Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Madness not entertaining for beleaguered Mosul residents


March Madness may be fervently followed by tens of millions in the US, but the Mosul, Iraq, version is a real killer the residents wish would go away. Unlike the 64 teams in the US edition, March Madness in Mosul involves an average of 500 bombs raining down on civilians there weekly, killing 300 in one just one bomb run. Bombing is way up in the last two months since new US military commander Trump has gruesomely fulfilled his pledge to unleash the full firepower of the world's most prolific military in criminal wars. Even the Iraqi government, approving US mass murder of the civilians it's trying to win back from ISIS, has scaled back their offensive over the bloodbath both are perpetuating there. We know who the Final Four teams are in the US March Madness. But we many never know who are the Final Four civilians still standing after Trump is done leveling the place in defense of the indefensible.



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Only a war crime when others slaughter civilians

At his Senate confirmation hearings for Secretary of State recently, Rex Tillerson was asked by Sen. Marco Rubio “Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?”. Rubio was referring to Russia's bombing of Allepo in support of the Syrian government in their civil war against ISIS, which killed many civilians trapped in that beleaguered city. Of course, Rubio didn't give a damn about those dead, merely seeking to embarrass Tillerson and his boss Trump over their tilt toward Russia which doesn't play well with the US political establishment bent on re-igniting the Cold War against Putin and his Russian Bear. How so? Neither Rubio, nor any pretend humanitarian in government will ask whether the US is guilty of war crimes over their recent bombing of Iraq's Mosul that killed 300 civilians, many buried under the rubble our bombs caused. The similarities don't end with the dead. Like Russia, we've injected ourselves in a civil war on behalf of duly elected government, against rebels with no legitimacy, just a desire to take over to implement their own version of authoritarianism. 

The Mosul bombing is not an outlier. We've been killing untold thousands of civilians all over the Middle East and Africa for the past 16 years since the 911 attacks. We haven't reeked enough vengeance against the Muslim world and likely never will. Maybe to remind everyone burying their heads in the Kardashians or Dancing With The Stars of our true calling, we should alter one line in the Star Spangled Banner thusly: "And the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through  the night, that we're still the most violent country on the face of the earth."    

Monday, March 27, 2017

We need translator for Roskam's gobbledygook on failed GOP health bill

Questioned on conservative talk radio about the failed GOP American Health Care Act, which he's lusted 9 years to vote for, my congressman Peter Roskam said this:
“I don’t think the health care discussion is over by a long shot. One of the reasons we're in this complicated, difficult place is if you reflect back the GOP has never put together what it’s for in a healthcare bill. It’s never passed out of the aspirational. We’ve never wrestled with what the actual bill would look like. The repeals have been easy to vote for. I think we have to pass an aspirational bill -- one that puts the marker out there for what we want and all that we stand for on health care.”
Vintage Roskamspeak, sounding thoughtful but utterly devoid of substance or good governance. Let me translate for those not versed in Roskamspeak:
"Our sixty NO votes on the Affordable Care Act were meaningless gestures to placate our heartless base. We have no clue how to deliver health care to all since that starts with a non-starter: Medicare for All. Our bill wasn't aspirational enough. It didn't toss more off the insurance rolls than the 14 million in the first year. It didn't funnel enough wealth from the truly needy to the truly greedy.It may be a long, hard slog...but we're gonna keep tryin'.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

We did read it Congressman Roskam...and aren't buying

This quote pops up at first search of 'American Health Care Act' on my congressman Peter Roskam's congressional website roskam.house.gov.
“Following through on our commitment to responsibly repeal and replace Obamacare, my colleagues and I are pleased to introduce the American Health Care Act. We’re presenting a plan to increase access to affordable, patient-focused health care for all. We’re committed to an open and transparent process as we debate this legislation. Unlike Obamacare, we don’t need to pass it to find out what’s in it. I encourage everyone to read the bill for themselves at readthebill.gop”
Maybe the congressman missed Friday's news on Trump and Ryan pulling the bill for lack of support. The 14 million who can now keep their Affordable Health Care Act insurance, preventing degraded health, bankruptcy coping, and even death, sure didn't.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

