Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day expunged from GOP vocabulary

On this 45th Earth Day we should note a strange phenomenon occurring in the GOP leadership over the past five years. The words "Earth Day" have disappeared from their vocabulary. Up till the 2008 election of climate change believer Barack Obama, Republican leaders were on the bandwagon to save the planet, promoting Earth Day and its mission. George Bush I and II were on board, as well as presidential contender John McCain, who, during th...e 2008 campaign, devoted an entire speech to Earth Day. In 2005, Mitt Romney worked to cap coal-fired power plant emissions as Massachusetts governor. But no more is anyone in the GOP talking up Earth Day in spite of the catastrophic damage we mere mortals have done to Mother Earth since Edwin L. Drake poked the first hole in her delicate surface in 1859 to extract in oil from the ground in Titusville, PA. Till then folks could only obtain oil from natural pooling on the surface, a meager amount not damaging to our precious atmosphere.
With Obama's election, the GOP vowed that anything the president supported, no matter how important it might be for our welfare, indeed our very survival, must be opposed without thought, exception or sanity. Hence, "Earth Day" simply vanished from their political utterances. Instead, they deny man made climate change, demand the president immediately green light the abominable Keystone XL Pipeline, ignore catastrophes like the BP Horizon disaster, and chant "Drill, Baby, Drill" like some demented cult mesmerized by the prospect of regaining the White House. The last recorded GOP leader to even mention Earth Day was Tennessee Senator and presidential contender Lamar Alexander in 2010. By 2012, global warming was completely off the table for every presidential contender. Only the most progressive, John Huntsman, who tweeted: "I trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy", realized his mistake and repented by saying, "This isn't the moment to take action on climate change". Even Mitt Romney became an anti-Obama global warming advocate in the 2012 election when he released his jobs plan, in which he pledged to amend the Clean Air Act so that carbon dioxide could not be regulated as a pollutant. “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” he said.

Alas, the Neanderthals that make up today's GOP appear to be gaining in the climate change debate. They've caused an alarming rise in the percentage of Americans who now disbelieve in man made climate change at the same time that the carbon dioxide levels rise alarmingly above 400 parts per million (the ratio of carbon dioxide to other gases in the atmosphere) for the first time in recorded history. Happy Earth Day all you Republican yahoos. You may not see the catastrophic effects from your myopia in your lifetime, but you kids and grandkids sure will

ROSKAM PAC: Peter's personal ATM from the Fat-Cat Corporations

One of the coolest benefits about being a member of Congress is the perk of setting up a "Leadership PAC" (Political Action Committee). They were created by Congress to legally allow Congressmen and Senators to acquire mountains of cash with virtually no public scrutiny as long as they're for political purposes other than their campaigns, such as "like-minded candidates and causes". In Illinois both Senators and ten of our eighteen Congressman have one. Only a few are very active with the second most being that of my Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6th). In the last two years he's vacuumed up a nifty million bucks, not from Joe Six-Pack but from the titans of industry like Comcast, Exelon, General Dynamics and the world's cheapest fixer of death causing manufacturing defects, General Motors. While Roskam is secretive about who and what causes he spends his Leadership Pac loot on, he's sure not shy about creating a catchy acronym, ROSKAM, which stands for Republican Operation to Secure and Keep A MajorityFrom a Channel Five investigative report we now know ROSKAM spent tens of thousands of dollars in the last two years on air travel, Utah sky trips and gifts for persons or groups who will forever remain mysterious. Fundraising costs money and ROSKAM is no exception, paying $320,000 in the same period to the obscure Townsend Group, based near the DC Beltway for PAC fundraising and PAC consulting. While ROSKAM's causes remain hidden, a few possibilities come to mind: keeping the minimum wage below subsistence level, keeping tens of millions from affordable health care, supporting the Military-Industrial Complex, allowing monopolistic consolidation of the telecommunications industry, and of course the old standby, reducing government regulation on industry that keeps us all safe. I may have trouble remembering what ROSKAM stands for but I've sure learned my 5 R's: ROSKAM'S RADICAL REPUBLICAN ROADMAP TO RUIN.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rauner's educational plan does Kevin Trudeau proud

Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner sure has a strange way of making education his top priority. His plan to make Illinois an educational showcase is to slash taxes, slash school funding, fire all the lousy (in his mind) teachers, lay off a bunch of others, swelling class size, and voila: First class education! Surprised? Don't be. Billionaire Bruce didn't get that moniker being a fact based, straight talking salesman. His educational policy sounds like he's channeling former diet book author and salesman Kevin Trudeau, who's sitting in the pokey for a decade for getting rich selling weight loss books by claiming his method was easy, when it wasn't. The main difference between Rauner and Trudeau is that Trudeau was charging money for his weight loss tips while Rauner is only charging people their vote for his snake oil tips to improve education. Maybe if Rauner gets elected he can use his enormous financial influence to get Trudeau early release from the slammer...and make him his education Czar

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ACA success saves lives; horrifies GOP

The success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now having brought 19 million Americans affordable health care, is a financial and literal lifesaver for those folks, but a bitter pill to swallow for the GOP, who five years ago bet the Republican franchise on its failure.
First the folks being helped

•8 million people have signed up for health coverage through the state and 
    federal marketplaces.
•3 million more have signed up for coverage through Medicaid.
•3 million now have coverage by staying on their parents’ plan.
•5 million people have signed up for ACA-compliant plans outside the

Four percent of all Americans are newly insured this year. Many of them are the young; healthy people whose good health will keep premiums down. The Congressional Budget office reports that by 2016 health insurance premiums will be 15% lower than previously expected. The population is responding favorably: 60% want the ACA to be kept in place or improved with a public option (Medicare for All) which proponents called for in the first place.

But sadly and tragically, GOP leaders, almost to a heartless man and woman, blindly ignore reality to stay faithful to their five year campaign to first, stop its passage, then defund it, now to gut it. Fifty-five votes in the House to do just that demonstrates to all with an open and fair mind the GOP's reckless disregard of their public trust. Twenty-four Republican governors have turned down federally paid expansion to Medicaid which locks out 4.8 million needy folk from coverage in one of the cruelest and cynical political posturings ever witnessed. Even the billionaire GOP candidate for Illinois governor says federally paid Medicaid expansion in Illinois was a bad idea. The hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans who've been given a new lease on a healthy and financially secure life would respectfully disagree.

The GOP House dead enders have done the math in their re-election campaigns and concluded there's no benefit to telling their cruel base the truth about the ACA. They'd rather keep feeding them lies and red meat scare stories to keep their fabulous career politician jobs. Alas, that is one moral sickness for which the ACA, health insurance and the finest doctors in the world cannot develop a cure.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Breen should resign from West Suburban Patriots...or withdraw from Illinois House District 48 race

A previous post revealed that GOP candidate for the Illinois House 48th District race, Pete Breen, is a member of a West Suburban Patriots, an extremist conservative organization based in DuPage County and affiliated with the national Tea Party dedicated to an anti government agenda. Inspired and funded by ultra conservative GOP billionaires such as the Koch Brothers and GOP political operatives such as former GOP House leader Dick Armey, Tea Party groups are corrected designated by normal folks as "AstroTurf" rather than "grass roots" since they're anything but a ground up organization working for progressive change. They spearheaded the economically and socially harmful government shutdown, and are ferocious in demonizing and delegitimizing the presidency of the first bi-racial president. Tea Party rallies after his incomprehensible (to them) election, featured the president caricatured as a monkey or an American incarnation of Hitler. Check out the blog link on their website http://westsuburbanpatriots.ning.com/ for more of the excerpts listed below:

