Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shoe finally on other foot

Digesting third debate it occurred to me...this is the first time in his 70 plus years The Donald has been assaulted by a woman. As newly minted Nobel Lit Prize winner Bob Dylan might say, "How does it feeeeeel?"

Stunning US hypocrisy over Aleppo and Mosul

US Secretary of State John Kerry accuses Russia of war crimes for bombing Syrian rebels in Aleppo, charging they're killing innocent women and children. Coordinated Russian and Syrian government bombing there is intended to take back Aleppo from rebels who've made life intolerable for its citizens. A rebel victory in all of Syria portends massive slaughter of Christians, Alewites, Shi'ites and government loyalists.
Using that logic our Uncle Sam is just as big a war criminal for its coordinated bombing of Mosul in Iraq with the Iraqi government to take back that rebel stronghold from Islamic State. We're in the process of getting many innocents killed over the next few months it will take to retake Mosul...if in fact we can. If we do the prize of victory well be a devastated former city with thousands of dead and wounded innocents, just like what Russia and the Syrian government will acquire in a successful retaking of Aleppo.
US media is in the tank for our criminal Uncle, slanting every Aleppo story as one of Russian criminality getting innocents slaughtered. But every story on Mosul is how the brave folks suffering under Islamic State can't wait for America's rescue..even if it levels their city and gets them killed.
At least Russia is truly fighting Islamic State. We're arming and encouraging Islamic State's civil war in Syria because our priority is regime change in Syria to weaken Iran on behalf of our true friends in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.
Don't believe one word from our renegade Uncle and his puppets in mainstream media on our criminal Middle East wars. They lie endlessly and we absorb their lies like the compliant sponges we've become. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pass 'Lock Box' Amendment in Illinois

As a retired 42 year veteran of the logistics industry, I strongly oppose calls, such as that of the Trib's Editorial Board, to vote down the Illinois Constitutional Amendment preventing pols from raiding the state transportation fund to pay for state services other than repairing/replacing roads, bridges and other critically needed infrastructure. Infrastructure is the state's circulatory system. Neglect it, as state leaders have done for years, and your put the state body politic at great risk, just as if you spent money for personal heart health on fatty foods, drugs and booze, destroying your own precious circulatory system. 

The Trib naively demands lawmakers stop raiding the fund to balance the budget. Yet the Trib never advocates for a fair and adequate progressive state income tax which could support critical state services, including the social safety net, without having to steal from protecting the most important structural component of personal safety while traveling the state. 

It's an insult to demonize critically needed infrastructure as mere opportunity to give lawmakers "the opportunity to scissor pretty red ribbons back home". Those pretty red ribbons provide good middle class jobs which pay desperately needed state taxes. Those pretty red ribbons keep folks off welfare. Those pretty red ribbons could save your life. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

62 dead Syrian soldiers just a boo-boo to US war party

On September 17 US air strikes killed 62 Syrian soldiers and wounded over 100. The Pentagon trotted out their best Steve Martin mask, complete with arrow going thru the head and bellowed "Excuuuuse Me." This essentially derailed cooperation between the US and Russia to end the violence in Syria that has devastated that sorrowful land. Russia is aiding its neighbor and ally Syria defeat the terrorist rebels seeking overthrow of President Assad. Besides assisting the duly elected Syrian government, Russia has a vested interest in stopping Islamic terrorists on its doorstep. The US is also playing a double game here: stopping the advance of Islamic State while inflicting regime change in Syria with what it fantasizes are 'moderate' rebels. Memo to Uncle Sam: moderates in Syria don't exist. Much or our support goes to the very folks we are trying to eradicate. In Syria we're more truly interested in Syrian regime change and poking the Russian Bear than stopping Islamic State.  

The US has no business inflicting regime change on Syria and aiding terrorists in the process.  We have no business ratcheting up tensions with the only nation that could destroy us with nuclear weapons. Regime change in Afghanistan failed. Regime change in Iraq failed. Regime change in Libya failed. Regime change in Ukraine failed. But regime change in Syria will not only could lead to nuclear war. 

Forget the pig circus of a presidential campaign. Demand an end to America's failed interventions in the Middle East. Demand an end to demonizing Russia. Demand an end to control of every presidential administration, military and media by the war party.   

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Republican Party after Donald Trump

