Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lame Duck?

President Obama is shattering the lame duck albatross normally associated with a two-term president's last two years. China climate control pact, end of auto bailout with a $15 billion profit, engaging Cuba, ending draconian demonization of undocumented; US now No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas, 57 straight months of private sector job growth (11 million jobs), ending criminal Afghan combat, 10 million hopeless with new hope and health care, confronting police profiling and racial injustice head on; and on and on. All that quacking you hear is from the Republicans in Congress fighting amongst themselves over this stunning record of accomplishment.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Torture report footnote speaks volume of Bush era skullduggery


It was never mentioned on mainstream media, but Torture Report footnote 857 should have been front and center. That's because it strongly hints at the real reason America tortured after 911: finding evidence of Iraq's connection to justify our attack.
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"Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [Egyptian] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’...ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [redacted], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [redacted], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III."
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While we'll never see Volume III for more details, there is much corroborating information to confirm that linking Iraq to 911 was the real thrust of America's descent into the torture game. The two gents tortured a total of 266 times, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheik Muhammed, spiked the CIA's water bill between August, 2002 and March, 2003, the exact run up to the made up Iraq war based on lies and disinformation, some no doubt supplied by torture victims. In addition, a former high level former US intelligence officer told the McClatchy News Agency in 2009, " [F]or most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld were also demanding proof of the links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. … There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder."


To paraphrase a famous aphorism: "Oh what a tangled web we weave...when first we torture to deceive".

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FOIA no JOYA for Breuder

College of DuPage President Robert Breuder likes FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) except when it's used to uncover financial shenanigans at College of DuPage. Breuder told a group of local legislators "I think the law is a good law. It's well-intentioned. But like every law, it can be abused." He claims the FOIA requests received by COD "are pure harassment... an example of why we say there needs to be relief," Without substantiating the "pure harassment" charge, Breuder also charged the watchdog groups were "not looking out for the public interest." 

The COD public surely disagrees. Just attend tonight's COD Board meeting to see how appreciative the public is over information gleaned from those FOIA requests during the public comments section of the meeting. But bring along a portable cot to get catch some Z's while Breuder and the Board retire into closed executive session to encourage attendees to get tired and go home before the really substantive part of the meeting begins.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jeb Bush's presidential conflict of interest

The near certainty now that Jeb Bush will seek the presidency brings up an intriguing and highly personal conflict of interest. For rest of his life, Jeb's brother George will be subject to investigation and prosecution for war crimes. While many foreign countries would love the chance to do just that, George W. is careful about any foreign travel least he be arrested and whisked away to an international court of law.

But here in the US, Bush's successor has chosen to give him a pass. That is unfortunate and represents one of President Obama's biggest moral failings. The president still has two years to realize his legal and humanitarian responsibility to do the right thing. Though there is no Statue of Limitations for war criminals, action by Obama appears unlikely. So if Jeb puts his hand on the Bible come January 20, 2017, the torch for bringing George to justice transfers to brother Jeb.

I can imagine his answer the first time a reporter brings this issue up:

"Not gonna do it...wouldn't be prudent. Read my lips, no new war crime trials."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheney's favorite patriotic song


Though it harkens back to WWII, it's clear that former Vice President and Torturer in Chief, Dick Cheney's favorite patriotic song is: "We Did It before, And We Can Do It Again."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The difference between Republicans and Democrats

Republican Sen. John McCain, who was tortured, is the only Republican who has come out against torture. Every other Republican either supports torture or is silent. That's one big difference between Republicans and Democrats: Republicans have to be tortured to admit torture is torture. Democrats know instinctively, humanely, intuitively, that torture is torture.

Mr. Cosby, rape, censorship, and the power of art


I suspect that slow moving, decrepit looking, 77 year old Bill Cosby is past his serial seduction, or if necessary, rape days. Never a big fan of his Cosby Show, I'm not distressed about missing reruns on TV Land as I never watched. But I am concerned about the rush to erase Cosby from our cultural landscape. His art, whether as a stand up (now sit down) comedian, or as primal force behind one of the most successful sit coms e...ver, one with an uplifting boost for the black community, should not be censored from our culture. If we applied that standard across the board, some of our greatest artists would vanish from sight and sound. Knowing what we now know about Dr. Huxtable and Mr. Cosby, it actually heightens our sense of his artistry, astounded he could conceal his predatory alter ego for half a century before the floodgates of condemnation began ending, not only his career, but the historical record of his magnificent talent. I've been laughing at his early stand up comedy for most of that last half century on WFMT's Midnight Special. I trust progressive WFMT will not follow the foolish and shortsighted action of TV Land to banish Cosby from his legion of fans, his distressing predilections, notwithstanding.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Calling Congressman Roskam


There is a Main Street but no Wall Street in my Congressman Peter Roskam's DuPage County home town. But when it comes to serving the middle class of Main Street, Roskam's loyalty is 900 miles away on Wall Street. That's where the money to fund campaigns and buy political friends really resides. Thursday, Wall Street got Roskam and another 161 Republicans to vote for the $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending bill which has a poison pill for Main Street and ...a gilded pill for Wall Street. That is the provision, largely written by Citigroup and their Wall Street buddies, to roll back the provision in the Dodd Frank financial reform bill which restricted derivative trading, one of the biggest causes of the 2008 financial collapse. Jaime Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, personally called lawmakers to vote for the derivatives repeal measure.