West Suburban Patriots
an independent Tea Party group in DuPage County, IL
Is It Time to Conquer the H-word Taboo Before It Conquers Us? (Revised)
•Posted by Jeff Glock on July 19, 2013 at 8:02pm
•View Blog
One wonders at the many similarities between President Obama’s head-long drive to a one-party State and the rise of the Third Reich. During Hitler’s regime, British writer C.S. Lewis made the observation, “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different the saints.” This comes about not because tyrants study and learn from each other, but because that’s just what kind of people they are. For whatever reasons, a tyrant instinctively knows how to manipulate and control people.
“That is the miracle of our times: That you found me among so many millions. And that I found you is Germany’s fortune.”
Adolph Hitler, September 1936
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Barack Obama, February 2008
The phrase “working toward the Fuhrer” was first used in a February 21, 1934 speech by Werner Willikens, Germany’s State Secretary in the Ministry of Food. It refers to the phenomenon whereby the leader makes his wishes known, and then the administrative branch follows through without direct orders. This serves to fundamentally transform (sound familiar?) an entire society very quickly, while insulating the leader from responsibility for what goes wrong. It also partly explains how a person who spent a lot of time in cafes, napping, and watching movies could accomplish so much.
Similarly, President Obama is no workaholic. He loves to golf, go on extensive vacations, and host parties. And he has been on the road in campaign mode during his entire Presidency. So who is “working toward the President?” May I suggest the following: IRS, EPA, DHS, HHS, DOJ, DOD, NSA, DOE, NEA, union thugs, Occupy thugs, ACORN thugs, New Black Panther thugs, and just recently, the nation’s librarians and Obamacare Healthcare Exchange thugs.

This is reprehensible, hateful nonsense that tears at our fragile political and social fabric. It has no place in any decent organization, much less one ascribed to by a candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives. If the Peter Breen of Lombard, listed on their membership roster and congratulated as a new member, is the same Peter Breen of Lombard running to be our District 48 state representative, he should do the right thing: cancel his West Suburban Patriots' membership or withdraw from the Illinois House District 48 race.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Breen brings Tea Party Patriots to the Illinois 48th

Back on October 7, 2013, the West Suburban Patriots, an independent Tea Party organization serving DuPage County, welcomed new member Peter Breen of Lombard, IL. Unless there are two Peter Breens living in Lombard, its likely that new member was none other than the Peter Breen who is Vice President and Senior Counsel to the Thomas More Society, an ultraconservative religious organization masquerading as a defender of the secular First Amendment. Their mission is really to allow fanatical anti-abortion protesters to interfere with traumatized women entering abortion providers, keeping gays from achieving first class citizenship, allowing religious settings to desecrate the public square, and demonize the IRS simply for enforcing tax laws regarding religious exemptions.

A true multi-tasker, Breen also serves as Lombard Village Trustee, and just knocked off moderate Illinois 48th District state representative Sandy Pihos in the Primary to become GOP candidate for the Illinois House this November. Assuming West Suburban Patriot Peter Breen and candidate Peter Breen are one in the same, every non Tea Party resident in the Illinois 48th should be very afraid. This is a radical organization, created by wealthy GOP power brokers like former GOP House leader Dick Armey and the mega fossil fuel billionaire Koch Brothers, Charles and David, who funded a structure to attract anti government citizens horrified by the election of a bi-racial president in 2008, dedicated to making government work for the tens of millions currently locked out. Their public protests against any taxation, any government not related to national defense, and alleged usurpation of states rights degenerated into vicious anti-Obama caricatures of racism and Nazi references. Check out the West Suburban Patriot website link: http://westsuburbanpatriots.ning.com/profiles/blogs/is-it-time-to-conquer-the-h-word-taboo-before-it-conquers-us-1 to find this hate filled reference to President Obama channeling Adolph Hitler himself in a delusional screed claiming the president is trying to replicate the Third Reich here in the American Heartland.

Is It Time to Conquer the H (Hitler)-word Taboo Before It Conquers Us? (Revised)

•Posted by Jeff Glock on July 19, 2013 at 8:02pm
•View Blog

The West Suburban Patriots home page is filled with blatherings about guns, the tyranny of the IRS, the horror of providing affordable health care to the 42 million formerly shut out. For those faithful who have trouble reading, there are pictures of Tea Party hero and crazed talk show host Glenn Beck and even neighboring Illinois House District 42 representative Jeanne Ives, who had this to say at a Illinois Tea Party rally in St. Charles yesterday in their annual "trash the IRS on Tax Day" event: "In Illinois, it's time to be troublesome....I will continue to be troublesome, just as troublesome as possible in Springfield."

One Tea Party zealot in DuPage County is one too many. The Illinois 48th doesn't need another faux patriot preaching no taxes, no help to the needy, no rebuilding Illinois, no improved education; but yes to religious symbols in the public square, yes to further trauma to abortion seekers, yes to more guns, yes to keeping gays second class citizens and yes to the religion of civic selfishness. Peter Breen is peddling a foul tea for District 48 residents to imbibe. Don't swallow his toxic potion on November 4.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Music Pick: Kurt Elling

There's oodles of female jazz singers but few males heed the call to this most difficult of artistic skills. While most of the male greats are long gone, a recent one from the 1990's soldiers on: Kurt Elling (b. 1967). His rise to jazz stardom is truly improbable. Chicago born Elling was introduced early on to classical and religious singing by his father, a church music director. Elling majored in philosophy of religion before attending the University of Chicago Divinity School seeking a Masters before a planned career with the World Council of Churches. But he was so good at a newfound love of jazz he began gigging at Chi Town jazz clubs while studying and working as a bartender, mover, even a wedding singer to pay bills. Dropping out of the U of C one credit short of a Masters, Elling started recording and vaulted to the top of his class, winning 12 straight Downbeat Magazine critics polls as best male vocalist, in addition to 11 Grammy nominations (one win). Elling may have dumped the church for "devil's music" but the feature 'Nature Boy' from 2005 is heavenly and spiritual. 

Roskam ignores his own superbug to fight the Superbug

Let it not be said that my Congressman, Peter J. Roskam (IL-6th), does not work to improve the health of all Americans. Just check out his latest email to constituents.
The Fight Against Superbugs

Did you know that each year over two million Americans suffer antibiotic-resistant infections, or superbugs, which leads to 23,000 deaths per year? Unfortunately, the drugs to treat these infections aren’t being developed and we’re facing a public health crisis because of it. Congress needs to work together to fight the superbug threat. I recently introduced the DISARM Act – bipartisan legislation that would incentivize companies to develop lifesaving drugs. My bill also directs a multi-agency review that will identify and cut through red tape in the process to ensure we have the robust drug development necessary to combat this looming public health crisis.

While I'm gratified Congressman Roskam is working to increase drug company profits with wildly expensive new drugs, I'm more concerned over his 55 votes to not enact, to repeal or to gut the Affordable Care Act which is helping 42 million folks without health care get financial, health and lifesaving benefits. His email notes that the superbug leads to 23,000 deaths a year. But when it comes to saving the twice as many folks who needlessly die each year from lack of health insurance, Roskam votes 'NYET!'

That is because Roskam adheres to the GOP and Tea Party mantra that for the 42 million uninsured there is only one health care plan: DON'T GET SICK. Yet, in spite of Roskam's heartless five year campaign to derail relief to these folks, the ACA has been a spectacular success. How so? This year upwards of 12 million will gain health coverage under the ACA, increasing the percentage on non-elderly covered from 80% to 84%, rising to 89% in 2016. The Congressional Budget Office just lowered the 10 year cost estimate of the ACA by over a $100 billion due to its lowering the overall cost of health care as expected. Yet, the Roskam led House GOP is cheering on the 24 GOP governors refusing the federally paid Medicaid expansion to the 4.8 million uninsured in their heartless red states who earn too much for current Medicaid but are too poor to afford health insurance or qualify for health insurance subsidies. Some of those folks die every day while Roskam and his Tea Party Patriots turn away to play politics in what inevitably is a losing game.

