Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rauner victory speech steeped in pandering, delusion,

Bruce Rauner has perfected the art pretending his first 38 months as governor was anything but the abrogation of the basic principles of good governance. In his cold, cruel victory speech Tuesday, given before his opponent conceded, he omitted he didn't secure a single one of his proposed 44 reform measures. He didn't fess up to worsening every indicator of Illinois' economic health: budget solvency, timely paid bills, expanding taxpayer base, among others. He neglected to mention the myriad of social safety net resources reduced or even abolished under his governance. He offered not a single serious proposal to improve life for us 13,000,000 Illinoisans...unless you're a member of the 'less taxes for the well off, less services for everybody else' club. He doubled, tripled, quadrupled down on his worthless mantra that he's the guy who can smite the imagined crooks running the other party. His endless bashing of Mike Madigan is as tiresome and worthless as Bush's endless bashing of Saddam Hussein. That won't repair his base, utterly fractured by the Queen of Mean, Jeanne Ives, but it does make him feel good about a hopeless cause pushed by a man utterly tone deaf to what good governance requires. Rauner should have examined his floundering failure these past three years, and channeled Tom Buchanan in 'The Great Gatsby' who "smashes everything up and retreats back into his money." Instead he dipped into his countless millions to eek out victory over one on the scariest, cold-hearted persons to ever seek the governorship. Now he faces a fellow billionaire who, fortunately, possesses both a heart and a soul. That's a good choice for the electorate this November.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tough to digest

While most are digesting Tuesday's election results, I'm gaging on the dreadful, cowardly vote of the 55 of 99 senators that defeated Senate Joint Resolution 54 which would have ended America's criminal support for Saudi Arabia's criminal war against neighboring Yemen. Over 10,000 dead and millions suffering cholera and starvation from US made Saudi bombs and food/medicine blockade enabled by the US. American opposition to this man made humanitarian catastrophe would shut down the Saudi onslaught pronto
Introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), Senate Joint Resolution 54 was defeated 55-44. Republicans voted 45 to 5 to defeat the measure. Had all Democratic senators voted for peace, S.J. Resolution 54 would have passed 54-45. But Ten of 49 Democrats joined with the 45 Republicans to keep the US war party supplying the Saudis. Only 5 of 49 Republicans voted for peace. We expect the GOP to support perpetual war, but not the Democrats. The 10 Democrat warmongers are Coons (D-DE); Cortez Masto (D-NV); Donnelly (D-IN); Heitkamp (D-ND); Jones (D-AL); Manchin (D-WV); Menendez (D-NJ); Nelson (D-FL); Reed (D-RI); and Whitehouse (D-RI). They and the 45 Republicans voting for war should be required to visit Yemen to see the carnage they enable. I'm sure our government could persuade the Saudis to halt the bombing during their death finding mission. Bringing their own food and water might also be advisable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A missed anniversary

Did you, like me, miss the big news story of the 15th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom on the news yesterday? If so, wasn't your fault cause it wasn't aired. Mainstream media, like the government, doesn't mention our failed, criminal war that began March 19, 2003, if at all possible. I still remember hosting a St. Joseph Day celebration that night where the talk focused on the utterly insane war based on lies, fear, intimidation and loathing that was actually underway. After the failed Vietnam War which I protested as a teenager, I didn't believe we'd make a similar mistake, but we did. Never underestimate the ferocious zeal of the war party, including the military, the media, the weapons makers, and of course our leaders, who thrive on ginning up enemies and causes to fight, squandering trillions and getting millions killed, maimed or homeless in the process. Our criminal Iraq war, tho out of the news, still goes on with 5,000 pieces of canon fodder futilely trying to keep peace between Sunnis and Shi'ites in a broken, defiled Iraq. The war has spread like a cancer into Syria, Yemen and parts of Africa. We helped create al Qaida in Iraq; then march into other countries to combat them there. A great business model for the war party; a catastrophe for mankind. We never learn and apparently never will unless the people rise up and demand this madness stop. Alas, that would involve turning away from those dancing stars and bachelor-bacheloretts long enough to give peace a chance.

Is Ives the Trump of Illinois?

The political buzz has state rep Jeanne Ives nipping at Governor Bruce Rauner's heels in the GOP gubernatorial Primary. Ives' blistering attacks on Rauner's largely imagined liberal 'social agenda' as being traitorous to the GOP base has made inroads in Rauner's early, seemingly insurmountable lead. Ives is riffing on Trump's successful 2016 Primary run which demolished the 15 establishment candidates using a canny combination of not so subtle racism, xenophobia and personal attacks. While not nearly as crass and incoherent as Trump, Ives is playing to her largely affluent, white base to rail against immigrants, people of color, the LGBT community and people in need, whom she claims Rauner is favoring over the true Republican base. Like Trump, she appears to enjoy, even encourage, the withering criticism from progressives over her tactics, including an ad that congered up every stereotype of the 'other' whom her base despises.   