I don't know if Roskam got one of Dimons's pleas. But during his first eight years in Congress...when Wall Street calls, Congressman Roskam answers.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Let Farnham die at home


Former state representative Keith Farnham, 67, looks like the walking dead. That's because he's clearly on his last legs, suffering from bladder cancer, Hepatitis C and in need of a lung transplant. But the distorted wheels of federal justice are set to give Farnham twelve to fifteen years in prison, more accurately a prison hospital, for doing bad things with his computer; things that help fuel the commission of horrific violent acts, the production o...f child pornography.

Farnham is most certainly not a danger to society. He's destroyed his career, indeed his life, illegally satiating his sexual fantasies. The feds can go ahead and sentence him to 12 to 15 on March 19. Then they should suspend the sentence pending his monitored agreement to never again so much as touch a computer. That will offer a Farnham a shred of dignity as he faces the Grim Reaper square in the kisser. It was also save US taxpayers about $24,000 yearly in unnecessary expense incarcerating a debilitated, dying man. It will also recognize that federal prisons, busting at the seams with many of our 2.3 million inmates, the most in the world, should be reserved for the most violent and dangerous offenders.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Toast Jeannette Rankin on first Patriots Day

While Jeannette Rankin existed, Patriots Day does not. More about Patriots Day later.

Monday marked the 73rd anniversary of Congresswoman Rankin's sole vote against the Declaration of War against Japan. Facing hisses and calls for her to change her vote to make it unanimous, she said "I can't go to war (as a woman) so I can't send anyone else." Then she ran from a mob out for blood; hiding in a phone both and calling the cops to save her.

If that was all she did in life she'd be a minor historical footnote. But Rankin, born in Montana, was a true groundbreaker. She got a BS in biology at a time few women attended college. Eschewing both a normal career and family, she joined the suffrage movement, organizing the NY Women's Suffrage Party and serving as lobbyist for the National American Women's Suffrage Association, facilitating suffrage victories in Montana and Washington. Improbably securing election as the first US Congresswomen ever (Montana), when women couldn't vote nationally, she cast the only female vote for universal suffrage. Then in April, 1917, Rankin was one of 50 members of Congress voting against President Wilson's Declaration of War against Germany in WWI. The majority vote for senseless war was one of the worst decisions in American history.
 
Her nay vote sealed her defeat in 1918. She spent the next 22 years working tirelessly for peace and the rights of women and children. In 1940, the cause of peace made her run for Congress again. She won and got the chance to vote against our last declared war. Bounced from Congress again in 1942, Rankin soldiered on for her causes of peace and justice for another 31 years. 
That brings us back to Patriots Day. Let's change Veterans Day to Patriots Day. Then it will not only honor our veterans and servicemen, but all the patriots who have worked for peace, justice and human values. Veterans Day has degenerated into a shameless commercial for the war party and their endless wars of empire. By including patriots such as Jeannette Rankin, the millions of us peace loving non military Americans will have our day of honor.

Inquiring minds want to know

Why do we still seek to prosecute 95 year old alleged Nazi war criminals and not 75 year old alleged Bush administration war criminals? Moral equivalency is not the issue. Justice for the dead and tortured is the issue, and a warning to future such war criminals.

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: A war criminal is a war criminal... is a war criminal. Or Shakespeare: What's in a name? that which we call a war criminal, by any other name would still kill as murderously.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Pardon Bush, Cheney...taging them forever as war criminals


While George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will never be brought to justice for their war crimes, let's pre-emptively pardon them anyway. Then they will live out their lives and rest uneasily in posterity with this asterisk upon their brows:

Proclaimed: That George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, are pardoned now and forever, for any war crimes they may have committed, Including launching criminal wars and authorizing and/or condoning torture.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Release torture report


Hopefully, the Senate tomorrow will release the long awaited report condemning torture by the Central Intelligence Agency between 2002 and 2003. The whole world has known this occurred for some years but former Bush administration officials, former C.I.A. operatives and most of the Republican war party establishment are running around with their hair on fire over the reports release. They claim, preposterously, that the torture report is make up, and th...at its release will cause attacks against western interests in the Middle East, even getting people killed. What they ignore is that endless and senseless American warfare in that region for the past 13 years is getting people killed every day, including some of our own people. Fifty-three US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, bringing the 13 year total to 2,354, all for nothing, nada, zilch. Just last week President Obama authorized an additional 1,000 soldiers to stay in Afghanistan next year because our so called allies are saying "Nyet" to further involvement. American foreign policy can be summed up as "stupid is as stupid does."

We need to see the detailed torture report confirming and putting in the public record what we already know. The torture report will do nothing to sanction or bring the torturers to justice. It will drive a stake into the endless denial of international war crimes by the Bush administration and its C.I.A. torture arm. It will become part of the American story that American propagandists strive mightily to leave out of our history books. It may make a future rogue administration and rogue intelligence agency think multiple times before they are temped to embark upon a torture and criminal war repeat.
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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Hagel departure victory for war party


The war party is celebrating the abrupt departure of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. They never forgave him for disavowing his vote in favor on the Iraq war, and for rightly stating he was a senator from America, not Israel. His replacement, Ash Carter, former No. 2 at Defense, suits them just fine. Carter is a hawk, arguably to the right of President Obama. The president needs to burnish his war mongering credentials with the likes of ...America's premier warmonger, Sen. John McCain, who takes over as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the Republican controlled Senate next month.

The president as already tried to pre-empt McCain and his bloodthirsty Senate pals Lindsay Graham and Mark Kirk, by adding more canon fodder to Iraq and secretly authorizing our canon fodder in Afghanistan to conduct night raids next year, contrary to his longstanding pledge to end all American fighting December 31st.

Trillions wasted, millions of lives disrupted, hundreds of thousands dead or broken in body and mind, and total failure in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine and Ukraine is not enough to discourage the war party from their life's mission feeding their bloodlust. Obama is smart enough to know the truth about our failed war policies, and clearly would prefer peace. But he's either too scared or too weak to resist the real power in Washington. He'll never share that truth with the American public. He doesn't need to. We are completely removed from any influence to avert these blood curdling disasters. As long as the spiking economy keeps the middle class distracted with toys and material bliss, the war party can function in a moral vacuum.

The 2016 election does not bode well for the world and the cause of peace. Every GOP wannabe is a dedicated warmonger. Even Rand Paul, who made peace noises early on, has got the message: promote war or take a hike. He's introduced a resolution to declare war on ISIS, a group largely inspired and armed through our failed, criminal Iraq war. The leading Democrat, Hillary Clinton, is adding neocons to her advisory board faster that you can say "Bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran." She's clearly failing up from her disastrous gig as Secretary of State. But in America, that is called success.
 
With all the neocons and war lovers ruling Washington, poor Chuck Hagel, a voice of sanity, never had a chance.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Policing disparity a 'zero sum game' for racial dinosaurs


"It would seem that the grand jury made every effort to determine the facts of the case. And facts, as John Adams once said, 'are stubborn things'."

With those mere 27 words an acquaintance dismissed all the pain and angst of the black community and their millions of non black supporters demanding justice for senseless police killings of unarmed citizens. Besides refusing to acknowledge a single aspect of this now ear...thshaking domestic issue, there is a snideness in the Adams quote that the whole controversy is made up.

Another person I dialogue with saw the entire Michael Brown killingk as a matter of a ghetto thug who got what he deserved; and an attack on a good cop and established order by a racially cynical president he calls 'ebola', an Attorney General he calls 'placeholder' and a tireless advocate for justice he's tabbed 'race baiter Rev. Al'.

Then there are public figures like former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, who dismissed the Michael Brown case as a diversion from 'black on black' crime, charging that so many white cops wouldn't be needed in the black community if they'd only stop committing crime.

I won't call any of these folks racists but I do view them as racial dinosaurs. They are elderly, white and apparently have no ability to either see or relate to the enormous legacy still suppressing a black community mired in poverty and hopelessness from the lingering effects of institutional racism. These folks are old enough to remember lynchings and poll taxes; even 'white only' signs. But they've never internalized the harm inflicted or the lingering destruction to our entire society.
They act as if racial politics is a 'zero sum game' whereby any effort to alleviate the disparity between black and white policing and governance will be deducted from their comfortable middle class white lifestyle. It will also unnecessarily cause dissonance with and angst that their belief in the infinite equality of the races is not reality.

But it is the millions of young, committed rainbow coalition of black, white and every shade in between, that is the hope of America. Justice and uplift is not a zero sum game for them. We saw the beginnings of this great wave last night, sweeping across American cities from New York to Chicago to San Francisco, peaceably but forcibly demanding justice, but also saying their will be no peace till substantive change is made. The sweep of history to redress the horrific situation regarding racial governance and policing is on the march, both literally and figuratively. But unlike the real dinosaurs who were powerless to stop their demise, the racial dinosaurs I see need only remove the blinders that prevent them living out a full life of peace and justice.

Who knows? Maybe one night we'll see Rudy Giuliani in step with the marchers, shouting and gesturing, "Hands up, don't shoot."

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Texas Gov. Perry denied 280th legaized murder...temporarily


Yesterday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted certified schizophrenic and in-law killer Scott Panetti a reprieve less than eight hours before he was scheduled to receive a lethal injection. The court said it needed more time to "allow us to fully consider the late-arriving and complex legal questions at issue in this matter."

Don't bet the lethal drug supply against Panetti's eventual execution by the m...ost rabid death penalty state and death penalty governor in the US. Since being reinstated in 1976, Texas leads the legalized murder sweepstakes with 518 killings, 417 more than runner up Oklahoma. And Governor Perry, is stuck on 279 senseless killings, as his 14 year reign of terror runs out next month. One for sure, Cameron Todd Willingham, if not several more of those executed, were innocent http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/innocent-but-executed_b_272….

Sadly, Gov. Perry will not go peacefully into that goodnight when he leaves office. He's still got his bloodlust eye eying the Presidency. Hey, if his predecessor as Texas governor, George W. Bush, could get away with hundreds of thousands of killings in the Middle East and ride off to paint body parts and hawk books at a Naperville bookstore to an adoring crowd, just think of the possibilities for the soulless Perry.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

'Da Coach' fumbles snap to heal racial divide

As one of the most famous and revered Chicagoans, football, star, Super Bowl winning coach, restaurateur and mega pitchman Mike Ditka has a huge public stage. But when asked about the five St. Louis Rams who protested the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict by entering the field with a "Hands up, don't shoot" gesture, Ditka fumbled. His entire statement deserves reading to understand how insensitive and tone deaf he is concerning America's racial divide.

“It’s a shame this thing has come to this,” The shame of it is, I’m not sure they care about Michael Brown or anything else. This was a reason to protest and to go out and loot. Is this the way to celebrate the memory of Michael Brown? Is this an excuse to be lawless? Somebody has to tell me that. I don’t understand it. I understand what the Rams’ take on this was. I’m embarrassed for the players more than anything. They want to take a political stand on this? Well, there are a lot of other things that have happened in our society that people have not stood up and disagreed about. I wasn’t in Ferguson. I don’t know exactly what happened. But I know one thing: If we dismantle and limit the power of our policemen any more than we have already, then we’re going to have a lot of problems in this country. What do you do if someone pulls a gun on you or is robbing a store and you stop them? I don’t want to hear about this hands-up crap. That’s not what happened. I don’t know exactly what did happen, but I know that’s not what happened. This policeman’s life is ruined. Why? Because we have to break somebody down. Because we have to even out the game. I don’t know. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.”