W's portraits of warriors can't expunge the blood from his deeds

Former president George W. Bush is getting high marks from some in the art and political worlds over his new book 'Portraits in Courage: A Commander In Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors.' They gush over not only Bush's artistic talent, but also the bit of redemption it may be providing W over the criminal Iraq war he orchestrated which led to hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of displaced Iraqis. Oh yes, it killed 4,500 US soldiers and damaged hundreds of thousands of others, providing Bush with an endless procession of subjects.
I support Bush's artistic endeavors or any other harmless activity that provides him a bit of relief from the gargantuan guilt I trust he's experiencing. I just wish he'd do all his painting in prison, serving a lifetime sentence for war crimes.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Pick: 'Let The People Rule' by Geoffrey Cowan

Anyone with an iota of interest in the Clinton, Sanders primary dustup last year will devour this history of Teddy Roosevelt's quixotic 1912 effort to regain the presidency after handing it over to his best buddy Bill Taft in 1908. The drama of that broken bromance makes the Berniecrats disenchantment the the DNC establishment backing Hillary seem like a lovefest. Historian Geoffrey Cowan wrote this book in part to understand the origins of the presidential primary process he helped expand during the tumultuous 1968 Democratic convention which still seated racist delegations from the South. Cowan's efforts busted the closed racist delegate process and made the primary King for selection of presidential nominees forevermore, including Hillary, who whopped my boy Bernie 34 to 23 in primaries, including 16,900 000 votes to 13,200,000.
Before 1912 there were no primaries, allowing the party bosses, both nationally and statewide, to select the nominees, for better or worse...and often the latter. TR loved that system. For all his rhetoric about a square deal for the common man, he distrusted real democracy, believing all but the well bred, meaning white, and educated were unfit to govern. But seeking to oust Taft, whom he believed betrayed TR's progressive agenda, and more importantly, TR himself, was doomed by Taft's lock on levers of power. The solution? Create a nationwide primary system which would 'Let the people rule' which became TR's campaign theme. Ravenous ambition make a true small D democrat of the man who feared just that till it served his purpose.
He just missed pulling it off. TR won 9 of the 13 primaries he and fellow progressives hastily arranged. Super lefty 'Fighting' Bob La Follette won 2, as did Taft. But Taft called in just enough favors from the bosses to not let the people rule. Roosevelt and crew bolted the convention to form the Bull Moose Party, splitting the GOP vote, ushering in 8 years of Democratic control under Woodrow Wilson.

TR was so incensed by the victory of the regressive Republicans at the convention, he muttered a quote you won't find in a list of his most famous: "The Republican dog has returned to his vomit." Alas, 115 years later the Republican dog is still lapping it up.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Scott's odd solution to end senseless killing

“I am outraged and sickened by this loss of life and many families’ lives have been forever changed because of these senseless murders." 
- FL Gov. Rick Scott
Scott sure has a bizarre fix for the endless and senseless murders that plague our blood soaked American culture. He wants to commit his own senseless state sponsored murder on Markeith Lloyd, himself a murderer of two human beings, one of which a female police officer.
Scott presides over the second biggest practitioner of state sponsored murder, just behind Texas, with 338 hapless souls awaiting the hangman. Now he wants Lloyd to join the procession, so much so he just yanked Aramis Ayala, the prosecutor in charge of the Lloyd prosecution, off the case. Her transgression? Lloyd broke the mold of bloodthirsty prosecutors nationwide by stating she will no longer seek state sponsored murder in any cases going forward.
Ayala's reasoning is unassailable. She points out that the decade or more wait, with the possibility of judicial nullification of carrying out the execution, makes a shame of death as a deterrent; actually exacerbating victim family members grief.
Ayala should be recognized for the sane, humane approach to justice not practiced by a single prosecutor I'm aware of. She should be honored; indeed placed on a pedestal as a beacon for prosecutors nationwide. It should be Scott who should be yanked from the case; just another pandering, bloodthirsty governor who somehow can sleep soundly after sending a fellow human being to eternity.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A sad addition


To the wise aphorism 'All things pass...only art endures' we must now add, 'except in the Trump administration.'

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Roskam continues Big Lie on Affordable Health Care Act

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) never ignores a little lie when the truth demolishes his Big Lie that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be repealed and replaced to improve health care for the 40,000,000 shut out till the ACA passed in 2009. His Big Lie ignores the 14 million to be tossed from insurance rolls in year one, and 10 million more is successive years. It ignores the massive tax cuts for Roskam's wealthy base those formerly insured will be funding. It ignores the untold thousands that will suffer degraded health, go bankrupt coping with that reality, and yes, die.