Many progressives, including me, felt Trump was the easiest Republican candidate to defeat in 2016. How wrong we were. Let's not make that mistake again with the Illinois governorship. Jeanne Ives, like Trump, seeks office to govern solely to her base; not all 13 million of us. And like Trump, Ives, though unfit to govern, may end up the Republican candidate in the general election. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Ives' gubernatorial campaign theme

Ives: For those whom Rauner was not heartless enough

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Trump proves torture bonafides with CIA pick

Donald Trump says he supports torture of suspected bad guys because "It works." On waterboarding he's even more emphatic. "Waterboarding in your minor form" (of torture). "It's absolutely fine...but we should go much stronger than waterboarding."
It should not surprise us that Trump nominated CIA waterboarding specialist Gina Haspel to take over CIA in the latest administration shakeup. Trump called her a "terrific person", though we aren't sure whether that relates to her overseeing waterboarding at a black site US prison in Thailand or her destruction of video tapped evidence of the waterboarding that White House counsel ordered her not to do.
It there were justice, Gina Haspel would be sitting in a prison cell instead of the Director's chair at CIA. The media is focused on mentioning Haspel would be the first women to run CIA, if confirmed (and that's not certain). They should highlight she would be the first proven torturer to hold that august position.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Will Roskam meet with Barrington High gun massacre protesters?

Tomorrow may be a watershed day in US history in the campaign to ban machine guns, reducing incidence of mass shootings, some in churches and schools. That's because at 10:00 AM thousands of high school students will walk out of schools nationwide to protest the NRA's stranglehold on Congress. They're walking out to get their congressman off the NRA's payroll, preventing even the flimsiest of sensible gun control, much less elimination of machine guns and rapid fire handguns. 

They're walking out to prevent their school from being the next to experience a massacre at the hands of a disturbed person having little difficulty acquiring a machine gun. They're walking out to remind the adults in Congress, too busy cashing their NRA paychecks, to do their most critical duty: protecting kids from violence. 

After walking out at Barrington High in the Illinois Sixth, students will march to their congressman Peter Roskam's satellite district office to bring their message of change to his front door. Congressman Roskam, who touts his dozens of meetings with constituent groups and individuals in his weekly constituent email, needs to cancel tomorrow's meetings, book an early flight back to the district, and get a lesson on how to be a responsible public official.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Roskam and US culture of death

Roskam and US culture of death

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) ignores every vital issue of life and death facing our district, America and the world. In his twelve years in Congress, he's never promoted peace over our trillion dollar perpetual wars of carnage and failure in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and others. Indeed, Roskam, at the behest of Israel and Saudi Arabia, has been a leading proponent for blowing up the 2015 six-power nuclear agreement with Iran, arguably the most significant anti war, pro peace initiative in this century.
When it comes to critical action to curtail catastrophic domestic gun violence, Roskam literally takes the NRA money...and runs from district residents trying to question him on his disheartening inaction.
On health care, Roskam first worked to keep 20,000,000 uninsured from getting insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act. Having failed in that endeavor, he's spent the next five years working to degrade, defund, deny its keeping millions from bankruptcy, declining health, even death from the most heartless medical delivery system in the industrialized world. That level of cruelty is truly astonishing.
Climate change and its threat to our survival never appears on Roskam's weather radar. Though not an obvious, tangible element of our death culture, we, through our legislators, ignore it at our peril.
War, guns, health care, climate change...all part of the American death culture enabled by Congressman Peter Roskam.
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

What's in a title?

How unfortunate the Trib Editorial Board stooped to mimicking one of Trump's most egregious personal insults to highlight its editorial about the announced Trump, Kim Jong-Un nuclear summit in May. 'Trump, Little Rocket Man and a chance at history' could just as easily been titled, 'Kim Jong-Un, Degenerate Orange Man and a chance at history'. But two wrongs don't make a right...and in spite of his utter unfitness as president, Trump should be given respect in print, particularly in a prestigious editorial page. Did you folks think it was cool to riff on Trump's endless personal insults such as 'Lyin' Ted', 'Low energy Jeb' and some unfit to print which he exploited to garner 63,000,000 votes from people who viewed his very unfitness for office as a reason to elect him? 

One more thing. 'Surreal' is not the one word to best describe the Trump presidency. Much more appropriate words come to mind: embarrassing, terrifying, shameful, insane, heartless, debauched. 

