Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ash nailed it: US foreign intervention in ashes

Vice President Joe Biden doesn't need to take Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Warmongers Woodshed for his comment that Iraq showed "no will to fight" over their loss of Ramadi to ISIS. What Biden should be complaining about is America's will to go on squandering trillions adding to the hundreds of thousands dead, including 7,000 GI's, in failed Middle East policies while the Homeland continues to languish under war imposed austerity. America created ISIS, first by our criminal war which smashed Iraq worse than Humpty Dumpty, and then by funneling arms to rag tag terrorist groups we hoped would use them to overthrow hated President Assad of Syrian. They simply said "Thanks, very much Uncle Do-Do Bird. We'll use them to crate a Caliphate instead". And in the US, everybody loses...except the guys making the WMD and the sociopaths who relish endless war.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Pick: Whistle Stop by Philip White, University Press of New England, 2014

There were two famous Ferdinand Megellans. The first was flesh and blood, who, between 1519 and 1522, was first explorer to circumnavigate the earth. The second, also a traveler, but more important to history, was steel and steam, the presidential railroad car that carried President Harry Truman over 31,000 miles on his 352 speech whistle stop tour that brought him the most improbable of president...ial victories in the election of 1948.

Whistle Stop is the title of Philip White's book chronicling this fascinating campaign, in which every pollster not only predicted Republican Tom Dewey would swamp Democrat Truman, some even stopped polling in September. Truman struggled just to get the Democratic nomination, being challenged for nomination by the party's left flank, who felt he was not a worthy successor to the sainted FDR. His nomination caused a double split in the party; Southern racists joined he Dixiecrat campaign of SC Governor Strom Thurmond, and northeast liberals signed up with Progressive Party candidate, and Truman's predecessor as VP, Henry Wallace. That left Truman with just the west and Midwest to garner electoral votes.

But Truman was tough, smart and totally committed to carrying on the New Deal legacy of Roosevelt. Getting the nomination, he faced a dispirited party apparatus who bought the pollsters foregone conclusions of a Dewey landslide. Truman responded by doing something innovative in presidential campaigns. He created a campaign issue brain trust of seven brilliant strategists equally committed to his re-election. They boarded together in a bare bones hotel to enable them to work nearly round the clock crafting issue oriented and hard hitting speeches on everything the New Deal stood for: jobs, health care, price controls, infrastructure improvements, minimum wage increase, civil rights, and immigration reform. Sound familiar? Then they created the most ambitious whistle stop campaign ever. Truman gave up the 16 speeches a day, rising a 5:00 AM and not retiring till midnight. He blasted Dewey and the 'Do Nothing' GOP controlled 80th Congress relentlessly, not with gratuitous insults and name calling, but with facts and passion and truth. Dewey, meanwhile, mentally measuring the White House drapes, basically phoned in his campaign with platitudes based around 'unity' and 'competence' instead of substance.

Truman not only won big, 49.5% to 45.1% of the popular vote, and 303 to 186 in the Electoral College, he got to hold up the hated Chicago Tribune with the headline 'Dewey defeats Truman' for Dems to cheer and Republicans to cry.

Every Democrat and progressive should read 'Whistle Stop' before the 2016 campaign begins. It will inspire a commitment to win regardless of the odds, and it will re-enforce how brains, facts, passion and straight talk will trump impersonal, mindless platitudes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ireland leads; Catholic Church dead last in race for human inclusion and equality

Congrats to Ireland for being the first country in the world legalizing gay marriage by popular vote. In spite of rabid opposition by the Catholic Church, 62% of Irish voters said YES to marriage equality. The vote wasn't concentrated in pockets of human decency; 42 of 43 voting districts passed the measure.

The vote adds an extra helping of raspberries to the Catholic Church, which is becoming more and more isolated in its hateful, discriminatory and self destructive opposition to marriage equality.
Maybe its time for all church attending Catholics of good will to substitute a note for greenbacks in the church envelope. It should say something like: "NO MORE MONEY TILL YOU TRULY ACT CHRISTLIKE AND EMBRACE THE ENTIRE HUMAN FAMILY."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rauner's 'Turnaround Agenda' only produced nausea

Amateur Governor Bruce Rauner has been popping Dramamine pills like Lifesavers as his 'Turnaround Fantasy Tour' only produced trouble in Tummy Town. Just 35 of 1,400 hundred municipal governments and county boards jumped on Rauner's carnival stunt 'Tilt-A-Whirl' to pass resolutions supporting his anti union, anti worker agenda. And most of those were cities under 10,000 or counties under 50,000 folks. Heeding to the straight and clear headed, Ottawa passed it's own resolution specifically forbidding local 'Right To Work' zones, eliminating 'Fair Share' Union' payments for non-union workers, and undermining competitive wage scales, all of which degrade the middle class. But till vertigo set in, Rauner spun like top, making 62 stops in 52 cities between February 4 and May 8. During that time Rauner avoided the most important task of his new administration: offering sensible legislation to resolve Illinois's financial crisis greatly worsened by his refusal to support fair taxation; indeed any taxation at all unless it benefits his bloated and wealthy base. Governor Rauner ain't' seen nothing yet. His self induced nausea still has three years and seven months of spinning to go.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nebraska can't sell its lethal injection drugs to Saudi Arabia

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts just squandered $55,000 of Cornhusker Cash to procure drugs to kill Nebraskans likely never to die from Ricketts' love of state sponsored murder. That's because Nebraska's unicameral legislature (America's one and only) just voted 32 to 15 to abolish the death penalty. Ricketts has vowed a veto, but if the 32 hold together, they will override Ricketts' death dance and make Nebraska the 19th state to join most civilized countries that have abolished capitol punishment.

