Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Uncle Sam...for state sponsor of terror...look in mirror

Trump's hoisting North Korea back up on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, nine years after Bush Jr. took them down, would be laughable if not so pathetic. North Korea is not the biggest enabler of Saudi Arabia's genocide in neighboring Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands, inflicted a million with cholera, and put millions more on the path to starvation. North Korea isn't raining tens of thousands of bombs yearly on Iraq killing thousands of innocents....then lying about it. The US war party claims civilians are only killed in 1 in 157 bombings. The NY Times reports the true figure is 1 in 5. The US kills more folks with its terrorist bombings throughout the Middle East and Africa than all nations combined. It doesn't matter who occupies the Oval Office. Bush Jr., Obama and now Trump all take orders from the US war party, the champ at state sponsored terrorism. Time for Uncle Sam to look in the mirror...then put that guy on the list to be sanctioned for needless slaughter around the world.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Manson death should re-ignite needed criminal justice reform

Cult killer Charlie Manson's death yesterday at 83 would have purpose if it could re-focus efforts to reform justice for murderers, even the most heinous.

Manson and his three young female followers were all sentenced to death but given life sentences due to a technicality invoked by the Supreme Court. None of the four should have been sentenced to death, and the two remaining alive, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Krenwinkel, should be released without further delay if arrangements can be secured for a safe and stable home life.

The death penalty, still legal in 31 states and the federal government, serves no societal purpose whatsoever; indeed it causes harm to the political culture by glorifying the very thing it is intended to punish and prevent: senseless death.

Life imprisonment for all but incorrigibles like Manson, is also an unnecessary, wasteful use of criminal justice resources. There is virtual agreement among criminal justice experts that the young Manson girls were incapable of criminal intent or action but for the Svengali like and drug induced control Manson exerted over them. They're old women simply soaking up precious space and money that would be better spent on truly dangerous felons.

If his death could move these overdue criminal justice reforms over the finish line, it would represent an important plus gleaned from the grotesque life of Charlie Manson.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Is gas guzzler tax credit next Roskam giveaway?

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) is popping up all over the media (but not the 6th District) touting his cruelly named 'middle class tax cut' bill even tho 78% of the goodies go to the upper 5% of earners. Roskam's prints are all over the bill as House Ways & Means Tax Policy Committee Chairman. A truly senseless, shortsighted provision in the bill eliminates the $7,500 tax credit to purchase a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle). This credit applies on the first 200,000 BEV's sold by a car maker. It benefits environmentally conscious but cash strapped middle class purchasers reluctant to fork over an extra ten grand to go green, however important that is. It also aids America's commitment reduce greenhouse gases from 265 million stinkpots choking Mother Earth's atmosphere in Amerca. The upper 5% boys won't be affected. Roskam's bonanza to them will allow the purchase of a hundred grand Tesla for every driver in the family without a thought of losing the $7,500 tax credit. Roskam and his GOP servants to the wealthy elite don't do conservation. That is simply one more Obama administration initiative that must be overturned to please their base. What's next from Roskam....a tax credit for gas guzzlers?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Unfortunate photo - To Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

The photo atop today's Tribune editorial 'From the rubble of Sept. 11' is most unfortunate and disinformative, indeed. It shows a Tomahawk cruise missile rising from the USS Porter to kill and destroy at a Syrian air base last April "in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians.' No doubt meant to highlight presidential use of lethal power under the antiquated 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the picture actually highlights what's wrong with American foreign policy..and American journalism. Both Trump and the Trib rushed to judgement after the April gas attack and immediately blamed Syria. Trump launched the 69 Tomahawks against Syria without offering a scintilla of evidence, and the Trib backed his utterly unsubstantiated fairy tale that continues now into its eighth month. This is simply a repeat of the both the Obama and Tribune version of the August, 2013, Syrian gas attack that was also blamed on the Syrian government without a shred of evidence. One big difference. When the intelligence professionals informed Obama no evidence existed to support an attack against Syrian president Assad, Obama acted presidential and cancelled the retaliatory raid. That cost him unremitting hatred by the war party who never let evidence get in the way of military action. Nor, apparently, does it get in the way of the Tribune from promoting disinformation to back endless perpetual war. The Trib closes its editorial with Sen. Bob Corker's comment he feared that Trump's reckless threats against other nations could set the U.S. "on the path to World War III." The Trib Editorial Board might add that it's really Trump's reckless actions, fully supported by the Sages in the Tribune Tower, that put us at risk for WW III.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Use Veterans Day to promote peace, not war