Friday, March 09, 2018

Honest Abe not keen on Blair pick

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a war criminal. He may have given President Bush the final push to launch his murderous war against Iraq fifteen years ago. Without Blair's unconditional support, the Iraq war would have been a tough sell; possibly even cancelled. The results were millions dead, wounded or displaced, Iraq's landscape ravaged by depleted uranium still deforming babies, and trillions squandered in the process. War criminals should have a date in the dock of international justice, not receiving the prestigious Lincoln Leadership Prize being awarded to Blair April 24 right here in Chicago by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation (ALPLF). Ray McCaskey , Chair of the ALPLF Board of Directors, claims Blair was picked because "He embodies the kind of leadership President Lincoln would have recognized and appreciated." I suspect if Honest Abe could rise from Oak Ridge Cemetery to confront Chairman McCaskey, he'd remind him that in 1848, he was denied re-election to Congress because he opposed the criminal war of his day, the US land grab of Texas and much of Mexico in the Mexican War of 1848. Lincoln would close with this: "You can fool some of the people all of the time; all of the people some of the time; but you can't fool me that Tony Blair isn't a war criminal."

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The tragic legacy of Constitution's ratification

I chuckle when I hear a gun advocate invoke the 2nd Amendment to promote the unrestricted manufacture and sale of machine guns and hands guns of enormous fire power. The near daily occurrence of a mass shooting of 4 or more makes no dent on their real concern this imagined sacred constitutional guarantee will be abridged in the slightest. My question to them is 'What slave patrol are you planning to participate in?'

The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure the new nation had a sufficient nationally controlled militia to repel foreign invasion or internal insurrection. But slave states feared federal control over state militias could doom their primary purpose of being state slave patrols to maintain totalitarian power of slaves. The new nation had already called upon free blacks to help win the Revolutionary War; a dangerous precedent to fearful slaveholders. To get Southern support for the Constitution, James Madison altered his original draft of the noxious amendment to declare that the purpose of a well regulated militia was to guarantee the security of a 'free state' instead of the original 'free country'. The political ploy worked, ensuring the Constitution's ratification. Alas, 235 years on the ocean of blood from over 100,000 killed and wounded annually is a ghoulish reminder of the cost incurred to birth our constitutional system.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Three Senate patriots seek to end US war crimes in Yemen

The US is committing war crimes in Yemen. March 22 marks the second anniversary of the Yemen civil war. Sunni Saudi Arabia intervened on the side of their Sunni brothers in Yemen against the largely Shiite rebels. The US provides massive aid to Saudi Arabia as a proxy war against our Middle East bete-noir Iran who the US and Saudis accuse of aiding the Shiite Yemen rebels. Over 10,000 dead and millions suffering cholera and starvation from a Saudi led food blockade and bombing of Yemen infrastructure. Now three Senate patriots are pushing back against US war crimes there. Republican Mike Lee (UT), Democrat Chris Murphy (CT) and Independent Bernie Sanders (VT) have introduced a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) to end US intervention by enforcing the War Powers Act of 1973. If passed it would force Trump to either declare war against Yemen or end US war crimes there within 30 days. Alas, the Lee-Murphy-Sanders resolution is largely symbolic. Most Senators and Congressmen are made members of the war party. Congressional leaders will never let their SJR get a vote much less pass. Nearly a century ago President Calvin Coolidge declared that 'the business of this government is business'. Today it's more appropriate to declare that 'the business of this government is criminal war'.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Meeting man Roskam omits most critical health care meetings

With his seventh election approaching, career politician Peter Roskam (Congress IL 6th) is touting his endless meetings with endless groups to show his sincerity serving the public interest. His latest constituent email offers of blizzard of meetings alone on health care, including:
Advocate Health Care
Dupage Medical Group
University of Chicago Medical Center
Autism Speaks
Midwest Center for Surgery
Alas, you'll never find a single reference in Roskam's health care resume to the numerous meetings he attended beginning in 2009 when President Obama proposed insuring the 40 million souls left out of the health insurance industry. Those meetings were with his Republican colleagues to deny, delay, defund, destroy any Obama initiative to correct the most costly and inefficient health care system in the industrialized world; one that consigns millions to poor health, bankruptcy, even death to serve the craven political interests of a politician and a party doing nothing to help the less fortunate whatsoever.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Graham obit should include push to expand Vietnam War

