Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Not out of Africa

While mainstream media focuses on Trump's tone deaf handling of a widow grieving her soldier husband's death in Niger, along with three others, the American electorate is denied the real story: the war party's expansion of perpetual into Africa. The initial 100 soldiers inserted into Niger four years ago has grown to over 800. Hundreds more are fighting imagined bad guys in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, C.A.R., South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.  America's Masters of War are asking for a whopping $5.2 billion next year to support the Africa wing of perpetual war. Why so much? A war party spokesman explained that Africa's vastness makes even relatively small amounts of canon fodder costly to support. Meanwhile back home, infrastructure, health care, education, the environment, consumer protection are all targeted for budgetary hits to support this expansion. Africa, like the Middle East, is becoming just another US Roach Motel....the US military goes in, but never comes out.  

How many must die on Trump's watch?


Every decent American should take seriously Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman’s charge that Trump’s actions to delay aid to Puerto Rico and degrade Obamacare administratively will kill thousands needlessly. It appears motivated by an infantile response to failing to overturn Obamacare in Congress and ignoring non-white Puerto Ricans to placate his racist, xenophobic base. It’s inappropriate to even call it Trump’s watch. It’s a death watch.

Trump playing Prez like a psychotic Ted Baxter


Remember Ted Knight as Ted Baxter, the inconsolably insecure, but lovable news anchor on the Mary Tyler Moore show? Baxter pouted, begged, cried and groveled for approval and validation like an hapless 5 year old. Knight's sthick was hilarious and entertaining since he caused no harm to anyone but himself as we doubled over in laughter. That infantile insecurity is on full display in the Trump presidency with two exceptions. Trump's Ted Baxter is real and sociopathic; leading to incalculable harm to people and the planet. Dropping out of the Iran nuclear deal and climate change agreement, defunding Obamacare, overturning LGBT protections, while threatening to nuke 'Rocket Man' in North Korea are not funny. They may end up dooming the entire planet. Come to think of it, Trump is also making us double over...from fear and loathing.

Are Ives', Breen's mindsets better suited to preaching, not legislating?



DuPage state reps Jeanne Ives (R-42) and Peter Breen (R-48) missed their calling. Both sit in the legislature voting on the critical concerns of millions of Illinoisans they care little about. Their focus stems from narrow ideological religious beliefs: opposition to full human rights for gays and transgenders, denial of reproductive health care to the poor, promotion of religion in the public square, and railing against their imagined view that secular society is at war with Christianity. While certainly entitled to those beliefs, it is totally improper and inappropriate to promote them as legislators responsible for the well-being of all 13 million Illinoisans. They would serve the people best by dropping their re-election bids and opening a church in DuPage to advocate for their beliefs before like minded followers. The rest of us Illinoisans deserve better.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Peter Breen, Peter Breen, why, oh why, are you so mean?



My state rep Peter Breen sure is mean. How mean? He started out mean in his first run for District 48 state rep in 2014, getting up before extremist Illinois Tea Partiers, and proclaiming well liked sixth term GOP incumbent Sandy Pihos a RINO, not inferring she was big and ugly, but something much worse...a moderate Republican who actually listened to and dialogued with constituents of all persuasions, leaving out the religious extremism Breen revels in. Meanness, tons of money and apathy by moderate voters propelled Breen to Primary victory. Along came Democratic challenger Marian Tomlinson and Breen turned on the mean, using his lawyerly skills to knock her off the Democratic ballot in an ugly swipe against giving voters a choice. Tomlinson, nice but tough, countered with a spirited write-in campaign, garnering several thousand votes in symbolic protest to the King of Mean on his way to the legislature.

On a meanness roll, Breen embraced the cruel politics of newbie governor Bruce Rauner, hijacking the budget process to extort a bizarre pro growth agenda which caused millions of students, state vendors and the needy endless pain. Not a word of sympathy in Breen´s many constituent emails for the needless suffering this failed and unprecidented assault on the public caused.

But woe to the revered governor when he finally stood on principle to help poor women seeking the same reproductive rights Breen and his class enjoy without a care or concern. When Rauner signed HB 40, extending those rights concerning abortion, Breen directed his meanness to his meanness mentor, vowing to derail a second gubernatorial term. Are visions of Governor Mean dancing in Breen's head?

Every week or two, as another screed from my state rep crawls across my screen, I ponder anew, 'Peter Breen, Peter Breen, why, oh why, are you so mean?


Roskam still talking in code on tax code


“By closing loopholes and lowering rates, we can create a tax policy that is simpler, flatter, and fairer for everyone,” said Peter Roskam, Congressman, of Illinois’ 6th Congressional District. 
Simpler, flatter, fairer is how my congressman Peter Roskam pitches the new Trump tax plan that will create trillions in deficits over the next decade while lavishing that transfer of the public treasure on Roskam and his wealthy base. 
Simpler, flatter, fairer ... because it will lop $27 billion a year from Uncle Sam and give it to the 1 in 500 who die with an estate over $5.69 million. 
Simpler, flatter, fairer ... because it will give the 400 richest families (are you listening Waltons?) an extra $5.5 million a year from a reduced top income rate. 
Simpler, flatter, fairer ... because it will raise the lowest tax bracket from 10 percent to 12 percent. 
Simpler, flatter, fairer … because it will incentivize corporations to pour more profits overseas in anticipation of a huge tax holiday in the works when they bring it back after tax reform passage 
Simpler, flatter, fairer ... because it will jack up taxes on blue state taxpayers who will lose their federal deduction for high state and local taxes. 
Simpler, flatter, fairer ... because it will end the Alternative Minimum Tax which mainly affects the wealthiest taxpayers. 
Sixth District residents seeking answers from Roskam on the devastating effects of the Trump/GOP tax reform plan already know how he’ll respond: “Flatter, simpler, Fairer.”