In Ditka's bizarre world of race and justice, the Rams players didn't care about Michael Brown or anything else. He claims there are many more things to protest than an unarmed teen gunned down by a cop. Ditka says he wasn't present and doesn't know what happened; then inexplicitly says he knows that Brown wasn't giving up and the cop's shooting was justified. He likens the whole incident as an attack on established authority and the destruction of a good cop.

I'll give Ditka the benefit of the doubt that he isn't an avowed racist. He does offer that he's perplexed and may be simply "old fashioned" in his views. I know a number of folks like Ditka; usually aging whites who never, ever could relate to the horrible dynamic of institutional racism which has turned large sections of our inner cities and suburbs into human wastelands, utterly removed from our economic recovery and governed by insensitive and even hurtful city administrations. They use largely white police with little understanding who view teens like Michael Brown as Hulk Hogans and crazed demons that can run through a hail of bullets to kill the cop, forcing them to empty their guns at a safe distance.

After coughing up the ball of healing and racial understanding, 'Da Coach' needs to stay after practice to learn some precious human relations fundamentals.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

President Breuder's extravagant lifestyle at COD honed at Harper College a decade ago.


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Harper College President's Vision May Be Too Ambitious, Expensive
Despite Shoring Up Finances, He Faces Confidence Vote...
April 10, 2001, By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Tribune staff reporter.

Nobody was surprised when Harper College President Robert Breuder decided to teach a class. But when he chose to teach wine appreciation, it raised eyebrows.
When he suggested building a wine cellar at the school, critics howled. And now, as students and faculty learn that he wrote off a $2,258 trip to a Monterey, Calif., food and wine festival as a research expense, the campus of the Palatine school is buzzing.
"It appears he's charging the school for his personal lifestyle," says John Ratliff, who unsuccessfully ran for college trustee in a race that played out more like a referendum on the president. "People don't care what you do on your own time, but he's pursuing a personal passion at public expense."
Though Breuder wasn't on the ballot, critics made his more than $206,000 annual compensation package, plus the tens of thousands of dollars the school has paid in travel and entertainment expenses for him, an issue in last week's campaign for two seats on the school's board of trustees. The two trustees elected have offered conditional support for his leadership, but he faces the first no-confidence vote by the Harper faculty, scheduled for next week. Underlying it all is the question of how ambitious a community college--traditionally an affordable home for basic and vocational instruction--should be. But for now, the increasingly bitter controversy centers on the man with patrician tastes and grand plans, as the debate ranges from cabernetsto pay scales to management style.
As charges of highhandedness continue to fly, Breuder hardly flinches. The 56-year-old with a slight New York accent cuts an impressive figure with his cuff links, gold rings and silk handkerchief. His love for wine and bow-hunting--his office is decorated with heads of deer and antelope--are well known on Harper's sprawling campus.
Breuder said his latest headache began with a naïve comment about building a wine cellar--a closet with a $350 cooling gadget that he says his opponents misrepresented as a $9 million subterranean extravagance. The cellar was never built.
This is not the first time Breuder has been involved in a controversy.
At his last post as president of a small community college in rural Pennsylvania, he stocked a wine collection for that school's teaching restaurant and boasted it was the best in the state.
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Breuder may not have got his wine cellar at Harper, but 'if at first you don't succeed, try COD'.
 

It's Texas 518, Oklahoma 111 in legalized murder Superbowl


A previous post "Crazy Texas about to murder crazy man", addressed the plight of Scott Panetti, the 56 year old schizophrenic Texan scheduled to be executed in a week for a double murder in 1992. Yesterday, the Texas Board of Pardons voted 7-0 not to commute Panetti's death sentence. This legally prevents Governor Rick Perry from commuting Panetti's sentence, but he can order a month long reprieve for Panetti's lawyer...s to offer additional evidence of Panetti's insanity, making him ineligible for execution. Given Perry's grisly death penalty record of governance, Panetti will likely ingest the lethal drugs in about 22 hours.

Most folks think the biggest rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma is the football rivalry between their respective state universities. While I don't know their football record over the past 38 years, when it comes to state sponsored murder, Texas wins, body down, 518 to 111. But as far behind as Oklahoma is concerned, the Sooners can at least bellow to the folks ravaged by blood lust: "We're No. 2."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Benjamin Crump: Someone you should listen to

There aren't too many public figures that get my attention and inspire me: Obama when he isn't promoting his criminal wars; Sen. Liz Warren when talking about income inequality; Sen. Bernie Sanders when he's talking about anything.

But I've been captivated by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump for several years now beginning with his involvement with the George Zimmerman case. As attorney for the Michael Brown family he continues to impress and inspire. Today on Face The Nation, thankfully hosted by really fair and intelligent moderator Norah O'Donnell instead of establishment hack Bob Schieffer, Crump was concise, cogent and passionate on both the micro issue of the unfair Ferguson Grand Jury, and the cosmic issue of institutional racism against the black community. Check Crump out below. If he offered an unnecessary or false word, I didn't hear it. He's someone you should listen to.