It's hard to grasp the extraordinary life of 'America's preacher' Billy Graham who died yesterday at 99. Blessed with intelligence, charisma, overpowering physicality and a golden tongue, Graham's worldwide crusade alone preached to over 200 million souls in 185 countries. He was the unofficial Chaplin of the White House, ministering to 11 presidents. Graham accomplished this for seven decades without of whiff of personal scandal that has dethroned too many religious titans to mention.
But alas, Graham's obit failed to mention his fervent support of our senseless Vietnam War which sent several million of the folks Graham's life mission was to save, to an early death instead. It wasn't just support; it was a plea encouraging mass murder. Graham injected himself into the war by visiting with Vietnam missionaries in Bangkok in April, 1969. He then sent a secret letter to best buddy Nixon, on behalf of him and his religious colleagues, urging Nixon to bomb the Vietnamese dykes if peace talks failed. That would, according to Graham, "overnight destroy the Vietnam economy". Even the mendacious Nixon demurred, commenting that such an attack would also kill a million Vietnamese. Graham was unaware of or ignored the fact that Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the German high commissioner in occupied Holland, was sentenced to death at Nuremberg, in part, for breaching dikes in Holland during WWII.
We in the peace movement salute Graham's lifelong mission to save souls. We lament his fervor in promoting massive death to win a senseless, murderous, unwinnable war.

McCarthy should end posibe Chicago mayoral bid

Former Chicago top cop Gerry McCarthy should stop flirting with a mayoral bid and leave the Chicago political scene. His four and a half year tenure (May, 2011-December, 2105) will be remembered by two unflattering controversies. His touting of crime reduction early on was debunked by fuzzy math that under reported murders and serious assaults. But the one that led to his December, 2015 firing, was worse, his role, along with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and States Attorney Linda Alvarez in covering up the October, 2013, Laquan McDonald shooting. When video captured officer James Van Dyke pumping 16 slugs into McDonald, acting erratically rather than an imminent threat on a Chicago street, McCarthy locked hands with Emmanuel and Alvarez to suppress the damning video for 14 months. When a judge released the video, Alvarez promptly indicted Van Dyke for murder to tamp down the impending and justified public outcry. Since Emmanuel couldn't fire himself or Alvarez, he dumped the one member of the coverup he could...McCarthy.
One can't blame McCarthy for believing Emmanuel scapegoated him to insulate the mayor from further political fallout. McCarthy's possible mayoral bid smacks of revenge, pure and simple. There is nothing in McCarthy's resume that qualifies him to be mayor. To the contrary, his parsing of crime statistics, aiding the unconscionable McDonald shooting coverup, and now a spite centered possible mayoral bid all make him unfit to toss his Chief's hat into the Chicago mayor ring.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chapman's cynicism on gun violence not helpful

Trib pundit Steve Chapman can be sensible and logical on governmental overreach. Foolish governmental drug policies on marijuana come to mind. I'm disappointed, however, in his throwing cold water on the firestorm of outrage following the Parkland machine gun massacre demanding that Congress do more to protect us instead of cashing those NRA checks and snoozing. In fact, his 'A cure for mass shootings doesn't exist' (Tribune, February 18) likely gets the NRA seal of approval. To say we can never prevent another school machine gun massacre is not the point.

We're never going to go from 34,000 gun deaths yearly, including a dozen or so shootings
in schools, to zero. But we can reduce them significantly if we do what's never been done; have the people through Congress legislate guns instead of the NRA. Current NRA policy, which Chapman ignores, is that the more guns, including machine guns, the better. Our NRA-run Congress has helped create a public health crisis of unprecedented horror. Without strong regulation we will never begin to reduce the carnage and see a reduction rather than an increase in public place massacres, as well as garden variety single shootings.

Would Chapman say automobile and highway safety regulations are a failure because 40,000 die yearly in highway accidents. No, because he knows that without those regulations we might see 80,000 deaths yearly. Those regulations, some quite onerous,
give us all a better chance at a full life. The same goes for gun regulation. If prompt, drastic laws passed while the grief is still palpable can reduce annual gun deaths a modest 10%, 3,400 folks will dodge the Grim Reaper in the next year. That's a start. Chapman needs to get on board the gun control train before it leaves the station.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Has the NRA's 20 grand silenced Roskam on gun massacres?

The NRA has given my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) over $20,000 during his political career, including $2,000 in the 2016 election. Of course, as with any political contribution, there is no Quid Pro Quo for the dough. But it is more than a bit peculiar that as with every gun massacre in America, including Wednesday's 31 shot in Florida, Roskam remains utterly silent on endless gun tragedies debasing life in America. How silent? Search Roskam's website for 'American gun massacres/violence' and not a single link appears. That's zero, zilch, nada, 'faggedaboudit'. We should all get this tri-color mailing from him in this year's election:
'Peter Roskam...faithfully serving the NRA for 12 years.'