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Roskam's 80% solution for the 1%

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) supports the GOP tax plan that takes care of the GOP and Roskam's real base as legislators: the upper 1%. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center has taken a peek and reports that 80% of the trillions in tax cuts over the next decade go to this tiny, favored elite while blowing a gigantic hole in the deficit. But there are few in any one-percenters in Roskam's IL Sixth District, heavily populated by solid Republican voters in the 80th to 90th income percentile.They should cease doing cartwheels over envisioned tax cuts because the GOP-Roskam plan raises taxes on 60% of them in the form of eliminated deductions in the guise of 'tax simplification.' That's the GOP-Roskam tax plan: simply dreadful.
 

Monday, October 02, 2017

4 of 435 Congressmen a start

Four congressman introduced House Concurrent Resolution 81 to end US war crimes in support of Saudi war crimes against the Saudis' pitiful neighbor Yemen. The Saudis attacked the Shi'ite Houthis who took power in 2015 and has killed thousands of civilians with bombs and a blockade that has infected millions with cholera and starvation...all with the help of US WCD (weapons of civilian destruction), logistical support, even mid-air refueling of high flying Saudi people killers. “We aim to restore Congress as the constitutionally mandated branch of government that may declare war and retain oversight over it” is how Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) pitch the resolution sure to be quashed by the vast majority of the other 431 congressmen who take their voting orders from the war party. The resolution is bi-partisan; the other two sponsors are Tom Massie (R-KY) and Walter Jones (R-NC). Obama signed on to unauthorized US war crimes upon pleas for help from our best WCD Saudi Arabia two years ago, and Trump has increased US war crimes there as he's done in the other 6 countries in the Middle East and Africa we're defiling with our bombs and special ops. Congress loves it that way...they keep their fingerprints off the war crimes and can blame the president if things go badly for Uncle Sam. Let's hope enough congressmen join these courageous four to stand up for peace and an end to the madness of perpetual war and the crimes our government commits with our tax dollars. 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

What's the price?

We know what the price is for squandering $600,000 on private jets to avoid the cattle cars of commercial flights as a cabinet official. But what, we wonder, is the price for squandering the lives of some of the millions suffering in Puerto Rico from insensitivity and incompetence?

Is Ives' imaginary friend inspiring possible Rauner challenge?



Wheaton State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-42) has an imaginary friend, God, who apparently is influencing her pronouncements and policy as an Illinois legislator. He whispers in her ear that gay marriage is 'disordered' and that gays are 'trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy... and we can't allow that to happen.' When gay marriage became the law of the land Ives pivoted, listening again to her imaginary friend who told her that school officials supporting transgender rights are 'like dirty old men in trench coats lying in wait to expose children to sordid things.' He went on to tell her 'Christians must exit government schools,' encouraging Christian parents to pull their children out of public schools as the battle by some against transgender bathroom rights is waged. Furthermore, 'no Christian should teach in an institution that requires them to facilitate the body- and soul-destroying fiction that humans can be born in the 'wrong' body.' He also tells Ives to oppose giving vital reproductive health care to poor women because it violates His concept of the sanctity of life, irregardless of the damage it does to Their sanctity of life. Apoplectic that Governor Rauner signed desperately needed legislation giving women in need the same access to reproductive health Ives and her wealthy base takes for granted, Ives' imaginary friend may now be dropping hints she is His chosen one to oppose Governor Rauner's re-election bid.

Ives has every right to an imaginary friend and even use His counseling to guide her life. God knows I've got an imaginary friend or two that help me navigate the vicissitudes of life. But when elected to the legislature Ives should have relegated her imaginary friend to the recesses of her personal life and kept her day job legislating for all Illinoisans as secular as our national and state constitutions require.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Best way to be the Biggest Loser

If there were a Biggest Loser show for failed military adventurers, US would triumph; about the only thing we could win at. Since WWII, the US has cornered the market on military failure: Korea in the 50's, Vietnam in the 60's and 70's, and an avalanche of failures in the 21st including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. Even when we win we lose. The first Iraq war left in place Saddam Hussein to goad the American behemoth into the second Iraq war which has been a disaster.  Even our successful trap of the Soviets in Afghanistan in '79 set up the Mujaheddin under Osama bin Laden to pivot toward expelling America from the Middle by using blowback (911) to entice us to the same over extension which doomed the Russians.  There is one way for for Uncle Sam to benefit from being the Biggest Loser....lose all those soldiers and airmen occupying South Korea and the Middle East. The weight of endless perpetual war being shed will improve the Uncle's health dramatically, and all of ours as well. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Time to dump Anthem, Pledge at non-governmental events