Started 98 years ago today, Armistice Day was established in the UK to commemorate the armistice that ended WWI a year earlier. In 1926 Congress added it to the US to "perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations...a day dedicated to the cause of world peace." The war party, working through Congress, changed it to Veterans Day in 1954, the same year they put 'under god' in the Pledge. Since then it has largely become a commercial for American perpetual war around the world which today sees over 250,000 soldiers deployed in 140 countries. Every day we bomb innocents in at least 8 countries we know of. While every decent function of government loses funding, the annual increase in our $700 billion plus military budget alone dwarfs what most countries spend on their entire military. All vets but the near centenarians of WWII fought in undeclared wars which slaughtered millions while doing nothing to promote peace...and they know it. After 63 years it's time for another name change. How about Peace Day, to honor the peacemakers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Ghandi and a true American hero, Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who spent seven years in prison for outing American war crimes in Iraq. As John Lennon famously sang, 'Give peace a chance.'

Use Veterans Day to promote peace, not war

Started 98 years ago today, Armistice Day was established in the UK to commemorate the armistice which ended WWI a year earlier. In 1926 Congress added it to the US to "perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations...a day dedicated to the cause of world peace." The war party, working through Congress, changed it to Veterans Day in 1954, the same year they put 'under god' in the Pledge. Since then it has largely become a commercial for American perpetual war around the world which today sees over 250,000 soldiers deployed in 140 countries. Every day we bomb innocents in at least 8 countries we know of. While every decent function of government loses funding, the annual increase in our $700 billion plus military budget alone dwarfs what most countries spend on their entire military. All vets but the near centenarians of WWII fought in undeclared wars which slaughtered millions while doing nothing to promote peace...and they know it. After 63 years it's time for another name change. How about Peace Day, to honor the peacemakers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandi and a true American hero, Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who spent seven years in prison for outing American war crimes in Iraq? As John Lennon famously sang, 'Give peace a chance.'

Friday, November 10, 2017

Roskam cool with $1.7 trillion tax bill budget deficit

During the eight Obama years, my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6), railed against every attempt to provide life saving health insurance to the needy, rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure, invest in renewable energy, expand educational and job opportunities; indeed, anything designed to help the little people and the commons. His argument was always any increase in budget deficits to help the less fortunate was unacceptable and not an extra tax dollar could be levied against the rich as offset. Then, for Roskam, a miracle happened...his GOP gained the governmental driver's seat. Suddenly, budget deficits not only became acceptable; they became a way of funneling trillion dollar wealth in tax cuts to his wealthy base. While 78% of the proposed Roskam tax bill cuts go to the golden 5% Americans, fully a quarter of middle class workers will see a tax increase. Roskam is cool with that $1.7 trillion in additional budget deficits because as the pressure to offset them mounts, Roskam can go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all life saving programs for working stiffs; a burden on the greedy rich who don't need or want them. That's how it works in Roskam's worldview...the public interest always loses to self interest rightly understood.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Yemen in the time of cholera, Part III

In Part II, I urged support support for the upcoming November 2 vote in the US House on Concurrent Resolution 81 which, if passed, would have forced an end to America's illegal, criminal support of Saudi Arabia's war against neighboring Yemen. The war has killed tens of thousands, inflicted cholera on possibly a million Yemenis, and brought millions more to near starvation, in the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe. H.Con.Res.81 is authorized by the War Powers Act of 1973, which guarantees a floor vote on ending presidential imposed military action by any congressman seeking to end such action. But the night before, House leadership under Speaker Ryan, ruled that 1,778 tanker refueling missions pumping 54 million pounds of fuel into 7,564 Saudi bombing missions does not constitute 'introduction of United States Armed Forces includes the assignment of member of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged…’ (War Power Act of 1973). Since Ryan ruled we weren't at war, the War Powers Act doesn't apply, the resolution isn't privileged and the vote was cancelled. He did compromise, allowing debate and vote on a non-binding resolution next week.
That is the way it works in an America controlled by the war party who use perpetual war to gain power and wealth on the bodies of the innocents we destroy and the American treasure we squander. But we in the peace party will cheer on the 4 sponsors of now cancelled H.Con.Res.81 and their 39 co-sponsors who will take the House floor next week to shine a light on our dastardly, cowardly destruction of the pitiful country of Yemen.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Machine guns and madmen