His little lie, not so small actually, is the one being spread by the entire GOP that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which revealed its devastating indictment of the Roskamcare fix, cannot be trusted. Neither Roskam nor his GOP cohorts will definitively call the CBO report false. No, that lie would be too obvious. But alluding to its falseness is still a lie that must be called out for the infinite harm it inflicts upon America's most vulnerable citizens. We must also call for Roskam to resign from Congress. Promoting a lifetime sinecure in Congress with endless lies at the expense of the powerless is disgraceful, revealing of bad character, and makes Roskam unfit to se

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Roskam's blink on TrumpCare no solace for 14 million in jeopardy


My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) continues to speak in code when it comes to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Never once showing compassion for the 40,000,000 without health care and the tens of thousands who died annually before the ACA, Roskam went full monty in support of the TrumpCare replacement that would strip 14 million from health insurance the first year, and an additional 10 million over time. Not a word of concern for those that will go bankrupt, suffer degraded health and yes, die from TrumpCare.

But intense pressure from district constituents has caused Roskam to blink, according to Crain's Chicago Business. But if Roskam's obtuse statement "I want to learn more about the Medicaid piece, particularly in Illinois" is a blink, everyone but Crain's missed it. They even had to ask twice if he's open to changes in the atrocious Medicaid cuts TrumpCare promises, Roskam finally uttered the 'YES' word, fretting how much that will alienate his extreme right wing base.

Crain's might consider that a blink, but to the 14 million who'll lose health coverage under TrumpCare, it was a heartless slap in the face.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Now's their chance to let them die

I posed the following charge to my Congressman Peter Roskam as one of three constituents meeting with him yesterday. "In the last 8 years 20 million have gained health care; 50,000 are still alive because of that. Never once in 8 years have you acknowledged those benefits; voting instead 60 times to prevent, defund, derail those benefits. That is unconscionable." In response, Roskam offered that many in the district have complained their rates and deductibles have increased under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Roskam is bully on the TrumpCare replacement which we now know from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office will toss 14 million from being insured the first year and 24 million over time. It will also drastically increase premiums on lower income elderly. Thousands of those losing health care under Roskam's cure will surely suffer impaired health, go bankrupt trying to cope, and yes, die.



When he voted sixty times to prevent, defund, derail the ACA Roskam couldn't prevent the increase of 20 million newly insured with 50,000 plus lives saved. Now that Roskam and his Republican majority actually are empowered to destroy the primary benefits of the ACA, my question to Peter Roskam and company is: "Are you really going to let them die?"


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bloodthirsty promise kept



On November 15, 2015, presidential candidate Trump uttered possibly the most disgusting campaign promise is history when he said "I will bomb the shit out of them", referring to ISIS, without offering a shred of justification for committing mass murder on people neither at war with the US nor posing a credible existential threat.

Among many others, including a Muslim ban, eroding environmental controls, deregulating business practices keeping Americans safe, defunding Planned Parenthood, privatizing public schools, kicking out the productive undocumented and destroying the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act, Trump kept this one, resulting in dozens, if not hundreds of innocents killed. In his first 45 days Trump approved 36 drone strikes, an average of one every 1.25 per days, a four and a half fold increase over the Obama administration. Besides the extra killing, Trump's bragging about senseless killing like an immature teenager is troubling for future peace with 1,415 days left for more murder and mayhem.

It's a sad day in the American Story when we can measure our safety, our freedom, our health, indeed the peace of the world, by the campaign promises the Pretender In Chief breaks.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Roskam's decade long free ride disrespecting forgotten constituents is OVAH

When my Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) shows up to speak at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center, 535 Duane Street, Monday, March 13 at 8:00 AM, he'll again face a gauntlet of district protesters. They're ten years of being ignored by their congressman are over, as long as he chooses to govern strictly to the affluent, ultra right bubble of voters who show up Election Day every two years to return him to Congress. He ignores the majority of registered voters who till now had forsaken seeking relief from real, daunting problems he is charged with addressing, but doesn't.

The biggest current crisis he ignores is health care. Roskam spent the last eight years working feverishly to deny health care insurance to the 20 million now covered by the Affordable Health Care Act. He spent his energy trumpeting the Big Lie that the ACA was a job killer, without offering a shred of proof. The endless upward parade of new jobs after ACA passage royally refuted Roskam's specious charge. He not only erased the 20 million newly insured by the ACA as a success story, he ignored recognizing the 50,000 lives saved by the ACA. When discussing real problems with insurance exchanges and cooperatives, Roskam never acknowledges his role in Republican efforts to kill ACA insurance subsidies which would have avoided much of that problem. Roskam is always all in for drowning government help for the desperate in the bathtub of Republican heartlessness.

