Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Locked and loaded against Iran... and another US soldier killed in Afghanistan


Trump trudged out his favorite war scare tactic yesterday saying US is "locked and loaded" for possible military response against Iran for Saturday's drone bombing that devastated Saudi Arabia's oil industry. Wait, wait, it was the Yemenite Houthi rebels who claimed responsibility for the bombing while Iran denied involvement. The Houthis have been bombed to smithereens by Saudi Arabia for four years now (with US help) but the world's first and third most powerful militarys can't defeat them. In fact, it's the Saudis pushed back on their heels. Either way, it's not our fight, but Trump and many in US war party are just itching to take out Iran, latest target of US regime change policy.
Just 2 days after the Saudi bombing the 17th US soldier was killed in our 18 year long failed Afghan war. That's 3 more than last year with a hundred days to go.
Welcome to perpetual war America is conducting round the world. 

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Saving face in Afghanistan...but not saving lives



The months long US negotiations with the Taliban to remove the 14,500 US troops there has one overriding purpose: saving Uncle Sam's face from his inevitable defeat in a war he should never have fought. But our endless face saving strategy didn't save the life of US Army Private 1st Class Ellis A. Barreto Oriiz, who died Thursday from a car bomb in Kabul. Ortiz is the fourth US soldier killed in the last two weeks, continuing the surge in US casualties that has made 2019 the worst for US soldiers since our official end to combat operations in 2014.

Most US citizens are oblivious of the ongoing carnage in Afghanistan as the media is complicit in our government's downplaying the 18 year long violence we unleashed on the Afghans in October, 2001. PFC. Ortiz got barely a mention in a tiny, easy to miss blurb on page 5 of my morning paper. That's business as usual as America desperately tries to save face in war everyone knows is lost and must be ended. But while America saves face, PFC Ortiz, his unfortunate comrades in arms, and thousands of Afghans are losing their lives.


Thursday, September 05, 2019

Time for Trib to give peace a chance in Afghanistan



‘Three questions for President Trump on his looming Afghanistan peace deal’ (Trib editorial, September 5) should have simply asked the only question worth answering: “When will the US finally exit the 18 year long lost Afghan war?” Sadly, the Trib Editorial Board cannot face the truth that the Taliban has won for the same reason North Vietnam won in Vietnam: the US cannot impose its will on a nation determined to resist American aggression. Setting up a puppet government in Kabul 18 years ago never worked and never will. The fact Kabul was not even in the negotiations speaks volumes about America's fantasy it can retain influence in an Afghanistan free from US meddling. If the Trib was truly worried about extremists gaining a foothold in the region to threaten America, it would have opposed US military intervention that not only fractured Afghanistan, but fractured Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and West Africa, making them all targets of the very extremism we’re trying to prevent.

The Trib Editorial Board has no answers for the three questions it posed because there are none. Wasting pixels and newsprint fretting about the consequences of our inevitable defeat does not help the peace process. It inhibits it.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Machine Gun Nation



We may never know the motive Seth Ator gunned down 28 people, killing 7, before he was killed by police in Odessa, Texas. But we do know a nation which allows the manufacture sale and distribution of weapons of mass killing, such as the AR style weapon that enabled Ator's murderous rampage, is not doing Job 1 of a sane society....protecting its citizens from random violence. For some years now I've been calling these weapons of mass slaughter what they really are: machine guns.
Gun purists argue with me that's overkill in describing these weapons. The only overkill is the bodies piling up in the American shooing gallery from these machine guns.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Good grief...it's Loyalty Oath time

Every 2 years when I fill out my Statement of Candidacy to run for Precinct Committee-person, I'm reminded of the 1950's Red Scare and Senator Joe McCarthy. Why? at the bottom of the statement is the noxious Loyalty Oath which asks me to certify I'm not a commie or member of any organization advocating overthrow of the government by force; nor do I advocate or teach the violent overthrow of the government. Most candidates likely sign this oath even tho 'Optional' appears in parenthesis after the Loyalty Oath title. That is a mistake. It is an odious remnant of the McCarthy era when many thousands had their lives ruined by governmental interference with free speech. The Illinois oath has been on the books since 1955 but made optional in the early 70's from court decisions declaring them unconstitutional; an infringement of our precious free speech.
There are truly urgent problems that require the attention of our state legislators. But they should all take a few minutes next session and strike the ghost of Joe McCarthy from Illinois' candidacy statements. And those of you running for office? Ignore this relic of our shameful past.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Political recognition of non-theists granted after 243 years



It took 243 years but a US political party finally recognized the tens of millions of us non-theists who have endured discrimination, ostracism, ridicule and worse since our founding in 1776. The DNC issued a resolution at their summer meeting proclaiming non-theists contribute significantly to improving society, and as a group need to be heard and valued as much as any other group. A little patronizing maybe but greatly appreciated none the less. 