Every country has madmen capable of committing heinous crimes. But only America allows the manufacture and sale of machine guns to people either already mad or capable of becoming so. The kindest, most gentle person alive can snap and go on a shooting rampage killing dozens with a legally bought machine gun. Or the same person can gradually deteriorate over time with the same result. Remember gun spokesman screen star Charleston Heston who boasted,  "I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my colddead hands"? Actually, it was simply squirreled away from Chuck after he became senile. But how many other aging, inevitably unstable elders pose the risk of a massacre with a machine gun. And yes, let's call it what it really is...a machine gun. It takes a machine to mow down 58 concert goers in Vegas or 26 worshipers in a tine rural Texas church. 'Assault rifle' is an insulting euphemism masking the grotesque carnage these monstrous weapons wage on our society. The president and the Congress, bought off by the gun lobby and political cynicism, are not doing the critical function of protecting society from its most defective citizens. Limit guns to the six shooter or the single shot rifle, all that's needed for hunting or self protection, and the nearly weekly gun massacre becomes extinct. A private citizen has no more right to a machine gun that he does a rocket propelled grenade or a nuclear weapon. Don't mourn for the victims of the massacre of the week. Mourn for untold thousands, including possibly you and I, who may be the next pop up figures in the American shooting gallery enabled and allowed by a society seemingly bent on self destruction. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Forget tax bill...GOP already funneling middle class wealth up to ravenous weathy

The GOP don't need no stinkin' tax cut bill to keep the sweep of middle class wealth moving inexorably upward to the greedy rich. Since 2010, they have cut the IRS' budget by 18% and reduced enforcement staff by a quarter. The mega rich with their mega mouthpieces have taken notice, fearing less and less the formerly long reach of the tax police. Not satisfied with simply gaming the system through enforcement cutbacks, Republicans endlessly repeat the Big Lie that US businesses are the most taxed in the industrialized world. But the official 35% business tax rate they cite to justify this latest legislative giveaway averages just 21% with many profitable companies paying zilch. And that decimated IRS enforcement staff? The 1 Percenter in Chief is proposing to another round of waterboarding in the bathtub of Republican greed.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Roskam dishes up Whopper on tax cut bill

The latest internet political ad from my congressman Peter Roskam (IL -6), which jarringly interrupted my research, reminds me of Burger King....it sure is a Whopper. Up popped a nice, middle class women extolling the congressman's tax bill as the number $1,223 in middle class tax savings crawled across her face. And the Whopper? According to the Institute On Taxation and Economic Policy, the average middle class savings is closer to $400. Worse, one in seven of those middle income taxpayers will see a tax increase due to reductions in deductible expenses. Roskam will never tell the truth to his constituents that 78% of the tax savings go to the upper 5% of earners, giving each one percenter an average reduction of $90,600, likely more than the nice middle class lady in the ad makes all year. Nor will Roskam offer one word of truth regarding the $1.5 trillion over the next decade added to the deficit that represents a financial time bomb on our economy that can only be partially ameliorated by slashing the social safety net. I don't know if my congressman consumes them at Burger King, but to his constituents he's only serving up Whoppers.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Ives brings 'disordered' to whole new level