The Trib editorial, 'The Republican Party after Donald Trump' is stunning in its denial of the moral rot destroying the GOP. Claiming "It was neither the immigration-bashing party nor the party of intolerance, misogyny, exclusion. Those are Trump traits. Republican values embrace equal opportunity for all — including, yes, the women, ethnic minorities and many others whom Trump has slandered and would ostracize." But those are precisely the traits of the 13,300,000 Republican Trump voters, 47% of the 28,600,000 who voted for the four top serious contenders. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, bullying, threats of violence are standard fare for these Trump voting Republicans who finally got a Republican they could back with missionary zeal. They have turned on the moderate Republicans like House Speaker Ryan and Illinois Senator Mark Kirk who want nothing to do with Trump. The Trib Editorial Board is delusional if it thinks Trump's looming thrashing will purge the party of these plurality traits given that they have no where to go, except wait for the next Republican demagogue to emerge. To say "Trump might have won this election if it had been held two months ago" is ludicrous. All his traits of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, bullying, intemperance and intellectual laziness were on full display to all from the start of his scorched earth Primary campaign he began in June, 2015.
To equate the Clinton-Sanders Democratic divide with the Trump-sane Republicans divide is equally preposterous. With Sanders' strong backing Clinton continues to peel off disgruntled Sanders voters who realize the stakes in stopping a neo-fascist and moral degenerate are too high to stay home.
While the Trib gushes about the roll the Republicans are on in capturing 23 state governments, those Republican Banana Republics roll over the middle class, the needy, women's reproductive health, minority voters and the hapless sick denied Medicaid. That, Ivory Trib Tower pundits, is not something to gloat about; its something to hang your collective heads in shame over.
The Trib looks forward to Trump's defeat so Republicans can start digging out of the "rubble" and begin heading home. Pathetically, they'll be led by the energized 13,300,000 who want another racist, xenophobe, misogynist, bully, and verbal bomb-thrower to lead the way.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Herald's peculiar fascination with Congressman Roskam

Every two years the Herald dusts of its tepid endorsement of Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) and updates it for his latest challenger it can barely mention by name. They always start with the disclaimer he's too far right on social issues, without mentioning he's a climate change denier; without mentioning he throw 20,000,000 off Obamacare if he could; without mentioning he'd withdraw abortion services for all Sixth District women if he could; without mentioning his A rating from the NRA; without mentioning his championing tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and needy.
What does the Herald like about Roskam? They claim he's "ready to work across the aisle, regardless who becomes president" even though he tacitly supported the despicable Republican attempt to delegitimize President Obama for the past eight years, and supported the outrageous 2013 government shutdown that inflicted a political crisis while draining $24 billion from the economy. If that's working across the aisle, I'd like to know real partisanship is like. In ten years all the Herald can point to is his work on Medicare fraud, which for Roskam, is simply part of his meme to stigmatize the government safety net. In sum, the Herald touts that after ten years in the House, they appreciate "his strong knowledge of the issues and his work ethic on Capitol Hill."
The Herald says nothing about foreign policy where Roskam has spent the last decade demonizing Iran, including working to sabotage the Iran Nuclear Agreement which likely averted war with Iran. Roskam is a war party hawk, relentlessly backing our trillion dollar wars in the Middle East and moaning about American weakness over the President's measured pulled back from his predecessor's criminal wars.
Most sadly of all is the Herald's omission of Roskam's support for moral degenerate Donald Trump, calling Trumps racism, sexism, xenophobia, and bullying "slap and dash" and touting he's still going to vote for the 'wild card."
Inexplicitly, the Herald Editorial Board can't differentiate stalwart conservatism from reckless radicalism.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Please don't call it 'medical marijuana'

Time to free the 137,000 Americans (as reported by ACLU and Human Rights Watch) who languish is jail for mere drug possession. All they were doing before the trip to the pokey was self medicating. ACLU and HRW also report that in the last 2 decades arrests for violent crime are down 36% but arrests for drug possession are up 13%. Hey....gotta fill those privatized jails someway.
Time to let all 137,000 out and expunge drug possession from their records so the majority can re-enter society, including the work force.
While at it, let's deep six the name 'marijuana'. Up till American justice went berserk in the 1930's demonizing marijuana in a racist ploy to stigmatize its use by minorities and the poor, it was known as cannabis. First drug Czar Henry J. Anslinger (1882-1975) promoted the name 'marijuana' to give it an exotic, foreign sounding moniker to scare the Bejeezus out of white middle class America. Remember 1937's "Reefer Madness"?
It's cannabis, dammit. Medical marijuana may sound alliterative, but we can easily retain that with 'curative cannabis'. Or just simply CGM (Cheap Good Medicine).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Congressman Roskam's soulless monologue on The Donald

My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) speaks volumes about his political cowardice while commenting on the important moral issue of confronting the racism, xenophobia, sexism, bullying, lying and debasing of the American political process emanating from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
July 19
"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."
October 9
"Trump's comments on women 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."
October 12
"Hillary Clinton has already disqualified herself by her actions and deeds. Donald Trump has 28 days left to convince me that he's the right person to fix our broken tax code, bring accountability to the federal government, and restore American leadership to the world stage."
October 13
"Donald Trump's a wild card, that's for sure. He's got some work to do, in terms of communicating and so forth. But I think we'd be better off with him than with her."
You know who else has some work to do? Peter J. Roskam.

Rauner's radical departure from Republican moderation in Illinois

Gov. Rauner is eighteen months into an unprecedented assault on the core purposes of state government: providing for the commons, delivering those services as efficiently as possible, and investing in education, infrastructure and tourism to make Illinois a nationwide model of thriving economic growth.

Sadly, state media has ignored that Rauner's vision for Illinois is a radical departure of promoting those core requirements that has never before been abandoned by traditional Republican leaders such as Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan. Rauner treats every investment in the future as something to be cut. He's endangered and worsened the lifestyle of a million Illinoisans dependent on the social safety net that Rauner cuts instead of repairing. He's telling the investment community to dis-invest in Illinois with his refusal to pass a budget, holding it up for his anti union, anti prevailing wage planks that have nothing to do with the budgetary process. He's dis-investing in education, forcing many future leaders and entrepreneurs to educate elsewhere which results in 70% staying in the state that actually values education.