Amazingly, the seven states of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas still contain language in their constitutions prohibiting people who do not believe in God from holding office. Such laws were declared unconstitutional in 1961 but the legislatures haven't seen fit to erase their repulsive religious test to hold office. Kudos to the Dems for finally doing the right (progressive) thing on this issue. Let's hope it won't take another 243 years for the GOP to follow suit. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Yummy Sandifer not well served by Trib editorial


The Trib's Aug. 23 editorial 'Yummy Sandifer and Chicago: The grisly cost of losing one child' was touching, relevant and cried out for a solution to Chicago's gun violence. The Trib even touched on the two main drivers of catastrophic carnage on Chicago's South and West Sides: availability of guns and extreme hopelessness. But it skirted lightly on both issues, minimizing the urgency of meaningfully addressing them with the bland statement "Then as now, the gunplay most savaged poor and minority families consigned to neighborhoods short of good schools, good jobs, good services for those living on the margins". As poor as that description of the problem is, the Trib's cure offers even less value. "One homage we can pay to these thousands of young people is to keep looking for some way out of metropolitan Chicago’s chronic violence. The more children all of us can mentor, the more kids we can welcome into reliable foster care, the more resources we can donate to those who work with youngsters on the edge. ... The more of all that, the better."
That's it...just mentor those kids at risk, expand foster care and donate resources to the social workers helping them. Without massive local, state and federal investment to bring these areas into America's expanding economy; and without meaningful reduction in the weapons of civilian slaughter, nothing will reduce the fifty shot every week, ten of which die. On those two issues the Trib is still AWOL That doesn't serve the memory of Yummy Sandifer and the 60,000 Chicagoans shot since his death 25 years ago.

Monday, August 26, 2019

One cheer for Syrian civil war victory



We should all offer measured support for Syrian President Assad's apparent victory over rebel forces. With Russian and Iranian help, Assad has pushed the rebels into their last enclave in northwest Idlib, Syria. Eight years of civil war have left a half million dead, 4 million refugees and 11 million displaced overall in the most war torn nation on earth (Yemen a close second).  Tragically, America is responsible for much of the blood and displacement from its 2013 involvement to prevent an Assad victory over rebel forces that included major Sunni jihadist groups seeking to spread Islamic State in Syria. President Obama and his war loving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened on the double pretext of disposing the hated Assad while eliminating jihadist inroads. 

We claimed we could vet the rebels, only aiding the good ones; but wound up mainly supplying jihadist fighters, causing the Russians and Iranians to turn the tide in Assad's favor. Knocking off Assad to weaken Iran's influence in the region has always been our number one goal. We pay lip service to fighting Sunni jihadists, but are dead serious in complying with Saudi, Gulf States and Israeli demands we take out Iran, with the road to Tehran running straight through Damascus. The current lull in fighting could have been achieved back in 2013 had the US not foolishly upended Assad's apparent victory to achieve lusted for Iranian regime change. The US blames the entire Syrian catastrophe on Assad. Six years of US meddling should not be ignored or condoned. Once again America intervenes...and once again America, and the world, loses. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Email to COD Board of Trustees

I'm writing regarding COD Board Chairman Frank Napolitano's FB post on DuPage Conservatives requesting comment on the COD faculty contract negotiations. Frank says the Board is committed to a fair outcome. How can he say that when the Board is needlessly conducting a mass hiring of adjunct faculty precisely when negotiations are in a critical stage? It sure looks like a 'hardball' tactic to intimidate faculty to settle for less than a fair contract. I await your response to my request regarding this transparent negotiating tactic that does not respect the teachers of our DuPage community college students. 