State Rep Jeanne Ives (R -Wheaton) is a self proclaimed expert on folks being disordered. Couple of years back she told a christian radio station that gays are 'disordered' for seeking the sanctity of marriage; going further to say they're '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.' This year she doubled down on 'disordered', posting an incendiary commentary from the ultra conservative Illinois Family Institute, likening school officials supporting transgender rights to 'dirty old men in trench coats lying in wait to expose children to sordid things.' Ives has yet to recognize the hideousness of those statements or apologize for them.
But yesterday she brought disordered to a new level, lambasting colleague Laura Fine (D-Glenview) for proposing a resolution calling on Congress to “move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.” Fine argued that many social safety nets could be funded with just a fraction of what the nation spends on its armed forces. Trump proposed a 10% increase on defense spending, ballooning our gargantuan expenditures funding failed wars in seven Middle East and African countries, getting untold thousands of innocents killed for nothing, to over $700 billion. Ives is just fine with that yelling at Fine across the House floor “Maybe someone who sits and legislates in the worst-run state in the Union should not opine on federal military spending...especially, when people they care about are not at risk.” The audacity to denigrate a decent legislator seeking to help millions of Illinoisans in need simply because they're not fighting in senseless wars is incalculable.
Now Ives is running to legislate not for just the 110,000 citizens in her District 42. She's seeking to govern all 13,000,000 of us because Governor Rauner is spending too much money on the peoples' needs including, Ives' God forbid, full reproductive and LGBT rights. Disordered? Thy name is Jeanne Ives.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

'Blowback' key word missing from NY attack coverage

If you spent a hundred hours following 24/7 coverage of the New York City massacre that killed 8 and injured 11, you wouldn't hear the word 'blowback'. That is a shame as blowback is the likely cause that inspired young Uzbekistan native Sayfullo Saipov to rent a truck and mow down pedestrians just 5 block from the World Trade Center. Since he survived the shooting that ended his crime, we may learn more about his motivations. But hollering 'Allahu akbar' (God is great) surely points to revenge for American bombings all over the Middle East and now Africa killing untold thousands of innocents by our deranged war party. And one consequence of our needles slaughter of folks as innocent as the 8 snuffed out in New York, is that some individuals connected with peoples we're defiling will risk death to get a measure of vengeance, which is precisely what blowback entails. Since the 911 attacks, the most deadly form of blowback for our Middle East meddling, we've expanded our intelligence operations to 17 agencies costing $75 billion a year. Maybe they're preventing large scale attacks; maybe not. But they surely can't stop one man with a truck who is not acting out of our the media's operative word 'cowardice', but acting from resolute determination to die trying to inflict blowback on the US.

We would all become safer from such attacks if we'd end our senseless, futile wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Niger for starters. We should stop selling countries hundreds of billions in weaponry which often end up in the hands of folks trying to kill us. We should focus on negotiating and peacemaking among countries and the dozens, even hundreds of disparate groups and sects willing to die for their imagined God or cause. We should stop promoting utterly self defeating 'preventative' war with North Korea, Iran or any other country we fear and hate. We must wrest control of our country from the Masters of War who are soulless in their zeal to control the world through war and violence. If you think that is beyond your meager powers as a solitary citizen consider this: you may end up lying under the next truck rampaging down a pedestrian safeway.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DuPage Forest Preserve sure isn't preserving DuPage finances

When I ran for Glen Ellyn Park District commissioner in 2015, it sure wasn't for the money. Salary $0; Health Insurance $0; Pension $0. It's the same with school boards. It's called public service and the folks who run are motivated by that single goal. Why then do the six  DuPage Forest Preserve members get an annual salary of $50,000, over a thousand dollars for each of the roughly 45 meetings that last an average of one hour. There's more: health insurance and a pension (for those whose service started before this year...which is all of them). Oh yes, the Forest Preserve president receives $75,000 plus the health insurance and pension. That's $538,000 for little part time work when other counties pay a fraction of that for the same dedicated service.  No neighboring county forest preserve commissioner comes close to the windfall goodies the DuPage Forest Preserve Board doles out to its president and commissioners. Most pay little or nothing. Lake County comes closest at a paltry $3,000 per commissioner. Their president is paid just a third of the DuPage Forest Preserve president. 

Daniel Hebreard is running for the Democratic nomination for Forest Preserve president. His reform platform calls for an 82% reduction in salaries and benefits for himself and the six commissioners. That is $441,000 each year for better facilities like new modern washrooms at the busiest preserves, bridges to connect trails and communities, and improved technology. You won't hear about cutting salaries and benefits from the president and three commissioners up for re-election next year. They and the other three Forest Preserve members, all Republicans, have a limit on promoting fiscal responsibility for the public. It begins after they take care of themselves. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Roskam's Weekly Roundup for October 21-27 an insult

My congressman Peter Roskam's constituent email 'Roskam's Weekly Roundup for October 21-27' sure is designed for the low information voter. It touts his vote for the GOP tax plan pitched as tax reform to help small business owners and states like Illinois. But Roskam leaves out that 80% of proposed tax cuts go to the richest 1%; just 12% to the folks in the 20 to 80% of earners. Worse, some of those meager earners will get a tax increase due to elimination of deductions they depend on such as for state income taxes. Worse yet, the trillions cut over 10 years must be revenue neutral, so IRA contributions may be cut from $24,000 per year ($18,000 for workers under 50) to just $2,400. Even worser, Medicaid and Medicare will be slashed to give Roskam's GOP a twofer: paying for tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the folks Roskam and his colleagues don't see, don't hear...don't care about.
On to healthcare where Roskam's trumpeted constituent information is truly bizarre as in these 18 words:
Healthcare, Insurance and Childcare:
Kindercare Learning Centers
American Heart Association
Aflac Insurance
Travelers Insurance
Antimicrobial Working Group meeting
We're paying Roskam a quarter million a year in salary and benefits to insult us with these meaningless words on a matter of life and death. We'd be better served with the truth; he's proudly spent the last 9 years trying to keep 20 million off the health insurance roles, allowing 200,000 unnecessary deaths over a decade.
It cost virtually nothing to send us these pixels. But come election season, Roskam will spend much of his $2,000,000 war chest to bury 6th District voters with full color glossies with these and much, much more of his blizzard of meaningless pap.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Rauner and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Governor Bruce Rauner's inaugural re-election bid ad sure is a Duesey. No, it's not the usual reference to a Deusenberg Motor Car but to the Harley Davidson Motorcycle bearing our bizarre governor. For Rauner it's all image, no substance. When you don't a record to run on you hop on your Harley and pretend to be Gary Cooper's Will Kane riding alone against villain Mike Madigan's Frank Miller. From Rauner's wind screen its simply an endless battle against corrupt, career politicians destroying Illinois to be smited by our leather clad gladiator on two wheels. Missing from the ad is any semblance of truth, which if told, would have Rauner riding into the sunset to one of his fabulous ranches in Wyoming or Montana. If there were substance Rauner would have to compare the 146,000 jobs added in the last two years of the Quinn administration to just 120,000 in Rauner's two and a half years. Worse: just 42,000 of those jobs were added in the last year and a half, when the effects of his unprecedented and unconscionable budget stalemate kicked in. Rauner claims to be saving Illinois education but fails to mention his budget shenanigans caused 1,500 higher education layoffs, sending many of Illinois' best students out of state. And not a word on the uncountable thousands of the poor deprived of critical social services because Rauner caused their life saving agencies to cut back...or simply cut out.
If you happen to encounter Biker Bruce riding thru your town offering bonhomie and seeking votes, just pipe up over that peace shattering rumble engineered to annoy anyone not riding, "Nothing of interest here Governor, ride on."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Run Jeanne, Run

Current IL state Rep Jeanne Ives (R-42) of Wheaton is considering challenging Governor Bruce Rauner in the March 20 Primary. Ives is leading the ultraconservative charge against Rauner who Ives claims is betraying her constituency. How? He signed the 'Motor Voter Bill' which makes it easier for ordinary folks to get registered and vote, precisely those Ives wants to stay home so the affluent and conservative can run the state. Representing Illinois' Xenophobic wing, Ives takes umbrage with Rauner's efforts to prevent undocumented immigrants from being detained based solely on their legal status. As a virulent denier of transgenders being first class citizens, Ives recoils at Rauner making it easier for transgenders to change the sex on their birth certificate. And don't dare mention transgender kids actually using the bathroom of their choice in school. But the Rauner move that ignited Ives' possible challenge was his signing SB 40 which provides reproductive health and freedom for poor women; something the affluent Ives and her base enjoy without a care in the world. Ives' mantra: 'Want reproductive health? Become wealthy.'
One downside for Ives of a possible Rauner run: she'd have to drop her re-election bid in House District 42. But for open minded, progressive folks in the 42nd, that's a opportunity to elect a representative willing to serve all the people. Run Jeanne, run.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Yemen In the Time of Cholera, Part II

Three months ago in 'Yemen in the Time of Cholera' I reflected on America's enabling of Saudi Arabia's criminal war against neighboring Yemen with these closing words: "Since we all pay the fare to destroy a nation Saudi Arabia demands us to, take a moment to reflect on the damage our collective silence on America's criminal military ventures inflicts on mankind." I pointed out that the Saudis' bombing of Yemen infrastructure and blockading of its ports has both created a cholera epidemic and prevented aid from reaching the sufferers whose numbers reached a half million. We now know the cholera epidemic has reached 850,000 and according to the Red Cross will pass a million by year end, but cautions that's a conservative estimate. That represents 1 of every 29 Yemenese.

But unlike 3 months ago there is a glimmer of hope. Tho it will never appear, or be buried below Hell in the media, there's a congressional effort to end US involvement in the ongoing Saudi, Yemen war. Last month Ro Khanna, Democrat from California, introduced House Consent Resolution 81 which "Directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, within 30 days after adoption of this concurrent resolution, unless the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of U.S. Armed Forces has been enacted." In plain English, Khanna's initiative requires the US to get out of Yemen unless Congress declares war or passes a specific AUMF (Authrorization for Use of Military Force) to help the Saudis destroy Yemen. Since neither will ever happen, Khanna's resolution, if passed, will end US involvement within 30 days. The vote is a week from Thursday, November 2. Three months on do more than reflect. Call your congressperson demanding a vote to end Uncle Sam's inhumanity to his fellow man.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Is Roskam thrilled 3.5 million have lost health care under Trump?

My congressman Peter Roskam (R IL 6) has spent the last 9 years working furiously to deny people in need health insurance. Preventing, defunding, overturning the Affordable Health Care Act of 2013 has been his signature issue as 6th District congressman. He blared his opposition from the House floor, Fox News, constituent emails, his website; indeed at every chance and venue possible. Till this January all he could do is rail against it without actually getting desperate folks tossed off the insurance rolls.

Alas, his promotion of his self described 'wild card' Trump to the presidency is finally bearing fruit...I'm mean casualties. The nine months of governing mendacity Roskam supports has resulted in 3.5 million folks losing health care this year, a drop of 1.4% of the health insured population. Does Roskam, in the deepest recesses of his soul, possibly ponder how many of them will go bankrupt paying for critical medical care; how many will suffer degraded health; or even how many will simply die? Or does the congressman read the statistics, smile, and say softly, 'Now, that's progress.'

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Kirk in retirement still banging war drums against Iran

Darn...we thought we were done with Mark Kirk's incessant war mongering against Iran with his Senate defeat by the sensible Tammy Duckworth last year. Now we learn Kirk has joined the board of United Against Nuclear Iran, a new group made up of disgruntled neocons who can't accept that the 5 + 1 power Iran nuclear deal which likely avoided war by certifying the end of Iran's nuclear program, is working. That takes Iran regime change off the neocons' Christmas list, frustrating their decades long campaign to take over their most hated country. Kirk, who reveled in senseless US wars that killed hundreds of thousands during his congressional career, hasn't shaken his bloodlust in retirement. United Against Iran seeks to sabotage the Iran nuclear deal by having Trump de-certify it at the 90 day benchmark for re-certification required by a neocon congressional law. Then they want Mr. T to impose new sanctions all they up to a gigantic worldwide boycott till Iran yells 'Uncle', as in Sam. In furtherance of this campaign our intrepid warmonger Kirk has leapt back into the Iran debate by calling for Naperville telecommunications firm Coriant to cease doing business with Iran which they're entitled to do under the deal. Kirk ignores all the responsible, peace seeking leaders in the UK, France, China, Russia, Germany and the EU who are outraged by neocons like Kirk blowing up the world's best hope for peace with Iran. Apparently, being a war mongering neocon is a little like being in the Mafia: once you get in...you can never leave.

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.