There is a superbug we should all be concerned about, but it's not one cured by a $100 pill. It's the superbug of indifference and cruelty to the very people our congressmen are paid fabulous salary and benefits to help. The cure for this superbug is simple and doesn't cost a dime. It just requires a heart...and a soul. That is one cure Congressman Roskam needs to figure out how to swallow.

Monday, April 14, 2014

McCain lights match; pours gasoline on Ukraine fire

As Ukraine burns, the light in Senator John McCain's eye grows brighter, and he appeared almost gleeful bashing President Obama yesterday on Face The Nation over the President's failure to halt Russian pushback to the US inspired coup in that failed state. When asked what he'd do if he were Commander In Chief instead of presidential loser, the rejuvenated McCain said he'd surely arm the Ukraine thugs he encouraged to overthrow the duly elected Ukraine president, so they could fight back against any further Russian incursion. That's right, folks, the guy who dropped bombs on innocents 47 years ago in Vietnam and has spent his political career lamenting our loss in that criminal, failed war; and promoting war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran, is now out front in relishing a possible new military intervention.  And our sycophantic main stream media, lusting for ratings by promoting false and destructive controversies, gave the nation's pre-eminent warmonger a good ten minutes to pitch his bellicose, reckless nonsense. McCain also called for tougher sanctions, even though he admitted they would also hurt ordinary Americans who mostly want nothing to do with US militarism and interference in distant lands not vital to our national interests. Every time McCain pops up to spread his venom to an uncritical media, we should offer thanks he didn't get to command foreign policy and the military in 2008. Had that occurred we'd still be in Iraq, we wouldn't be leaving Afghanistan, we'd have likely bombed Syria and possibly Iran as well. As he shuttles from one neocon controlled media outlet to another, his Senate limousine should bear the following bumper sticker: CAUTION - PYROMANIAC ON BOARD

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Time for a fair tax for Illinois

Illinois state senator Don Harmon (D-39) and Illinois state representative Christian Mitchell (D-26) have introduced complementary bills in the 98th General Assembly to scrap Illinois' flat 5% income tax and replace it with a fair tax. What, pray tell, is a fair tax? It's a progressive one that provides lower rates to lower income levels while higher rates apply to higher income levels. Under their proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution, Article IX, Sec. 3, end of the current regressive flat tax and implementation of a progressive tax would lower the tax burden on the 94% of Illinois residents making under $205,000 annually, the amount at which their lower tax rate would hit the current 5%. Yet, the new tax structure would provide sufficient revenue to avoid cuts in critically needed state services, especially education. Moving to a progressive income tax would bring Illinois in line with the 34 other states who have wisely adopted a progressive income tax. Besides avoiding painful services cuts, the fair tax puts extra money into the hands of folks who will spend it and spend it fast, stimulating the state economy. It's time for Illinois to live up to its progressive outlook on social issues and adopt a progressive income tax for economic issues. Current polling shows 77% of Illinoisans support a fair, progressive tax. For more information on this most important legislative initiative in the 98th General Assembly, visit www.abetterillinois.org.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mr. & Mrs. Billionaire fooling no one

Illinois gubernatorial candidate Billionaire Bruce Rauner put on his folksy, down home working shirt and trotted out his photogenic wife for a little marital repartee for the camera in his first post primary victory ad yesterday. OK, maybe its only "Half Billionaire Bruce" as he's always a bit coy about his fabulous wealth even though he earned 5.3% of a billion in 2012 alone. If he weren't tossing million dollar chits around like they w...ere quarters from his personal fortune to buy the governorship, he might already be working on his second billion. But I digress. The banter that made this commercial memorable was Billionaire Bruce touting he's a Republican while Mrs. Billionaire shot back she's a Democrat. That's the signal for Democrats and independents to realize if she can tolerate his anti union, anti teacher, anti minimum wage worker, anti gay marriage advocate, anti Medicaid expansion nonsense 24/7/365, so can those of us who actually have a heart and soul for those marginalized by Rauner's policies. Her claim of preferring the donkey over the elephant stems from her record of pulling a Democrat Primary ballot in 2004, 2006 and 2008. But when there were contested Democratic races for both US Senate and governor in 2010, Mrs. Democratic Billionaire suddenly disappeared at Primary time. It could be she was indisposed or maybe, Mr. Billionaire advised he was running in 2014, and she'd better get with the GOP program. Then there is the matter of, you guessed in money; lots and lots of money. Our self avowed Democrat sure doesn't put her campaign money where her mouth is. Since 2009, she gave 91% of the $238,150 in campaign donations to the animal that never forgets. When just considering federal races that percentage jumps to 98%. As recently as 2012, the lady claiming to be a Democrat gave $2,500 to not one, not two, but three GOP presidential candidates, including fellow billionaire (or near billionaire) Mitt Romney.

Speaking of never forgetting, Democratic and independent voters will remember on November 4, that money talks and baloney walks...straight into political oblivion.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Texas leading women back...to the back alley

Texas, not content with leading the nation in state sponsored murder of undesirables convicted of heinous crimes, is now leading the US in leading women seeking abortions back to the back alley. In the last four years Texas abortion restrictions have closed or will close 38 abortion providers, leaving just six to handle the 75,000 Texas women seeking abortions yearly. The last 41 years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision brought a dramatic drop in unsafe back alley abortions that sent thousands of women to hospitals for complications and left hundreds dead. Now Texas reproductive health care workers note a spike in abortions caused by use of unsafe black market drugs, botched illegal abortions and even women falling down stairs or having their partners punch their stomachs out of sheer desperation. Compounding this trail of tears, Texas funding cuts have closed 76 clinics providing birth control services, causing more unwanted pregnancies and swelling the parade to the back alley. Around the nation, nearly 300 anti abortion bills are pending in conservative state legislatures. They can all look to Texas for inspiration in the never ending conservative war against women. Maybe the Lone Star State should change the state motto from "Friendship" to "Deep In The Hate of Texas".

Friday, April 04, 2014

Is second Ft. Hood shooting tip of iceberg

We should not be surprised over a second mass killing by a serviceman at Ft Hood, TX. It's a wonder we don't hear more about the daily events of suicide, murder and other untoward actions committed by serviceman damaged in body and mind by our senseless, failed and criminal wars in the Middle East. The latest shooter, Ivan Lopez, served in the Iraq war... and was being treated at Ft Hood for anxiety, depression and possible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his war service. The potential number of ticking time bombs courtesy of a rogue presidency that covered up its own negligence and failures surrounding the September 11 attacks by launching wars of revenge, is staggering. Approximately 800,000 of the 2,300,000 military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have or will be diagnosed with PTSD; 437,000 have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and 161,000 will be diagnosed with both. Those numbers would still be horrendous if the wars that inflicted them were just and necessary, but coming from illegal, immoral and criminal wars is beyond our poor powers of reason and justification. But they are not beyond our duty to provide both proper care of the damaged and justice to those who needlessly saddled them with a lifetime of sorrow. While the Iraq war ended December 31, 2011, and the Afghan war will mercifully end that same date this year, the perpetrators are still at large. Former President George W. Bush is at least shedding real tears as he spends time comforting some of his servicemen victims. Former VP Dick Cheney babbles endlessly on immoral news shows giving him airtime to brag about doing torture again if he had the chance, and hinting at bombing Iran. Donald Rumsfeld, former Defense Secretary, alluded to the bi-racial president having less smarts than a trained ape. Former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got a fat speaking fee to tell Evangelicals right here in Chicagoland how thrilled she was by national service. No US soldiers died in Afghanistan in March, only the third month in 152 that has happened. Beginning in 2015, no new serviceman will be forced to serve our mis-adventures of conquest and ruin. But the Statute of Limitations for war crimes will never run out on the Fab Four who made this all possible. What are we waiting for?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Milton Township (Illinois) refused to consider our petition to get an advisory question supporting a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision placed on the November ballot in Milton Township. Below is our petition advisory question and statement made at the April 1st Milton Township Board meeting protesting the Township's illegal action in refusing to consider our petition at their Annual Meeting scheduled for April 8.