End cruel, pointless 58 year Cuban embargo

I didn't like the US embargo of Cuba as a 15 year old in 1960. After an 8 day visit there I dislike it more at 73. America business interests, both legal (US Fruit among others) and illegal (Mafia) made billions between our 1898 land grab from Spain till Castro took over and began instituting reforms in 1959. The revolution was necessary and inevitable. The 6 million Cubans had suffered enough under 61 years of US imperialism and plunder. We could have helped Cuba transition away from exploitation to fair play. But Ike heeded the false call of US righteousness to trash any chance of a rapprochement, beginning 58 years of punishing the Cuban people. Not satisfied with an embargo, Ike and successor JFK greenlighted a US run invasion to restore rapacious capitalism. When that failed at Bay of Pigs, we simply tried to kill Castro before bringing mankind to the brink of nuclear annihilation in 1962. Brother Raul leaves office in two months, ending 59 years of Castro rule there. Let's work to keep 'el bloqueo' from reaching the same milestone.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

From gun free to gun drenched

Just returned from 8 days traveling 4 cities and several provinces of Cuba. Virtually no gun violence there because guns are illegal and unavailable. Saw two, yes, just two police on the streets entire time, traversing many blocks at night without fear. Landed in Florida Wednesday to news of latest machine gun slaughter of 17 dead, 14 wounded in a Florida high school. In my Chicago hometown a police commander gun downed at the Thompson Center in broad daylight. Shinning City on the Hill? Nope, just a blood drenched gutter with thousands of bodies piling up yearly courtesy of the gun lobby and their hired protectors in Congress.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

What to do about Woody?

I've been a huge Woody Allen fan since about '64 when I saw his hilarious stand up routine on Carson. He's right there with Robin, Rodney and Buddy Hackett as the only stand ups who could make me fall down laughing. He's a terrific jazz clarinetist...just check out the documentary 'Wild Man Blues' to see why. And the movies, 64 with 'A Rainy Day in New York' in process, represent among the greatest of directorial life works ever. Some are duds, but others, like 'Match Point', 'Zelig' and 'Bullets Over Broadway' are among my all time favorites. At 82, Allen is likely near the end of an amazing career. Now, some actors and movie folks are bailing on Woody, who, 25 years after the alleged events, is facing 'Me Too' backlash for adopted daughter Dylan's 1992 charge he sexually molested her during his messy breakup with Mia Farrow. Whether true or not (a Connecticut hospital's month long investigation determined Dylan wasn't abused), the episode is the one such blip on Allen's nine decade life, and he was never criminally charged. At this late stage we'll never know the truth unless Woody or Dylan recants their story. Some men forced off the public stage deserve their fate. Some don't and are victims themselves, a sad fate not only for them, but for those entertained or enlightened by their artistry. I, for one, plan to see 'A Rainy Day In New York', hoping it's a keeper...and not one of Woody's duds.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Easier to advocate against Bannon than support his speaking at UChicago

I'm sure the 1,000 plus UChicago alums signing a letter to President Bob Zimmer to cancel Steve Bannon's upcoming participation in a business school debate are sincere. And I doubt I could easily get 999 other UChicago alums to sign a letter advocating, as I have, for letting him speak. It may simply be the passion to deny a forum to an unlikable public social critic and tweak the establishment, in this case the vaunted bastion of free expression University of Chicago, exceeds that of those interested in hearing all sides of an issue. After reading the anti Bannon letter I'm more firmly convinced Bannon must be heard.
In arguing for banning Bannon the letter fails. It states "Stephen Bannon seeks to silence dissenting voices of large portions of society" without a word of substantiation. “Denying him a platform to speak at our university does not restrict our environment of fearless freedom of debate and deliberation; rather, it protects that environment.” How can the authors not comprehend that statement precisely restricts the UChicago environment of 'fearless freedom of debate and deliberation'? Would the thousand UChicago alums feel the same way if an Evangelical college banned Pentagon Papers purloiner Daniel Ellsberg or famed social critic Noam Chomsky from speaking because he might hurt the feelings and environment of sheltered Christian believers? Steve Bannon is not some unknown extremist troll hiding in anonymity and dug up to cause uproar. He may have been the most important single person responsible for electing the president, and served as his chief adviser and strategist. We ignore his views and appeal to tens of millions at our peril.
The story says the thousand letter signers go back decades. I suspect a substantial majority are fairly recent grads who, in spite of their UChicago education, still have much to learn about the high wire act of American freedom.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ives to Trib: 'I can bust unions better than Rauner

State Rep Jeanne Ives revealed her mendacity toward working people in stark terms Monday in her Tribune Editorial Board faceoff with Governor Rauner. Dismissive of Rauner's attempts to degrade state union wages and working conditions, a signature Rauner initiative Ives supported, she scoffed at his first term failure. Asked how she could do better, Ives responded she'd fire them if they don't agree to her changes. Ives also took a swipe at Rauner's masculinity, charging he lied about not having a social agenda for Illinoisans in need, claiming he's simply taking orders from wife Diana to help folks Ives doesn't see, hear or care about. Ives dodged a proverbial bullet when the Trib failed to ask her if gays are still disordered, trying to weasel their way into acceptability; something she has argued must be resisted to save our children. Let's not make the same mistake with Ives some made about Trump...hoping he'd get the nomination because he'd be the easiest to defeat. Ives is vicious...and dangerous for Illinois.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Turkey doing Congress' work...kicking US out of Syria

