Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Don't wait 48 years to prove Trump's treason

"My God, I would never do anything to encourage South Viet Nam not to come to the table."

Thirty-nine years after Richard Nixon proclaimed his innocence in 1977, we now know he did exactly that nine years earlier to help win the 1968 election by working to delay the Vietnam Peace Talks till after he was elected. Recently discovered notes of his top aide, H.R. Haldeman show Nixon directed him to utilize Madamn Anna Chennault, WWII wife of General Claire Channault, to back channel Nixon instructions to Vietnam President Thieu on getting a better deal from Nixon than Hubert Humphrey. President Johnson uncovered the plot but couldn't go public since he didn't have the smoking gun tying Nixon to the plot.

Today, we have smoke, but no gun tying Donald Trump to Russian hacking of Democratic information used to damage the Clinton campaign. After vehemently denying Russia had anything to do with the hack, Trump swallowed the irrefutable intelligence reports and sputtered 'Yes, they did.'

But Trump refuses to even answer the question whether anyone connected with his campaign was in on the shenannigans. And of course, no such evidence has emerged. But given the secrecy of Trump's extensive ties to Russian business and political leaders, the smoke is thick enough to cut with a machete.   

Nixon's treason rests on laws against a private citizen doing anything to 'defeat the measure of the United States.' We don't know if Nixon's treason sealed his victory. Nor do we know if South Vietnam scuttled peace talks with Johnson to aide Nixon. But we do know that another 28,000 US boys died while Nixon spent his entire truncated presidency grasping for a face saving peace treaty that may have been within reach of Johnson in 1968. 

Let's hope it doesn't take another 48 years to determine if Trump committed similar treason just a few months ago.  

No need to imagine of 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 possibility 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 wealthiest 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 unconscionable breach of political 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.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A sad day

I've lived thru some truly sad days in American history among my 26,225 and counting. But never have I witnessed a man about to assume the presidency, display his unfitness to hold office in such clear and striking fashion as Trump did in his first post election news conference. He revealed his unfitness as Republican candidate and Republican nominee, but ascended to the presidency with a minority vote and a demogogic appeal to the electorate, securing his election on a fluke of the process and a mere 80,000 votes in three swing states.

But no votes can save him from the self destructive character and temperament on full display to the American people Wednesday. Richard Nixon, arguably the most temperamentally unfit man to achieve the presidency, hid his character flaws through his first term and reelection, before self destructing. Trump's have been on display since he announced 18 months ago.

Only two questions remain.
How long will it take Trump to self destruct?
How much damage will he do to America and the world before he does?

Walt Zlotow
Glen Elly

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Don't make Dylann Roof tenth murder victim

"I haven't shed a tear for the innocent people I killed." With those words and bizarre conduct in his sentencing hearing, 22 year old Dylann Roof appears determined to elicit a death sentence from the jury for slaughtering 9 blacks in a Charleston, SC church in June, 2015. Roof acted in his own defense, he claims, so his defense counsel couldn't enter evidence about his psychological condition Roof is determined to protect. "There's nothing wrong with me psychologically" Roof protested.
Psychology aside, Roof is clearly a defective human, acting out his violent fantasies the vast majority of us keep in check. But we expect better from our Uncle Sam who should be ennobling those of us living instead of callously degrading our political culture with calls for bloodlust. The US has become an outlier, one of only 53 countries of 193 that still practice state sponsored murder. Twenty-one of our fifty states have abolished it as well.
Murdering Roof won't bring back the victims. Executing him won't deter similarly disturbed creatures who haunt our life. Injecting him with lethal drugs is the wrong fix for what ails America. As the Bard wrote so well:
"The quality of mercy is not strain'd
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown"
Or in your case, Uncle, it's your funny hat.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Killing Obamacare sorta like killing polio vaccine

Any Republican who campaigned against the Affordable Care Act these past eight years is despicable.
Whatever defects the ACA has pail in comparison to the benefits they've provided the 20 million covered by it. They pail in comparison to the 50,000 lives the ACA has demonstrably saved. They pail in comparison the the 300 other million of us who feel gratitude our government provided some relief to the least fortunate, medically speaking, among us.
Whatever defects the ACA has are the result of these despicable lawmakers who devoted every penny of their political capital to prevent any health care coverage for the uninsured, or improve the coverage for the insured. They are the result of these despicable lawmakers who forced Democrats to enact less than what was required, single payer Medicare for all, then, despicably sought its repeal because of those despicably engineered defects.
It's not uncommon for an uninformed Republican voter to tell me "Obamacare is horrible and must be repealed." My answer? "If up to you, 50,000 of your fellow citizens would be dead. Shame on you."

