Thursday, September 22, 2016

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

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pardon Trib for supporting criminal war? Nyet!

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

Sunday, September 18, 2016

US military needs new public spokesman

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

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Worthy apology follows shameful excuse

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pardon? Hell, give Snowden a Hero Metal.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trump has nothing on world's greatest negotiator

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

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dump pledge as well as anthem at non-governmental events

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

End prison for non-violent, non-repetitive offenders

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

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

Monday, September 05, 2016

Two from Illinois

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

1.8 million counting on Women's Boats to Gaza

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Peter Roskam's Jack Benny moment

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Crocodile tears flow at Governor's Mansion

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

US war crimes in Yemen produce big yawn

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

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Friday, August 19, 2016

An Obama Plan for inner cities should channel Marshall Plan

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rauner motor voter veto cynical ploy of career minded pol

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

Monday, August 15, 2016

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

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Congressman and The Donald

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

Rauner achieving GOP term limits the old fashioned way

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Obama needs to free Blago

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

Saturday, August 06, 2016

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

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

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Fox News tweaks tag line

It's now: 'Feral and Unbalanced'

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Malia's twerking has nothing on 'Nightmare' Alice Roosevelt

Anyone concerned Malia Obama's twerking at Chicago's Lollapalooza upset the presidential father can rest easy. Only one prez suffered angst with daughter hi-jinks and that was 115 years ago when TR gave up the ghost controlling 'Nightmare' Alice, his first daughter born two days before her namesake mom suddenly died. Alice described herself in later life as a hedonist who experienced shear rapture upon President Bill McKinley's 1901 assassination propelling TR and Alice to the White House, where Alice became an instant celebrity and fashion icon for her beauty, charisma and outlandish behavior. For starters Alice smoked in public, rode in cars with boys and partied late into the evening. At home she placed bets with bookies and was so mad at leaving to make room for the Tafts, she buried a voodoo doll of Nellie Taft in the front lawn. Banned from the White House by both the Taft and Wilson administrations, she only got back in when her friend, new First Lady Florence Harding, arrived in 1921. Alice married playboy congressman and future House Speaker Nick Longworth in 1905 but her only child Paulina was fathered by her longtime lover and famous isolationist senator William Borah. Alice was one of the greatest wits ever, sabotaging Tom Dewey's '44 and '48 White House runs with the complaint Dewey looked like 'the little groom on the wedding cake."
Unlike Obama, who can both run the country and relate to his daughter, TR sighed, "I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both."

Trump's racism, xenophobia, misogyny just 'flash and dash' to Roskam

My congressman Peter Roskam sure is coy...and clever when it comes to dodging important moral public issues affecting our country. For months he's dodged any mention of the mendacious faux Republican Donald Trump who hijacked the Republican presidential nomination by appealing to the groundswell of angry Republican voters dismayed by eight years of Democratic governance of inclusiveness, fairness and economic progress, lifting up the needy and uninsured. They're furious Democrats extended the American Dream to young immigrant dreamers; given gays the right to marry and transgenders the right us the restrooms of their sex. But besides fueling the hate and fear and ignorance of those disaffected outliers, Trump has trampled on every precept of simple human decency; mocking a disabled reporter, war heroes, Gold Star families, Muslims, Mexicans; even obliquely referencing a female reporter's menstrual cycle as the cause of her tough questioning.

Roskam was one of a handful of Illinois Republicans who disgraced the party by not boycotting the toxic stew of fear and loathing Trump served up at the Republican Convention; arguably the ugliest and darkest acceptance speech extant. Afterwards, Roskam finally commented publicly on The Donald, telling WGN "I do think time is Donald Trump's friend. I think people are saying... alright, I'm ready to hear this guy out, see what he has got to say with the flash and dash aside."

Roskam got both points dead wrong in that disingenuous soundbite. In a democracy, time is never a friend to an authoritarian and demagogue like Trump, where the essentially decent electorate has the time to see, hear and reject mendacious behavior. And racism, xenophobia, misogyny and grotesque insults are not 'flash and dash'. They're a defilement of the American character.

You'll never hear a ringing Roskam endorsement for Trump; just pablum like 'flash and dash' and the 'friend of time' to keep the legion of Trump and Roskam supporters in line till Trump is a distant memory.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Trib discovers 'blowback'...fifteen years too late