Congress may look away while the US war party pours thousands of troops and tons of weaponry into the Kurdish area of Syria. The US, still smarting from 7 years of failure in changing the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, simply ignores the Constitution, international law, Syrian sovereignty and common sense in its drive to keep Assad in its gun sights. But Turkey is doing with military threat what Congress should be doing with their Constitutional mandate; demanding the US pull out from our criminal, murderous and self destructive incursion in Syria. Turkey, still furious the US supports Kurdish forces trying to overthrow Assad, is telling Uncle Sam he'd better get the hell out of the Kurdish sector of Syria or US troops may be targeted in Turkey's efforts to degrade Kurdish forces they see as a threat to Turkish sovereignty and interests. Uncle may not be afraid of Congress, which has snoozed since 911 as the US military, headed by Bush, Obama and now Trump, rampages all over the Middle East and Africa without scrutiny. Body bags of US canon fodder coming home, courtesy of NATO ally Turkey, may have him rethink that least as far as our continued defiling of Syria.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A lesson in free speech at UChicago 55 years ago

The current brouhaha at University of Chicago over presumed white nationalist and ousted presidential adviser Steve Bannon's appearance at a business school debate brings to mind my experience on the subject as a freshman there in 1963. We incoming newbies were invited to a speech by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad who spent much of has talk castigating white people as oppressors of America's still segregated black population. Things got a little tense as Muhammad exclaimed that all white people are devils. At that moment a freshman jumped up and shouted, "I am not a devil", dissipating the tension in the auditorium. I don't expect a current UChicago freshman to jump up and exclaim "I am not a white nationalist" if Bannon's xenophobia begins to show during the debate. Let Bannon speak and make a fool of himself discrediting his views headed for the scrapheap of history, the current leader of that movement occupying the Oval Office, notwithstanding.   

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Concept of apples and oranges mystifies Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh may be the most ignorant, hate filled Illinois congressman in my lifetime. Tea Party fanatic Walsh opposed every decent Obama policy, belittled constituents at Town Halls and made outrageous charges without substantiation. A child support scofflaw, Walsh's election  was a fluke of the 2010 Tea Party movement built on fear, loathing and racism. Turned out after one term, Walsh found a megaphone on right wing radio, continuing to pollute the public debate. In his recent immigration debate with Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia, Walsh claimed illegals constitute 3.5% of the population but commit 30% of the murders. When it was pointed out that Joe's stats added 48 years worth of illegal murders to the total murder count, he refused to acknowledge the error, saying he'd move to Garcia's district and vote for him if he was wrong. Realtors lining up at Walsh's North Barrington home to facilitate his move to Chicago have a long wait to gain entrance.  

Alas, some folks prefer an ignorant, hate filled xenophobe on talk radio...just as they prefer an ignorant, hate filled xenophobe in the White House. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Pence heads up US 'sabotage team' at Korean olympics

The burgeoning detente between the two Koreas, epitomized by their sharing the Olympic spotlight, is applauded by leaders round the globe....with the exception of Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago and the little used White House. Trump is so furious he's sending Vice President Pence to attend the games to ensure North Korea's attendance doesn't lead to improved relations. It's hard to foment regime change in the North while they're playing kissiface with the South. In the battle of wits between Kim Jong Un and Trump, the latter has apparently entered the fray unarmed. What he expects an equally deficient bomb thrower, masquerading as a skilled negotiator, to accomplish is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. That's the bizarro world of Trump's foreign policy, where up is down, day is night and policy changes by the hour. Fasten your seatbelts, sit back and enjoy the show as America goes for Gold in the stupidity event.

Pence dispenses 'miracle' tag on Israeli Apartheid over Palestinians

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Roskam 'snaps back' to warmongering against Iran

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) never tires of warmongering against Iran. He's add it again, introducing legislation backed by the most vociferous war hawks in Congress, to blow up the 5+1 Iran nuclear deal, the 2015 agreement which likely prevented war with Iran. The rest of the world community, with exception of Israel and Saudi Arabia, breathed a collective sigh of relief when the agreement not only prevented war, but began the critical process of normalizing relations with Iran, a stalwart opponent of al Qaida and other strains of Sunni extremism which inflicted the 911 attacks against the country Roskam is supposed to be representing. But Roskam takes his orders from the Israel and Saudi Arabia lobby which demand that the US lead the effort to weaken, if not destroy the democratically elected Iranian government simply to preserve Israeli and Saudi hegemony in the Middle East.
Roskam's January 18 constituent email consists entirely of an article from internet news site Axios, positively gushing that Roskam's legislation, co-authored with arch neo-conservative and Iraq war supporter Liz Cheney (yes, Dick's daughter), is much harsher than the bi-partisan effort offered by Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Ben Cardin. Axios reporter Jonathon repeatedly proclaims how the Roskam/Cheney bill will 'snap back' at any effort by Iran to preserve its sovereignty in the face of utterly threatening and irresponsible demands. The other co-signers of the Iran agreement, China, UK, France and China, appalled at Trump's longstanding demand to blow up this war saving deal, now have to contend with a radical faction of Congress, lead by Roskam, threatening its utterly counter-productive demise.
This November, voters in the Illinois Sixth should remind Roskam his paychecks are signed by Uncle Sam, not Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi strongman Salman bin Abdulaziz Saud. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