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Alex Warshawsky in good company seeking answers from Congressman Roskam

My fellow Illinois Sixth District constituent Alex Warshawsky, featured in today's Daily Herald over his frustration in getting a straight answer from our Congressman Peter Roskam's office on Roskam's position on gutting the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, is in good company. Dozens if not hundreds of Roskam's constituents had the same experience Tuesday. After several calls to both Roskam's DC and suburban offices failed to go through, Ed, a pleasant young man, finally answered from DC. He quickly became discombobulated by my request to for a straight answer to a straight question. When I asked to speak to his boss, he said nobody else was home. He did promise to have someone call me with an answer but rest assured I'm not holding my breath waiting. Even Houdini couldn't hold it 48 hours.
The Herald lamented in their editorial today on the tone deafness of Republicans trying to gut House ethics oversight, citing a Politico report Roskam spoke in favor of the gutting in Monday's closed door GOP session. Giving the independent panel caused Roskam major embarrassment over his $25,000 Taiwan paid for freebie vacation in 2011, before the House cleared him, his opposition is understandable, though inexcusable.
When penning a bill, such as gutting the Affordable Care Act, that plays well with his base, Roskam is front and center media savvy. But when playing the cynical, career politician whose conduct insults every Sixth District voter, Roskam turns into the Invisible Man.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Vote Clemons, Bonds into Hall

The NY Times reports younger sportswriters, with little direct experience of the baseball steroid era, are increasingly likely to vote super duper stars Jim Clemons and Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame. The pitching wonder (354 wins) and home run king (762) have been blackballed by the blue noses who run baseball even tho they've awarded Hall lockers to Commissioner Bud Selig and manager Tony LaRussa, both of whom thrived with likely full knowledge of the player steroid shenanigans during their baseball tenure.

Even this old codger who followed their steroid fueled stats would vote them in if I could. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, 'talent is talent...is talent.' No amount of junk could make a .250 hitter or a .500 pitcher into a Hall of Famer. Every inductee has skeletons, personal and professional, that could be used to deny entry should they come out. The Bambino was a boozing, skirt chasing lout for much of his career, while racist Ty Cobb would vault into the stands to beat up a black fan who annoyed him.    

How 'bout voting them in - time is running out on their getting the 75% vote total - and include a blip on their alleged drug use in their bronzed Hall bio. Let's not bury fabled reality. Let's celebrate unbelievably athletic wonders...warts and all. 

Full measure of man not reason to vote for Trump

I can understand how some uninformed, fearful, and yes, hateful voters could fall for narcissist lies and hate relentlessly served up by Donald Trump and still vote for him. Take for example, Daily Herald letter writer Charles Danyus, who excused Trump's utter debasement of our electoral process to galvanize voters, by saying it's not his prickly personality, but his courage and guts in truthtelling; likening Trump to the unfriendly guy they'd follow into combat. Danyus continues the war metaphor to claim our electorate was at war with the media, wealthy elite and political establishment; who he claims, caused their paychecks to shrink and their voices to be ignored. The solution according Danyus, was to vote for a wealthy elitist who shamelessly preached fear and loathing of the society to ensnare their vote. Elected on a fluke, losing the popular vote by 2.8 million, Trump immediately assembled a group of equally wealthy elitists determined to shrink Mr. Danyus' paycheck even further than he implies was reduced under Obama, those 14.3 million new jobs and a ceiling busting stock market notwithstanding. 

But what I can't understand is how Assistant Managing Editor Jim Slusher could read that nonsense and proclaim it one of the best letters of the year, calling it thoughtful. Two words that will never coincide except in the minds and the uninformed, the fearful, the haters, and yes, Daily Herald Assistant Managing Editor Jim Slusher, are Trump and thoughtful. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Putin passes on playing diplomatic expulsion poker

US unilateral sanctions on Russia for alleged hacking lasted a single day before Russia hinted at retaliation, matching Uncle Sam's ouster of 35 Russian diplomats with 35 Yankees, before Russia's Putin declared he wouldn't play the diplomatic tit for tat game. Get real. Nations hack like they spy and lie, relentlessly. But nobody matches US mendacity when it comes to regime change; hundreds of thousands dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. And yes, the next big target, Russia's Vladimir Putin. The warmongers and neocons infesting our government and media, having failed in every regime change venture, would love to add Russia as a failed regime change target. Does even 1% of Americans know Putin saved our bacon twice in three years; first by using diplomacy to derail imminent US bombing of Syria over likely false claims Syria used sarin gas on rebels, then facilitating the 5 plus 1 Iran nuclear agreement which likely prevented war with Iran. Putin's help preventing further regime change in those two countries is precisely why the neocons want him out as Russian leader, oblivious to the reality any successor may be less inclined to assist our 240 year old Uncle safely across the street, as Putin gallantly did. To the neocons, disfavored regimes are like underwear...to be changed daily. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

$123 million degrades democracy, good governance in Illinois

With some ignominious competitors, such as 758 dead and thousands more shot in Chicago, the most ominous and disturbing Illinois story this year was Gov. Bruce Rauner surpassing a hundred million Washingtons in his anti democratic (that's small d democratic) campaign coffers. Counting the 27 million he dropped on his election, 46 million more to unseat Democrats in the mid-term, and the cool fifty just deposited in his re-election vault, Billionaire Bruce's personal piggy bank to debase Illinois hit 123 million this year. Toss in the millions from his Forbes branded billionaire buddies Ken Griffin, Eli Broad, Joe Mansueto, Tom Siebel and Nick Pritzker II, Rauner's assault on Illinois politics sours over $150 million. 