Petition Advisory Question: Shall the U.S. Constitution be amended to clearly state that the rights of persons protected by the U.S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons and not those of corporations other artificial entities, and that money is not speech within the meaning of the First Amendment?

Statement protesting Milton Township Board action to ignore our
I’m Walt Zlotow, a resident of Milton Township. I’m one of 26 Milton Township residents who signed a petition, in accordance with Illinois law, to have an advisory question of public policy put before the Milton Township Board at their annual meeting. I was shocked when the Township Board determined they would not consider our petition at their annual meeting. In listened to audio of the petition portion of the March 11 meeting and was dismayed to hear how frivolously the Board dismissed our petition. Essentially, Supervisor Heidorn suggested the petition was a silly, advisory only motion not worthy of Township consideration, and that the Township was not bound by state law to consider it. Case closed. Gentlemen, many in this state feel township government is obsolete and should be abolished. Yet township government is close to its residents and provides good, responsive services to them in its limited governmental role. You should welcome, not deny, efforts by your residents to utilize township government to promote important matters of public policy. Our petition does not automatically go on the November ballot to be voted on by the entire township. It would need to be presented at the annual board meeting, be debated, then approved by a majority of the township residents present. What is wrong with that? What are you afraid of? It is, we submit, the essence of good local governance. It is, we submit, a way that township government can be more relevant and more responsive to the needs of its residents. I urge you to reconsider your short sighted dismissal of our important question of public policy. Thank you.

Kirk, Rauner lower bar for cruel, heartless public servants

In a nation of many cruel, heartless public servants, we Illinoisans don't have to look far to find two of the worst: Senator Mark Kirk and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. They combined forces Monday to blast the Affordable Care Act because it's extending Medicaid to the 400,000 Illinois residents too poor to qualify for ACA s...ubsidies to buy private health insurance but previously not eligible for Medicaid until Uncle Sam stepped in with ACA Medicaid expansion. This is double the number of sign ups expected. Gov. Quinn signed this Medicaid expansion last July, stating, "we believe access to quality health care is a fundamental right and we proudly embrace the Affordable Care Act.”

This Medicaid expansion, one of the key components of the ACA providing relief to tens of millions without health care, is a fabulous deal for the states. The Fed pays 100% of this expansion for the first three years and 90% thereafter. Twenty-four of the aforementioned cruel, heartless public servants, all red state governors, have turned down this expansion to score political points with the "destroy Obama" crowd on the backs, very lives in fact, of the medically uninsured. Yet, Kirk and Rauner rolled out their "Chicken Little The Sky Is Falling" routine whining that its terrible we let people get help to improve their lives, and possibly a full life, because Uncle Sam might someday decide they can no longer afford to pay their guaranteed 90% share and saddle the states with the expense. Kirk and Rauner tout it's better that life's health care losers suffer catastrophic health and death than take a chance Illinois will get sandbagged by the Fed five or ten years down the road.

Senator Kirk's opposition to Medicaid expansion is particularly offensive. Beneficiary of million dollar plus Congresscare insurance which saved his life and returned him to the Senate after a devastating stroke, Kirk has dedicated his remaining time in office to denying life saving health insurance to as many needy folks as possible. Last year he told CBS 60 Minutes that we just don't have the money to cover these folks while failing to acknowledge his endless support for trillion dollar criminal wars. Now he tag teams with Rauner to demonize Medicaid expansion just a day before the ACA's success was enshrined in our social fabric with 7.1 signups.

Billionaire Bruce Rauner, rich enough to set up an entire medical center for his extended family's needs, offered his typical double talk when it comes to the public welfare. While trashing Medicaid, he refused to commit to rolling back eligibility requirements in Illinois, saying more investigation of fraud needs to be conducted. This is typical Rauner duplicity, just like his boasting to GOP fat cats he'd roll Illinois' minimum wage back to the Federal level, then, when called out on his gaffe, saying he was actually for raising it....once all his conditions for economic improvement in Illinois were met.

Both Kirk and Rauner should get off the public stage. Kirk should spend the rest of his Senate tenure traveling to the 24 states to counsel the cruel Republican governors keeping 4.8 million folks off Medicaid which will result in over 15,000 needless health related deaths in the next year. And Rauner? He needs to realize Illinois is not ready for a governor rich enough to buy the Governor's Mansion, but utterly bankrupt when it comes to comprehending the real needs of the hard working folk who are the backbone of Illinois.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mr. President: How about sanctioning the neocons?

America's chest thumping protests and silly sanctions against Russia for protecting its national interests in Crimea from a US-EU engineered coup in Ukraine would be laughable if they weren't so dangerous. Mainstream Media might totally erase this coup of a democratically elected Ukraine government from the narrative, but decent Americans shouldn't if they want the US to withdraw from the precipice of a wholly manufactured and unnecessary crisis. Just like we lobbied for years to overthrow the duly elected government of Syria by encouraging and funding rebels seeking its overthrow while pretending Syrian President Assad was solely responsible for civil war atrocities, America hides its duplicity exasperating the Ukraine crisis so it can demonize Russia for doing what the US would do in a heartbeat if Russia interfered in our backyard.

Instead of sanctioning Russia, the president should sanction the neocons at the National Endowment for Democracy, (NED) which functions as a shadow governmental agency to undermine foreign governments Uncle Sam doesn't like. The NED was created in 1983 by President Reagan to advance Reagan's Cold War aims, and though now totally obsolete, continues to get $100 million yearly to entice Russia's neighbors to join the West and turn against Russia. They do this by claiming to promote "democracy" which is anything but. The NED, with Obama administration approval, stirred up the pro West, anti-Russian folks in the Ukraine to thwart an economic deal the duly elected Ukraine president was about to conclude with Russia which led to the illegal coup. Just six months before the coup, NED president Carl Gershman, blatantly opined in the neocon run Washington Post that "Ukraine is the biggest prize" and has backed up that assertion by funding 65 "pro democracy" projects there.

The majority of Americans don't want the US to restart the Cold War, give billion dollar loan guarantees to Russia's neighbors when that money is needed right here to rebuild a crumbling America, and demonize a Russian leader who helped us avert war with both Syria and Iran. The President should listen to the people and common sense in cancelling NED's $100 million dollar New Cold War Slush Fund. On a personal level he should cancel the presidential subscription to the Washington Post.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

ACA scorecard: Obama 6,000,000; Roskam 52

As President Obama chalks up the six millionth enrollee under the Affordable Heath Care Act (ACA), meeting the administration's first 2014 First Quarter goal, my Congressman Pete Roskam awaits his ...53rd chance to destroy the ACA's benefits to the tens of millions of folks who no longer have to worry about being shut out of financial and life saving health insurance. Realizing that neither vote 53 nor vote 553 will destroy the greatest legislation helping needy Americans since Medicare was passed in 1965, Roskam has turned over his congressional website, www.roskam.house.gov, almost exclusively to hysterical scare tactics for the Tea Party faithful who robotically turn out to re-elect career politician Roskam every two years. Here are the current website headlines that crowd out every important issue that a fabulously well paid congressman should be addressing:

•Roskam introduces bill to create Special Inspector General for monitoring ACA
•Roskam on CNBC's The Kudlow Report: Obamacare needs independent watchdog
•Roskam, community leaders tout legislation blocking job-killing Obamacare regulations
•What they're saying about Roskam's Obamacare watchdog

 Of course, that wasn't the only issue on Roskam's home page. Don't forget this related bit of anti social safety net nonsense Roskam has been peddling for years:

•Roskam leads bipartisan effort to combat billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid

Roskam's feigned outrage is simply political posturing at its worst.

