bizarre, three prong thrust to remove Christopher English from the ballot as Democratic candidate for DuPage County Clerk of the Circuit Court. English collected 1,773 signatures to get on the ballot as a post primary candidate, more than doubling the 844 needed by 929 votes . GOP folks did the math and voila, decided 941 of English's signatures were invalid, making him 12 votes short of the 844 target. As one deeply involved in the five week petitioning process for English, my outrage over this shabby attempt to subvert the will of 1,773 DuPage voters seeking choice November 8 is incalculable.
The other two arguments come straight out of The Twilight Zone. Dennis Reboletti, a former state lawmaker, no less, wants us to believe a teensy quibble over how the county clerk title was worded on the nominating petitions amounts to a gross miscarriage of election law. Not finished with Fantasyland, Reboletti contends that DuPage Democrats cannot form a nominating committee to designate post primary candidates; insisting they must marshal all 300 plus precinct committeemen to do that task. That is truly a strange way to simplify governing which is supposedly one of the GOP's favorite planks.
Maybe Reboletti and his anti voter minions are simply re-making The Exorcist, seeking to make DuPage voters heads spin around their necks trying to figure out their twisted version of democracy.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Roskam playing coy with racist, hatemonger Trump

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL 6) is riding the horns of a dilemma. He knows he can't in good conscience and with passion support his presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Yet, he knows the great majority of his Republican base in the 6th District either loves and voted for Trump, or will gladly support his disgraceful and destructive brand of hate and fear mongering he exploited to grab the brass GOP presidential ring.
What to do? For Roskam it's say nothing, nada, zilch. Pretend The Donald doesn't even exist.
I've called his office two days in a row and the voice from the office has no clue as to Roskam's thoughts on Trump or if and when he'll surface to reveal his decision.
Will Roskam follow fellow Illinois Republican Mark Kirk's principled stand to neither vote for nor support Trump's candidacy. Or will he reveal himself as an unprincipled supporter of the darkest side in main party presidential politics we've ever had the misfortune to experience. 

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Judge recall effort undermines judicial independence

Efforts by Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber to recall Judge Aaron Persky for the six month sentence given Aaron Brock for assault and attempted rape of an unconscious acquaintance are misguided and should be withdrawn. Persky is a wise and fair judge whose career and sentence in the Brock case is supported by his peers. 

"He is an absolutely solid and respected judge," said Santa Clara County deputy public defender Gary Goodman. "Persky made the right decision." Barbara Muller, a criminal defense attorney who works two weeks a month in Persky's court, says he "is definitely one of the fairest judges in the county. He considers all facts and is very thorough. He plays it right down the middle."

Law professor Dauber, a friend of the victim, should know better than to undermine a 13 year tenured judge with a rock solid reputation and no disciplinary record. Critics of Persky and Brock have gone berserk on social media, comparing white, affluent defendant Brock to poor black defendants receiving much longer sentences for lesser crimes. They're having apoplexy over the tone deaf statement of Brock's father. Neither of these side bar tales are relevant to the wisdom and justice of the sentence handed down: six months in jail, three years probation, and a lifetime slot on the nation's sex offender registry. Given all the circumstances of the defendant's background and all the circumstances of the crime, the sentence provides justice to the victim, society and the defendant. 

It's time to stop obsessing solely on excessive incarceration which endlessly and wastefully warehouses folks who are not deemed likely to offend again and are good candidates for re-rehabilitation. Brock fits that profile which is why the Santa Clara County Probation Office recommended the sentence which Persky agreed with and handed down. 

There are bad judges who hand down poor sentences; a majority, no doubt, excessive, to placate a vengeful public. Good judges like Persky must be free to dispense the wise justice so critical to both a safe and humane society. 

Monday, June 06, 2016

Can't outsource this USA made stuff

Last year US WMD makers sold $46.6 billion of the stuff to 96 countries. 40% of the stuff went to the Middle East, a sorrowful region we claim to be pacifying. Sales were up an unhealthy 35% from 2014 and represent a third of all war weaponry sold worldwide. Don't forget the home grown ordinance Uncle Sam uses to fight his seven criminal wars in the Middle East and Africa. Seven of the eight largest government contractors are pumping out deadly and dastardly firepower almost as fast as Uncle can fire it. Don't smile too smugly when you see your annual stock portfolio rise. A fair chunk of that new found wealth is drenched with blood.