But go the Roskam's website, www.roskam.house.gov and you'll find him singing the praises of the the $600 billion tax cut for the rich over a decade, he voted for in the despicable TrumpCare replacement. Missing however will be any mention of the 15 million human beings the Congressional Budget Office will advise next week will be tossed from the health insurance rolls. A lie of omission like that should make Roskam's nose expand the entire length of the Sixth District.



Like Humpty Dumpty, Roskam's free ride making a cool quarter million a year in salaries and benefits to disrespect his constituents is in for a fall. And all the Trump's horses and all the Trump's men, ain't gonna put Roskam's free ride together again.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

A tale of two Republican schnozes




Earthy Republican Texas congressman Louis Gohmert likened the outrageous GOP Obamacare replacement, which will give the greedy rich $600 billion in tax breaks over the next decade, to horse excrement. To my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) it smelled like Teen Spirit.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Does Rauner's governance border on sociopathy?



It has been heartbreaking and horrifying to see Gov. Bruce Rauner degrade life in Illinois for all but the heartless wealthy these past two years, plus. Gifted students flee the state for one that not only values, but funds good education. Businesses that Rauner claims to represent wait months for payment of governmental services and supplies, causing some to close up shop. Services to the elderly, the poor, working mothers, parolees, our precious kids in Chicago's beleaguered schools, the mentally challenged, all dry up, leaving Illinois' most vulnerable worse off. Entrepreneurs take their capital to states that truly support business development. Our crumbling infrastructure crumbles on without repair. Rauner, meanwhile, rolls his eyes and says we must have a permanent property tax freeze and no progressive income tax on the fabulously wealthy; only more draconian cuts on the  powerless to move Illinois forward.

Rauner's governance may not be illegal, never landing him in jail. But it is cruelly immoral and appears to this observer as a form of sociopathy. That is much, much worse.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Trumpet better played in UI Marching Band; not prison outfit

Lindsay Johnson may go from playing trumpet in the U of I Marching Band to tooting in an Illinois women's slammer. That's because Johnson faces incarceration for the little committed and lesser known crime of neonaticide, young mothers who kill their unwanted offspring within the first 24 hours after birth.
Johnson hid her pregnancy from from her support network, sought no medical help before giving birth in her dorm bathroom. Then she suffocated the infant boy. Baby cries and afterbirth alerted the police who found Johnson wandering campus with the body in her backpack.
Johnson, charged with first degree murder, plead guilty in a deal that will likely get her just a couple of years instead of the 75 she faced. But she should get what some of the several hundred cases of neonaticde annually get with the means for a high priced mouthpiece..probation.
Young mothers in Johnson's situation suffer from a form of mental illness. They remain in denial throughout their pregnancy; then panic when the reality of birth shatters their delusions.
Johnson is a well liked, bright, agricultural communications major at Illinois' finest. She needs society's help; not the waste of precious state treasure to lock her in a cage. Let the women's prison band be reserved for truly dangerous, violent offenders. Lindsay Johnson deserves probation and counseling before being reinstated in the marching band as well as society in general.

Little red wagon not needed for Roskam's Obamacare replacement


Back in 2009, my congressman Peter Roskam spent the entire year trying to derail the ultimately successful effort to insure Americans left behind the industrialized world's worst health care delivery system. The resulting Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided coverage for nearly 20 million uninsured, allowing them a semblance of a life removed from fear of unaffordable health issues, bankruptcy, even premature death. During the year long debate Roskam pulled a truly shabby publicity stunt to demean that noble campaign. He joined the heartless GOP chorus bemoaning the fact the ACA was over a thousand pages long, and, goodness, gracious, was simply too big to digest. To make his point, Roskam staged a photo op in which he loaded the proposed ACA bill onto a little red wagon, to demonstrate its massiveness. To the 20 million Americans who ultimately received relief from that massive bill, including 50,000 whose lives were saved, Roskam's stunt wasn't funny.
Eight years on Roskam continues to champion abolishing the ACA in which he's voted over 50 times to repeal, degrade, defund. But now that his party controls the presidency and the Congress, Roskam has to come up with a better alternative, in spite of ruling out the only viable alternative: single payer Medicare for all. Look closely and it's clear Roskam doesn't need a little red wagon to carry his ACA replacement to the Capitol steps. It fits easily into his imagination.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Was Trump's victory his 'Springtime For Hitler?