All things considered, I'll take Obama's six million ACA signups helping to improve and even save folks' lives, then Roskam's 52 heartless and inhumane votes designed to force those 40 million folks into penury, poor health or the grave.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Music Pick: Hot Fives and Hot Sevens

Between November 12, 1925, and March 5, 1929, Louis Armstrong waxed 90 sides collectively known as the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens which are the Holy Grail in the advent of jazz as the first original Amer...ican art form. In the fall of 1925, Louis was still recording only "race records", jazz and blues marketed strictly to blacks. Chicago based Okeh Records, a leading race records label, noticed any record with Armstrong sold well, inspiring them to sign Louis to an exclusive contract to front a combo just for the recording studio. Using the jazz idiom of the day, Okeh came up with the name 'Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five', which quickly turned the jazz community on its head and began spreading Armstrong's phenomenal creativity throughout the nation and world. Fans eagerly awaited each new side to glean the latest Armstrong developments in the jazz vocabulary. His playing was profound and revolutionary. This wasn't "Hello Dolly"; this was Avant-garde. The feature "Potato Head Blues" from May 10, 1927, is one of the best, and one of 11 sides by Armstrong's Hot Seven, which only recorded for one week in the entire three plus years of the series. The end of the Hot Fives and Sevens saw Louis crossover to front a Big Band for eighteen years till he reformed the Hot Five concept into the six piece All Stars aggregation for another 24 year run. Besides a great name, Potato Head Blues is pure Armstrong joy.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rumsfeld, trained apes and half a million dead

Unconvicted Iraq war criminal Donald Rumsfeld emerged from blessed obscurity Tuesday to say this about President Obama's foreign policy acumen: "A trained ape could get a Status of Forces (SOF) Agreement. It doesn't take a genius". Rumsfeld was referring to Obama's failure so far to get that agreement allowing US soldiers to stay in Afghanistan as advisors after December 31, 2014, the official end to our criminal Afghan war directed by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. So far Afghan President Hamid Karzai has resisted a SOF Agreement, in part, over US insistence Afghanistan give immunity to US soldiers who commit crimes against Afghan citizens. Aside from the racial implication of likening a black president to an ape, which surely resonates with millions of anti Obama racists, Rumsfeld hurled one of the most despicable charges ever against a sitting president by a former high ranking official. Rumsfeld, a human being who does have a genius for uttering truly horrible comments regarding war and death, famously had this exchange with a soldier during a 2004 PR appearance before US soldiers in Iraq:

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson: "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles? And why don't we have those resources readily available to us?"

Rumsfeld: "It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have---not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.---You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up."

Translation: "We conquered Iraq on the cheap; we didn't prepare you for occupation resistance; and some of you will die as a result"

It's OK for Rumsfeld to spout his insanity and madness...as long as it's from a prison cell after his conviction and sentencing for war crimes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Roskam's Obamacare Watchdog acutually a Tea Party Pit Bull

When my Congressman Peter Roskam's (IL-6th) email regarding his legislation to establish an Obamacare Watchdog popped up on my laptop, I thought it was written in secret code. It took awhile, but sure enough, I was able to decipher his meaning which I will share with others to spare them the ordeal of interpreting the Tea Party tongue used.

Congressman Roskam: Obamacare is wreaking havoc on Americans’ healthcare decisions
Translation:                    The 40 million without health insurance will now get to make a decision which will improve their lives         

Congressman Roskam: Obamacare is spiking out-of-pocket costs
Translation:                     If you believe that, then you believe greedy health insurance companies never raised rates and never refused to insure folks with pre-existing conditions and never cancelled healthy people who got sick.

Congressman RoskamObamacare is forcing millions to lose their healthcare plans altogether
Translation:                     Minimum health insurance standards? Republicans don't need no stinkin' minimum health insurance standards

Congressman Roskam: The Obama Administration still hasn't given the public a full picture of the law as it stands today
Translation:                     It has signed up over 5 million and will never be repealed but I'm sure working hard to return to the good ol' days of ravenous health insurance profits on the bodies of the formerly uninsurable

Monday, March 24, 2014

Trudeau sentence distracts from true hucksters

US District Judge Ron Guzman emptied both barrels at TV infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau in sentencing him to ten years in prison for fraud in connection with his book "The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About". Guzman called him 'deceitful to the core', an 'uncontrollable huckster' and said he 'steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own personal gain'. Trudeau sold 850,000 copies of the book which generated $39 million in revenue. About 57,000 customers received partial refunds from the book guarantee and at least 67 filed complaints against Trudeau with consumer protection agencies. The government offered no evidence a single consumer was financially ruined by the $45 book sale price.

While I don't fret about anyone gullible enough to shell out $45 dollars to make the greatest TV pitchman in history filthy rich, I do worry about the millions of Americans, inspired by brilliant commercials, who demand their doctor prescribe them poisonous drugs which will give them strokes, heart attacks, cancer and a host of other painful and debilitating maladies to make potential improvement in some much lessor condition. I do gasp at the criminality of million dollar executives at Toyota and GM who let car owners die in needless accidents from manufacturing defects they covered up for years to improve their fat bonuses year after year. I do mourn for the half million Iraqis we now know were killed in George W. Bush's war based on lies, fear tactics, threats and propaganda.

The American judicial system has degenerated into bread and circuses keeping the masses entertained watching harmless but foolish little hucksters like Trudeau jailed for years mainly because they are an easy mark, allowing the truly destructive hucksters to skate free to enjoy the millions they reaped doing immeasurable damage to the public.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Roskam playing with full deck in lust to destroy affordable health care

It's a sad commentary on my Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) that just nine days before the fourth anniversary of enactment of the Affordable Care Act, he cast his 52nd vote to prohibit, abolish or gut it. The 52nd one is stunningly cruel to the tens of millions of Roskam's uninsured fellow citizens. The ACA is already providing a glimmer of hope that they will not suffer financial ruin, diminished heal...th or even death from a health care system Roskam venerates. Of course, Roskam's 52nd vote is an exercise in futility since the Senate won't consider this despicable bill. H.B. 4015, which passed with all 225 other House Republicans Roskam serves as a leader for, would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, delay the individual mandate by 5 years, causing 43 million Americans to be uninsured in 2019, and increase premiums for folks with individual plans by up to 20 percent. Roskam knows full well that the ACA is working as it just reached the five million milestone of folks who have signed up under it. He knows America will never go back to the days when greedy health insurance companies made fortunes by not insuring folks with pre-existing conditions, not paying for preventative procedures, charging women for necessary reproductive services, and having no obstacles for endless rate increases. The Congressman is simply playing to the anti-government Tea Party crowd that cheers on every move Roskam makes to deny services to the needy. Instead of trumpeting its benefits and actually serving his 700,000 constituents, Roskam uses his website www.roskam.house.gov to fear monger against the ACA, in addition to wasting Congress' time considering mean spirited but unpassable bills to demolish it.

But at least one cannot say, that when it comes to trying to destroy the most critical legislation of our generation, an initiative first championed by Republican Teddy Roosevelt in 1901, Roskam, with his 52nd vote against, is not legislating with a full deck.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rice talk on Iraq war 11th anniversary disgraces Judson University

Leave it to Evangelical Judson University to schedule Condoleezza Rice's keynote speech at their fourth World Leader's Forum on March 19, the eleventh anniversary of America's criminal war against Iraq which Rice enabled as President Bush's National Security Advisor. If press reports are accurate, Rice made no mention of her role ...in the mass murder and mayhem she helped engineer in Iraq precisely eleven years earlier. Playing to the Evangelical faithful at Elgin, IL based Judson, who overwhelmingly supported her Iraq war criminality because it furthers their agenda of Armageddon in the Middle East which will raise them up to Heaven, Rice told the six hundred awed guests that "God gave us a brain and he expects us to use it". If there is a God who had Rice honor him by needlessly facilitating millions of deaths, injuries and displaced refugees at a cost exceeding three trillion dollars, He sure has some 'splainin' to do.

Six weeks ago I called Judson University's President Gene Crume requesting he rescind Rice's invitation to speak as she was utterly contrary to the aims of both a civilized society and an educational institution purporting to do God's work. I commented that certified war criminals like Rice should be shunned as the plague on our world they are rather than held up as role models of public service. I also pointed out that Rice makes three Iraq war criminals as keynote speakers in the four year history of Judson's World Leaders Forum. President Bush in 2011 kicked off the series, and Bush's poodle, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, spoke last year. Crume declined my request but did graciously offer me to make a suggestion for next year's World Leaders Forum keynote speaker.

Here are three Dr. Crume: Leaker of our Iraq war criminality Chelsea Manning; Wikileaks founder Julien Assange; and NSA spying whistleblower Ed Snowden. Oh, I forgot. Because they dedicated their lives to actually serving the higher purpose of promoting peace or defending the Fourth Amendment, they are either in prison, under house arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, or safely protected from American prosecution under Russian asylum. Whatever you do, Dr. Crume, don't select former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Four Iraqi war criminals in five years would simply be too much to fathom.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rauner's sixth million edges out pauper Dillard

To paraphrase novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The very rich are different from you and me...they can buy elections". Billionaire Bruce Rauner proved that last night when the sixth million of his personal wealth spent on his GOP gubernatorial campaign edged cash strapped State Senator Kirk Dillard by just two percentage points. While the margin was co...mfortable, its a far cry from the twenty percentage point lead that Rauner's first few million generated before the GOP electorate woke up to the way Rauner has gamed the system from his fabulous wealth to benefit Billionaire Bruce himself. Rauner, who wears an $18 watch but has more mansions than Snow White has Dwarfs, doesn't suffer folks of ordinary means easily. Take his daughter's educational career. Back in 2008 a politically unknown Rauner wanted to get his daughter in the prestigious Walter Payton College Preparatory School even though she already lived in the prestigious New Trier School District. When you're a billionaire even New Trier is not good enough for your kid. There was one problem. Daughter of Bruce didn't have the attendance qualification to go along with the top grades and test scores, so she was disqualified. What to do? The politically as well as financially connected Rauner called Chicago School System CEO Arnie Duncan and voila, Ms. Rauner bumped some deserving student who didn't have the wealth or clout of Billionaire Bruce. Eighteen months later Rauner dropped a cool $250,000 donation on Walter Payton Prep. I'd like to hear Rauner try to explain his outsider status and white knight political image to one of the 6,617 families of a more deserving student trumped by a daughter of fabulous wealth and privilege.

This incident is telling. Rauner is completely out of touch with everyday folks struggling to make ends meet instead of gaming the system for family glory. Rauner totally avoided social issues during the campaign saying they distract from righting Illinois' financial problems. He wouldn't even commit to opposing a legislative initiative to overturn Illinois' gay marriage law. He's in favor of reinstating the death penalty. In Rauner's worldview, financial reform does not mean raising minimum starvation wages; it means cutting those hard workers further into poverty. Financial reform is promising more tax breaks for the wealthy which he claims will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, raise up education and create a wealth of new jobs. If voters believe that then they also believe Rauner doesn't chuck that $18 watch he wares on the campaign trail to strap on his Rolex when hobnobbing with the rich and famous

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Americans never gets complete story from Mainstream Media

When my parents took us to the movies in the 1950's, they never checked movie times. We simply showed up hoping we'd enter during the second feature of a double bill so we'd see the intended movie from the beginning. Half the time we came in during the main flick which spoiled the enjoyment. I'm reminded about that when I hear mainstre...am media's false, self-serving reporting on the fake Ukraine crisis. They start the narrative with Russia's intent to sever Crimea from the US and EU sponsored neo-Nazi takeover of the democratically elected Ukrainian government, without ever mentioning the US and EU shenanigans which precipitated the crisis in the first place. Russia should nor more allow the US and EU to interfere with their national interests in Ukraine than we would allow Russia to interfere with our national interests in Cuba. Oh, I forgot. When the Soviet Union did that in 1960, we launched a proxy invasion which failed and then spent the next several years trying to assassinate the Cuban leader being romanced by the Soviet Union.

Sadly and tragically, Mainstream Media is in the tank for Uncle Sam and toes the self destructive US line as surely as Pravda toed the Soviet line. Eleven years ago tomorrow Mainstream Media helped the Bush administration launch its criminal war against Iraq by ignoring the lies, fear tactics, threats and propaganda served up by the administration as justification. Last August the Mainstream Media came within a few hours of facilitating a criminal bombing of Syria based on false reports portraying the anti government rebels as white knights when they included many anti-American terrorists. The bombing was only prevented by a massive outpouring of public opposition. And here we are seven months later with a hysterical Mainstream Media again shilling a false and partial narrative on the American people, claiming that Russian President Putin simply woke up one day and decided to kick start a new Russian empire at the expense of the hapless Crimeans.

We've seen this movie before....except for the first half which is the most important part.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A gem in DuPage County

Are you one of thousands of DuPage and neighboring county residents who enjoy the Illinois Prairie Path? Are you aware this splendid 62 mile recreational facility running throughout DuPage County even exists?

Beginning in Maywood on the east, the Path winds westward into Wheaton before branching both north to Elgin and south to Aurora, following the former rail line of the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin (The Roarin’ Elgin) interurban railway, which carried millions of passengers between Chicago and the western suburbs from 1902 to 1957.

In 1966, May Theilgaard Watts, a retired Morton Arboretum naturalist, almost singlehandedly willed the transformation of the abandoned rail bed into the magnificent Illinois Prairie Path.
The Roarin’ Elgin locomotives may be long gone but today all the motive power on their former haunts is human – walking, running or peddling – making DuPage residents healthier and happier. Check it out.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

11 year later, Bush's war crime legacy continues Iraqi bloodbath

A majority of Americans, like President Obama, want to look forward rather than backward from the monstrous criminal war George W. Bush unleased on Iraq eleven years ago Wednesday. However, every decent American should pause for just a moment to recognize the legacy of the nine year war President Obama mercifully ended December 31, 2011, in monumental failure. How so? It was a failure for the 4,488 US soldiers who died in a war that never should have been fought. It was a failure for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, US contractors and coalition soldiers who also died. It was a failure for the entire country of Iraq which is now a failed state hopelessly bogged down in the Sunni-Shite sectarian war Bush's criminality unleashed. While affluent Americans fret about what new toy to buy and poor Americans fret about where their next meal is coming from, here is what happened in Iraq yesterday:

In Qaim, one policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a roadside bombing.

Four militants were killed in Falluja.

Clashes continue in Ramadi, where six policemen were shot dead. Four militants were killed.

A suicide bomber was killed in Haditha, but the number of victims was not reported.

In Baghdad, a blast on a commercial street in Amin killed four and wounded 13 more. In Qahira, a bomb killed three people and wounded six more at a falafel restaurant.

Four people were killed and 14 more were wounded on a commercial street in Amil.

Four people were killed and 10 were wounded in a Shoala/Hurriya area blast. Security forces also killed a militant. Two snipers were killed

In Sadr City, a bombing left one dead and six wounded.

A car bombing in downtown Tikrit left seven dead and 5 wounded.

President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rich have not only been given a "Stay Out of Jail Card" from President Obama, they have made millions from their self-serving memoirs, speaking engagements, and fat government pensions. But just as some 95 year old ex Nazi war criminal still awaits the knock at the door, the Statute of Limitations for Iraq war crimes will never run out on this criminal foursome. None of them can travel outside the US for fear of arrest by countries who take the Geneva Conventions infinitely more seriously than America.

On the eleventh anniversary of the Iraq war, these four need to be moved up from the back burner of forgotten justice up to the criminal war crime frying pan.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Single key, key to surviving 1.6 million GM deathtraps

Every day we get new, unsettling information about General Motors "Heavy Keychain Recall". Yesterday we learned that GM may have known about the defective ignition switch since 2001, not 2004, as previously reported. The infamous switch, which could, when jostled by a heavy keychain, shut off the motor, disable the breaking system and turn o...ff the airbags; a triple whammy when driving at highway speed if there ever was one. There have been dozens of accidents and at least 12 deaths, though many others may not have been reported as such due to lack of analyzable evidence at the scene. Today, we learn that GM is urging drivers of these defective cars, now being recalled for fixes that won't even start till next month, to keep just the single key on its keychain. GM conducted two internal investigations during the last ten years regarding the defect and closed them both. Instead of recalling the cars to prevent death and injury as required by their membership in the human race, higher ups at GM decided to stay mum, only advising dealers to provide a minimal fix if an owner complained. That allowed GM to pay for less than 500 such repairs. Now Uncle Sam has opened a potential criminal investigation why GM officials ignored that devastating safety defect for so long. GM finally recalled the 1.6 million cars; started offering loaners to affected drives and, get this, a $500 rebate to buy a new GM car.

Get your popcorn and peanuts, sit back, and watch this GM car wreck unfold over the next several years. It's gonna cost GM more billions than if it would have done the responsible thing in the first place. A few GM big shots may even hear a jail house door shut behind them before this one is finished. And the next time you see a million dollar PR commercial showing GM touting its manufacturing acumen, remember that at GM, as with many companies with defective ethics, Job One is profits.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Peter Breen: Just another IRS hatemonger

Peter Breen is running in the Republican Primary next Tuesday to replace Sandy Pihos as my Illinois Representative in the 48th District. Breen is Vice President and Senior Counsel for the Thomas More Society, which he claims, is a champion of First Amendment Rights.  In a post last month, "Breen last person I'd see about First Amendment rights", I took issue with Breen's wrapping himself and his candidacy in a phony mantle of First Amendment defender, pointing out Breen's Thomas More Society simply promotes opposition to gay marriage, the "right" of anti abortion fanatics to harass traumatized women entering abortion clinics, and the "right" of these same fanatics to shove their religious beliefs down our throats putting religious settings in the public square. I concluded with my title that if I had a First Amendment issue, Breen would be the last person I'd see for advice.

This month Breen raised the stakes in his phony First Amendment defender issue with his latest campaign mailer. Above his movie star handsome visage he has an even bigger photo of the Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan, next to the enigmatic title "WWRRD?". That is explained underneath as "What Would Ronald Reagan Do?" Then he imagines the Gipper would, like Breen, jump into the "Demonize the IRS" camp we know so well from our IRS hatemongering Congressman Peter Roskam. Breen tops even Roskam by linking the IRS to the trampling (his term) of First Amendment rights of anti abortion activists. Bunk. Breen makes this scurrilous charge simply because he believes it will play well in a Primary where the most bigoted and know-nothing Republicans are most energized to vote. If Breen was really concerned about the sanctity of life, he wouldn't invoke the Patron Saint of Tea Party Republicans, Ronald Reagan, who began the decline of the Middle Class in 1981, with his tax cuts, union busting, outsourcing frenzy, and his support for anti leftist forces throughout Central America responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths.

Breen's mailer claims "In the Boy Scouts, we were always taught to leave a place better than we found it". When it comes to providing good governance in the 48th...Peter Breen should just leave.

The radio in the corner


When radio was King
When radio was King
I first saw this 1941 Zenith counsel radio Model 12S568E, Serial Number A158327, in 1973, in the house of Casey and Maria Moauro, grandparents of my wife, Mary. It was shoved into a dark corner of their basement, didn't work, with a rotted cord and a parched, faded wood cabinet. But I sensed that underneath lurked the spirit of a dormant old time radio with vacuum tubes seeking to rekindle their orange glow. Years went by. I often expressed my admiration for this antique to Grandma Maria. After Casey died in 1985, she lived alone in that house till 1996, when at age 95, it was time to move in with a family member. "You take the radio", she told me. "You're the only one who showed any interest in it". So I did. Several years passed and now I had the radio in a dark corner of my basement, still silent and decaying. One day in February, 1999, I heard of a old fashioned TV repair joint in Chicago that repaired vacuum tube radios. On a lark I took a not very optimistic 30 mile drive where I encountered George, a repairman older than the radio, who said he'd give it a shot. Two weeks later I paid $200 to retrieve a now functioning AM and Short Wave radio whose cabinet had also been lovingly brought back to life. Back home the 8 inch speaker produced a sound that could fill an auditorium and I had many an interesting evening showing and playing this beauty to visitors. Exactly fifteen years went by when one day in February of this year, the radio fell silent once again. I retrieved the February, 1999, repair ticket and called the shop. It was still in business and amazingly, George, now in his eighties, was still at his work bench, repairing an occasional antique radio. A week after dropping it off George called. "Get your radio", he intoned. "How much?" I asked. "Just the $48 inspection charge. It had a corroded contact - an easy fix".

Now Zenith Radio Model 12S568E, Serial Number A158327, made in Chicagoland, once again sits in an prominent corner of our dining room. It takes about 20 seconds for the vacuum tubes, with a load pop, to project their orange glow, filling the house with an incredible sound. Though Zenith doesn't make electronics in the US anymore, when my 1941 Zenith springs to life, I'm reminded of their famous motto: "The quality goes in, before the name goes on".

Monday, March 10, 2014

Roskam support o Keystone XL antithesis of environmental sanity

In his March 6, Glen Ellyn Suburban Life op ed (Time to move forward with Keystone XL) my Congressman Peter Roskam's latest promotion of the XL Keystone Pipeline is further evidence of his radical approach to the environmental crisis endangering the planet, including all seven billion of us trapped in the carbon hothouse Roskam promotes. Here we are in 2014, with a Congressman squarely in the camp of the global warming deniers who scoff at the 97% of scientists clamoring for all countries to address our fossil fuel obsession spelling our doom. All you'll find at www.roskam.house.gov is Drill, Baby, Drill. It is laughable Roskam would cite an Obama administration State Department report green lighting Keystone when he  dismisses and denigrates virtually every Obama administration missive on policy ranging from the Affordable Health Care Act, need to raise the minimum wage, green jobs creation programs, immigration reform, violence against women legislation, extending jobless benefits to long term unemployed, and others.

Since when is the State Department the last word on the environment? Many studies by responsible environmental agencies detail the precise opposite of State's alleged Keystone benign ness. Oil Change International, a US based environmental group, argues that none of the future energy use scenarios in the State Department study would put the U.S. on a path to meeting stated climate goals. "The State Department is assuming failure in meeting our climate goals," said Steve Kretzmann, the group's executive director. "They're not modeling a climate-safe world." The Carbon Tracker Initiative is a nonprofit that focuses on how carbon budgets interact with financial markets. It disputes State's sanguine outlook about Keystone XL, arguing it will cause the US to fail to meet its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, the goal the US established during international climate negotiations. But leave it to Roskam's Congressional colleague Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Senator and Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, to speak sanity to Roskam's delusional denial of the climate crisis. "Keystone isn't any normal pipeline. It would pump tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels on Earth. Adding more tar sands oil to our energy mix would accelerate climate change, put our health at risk for generations, and tarnish our international reputation. Beyond Keystone's costs to our economy and health is the real cost of failing to lead the charge on climate change. Last year, President Obama's Climate Action Plan set the goal of galvanizing international action to significantly reduce emissions. That means doing the hard work of convincing the international community to cut carbon pollution. Allowing Keystone to pollute our air and harm our businesses and communities for generations would only discourage the sort of action the President called for."