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

On assault weapon ban it's Democrats 200 to 1 over GOP


Anyone who doesn't believe the GOP is controlled by the NRA just needs a tally sheet on House Bill H.R. 5087, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019. It bans the manufacture, sale, import, transfer and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition clips. Introduced by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, it garnered 200 Democratic co-sponsored, and not single Republican. Finally, after 2 gun slaughters in 2 days, a lone Republican, Pete King of NY, signed on. The GOP is apparently taking its cue from the President who meekly tweeted for 'some form of gun control' after the carnage, than backed off saying "There' no political appetite for an assault weapons ban". Really, Mr. President? Seven in ten voters want it including two-thirds of GOP women. Trump and the GOP, in lockstep, stock and barrel with the NRA...and America's endless gun bloodbath.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Congresspersons should visit Gaza


Every non-election year summer the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) sends dozens of US congresspersons to Israel to shore up congressional support for Israel. While congressional fact finding visits to foreign countries can be valuable governing tools, the ones to Israel should include its deplorable, inhumane treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories, including those suffering in the West Bank and Gaza. This years bi-partisan delegation of over 70 includes 32 congressional rookies. All are sending back glowing reports of Israeli life which make not a mention of the decades long Apartheid, non-state status of nearly 6 million Palestinian souls that Israel, and it US enablers have left behind from the the benefits of full state citizenship and self governance.
But a crack occurred in this sanitized bi-annual PR tour when two Muslim congresswomen, Omar Ilhan and Rashida Tlaib were denied entry by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to their criticism of Israeli Apartheid governance of Palestinians under Israeli control. A firestrom of criticism from American congresspersons, pundits and Jewish American groups forced Netanyahu to retreat on Rep. Tlaib, whose trip included a visit see her nonagenarian mother for likely the last time. Alas, Israeli restrictions on Tlaib, a strong critic of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, forced her to cancel.
That is sad personally for Tlaib and a shame for US policy; enabling one of the worst humanitarian disasters on earth. Fairness should require AIPAC and Israel include a side trip to Gaza to see the deadly, dehumanizing suffering Israeli Apartheid inflicts without a moment of concern or relief for millions in dire need of a state to go along with the resources for even a semblance of a decent life. The trip to Gaza should be bi-partisan to remove politics which demands lockstep US allegiance to continued dehumanization of the Palestinian people.
Encourage Congresswoman Tlaib to see her ancient mother one last time. Encourage dozens of congresspersons to see Palestinian suffering for the first time.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Keep spotlight on Trump's racism, xenophobia and degradation of the presidency



Trump's racism, xenophobia, degradation of the presidency is not a one-off mistake of a rookie politician. It was the foundation of his candidacy. It is the foundation of his presidency. It is a near daily occurrence, so much so that a day without its display is news. It is so pervasive that newscasters routinely call out Trump's lies and ugly comments degrading entire peoples of color; entire neighborhoods of color, judges, congresspersons, cabinet members. He demonizes the press. He demands critical congresswomen go back to where they came from, as if they aren't even Americans. He enables, even abets white supremacy. He's lost the trade war and has blamed the entire unfolding economic calamity on the Fed Chair. He is only applauded overseas by some of the worst tyrants and dictators on earth. He has made America a laughingstock, if not a country to be feared for its murderous economic sanctions applied frivolously to a variety of imagined foreign transgressions.

The 24 hour cycle just yawns and moves on to the next story de jour, as if our political culture is not being shredded a tad more every single day by an unfit, emotionally disturbed person occupying the presidency. Trump is building his entire re-election campaign around the ludicrous premise Democrats are Venezuelan style socialists. That is not hard politics; that is gutter politics. It has no place in our electoral process. We must all keep the focus where it belongs 24/7/365, on an outlier overturning every noble impulse of our polity.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Free Blago


The media class is going berserk over a possible Trump commutation of governor Rod Blagojevic's 14 year prison sentence for two highly cynical maneuvers as governor: threatening to hold up government projects until he could squeeze their proprietors for campaign contributions, and using an Illinois Senate vacancy as a bargaining chip for personal gain. Terrible governance, yes. But not nearly as detrimental as a president encouraging white nationalist acting out, or that same president and his party's governors trying to take health care away from 20 million given it by his predecessor. That conduct, tho technically not a punishable crime like Blago committed, is getting innocent people killed. Former president Nixon was spared jail because the political powers believed disgrace and impeachment were enough for much worse. Why not Blago? $40,000 a year to cage a twit who thumbed his nose at the political class in Illinois is a waste...and a disgrace.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Trump's hate speech has crossed threshold of "Fire" in a crowded theater


Not since Andrew Johnson from 1865 to 1869 has a white racist president given subtle and not so subtle encouragement to violent racists. How many more will be shot or otherwise violated in the last 17 months of his presidency? Trump's incitement of white supremacists represents high crimes and felonies. Impeach now. Lives are at stake.

Friday, August 02, 2019

2 year budget: victory for war party, defeat for American viability


The two year budget passed by a bi-partisan Congress allocates 54.7% of all discretionary federal expenditures to national defense. That amounts to $1.478 trillion out of $2.7 trillion for fiscal 2020 and 2021. House Democrats signed on to the Trump administration deal because it provided a pittance of $27 billion more for domestic programs, even tho it both explodes the deficit and lavishes more precious treasure on the Pentagon than it requested. For Trump, the deal was strictly a matter of endless riches for the military, who can never get enough.
Under Trump, Republican deficit hawks turned into zombies. Their hair was on fire during Obama's administration tho it reduced the deficit an average of 11% after the critically needed first year stimulus. But they're mute while Trump's deficit has increased 15% so far with a 23% increase this year alone due to the 'Give it all to the rich' tax cuts.
This is how great nations decline; not with a bang, just a yawn as deficits soar to feed ravenous military hunger while the people's work is ignored.

Corporations engorge on profits while stiffing the commons



Lots of news about US budget deal with the two year, two plus trillion dollar deficit facing Americans for fiscal '20 and '21. Tax cuts for the rich and the corporations are fueling the deficit as well as an avalanche of goodies for the military and a few scraps for the folks in need. The well being of everything that really improves the quality of life: environment, education, health, infrastructure, revitalizing America's urban wastelands remains neglected. What struck me is how little corporations pay of the $3.645 trillion in revenue that leaves the gaping trillion dollar hole each of the next two years. How paltry? We taxpayers pay 50% of that revenue; corporations just 7%. The rest comes from Social Security and Medicare, excise, estate, tariff and interest revenue.
Welcome to the new Gilded Age.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Students smarter than legislators in South Dakota


Good God. In the last two years legislators in 19 states have passed or are considering laws requiring schools to prominently display the U.S. motto 'In God We Trust' to entering students. South Dakota is the latest, mandating the offensive typeface be at least a foot tall and be placed where no student can avoid it. Why offensive? It's a clear violation of the separation of church and state. Such sentiments have no place in the halls of higher learning...and I don't mean as high as a make-believe heaven. Some students in Rapid City pushed back, telling the school board to consider alternatives to God such as Buddha, Allah, Science or Ourselves. The first two are a joke; the latter two truth. Welcome to South Dakota...where the smart ones attend school and the dummies attend the legislature.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Keep 400 Illinoisans from departing to senseless, failed, murderous Afghan war



What of waste of Illinois' finest. That's what Gov. Pritzker called the 400 National Guard reservists being sent to our trillion dollar lost war in Afghanistan that has already killed 2,382 troops since its October, 2001 start. But Pritzker omitted that obvious truth about the Afghan war which should never have been fought, has cost over a trillion and maimed tens of thousands in body and mind to going along with the 2,382 dead. Now, while the US war party negotiates furiously with the Taliban for a face saving exit to get the remaining 14,000 US soldiers out from another failed US involvement in the Middle East, 400 of Illinois' best are needlessly, foolishly sentenced to a year trying to avoid being the last US soldier to die for a lost, worthless cause. What a waste of Illinois' finest, indeed.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Racist President helped perpetuate Red Summer of 1919


Woodrow Wilson, last racist president till the current occupant, governed during the Red Summer of 1919, in which hundreds were killed, mainly blacks, with thousands injured in over 50 race riots across the US. Chicago news outlets have focused on one of the worst, right here in Chicago, which ignited a century ago today. But missing from these reports was the response of the Wilson administration, which not only didn't speak out against white mobs that started virtually every riot, it blamed the entire outbreak on Bolshevist agitators who he claimed egged blacks on to defend themselves from encroaching violence with guns. Wilson didn't hold back declaring "The American Negro returning from abroad would be our greatest medium in conveying Bolshevism to America." Government agencies and the media took their cue from Wilson. Young J. Edgar Hoover, early in his Justice Dept. career, told the Attorney General that the Washington D.C. riots were the "result of numerous assaults committed by Negroes upon white women" The Washington Post picked up the theme calling for a white "clean up operation" against black rioters defending themselves from the white mobs.
Wilson disgraced himself by governing with the easy racism he grew up with in Jim Crow Virginia. The current racist president doesn't have Wilson's excuse, growing up in privilege in tolerant New York. His false equivalency of white supremacists with anti racist protesters in Charlottesville, his demeaning of congresswomen of color, his endless demonization of inner city neighborhoods of his minority critics, his cruel, brutal treatment of minority asylum seekers are all of a piece with his racist core.
How sorrowful a racist president fueled racist violence in 1919 and a racist president in 2019 has learned nothing from his predecessor a hundred years on.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