Anderson's should cancel Bush's appearance

Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville should cancel their scheduled appearance of former president George W. Bush next Monday.  It's bad enough that there was no investigation and prosecution of President Bush for the immoral, illegal and criminal war that he launched against Iraq in 2003. But to honor him by letting him hawk his new book about Poppy Bush "41" adds an unwarranted air of legitimacy to a man who should be sitting in a prison cell for war crimes instead of adding to his fabulous wealth peddling book sales in Naperville. Anyone foolish enough to fork over 40 bucks to Bush for a chance to meet him should say this: "Gee, I've never met a war criminal before."      

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kirk thankful for...more canon fodder for his criminal wars

My Senator Mark Kirk never misses a chance to promote the war party agenda. Finishing his 14th year in Congress, he's supported spending every one of the several trillion dollars for our endless criminal warfare in the Middle East. He's never criticized bellicose American militarism unless its to lament it's not aggressive enough.

His latest valentine to vicious militarism jumps out of his Thanksgiving Day message to constituents, "Why I'm Thankful This Holiday Season." Invoking his mom's request what he's thankful for, Kirk lists two things: first, serving Illinois in Congress and second, 'our troops serving overseas'.  Without them he says, 'the world would be far more dangerous and unpredictable.'

He should try telling that to the millions of folks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia who have been killed, injured or displaced by senseless American warfare. Kirk gets the big bucks from Uncle Sam to promote the interests of the war party pure and simple. He's never met a proposed military intervention he didn't love. America and the world have a lot less to be thankful war with promoters of endless war like Kirk. He's never learned, and apparently, after 14 years, he never will.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Untouchable Ness could have saved Ferguson

Eighty years ago, Elliot Ness, Mr. Untouchable himself, became Director of Safety for Cleveland, OH, responsible for both the police and fire departments, Ness encountered one of the most corrupt police departments in the nation. There was no training academy. New recruits, mostly political appointees, were given a badge and a gun and told to uphold the law. Ness, learned the new field of scientific criminology from the highly revered criminologist August Vollmer at the University o Chicago. He immediately set up Cleveland's (and one of America's) first police training academies. He sought out idealistic, young college students instead of uneducated political hacks. He even quietly, because it was controversial, began recruiting African American recruits to patrol Cleveland's black community because he felt black policemen could better relate to and police Cleveland's inner city.

Too bad a little of Ness's wise, progressive approach to public policing didn't rub off on the city fathers of Ferguson, MO. If it had, Ferguson may have been able to avoid becoming the poster city for a failed police force, a failed city administration and probably America's least desirable city to live in.

Anderson's should cancel Bush's appearance

Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville should cancel their scheduled appearance of former president George W. Bush next Monday.  It's bad enough that there was no investigation and prosecution of President Bush for the immoral, illegal and criminal war that he launched against Iraq in 2003. But to honor him by letting him hawk his new book about Poppy Bush "41" adds an unwarranted air of legitimacy to a man who should be sitting in a prison cell for war crimes instead of adding to his fabulous wealth peddling book sales in Naperville. Anyone willing to fork over 40 bucks to Bush for a chance to meet him should say this: "Gee, I've never met a war criminal before."  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ham sandwich indicted....Wilson walks


Some random thoughts on Michael Brown killing:

•Bob McCullough sounded more like a defense attorney for Darren Wilson rather than a prosecutor charged with seeking justice for excessive use of force

•Law enforcement and the criminal justice system left no opportunity to do the wrong thing go unfulfilled, from the apparent unnecessary killing of Michael Brown to the bizarre presentation McCullough made to the Grand Jury

•Once McCullough refused to recuse himself, and Gov. Nixon failed to take him off the case, the system was bound to fail the Brown family

•The old saying that a prosecutor can influence the Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich is still valid. It's just that Darren Wilson is more indictment proof than a ham sandwich

•Eeriest scene from the post decision demonstration: protesters and police amid smoke and tear gas moving under a large sign over the street proclaiming "SEASONS GREETINGS"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Crazy Texas about the murder crazy man

If Texas follows through on its vow to execute certified schizophrenic Scott Penetti, December 3, for killing his in-laws twenty years ago, it will make him the third murder victim of that terrible event. Penetti , 56, was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 20 years old requiring several hospitalizations for delusions and psychotic episodes. Texas allowed a certified crazy man to represent himself at his trial, during which he attempted to subpoena John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ. Apparently, Texas officials thought that was evidence of Penetti's good faith commitment to defend himself rather than further evidence of his insanity.
 
Texas executed 500 people between 1976, when the death penalty was re-instated, and 2013. That is five times as many humans as both Virginia and Oklahoma, the next most prolific killers of persons to satisfy the bloodlust of their citizenry.
 
Penetti almost certainly should never take a breath of free air again. But neither should politicians and judges arrange his final breath through senseless state sponsored violence which demeans and degrades our society instead of affirming its mission of promoting the betterment of us all, including Mr. Penetti.

COD President Breuder spends lavishly on backs of students


At the November 20th College of DuPage Board meeting, President Robert Breuder defended himself from numerous charges of financial mismanagement by saying he always spends within the annual COD budget. He really got my attention with his boast how he's raised COD's bank balance from $50 million five years ago to $160 million today. On the surface that sounds fine. But consider that year after year he raises COD tuitio...n so his lavish spending can continue while he continues to pile up a savings surplus. Just this year Breuder proposed a substantial $6 per hour tuition increase. The Board blanched just a tad, reducing it to $4 an hour, still a needless financial dagger in largely strapped student pocketbooks. When Breuder's financial shenanigans really heated up several months later, Breuder conveniently tried to pre-empt the gathering spending storm by trumpeting, cue the trumpets, a $2 per hour reduction in student tuition effective in 2015. Not content to simply announce the reduction and move on, Breuder spent the next 15 minutes describing endless financial scenarios which, he claimed, could put COD at great risk by his magnanimous action. But, like Mighty Mouse, President Breuder was here to save the day for the COD student body.