Of all the Trump-Hitler analogies bandied about, the one which clicks for me is that Trump is simply reprising Mel Brooks 1968 masterpiece, 'The Producers'. Consider this. When Trump announced in June, 2015, many pundits believed he ran simply to build his Trump brand, with no serious intention of winning or governing. Now that his extensive revelations with Russia have come to light, some so stupendously stupid it's inconceivable they could hide them, that scenario makes sense. Trump wasn't careful about his Russian ties because he never expected to win, assuming he, and the connections, would be quickly forgotten. After losing badly, Russia would continue to lavish the Trump brand with business opportunities, and hide his Russian peccadilloes (sexual and otherwise). Trump, the real life counterpart of the washed-up, aging, fraudulent, corruptible, and greedy Max Bialystock of 'The Producers' (Brooks), who envisioned his offensive play glorifying Hitler as a sure failure, allowing him to abscond to Rio de Janeiro with the suckers' investments, sure they wouldn't seek compensation from a broke producer. In the Trump real life version, his racism, xenophobia, sexism, and general loutishness substituted for Bialystock's choice of Hitlermania to guarantee a failure, allowing a refurbished Trump brand to live on in endless splendor at Trump Tower of Mar-a-Lago.
But like the doomed Bialystock, Trump's was too smart by half, watching the victory march on Fox, akin to Bialystock getting drunk in a bar across from the theater as patrons rush in gushing about the glorious 'Producers' opening. In the Producters, Bialystock's success seals his fate and he's sent to prison. Trump's success may likewise seal his fate as his careless machinations with the Russkies are being revealed drip by torturous drip. Trump's 3:00 AM delusional tweets mimic Bialystock's lament “I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast...where did I go RIGHT???”
About the only difference between Trump's triumph and Brooks' is that Mel won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Trump's plagiarism may simply get The Donald a ticket to an impeachment trial.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Stop the Midazolam Massacre

Midazolam sounds like a drug name, possibly designed to induce sleep. Bingo. It's used to put undesirables to sleep forever; one of a three drug cocktail states commonly employed to practice legalized murder. Arkansas, like most states using lethal injection, are running out of the stuff as manufacturers say 'Nyet' to such disgusting use of their anesthetic Midazolam to kill folks instead of curing their ills.
Arkansas's stash runs out April 30 which caused them to schedule 8 state sponsored murders in the span of 10 days; 2 each on 4 days between April 17 and the 27th. Gov. Ira Hutchinson is aware of the grotesque spectacle saying: "I'd have loved to spread those executions over months or even years, but that's not the situation I'm facing...and the families of the victims that have endured this for so many years deserve conclusion." But such teeth gnashing hasn't prevented Hutchinson from halting the Midazolam Massacre which will shame Arkansas throughout the civilized world.

During this state sponsored murderfest authorities should play the 1928 No. 1 pop tune 'Sweathearts On Parade' with the following altered verse:

"Two by two, they go marching through...the condemned men on parade."


Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn, IL
630 442 3045 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

TR: the first...and the worst

As we survey American interference around the world, blasting away at regimes and peoples we don't like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran, to name eight, it's helpful to look back 120 years to the man who epitomized American imperialism: Teddy Roosevelt. TR was instrumental in dragging America into war with Spain in 1898, ostensibly to free the Cubans and Filipinos from Spain, but using that made up war to gobble up Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippians and Guam. TR wasn't shy about engaging in imperialist war. “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one. Any opponent would do, but the most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages." Roosevelt, with a lot of help from publisher William Randolph Hearst and other imperialists, got his war with the trumped up USS Maine explosion; formed the Rough Riders to charge up San Juan Hill, and parleyed that fame into the NY governorship and US presidency. Afterwards Teddy said “Oh, but we have had a bully fight! I feel as big and strong as a bull moose! There comes a time in the life of a nation, as in the life of an individual, when it must face great responsibilities, whether it will or not…. We are face to face with our destiny and we must meet it with a high and resolute courage. I know now that I would have turned from my wife’s deathbed to have answered the call."
Out of office in 1917, Roosevelt became apoplectic over Wilson's pussyfooting about entering the Great War. Stung by his criticism, Wilson rebuffed TR's efforts to reprise the Rough Riders on European soil. Frustrated, TR demanded his 4 sons serve, but only succeeded in getting Teddy Jr. gassed, Archie wounded and his beloved Quentin shot down and killed in an aerial dogfight.
If we had to take one American Giant down from Mt. Rushmore, I'd pick TR, the original and Mother of all US imperialists and warmongers.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Yemen raid damns Trump's legacy into eternity