It's conspiracy and obstruction, not collusion and hardball politics

The word collusion is insufficient to describe the damage Trump and his entourage did to America's electoral process. While deeply patriotic Americans had their hair on fire over real and substantial Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump ignored or pooh-poohed the charges. He still does three years on. The reason is clear. Trump's minions had substantial contacts with Russians involving Russian offers of help, Trump's team meeting to discuss that help; indeed expressions of glee regarding it. That is conspiracy to subvert the election pure and simple.   
Trump's team characterizes his response as ordinary hardball political push back to partisan political attacks. Really? Lying to Congress, lying to the Mueller Investigation, directing illegal firing of the investigators, claiming absolute privilege not to cooperate is not hardball politics. It's obstruction of justice pure and simple. 
But in Trumpworld only underlings are convicted and jailed. 
The Democratic House majority must complete its ongoing investigation which may likely lead to formal impeachment. The politics of the 2020 election are irrelevant. Not completing that investigation and following its dictates would inadvertently subvert every decent principle of the presidency, the Constitution, our entire model of democratic governance. Nearly half of the House Democratic majority is on board with this most critical governmental oversight function. A few Republicans are as well. Once again we are at a crossroads of our noble political experiment. 
Don't take the wrong road, America. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Bar Barr from committing 5 state sponsored murders

Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of prisons Thursday to schedule the death penalty for 5 of 62 federal prisoners on death row. The state sponsored murders could begin as early as December though legal challenges may push the dastardly deeds into 2020. No federal felons earmarked for death have been executed since 2003. Only 3 have been snuffed out by Uncle Sam since he re-instated death for really heinous murderers in 1988. 

The last 2 administrations recoiled at state sponsored murder, causing the 16 year de facto abolishment at the federal level. It's no surprise Trump's administration seeks a return to governing barbarism. Trump made his bones as a grisly capital punishment advocate with his 1989 full page ad in New York papers calling for death to the 5 Central Park 5, convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park. They were later exonerated via DNA evidence, received a substantial settlement from New York, but no apology from Trump. 

We can only guess what transpires in Trump's brain. But based on his history of bloodlust for capital punishment and need to serve up fear and loathing to his base, it's both personal and political.   


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Long goodbye to America's longest war



Few Americans are even aware its leaders are negotiating furiously with the Afghan Taliban to achieve a September 1 target date for an agreement to pull out America's remaining 14,000 troops, ending the longest and one of its stupidest wars.

What a waste. A trillion dollars of squandered treasure and tons of dead, wounded and displaced. US and allied deaths total 3,509. Many thousands of US and allied troops are damaged in body and mind. Afghan casualties dwarf America and its allies: 45,000 police and troops dead just in the last 5 years; 32,000 civilians dead in the last decade.

All this for nothing. Afghanistan is as poor and insurgent ridden as when we stated the slaughter in October, 2001. We knew immediately Saudi Arabia was the country most responsible for the 911 attacks but said "Wait, wait, we can't attack our best weapons customer". So we pivoted to Afghanistan, the first step on the road to Iraq, Syria and the big prize Iran. It wasn't about avenging 911. It was about using 911 to remake the Middle East in our image at the point of a smart bomb fired by idiots. Failure, failure, failure followed; yet we're still angling to take out that missing big prize Iran. As a famed movie character surmised: "Stupid is as stupid does".

Our puppet Afghan government in Kabul is so irrelevant they're not even in the negotiations. We know very well the Taliban, which already controls 64% of Afghanistan, will brush aside our puppet once the US strings animating them are cut.

Seventy-five years on we still honor the Longest Day. We'll never honor the Longest War.

Monday, July 22, 2019

A hundred years later Trib still clueless on Chicago's racial divide


The Trib’s extensive coverage today of the centenary of the 1919 Chicago Race Riots is commendable.  While its history of the riots is detailed and informative, its editorial ‘Chicago’s race riots of 1919 and the epilogue that resonates today’ offers no value to resolving  the century long legacy of crime, poverty and despair that plague Chicago’s minority communities today. The Trib decries that prejudice and its sibling, public policy discrimination, continue. Yet, while bearing no overt prejudice toward minority communities, the Trib has spent the last century decrying virtually every societal program that will use tax dollars to rebuild decaying neighborhoods, giving those without hope jobs and opportunities that will uplift the entire community. Those proposing such programs  are  labeled ‘big government social experimenters’ who must be  kept out of the pockets of the well off. In addition, while over 2,000 annually are killed or wounded on Chicago’s mean streets, the Trib is AWOL on the need for sensible gun regulation to reduce the carnage by reducing the weapons of death flooding poor communities.
Simply calling for an end to prejudice offers nothing to communities left behind. If every prejudiced person somehow repented, the joblessness, gun violence and despair would continue apace. The highly influential and widely read Chicago Tribune must do better than “Can’t we simply  all get along”?