It is imperative we sensible Illinoisans turn Rauner back to the private sector in 2018 so he can resume breaking up companies to increase his obscene wealth. Bruce Rauner must be stopped from completing his breakup of Illinois.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Roskam's Trump support epic moral failing

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) brought his wife, two daughters and two sons into the controversy regarding moral reprobate Donald Trump's presidential bid. He called Trump's bragging about how he loves to sexually grope women, including married ones, "disgusting, corrosive" and that "it flies in the face of every lesson wife Elizabeth and I taught our daughters and sons about how men and women interact."
Those family values aside, Roskam plans to vote for moral reprobate Trump because this election is a "binary choice" in which he is "choosing to vote for a wild card over an unworthy candidate." Roskam's use of 'binary',''unworthy' and 'wild card' are telling. They are meaningless words designed to soften his slinking away from confronting possibly the most important moral issue ever in a presidential campaign. Roskam knows Trump is morally and temperamentally unfit to be president. But he also knows that the majority of his Republican base in the Sixth District still support Trump and may send Roskam into retirement should Roskam disavow Trump over his rape culture character, not to mention his racism, xenophobia, and mocking of the disabled who cause him discomfort.
The lesson for the Sixth District is clear. Roskam will jettison the most basic precepts of decent behavior he's taught his children to stay in office. In addition, if necessary, he'll use his family as a prop to confuse the electorate on his cynical road to a lifetime political career.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The President's worst broken promise

“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons… To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.” 
- President Obama in Prague, April 4, 2009

Roskam's 'government overreach' just another 'states rights' dog whistle

My congressman Peter Roskam is campaigning for his fifth re-election on the slogan he's protecting the Sixth District from government overreach. That harmless sounding phrase is actually a 21st century version of protecting citizens 'states rights' used by segregationists and other reactionaries last century to derail civil rights and other federal programs to help the needy, the poor and the marginalized. Roskam has spent the last decade in a failed attempt to prevent expansion of health care to 20,000,000 uninsured, saving 50,000 lives. He's spent the last decade opposing every attempt to make marriage more inclusive. He's spent the last decade opposing every domestic jobs program. He's spent the last decade demonizing the IRS to pander to the 'no taxation to help the less fortunate crowd'. His support to weaken the IRS has allowed his privileged base to game the system, further weakening resources to re-build America. His efforts to stop any progressive legislation aided the 2013 government shutdown, inflicting a $24 billion hit to the economy. Yet, Roskam audaciously touts his bi-partisan bonifides.

One area of true government overreach Roskam supports is prevention of access to reproductive health for the district's 350,000 women. On that issue Roskam's governance cannot reach far enough to inflict needless harm to one of their most cherished rights.

Sixth district residents may reach for a better choice this November. Ten years of regressive dog whistles to oppose progress for the district, the state, the nation are enough.

Trib's Gary Johnson endorsement 'save saving' at its worst

The Trib Editorial Board knows Hillary Clinton will succeed President Obama next January 20. Already on record that Donald Trump is intellectually, temperamentally, and morally unfit to be president, endorsement of Clinton should be even more forthcoming than their endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Unfortunately, the Trib has chosen to follow the thoroughly discredited Republican meme that government investment in education, infrastructure, family leave and health care for all is bad governance and must be opposed, even at the sake of jettisoning their editorial integrity. Since the Trib knows opposing Clinton for her belief in the strong, principled government that lifted America out of the Great Recession of 2007, brought over five straight years of private sector job growth, drastic drop in unemployment and debt growth, sustained stock market growth, marriage equality to all, health insurance to 20 million, saving 50,000 lives and many more, would sound ludicrous, the Board simply ignores those accomplishments. Instead they pretend she'll spend America into horrendous debt and kill private sector job growth, which in their twisted vision, can only occur when you strangle government investment in our infrastructure and our people.
The Trib buttresses this fallacious economic and political argument with the vicious Republican campaign to de-legitimize her in the same fashion the GOP de-legitimized President Obama for the past eight years. Calling her untrustworthy and overly ambitious is all the Republican Party has in their hopeless attempt to drag her down to Trump's level. To even suggest Clinton is as unacceptable a choice as Trump is destructive to understanding the horrific political crisis the Trump takeover of the Republican Party provides.
To save face with the Trib's doctrinaire anti government base, the Editorial Board endorses a doctrinaire anti government libertarian who offers little besides more tax relief for the well off by tearing down the social safety net. This may be the Trib's principles, but it's not that of the 50% plus who will propel Hillary Clinton to continue the inexorable march of human progress begun by her Trib backed predecessor.
The Trib Editorial Board disgraced itself in the March Primary by refusing to endorse either of two great progressive Democrats. With its editorial integrity shattered, the Trib is left saving what's left of it's regressive face.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Clara Peller finds none in Chapman's effort to put beef on Trib's meatless Snowden pardon denial