If Ricketts' veto is overridden, maybe he should renounce his citizenship and emigrate to Saudi Arabia. With over six months to go they've just lopped off their 85th human head of people offending the regime, just 3 shy of last years 88. Things are so tough they're advertising for additional headchoppers, a gig Ricketts might consider. The Saudi's, Uncle Sam's best buddy in the Middle East, let the blood gush in public; no sissy lethal drug cocktails for their condemned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

US gets Sayyaf; ISIS gets Ramadi

Poor Uncle Sam can't even get 48 hours of phony pro ISIS war propaganda from killing touted ISIS bigwig Abu Sayyaf, before ISIS trumps Uncle by grabbing Ramadi, Iraq's second largest city. To add insult to injury, the ISIS dudes scarfed up 100 US tanks, including M1A1 Abrams, American's finest, to add to their collection of US killing goodies they've been gifted with by phantom Iraqi military, whose battle motto is: "See...and flee."

Our un-o...fficial but losing war against ISIS is a travesty. We've stuck our pompous, self righteous and self destructive noses into yet another civil war 10,000 miles from home that can't be won and doesn't need to be fought. One group getting pleasure from this madness includes sociopathic war mongers like Sen. Lindsay Graham, who said this to suspected terrorists: “I’m not going to call a judge; I’m going to call a drone and kill you.” The other group are the munitions makers, inhaling untold billions while America's infrastructure crumbles.

To counter this bad news our wayward Uncle will no doubt stage another unlawful incursion into Syrian sovereignty to bring out another ISIS head on a pike.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Forget 'Right To Work'; Rauner's succeeding at 'Right To Fail'

Newbie Illinois governor Bruce Rauner may have had the worst first 100 gubernatorial days in Illinois history. He spent $26 million of his own billionaire wealth promoting his bust the unions, reduce aid to the needy, lavish tax cuts on the wealthy program to get elected. Those who assumed he was just posturing to get elected, before pivoting to actually compromise on sensible solutions for Illinois, have been woefully mistaken. Once sworn in Rauner redoubled his extreme ideological campaign mantra that has alienated not only the general electorate, save for the greedy rich, but most of the General Assembly as well. Rauner is so pathetic, he's reduced to dropping $400 grand last week on Republican legislators, out of his $20 million 'spread the goodies' slush fund, to keep the nervous troops in line. Sadly for Illinois, Rauner remains trapped in his billionaire venture capitalist mindset that he can dismantle Illinois governance like he could the many good companies, whose employees had to suffer to pile up his billionaire wealth. Rauner's 'My way or the highway' approach is nothing more than a potholed road to ruin. And the tires on his gubernatorial luxury limo have already gone flat.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tsarnaev death sentence debases civil, moral society

Bill and Denise Richard's seven year old daughter Jane lost a leg to Boston Bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev two years ago. She was one of 260 people either killed or injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Yet, the Richards argued against the death penalty imposed on Tsarnaev yesterday. They said the ten to twenty years of appeals will simply sentence them to ten to twenty years of needless suffering as the case must stay fr...esh in their minds. Life, they argue, will minimize their further suffering and let Jane and them move on with their lives. Similarly, a majority of Massachusetts citizens opposed death for Tsarnaev, but only the minority that believes in the death penalty were allowed to serve on the jury. Sadly, the prosecutors and the jurors took the easy route and voted for bloodlust over morality and common sense. The death penalty achieves not other purpose that to give pleasure to the folks who support it. It doesn't discourage crime. It doesn't lift up society. It doesn't promote the better angels in our soul. It isn't cost effective. It is rarely imposed even when handed down. 80 folks have been sentenced to death in federal court since 1988. Just 3 have been executed. A few died of natural causes; the rest are still costing us millions in appeals. The prosecution and jury had a chance to close the books on the Boston Bombers yesterday and blew it. In so doing they sentenced, not just the Richards, but all of us living to 10 to 20...years of hearing the infinitely slow wheels of death penalty justice grind us all down.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pope Francis promotes Palestinian state

Bravo to Good Pope Francis for having the Vatican formally recognize Palestine as a state. The Vatican follows 185 countries who have recognized the Palestinian state since 1988. A biggie, Sweden, was the most recent last year. England, France, Spain and the Ireland are all considering measures to join in the long overdue full creation of Palestine. Sadly, the two that really count, the US and, of course, the Palestinians' oppressor, Is...rael, still say "No way." The US Congress, a huge portion of which, is both terrified of and supported by the Israel Lobby, won't lift a finger to do the right thing. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who this same bought-off Congress invited to speak before them to derail the president's peace efforts with Israel's bête noir Iran, told his nation there will be no Palestinian state on his endless watch. Meanwhile, Israel continues to build settlements and Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to literally cement Palestine out of existence.