Try to understand. Ten days into his presidency Trump orders an needless, criminal military operation on the sovereign country of Yemen. It gets a US soldier killed and wounds three others. More ghastly, it kills 30 Yemenese civilians, including 10 women and children, and levels a village in Bayda Province. Trump lies repeatedly, saying it was approved by Obama and the generals, gathered worthwhile intelligence and was a great success. In his first speech before Congress last night, Trump doubles down on the lying, using the prop of the dead US soldier to proclaim it was a “highly successful raid,” emphasizing the death of soldier Ryan Owens as having “secured our nation” with the raid, and "secured his legacy into eternity.” There were tears shed and thunderous applause when Trump spoke those lies. But there were no tears and no thunderous applause for the 30 innocent men, women and children slaughtered by the sociopath Trump using his monstrous war crime to show he can lead the war party. Ryan Owen is simply canon fodder; a hired gun to wage perpetual war, now martyred to glorify the masters of war who rule us. But it's Trump's legacy that will be secured into eternity; that of a soulless warmonger.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump budget: Guns get $54 billion; butter loses $54 billion



The peaceniks who thought Trump would be less warlike than Hawkish Hillary got a rude wakeup call when Trump proposed a 10% hike of $54 billion to the already bloated military, to be paid for by all the programs that truly make life better for Joe Sixpack. The EPA coughs up $2 billion, a cool quarter of its budget, guaranteeing we'll all be coughing more during the Trump era. Poverty programs, diplomats, IRS agents overseeing the games the one percenters play, education and science will all chip in so the munitions makers can gorge on obscene profits, and the hawks can fund more warfare. I remember the good ole' days half century ago when LBJ tried to do both guns and butter. Trump doesn't suffer such fools. His mantra: All guns, no butter.


Trump budget: Guns get $54 billion; butter loses $54 billion



The peaceniks who thought Trump would be less warlike than Hawkish Hillary got a rude wakeup call when Trump proposed a 10% hike of $54 billion to the already bloated military, to be paid for by all the programs that truly make life better for Joe Sixpack. The EPA coughs up $2 billion, a cool quarter of its budget, guaranteeing we'll all be coughing more during the Trump era. Poverty programs, diplomats, IRS agents overseeing the games the one percenters play, education and science will all chip in so the munitions makers can gorge on obscene profits, and the hawks can fund more warfare. I remember the good ole' days half century ago when LBJ tried to do both guns and butter. Trump doesn't suffer such fools. His mantra: All guns, no butter.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Summary of Trump's first 38 days in one sentence.

Virtually every time he speaks, releases a tweet or appoints a mendacious governmental appointee or adviser, Trump debases, disgraces the presidency; something his predecessor didn't do once in 2,922 days.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Roskam has the means, but can't find the way to reveal Trump's tax conflicts


My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) loves to tout his sitting on the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax writing arm of Congress which affects most aspects of government policy. But you won't hear Roskam tout his vote to prevent Ways and Means from invoking a 1924 law allowing it to examine Trump's tax returns for possible conflicts of interest. The law was used in 1974 to examine the tax returns of President Nixon and in 2014 during its investigation of IRS handling of non-profits' tax status.
The potential tax related conflicts of interest of presidential candidate, nominee and now commander in chief are unprecedented in American history. Trump's long established ties to Russian, Chinese and other foreign business moguls have ominous implications for favoritism and blackmail. Trump lied to the American public that he'd release them, something every candidate has done since 1976, once he was no longer under audit. When that excuse was blown away, Trump simply told the truth; saying 'never gonna happen.' This is extraordinarily dangerous to honest, transparent government.
800,000 taxpaying citizens signed an online petition demanding release of Trump's returns. A majority of all Americans favor this. It should be a non-partisan issue. Trump's returns may be connected to allegations Trump election officials conspired with Russian intelligence to interfere in a US election; action that could constitute treason. No responsible congressman would condone treason from a fellow party member.
If Roskam is so confident of the decency of his self described 'wild card' candidate, who earned Roskam's vote despite the 'flash and dash' of his hate filled campaign rhetoric, one would surmise he'd be eager to reveal the truth of Trump's honesty and transparency. Roskam's vote merely reveals that this lifetime politician as the means, but can't find the way, to be a responsible public servant.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

No need to imagine if Rauner gone



The Illinois Policy Institute's Diana Rickert spent hundred of words in her Tuesday's Trib op ed pondering an Illinois General Assembly without Michael Madigan as House Speaker. Since Madigan will surely be re-elected Speaker, Rickert was left with 'imagining' a General Assembly without Madigan, who has served as speaker all but two years since 1983. She congers up the possiblity of term limits for Assembly leaders, loosening of House rules and closer cooperation with Republicans.

But you don't have to imagine what Madigan accomplished during his long reign as Speaker: negotiating budgets with both Democratic and Republican governors which cared for the needy, funded higher education for deserving low income students, paid state vendors, and improved state infrastructure. Once Bruce Rauner assumed the governorship two years ago, that spirt of compromise was shattered. Rauner held the budget and the people of Illinois hostage to implementing a budget with non-budgetary wish list items for the weatltyist Illinoisans that must remain the subject of the legislative, not the budgetary process. That form of political extortion which betrays the state's less fortunate was an unconscienable breach of poltical bi-partisanship and has rightly been resisted by Madigan and his Democratic caucus.

Unlike a General Assembly without Madigan, we don't have to imagine a General Assembly without Gov. Rauner. We know exactly what it would promptly do ...pass a budget.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Constituents to Roskam: You ain't seen nothing yet


My congressman Peter Roskam has lived in an extreme right wing bubble throughout his decade in office. The election of moral degenerate Trump, whom Roskam backed as a 'wild card', has shattered that insularity from the roughly 60% of registered voters forever. Forget Roskam's 60% majorities in his bi-annaul annuity to do the bidding of the Koch Brothers, the war party, the anti abortion zealots, the greedy 1%, the extremist Israeli Likud government, among others. The 50% of registered voters who aren't served by Roskam but stay home nonetheless, have been galvanized into political activism as never before.
Roskam has publicly shown his disdain for them by cancelling meetings with constituents concerned with matters of life and death, and sneaking in and out of meetings with the extreme right choir, to avoid the folks hurt by his heartless policy positions. Roskam's response to withering criticism of his disappearing act is to blame the messenger, claiming any public gathering will be disruptive and non-productive. Bunk. Roskam needs to face, for the first time in his decade serving the elite and uncaring, the faces and concerns of the many thousands he's left behind.
Welcome to reality, congressman. Prepare to earn your salary and benefits north of a cool quarter million yearly. It's about time.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Yemen to Uncle Sam: Stop slaughtering our women and children


The tiny, war ravaged country of Yemen kicked Uncle Sam in his proverbial shins (maybe even a bit higher), kicking out our special ops killers who slaughtered a bunch of women and children while leveling their village January 29, in a botched raid against suspected bad guys we kill with impunity around the Middle East. But we're still killing Yemenis with drone bombs and aiding the neighboring Saudis in their murderous war against the Houthi faction in the Yemen civil war. Over 16,000 are dead and a quarter of Yemen's population are starving due, in part, to American support of Saudi involvement. Saudi Arabia is our best bomb buyer, causing defense makers into overdrive to replace US made ordinance depleted in the war. A US commando is also needlessly dead while Uncle wipes egg from his face and rubs the sore spots. How dare little Yemen tell us who we can't kill. Don't they know we're the greatest country on the face of the earth?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Rauner tops Payton's dazzling runs around defenses

Illinois's primary, secondary and higher educational institutions are sinking from the unprecedented and unconscionable budget crisis Gov. Rauner precipitated on Illinois students two years ago. College cuts are so drastic many of Illinois' best are crossing the border for a stable, well funded education; likely to find employment close by in a state that values infrastructure and business development as well as education. Poorly funded primary and secondary school districts are being shredded, with Chicago's $215 million in lost assistance resulting in cuts to teaching days, teacher salaries, textbook funding, instructional materials, after school programs to name a few. 

But when it comes to his own children, our billionaire governor makes sure they get the hundred thousand dollar treatment. Rauner unwittingly injected his daughter into his 2014 gubernatorial bid when it was discovered he made end run around inspector general James Sullivan who ruled she was ineligible to upgrade from elite North Shore New Trier HS to super elite Chicago Walter Payton Academy. Facing a seemingly impregnable line, Rauner happy-footed around end, calling CPS Chief Arne Duncan, who tickled a subordinate at Payton Academy. Voila! Rauner danced into the end zone as daughter entered Payton Learning Place. Five months later Rauner drops a cool quarter million on his daughter's new school. Completing the Quid Pro Quo? Hmmmmm. 

Though this occurred nine years ago, it's important to remind every student, every parent, every voter of the Rauner educational mantra: for me and mine the tops; the rest of you, the dregs. Even Walter Payton never made a move like that.

Monday, February 06, 2017

After decade Roskam must finally confront issues, voters

My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) must rue the day his 'wild card' candidate Trump was elected president. It unleashed a groundswell of pushback by a sizable minority of Sixth District voters Roskam has ignored for a decade. Roskam has never represented the Sixth District. He serves the 1%, the climate change deniers, the heartless striving to de-insure the 20 million newly covered by the Affordable Care Act, the religious zealots seeking to block women from their gynecologist, the neocons promoting confrontation with Iran, the xenophobes lusting to tear apart undocumented families, among other special interests not connected to decent public service. When a morally compromised con man offered both a path to satisfy these dysfunctional agendas and keep Roskam's similarly inclined base voting for him, Roskam didn't blink, going all in with his vote and support, even though he claimed he'd never condone within his family Trump's bragging about his penchant for sexual assault. So much for decent, responsible leadership on behalf of all his constituents.
Those Sixth District constituents will no longer ignore Roskam's fraudulent stewardship. They have exposed his refusal to serve their needs by confronting him publicly, forcing him to reveal his utter lack of interest, concern, indeed, decency. When 16 citizens showed up for a meeting to discuss his eight year campaign to abolish of Obamacare, his staff cancelled the meeting, citing a reporter present. God forbid the public learn of Roskam's cowardice to engage outraged voters. When 400 showed up to protest his preaching to a closed door choir in support of the Muslim ban, Roskam used the side door coming and going. Only the true believers get to connect with the congressman.
Roskam's imagined lifetime sinecure raking in a cool quarter million a year plus in salary and benefits has suddenly become uncomfortable. He's become the phantom to constituents looking for serious discourse on critical issues of public interest; indeed, life and death. Any congressman who conducts himself that way is not a public servant and is unfit to hold office. But the protests, the negative publicity, the confrontations are just beginning unless Roskam hides in his DC bubble for the next 23 months. And he's finding out his wild card is no joker.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Ivanka's got nothing on Anna

One of the truly unsung heroes in American History is Anna Roosevelt (1906-1975), first child of FDR. In 1943 she moved into the White House during her publisher husband's military duty, where she changed history. She became her dad's personal assistant, also functioning as First Lady during Eleanor's frequent travels. In early 1944, she saved FDR's life, enabling him to soldier on to a fourth term, overseeing the victorious Allied juggernaut, and most importantly, birthing the creation of the UN with England and Russia. In February she realized FDR was rapidly failing. She commandeered his first heart exam by Naval cardiologist, Howard Bruenn, who quickly concluded FDR was dying. No dummy, Roosevelt drastically curtailed his work, eating and smoking habits, determined to preside over first, the end to WWII, then the birth of the UN. He almost made it; showing immense vitality to win his fourth term that November, then paving the path to the UN at Yalta in February, 1945, two months before expiring. Anna almost certainly added a year to FDR's life and many contributions to the American Story.
Seventy-three years later another devoted daughter appears to be reprising the role Anna played. Ivanka Trump is filling in for her stepmom Melania, the Slovenian born fashion model who simply doesn't fit the First Lady image and and apparently won't even move into the White House. When Melania served as glittering eye candy for the rapacious business mogul Trump, she was just fine. Enter Ivanka who has the charm and grace Trump needs to burnish his sputtering presidential image.
The contrast between Anna and Ivanka couldn't be more stark. Anna extended FDR's life a year, critically maintaining continuity in both war and peace. And Ivanka? Her main task is to put lipstick on a pig.


Thursday, February 02, 2017

US destroys Yakla: Que the Big Yawn


Do even 3 in 100 Americans know we're engaged in a 2 year long murderous war in Yemen? Maybe a few more do once they learned a US commando was killed and three others injured in a botched US raid that slaughtered 57 civilians and largely leveled the town of Yakla. US officials are frantically searching for evidence we only killed high level al-Qaeda operatives, but turns out it was just the residence of a unimportant collaborator filled with innocents. Why America is both assisting the criminal Saudi war against their desperately poor neighbor Yemen and conducting their own criminal operations is known only to our Masters of War in the Military-Industrial Complex. The clueless Trump came to office oblivious of the carnage which has killed over 25,000 Yemenis and caused starvation of a quarter of their 24,000,000 disparately beleaguered souls. Now he's out front shedding crocodile tears for the American cannon fodder caught up in this madness. The only thread which connects Bush to Obama to Trump is America's murderous export: perpetual war.