Congressman Roskam's shallow nostrums pooh-poohing the despoiling of America with the dirtiest fossil fuel extant are not conservative. His is a radical vision whose time has past...even as Roskam strives to pass the sixteen terms of his predecessor in Illinois's Sixth. Maybe it time for Peter Roskam to step aside for a 21st century vision on the greatest crisis we face. Surely, the billionaire Koch Brothers have a fat lobbying job available for a man of great influence...and myopia.

Friday, March 07, 2014

1953 - 2014: 61 years of US subverting democratic regimes

No country on Earth has a sorrier record of undermining democratically elected governments than the US. It has been a bi-partisan approach to America's warped sense of national self interests for many decades and shows no inclination of ending. Let us count the ways.

In 1953, the Eisenhower administration conspired with the Brits to overthrow the democratically elected President of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh because he wouldn't support US and British oil interests and possibly have aligned Iran with the USSR. That action has poisoned US-Iran relations to this day, with our 2014 version of American war mongers itching for another chance to oust a legitimate Iranian regime.

Just a year later the US did the same to the government of Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala. The Dulles Boys: Allen and John Foster, who together ruled over US foreign policy under Ike, engineered the coup to benefit the United Fruit Company, making millions off favorable land deals granted them by Guatemala's previous military rulers. Guatemalan coup fun fact? The Dulles Boys were big investors in United Fruit Company.

Fast forward to 1973, when Tricky Dick Nixon, just a year before resigning in disgrace, green lighted the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende. Elected on the socialist ticket in 1970, Allende promoted reforms making the Chilean working class more equal. In Washington, D.C. Nixon said "Nyet", allowing the CIA to assist the military coup that deposed Allende in September, leading to 17 years of brutal military rule under Gen. Augusto Pinochet who murdered thousands of Allende's supporters. Allende didn't wait for the ax to fall on him, committing suicide after vowing never to resign.

Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide has the distinction of over being overthrown twice with Uncle Sam's help; first in 1991, then in 2004 after winning a second election in 2000.

Let's not forget Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, whose brief 2002 ouster was aided by US operatives in the George W. Bush administration. Even though the US instantly recognized coup strongman Pedro Carmona as the legitimate Venezuelan leader, Chavez was returned to power by popular support within two days. Red faced Uncle Sam said, "Excuuuuse Me!"

In 2009, the Obama administration got into the "dump elected leaders not towing the US line" act when it stood by during the coup that ousted Honduras President Jose Manuel Zelaya under the pretense it really wasn't a coup, when all the evidence screamed "COUP" in unmistakably clear terms. Since US didn't like Zelaya's reforms, it simply pretended the coup wasn't a coup.

Don't forget last year's coup against elected Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. While the US claimed neutrality in the effort to oust Morsi in 2013, we now know US activist organizations associated with the State Department, like National Endowment for Democracy, bankrolled numerous opposition leaders in the run up to Morsi's removal in likely violation of Egyptian law and contrary to US governmental regulations banning the use of taxpayers' money to finance subversive activities targeting democratically elected governments.

And it took just a few weeks in 2014 for Uncle Sam to add another notch on his belt of elected leaders sent packing when the Ukraine government wouldn't play ball under Uncle's rules. The next time a faux super patriot chimes "America - love it or leave it", remember the real slogan is from whoever rules in Washington: "America - obey it or be deposed".

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Adams and Adegbile: More in common than first letter of last name

At first blush there does not appear to be any connection between our second president John Adams and Obama administration nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Debo Adegbile. But look again. Yesterday, the Senate voted down Adegbile's confirmation solely on the grounds that Adegbile once defended convicte...d cop killer Mumia Abdu-Jamal from unfairly receiving the death penalty. Adegbile did this as required by his job as director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund. Many individuals and groups, including Amnesty International, intervened in Abdu-Jama's case and they prevailed in having his death sentence reduced to life based on appellate court determination that unfair sentencing procedures tainted the death sentence determination.

Adegbile, in providing legal council to the condemned, was engaging in one of the most sacred tenets of American democracy: the right of every person to fair and vigorous legal representation. That distinguishes America from many despotic lands that laugh at the need to provide council for those deemed "undesirable." Yet, all Senate Republicans, and an Un-Magnificent Seven Democrats played politics with a worthy nomination, by demonizing Adegbile for representing American values far better than they do.

That brings us back to second president John Adams. In 1770, 8 British soldiers, being tried for murder after e Boston demonstrators were killed in in the Boston Massacre, couldn't procure legal representation. Adams, an aspiring revolutionary leader, risked his political future by taking the case. He got 6 soldiers acquitted and a reduced verdict of manslaughter for the 2 who did the shooting. Apparently, folks in Adams' time took American ideals much more seriously than the 52 US Senators who torpedoed a great potential public servant over his choice of client. Adams was elected to the Massachusetts General Court while preparing for the trial, Vice President in 1787 and President in 1796. And Adegbile? Let's hope he gets a second chance at the top Civil Rights Division job based on Majority Leader Harry Reid's procedural vote against him to retain the right to resubmit. If the senators who don't practice American ideals today were around in 1770, Adams wouldn't have become President, and Paul Giamatti would have lost the best acting gig of his career.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

NED: Nice name; malevolent organization

Secretary of State John Kerry may claim Uncle Sam is not behind the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Ukraine,  but NED sure is. NED stands for National Endowment for Democracy, a mis-named group if their ever was on. Launched in 1983 by Reagan administration hardliners like CIA Director William Casey,  NED was designed to be a form of shadow CIA to funnel money to foreign political movements taking US positions against the Soviet Union. Casey, we now know from declassified Reagan era documents, also designed NED to fund think tanks and opinion leaders to influence hard line foreign policies; something the CIA was forbidden to do by its Charter. Here we are 31 years later and even though the Soviet Union disbanded and the Cold War essentially ended, NED is still around working to subvert former Soviet controlled nations like Ukraine into abandoning Russia to tilt westward, ensuring US hegemony in the region. And let democracy be damned in the process.

How so? NED used NGO's, non-governmental organizations, to funnel millions to Ukraine in economic projects that essentially helped fuel the rebellion against duly elected president Viktor Yanukovych. While NED was not pleased that neo-Nazis and virulently national anti Semitic thugs help the protests succeed in Yanukovych's ouster, it did nothing to stop them.  NED and their neocon supporters also got the mainstream media to conveniently erase both NED's machinations and the neo-Nazi involvement from the spontaneous democratic narrative foisted on a gullible and clueless American citizenry.

Turn on the news and all you hear is endless demonization of Russian president Vladimir Putin, including how he may have lost touch with reality and gone mad. You won't hear one word about how Putin saved Uncle Sam's bacon by brokering a resolution to the Syrian crisis just as the US was about to unleash a senseless and murderous bombing campaign. Nor will the nightly news utter a peep about how Putin helped defuse the fake Iran nuclear crisis preventing the neocons from getting their next shooting war. 

The real war Americans should worry about is not the one that may break out in Ukraine. Its the one that's already broken out between the wise and cautious Obama administration seeking sensible solutions to critical trouble spots, and the bloodthirsty neocon led NED which seeks more wars both hot (Iran, Syria) and cold (Russia).

Music Pick: Oscar Brown, Jr.

Oscar Brown, Jr. (1926-2005) was a multi talented Chicago artistic legend - singer, songwriter, playwright, poet, actor and civil rights activist - who never quite became the national star he deserved to be. A ...South Sider, he was huge in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood during my time there in 60's and 70's. I still remember well his musical review 'Summer in the City' performed at the old Harper Theater. The feature 'Dat Dare', from his 1960 album 'Sin & Soul', is as good a song as you'll ever hear about the wonder, joy and responsibility of parenthood.