As it turned out, the Board, realizing the enormous pressure being focused on them as well as President Breuder, rescinded the entire $4 an hour tuition increase. But, without the long overdue scrutiny about massive overspending and lavish goodies for the President and his Board, that tuition decrease wouldn't have been proposed, much less passed.

Critics of President Breuder and his Board are not a right wing conspiracy trying to destroy an educational treasure. They represent the entire political spectrum and simply want to make COD financially and ethically responsible to the students, the faculty and the community.

Book Pick: The Opening Kickoff, by Dave Revsine



Subtitled 'The tumultuous birth of a football nation', The Opening Kickoff chronicles the 25 year period from 1890 to 1915, when college football evolved from an almost collegial club sport to the emerging football nation that endlessly obsesses us a hundred years later. In 1890, it was college ball which began to captivate the nation. The football universe was located in the east at Ivy League Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Rutge...rs.
The 1890 game was a fierce, brutal spectacle of frequent kicking, and pile driving runs using formations such as the flying wedge that racked up a dozen or so deaths and countless crippling injuries yearly. Once football started generating fan and alumni revenues, colleges poured resources into the sport and threw educational values aside. Many of the good players were ghost students or simply pay-to-play ringers. As the deaths and the fakery issues mounted, schools debated both cancelling football programs or demanding wholesale reformation. In 1905, eighteen deaths prompted President Roosevelt to drag Ivy League school presidents to the White House for a session with the Bully Pulpit, which resulted in some safety and educational reforms.
  
The Midwest educational powerhouses Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Chicago scrambled to cash in on the largess being reaped by their Ivy League role models. Interestingly, University of Chicago, which abolished football in 1939, was arguably the most flagrant violator of the educational mission. Founder John D. Rockefeller lusted to compete with the revered Eastern schools in football as well as education, so he arranged for legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg to be hired even before the U of C opened; and the Maroons played their first game just a week later. Stagg was relentless in cashing in financially; scheduling 44 of his first 47 games at home to gobble up gate receipts. Wisconsin, among other schools refused to play against Chicago for a time as a result.

By 1915, the ball was reduced in size to facilitate the forward pass, flying wedge type running plays were banned and safer equipment was mandated. The game essentially adopted the form still present today. But a hundred years later we still see relentless recruiting and payment scandals, players who major in basket weaving, and programs that turn a blind eye to scandalous behavior such as occurred at Penn State, to keep the billion dollar college football gravy train on track.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

COD President, Board of Trustees joined at hip in spending scandal


Memo to College of DuPage President Robert Breuder and his supporters on the Board of Trustees:

The spending and state funding aide scandal will not go away because you are tired of hearing about it. You can't will it away. You can't shout it away. You can't sanction away a critical Board member from exposing it. You cannot claim it's a vast, right wing conspiracy of made up lies. You can't justify thousands of dollars in lunches and parties at a fake college restaurant by saying it's a good "bonding" experience and that the thousands of dollars are a pittance of the $186 million operating budget. You can't make the criticism go away by charging your critics are destroying a "treasure." The treasure is the dedicated faculty and the striving students.


The time has come for the Board to address serious allegations of hidden payments to no bid vendors. The time has come for the Board to address obscene remuneration and "extras" you've lavished on President Breuder and also address the "extras" he has lavished on you. The COD's Faculty Association's "No Confidence" vote needs to be addressed forthrightly instead of the Board pretending it wasn't issued months ago.

If President Breuder is unwilling to do the right thing and fade into retirement, and the Board is unwilling to do their duty to fully and fairly investigate the charges swirling around COD and publicized throughout the nation, then step aside and allow this long overdue due diligence be completed by an impartial authority.

21st Century McCarthyites charge 'socialist' instead of 'communist'


The election of Barack Obama did wonders to resurrect soft McCarthyism in our political discourse. While the majority of Obama's critics weren't even around sixty-five years ago when Senator Joe McCarthy started charging that just about anyone who disagreed with his political views was a communist, they have somehow internalized the Master's Voice when it comes to criticizing anyone who supports Obama's economic and social policies as being a 'socialist'. Even before his election, the right began calling Obama, his supporters and his vision for a fairer, more inclusive society, socialistic. They do so with no shame that they are mis-using this word to poison the political discourse. Call the president a socialist, call his policies socialistic and denigrate any of his supporters as fellow traveler socialists and you don't have to construct sensible, reasoned arguments to support your position. Those folks have no position other than fear and loathing. If they are the affluent, they use the socialist charge to further their goal continuing the greatest redistribution of wealth to the affluent from everyone else. If they are affluent wannabes, they latch onto the socialist charge to prevent passage and implementation of any policies, whether the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage or immigration reform, which don't further their endless quest to join that exalted status.

The folks who bandy about the socialist charge to further their political agenda are reprehensible. They may not be causing any of their targets to lose their job or commit suicide as the victims of Senator McCarthy's 'communist' charge experienced. But the corrosive effect they have on the public debate is destructive of a democracy which requires truth and decency and compassion to solve the momentous problems that confront us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's not over, President Breuder

College of DuPage President Robert Breuder had this to say about months long charges about his lavish spending, and cynical politicking which prompted the state to cancel a $20 million building grant recently:

 "I think the time of the rhetoric is over. If you got something that you want to accuse the college of, accuse us and be done with it and then be prepared for the response to it. But you can't go on forever and ever just simply inferring, implying, suggesting, making comments that are full of misrepresentation of the facts, incomplete understanding of the facts. I mean, the time of just simply going up here and engaging in a plethora of rhetoric is over."