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Additional word needed in State of the Union introduction

Next February 5, Paul D. Irving, House of Representatives Sargent at Arms, should add one word to the famous introduction of the president as he enters the House chambers for the speech:
"MR. SPEAKER...THE RACIST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES"

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A heinous crime, a heinous penalty


The more heinous the killing, the more we must all oppose the death penalty. Many wonder why Brendt Christensen is even eligible to die for the torture murder of a visiting Chinese scholar in his Urbana apartment in 2017, since Illinois abolished the death penalty eight years ago. Alas, for us death penalty opponents, the authorities used the FBI's involvement in the death of a foreigner to move Christensen's case from state to federal jurisdiction where the death penalty lives on. Sure seems like that decision was taken simply to resurrect the gallows for a truly nasty murderer.
That's unfortunate. The death penalty was not abolished just to prevent an innocent person from being executed. Since Christensen has confessed some feel that reasoning is moot. What is not moot is that the death penalty is barbaric, hearkens back to a primitive view of justice, and makes every citizen involved or supportive of it a party to state sponsored murder. There will always be horrible individuals who will commit horrendous crimes. But there is no need for society to mimic such behavior simply to satisfy the bloodlust of John Q. Public. A hundred thirty-four countries have abolished the death penalty. The United States, which lays claim to being No. 1 in everything good, needs to become No. 135 in promoting life rather than death for the worst of the worst. That will help bring out our best as a civil, sane society.

Friday, July 19, 2019

House votes for peace....Senate prefers war


Some praise is due the US House which passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with less war like features than the Senate version
1. Tho still obscenely high, the House chopped $17 billion off the Senate version.
2. It defunded America's criminal support and enabling of Saudi Arabia's near genocidal war against neighboring Yemen.
3. It pre-emptively defunded a wholly made up and senseless war against Iran.
4. It repealed the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force which have served as a blank check for the last 3 presidents to wage perpetual war.
The Senate and House must now reconcile their two versions; the former preferring perpetual war, the latter a roadmap to peace. Trump will likely veto any version which ties his hands to keep the bombs bursting in air.
Perpetual war is the coin of the realm in 21st century America. The House took steps yesterday to change the currency.

First racist prez in century


It's been a hundred years since we've had a certified racist president. Woodrow Wilson's progressive administration from 1913 to 1921 was anything but regarding blacks who saw Virginia born Wilson, who never escaped the white supremacy of his southern upbringing, re-institute segregation in DC government jobs, decimating the black middle class there. Woody Wilson invited DW Griffith to screen his 'Birth of a Nation' at the White House and exclaimed 'Fine history DW'. But Wilson didn't cynically use his racism to gain or retain power like this century's presidential racist. It was never part of his governing mantra as blacks were preyed upon by virtually the entire white establishment, with Wilson simply part of that pre-civil rights mentality. His successor Warren G. Harding, was relatively progressive in racial matters, so much so he was accused of having black blood coursing thru his veins.
A century on Trump's grotesquely cynical exploitation of color to retain the 30 red and purple states and the White House has become one of the saddest chapters in recent American history. How long it will take we can only 

Shanahan, Esper: foxes in charge of the hen house

Shanahan, Esper: foxes in charge of the hen house
 


Patrick Shanahan and Mike Esper are the last two nominees for Defense Secretary. Shanahan dropped out recently over a messy divorce that he tried to hide from his congressional questioners. Mike Esper is next up for confirmation which will likely sail through to confirmation. Shanahan and Esper both come from top jobs at Boeing and Raytheon, the number two and three defense contractors respectively, with annual defense goodies of $51 billion. This represents our tax dollars that could be better spent on infrastructure, education, renewable energy, health care and others instead of senseless, perpetual war. Ike warned us back in 1961 about letting the foxes guard the henhouse of our national treasure. Fifty-eight years on the foxes are still in charge.