That must be shouted from the Sears Tower and the John Hancock. That must be placarded and held high at every event Rauner insults with his presence. It must be mentioned at every political gathering of decent folk seeking the most basic state services Rauner has defunded, delayed, denied to achieve his billionaire business agenda. Refusing to implement a state budget for two years is an assault on Illinoisans not capable of insulating themselves from that harm with obscene wealth. 

While Rauner shells out $123 million to buy Illinois, a working single mom can't come up with $123 to pay for child care services Rauner's cut; a student losing state aid can't come up with $123 to pay tuition; a ex-con can't come up with $123 to pay for rehabilitation services whose funding evaporated.

With Governor Rauner it's not 'After moi the deluge'; it's 'During moi the deluge'.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Roskam fights campus anti-Semitism but ignores that in Trump phenomenon

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) has proposed legislation, The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, designed to broaden the Dept. of Education's anti-Semitism criteria. Read a summary and it's likely the bill is part of the campaign to de-legitimize any criticism of Israel's massive settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land which is rapidly foreclosing the creation of a Palestinian state. College campuses are in the forefront of efforts to end these illegal and immoral settlements which inexorably spell doom for the basic humanitarian rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and justice for Palestinians under economic blockade in Gaza. The legislation includes vague, catch-all phrases like "harassment of Israel" and "requiring of Israel a behavior not demanded of any other nation" which are utilized to quash legitimate protest of undeniable inhumane treatment of Palestinians.

If Roskam were truly concerned about rising anti-Semitism, we'd expect him to focus his efforts on disturbing trends unleashed by hate wing of Donald Trump supporters, including speech by The Donald himself. Evidence? Trump stirred up the haters with traditional anti-Semitic code talk of 'international banks', 'global power structures' and 'those who control the levers of power'. This provocative and disturbing pattern flows directly from the anti-Semitic alt-right playbook of Trump advisers like Steve Bannon, who referred to Trump critics Bill Kristol as a 'renegade Jew' and Anne Applebaum as a 'Polish, Jewish, American elitist.' Roskam not only ignores such hate speech, he embraced Trump as a 'wild card' who deserved to be president. 

Could it be that Trump's unconditional support for the extreme right wing Israeli government's Palestinian policy caused Roskam to totally ignore the anti-Semitic strain in the Trump phenomenon? Illinois Sixth District voters should get informed....and make up their own minds. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

US still No. 1 in selling weapons of mass killing

One reason our stock portfolios keep rising is our war loving Uncle Sam keeps leading the world in arms sales. 2015 was another banner year with $40 billion racked up, fully half of the entire world's output. And $25 bill of that went to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries in the world whose state religion is Wahhabism and which fund its activities worldwide to the detriment of us all. Hey, so what if Saudi Arabia has its fingerprints all over the 911 attacks. They pay in cash.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Peabody Coal, black lung both up with Trump

Within days of his election the stock of bankrupt Peabody Coal shot up 50%. Guess what else shot up lately and likely to go even higher? Black lung disease. The NY Times reported today black lung has recently seen a dramatic increase of a new virulent strain called PMF (progressive massive fibrosis) caused by thinner coal streams more infectious coal dust. Of course the recent increase is not related to Trump's election, but his vow to put thousands of miners back breathing that dust bodes ill for the poor folk of Appalachia. What also looms for those afflicted? Loss of special help current sufferers receive from the Affordable Care Act Trump lambasted as a disaster and vows to repeal. All those Trump supporters in Appalachia didn't realize Trump's campaign motto was actually 'Make America gasp again.'

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Two cheers for US abstention on UN Israeli settlement vote

For the first time in 36 years the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israel's illegal, immoral and inhumane settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. The vote was 14-0 with the US abstaining rather than casting their customary veto to any UN measure attempting to hold Israel accountable for their continued subjugation of Palestinians seeking statehood. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid all the blame for the condemnation on President Obama claiming he "colluded against Israel." That would be like the President of South Africa condemning efforts to oppose black Apartheid as colluding against South Africa.
President Elect Trump, whose pick for Israeli Ambassador David Friedman, is to the right of Netanyahu, lobbied for a US veto, placing himself fully on the side of continued Israeli crimes against Palestinian humanity. Friedman argues these despicable settlements on Palestinian land are legal; the two state solution is dead; and the Israeli capitol should be moved to Jerusalem which is also claimed as their capital by the Palestinians, a move sure to create more havoc in the region.
The US said it "fully supported the language of the resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements", which should have prompted a 'yea' vote. That costs the US one cheer, but two cheers for the abstention are better than none.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