Those remarks are breathtaking in their arrogance of the serious charges being leveled at Breuder's conduct by the COD Faculty Association, several governmental watchdog groups, and now, because of those principled revelations, the COD community. Essentially, what Breuder is saying, is "There is nothing here so shut up and move on." Breuder can say that because his employer, the COD Board of Trustees, is failing to exercise their oversight responsibility to investigate the COD Faculty Association's "No Confidence Vote" and the substantial and serious charges of financial mismanagement.  Since Board members are the recipient of some of the alleged financial mismanagement, they have lost their credibility to properly exercise their oversight responsibility.

It is time for an impartial, outside source to investigate the avalanche of charges regarding President Breuder's COD governance. It is time for the COD Faculty's No Confidence Vote to be properly aired and resolved. And President Breuder should understand the wisdom of one Laurence "Yogi" Berra, not highly educated in college, but a genius in street smarts when he offered: "It ain't over till it's over."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Obama to Boehner: "You are irrelevant"


On June 27, 2013, the Senate approved the bi-partisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. The bill will save many millions by offering a path to citizenship which will stop the wasteful deportation of most law abiding undocumented who contribute substantially to our economy. The bill was put together by the Obama Administration, Senators, business groups, labor unions, agricultural interests... and immigration advocates. Besides offering a path to citizenship, the bill will implement innovative temporary workers' programs, increase critically needed vises to skilled workers and create a nationwide employer eligibility verification program.

In the 505 days since, GOP House Speaker John Boehner has refused to even consider debating and taking a vote on the Senate bill for one simple reason: He knows this sensible, bi-partisan Senate bill will pass the House and become law. Boehner, and his Republican cabal of obstructionists, will never give President Obama an accomplishment regardless of how many billions it will save, how many families it will stop being shattered by senseless deportation, and how much refusal to address the immigration problem distracts America from solving other serious problems.

But tonight the president will bypass the House obstructionists and announce executive action which will implement some of the proposed law's benefits, especially the end of deportation of millions of law abiding undocumented residents. In so doing, President Obama will be invoking his executive powers to do public good, and to right a wrong being done to the millions of folks who are improving the American Dream for the rest of us while they seek it for themselves. One has to go back sixty-four years ago to President Truman's 1948 Executive Order 9981, which desegregated the military, to find presidential action as monumental.

And in taking the action the president will announce tonight, he will subliminally be saying to Speaker Boehner and his minions motivated solely by fear and loathing, "Mr. Speaker, you are irrelevant."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keystone XL veto pushed back to next year

It was a symbolic but still significant victory for Mother Earth when the Senate failed to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline Bill yesterday. Two Senate Independents joined 39 Democrats to deny the GOP from sending a bill to President Obama which he would likely veto. Keystone failed by ONE VOTE. The pipeline, a 34 inch wide, 1,700 assault on America's fragile substructure, designed to carry 800,000 gallons a day of Canada's dirtiest crude oil underneath the Heartland, is an environmental abomination that must be stopped. Sadly, it has been become a Republican and fossil fuel industry symbol in their effort to discredit and undermine the Obama Administration's effort to transition from toxic fossil fuel to renewable energy. To them, short term political and financial interest trumps sane long term survival of the planet every time.

This gives us a two month window to shore up Democratic and public opinion to support the looming veto when the 2015 Republican Senate majority finally passes the bill. Especially important is pealing off some of the 14 misguided Democratic senators who sided with every Republican to authorize the pipeline. If we can just keep all but five of our likely 46 member coalition of Democrats and Independents to vote for environmental sanity next January, Obama's veto will not be needed. If not, then his vetoing Keystone XL will be one of the more significant actions of his presidency.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Outside investigation needed in College of DuPage spending scandal

It's clear from recent revelations detaining spending sprees and lavish entertainment College of DuPage President Robert Breuder has bestowed upon his administrators and Board Trustees, that an outside investigation is required. These spending shenanigans only came to light due to diligent investigation by community watchdog Adam Andrzejewski, head of www.openthebooks.com. The story real gained traction after the recent bombshell that Governor Quinn cancelled a $20 million state grant to COD after learning of President Bueuder's cynical manipulation to free up the money using dubious politicking. The COD Board has lost its credibility among many concerned residents of the COD community to exercise proper oversight. Andrzejewski's recent revelations of lavish spending by Breuder to wine and dine the trustees at COD's money losing gourmet restaurant, and efforts by Breuder and the Board to sanction Kathy Hamilton, the one Board member willing to go public with her concerns about fiscal mismanagement by Breuder and the Board, makes an impartial, outside investigation imperative. When the subordinate, President Breuder, has access to unduly influence his bosses, the Board Trustees, then the students, the parents, the taxpayers, the community all pay the fare.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Waterleaf renamed: Now it's 'Breuder's Banquet'


OK, the College of DuPage's money losing gourmet restaurant Waterleaf (a half million big ones in 2012) hasn't been renamed Breuder's Banquet yet, but it should be.

COD President Robert Breuder deserves kudos (or maybe it's a pink slip) for trying mightily to keep Waterleaf afloat (pun intended) by lavishing Waterleaf's fine food and fine liquor on his administrators, his bosses (the COD trustees), and himself. In a five day pe...riod last December alone, Breuder spent $9,255 on Christmas lunches, dinners and parties for his management team and Board of Trustees. He also spent $10,466 on nine other Board of Trustees dinners and he personally benefited by reimbursement $10,864 for "meals and alcohol," and racked up $1,429 for 14 nights at the upscale campus hotel he got the Board to approve constructing.

When Breuder takes the Board and his team out for eats at Waterleaf, it's truly a banquet: crab cakes, Carpaccio, duck, salmon, Bavarian cake, filet mignon, toffee pudding sorbets, bread pudding, potato puree, chicken mousse, halibut, steak salad and much more. I've gained weight just listing all those yummies.

We don't know if 2013 will see Breuder's Banquet; oops, Waterleaf, show another half million dollar loss as it did in 2012. But if it does, at least President Breuder can say, "I tried."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Take this, Mother Earth

It only took 10 days after his re-election for Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) to poke a stick in Mother Earth's eye. Actually, the stick was a 1,700 mile, 34 inch wide pipeline, and the eye was Mother's fragile substructure containing one of America's most valuable aquifers. The deed was done November 14 when Roskam joined every one of the other 220 voting House Republicans to approve HR 5682, authorizing... the Keystone XL pipeline. If passed it will carry the dirtiest fossil fuel extant across America from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Most Democrats, 161 of 192 (84%) voted responsibly to decline sanctifying further destruction of our one and only home. 
  
You'll never hear Roskam deny global warming; he's too slick for that. But he'll vote with the Drill, Baby Drill crowd every time because fossil fuel development, with its ultimate earthly destruction, is a core Republican principle.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beebe grants a freebee


"Hi Pops. I am asking for a second chance at life. I am asking for a second chance to be the man that I know that I can be,"

With those words, Kyle Beebe, son of Arkansas Governor, Mike, asked for a pardon from dear ol' dad for a marijuana conviction eleven years ago. The governor conveniently has pardon power in his gubernatorial tool kit. And Pops Beebe granted the pardon saying, "All of the families that go through that. It's tough on the families, but hopefully the kids learn."

Isn't that special? Actually, we should pardon every single one of millions of folks who have a marijuana conviction and their record and are not otherwise lawbreakers or seriously anti social. Unfortunately, the disastrous War On Drugs has snared and ruined the lives of millions of otherwise decent folks and cost untold billions trying to stamp out recreational (and medicinal) consumption of a relatively harmless plant. Alas, a disproportionate number of them are minorities, poor, or the marginalized, and not related to politicians in high places.

How 'bout a "Kyle Beebe Law" to implement that policy faster than you can say, "Son, you're pardoned. Have a good life"

Friday, November 14, 2014

My favorite election story


As a glass half full (or maybe just a quarter) guy, I'm focused on positives from Tuesday's election rather than the negatives. Minimum wage increases were supported in a number of states. Several governmental bodies voted down fracking. We saw a doubling from two to four in the number of states allowing recreational use of marijuana. We also realized, in the starkest terms possible, the price of staying home on election day, regardless of the reason. So my favorite election day story concerns that issue; voter participation.

My mostly retired tennis buddies and I retire after every fierce two hour doubles match to the local coffee shop for caffeine and conversation. Much of our gabfest concerns politics. One of our group is just 46 and not yet retired. He also has neither voted nor even registered to vote. I would gently chide him about his voter status and offer to register him in my capacity as a voter registrar, but nothing came of it. Just before the election he emailed me asking about my candidate recommendations. I didn't take his request seriously as I assumed he wasn't voting, just curious about my choices. I was wrong. He not only voted, he told me that all my preaching about the importance of doing so is what motivated him to first register... and then vote.

Wouldn't this be a much better functioning democracy if every one of us who cared about public policy encouraged just one non-voter to decide to pull the lever next election?

Have crisis will warmonger, wire Kirk, Illinois


The massive stroke Senator Mark Kirk suffered three years ago sure hasn't slowed down his warmongering ways. Whether it's agitating for bellicose war-threatening action in Iran, Syria, Iraq or Ukraine, Kirk never missies a chance to undercut the sensible, deliberate statesmanship President Obama uses to defuse overseas crises largely US made.

Kirk is horrified by ISIS atrocities in Iraq but ignores the hundreds of thousands killed in our criminal war there Kirk supported with trillions in blood money and endless cheerleading. He lamented when the president failed to bomb Syria, accusing the prez of wimping out in the eleventh hour. When Kirk talks about Red Lines, he's actually referring to the oceans of blood he has no trouble generating. Then there is Ukraine. Kirk ignores his Senator buddy John McCain, and other neocons inside and out of government who fomented the immoral and illegal coup which triggered the crisis. But in Kirk's delusional mind the whole crisis was the fault of Obama's 'weakness.'

But the corker in Kirk's lust for conflict concerns Iran. Kirk co-authored the extreme sanctions law against Iran putting America on a collision course for war there. He's joined up with his fellow hardline senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Bob Menendez who will use their Senate leadership status next year to torpedo any rapprochement the administration is delicately negotiating. The war party and the Israel Lobby, who issue Kirk's marching orders (and campaign funds), demand nothing less.
Kirk almost lost his bid for Senator back in 2010 upon revelations of his embellishment of his military record. Once safely on Capitol Hill, Kirk has traded fake military resume padding for beating real war drums.
He reminds me of Paladin, the gun for hire in 1950's TV land. Instead of "Have gun will travel, wire Paladin, San Francisco," it's "Have crisis will warmonger, wire Kirk, Illinois."