Impeach

It's disappointing the House tabled an impeachment inquiry yesterday. Trump's blatant racism, xenophobia and demagoguery has caused irreparable harm to the targets of his venom. Indeed, it has caused great harm to our entire populous, including his supporters. It has brought discredit upon the presidency and consigned its perpetrator to a place in infamy regardless of any impeachment inquiry outcome; even his possible re-election.
This is not a new or one-off course of misconduct. It was on display from his June, 2015 announcement calling the undocumented, murderers and rapists who must be marginalized.
The damage to our republic increases every day he's allowed to foment his cynical hatred unchallenged.
To paraphrase what we in the peace movement call the need to end perpetual war: Impeachment...if not now, when.

Ives should start campaign with apology to Sixth District voters



No surprise former state rep Jeanne Ives has joined fellow conservative Evelyn Sanguinetti to unseat Democrat Sean Casten as Illinois 6th District Congressperson. Getting 48.5% of the GOP vote against former Governor Bruce Rauner last year virtually assured Ives would seek to expand her role as chief proponent of the GOP's extreme conservative wing.

But Ives has a despicable homophobic history to overcome if she wishes to make inroads among highly educated and tolerant Sixth District voters who gave 53.6% of their votes to Casten, whose campaign was devoid of fear and loathing. Casten campaigned wholly on common sense solutions to climate destruction, health care and other issues to send absentee incumbent Peter Roskam packing.

How despicable? Ives called gays seeking to marry "disordered" with gays "trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy... and we can't allow that to happen." Having lost the battle to prevent marriage equality, Ives turned her fury on school administrators seeking to offer dignity to transgenders, likening them to dirty old men in trench coats lying in wait to expose children to sordid things.

As a believer in human redemption, I would welcome an Ives candidacy if she would first apologize for her destructive comments and renounce the politics of hate. If she doesn't, the first question from any voter or any reporter at a campaign stop should be: "When will you apologize, not just gays and transgenders, but every citizen of the Sixth"?


Friday, July 12, 2019

Worse than misdemeanors

A little over half of Americans believe the House should either impeach Trump or continue investigations to determine if impeachment is warranted for political and financial irregularities tied to his presidential campaign. The Constitution authorizes impeachment for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Trump may be guilty of all four but we'll never truly know till a thorough Congressional investigation is undertaken.

But what is happening right before our eyes are high crimes and felonies Trump is committing at the border with his administration's treatment of asylum seekers.The splintered families, thousands confined in deplorable conditions, a few dead are all a a piece with Trump's demonization of these folks as "murderers and rapists" at the beginning of his campaign. Those charges and subsequent real life treatment of the weak and powerless are red meat to his xenophobic base. They contain not an iota of decency or humanity, the first order of business of every president. And every one of the 43 men who preceded Trump avoided such cruel, heartless conduct to gain election or re-election. Every one governed the entire populous, not the howling mob.

Trump's treatment of asylum seekers is a seamless transition from a signature Trump initiative to withdraw health insurance coverage from the 20 million who gained it under his predecessor and prevent the remaining 20 million uncovered from gaining a medical lifeline to a healthy life.

Trump's treatment of asylum seekers is a seamless transition from his withdrawal from global climate accords, promoting the return of King Coal. and denigrating the climate science that must be heeded to preserve Mother Earth for our future generations, including Trump's.

High crimes and misdemeanors doesn't quite capture all the damage Trump is doing to our people, our country, our planet. They are high crimes and felonies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Taft Iran warning 69 years ago resonates today

"If the President can intervene in Korea without congressional approval, we can go to war in Malaya or Indonesia or Iran or South America.” 

- Sen. Robert Taft (R-OH) on President Truman plunging US into Korean conflict of June, 1950, without Congressional Declaration of War. Sixty-nine years on Taft's warning has special meaning with manufactured Iran crisis.

Can't buy love but sure can buy freedom



"I don't care too much for money, cause money can't buy me love" The Beatles

If we've learned one thing from fabulous wealth and the fame and influence it provides, is that it can delay justice for horrible crimes for years, decades, even forever.

Cases in point: Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and now Jeffrey Epstein. Cosby's persona as America's Dad shielded him from scrutiny as a parade of women came forward with tales of sexual assault. When the heat on Cosby increased he used a parade of publicists and lawyers to question, even denigrate his accusers. If nothing else worked he dipped into his fabulous fortune for payoffs with NDA's (Non Disclosure Agreements). Weinstein had none of Cosby's adoring fame but he had the anonymity, along with the wealth, to keep his accusers at bay. Epstein is a special case. Caught outright, he worked his billionaire magic to get the proverbial slap on the wrist instead of a possible life sentence back in 2008. How much his array of movers and shakers he cultivated since the 1970's aided his Houdini like escape and eleven subsequent years of freedom till re-indicted has yet to be determined. Suffice to say it helps to have friends in high places.

That brings us to Donald John Trump who has roamed the public stage for 48 years now since taking over his late father's real estate empire. Trump is unique in that his alleged transgressions span the sexual, business and now political spectrums. His machinations with wealth, fame and influence make Cosby, Weinstein and Epstein look like amateurs. If he was singing along with the Fab Four he'd change the lyrics to:

"I do care much for money, cause money can buy me freedom"

Sunday, July 07, 2019

"Must be done in responsible manner". Translation: never



Prez contender Kamala Harris said the right first word "Yes" when asked if the US should withdraw from Afghanistan. But then she qualified it by saying it must be done "in a responsible manner". That is simply U.S. war party speak for "never". Go to her website and Harris expands on that 'responsible manner' by saying she'll consult with "generals and ambassadors". That also is war party speak for 'never' since every political leader who says that avoids any such experts who wisely advocate prompt and complete withdrawal from America's endless wars. 

Harris says she'll be tough on Iran over their "nuclear threat" when she knows that threat has been non-existent since 2003 and current US withdrawal from the 5 + 1 Iran nuclear agreement is the most dangerous step Trump has taken since becoming president.  She goes on to say one of our challenges is the "chaos and oppression in Venezuela" when she knows our senseless and cruel sanctions are causing starvation and degraded life there. 

If Kamala Harris becomes president she will break the string of 44 men who preceded her. But she will not break the recent string of presidents controlled by the war party practicing the fine art of saying "never" to ending America's perpetual wars. 

Saturday, July 06, 2019

King of Coal devoid of foresight to prolong Mother Earth


Never heard of billionaire coal baron Chris Cline till his helicopter crash death reported today. Dubbed the 'King of Coal', Cline did pretty well for someone growing up dirt poor working West Virginia's foreboding mines. He started coal giant Foresight Energy in 2006, which peaked at $2.6 billion, giving Cline an island chain in the Bahamas to go along with his US mansion. But with coal's inexorable collapse, Cline's fortune dropped by a billion, prompting his embrace of Trumpism and every politician willing to trade Mother Earth's future to keep the coal cash register ringing. Cline dropped a cool million on Trump's Inauguration Committee and many thousands to fellow climate change denier pols to keep the world's fever rising. West Virginian Governor Jim Justice lamented "West Virginia lost a super star, a giving, good man and benefactor to Southern West Virginia. West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney described Cline as “a very farsighted entrepreneur” with a “Midas touch.” Tho still worth $1.7 billion at his death, Cline's estate fortune will continue to head south, as will the future of Mother Earth unless we change our outlook. Cline's company name Foresight Energy was anything but.

Friday, July 05, 2019

North Korea and Iran: Divergent paths for regime change


The U.S. has been trying to change North Korea's regime for 69 years since the 1950 Korean War. No success so far.
Iran, however has been a partial success story. When Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh tried to nationalize US and British oil interests in 1953, the CIA tasked Teddy Roosevelt's grandson Kermit Jr. to instigate a coup. It worked, bringing our chosen puppet the Shah to power for 26 years till the Iranian revolution kicked him out in 1979. starting a forty year project for Iranian regime change, round two.
But a curious development has sidelined North Korean regime change while adios to Iran's rulers is on the front burner. After initially blasting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as 'Rocket Man' and threatening to flatten North Korea, President Trump initiated a bromance with Kim that included an arm in arm walk across the DMZ. Half a world away the U.S. came within minutes of bombing Iran on the flimsiest of pretexts and seems determined to provoke a war with crippling sanctions virtually destroying Iran's economy.
Two factors help explain this divergence. First, North Korea has nukes they'll never give up as an insurance policy against a U.S. attack. Iran has no nukes, and no plan to get them since 2003, making them quite susceptible to U.S. aggression. Kim is not stupid. He's seen the grisly demise of Saddam in Iraq and Muammar in Libya who gave up their nukes only to give up their lives to US regime change. That fate will never befall Kim. Iran's failure to become nuclear may have sealed its fate for a second time
Second, none of our best weapons customers for weapons of civilian destruction (WCD) are demanding we overthrow the North Korean regime. But Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel, who fuel America's economic miracle with hundreds of billions in WCD purchases, are demanding Iran regime change as part of the relationship.
Neither North Korea nor Iran threaten America's national self interests. But unlike North Korea, Iran is both vulnerable to attack and connected to our economic self interest fueled by world leading weapons sales. Consider regime change in Iran as a cog in 'The Art of The Deal'.