It's nearly fifteen years since the US 'war on terror' conquered or destabilized seven countries in the Middle East and Africa, killing hundreds of thousands, including 7,000 GI's, and the Tribune Editorial Board finally gets we're suffering from murderous 'blowback', revenge attacks throughout the West. Their latest commercial for perpetual war, 'Will defeating Islamic State unleash a terrorist diaspora in the West' quotes FBI Director James Comey that "At some point we're going to see a terrorist diaspora (dispersion of terrorists)...we've never seen before."
Actually, the terrorist diaspora is already occurring as the Trib points out in the only fact they got right, with new 'lone wolf' attacks attributed to Islamic State revenge occurring weekly in Europe the Homeland. Yet, the Trib says regardless of how many and murderous these revenge attacks are, we must press on to wipe out Islamic State so these attacks disappear forever. That delusional nonsense is simply parroting our failed US military which says increased terrorist attacks in the West 'prove' we're winning the war on Islamic State. Reality check dear Trib Editorial Board propagandists: Every bomb we drop, every innocent we kill, inspires more blowback from Islamic State sympathizers around the world. Pretending that millions of bombs can wipe them all out without inspiring new recruits is madness....and you know it.
Islamic State has never posed an existential treat to the US requiring us to unleash endless bombing. We must end all bombing not related to crushing specific planned attacks against the West. Virtually none of current bombing involves that. It's simply taking sides in a civil that the local peoples there have to resolve. But the Trib Editorial Board understands, in their twisted vision of reality, that 'war is the health of the state', fueling the Military-Industrial Complex to greater power, glory and wealth. The Trib ends by saying that no matter how many of us die from terrorist blowback, it will be worth it when we win. Bunk. There is no victory from perpetual war, which inspires replacements, and lone wolf attacks here, as fast as we blow innocents to bits over there.
The Trib Editorial Board understands this truth. But when you've got a 15 year history promoting endless and failed war, it's tough to say, "Oops, sorry, we've been wrong all along."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Trump treads tired GOP road to Philadelphia

Presidential campaigns are about policy but also about symbolism. In 1980, Ronald Reagan kicked off his in one of the unlikeliest places in the country: the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, MS. That backwater northeast of Jackson, would never have been on the Reagan radar except for its grotesque place in history for the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers there. Reagan made sure the 30,000 white Mississippians heard his pledge to protect states rights; his coded way of saying he had their backs in their effort to keep their foot on the backs of black Mississippians. The ploy did not go unnoticed as Reagan swept the Solid Democratic South (except for Jimmy Carter's home state of Georgia) which changed parties in response to Democratic led civil rights legislation.
thirty-six years on we're confronted with possibly the most implicitly racist presidential candidkate in history; that of the white nationalists' hero Donald J. Trump. Whether implying all Mexicans are rapists and a Mexican judge can't grant him justice, implying no Muslims can be trusted and must be kept out of America, or feigning ignorance of well known KKK veteran and sympathizer David Duke who endorsed him, Trump's racist chops are undeniable. And guess where Trump surrogate and namesake Donald Jr. made a campaign appearance three days before the official campaign start following the Democratic Convention? Yep, that obscure backwater in a solid Trump state that doesn't need a single Trump appearance; Philadelphia, MS.
Junior fired up the mostly all white crowd by defending their support for the Mississippi flag taken down at the Democratic Convention in the more tolerant Philadelphia, because it still contains the Confederate Battle Flag within. "I believe in tradition. I don’t see a lot of the nonsense that’s been created about that (flag). I understand how some people feel but … there’s nothing wrong with some tradition.” If supporting continuation of the the Old White South was not enough, Junior expressed amazement about retracing Reagan's 1980 footsteps in Philadelphia, even noting the "similarities of the campaigns."
No overt racism for the Trump clan this election season. It's all about dog whistles and symbolism. The aging demographic of dead-ender white folks who've never recovered from eight years under a black president and dread the prospect of eight years under a female, get the Trump boys' message load and clear.
To paraphrase W.C. Fields, 'all things considered...I'd rather not be in Philadelphia, MS.'

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Media, public should channel Spike Lee film title

Donald Trump's presidential campaign is certainly the least presidential in the 17 I've followed since liking two classy candidates, Ike Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson in 1952. His is possibly the worst for a major party candidate in American history, having not come across one in my study of history who presented such a major threat to the stable functioning of American democracy should he have been elected. His behavior is so buffoonish, infantile, hate filled and dishonest, I'm still in disbelief he was nominated, much less he's inexplicably in contention. Sensible, decent Americans are shocked at his insane public call for Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's emails. The withering criticism that provoked, including legitimate concern it was treasonous, prompted Trump to claim he was only being sarcastic. Anyone hearing his poisonous words yesterday knows that is bunk. This is simply the Trump shtick; pivot to some preposterous diversion when called out for campaign lunacy that would get just about any other candidate and his hat tossed tossed out of the presidential ring. When a disabled reporter called him out for his vicious, racist lie that his TV projected thousands of Muslims celebrating across the river in NJ as the Twin Towers collapsed, Trump's pivot was to mock the reporter with a grotesque parody of his disability. As dreadful as it was, the pivot worked, putting the focus on Trump's disgraceful insensitivity instead of his racist lie.
Cable news made the Trump candidacy plausible by feasting on the rating bonanza he presented instead of calling him out on his compulsive race baiting, lies, character assassination and utterly un-presidential behavior. He kicked off his campaign playing the birther card, using innuendo instead of outright assertions. He went totally berserk hinting at a connection between rival Ted Cruz's father and the JFK assassination. A hate filled, fearful and uneducated public has kept his candidacy alive.
Both have 102 days to come to their collective senses and 'do the right thing'.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Politics too ugly"? Sandack has nothing on Obama

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

Cyber security, endless talk, haunt Illinois House 81st

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

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

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

Rauner apology tour - Round 2

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

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

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

North Carolina slices off nose to save face

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Memo to Melania

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