The Pope's support for Palestine is going to be a tough symbolic challenge to Israel's system of Palestinian Apartheid that remains one of the world's most shameful human tragedies; a tragedy the US supports. But with Good Pope Francis on their side, the Palestinians have a new glimmer of hope.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hersh bin Laden expose rings true

I've followed Seymour Hersh's groundbreaking exposes of governmental mendacity since his 1969 story of the Mai Lai Massacre. In 46 years he's never betrayed those of us seeking truth amidst the blizzard of governmental lies about our foreign military follies, be they in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Libya and now Pakistan. His current piece deconstructing and correcting the self serving tale of American exceptionalism in killing Osama bin Laden is simply another of Hersh's contributions to truth. It may not get much traction with the torrent of discredit launched by the administration, the war party, even the mainstream media. The most important implication of Hersh's expose is the need for releasing the redacted 28 pages of the 911 report which implicate the Saudi Arabian government in supporting the 911 attacks. Hersh points out that Saudi Arabia likely financed bin Laden's upkeep in Pakistan to keep him from being captured by the West where he could reveal the Saudi involvement. Once the Yanks found bin Laden's Pakistani supported prison, Project Assassination, with full Pakistani complicity, was hatched. If this latest Hersh bombshell helps unlock the 28 pages for public scrutiny, Hersh will once again have used his tenacious and fearless investigative talents to serve the public interest; indeed the cause of peace.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Music Pick: Guy Carawan

Guy Carawan died May 2 at age 89. Though not nearly as widely known and revered as Pete Seeger, who died last year at 93, Carawan, a contemporary and colleague of Seeger's, was a giant in the folk, protest, political activism revival of the 50's and 60's. Carawan didn't write "We Shall Overcome; that song went through many variations and uses from its origins in the late 18th century. But Carawan, Seeger and two others wrote a new arrangement and lyrics which became the anthem of the emerging civil rights movement when Carawan sang it as a motivational song at the April, 1960, inaugural meeting of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in Raleigh, NC. His version struck a chord and a civil rights anthem was born. Later on Carawan took the phrase "Keep your hand on the plow" and turned it into "Keep your eye on the prize", creating another iconic civil rights statement.  Carawan spent decades serving the civil rights and political activist movement at the Tennessee based Highlander Research and Education Center. The feature 'Oh Lord, I've Got Some Singing To Do' is a good intro to Carawan's musical spirit.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

West says 'Nyet' to Russia VE celebration

China's Xi Jinping was there. India's Pranab Mukherjee was there. Even Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro was there. Conspicuously absent was any leader from the US or its anti Russian allies England and France. The boycotted event was Russia's 70th anniversary celebration in Moscow of their victory over Nazi Germany. It's a signal that renewed tensions between the West and Russia are at their lowest point since the old Soviet system collapsed in 1991. At that time we promised Russia we wouldn't try to expand NATO into former Russian satellite states, but expand we did, including our despicable Western inspired Ukraine coup in February, 2014, that woke up the Russian Bear who promptly annexed Crimea (with a 96% Crimean approval rating) to protect their naval base from Western aggression.

America's demonization of Russia is not only wrong; it's stupid. Driving Russia into deep alliances with emerging powers China and India is counterproductive to maintaining American influence.

All this nonsense is in part, a consequence of the untimely death of FDR on April 12, 1945. Franklin got along famously with Uncle Joe Stalin. There was mutual trust between them that Stalin and Russia, devastated by two western invasions in 27 years, needed a buffer on its borders, whereas FDR and the US needed a Europe largely free of communist intervention. But FDR's death elevated an insecure Harry Truman to the presidency. Clueless on the subtleties of foreign diplomacy, Truman was mincemeat for the anti communist fanatics like Secretary of State James Byrne, who goaded Truman into a bellicose anti Russian posture, virtually guaranteeing the next half century of Cold War anxiety.

Part of our absence at Russia's 70th VE celebration has to do with the narrative the West concocted at VE Day that victory was all their glory. The demonization of communism required us to denigrate the Russian cost of 26 million souls, the absence of which may have doubled or tripled the American loss of 450,000. Russia's pain may well have saved Britain from being conquered.

It's time for the US and allies to end their new Cold War against Russia. Admit we were wrong in expanding NATO into Russia's neighborhood, including the wrongheaded and self destructive Ukraine coup. Add Russia to its rightful place in the VE story. And next year send a high level representative to the Russian VE celebration.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Inquiring minds want to know

Question: Why does Dr. Ben Carson think he's qualified to be president?

Answer: He thinks it's as easy as brain surgery.

Leopold case argues against both death and life sentences

May 21st marks the 91st anniversary of the Nathan Leopold, Richard Loeb 'thrill killing' of Loeb's 12 year old second cousin in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood. The case is one of many termed the 'crime of the century' but probably deserves the honor for two reasons: it started the movement to end the death penalty, and, based on Leopold's amazing life during and after prison, argues eloquently against life imprisonment.

Graduate students at the University of Chicago in 1924, Leopold, 19, and Loeb, 18, fancied themselves Niettzschean supermen (Ubermenschen); men so gifted they were not bound by the normal laws of society. Their fascination with crime led them from petty theft to arson and finally murder, bashing in the head of young Loeb relative Bobby Franks. Satisfied they committed the 'perfect crime' it took only a week for their arrest and several months to sentence them, after pleading guilty, to life for murder plus 99 years for kidnapping.

Had they been poor and/or black, Leopold and Loeb would have surely been executed. But they were rich and white; allowing them to hire the 'attorney for the damned', Clarence Darrow, who took their case to promote his opposition to the death penalty. His 12 hour summary convinced the judge in their sentencing hearing, resulting in seemingly certain life in prison. Their landmark case began the long journey to abolish capital punishment; gone now in 18 states.

Loeb was killed by a fellow inmate in 1936. Leopold, a genius, furthered his already considerable education, adding 12 languages to the 15 he'd already mastered. He made significant contributions to improving conditions at Statesville Penitentiary, including reorganizing the prison library, revamping the schooling system, teaching its students, and volunteering in the prison hospital. In 1944, Leopold served as guinea pig for a Statesville Penitentiary Malaria study. He was deliberately inoculated with malaria pathogens and then subjected to multiple experimental malaria treatments.

Leopold's exemplary conduct won him parole in 1958 after serving 34 years. He relocated to Puerto Rico where he became an X-Ray technician in a church hospital. He went on to earn a master's degree and taught at the University of Puerto Rico, became a researcher in social services in Puerto Rico's health department, did research in leprosy, urban renewal and housing, and traveled extensively to research a book he published on Puerto Rican birdlife. He also married a widow in 1961 who was with him till his death at 66 in 1971.

Regardless of how exceptional Nathan Leopold's case may be for abolishing capitol punishment, our sentencing guidelines should also be modified to offer a path for similar offenders to demonstrate both their rehabilitation and their readiness to rejoin society at some point. Nobody lost when Nathan Leopold was paroled after 34 years. No potential murderer thought that 34 years imprisonment was a fair trade to kill someone. As much as Nathan Leopold gained from his freedom, society achieved even more.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Fear, not facts, rule Roskam's website on Affordable Care Act

Well into its sixth year and second year of full coverage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA is a resounding success. The Facts are in but check out my Congressman Peter Roskam's (IL-6) website, and the only F word you'll find regarding the ACA, is Fear, not Facts.

When the site pops up, the fear pops out. "Inspector General needed to monitor Affordable Care Act because the public deserves answers" trumpets one. "Roskam introduces bill to create Special Inspector General for Affordable Care Act" the pop up proclaims. "Roskam, community leaders tout legislation to block job-killing regulations" touts a third. These are tired, fear mongering chestnuts that are well over a year old. They weren't true or needed then; they're aren't true or needed now.

What you'll never find at Roskam's website are Affordable Care Act facts. Just today the Chicago Tribune cited a RAND study showing that 17 million more folks are insured for health care, and the insured are up in every significant category; employer provided plans, Medicaid programs and policies obtained by the ACA created state insurance marketplaces. The state marketplaces, the most innovative ACA lifesaver, accounts for 11 million newly insured. And all the fear Roskam warned about for the affluent enjoying health insurance prior to the ACA? Most haven't seen any change in their coverage, but they have seen a slowdown in the overall cost of healthcare for the nation overall. While Roskam fantasizes stuff about the job killing ACA, private sector job growth continues to soar. And let's not forget the reduction in the non-affluent going bankrupt, suffering declining health or even dying from lack of health insurance.

It's time for Congressman Roskam to start using a new F word on his website: not last year's Fear, but today's Facts.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

ACLU, SPLC hover over Garland shooting

Of all the public service groups I've supported over the past 60 years, two stand out: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

There was in interesting confluence of both concerning the near terrorist massacre that was averted in Garland, TX, Sunday at a self described free speech event consisting of a contest for the best cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. 'Best' is event organizer Pam Geller's depiction of the eventual winning entry. 'Incendiary' is how the SPLC might describe it. They have been following Geller's career, which they describe as one dedicated to promoting hate against Islam and the Muslim community, for some time in their mission to track and publicize persons and organizations promoting hate instead of peace and inclusiveness. Sure enough, the highly publicized event inspired two Islamic extremists to travel from Arizona to Texas bent on massacre at the event. Fortunately, they were killed by a security guard before anyone was murdered.

SPLC was founded in 1971 as a non-profit public interest organization to "promote civil rights by fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society". Check out their website and you'll find these Geller quotes supporting their assertion she's a danger to civil discord and non-violence in America:

"Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth."
— Pam Geller On Fox Business' "Follow the Money," March 10, 2011
"Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords."
— Pam Geller,, April 13, 2010
"Hussein [meaning President Obama] is a muhammadan. He's not insane … he wants jihad to win."
— Pam Geller,, April 11, 2010
"I don't think that many westernized Muslims know when they pray five times a day that they're cursing Christians and Jews five times a day. … I believe in the idea of a moderate Muslim. I do not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam."
— Pam Geller, The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010

That brings us to ACLU,, founded in 1920 as a non-profit public service organization dedicated to "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." ACLU's most visible activities involve freedom of speech, as they were founded to confront the rampant suppression of that sacred right during and following WWI. Their most famous effort involved defending the right of Chicago area Neo-Nazi Frank Collin to lead his swastika adorned group to march in heavily Jewish Skokie, IL in 1977. ACLU successfully prevailed in the US Supreme Court that wearing a swastika was a from of protected free speech. Had local authorities moved to prevent hate monger Pam Geller from holding her obviously inflammatory Prophet Mohammad cartoon contest, she would likely have found a fearless advocate in ACLU to proceed with her event.

Were I around with the same anti war mindset during WWI, I would surely have been slammed in the Slammer for speaking out against America's senseless and self destructive involvement. Thanks to ACLU I can do so with relatively little fear today. And thanks to SPLC we can keep track of the hate groups and hate mongers who go right up to the line of protected free speech and sometimes over the line into violence.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Some thoughts on penal reform

1. Abolish the federal death penalty and that in the 32 states still practicing state sponsored murder.

2. End life sentences as well which simply consign taxpayers to fund the nation's largest collection of nursing homes for many thousands of elderly inmates. Complement this step with procedures to insure dangerous offenders' sentences can be incrementally expanded if still deemed a danger to society.

3. Drastically reduce minimum sentences for serious crime to give responsible judges discretion to impose sensible sentences based on individual circumstances.

4. Greatly expand home confinement and work release for non-violent offenders not likely to repeat their offences.
5. Expunge every one of the millions of convictions for non-trafficking drug possession and release every prisoner serving time for drug possession.

6. transition every private prison to a government facility, eliminating the business model of profiting from incarcerating human beings.

7. Reduce recidivism by Investing much of the savings from these reforms to provide educational, job training and mental health services for the 2.3 million languishing in the American penal gulag.

8. Set a goal of reducing our percentage of the world's prison population from 25% to the 5% which our total population represents.

That is just 8. Surely there are many more.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Reform comes to College of DuPage

It was a privilege to attend last night's COD Board meeting. Reform has begun as the three new Board members and new Chair Kathy Hamilton became the majority; immediately passing sweeping action to end and prevent recurrence of financial, educational and administrative mismanagement resulting in numerous investigations at COD. President Robert Breuder was placed on administrative leave. House accounts for dining and entertainment were cancelled. The state required audit was finally approved and expanded to include conduct during President Breuder's entire six year reign.

This was the first Board meeting I attended where serious COD issues were discussed and dealt with. While pleased with the resolutions passed, it was unfortunate that the three members tied to the Breuder administration chose to vote as a bloc against every single action. I was hoping they would put their previous lockstep support for Breuder's policies and actions aside to become constructive change agents at COD. Their votes last night signal they are unwilling to accept responsibility for the year long public controversy that has been simmering under the surface for faculty, students and taxpayers for six long years. They should reconsider this course and use their considerable talents at future Board meetings to facilitate long overdue reforms and accountability. There is never a bad time to begin doing the right thing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Institutional racism a mystery to Rand Paul

Presidential candidate Rand Paul on Baltimore unrest:

 "It's depressing, it's sad, it's scary. I came through the train on Baltimore last night, I'm glad the train didn't stop. The thing is that really there's so many things we can talk about, it's something we talk about not in the immediate aftermath but over time: the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of sort of a moral code in our society. And this isn't just a racial thing, it goes across racial boundaries, but we do have problems in our country."

Paul comments are insensitive, unhelpful  and clueless. After calling it depressing, sad and scary, he jokes about being glad the train carrying him through Baltimore didn't stop. Then he says that now is not the time to talk about the problem, but talk about it Paul does, putting the blame on "lack of fathers" while failing to acknowledge that excessive early death and massive incarceration from institutional racism have left the nation's black community short 1,500,000 men in the 25 to 54 age group. Paul shifts the entire focus from the forgotten pockets of poverty in the black community left behind in an otherwise thriving economy, by claiming this is not racial, but due instead to an overall lack of moral code in general.

Paul is unfit to address, as president, what is arguably are most crucial domestic problem we face. He would be well served by viewing President Obama's passionate and eloquent comments on Baltimore today to see how a true president comports himself. Then he should address this issue constructively and forthrightly or get off the national stage.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Life/Death Penalty piece misses point

Tribune deputy editorial page editor John P. McCormick missed two key points in his op ed "Ask Death Row: No, rotting in prison isn't worse than being executed."

He implies that former Gov. George Ryan was acting solely on behalf of 167 death row inmates when he commuted their death sentence to life for 164 and 40 years for three). He omitted that Ryan was acting, first and foremost, on behalf of society in general as a means of making i...t more civilized. In Illinois, at least, Ryan was ultimately successful. His January 31, 2000, announcement suspending Illinois' death penalty was one of the most moving and humane public policy speeches I ever heard.

Second, McCormick's piece, by analyzing which is a more vengeful punishment, life or death, tacitly supports capital punishment and completely ignores that vengeance should not be the concern of the penal system for heinous crimes. It should be to secure the public from violent offenders; provide justice, not vengeance, for the victims; and to discourage anti social behavior in others.

McCormick could better serve Trib readers pondering how to reduce the 63% national approval rate for the death penalty. I'd suggest he sit down with former governor George Ryan. He could learn a lot.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kirk a One Trick Pony on Iran deal

My senator Mark Kirk (R. IL) sure can't speak extemporaneously very well about the 5 power nuclear deal with Iran. Asked to comment after its announcement, Kirk, one of the Senate's most virulent proponents of Iranian regime change, also known as war, compared it to the president making a worse deal than Neville Chamberlin got from Hitler at Munich in 1938. Then he postured that the proposed deal puts Israel on the road to war with Iran. Bot...h charges are unbecoming of a senator charged with promoting peace instead of war.

But he does a bit better when he has someone write out a relatively coherent speech such as he gave in last weeks Republican radio address. Mindful of his charge from the war party and the Israel Lobby to sabotage the current deal designed to reduce the likelihood of war, Kirk tried to sound cautious and peace loving; claiming he's merely trying to prevent another holocaust and a Middle East nuclear war. But we shouldn't be fooled by Kirk's nice-guy sounding rhetoric. Without a word of support for negotiations which is the only path to peace and eventual rapprochement with Iran, Kirk played the war card throughout, promoting sanctions, sanctions and more sanctions. When he calls Iran the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism, he conveniently omits mentioning his 14 year support in Congress for unnecessary and senseless war in the Middle East that his killed hundreds of thousands and injured or displaced millions.

When it comes to diplomacy, Kirk is a One Trick Pony; sanctions that will inevitably lead to war. Rather than charge ahead as leader of the War With Iran crowd that infests Congress, Kirk could better serve his state by visiting the families of Illinois soldiers killed in the senseless wars he's promoted and apologizing for his mendacious support for them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Is Gov. Rauner Illinois' Hipster Doofus?

The more I watch newbie Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, the more I'm reminded of the character Kramer from Seinfeld. Besides a mild physical resemblance, Rauner, like Kramer, seems to have a worldview that is a little 'off'. Kramer became lovable for simply not looking at the world like everyone else. He was constantly coming up with schemes to improve life around him and society in general that were so goofy and disjointed, friend El...aine tabbed him the 'Hipster Doofus'. Like Hipster Doofus Kramer, Rauner is careening around Illinois proposing cracked ideas that he thinks are genius but are falling flatter than Aunt Jemima's pancakes. Whether it's pulling out funding for autism and homecare for single mom programs, or proposing Right To Work zones to further erode union and prevailing wage uplift to the middle class, Rauner is showing he's much better suited for comedy than governance. Check that! Rauner may be deporting himself like a Hipster Doofus, but his version is more suited to tragedy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gay marriage critic and child of gay parenting misguided

With arguments before the Supreme Court on gay marriage a week away, Canadian Dawn Stefanowiz was given nearly of full page of Tribune ink and pixels to rail against the US legalizing gay marriage, as was done in Canada in 2005. Stefanowicz spent her first 30 years under the spell of her gay father and his succession of male partners. Her beef against daddy? "I did not see my father or his partners valuing, loving and affirming women. My father's preference for one gender (male) created an inner sense of inequality for me." Stefanowicz then extrapolates from this unfortunate experience, which untold millions have experienced at the hands of a heterosexual parent, to conclude her poor self esteem was the result of same sex parenting. We could surmise that if her father was a thief instead of a successful executive recruiter, she might conclude gay parenting is associated with thievery.

Stefanowicz's other argument against gay marriage is societal. She claims Canadians have lost their personal freedoms because of government imposed restrictions against expressing any belief same sex marriage is wrong. Her solution to these restrictions, whether real or imagined, is not to lobby for change in governmental policies; it's downright discriminatory and draconian: "Marriage must remain between a man and a woman — to the exclusion of all others." That's like saying we shouldn't have given the vote to women in 1920 or to blacks in 1965 because of the unfair societal pressure on those expressing their belief neither of these enhancements to human freedom was necessary.

Regarding Ms. Stefanowicz's bizarre lobbying for continued discrimination against LGBT folks enjoying the same humanity she does, Billy Shakespeare said it best: "The woman doth protest too much, me thinks."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

At College of DuPage, taxpayers pay for the food; Foundation pays for the booze

The front page story in today's COD Daily Scandal, a.k.a. Chicago Tribune, reveals a pretty slick trick President Breuder used to buy all that fine wine and scotch consumed by Breuder and trustees at Waterleaf dinners before 25 Board meetings in the last four years. Since charging taxpayers for liquor is frowned upon at community colleges, Breuder simply split the bill; food to Breuder's Waterleaf... house account and high octane refreshments to the College of DuPage Foundation's Waterleaf house account. Those 25 meetings racked up $9,000 in bar bills expensed at the expense of needy students, who could have received many more scholarships for that $9,000. The bigger the announcement at Board meetings, the bigger the bar bill which averaged $360 per dinner. Breuder and his trustee bosses really celebrated before an August, 2013, meeting where the Board announced Breuder was named CEO of the year for the Association of Community College Trustees' Central Region. The liquor tab for that dinner was $643 which included 6 bottles of fine wine. What's worse is that COD officials denied for months there even was a Foundation house account at Waterleaf. Perseverance by COD Daily Scandal reporters and lawyers finally coughed up the incriminating info. Breuder says all those FOIA requests were simply a fishing expedition. Can't be that when no fish could survive in what Breuder was swimming around in.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kirk to Illinois voters: "No more race talk from me"

My Senator Mark Kirk sure is embarrassed by his recent remarks that Illinois should try to cultivate black billionaires to combat white-black economic inequality that forces scared white folks to speed through the black community in their cars. That promoted this Kirk clarification:

“I would say that whenever a targeted member talks about race or ethnicity, it is impossible for him to get it right. So I’ll leave it at that.”
Mark Kirk is a sitting US Senator and claims he's "a targeted member" making it "impossible for him to get it right." Therefore, he's done talking about "race or ethnicity." I must remind Senator Kirk that his predecessor, Barack Obama, has said many thousands of words about race and ethnicity since becoming president six years ago and has never once gotten it wrong.
Senator Kirk, is no more targeted than any other public official at any level, from president down to dog catcher, when he mis speaks about important issues affecting the public welfare. It is outrageous that Kirk, a United States Senator, would declare he's done talking about one of the most important issues affecting the public welfare. Maybe Kirk could better serve the public by declaring he's done talking about re-election next year and retire after his one and only term expires, January 2, 2017.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My senator Mark Kirk (Rep. IL) sure says the darndest things.

In February, Senator Kirk threatened to pile up coffins outside Democratic Party offices if the Department of Homeland Security shut down, conveniently forgetting Republicans set the stage for the possible shutdown.

In March he said it was time to "end the attaching of bullshit to essential items of government." and later equated Senate Democrats as "making the same mistake that Democrats made in the 1850s when th...ey defended slavery,” simply because they objected to language in the human trafficking bill that furthered Republicans' anti-abortion agenda.

Two weeks ago, he lambasted the proposed 5 power nuclear agreement with Iran stating: "Neville Chamberlin got a better deal from Adolf Hitler."

Just last week Kirk offered this bizarre solution for inner city income inequality and urban driving challenges:

“I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community. With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through.”

Try to follow Kirk's logic: The state of Illinois should magically create a class of African-American billionaires which will produce two results. It will reduce the income disparity between the white haves and the black have-nots. This will allow frightened white people like Senator Kirk to not have to drive so fast through the black community.

Maybe it's time for Senator Kirk to hire a good PR man who will vet every one of Kirk's public statements before releasing them to our delicate ears. Maybe it's simply time for Senator Mark Kirk to resign.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A gal for the $20 bill? That's easy: Jeannette Rankin

 Yesterday, NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced a bill to have a woman replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by 2020, to coincide with the centenary of women's suffrage. Notables like Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks are leading the pack to be the first women on our paper currency since Martha Washington in 1896. My pick is former Montana Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, who served two terms in the US House, 1917-1919, and... 1941-1943. Before Congress, Rankin eschewed marriage and family to earn a college degree and work full time as a lobbyist for the National American Women's Suffrage Association. Their victory in Montana is what allowed her into Congress before Universal Suffrage, making her the only woman to vote for it in Congress. 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 against Japan. Facing hisses and calls demanding she 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 for protection. Bounced from Congress again in 1942, Rankin soldiered on for her causes of peace and justice for another 31 years.

Rankin's story is largely written out of the American Story that glorifies war and papers over our denial of full civil rights to all throughout our history whether based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Putting Rankin on the paper twenty will be a fitting way to right that story. It will make me and every peace loving and inclusive American proud every time we spot her awesome, courageous visage for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Roskam channels 'Chicken Little' over Affordable Care Act

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) has spent the past six years fear mongering over health care reform, now covering 16 million previously uninsured. For the full year during its gestation and five years of its existence, Roskam has been one of the most feverish advocates promoting the GOP's signature campaign to destroy President Obama's presidency by preventing health care reform. Roskam refused to even read the ACA ...saying the thousand page bill was just too much for him. Never mind that 40 million folks shut out from the best medical care in the world suffer bankruptcy, diminished health, even death because to the heartless system Roskam still cherishes.

But now that the ACA's five year success has been certified by those 16 million newly insured, expected costs of the ACA 20% less than expected (according the Congressional Budget Office), number of part time workers seeking full time work reduced drastically, private sector job growth soaring since its full implementation in 2014, Roskam's connection to reality remains non-existent. Go to his congressional website and the first pop up is:

"Inspector General for the Affordable Care Act - because the public deserves answers - Roskam.House.Gov"

This is followed by:
"Roskam, community leaders tout legislation blocking job killing Obamacare regulations"
This concerns Roskam's vote for the hilariously named "Repealing the JOB KILLING Health Care law". Gee, I can just hear Roskam adding: "Pay no attention to those 62 straight months of private sector job growth that have created over 12 million jobs."
But it gets worse. Click the issues link on heath care and you get this delusional nonsense:
" The health care law has resulted in higher premiums, decreased care, and government bureaucrats standing between you and your doctor. This is unacceptable. In my oversight role on the Ways and Means Committee, I am working to ensure the American health care system is the best in the world, and that families are not forced to pay more for diminished care."

No, Congressman, you are simply a sad caricature of a decent, humane congressman charged with improving the lives of your constituents. You take advantage of the pathetic fact that only 5% of Americans know the ACA has cost much less than expected while giving a health care lifeline to 16 million Americans. If it were up to you, they'd still be without. Thanks for nothing.

NOTE: Congressman Roskam can be contacted at 202-225-4561

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Graham's criticism of Paul only reason to consider him

The GOP, amazingly, has about 20 folks who have either announced, will announce, or are considering a 2016 presidential bid. One of them, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), is the most vehement war monger of the pack. He signed his colleague Tom Cotton's (R-AR) letter to the Iranian mullahs warning them not to ink an nuclear deal with President Obama because any Republican winning the 2016 presidency will likely abrogate it. ...He's pushing hard to derail this deal and he's always promoting war in the Middle East, going back to our criminal invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. He's downright obsessive about bombing Iran. But in his unrelenting criticism of President Obama's negotiating skills, he charged that any Republican candidate except Rand Paul (R-KY) could do better. That's peculiar since Paul was one of the 47 treasonous Republican senators who signed the Cotton letter. Furthermore, Rand jettisoned his formerly peacenik credentials and ties to his anti-war father Ron, to cozy up to the GOP crazies beating the war drums. He knows 'anti-war' and 'Republican candidate' is an oxy-moron, and he desperately wants to be president.
But Graham doesn't trust Paul. He fears a Paul presidency will continue Obama's drift away from war, from lockstep support for Israel's demand we bomb their bête noir Iran, and from insane, endless military spending. And he may be right.

In many ways Paul is a dreadful choice. He's shedding his more sane libertarian beliefs to have viability with the extreme right Republican primary voters, faster than you can say 'hypocrite'. He's showing a decidedly short fuse over uncomfortable questions; even shushing female interviewers like a good sexist. But when it comes to the most important issue of the election, war and peace, he's the one glimmer of hope that an unreconstructed war monger doesn't inhabit the White House should a Republican win next year.

Kirk post stroke health should be re-election issue

Although not mentioned yet in the media, my Illinois Senator Mark Kirk's health should be an issue in the 2016 election. His recovery from a near fatal 2012 stroke has been remarkable, but Kirk appears greatly diminished in his ability to articulate issues of war and peace, health care for all, and others, with wisdom and sensitivity. Listen to him discuss these issues now and he clearly struggles. Take health care. His reco...very cost must have exceeded $1 million. But when challenged to consider extending health care relief to tens of millions without health care insurance, Kirk, a vehement opponent of the Affordable Care Act, said simply, "We can't afford it." You could get a more nuanced answer from a Tea Party kook. But turn to defense spending and war and Kirk opens up the taxpayers' pocketbook with relish. He's never criticized our criminal involvement in multi trillion dollar wars that have killed hundreds of thousands and damaged or displaced millions. Instead, he's supported every war and voted every dollar of squandered treasure to prosecute.

But his recent statements and actions trying to scuttle the 5 Power nuclear deal with Iran really call his impaired mental acuity into question. He went off the rational rails calling the 5 Power agreement as a worse deal than British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin got from Hitler at Munich. Then he doubled and tripled down on idiotic hyperbole asserting the deal "commits Israel on a path to war with Iran", green lights Iran to "go at breakneck speed to a nuclear weapon...forcing Israel to clean up this mess", predicting "it would end with mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran." Gosh, I thought when Condoleezza Rich left office we were done with 'mushroom cloud' allusions. We could probably get more insight into the 5 Power negotiations with Iran from an overserved patron in a bar.
Kirk took a year off recovering from his stroke and came back to office more extreme and inarticulate than ever on issues of war and peace, health care life and death. He should never have come back to work. He should not be running for re-election. He can best serve Illinois, the nation, the world by retiring forthwith.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Free Blago!

God, how I miss Rocket Rod Blagojevich. Channeling Elvis, wielding the 'The Football' to keep his immaculate, shiny black 'doo' perfectly coifed, Blago was a reality show producer's dream. After seeing him sweating profusely in shorts and tee shirt, running around, grasping the crowd at the Wheaton Fourth of July Parade during his gubernatorial heyday, I knew he was more than a little bit 'off'.

But Blago was a Grabowski, not a Rockefeller, unlike his current successor, Billionaire Bruce Rauner.
As incompetent as Blago was as governor, he never consciously stuck it to the poor and the needy like Governor 1%. Blago had one pad, a North Side Bungalow. He loved living there among the working stiffs; while Billionaire Bruce has so many million dollar showplaces acquired demolishing good companies as vulture capitalist, he can bed down in a different one every night of the week. Blago connected with union workers; Bruce can't wait to disconnect them from their lifeline to a livable paycheck. Blago championed improving the lives of workers and the unemployed even though he lacked the brains and character to accomplish much. Alas, his sabre was bent, while Rauner wields a sturdy stiletto to carve away desperately needed peoples' resources that, used properly, saves many times its cost down the road while improving lives.
Blago comes to mind after a grainy picture of him, white haired and chastened in a federal prison, was published yesterday. What an utter waste of $40,000 per year. Blago got 14 years for being a bit crazy, and taunting the Illinois power structure, which for them is literally a federal offence. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Illinoisans are high fiving themselves, celebrating the tax breaks they're enjoying on the backs of folks they don't see, don't hear, don't give a damn about. Between crazy and heartless, I'll take crazy every time.

Make Cotton first impeached senator since 1799

Tom Cotton of Arkansas has only been senator for 2 years but he needs to be impeached.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Short take on Chicago mayoral election

Jesus saves....just not in Chicago.