We could sure save a lot of ink and pixel space for really important news like coming climate calamity and nuclear war by ending the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance at sporting and other non governmental events. When encouraged to recite the Pledge in public, I proudly proclaim "NO" before the offensive G word inserted into the Pledge by the crazed anti communists of 1954 (still remember that sorrowful day they added it to my fourth grade class). And the Anthem? Good God, all I can envision at "the bombs busting in air" is the hundreds of thousands of Muslims and other Middle Easterners we've blown up with our millions of smart bombs fired by dummies. The less attention we call to our war loving, climate destroying country the better. When you're wrecking the world...why brag about it?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Football Gods trump Evangelical God at Wheaton College


Back in early 2016, highly regarded political science professor Larycia Hawkins as given the boot at Wheaton College for touting the value of the Muslim religion, wearing an Ha-bib in solidarity with them, and being spotted at a Gay Pride Parade by the keepers of the Evangelical faith. Shortly thereafter, five stalwarts of the school's Division III ranked football powerhouse brutalized a freshman player in a 'hazing' incident, resulting in three shoulder surgeries and his leaving Wheaton College faster than a kickoff touchdown run. But school officials, keeping this horrific incident publicity free for 18 months, simply required the perpetrators to perform community service and write an essay on the need to treat folks kindly, all the while cheering on their gridiron prowess bringing glory to the citadel of Evangelical learning. Only when the Law stepped up, indicting the five for aggregated battery, mob violence and illegal restraint, did Wheaton put the five in the football penalty box.
One might ponder Wheaton College's priorities: maintaining ideological purity to the cult of the only true religion....or maintaining the cult of football dominance and glory.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Burns 'Vietnam' episode 2 another stunner

"I was from the last generation who believed our government would never lie to us."
That quote from a disillusioned Vietnam vet runs through the entire second episode of Ken Burns' Vietnam saga as lie upon lie, based from fear and ignorance pour from every statement and action of US leaders trying to will victory from the inevitable struggle for Vietnam independence. Episode 2 'Riding the Tiger' (1961-1963) covered just the three years of the Kennedy presidency. While the Viet Cong were driving relentlessly toward victory and independence from the North, the venal Diem regime in the South was self immolating, literally, as Buddhist monks were setting themselves ablaze to protest Catholic Diem's domestic tyranny against the majority religion. JFK and his dim-bulb advisers faced an insolvable dilemma: Diem had to go but there was no one both decent and strong enough to replace him. Through a mixup when JFK was sailing off Cape Cod, a minor state department official gave the US OK to a military coup that JFK thought had been approved by his braintrust, who also were inconveniently vacationing. The result was an unexpected and bloody end to Diem and his even more ruthless brother Nhu that haunted JFK during the last 18 days of his life in assassination month.
Having studied from fascination and horror the Vietnam era as it unfolded six decades ago, I thought I knew a lot. Burns' relentless, fearless truthtelling is showing me how much I missed. If you missed the first two, find a way to catch them on the rebound. When Episode 3 pops on...don't touch that dial.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ken Burns giving us the rest of the Vietnam War story

Episode 1 covered 1858 to 1961, a century of brutal French colonial rule, their hand off to America, and Vietnamese resistance; the crucial origins of the Vietnam War (1959-1975) that our government and media never gave us. Ho Chi Min, the George Washington of Vietnam, was rebuffed by Wilson after WWI, rebuffed by Truman after WWII, and posthumous victor who unified Vietnam in spite of our squandered billions and 58,000 squandered canon fodder. Watching the unfolding catastrophe reminds me of the unfolding catastrophe we experience today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and other sorrowful lands we're bombing for no valid reason and no chance of success. The war party believes war is the health of the state, but they're wrong. It's the death of the state.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Ken Burns giving us the rest of the Vietnam War story


Episode 1 covered 1858 to 1961, a century of brutal French colonial rule, their hand off to America, and Vietnamese resistance; the crucial origins of the Vietnam War (1959-1975) that our government and media never gave us. Ho Chi Min, the George Washington of Vietnam, was rebuffed by Wilson after WWI, rebuffed by Truman after WWII, and posthumous victor who unified Vietnam in spite of our squandered billions and 58,000 squandered canon fodder. Watching the unfolding catastrophe reminds me of the unfolding catastrophe we experience today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and other sorrowful lands we're bombing for no valid reason and no chance of success. The war party believes war is the health of the state, but they're wrong. It's the death of the state.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Senate votes YEA to endless criminal war in 7 countries


The media wing of the war party largely buried yesterday's biggest story, the Senate's refusal to even debate ending the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) America uses to wage perpetual, criminal war around the world. Republican Senator Rand Paul, the Senate's sole anti war member, threatened to gum up a defense authorization bill unless his resolution to kill that criminal war blank check got a debate. Shortly after it started, warmonger extraordinaire Bob Corker (R-TN) moved to end debate. It passed 61-36. Just 3 Republicans opposed debate shutdown against 31 Democrats and 2 independents (Sanders and King). Sadly, 8 Democrats voted to kill debate, apparently fearful of offending the all powerful US war party. Illinois senators Durbin and Duckworth get kudos from us peaceniks for being part of the majority of Dems voting against killing debate.
Why is repealing the 2001 AUMF so important? It would require a new AUMF (required under the War Powers Act of 1973), to keep the killing juggernaut rolling. After 16 years of utter failure everywhere we're blowing people up...that might be a tough sell.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Soda tax the insignificant issue that won't die

Sure wish the avalanche of folks weighing in on the Cook County soda tax would spend that time trying to end our criminal wars in 7 countries (that we know of), promoting a sustainable environment, working to reduce increasing income disparity between the economically desperate and the greedy rich, ending homophobia, xenophobia and sexism, than interfering with a sensible means of raising needed revenue while reducing consumption of a worthless, unhealthy food item.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Despite budget, Rauner still degrading life for Illinoisans in need

After nearly a thousand days, Gov. Rauner shows little inclination in helping Illinois' people in need, even with the recent budget passed over Rauner's heartless veto with help from responsible Republicans. 