29 Days

Mr. President, though you've accomplished much in 1,432 days, there is much to do with your last 29 days. Here's a few to consider:
Close the American gulag at Guantanamo. While it doesn't reach the level of Nazi concentration camps or the Russian gulags under Stalin, it has been a inhumane blot on the American Story. Release the sixty remaining souls detained and tortured for years so you can leave the White House completing the promise you made 1,432 days ago.
Find a legal way to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. When the Republicans refused to give him a hearing, they abdicated their right to advise and consent.
Pardon every last soul languishing in prison merely for small amounts of drug possession. They are essentially political prisoners in the war on minorites, the poor, the throwaways of our society.
Make good on your false claim you ended the senseless, failed and criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bait and switch doesn't cut it; thousands of soldiers there refute your claims. Remove every soldier and contractor from those countries and work through the UN and the regional neighbors to reduce the violence we enable by our presence.
Renounce regime change as an element of American foreign policy. It failed in Afghanistan, failed in Iraq, failed in Libya, failed in Yemen, failed in Syria, and will fail in Iran and Russia, which many in the war party lust for. It causes senseless death, destruction and serves as a recruiting tool for individuals or groups seeking revenge against America.
Do what you can to protect the undocumented who drive up our stock portfolios with their productive work while being demonized.
Oppose every initiative you can that promotes self destructive fossil fuel exploration.
Take every measure you can to expand women's reproductive rights.
In 29 days, Mr. President, a soulless, obscene con man inexplicably takes your place vowing to unravel your good work to heal a fractured nation and expand the American Dream. Don't waste a single one of those 29 days; not a minute; not a second.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

State ID and 2 bucks buys ex-con cup of Joe

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner basked in the praise he received signing legislation requiring Illinois to issue a valid state ID to ex-cons leaving prison. According to Rauner "To combat recidivism we need to remove some of the hurdles offenders face when they are released from a detention facility and begin to re-integrate into society. This will help us end the cycle of recidivism and give former offenders more tools necessary to be successful and thrive and gets Illinois on step closer to safely reducing Illinois' prison population by 25 percent before 2025."
Bunk. Issuing a valid state ID to felons exiting prison is a simple administrative function that requires virtually no cost, no risk, no sweat. Lack of a state ID is a barely noticeable bump in road to a productive life for ex-cons. What Rauner's disingenuous rhetoric hides are the walls taller than Trump's he's building keeping ex-cons on the path to recidivism: lack of a state budget to fund the substantive services they critically require to stay straight. Illinois' social service agencies are north of a $100 million behind in state payments to serve their clients, including Illinois' burgeoning ex-felon roll. Youth unemployment help? Nyet. HIV services? Sorry Charlie. Affordable housing? Take a hike. Social and psychological counseling? The doctor is out.
We're tens days short of 18 months with no budget to help Illinois' one million plus needy, including ex-cons that Rauner imagines his state ID will magically rehabilitate. Rauner would gladly implement a budget if the ornery Democratic legislature would simply grant him term limits to rid him of those ornery opponents. To jeopardize the lives of thousands of ex-cons for a anti-democratic and cynical political agenda is a moral, if not an impeachable offence. Instead of touting an insincere gesture with words of self praise, Rauner should have told the truth at the state ID law signing: "Here's your state ID. This, and two bucks, will buy you a cup of Joe."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kirk's actions more damaging than his rhetoric

"I hope I'm remembered as a careful, bipartisan lawmaker.... someone who was in the end not judged by the heat of his rhetoric but by the effectiveness of his actions."

So stated outgoing Illinois Senator Mark Kirk summing up his 16 years in the House and Senate. I certainly don't judge Kirk by his post stoke verbal gaffes, the most notorious of which was his racially insensitive remark that white folks speed up when driving though black neighborhoods to avoid being shot. Though comments like those made me wince, it was his actions that revolted me. 

Kirk spent every one of his sixteen years voting trillions of dollars for our senseless and failed post 911 military ventures that got hundreds of thousands needlessly killed, including 7,000 GI's. Kirk became so obsessed about regime change in Iran he signed on with 46 other Republican senators to urge Iran to quash the 5 power nuclear deal which likely avoided another catastrophic Middle East war. He can never live down that arguably treasonous dagger at sensible, successful American diplomacy. 

Kirk went on TV to tout his miraculous post stroke recovery that allowed him to return to promoting crazed militarism in the Senate. Kirk's medical miracle was actually fueled by million dollar medical care courtesy of the US taxpayer. When asked whether the forty million shut out from simply normal health care should also be provided for, Kirk callously retorted "We can't afford it." Kirk was true to his belief, working endlessly to defeat, defund, discredit and dis the law that has likely saved 50,000 lives and $12 billion in medical cost to date. 

No, Senator Kirk. It's not what you say we'll remember. It's what you did. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Is inner city gun violence a form of societal genocide?

The gun violence carnage infesting America's inner cities came home to me personally when someone I knew was gunned down driving in Chicago's Austin community December 2. He was Chicago murder victim No. 702, a lifelong community activist and pillar of his west suburban community with ties to Chicago's West Side that put him in the gunsights of shooters unknown, and likely never to be. His was probably a random death little noted by those who didn't know him.

What we do know is our sick society allows millions of guns, generating billions in profits, both legal and illegal, proliferated by soulless creatures oblivious to the bloodbath their enabling, to wreck this carnage upon our inner cities. These death merchants have bought off most of the 535 members of Congress, most of the 50 governors and most of state legislatures on their path to blood money to live the high life while America's rotting, neglected inner cities have become real life shooting galleries.

Outside those innumerable fire fire zones, the insensitive and the racist point the finger at the desperately poor and forgotten, claiming it's all their fault, as if those shut out from the American dream have any ability to stem the violence plaguing their communities. The President, the Congress, the governors, the state legislatures have done nothing to address the epidemic of violence resulting from a cruel and heartless political culture that serves the gun and ammo merchants instead of their must vulnerable citizens.

Is this a form of societal genocide? The answer is an unequivocal...YES.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trib cries out for Syria but not Iraq

"President Barack Obama must reconcile the bloodbath that took place in that broken city with the indefensible policy of idly watching it happen from the sidelines."

So ends the Trib editorial "Requiem for Allepo" lamenting the carnage in the Syrian civil war that contains the implicit belief that Syrian government forces are the bad guys while the rebels are the good guys. The Trib, like every US media outlet condemning western powers for not intervening directly to overthrow Syrian President Assad, knows that much of the rebel forces represent the same jihadist forces responsible to the 911 attacks, and would likely have implemented a bloodbath on Shi'ites, Christians and non-allied Syrians had they taken over that worn torn land. The Trib also knows that unlike the US, Russia is truly existentially threatened by a Sunni extremist rebel government setting up shop on its doorstep and would have been derelict in its duty to protect its security allowing a rebel takeover. The Trib surely knows that the US and western allies had the opportunity to achieve a workable peace in 2012, but spurned Russia's offer because they felt Assad was on the verge of collapse, and wanted to do a victory lap over his demise. Lastly, and most telling, the Trib fails to mention its role as supporter of the criminal US war in Iraq which killed many more than in Syria, and will go on killing and deforming fetuses for generations from the depleted uranium we left behind. Go ahead and bemoan President Obama not intervening in a civil war we had no business intervening in and would have failed monstrously had we done so. Then look in the mirror and hang your heads in shame.   

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

1 in 151,600 was one in a million

Really bummed by plane crash death of nationally famous Chicago area atheist Rob Sherman last Friday. A near lifelong A-Man like Sherman, I've followed his exploits, tweaking the governmental religious police violating the Constitutional prohibition against state sponsored religion for thirty years now, and thought he'd be here defending me from the perpetrators of that un-Americanism for many more. Many countries are infinitely more religiously intolerant than America, but our prohibition against state sponsored religion is enshrined in our Constitution and must be vigorously honored. Sherman's endless humor, good cheer, iron clad logic, bravery and doggedness in pursuit of fulfilling the American experiment in freedom and liberty has endlessly inspired me. I love religion, prayer and spirituality. But it only works when done individually or in private groups out of the public square. Seven states, Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas still have Constitutionally unenforceable laws on the books denying atheists the right to hold state office.
My battles on behalf of atheism have been trifles compared to the public battles of Sherman, whose grace dwarfed that of his opponents. When every prez closes every speech with 'God bless the United States of America', I cringe and shout back at that hopeless little screen that 'No G-Man blesses any country bombing innocent women and babies in seven countries to enrich the war party.' When reciting the Pledge I emphatically offer "NO GOD" at the offensive moment, still smarting from the 1954 Ike sponsored congressional provision to add 'under God' in utter disregard to the Constitution. I caught hell from the priest who married us 43 years ago for uttering the A word during his pre-marriage grilling.
Every day another 151,600 godless souls depart the one and only life they will know. But Rob Sherman last Friday...one in a million.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nothing's changed

Watching Trump do his mean spirited victory laps before adoring true believers is chilling. Hearing GOP legislators gushing about plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Social Security is heartbreaking. Observing the grotesquely rich, the anti education, the Islamaphobes, the climate change deniers and the fossil fuel zealots prepare to join the administration is revolting.
Trump has shown no class, no humanity, no decency, no wisdom since his election. He revealed those characteristics after he won the nomination, after he entered the race, indeed, going back to his decades as a greedy, cruel, heartless, narcissist businessman and entertainer.
Trump is a fluke of a flawed electoral process, the power of charismatic fear and loathing, an irresponsible press using him for ratings and wealth, government law enforcement stoking crazed criminal conspiracy theories, a malleable, uninformed and irresponsible voting minority. We must not suffer any illusion this utterly flawed human can properly execute presidential powers. We must push back. We must organize. We must speak out. We must stay vigilant. We have no other choice. If not for ourselves, we must do this for our children, our grandchildren, our world. We've been warned.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Mad Dog has bigger problem than legislative restriction on assuming Defense post

Trump's Defense Secretary pick of James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, former commander of US Marines in Iraq, has a confirmation problem. Federal law prohibits retired military from becoming Defense Secretary for 7 years. Congress will have to pass a waiver, something they only did once, fifty years ago, for Mattis to even be eligible.  

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

How far we've fallen since 1932

In 1932, FDR's trusted advisers were collectively know as his 'Brain Trust'. In 2016, the new presidential advisers, as promised, are Trump's 'Swamp Creatures'.   

Saturday, December 03, 2016

What will be Trump's Reichstag's fire?

The Electoral College, not the American people, elected a moral monster President Elect. Trump was trounced by Clinton by near two million votes and two percentage points; numbers sufficient to elect her in any other democracy on Earth.
Trump doesn't answer to the moniker 'fascist' so we can't call him that. Yet, he ignited his campaign of fear and loathing with the racist meme Obama was the 'other' from the black country of Kenya. He campaigned using many fascist tactics; stoking xenophobic fears of Mexican rapists, deporting the undocumented whose slave wages pump up affluent wealth, demanding a ban on Muslims; indeed even creating a Muslim registry. His vulgarity is breathtaking; egging on his supporters to beat protesters with promises to pay their legal bills; unconscionably referring to a hated reporter's menstrual cycle. He claimed the election was 'rigged' against him, refusing to abide by the most sacred American tenant of honoring the result should he lose; indeed promising to jail his opponent if victorious. On foreign affairs he's promised to bomb the shit out of imagined bad guys. At his first rally as President Elect, Trump tore into his bete noir, the media, as the "extremely dishonest press", lambasting an unnamed female anchor he claimed teared up over his victory.
Trump will fail; but he won't fail with a whimper. We should have no illusions he won't resort to an incident, be it massive civil disobedience or a terrorist attack, to abrogate the dwindling civil and political liberties left after the Bush Administration began America's descent from freedom with the Patriot Act after 911. Tyrants and wannabe tyrants have been doing that throughout history, the most famous example being Hitler's use of the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, to spiral Germany into tyranny just 28 days after being appointed Chancellor.
Trump supporters poo-poo these warnings, claiming Trump just used hyperbole and clever marketing to prevail in the Electoral College. But they along with us who comprehend his mendacity, ignore at our peril the ravings of a clearly disturbed, undemocratic, conscienceless charlatan who exploited our human and electoral weakness to gain the Presidency. It may not be engulfed in a conflagration yet, but Trump's America is smoldering; and the heat is becoming insufferable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Roskam's anti UN BDS bill ignores Palestinian humanitarian catastrophe

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) is co-sponsor of the Protecting Israel From Economic Discrimination Act. It opposes the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution calling for companies both within and outside Israel not to do business with illegal Israeli settlements within occupied Palestinian territory. Such settlements are illegal and immoral; being prohibited by UN Resolution 242 of 1968, in the aftermath of the 1967 Israeli Arab war. It called for return of occupied territories gained by war. It has been US policy since then to honor UN 242, return Palestinian land so occupied, end Israeli settlement building and create a Palestinian state with permanent Palestinian Israeli borders. But Israeli settlements continue apace with over 600,000 Israelis enjoying Israeli citizenship in the occupied territories while 4,500,000 Palestinians remain stateless under horrid, often inhuman conditions as Israel builds its one state solution nullifying, Palestinian statehood.
The current UN Human Rights Council resolution is a legal and constructive way to counter Illegal Israeli activity which has created one of the world's worst human rights violations. But Roskam positions his bill without ever mentioning the plight of the Palestinians; indeed without ever uttering their name. He only refers to the resolution as the UN "working to engage in politically charged economic warfare against Israel", designed "to strangle Israel’s economy and coerce Israel into unilateral concessions."
Would a Congressman Roskam of 1936 condemn similar efforts to engage in an economic boycott of Germany to lift horrid restrictions on their marginalized Jewish citizens? Would a Congressman Roskam of 1956 condemn similar efforts to mount an economic boycott of US southern states over their racist Jim Crow laws dehumanizing their marginalized black citizens? Yet, when it comes to weakening Israel's Middle East rival Iran, Roskam is all in for the most severe economic sanctions possible, even opposing the the 5 + 1 Iran nuclear deal which likely prevented war with Iran.
Congressman Roskam can surely see but refuses to acknowledge the brutal, inhumane treatment Israel imposes on arguably the most marginalized people on Earth. Instead of supporting a radical Israeli regime which may be self-destructing in its zeal to push the Palestinians into the sea, Roskam should support decades long US policy to return appropriated Palestinian land, end illegal, immoral settlements and work toward a viable two state solution. Enabling continuation of atrocious human rights violations is not noble governance. If Roskam really wants to help Israel thrive and proper, he should push the US to become the 138th country to recognize the state of Palestine. Supporting full worldwide recognition of Palestine may be Israel's best hope for true peace and security, and its support would make Roskam a true Friend of Israel.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A new first and new low in presidential conduct

"Trump Falsely Claims Millions Voted Illegally"

Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 NY Times No. 1 headline calls out Trump for the liar he is. Likely never happened before in history of anyone elected to highest office. For sure won't be last time a major media outlet identifies a Trump lie in their headline. A sorrowful day in American presidential history.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A few Fidel fun facts on his demise at 90

In 1959, I watched one of the most peculiar sports shows ever, 'Baseball from Cuba' on Channel 7, which broadcast Cuban baseball games, containing several future MLB stars such as Julian Javier. The announcer always pointed out Fidel, whose love of baseball was second to being a revolutionary, who reserved a primo box seat for himself.
Disintegrating actor Errol Flynn, working as a newspaper correspondent covering the revolution while making his bizarre last pic 'Cuban Rebel Girls' with co-star and 16 year old gal pal Beverly Aadland, scooped every professional journalist by getting the only US interview during Fidel's final push and rode into Havana during the January 8, 1959 victory parade.
My brother married a Cuban exile in 1974, who shared her first name Mirta with Fidel's wife.
On more serious note, America's obsession with destroying Fidel because he ended the Mafia's and United Fruit's half century long exploitation of Cuba, remains one of most shameful episodes in my memory of endless US interventions around the world. JFK brought us to the brink of nuclear war invoking the principle that only the US is allowed to put nukes on another country's doorstep. JFK spent his entire presidency trying to murder Fidel. and that obsession may have been a prime motivator in Oswald's murder of JFK. And here we are near sixty years on getting thousands killed changing regimes we don't like...BECAUSE WE CAN.

Why Mother Earth mourns

During the three media staged presidential debates not a single question was asked about global warming.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bull Conner would be jealous

News that law enforcement dowsed Dakota Access Pipeline protesters with freezing water in 27 degree temps provoked a bit of jealousy in a long gone practitioner of the fine art of the firehose. Down in Authoritarian Hell, Bull Conner, is seething; his water hoses, if failing to knock over the civil rights demonstrators of 1963 Birmingham, merely cooled them off on a hot summer day.  

39 down, 5 to go to end Rauner's ruinous turnaround budget stalemate

Illinois' finances continue to collapse since Gov. Bruce Rauner instituted his 44 point turnaround agenda 2 years ago as the price of implementing a balanced budget. That is extortion and was justly resisted by the Democratically controlled legislature. And what has Rauner's turnaround agenda extortion scheme achieved?

Unpaid state bills which declined under Gov. Quinn have skyrocketed past $10 billion and likely will hit $13.5 billion by next June's fiscal year end. Late payment penalties have zoomed to $118 million from a program intended to speed up payments but now strangling state finances. Fees on unpaid bills grows almost $2.5 million per week. Junk status looms for $26 billion in Illinois bonds. Unfunded pension liability, also slowed by Quinn's fiscal sanity, rises north of $130 billion.

Rauner, desperately trying to extricate himself from a self painted corner, touts his dropping 39 of 44 turnaround agenda items, even saying he may drop one or two more if Democrats will only compromise.

Ain't gonna happen, Governor. You bought Illinois with $26 million of your billionaire wealth and figured you could blast it apart to fit the business model of the companies you bought, then sliced and diced on the road to Xanadu style riches. But Illinois, unlike those companies making things that can be easily disposed of, consists of 13 million flesh and blood folks, many of whom now desperately trying to get by in a state run by a morally confused and heartless oligarch. If you have trouble sleeping at night over the abdication of the most basic governmental functions, try counting the students, business owners, working poor and needy suffering under your governance. There's about a million of them to count before you'll get a good night's sleep in the Governor's Mansion.

Monday, November 21, 2016

False, racist immigration issue fueled Trump rise

Like any deviously brilliant demagogue, Trump exploited the twin tools of fear and ignorance to fuel his initial rise into electoral contention. His first and most frequent such tactic was stoking the lie that hordes of Mexican rapists and other criminals were pouring across our porous border to degrade American society. Proposing a giant wall was a simpleton's delight, solving the imaginary problem for millions of fearful, uninformed Trump supporters. The concrete wall became a mental wall insulating them from any disconcerting truth. Trump then put flesh and blood on his demagoguery, claiming only he could prevent the shooting death of Kate Steinle from a stay bullet fired by an undocumented Mexican already deported five times.
Yet Trump would never tell voters that the Obama Administration reversed the net annual half million increase of undocumented under Bush, bringing it to zero with increased border security and laser like focus on deporting only the criminal, leaving hardworking undocumented families intact to seek eventual citizenship. Trump shamefully exploited the real grief of the Steinle family to stoke xenophobia and offer delusional solutions. But hypocrite that every demagogue is, Trump never revealed he used the undocumented to build his Trump Tower; then threatened them with deportation after complaints about his lack of wage payments.
Now heading to the White House on the last gasp of aging white fear and resentment, Trump has already reneged on his signature promise; reducing the deportation of 11 million undocumented to the 3 million he falsely claims are criminals, and green lighting a 'fence' in some areas. And in the Great Carnival in the Sky, P. T. Barnum is smiling and likely offering: 'Trump...you know more about suckers than I ever did.'

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2015 was a pretty good year for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. He was inaugurated Illinois Governor and earned taxable income of $176 million. He may well exceed that healthy total in 2016. But Rauner couldn't achieve what he covets most: a pro Rauner concept of government in Illinois that favors the rich over everyone else. He calls it his 'turnaround' agenda and it requires the legislature to approve reduction of union and middle class earning power, end to prevailing wage, right to work for local communities, and reducing the social safety net for the needy.  

After a year long stalemate with the Democratic legislature which refused to approve this draconian agenda, Rauner sought to flip the legislature the rich man's way: buy it. Since the $28 million Rauner spent to buy the 2014 gubernatorial election succeeded, why not spend a little more and flip the Illinois legislature his way. Rauner upped his personal contributions by nearly 70% to $46 million. 

It didn't work. The Republicans picked up only 2 Senate seats and 4 in the House, leaving Democrats with sizable majorities that will never pass his turnaround agenda. And Bruce Rauner can add this corollary to the truism Money can't buy you love: Money can't buy a legislature, either. 

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

$46 million can't buy love or 'turnaround' agenda

2015 was a pretty good year for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. He was inaugurated Illinois Governor and earned taxable income of $176 million. He may well exceed that healthy total in 2016. But Rauner couldn't achieve what he covets most: a pro Rauner concept of government in Illinois that favors the rich over everyone else. He calls it his 'turnaround' agenda and it requires the legislature to approve reduction of union and middle class earning power, end to prevailing wage, right to work for local communities, and reducing the social safety net for the needy.  

After a year long stalemate with the Democratic legislature which refused to approve this draconian agenda, Rauner sought to flip the legislature the rich man's way: buy it. Since the $28 million Rauner spent to buy the 2014 gubernatorial election succeeded, why not spend a little more and flip the Illinois legislature his way. Rauner upped his personal contributions by nearly 70% to $46 million. 

It didn't work. The Republicans picked up only 2 Senate seats and 4 in the House, leaving Democrats with sizable majorities that will never pass his turnaround agenda. And Bruce Rauner can add this corollary to the truism Money can't buy you love: Money can't buy you a legislature, either. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trump's 16 month campaign a 'high crime' against US political culture

It may not be an impeachable offense, though only because he's not yet president, but Donald Trump's entire campaign has been a high crime on America. It began with the racist meme that President Obama may have been the 'other', born in Kenya and not a legitimate president. That was just the start of a vicious, scorched earth campaign of ignorant, personal attacks that blindsided the 16 normal folks running for the GOP nomination; then focused like a laser on Hillary Clinton and the many sub sets of her base, including blacks, Latinos, the disabled, the economically deprived and others. Cheering on violence and thuggery at rallies became normalized in the Trump campaign. Using profanity, offering to pay legal bills of supporters arrested for assault on protesters, disparaging female physical attributes; even threatening to jail his opponent if elected, were far beyond the pail of presidential character and posturing.
Trump's election after his morally debased campaign has brought a spike in hate crimes not seen since anti Muslim attacks following 911. According to Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracts hate crimes and hate crime groups, "Since the election, we've seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump's election. The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats." Over 200 incidents have been reported, the most serious of which was the shooting of an anti Trump protester in Portland, OR. Other incidents include racist messages posted at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ohio thug banging on the car driven by a Muslim family, yelling at them to leave America, and school children of the undocumented treated to chants of "Build the wall." The Loyal White Knights of Pelham, NC tout their planned December 3rd Trump victory rally on their website, turning Trump's name into the hideous racist acronym TRUMP: Trump's Race United My People.
Donald Trump's road to victory was paved with racism, xenophobia, misogyny, profanity and bullying. That is unprecedented in American history. That is unacceptable. That is unforgivable. The racists and their allies in the Republican Party lusted but failed to delegitimize President Obama throughout his eight classy years as president. Donald Trump has delegitimized himself before even taking the Oath of Office next January 20.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cubs co-owner spends $400,000 to kill 10 Nebraskans

Everybody knows the four kids of billionaire Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts have spent hundreds of millions to bring Chicago a World Series. But most don't know one of those Cub co-owners has spent $400,000 to kill 10 Nebraskans sitting on Death Row. That's not hyperbole. Last year the Nebraska legislature voted to end capital punishment in Nebraska. Republican Governor Pete Ricketts, one of the aforementioned Cub owners, vetoed that measure but suffered the indignity of having his veto overridden. Incensed, 'Whack Em' Pete shelled out $300 grand to get a death penalty reinstatement referendum on the November 8th ballot; then ponied up another hundred grand to promote it.
Just like with the Cubs, Whack Em brought home a winner Tuesday, 62% to 38%. Death penalty opponents in the legislature vow another repeal measure after the first of the year. Meanwhile, Whack Em is conferring with his Attorney's General on ways to get banned lethal injection drugs to finish off the ten blokes sitting on Death Row, at a cost of $14 mil a year, as the repeal law hadn't gone into effect before it was rescinded.
Next time you spend a dollar on the Cubs, consider that a quarter of it goes to a loathsome specimen of humanity who will use it to commit legalized murder of his fellow man.