After trotting out a meatless editorial bemoaning all the damage Edward Snowden did to American national security, The Trib Editorial Board trotted out member Steve Chapman to add beef to the Trib's beef about a pardon for Snowden for outing Uncle Sam's illegal surveillance of every American.
Everything Chapman offered to oppose a pardon in his 'No pardon for Snowden' op ed, was conjecture, buttressed by conjecture from liberal legal big wigs like UChicago's Geoffrey Stone and former ACLU national security counsel Tim Edgar. One gets more conjecture from reading the three page summary of the classified report, (…/hpsci_snowden_review_-_uncl…) which, after 25 months of study, amounts to a mere 36 pages. Much of that three page summary focuses on character assassination of Snowden as a liar, serial exaggerator, fabricator and disruptive employee. And oh, my goodness gracious, his exposure has cost hundreds of millions of dollars, about a week's worth of illegal bombing of seven Muslim countries. That, and not anything Snowden did is what imperils our national security.
If Clara Peller, Wendy's octogenarian beef inspector of competitive burgers were to read Chapman's op ed, she'd surely bellow 'WHERE'S THE BEEF?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pardon Trib for supporting criminal war? Nyet!

The Trib Editorial Board mounted their high war party horse to oppose a pardon for National Security Agency whistle blower Edward Snowden in their editorial that answered the pardon question with a strong "Nyet". Use of the Russian 'NO' was a snide slam at Snowden's Russian hosts as he seeks return to the US with a pre-arranged plea deal to avoid a 'show trial' and its likely long prison sentence. Virtually ignoring the public service Snowden provided in outing the Bush Administration's mass secret surveillance, a stain on what American should stand for, to claim only in general terms that "Snowden's actions did severe damage to U.S. national security, compromising the Intelligence Community's anti-terror efforts and endangering the security of the American people as well as active-duty U.S. troops" and that "the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars — and eventually will spend billions — to clean up the mess and 'mitigate the damage' Snowden caused."
That's about as specific as saying 'Edward Snowden did a very bad thing.' Speaking of bad things, how about the Tribune, with full knowledge to the contrary, supporting our criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that caused hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, including over 7,000 GI's, several trillion in squandered treasure, and unquestionably paved the way for ISIS and the unfolding collapse of peace in the Middle East. Not satisfied with that madness, the Trib Editorial Board fought hard against detente with Iran, gins up war to oust Syrian President Assad, demonizes Russia at every turn, and totally ignores the plight of the Palestinians, suffering slow genocide at the hands of Israel.
Pardon the Trib Editorial Board for their untiring support of perpetual war? If legendary Tribune Publisher Robert McCormick could come back from Isolationist Heaven, he wouldn't say 'Nyet'. He'd say 'You're all fired.' Then he'd pen an editorial demanding the US withdraw from its criminal destruction of the Middle East.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

US military needs new public spokesman

News that the US military, the so called greatest in the world, mistakenly bombed Syrian troops instead of ISIS, killing 83 and wounding 120, should surprise no one. Bombing the innocents is its specialty, whether killing dozens at a Muslim wedding party, dozens at a Doctors Without Borders hospital or now dozens of soldiers in a foreign country we defile with our criminal bombing.
These atrocities happen so frequently Uncle Sam should hire the proper spokesman to explain and apologize for them to a mystified and outraged world. How 'bout comedian Steve Martin. Every time we blow another group of innocents to bits, we could trot him with with his arrow thru the head gear. He'd step up to a genuine US military podium and proclaim......"EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME!"

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Worthy apology follows shameful excuse

Former State Representative Ron Sandack (R -81) gave a straightforward apology for his abrupt resignation from the state legislature, albeit two months late and after trashing his own profession to avoid telling the real reason. Yesterday Sandack revealed:
"This past July, I was the target of an international crime ring focusing on high-profile individuals luring them to engage in inappropriate online conversations with the intent of extortion,I took their bait and fell for it hook, line and sinker.Poor decisions on my part enabled me to be a victim and, as a responsible citizen, I reported it and have been working with the police throughout their investigation. I'm human. I made a mistake for which I am remorseful and ashamed, especially because I have hurt my family, and there is no greater self-inflicted wound than that."
What a contrast to Sandack's first explanation for his inexplicable resignation July 24 when he blamed the now revealed self-inflicted wound thusly:
"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."
When asked if his resignation involved compromising information, Sandack replied 'No."
Politics is a noble profession because it's our method of self governance for good or not so good. Calling politics 'ugly' to deflect attention from one's persona peccadilloes is ugly, not politics. Sandack would have been well served apologizing for that insult as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pardon? Hell, give Snowden a Hero Metal.

As one who supported Edward Snowden from Day One in his Odyssey to avoid prosecution for stealing government property and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, to expose illegal governmental mass surveillance, It's grim satisfaction that many in public affairs and the media are now calling for the President to give Snowden a full pardon. It was the Bush administration that inflicted real damage on our body politic with its mass surveillance that courts simply deemed 'wrong' under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Because of Snowden's bravery in risking life in prison, if not the death penalty, for his courageous actions, prompting his dash to safety in Russia, mass surveillance abuse has been stopped with widespread reforms. Many sensible officials, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, acknowledge Snowden's contributions to transparency and lawfulness in governmental surveillance of its citizens. Not a hint of personal gain or attempt to harm America shadows Snowden's actions.
Compare Snowden's selfless motivation to that of former general David Petraeus, the 'MacArthur' like Golden Boy the neocons used to con America into supporting our criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Petraeus was given a slap on the wrist for providing his biographer classified information, and is still trotted out by the war party to justify American perpetual war, as he enjoys a well paid life in business and academia. Petraeus' motivation? Enjoying a fawning biography of himself between the covers while enjoying the gorgeous biographer under the covers.
Yes, lets give Snowden that pardon, and while at it, free an even more courageous whistle blowing patriot, former Pvt. Chelsea Manning, three years into a 35 year sentence for revealing a snippet of American war crimes in Iraq. If the government really wants to bring grievous government criminals to justice, they could start with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trump has nothing on world's greatest negotiator

The Donald loves to brag about his being the world's greatest negotiator, but I'd give that honor to the Israeli government. Let's see, they steal our nuclear technology to build about 80 nukes in contravention the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which they haven't joined; kill or maim thousands of Palestinians while stealing their land, water resources, access to food and medical care; try to sabotage the Iran detente deal as the only means to avoid all out war with Iran; and then, somehow, someway, persuades Uncle Sam to lavish them with $38 billion in defense stuff over the next ten years, while America crumbles.
World's greatest negotiator? Case closed.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dump pledge as well as anthem at non-governmental events

We have big problems in this world, yet we waste limitless ink, pixels and talking head time agonizing over a football player refusing to stand for the Pledge at a sporting event. That's right, a sporting event. This isn't a governmental function or a military parade. It's a business enterprise in which the owners get fabulously rich, and the players risk permanent injury or early onset dementia with every play. 

On second thought, if all that ink and pixels and talking head time helps focus on the fact that 31 Republican controlled state legislators are working feverishly to disenfranchise millions of minority voters to rig the election and return America to pre-Voting Rights Act governance, than that sit down is one to stand up for. 

Private business ventures and meetings should end the practice of beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance as well as the National Anthem. When called on to say the Pledge, I comply but emphatically add the NO before the word God. When Ike and Congress put God in the Pledge back in '54, they lost my allegiance to its revision forever. At meetings of our local political organization, we proudly replace the Pledge with an inspiring quote by an inspiring person. Here's one that fits the quarterback who wouldn't stand:

   “Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.” 
― Albert Einstein

If Albert were around today, he'd flag the quarterback's critics for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

End prison for non-violent, non-repetitive offenders

America's criminal justice system is a disgrace; failing on multiple levels. One that stands out is incarceration. The US houses 2.2 million souls, over half a million more than runner up China with four times our population. Containing just 4.3% of the planet's population, we house 22% its its ten million detainees. Cross the border to Canada and the imprisonment rate drops from 743 per hundred thousand to 118 per hundred grand. That's not so grand. America is No. 1, but not in what you should brag about.

Let's stop using the utterly futile and costly adage 'lock em up' when someone commits a non-violent crime. End incarceration for non-violent offenders, with no criminal history and not likely to become repeat offenders. Whether they steal a hot dog from an unguarded vendor or $150 million like the Great Madoff, allow judges the discretion to suspend any prison sentence for such candidates. Use home confinement, except for going to or from work, restitution, and the threat of imposing the suspended sentence for failure to comply.
Use the freed up prison cells to house the truly dangerous, the repetitive and the incorrigible to protect both themselves and society from further murder and mayhem. Let's replace the stupid pills we feed our juries, jurists and legislators with wisdom, compassion and common sense.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Two from Illinois

Kudos to Congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush who were the only Illinois congressmen among 64 who signed the congressional letter sent to President Obama calling for moratorium in arms sales to Saudi Arabia over their criminal bombing of neighboring Yemen that has left 10,000 dead, 7 million near starvation and the country largely destroyed. Of course, as the supplier of the bombs, planes and logistical support for these war crimes, the US is also committing war crimes. That still leaves 371 congressmen and women under control of the US war party. US war crimes make no dent on their conscience. They are the best that war party money can buy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Uncle Sam's Three Sunni Stooges fuel sectarian war in Syria

Three and a half years ago, the US greenlighted expansion of the raging civil war in Syria, with the death toll now approaching 400,000. At a March, 2012, conference in Saudi Arabia, we acquiesced to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey arming Sunni rebel groups seeking to overthrow Syrian president Assad. We said it was OK to arm 'moderate' rebels, when in fact virtually all of them seek jihad against the Shiites, Alawites, Druze and Christians, all being protected by President Assad. If the rebels win, many in those groups will die. The US will never admit that this bargain with the Devil to remove Assad has prolonged the war and worsened the unspeakable toll on the Syrian people and their land. A year earlier we had a chance to broker a peaceful settlement but sabotaged the deal because it would have left Assad in power, a non negotiable demand in winning our proxy war against our imagined enemy in the Middle East, Iran.
Uncle's three stooges give us military bases and support for our futile efforts to prevent Iran from exerting hegemony in the region. Now the proxy war against Iran includes nuclear armed Russia employing its considerable power to insure its bordering ally Syria does not fall to Sunni jihadists who could use Syria to destabilize Russia as well.
Syria is now the most dangerous trip wire in the world for both a massive regional war; even a nuclear one. After failing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, one would think we'd pause before continuing the death spiral of failed US military intervention. And one might ponder that with friends like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey...we don't need enemies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

1.8 million counting on Women's Boats to Gaza

The ten year long sea blockade of Gaza by Israel represents collective punishment and crimes against humanity; and must be opposed by every sane, decent person. In seventeen days the Amal Hope sets sail from Barcelona, Spain with token supplies, but more importantly, a glimmer of hope for the 1.8 million living under horrendous conditions in the small strip of land which constitutes the world's largest open air prison. In August, 2008, two small boats did make the journey safely, prompting Israel to attack the Mavi Mamara, the next boat that tried in 2010, resulting in nine dead crew. A year later a Greek boat was intercepted in international waters; the crew was spared death but kidnapped and imprisoned for a time in Israel. The Amal Hope's all women crew of politicians, media, athletes, artists and activists includes athlete coach Cegdem Tapcuoglu, widow of one of the nine murdered on the Mavi Mamara.
Back in the 1930's and 40's Americans were rightly criticized for ignoring the catastrophe engulfing European Jews. Yet, eight decades on were not only ignoring the catastrophe engulfing nearly two million Gazans, three quarters of whom suffer food insecurity, we stand by while our government throws billions of our tax dollars at the Israeli government every year to enable this human tragedy.
Though a non-theist, I'll be saying a little prayer on September 16 for the Amal Hope and its courageous crew of determined women who should make us all turn away in shame for our insensitivity to man's inhumanity to man.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Peter Roskam's Jack Benny moment

Robber to Jack Benny: "Your money or your life."
Robber to Jack Benny: "Your money or your life."
Jack Benny: "I'm thinking it over."
That iconic Jack Benny gag on his love of money is being channeled by my Illinois 6th District Congressman Peter Roskam regarding his deafening silence so far on whether he'll support racist, xenophobe, misogynist GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
I can imagine a conversation like this in the unlikely chance Roskam would engage his constituents in a Town Hall meeting before the election.
Voter to Peter Roskam: "Are you voting for racist, xenophobe, misogynist GOP Candidate Donald Trump or will you vote on principle againt him?"
Voter to Peter Roskam: "Are you voting for racist, xenophobe, misogynist GOP Candidate Donald Trump or will you vote on principle againt him?"
Peter Roskam: "I'm thinking it over."
Unlike Benny, Roskam's dilemma is not a love of money; it's a love of a lifetime in Congress.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Crocodile tears flow at Governor's Mansion

The Illinois Governor's Mansion was awash with crocodile tears shed by Governor Rauner after a Cook County judge denied placement of a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would move legislative redistricting from the legislature to an independent body. Rauner promoted the move as a non-budgetary plank in his 'turnaround' agenda that has held up a state budget for nineteen months now. During this time critical social services have been cut, tossing many of Illinois' most needy from the social safety net into to a poorer life. Low income students have lost tuition grants forcing many into a shaky job market without a proper education. State vendors must wait longer for payment, driving some to drink if not bankruptcy. Yet, Governor Rauner continues the delusional charade that independent redistricting and other turnaround items will solve all the problems affecting Illinois' needy and forgotten.
Better crocodile tears flow from the governor than the blood that keeps dripping from the body politic due to the most heartless cuts in state services I've seen in my 60 years following Illinois governance. The Democratic super majority in the legislature is the bulwark keeping us from full implementation of Rauner's 'reverse Robin Hood' policies designed to enhance his rich base at everyone else's expense. Just a week ago the governor had a chance to enhance democracy here but his veto of automatic motor voter registration didn't fit into his 2018 re-election plans. That veto, and his unconscionable holding hostage of the budget process for a heartless agenda, makes his tears no more real than Crying Barbie's.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

US war crimes in Yemen produce big yawn

With US help, including American made planes and bombs, aerial refueling and other logistical support, Saudi Arabia is committing grotesque carnage in the pitiful neighboring state of Yemen, since intervening in the Yemen civil war in March, 2015. US arms sales to Saudi Arabia in those 17 months amounts to $20 billion. Just this week the US announced another $1.15 billion, giving Congress just a single day to veto the sale when they return to work after their summer snooze. The timing of our latest sale of WCD (weapons of civilian destruction) is a tad embarrassing for Uncle Sam. Saudi Arabia just ratcheted up their air campaign, killing 35 civilians in schools, hospitals and residences in Northern Yemen in the past few days. Over 6,000 dead, including 3,000 civilians and tens of thousands injured or homeless since Saudi intervention began.
The UN has called the Saudi campaign impacting 21 million Yemenese a humanitarian catastrophe and war crimes. Yet, the US is just a guilty, as Saudi aggression is only possible with U.S. weapons and logistical support. A few Congressmen resist this descent into madness speaking out and working to end US arms sales to the Saudis. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) argues "If you talk to Yemeni Americans, they will tell you in Yemen this isn’t a Saudi bombing campaign, it’s a US bombing campaign...every single civilian death inside Yemen is attributable to the United States." According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), "Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record. We should not rush to sell them advanced arms and promote an arms race in the Middle East." Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA 33) added “When its repeated air strikes that have now killed children, doctors, newlyweds, patients, at some point you just have to say: Either Saudi Arabia is not listening to the United States or they just don’t care,”
Alas, these three are overwhelmed by the vast majority of the 535 Congressmen who are bought and sold by the war party, and who have no soul and no conscience. Joining them is the compliant media who follow orders, uttering not a peep of US war crimes in Yemen. It wouldn't be prudent if they want access to administration sources.
And how President Obama can sleep at night allowing thousands of innocents to be blown to bits is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize on the dresser helps blot out the bloody Yemenese bodies destroyed by American made ordinance.
Next time someone tells you how great America is, yawn...and ask about Yemen.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Friday, August 19, 2016

An Obama Plan for inner cities should channel Marshall Plan

My conservative colleagues in social debate love to lay the tragic wasteland of America's inner cities at the hands of Democrats, whom they claim, have ruled those sorrowful inhabitants for a century. Vote for candidates 'not espousing the same drivel' and all those drugs, unemployment, guns and crime will begin to recede, they claim.
Nonsense. The folks pointing the finger are the ones in state legislatures and Congress refusing to spend a dollar to rebuild America, particularly our racially ravaged inner cities. They're motivated by greed, heartlessness and at worst, racism; often reveling in the festering shame of America.
Since he's looking for a new gig next January, I'd like to see Mr. Obama lend his name to the rebuilding of America's ghetto's in the same spirit of self interest rightly understood that motivated the Marshall Plan of 1948. Named after its prime motivator, Gen. George C. Marshall, the Marshall Plan invested $12 billion ($120 bill in today's dough) to rebuild 18 Western European countries devastated by WWII. It was self interest rightly understood in that the investment was a pittance of the cost in blood and treasure from a Europe collapsing into chaos.
What better legacy for the man who gave us the audacity to hope for an America that could rebound from the malaise of near economic collapse, massive military adventurism and refusal to address the 40 million shut out of a heartless health care system designed only for the well off.
An Obama Plan for America's ghettos is not reparations, not welfare, not free stuff and not paternalism. It is, in the best tradition of the Marshall Plan, American self interest rightly understood.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rauner motor voter veto cynical ploy of career minded pol

Gov. Rauner talks the talk about improving voter participation to enliven democracy in Illinois, but when time to walk the walk, he falls limp. Dismissing huge bi-partisan majorities on the House (86-30) and Senate (50-7) which passed automatic voter legislation in May, Rauner let it languish for 2 months before his veto, preventing it from taking effect in 2018, when he plans to run for re-election.
His first concern is utterly frivolous; the standard GOP canard of Democratic voter fraud, when the only voter fraud is relentless GOP efforts to restrict minority voting through photo ID, fewer polling places, restricted early voting, onerous eligibility requirements, among others. Rauner's too slick to promote those tactics, relying on feigned voter fraud concerns without an iota of evidence to block automatic voter registration. His second concern regarding possible conflict with federal voting law is equally frivolous. Negotiations between bill supporters and Rauner which could have easily resolved that concern broke down when Rauner demanded no change be made till January, 2019, when he assumes he'll be starting his second term.
That's not going to happen. When you discredit your reform pronouncements with contradictory action on virtually every important issue, the voters will show you just how easy term-limiting cynical, ineffective public servants can be. Rauner can veto motor voter in Illinois, but he can't veto voters from motoring to the polls in 2018 to send him packing

Monday, August 15, 2016

Uncle Sam's head buried in sand...or worse on marijuana

Last week the DEA rejected dropping marijuana as a Class 1 bad drug in the same league as heroin and just ahead of cocaine and meth. Nuts? You bet your bong. Raising the middle finger to their crazed Uncle, 25 states and DC allow medical pot, providing cheap, life improving relief to millions for a host of painful, debilitating ailments too long to list. Four states and DC have upped the ante, providing simple pleasure to stressed out citizens with recreational weed. This November, besides sweeping the maniacal racist and xenophobe Trump off the public stage, voters in eight more states will likely join the medical or recreational category. Incredibly, every state and every citizen enjoying the medical or recreational benefits of ganja are still in violation of federal law.
The careerists at the DEA and the lobbyists at greedy corporations that benefit from keeping tea tossed into Boston Harbor ain't stupid. With weed at Class 1, profits of the 1% stay high instead of the spirits of the common man. Many a DEA agent or local drug cop spiked his career ascent arresting oodles of utterly harmless pot possessors. Good for John Law; bad for John Q. Citizen.
In the race for progress, the fed usually leads the states by a country mile. Regarding muggles, Uncle Sam is no where in sight.   

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Congressman and The Donald

A few Republican congressmen are running away from presidential nominee Donald Trump faster than Jesse Owens at the '36 Berlin Olympics. Horrified by his racism, xenophobia, misogyny and delusional ravings, they're hoping to get re-elected without the Trump stench sending them into retirement. A majority embrace him as the embodiment of Republican values, proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the white nationalists and the KKK seeing Trump as the antidote to the black man they never accepted as their president.
Then there's my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6), who has mastered the art of political gobbledygook in a desperate attempt straddle the Trump loving Republican majority in his district without appearing to endorse the most ignorant, mendacious and unqualified person to run for president in our lifetime. In May Roskam told WLS he wasn't ready to endorse Trump for two critical reasons; Trump implied taxes may go up and didn't seem to be bothered by entitlements. Roskam couched his entire concern of endorsing Trump on the grounds he may not reflect heartless Republican values rather than his obvious unfitness for office. But in July it appeared Roskam was endorsing Trump, telling WGN "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."
If Congressman Roskam thinks pandering to the David Duke KKK wing of the Republican Party is 'flash and dash', it's fair to consider Roskam's unfitness for office along with The Donald.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Rauner achieving GOP term limits the old fashioned way

Eighteen days ago, top ally of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, abruptly quit the state legislature, citing 'cyber security issues'. Today, a top Rauner ally in the Senate, Matt Murphy of Palatine, will quit the Senate to take a job in public affairs. Sandack was running for re-election in relatively safe House District 81, while Murphy' 27th Senate district seat wasn't even up for re-election. Both were passionate and high profile advocates of Rauner's delusional 'turnaround agenda' targeting the needy, state workers, students and state vendors to give back or give up state services to benefit Rauner's and Sandack's and Murphy's wealthy base. It is unprecedented for top legislative advocates of a governor to up and quit in the middle of a momentous political battle. Forget what they say about quitting. The reason for both is they see no future in sticking with a failed governor governing headlong into one term oblivion, leaving Illinois much worse off than than when he became governor.
Gov. Rauner endlessly preaches for term limits which insults voters and the democratic process. Apparently, he's figured out he can achieve that goal, at least in his own party, by driving them out with incompetence.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Obama needs to free Blago

No surprise Federal Judge James Zagel refused to lower former governor Rod Blagojevich's 14 year sentence for essentially acting the fool as governor, so Blago sits in the can at our expense for another 8 years, minimum. But he did less harm to the Illinois body politic in 6 years as governor than current governor Rauner did in his first 6 weeks. The needy, union workers, students, state vendors and the rest of us would gladly trade Rauner for Blago even up. Though Blago was a fool, he didn't make the little people suffer like the billionaire does to implement a rich boys' agenda that will never happen. But heartlessness is not a crime so Rauner gets to finish his term disgracing the job of public servant.
Come on, Mr. President, end this foolishness and FREE BLAGO!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Modern...and not so good Olympics ushered in 80 years ago this month

I lost interest in the Olympics back in the 50's when they were hyped as one more contest in the death struggle between communism and capitalism; Russia versus the US. What nonsense. The Olympics have always been tied to mindless nationalism. The ancient Olympics were held at Olympia every 4 years from 776 BC to 393 AD. They were used by the Greek city-states to assert dominance over one another and spread Hellenistic influence throughout the Mediterranean. The modern Olympics, restarted in Athens in 1896, were modest affairs run on shoestring budgets and relatively devoid of nationalistic bravado through the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.
That changed forever eighty years ago with Olympiad XI held in Berlin. Awarded the games in 1931, during the Wiemar government, Germany changed course under Hitler, determined to use the games to promote the Nazi ideal and inevitability of their future world conquest. Lavishly financed and first to be broadcast and televised, Hitler also commissioned Leni Riefenstahl to document them in likely the greatest sports documentary ever, albeit to further the Nazi cause. Riefenstah's 'Olympiad' forever set the model and tone for sports documentaries, still a stunning view eighty years later.
But Hitler and his Nazi thugs almost lost the games twice in '34 and '35 when their virulent racism and antisemitism sparked threats of boycotts. The first effort followed the Nazi's demand that no blacks and no Jews compete. American Nazi enabler Avery Brundage, head of the US Olympic Committee, met with Nazis and Jewish athletes, reporting back 'no problem here' when Hitler caved on other country's use of Jewish and black athletes. The Fuhrer even allowed a Jewish token on the German fencing team, one Helene Mayer, whose Nordic stature made everyone pretend she was a pure Aryan. Brundage came back charging it was simply American Jewish communists who were agitating for an unnecessary boycott. In a close vote, the US Amateur Athletic Association voted to attend and US participation was secured.
A record number of countries and athletes descended upon Berlin for the August 1 opening event, not seeing the Gypsies who'd been shuffled off to local concentration camps or 'no Jews allowed' signs taken down for the duration.
American blacks were gung ho for the games to show their prowess in one of few avenues of achievement open to them..and they didn't disappoint. Jesse Owens' 4 Gold in Track became an iconic Olympic moment, making Hitler sputter about America's 'black auxiliaries'. But Owens didn't spoil Der Fuhrer's party as Germany crushed runner up US in medals 89 to 56, with Hungary a distant third with 16.
Best thing about the '36 Olympic? Berlin's Jews got velvet glove treatment for about nine months up to and during the Big Show. Best thing about the current Rio Olympics? They're not in Chicago.