'The Post' highlights how far media has fallen

'The Post', Spielberg's take on the NY Times and Washington Post publishing the Daniel Ellsberg pilfered Pentagon Papers, shows long standing media coziness with government officials. Publisher Kay Graham, tight with Defense Secretary Bob McNamara, was loathe to out his deception which sent thousands of US boys and millions of Vietnamese to a senseless death. She reminded editor Ben Bradley, trying to persuade her to publish the purloined papers, of his friendship with JFK which prevented him from reporting candidly on Jackie after the assassination.
But she pushed back against the Post's lawyers who argued she'd lose the Post and her freedom if she published, which she did. To her and Bradley, freedom of the press and unveiling deadly government secrecy trumped access or even survival.
Forty-seven years on the Pentagon Papers would never see the light of day. The NY Times, Post, Wall Street Journal and even Chicago's own Tribune are in the tank for the war party. They willingly pass on every mendacious government lie regarding our perpetual wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Niger and others in 149 countries defiled by our 70,000 special ops and killer drones. They join the witch hunt against Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Ed Snowden, imprisoned, holed up in an friendly embassy or on the run from a government bent on revenge for revealing the truth.
The editorial board members of the aforementioned medial giants should be locked in a theater, forced to watch 'The Post' endlessly till they figure out how to protect the public from perpetual war.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Is Roskam 'high-fiving' 3.2 million 2017 loss in health care coverage?

My congressman Peter Roskam's (IL-6) signature issue since the 2008 election of Obama has been to keep America's health case system the worst in the industrialized world. He worked feverishly with the Republican caucus to prevent passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Once passed, Roskam embarked on a seven year Odyssey to degrade, defund, repeal the ACA. Meanwhile 20 million people in need got first time health care; improving health, preventing medically induced bankruptcy and savings tens of thousands from an untimely grave.

That meant nothing to Roskam, who looked at the 2016 presidential candidates and opted for a candidate who bragged about sexually assaulting women instead of a women candidate seeking to dignify and empower women. Why? Roskam voted for the candidate who pledged to destroy health care coverage for the needy over the one seeking its expansion to all.

Last year Roskam got his wish. The sexual braggart won and began dismantling the ACA; cutting outreach and advertising, encouraging young people to op out, supporting every GOP initiative to reduce its effectiveness, especially a cruel campaign to shrink Medicaid coverage to the poor. 2017 saw the first drop in health insurance coverage since its passage, a whopping 3.2 million losing coverage, raising the percentage of uninsured from to 12.% from 10.9%. A grotesque effort to repeal the ACA failed by a whisker. That was Roskam's only setback in an otherwise banner year for cruelty and heartlessness. The only question remaining is: How does Roskam sleep at night?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ives extremist, ignorant, insensitive and dangerous for Illinois.

State Rep Jeanne Ives (R-42) keeps lowering the bar for outlandish solutions to improve Illinois. Last week at an anti abortion event she railed on against a legal, common, critically needed medical procedure asserting her goal is to eliminate every abortion on religious grounds. She's oblivious apparently, to other extremist religious views that would deny her needed medical treatment for any ailment based on its being against 'God's will'.
Yesterday, at a gubernatorial candidate forum, she laid Chicago's gun violence squarely on lack of impact fathers on at risk youth. Yet, Ives solution is simply to cut taxes, denying more relief in social services, education, neighborhood rebuilding and job opportunities that would employ missing dads, incentizing them to anchor the family unit. The righteousness of Ives' zealotry offers nothing to the millions of Illinoisans suffering mightily after three years of Governor Rauner's budget cutting heaping more despair in our poorest neighborhoods. Ives' callous remarks offended Democratic candidate Chris Kennedy who reminded Ives he grew up in a fatherless home due to gun violence, calling her remarks "stupid and ignorant" before walking off the dais to protest "someone who knows so little about so much, when other people have given these issues thought and have an emotional capacity to be empathetic at the same time." When reminded Kennedy's running mate Ra Joy's son was slain by a gun, Ives' speculated it was probably a fatherless kid. How helpful.
That's Jeanne Ives: extremest, ignorant, insensitive...and dangerous for Illinois.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

'The Post' shows how far media has fallen

'The Post', Spielberg's take on the NY Times and Washington Post publishing the Daniel Ellsberg pilfered Pentagon Papers, shows long standing media coziness with government officials. Publisher Kay Graham, tight with Defense Secretary Bob McNamara, was loathe to out his deception which sent thousands of US boys and millions of Vietnamese to a senseless death. She reminded editor Ben Bradley, trying to persuade her to publish the purloined papers, of his friendship with JFK which prevented him from reporting candidly on Jackie after the assassination.