Ponder state home health care workers, the poorest paid of all state employees at a near poverty level $13 bucks an hour. Rauner refuses to sign off on a measly 48 cent an hour increase authorized by the legislature but which Rauner has power to delay. This has prompted a lawsuit by the Service Employees International Union to force a guy who made $90,000 bucks an hour last year to throw a few crumbs at folks who add much more value to society than Governor Bruce. 

How bout social service programs for autism therapy, after school programs, immigrant integration assistance and burial for the poor. Many agencies providing these services cut back or closed entirely while Rauner promoted his businessman's holiday agenda. Rauner's signaled they will get less than the legislature's budget has authorized. Autism Program of Illinois closed its doors in June and will be hard pressed to function even if Rauner releases desperately needed funds. As former program director Russ Bonanno lamented, "I'm not sure what will come back. It's not like a light switch that you can cut off, then start up later expecting to pick up where we left off." 

Consider Illinois' staggering $15 billion bill backlog. Rauner has yet to issue bonds at lower interest rates to save $2 million a day in late payment penalties; $6 billion in savings overall. Rauner demands hundreds of millions in cuts, many affecting critical social services, before such borrowing. Delay cost since the budget passed? $120 million. 

How the governor sleeps at night escapes me. Apparently, you can lead Governor Rauner to a sensible budget serving the people....but you can't make him govern. 


Monday, September 11, 2017

US unleashes a daily 911 on Middle East, Africa

Sixteen years ago 19 bad guys mostly associated with our best weapons customer Saudi Arabia, flew four giant airplane bombs into American buildings killing nearly 3,000. In what may be the greatest example of transference in history, the US embarked on a 16 year long campaign of regime change and senseless bombing in 7 other countries that has killed hundreds of thousands, mostly innocents, along with a few potential bad guys. First stop on the President's Middle East trip this year? You guessed it...Saudi Arabia, where he lavished praise on the folks who publicly behead their own for such offenses as sorcery and don't let women drive cars. But he did ink a huge deal for more US WCD (Weapons of Civilian Destruction). The President got a Navy Seal killed in an idiotic raid in Yemen, the pitiful country we're helping the Saudis kill tens of thousands and provoke famine and the delightful cholera on millions. So when you remember the victims of 911 today, give a thought for the millions of people dead or suffering needlessly in the five thousand, eight hundred forty 911's we've exacted in revenge.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Illinois smart on abortion, dumb on dope

Desperate women arrive daily in blue Illinois to get a basic reproductive right denied in the regressive red states they call home; a safe, convenient abortion. 
What’s good for these beleaguered ladies is also good for Illinois’ economy: money spent on transportation, lodging, food, and most importantly, quality medical care. 
I’m proud my state provides the opportunity for these abortion seekers to stay out of the back alley and put down the knitting needle. 

Too bad Gov. Rauner is likely to veto HB 40 which would have expanded state paid abortion services to state employees and low income Medicaid recipients; and keep abortion legal in Lincoln’s land should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. 
Though smart on abortion, Illinois is dumb on dope, telling its million adult recreational pot smokers to keep spending their recreational income in the eight states where it’s legal, or worse, the un-taxed underground economy 
Are Illinois leaders waiting until the other 39 states join in the tax bonanza before finally relenting ... or are will they hold out forever? 

While the pot question remains unanswered, Gov. Rauner is poised to veto HB 40, which would have expanded state paid abortion services to state employees and low income Medicaid recipients; and keep abortion legal in Lincoln’s land should the Supreme Coverturn Roe v. Wade. 
Alas, Illinois may choose to stay dumb on dope ... and go dumb on abortion. 

Biss misses chance for teachable moment in gubernatorial race

Biss misses chance for teachable moment in gubernatorial race

Today will be a sad day in Illinois as gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss picks a running mate for the meaningless position of Lieutenant Governor who dares not criticize Israel's seven decade destruction of the Palestinian people. Rookie Chicago alderman and Bernie Sanders delegate Carlos Ramirez-Rosa lost his gig with Biss with these quite measured and valid words on the question of Palestinian dignity and freedom: "The U.S. government has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people, and it’s time that stopped. I have not heard much discussion about the relationship of the U.S. with Israel, with divesting from Israel to support the people of Palestine. Not a lot of that was discussed and I think that’s a conversation that needs to be had.”

Much of the civilized world supports BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) as a time honored, non-violent method of encouraging nations to 'do the right thing.' Ending the humanitarian catastrophe Israel has inflicted on the Palestinian quest for dignity, freedom and a homeland is the right thing to do using the right methods. BDS would likely work to free the Palestinian people as it did to free blacks from white Apartheid in South Africa three decades ago. Sadly, the US, which itself exists from resistance to economic and political control of a powerful overseer, stands virtually alone in enabling Israel's continued assault on Palestinian aspirations. While Palestinians endure endless and needless suffering, even a hint of dissent or resistance to Israeli conduct is suppressed in the world's wellspring of democratic debate.

Sen. Biss is a good man and qualified potential governor. Alas, he passed on a chance to use his gubernatorial bid as a teachable moment, for unrestricted debate as well as justice for the Palestinian people.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

33% just pawns in Trump's game

Trump won the presidency with just 46% of the vote. His campaign was premised on the racist meme Obama was an illegitimate president borne in Kenya, stoking racist, xenophobic and anti government fears and hatreds throughout. He even encouraging supporters to 'beat up' Trump rally protesters by promising to pay their legal bills. And he's governed since January to that fearful, hateful base, likely having his not so subtle, coded rhetoric partly responsible for the Charlottesville riot. After seven months Trump's base has fallen to 33%, but nearly his every word and deed appears directed to keep them pawns enthralled as he works to undue every sensible Obama advancement. This 33% will likely cheer him on regardless of the damage he's so obsessively causes in their own lives as well as the 'others'... people and groups they fear and despise. Trump stirs up his 33% base at weekly rallies such as he held in Phoenix and just yesterday in Des Moines where they cheered on his disdain for the poor whom he said are unfit to run the country. His loyal followers are clueless they're just pawns in Trump's despicable, divisive game.   


Monday, August 28, 2017

A year late...Rauner does the right thing

Kudos to IL governor Bruce Rauner for finally signing the motor voter bill first approved a year ago. Rauner vetoed it by hoisting up the tired Republican canard it would lead to voter fraud, without offering a smidgen of proof. Rauner must have experienced projection, blaming Democrats for the very real Republican voter fraud, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's infamous cross check scheme that has dis-enfranchised hundreds of thousands, if not a million or more voters nationwide, and those equally horrible Republican voter ID laws. Rauner may be reading his declining poll numbers ahead of his 2018 re-election bid and figures he can't afford to alienate any more sensible folks who wholeheartedly support automatic voter registration. I doubt Rauner looks forward to increased voter registration. Promoting more democracy and inclusiveness is not in his DNA. But at the end the day all that matters is he took Spike Lee's advise...and did the right thing.


Gobbledygook

My congressman Peter Roskam offered this bit of undecipherable nonsense on the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville. 

“Everybody that is looking at this past several days just scratches their heads and says good grief. That said, you operate in the environment in which you’re operating. We could prefer this, that or the other thing, but wishing it doesn’t make it happen.”

Vintage Roskam; trying desperately to sound like a wise public servant but simply stringing random words together that make no sense and offer no value. Roskam should leave the 'good griefs' to Charley Brown. For a quarter million a year in salary and bennies, we taxpayers deserve much better from our congressman. 


Roskam urges Trump to stop communicating with racists, xenophobes and bullies

Addressing several suburban chambers of commerce in Palatine Wednesday, my congressman Peter Roskam urged Trump to "put down his Twitter account". His real message to Trump was to stop communicating with the racists, xenophobes and bullies who gave him a narrow electoral victory last November. He's concerned Trump's daily dose of red meat fear and loathing against anti fascists, the press, even his own Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Jeff Flake, are causing his "struggling" with his legislative agenda. 

When Roskam says "We’ve got a health care system that really needs a lot of attention", he's referring to Trump's goal of stripping health care from 22 million over the next decade, allowing over 200,000 unnecessary deaths.  

When he says we have "a tax code that's desperately broken" he's definitely not promoting the rich pay their fair share. Tax reform is simply, 'wink, wink', tax cuts for the already rich.   

Though he's fluent in English, Roskam should only speak publicly with an interpreter so those outside his shrinking base of ultra conservatives will known exactly what he means. 

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Trillion in minerals driving criminal Afghan war


To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, 'A criminal war is a criminal war...is a criminal war.' That certainly applies to our criminal war against people we don't like in Afghanistan, raging for 16 years now, thirty-two months after we declared end of combat operations on December 31, 2014. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions wounded and displaced and a trillion in treasure squandered.
The war might be summed up on one word for the uninformed: minerals. One of Trump's first conversations with Afghan president Ghani concerned how the two countries could work together on mineral development. Trump hinted the vast Afghan mineral trove, lusted for by American high tech product companies, could be one justification for continuing America's never ending Afghan war.
Chemical executive Michael Silver and billionaire financier Steven Feinberg are even in the mix of military hawks and neocon advisers that spun Trump 360 degrees from his sane campaign utterings we should get the hell out of Afghanistan.
Trump is merely mimicking his presidential warmongers. Bush the Son had Afghanistan's mineral deposits mapped out in 2006. Obama had a Pentagon task force attempt to establish a mineral industry there in 2010. Corruption, unremitting violence and lack of infrastructure have frustrated all efforts to exploit the mineral treasure.
Unlike his predecessors, Trump's criminal mendacity in continuing a grisly, senseless war is transparent. He trumpets US Afghan mineral development is a 'win-win' for America; creating American jobs, boosting the Afghan economy and chipping away at China's near monopoly on garnering rare earth minerals. The war without end is in Trump's view, a nuisance to be accepted as the ticket to Afghan's vast, undeveloped wealth. Trump has a history of using criminal war for the riches it has given war mongers for centuries. He publicly lamented the US leaving Iraq before grabbing its oil, telling CIA employees, "The old expression 'To the victor belong the spoils'. You remember?"
The man is sick...but so is our country when it comes to bringing war to this troubled world.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Worst foreign policy speech ever?


Trump's speech last night made no sense whatsoever. He escalated the Afghan war without offering a clue as to why he's doing it, how he'll do it or how long it will last. He hinted he's done even talking about it. He called Pakistan a valued partner; then bashed them for providing 'safe havens' for terrorists, irrespective of fact Pakistan has no real control over tribal areas where America's imagined bad guys are hiding. Trump revered every sensible instinct he uttered during the campaign hinting he'd pull out of Afghanistan if elected. Trump apologized for that bit of sanity stating he likes to follow his instincts but determined “decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the oval office.” The difference is he became prisoner of the military hawks and neocon advisers who disabused him of any withdrawal notions. If Trump could he'd simply had over $10 billion a year to war privateer Erik Prince and privatize the entire criminal venture. Monday's twisted, bizarre Afghan escalation makes it six out of seven, following expansion of crazed wars in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. And Pakistan is now on notice they'll be number seven to experience Trump's firepower if they don't cave to Trump's righteousness. Trump brayed "We are not nation-building, we're killing terrorists" oblivious that he's striking terror in the hearts of every peace loving person on earth.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mourn Barcelona, but don't ignore US war crimes in Yemen


The humanitarian catastrophe the US is helping Saudi Arabia carry out in neighboring Yemen dwarfs the atrocity in Barcelona. While the media wing of the war party blares 24/7 coverage of the hundred plus dead and wounded in Spain, they totally ignore the 20,000 slaughtered and millions facing starvation and cholera thanks to Uncle Sam's bombs, drones, planes and free mid air fuel for the grotesque Saudi warriors. Yemen is the dirty war that dare not speak its name. Human Rights Watch rightly asserts that by providing logistical and intelligence assistance to Saudi Arabia and its coalition forces, "the United States may have become a party to the conflict, creating obligations under the laws of war". There's no 'may be' about it; Uncle Sam should be in the dock at The Hague. And your and my tax dollars are funding this madness.
Anytime America wants to demonize or even attack another country we make up stuff about how they're committing atrocities against their own or neighboring peoples. We sure know what we're talking about.....we're the champs when it comes to such inhuman behavior.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Rauner shocked, shocked Trump enables white nationalists

Many Illinois Republicans were no doubt relieved Gov. Rauner issued the following statement on Trump's outrageous comments playing footsie with the violent white supremacists at Charlottesville:
"I vehemently disagree with the president's comments about the tragedy in Charlottesville. I vehemently disagree with the president's comments. We must stand together against hatred and racism and bigotry and violence, and we must condemn those actions in Charlottesville in the strongest terms,"
Reminded by a reporter he failed to mention Trump's name, something he's never done in public, Rauner strung together the five letters that 'dare not speak its name'. "TRUMP". There, I said it, Rauner no doubt pondered, on this the second anniversary of Trump's presidential announcement; a campaign built on a foundation of racism, Xenophobia, misogyny, vulgarity and bullying. And Rauner, like virtually every self preserving Republican officeholder and candidate, did the wrong thing; enabled the white nationalist enabler.
There is no context in which to applaud Rauner's remarks. We have Trump degrading America and its most vulnerable citizens and wannabe citizens, making America feared and reviled around the world, wondering if he will plunge the world into war to save his presidency, because of otherwise decent leaders like Bruce Rauner.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Who's threatening whom?

The US routinely threatens North Korea, sending planes and ships near their coast and above their skies. Every year 75,000 US and South Korean troops conduct two weeks of war games known as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises which usually provoke a North Korean response. Last year the response was their fifth nuclear test. Those 10 nukes are the best war insurance policy North Korea could possess. The US is not interested in a peace treaty between the two Koreas. Nor is it interested in normalizing relations with North Korea. Its first three priorities with North Korea are regime change, regime change, regime change. Iraq gave up its nuclear weapons program and got its regime changed. Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program and got its regime changed. Both were accomplished not from within, but courtesy of Uncle Sam. Kim Jong Un may be crazy....but he's not stupid.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Bomber Obama already trumped by Trump


In his last year in office Obama drop 3 bombs per hour per day on at least 7 predominately Muslim countries. Those 26,000 plus bombs killed untold thousands, yet a pittance his predecessor, Bush The Deranged, inflicted on Iraq. Not satisfied in leaving office without also destroying a Muslim country, Obama turned Libya into a failed state, ripe for Jihadists from around the world, and unleashing a flood of refugees our Xenophobes demonize. Yet, he's already trumped by Trump who has ratcheted up the bombing in all 7 countries, including the 11 ton blockbuster on Afghanistan and a slew of Tomahawks cruisers on Syria. Is there something in the White House water pipes that turns its occupants into crazed killers, or is it simply they become captive to the war party which has the real power and simply follows their orders to wage perpetual war on innocents paid for by our tax dollars? As the Dooomsday Clock ticks to Midnight, inquiring minds would like to know.

Roskam continues to cowardly flee from health care debate

During the eight years of the Obama presidency my congressman Peter Roskam gave health care the attention it deserved. He featured it in blaring headlines on his website. He created photo ops on health care. He proposed health care solutions. Alas, every action was designed to prevent, defund, degrade and repeal the first successful effort to insure 20 million Americans without and prevent hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. He did this by denying truths and promoting falsehoods. And he rode that disgraceful campaign to four more terms as congressman in the Illinois Sixth. Nobody lost heath care or died due to Roskam's mendacity because his disgraceful conduct was purely symbolic to appeal to his heartless, anti government base.
Then a curious development derailed Roskam's interest in health care: Republican congressional majority. On March 7 Roskam trumpeted this about the GOP placement bill: "Following through on our commitment to responsibly repeal and replace Obamacare, my colleagues and I are pleased to introduce the American Health Care Act. We’re presenting a plan to increase access to affordable, patient-focused health care for all." Tens of thousands of Sixth District residents recoiled in horror that Roskam was promoting the opposite: 22 million tossed off health care rolls and 200,000 unnecessary dead over a decade. And that wasn't symbolic; it was a grotesque possibility. The pushback as swift and relentless; Roskam could no longer appear in the Sixth without protest. Health care became the critical domestic issue that dare not speak its name in Roskamland. The website went dark; the photo ops ceased; the Trumpcare trumpet was muted.
The Illinois Sixth has gone from one of the safest Republican seats to 'in play.' Roskam's cowardice on healthcare reminds us that you can fool some of the people all of the time; all of the people some of the time; but you can't keep a majority when it's a matter of life or death.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Roskam is wild card in IL Sixth District


The most outrageous endorsement of a presidential candidate by a congressman in the 17 elections I've followed was Peter J. Roskam's astonishing rationale for endorsing Donald J. Trump.

"I do think time is Donald Trump's friend. I think people are saying... alright, I'm ready to hear this guy out, see what he has got to say with the flash and dash aside. Trump's comments (on grabbing women's genitals) are disgusting and corrosive....they fly in the face of every lesson wife Elizabeth and I taught our daughters and sons about how men and women interact. However, this election is a binary choice in which I am choosing to vote for a wild card over an unworthy candidate."

Once in office, Trump fulfilled Roskam's 'wide card' moniker in spades, degrading the office of president with virtually every statement and action. Talking peace in the Middle East one day; then ratcheting up the bombing in seven Muslim countries the next, we haven't a clue of a coherent Trump foreign policy. Using every public speech before non-political groups to reveal his gargantuan insecurities and petty grievances is unprecedented in American politics. Never has a president lied so effortlessly and transparently. Never has a president made his signature domestic issue to take heath care from 22 million, resulting in over 200,000 unnecessary deaths over a decade to lavish tax cuts on the already wealthy. Trump campaigned as best buddy of the LGBT community; then pivoted to placate the homophobe wing of his base with his disparagement of courageous, patriotic transgender soldiers. Does 'wild card' include colluding with Russia to win the election?

Roskam's wild card endorsement was pure politics designed to retain his ultraconservative base. Roskam knew, like every other informed American, of Trump's moral and intellectual unfitness for office. Roskam was not alone in endorsing the most unfit presidential candidate in history. Not a single Republican congressman disowned him. But no one offered the insulting sophistry that posited, 'genital grabbing and flash and dash aside....he still represents mainstream Republican values.'

Trump may be our wild card president for the next 3 years, but for the past ten in the Illinois Sixth, the real wild card has been Peter J. Roskam.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

When McCarthy coerced a baseball name change

An avid baseball fan since 1951, my eight year old brain was puzzled when the '53 Cincinnati Reds changed their team name to the Redlegs. The Reds had been the Reds since their return to the National League in 1890, after having been kicked out in 1880 by NL owners furious at their selling beer on Sundays running them afoul of the blue noses who ruled the NL roost. During their subsequent ten years in the American Association they were known as the Red Stockings, akin to my beloved White Sox. To celebrate their return they shortened their name to Reds which adorned their glory years of several pennants and world series championships over the next 62 years. Enter the Death Vader of US politics Joe McCarthy, who spent his Senator's perch ferreting out communists under every bed using the shorthand 'Reds' to capture headlines. In '53 Reds owners pondered their own ominous headlines such as 

                     REDS POUND PITTSBURGH or REDS TOP YANKS FOR WORLD TITLE  

and decided to add some legs to run away from McCarthyism.  Introducing the Cincinnati Redlegs.

The sad cave in to McCarthyism lasted thru the '58 season. Next spring, with McCarthy dead for a couple of years and sanity returning to the Homeland, Redlegs owners chopped the legs off the Reds sayiing: "Let the Commies change their name...we were the Reds long before they were." 

Maybe the football Redskins can steal a page from their Cincinnati baseball brethren and peel the 'skins' off their name. Hey, there's no law against teams in different sports with the same name. And, what would be cooler than to poke ol' Tail Gunner Joe up in Xenophobia Heaven, forcing him to root for the Washington Reds?  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Yemen in the time of cholera

Yemen in the time of cholera

Friday, July 28, 2017

Allowing 200,000 to die over decade a long, hard slog for GOP

The handful of Republican senators  blocking both the outright and selective 'skinny' repeals of the Affordability Health Care Act (ACA) are the exception that prove the rule: the GOP congressional majority is functioning as a psychotic legislative body. Using the working definition of psychpathy:  a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, dis-inhibited, egotistical traits, the GOP Congress qualifies. They spent the first 14 months of the Obama administration demonizing him over his signature effort, bringing health care to the 40 million without, preventing an estimated 45,000 annual deaths. The ACA, passed March 23, 2010, covered roughly half that total, arguably leading to approximately 150,000 saved lives over the past 7 years. Once passed, GOP psychopathy was further revealed spending the last 7 years of Obama's presidency pushing repeal of the ACA and using it as a cudgel to galvanize their racist, sexist, Xenophobic and homophobic base to win the House, Senate  and presidency, all on the promise to let the next generation of lives that could be saved suffer and die. Having achieved control of Congress and presidency, they are feverishly working to do just that. Why? At the most elemental level, it's to maintain power on the fiction their abominable eight years of lies about the ACA represents responsible governance. No it doesn't. It's simply anti-social psychopathy.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Short take on Trumpcare

All Democrats and 2 sensible GOP senators killed it...before it could start killing 200,000 unfortunates over next decade.
 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Roskam website a public interest disgrace

In the digital age Congressmen can provide vital, current information and views on subjects of utmost importance to constituents thru their website. But you will get nothing of value from my congressman Peter Roskam's (R IL 6th) website www.roskam.house.gov. The home page is foreboding to one seeking insight: 3 headlines under the title 'Latest News' that trumpet Roskam's vendetta against the IRS, lauding Trump's meeting with Ukraine president, and touting Roskam's bill to sanction Russia for subverting European democracies. Baffled by the irrelevance Roskam treats as 'Latest News' I tried the search engine figuring the entire site couldn't be that worthless. First up: global warming. The pop up was a May, 2014 Roskam tirade against the Obama administration for withholding info on the Benghazi investigation. The connection? The words 'global warming' appear as a concern of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi who Roskam blames for Benghazi obstruction. Next up: Infrastructure. Alas, it's a February, 2012 call by Roskam to build the Keystone Pipeline to create infrastructure jobs. Ouch! Last attempt was tax reform. Maybe Roskam might call on his affluent base to pay a few more bucks to provide middle class relief. Tho more current, the April, 2012 plea simply echoed eventual 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney's call for more tax cuts for, you guessed it, Roskam's affluent base. We should all call Roskam's office and channel his political hero Ronald Reagan by declaring: "Congressman Roskam...take down this website."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Indian removal second driver of 2nd Amendment

When gun fanatics tell me they have a Constitutional right to bear arms, with virtually no restrictions whatsoever, I ask them if they're planning to go searching for runaway slaves. For that is one of the primary drivers for the 2nd Amendment, enacted in 1791, just after the Ist Amendment protecting free speech. To be fair there was a second driver of the 2nd Amendment: Indian removal. The colonists looked west at the lush land inhabited for centuries by indigenous peoples and said, "We want that." King George demanded the colonists stay put in the 13 colonies and levied taxes to be paid in English pounds to pay for soldiers sent to enforce that edit the colonists feverishly ignored. Voila! The Declaration of Independence and revolution.

Once free of hated George III, the colonists formed militias and embarked on westward expansion initiating a century long plunder of Native Americans' wealth. And gun ownership was key to the marauding militias, hence the second driver of the famous: " A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." What did you expect them to enshrine?: "A well regulated militia being necessary to capture runaway slaves and clear Indians from the west, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rep. Breen misrepresents good governance and law in confusing voters on budget crisis



In his latest constituent email, my state rep Peter Breen (R-48), not only misrepresents his role in the Illinois budget impasse, but also a legal concept unbecoming a high profile lawyer.
Let’s start with budget crisis misrepresentation. Breen entered the House when Gov. Rauner entered the Governor’s mansion, and immediately signed on to Rauner’s turnaround agenda. It was an unprecedented and cruel tactic to strangle Illinois payments to state vendors, state universities and the needy by not passing a budget till the legislature capitulated to non budgetary items like term limits, union givebacks and property tax freezes unrelated to a statutorily required balanced budget. Rauner, with Breen’s support, presented 44 such items, and refused to approve a budget for over two years, turning a bad but improving financial situation into a disaster. Rauner’s predecessor had reduced the vendor payment backlog, paid pension obligations and kept the educational and social safety net functioning for students and persons in need. Rauner actually boasted about exploiting the worsening financial crisis he created to get his non budgetary wish list. After two years the legislature finally passed a budget, with Republican votes, reversing the financial catastrophe imposed upon the less fortunate. Breen’s enabling and cheerleading Rauner’s unprecedented, heartless refusal to provide a budget is bad governance which must be called out.
Then there is Breen’s misrepresenting the law. To explain away the 16 Republicans who had to decency and sense to pull Illinois back from the financial precipice, Breen uses the bizarre concept they were blackmailed, calling the GOP supported deal ‘budget blackmail’. Even most non lawyers know that blackmail is the criminal offence of demanding money from a person in return for not revealing compromising or injurious information about that person. Possibly the only voter in the 48th who believes the 16 principled GOP legislators were blackmailed is Peter Breen. On second thought Breen knows full well they weren’t blackmailed. Unlike Peter Breen they were, in the words of one of them ' I'm not working for Governor Rauner… I’m working for the people.’ That, Rep. Breen, is not blackmail. It’s simply good governance.