But she pushed back against the Post's lawyers who argued she'd lose the Post and her freedom if she published, which she did. To her and Bradley, freedom of the press and unveiling deadly government secrecy trumped access or even survival.

Forty-seven years on the Pentagon Papers would never see the light of day. The NY Times, Post, Wall Street Journal and even Chicago's own Tribune are in the tank for the war party. They willingly pass on every mendacious government lie regarding our perpetual wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Niger and others in 149 countries defiled by our 70,000 special ops and killer drones. They join the which hunt against Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Ed Snowden, imprisoned, holed up in an friendly embassy or on the run from a government bent on revenge for revealing the truth.

The editorial board members of the aforementioned medial giants should be locked in a theater, forced to watch 'The Post' endlessly till they figure out how to protect the public from perpetual war.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

It's Roskam's, not Trump's words that disappoint,

As vicious, racist and Xenophobic as Trumps words on black countries were, they are not as disappointing as those my congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6th). Trump is being condemned around Congress, America and the world for what he has always ignorant, hate filled racist. But Roskam begins his peculiarly tepid response by offering the doubt "If true" before simply saying Trumps words were "disappointing". He then goes on to "urge Trump to continue to reiterate his commitment to continuing America's legacy of being a welcoming country to those seeking a better life." Bunk. Roskam knows Trump has never had that commitment; indeed built his entire campaign around the racist and Xenophobic theme of demeaning blacks, Hispanics, immigrants; anyone not part of his disgruntled white male base. When Trump was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, Roskam, after saying that's not how he raised his children to treat the opposite sex, reiterated his support by saying his policy values and Trumps were aligned. When it comes to racism, Xenophobia and sexism, Trump never disappoints. When it comes to enabling such atrocious and un-presidential behavior in a Chief Executive, neither does Roskam.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Roskam turns back on state with anti Illinois tax bill

My congressman Peter Roskam (R-6) seems to have forgotten what state he represents. As a leader in crafting the tax bill, Roskam bought into the GOP dagger aimed at progressive blue states limiting deductions for property and state taxes. Cynical and spiteful politics aside, most economists agree that measure will reduce resources for education and infrastructure, possibly affecting resource starved Illinois most of all. Roskam's many exaggerations and falsehoods offered to justify his 'reverse Robin Hood' tax cut for the wealthy can easily be rebutted. Less obvious is what he'll never offer in his victory lap for endless expansion of income inequality: a stick in the eye of progressive voting Illinois. This November voters in the Illinois Sixth may remind Roskam he resides in the Land of Lincoln...not the land of the GOP donor class.   

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Not gentle on my mind

The Doomsday Machine has been on my mind lately. Couple weeks back I caught 'Dr. Strangelove' for the first time in decades, watching as American crazies helped set off the Russian Doomsday Machine, which would have prevented nuclear annihilation if the world knew about it, which it didn't. Then I stumbled across one of my all time heroes, Daniel Ellsberg, pitching his latest plea for nuclear disarmament, 'The Doomsday Machine' on Book TV. Ellsberg, speaking at the Chicago Writers Museum last month, reviewed his role in planning for nuclear deterrence in the 50's and 60's before he turned his focus to the Vietnam War lies in the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg discussed how America always got the Soviet nuclear threat wrong. The 'experts' estimate of Soviet ICBM's aimed at the US ranged from 300 to 1,000 when the real number at the time (late 50's) was 4. But the US used the fantasy numbers to set off an arms race that was totally unnecessary then...and totally unnecessary now, even though the last two administrations are proposing an un-cool trillion to upgrade our nuclear arsenal. And the Doomsday Machine? It would only take a couple hundred or so nuclear firestorms to set off a worldwide dust cloud that would starve most of humanity. But Ellsberg ends on an upbeat, arguing we simply have to abandon nuclear escalation in favor of disarmament to keep the Doomsday Machine under wraps. One would surmise the 2018 tax theft of $1.5 trillion in treasure given to the rich might derail such an insane plan. Nah, Congress will simply cut that money from the social safety net. Their mantra?  "Let the nuclear buildup begin."

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn