Friday, November 23, 2012

Thank you Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley

We all owe a huge thanks to Paula Broadwell, and her imagined nemesis Jill Kelley, for unwittingly ending the failed and fraudulent career of General David Patraeus. This voraciously ambitious military man embraced and fed the desperate plea of President Bush to save his failed, criminal war in Iraq. The pro war corporate media pitched right in, plastering him on the covers of Time and Newsweek under the title: "Can this man save Iraq". Patraeus may have saved President Bush and his criminal war cabinet from even greater ignominy than they've already garnered, but he certainly didn't save Iraq and he certainly hasn't saved our equally failed and criminal occupation of Afghanistan.

We should be neither surprised nor disappointed that Patraeus became a bedfellow of his gorgeous biographer. Long before that dalliance began, Patraeus shared his bed with the Washington warmongers in the administration and the media to prolong our nine year Iraq war and current endless war in Afghanistan. With no victories amid the hundreds of thousands of needless casualties and trillions wasted, resulting in large part to his lustful drive for more General's stars and even the presidency, we are truly blessed that he has left the public stage.

Also published in the Chicago Sun Times, November 24, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IL legislators: View "Lincoln" before marriage equality vote

IL House Bill 5170, the Religious Freedom & Marriage Fairness Act, is still bottled up in the IL House Rules Committee. This oddly named bill has nothing to do with religious freedom. It does have everything to do with bringing Illinois into the 21st century when it comes to granting marriage equality to its thousands of citizens denied that right simply because they are in love with a member of the same sex.  That is discrimination. That is enforcing second class citizenship. That is immoral. That is cruel. That is wrong.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have come out of the dark ages of fear, ignorance, and most sadly, hatred. On Election Day, three states, Washington, Maine and Maryland legalized gay marriage, and Minnesota defeated a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Illinois continues to trail the inexorable march to full marriage equality and the ultimate end of all legal vestiges of discrimination against gays.

In 1954, Illinois created its state motto, "Land of Lincoln", and enshrined it on every license plate forever. It sparked in this civil libertarian an endless interest in the life and work of Abraham Lincoln. His vision and wisdom and compassion for his fellow man, and his ability as President to translate that into real progress for the mis-treated and less fortunate among us, has inspired me for nearly 60 years. That was reinforced in a profound two hours spent viewing the film "Lincoln". The movie focused on Lincoln's relentless drive to have Congress pass the 13th Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery in January, 1865. A few opponents of slavery wavered about voting YES for fear of political reprisal, even assassination, should they vote their conscience. Ultimately, enough found the moral courage to face down their fears and end the monstrous enslavement of their fellow man in America.

I suspect that a number of Illinois legislators, including my own here in the still fearful western suburbs, are grappling with their own conscious over the upcoming marriage equality vote. Maybe they should all view a private screening of "Lincoln' just before the vote. It just might bring them an epiphany of enlightenment to push this long overdue measure over the finish line of progress. In so doing they will allow the soul of The Great Emancipator to rest a little more easily in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery, knowing that the Land of Lincoln is no worse than state number 10, and not consigned to the ignominy of possibly being state number 50, to enter modernity. The debate and vote in the IL General Assembly may not make a movie; but it could make history.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Romney to GOP: "Dont' shoot the messenger"

Poor Mitt Romney. After spending six years and a billion or more bucks, he was so confident of winning the Presidency that come election night he didn't even have a concession speech ready.

His GOP handlers patiently coached him throughout the primaries to take the most extreme conservative positions possible, first to ward of the real extremists on the far right, and then to contrast himself with the moderate and reasoned progressive policies of President Obama. "Go out their and shill for the 1% wealthiest folks" they whispered, and he did. "Go after Planned Parenthood and endorse Senate candidates who say atrocious things about women and rape", they chided, and he did."Tell the Hispanic community that anyone without the correct papers should self deport", they demanded, and he did. I could go on but I think you get the picture.

Within hours of his overwhelming loss in the electoral college and the popular vote, these same GOP handlers pounced. "What on earth were you saying Mitt? You can't trash every electoral demographic except old, angry, affluent white conservatives and expect to win. We have to start reaching out for these folks to have any chance of winning another election. Mitt Romney, you are no good. Just go away".

For the last two weeks, we've been hearing comments like that without letup. And Mitt? If we listen real hard we can hear him muttering in his luxurious hideaway, "Don't shoot the messenger". 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bullies of a feather

What is more disgusting - Israel's bombing of virtual annihilation of the 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into Israel's open air prison officially know as Gaza; or the $3 billion annual US support in borrowed money we give them to fund these war crimes using American made weaponry? It's also time Uncle Sam stops cowering behind the "Israel has a right of self defense" rationale to justify and legitimize these crimes against humanity. He could say the same in support of Palestinians' actions to alleviate Israel's Gaza blockade, and end Israel's military incursions and endless expansion into Palestinian territory.

The extremist Israeli Likud Party has made it very clear that the expansion of a Greater Israel into the lands occupied by Palestinians will proceed apace no matter what forms of extreme violence and mis-treatment are required. It sure appears Israel will not be satisfied till the Palestinians are all gone.

The US needs to become a neutral broker for peace and the creation of a Palestinian state instead of Israel's primary ideological supporter and arms dealer.  We can start by backing, rather than opposing the November 29 Palestinian bid to upgrade their UN status to non-member statehood. A sizable majority of the UN's 193 member states supports this bid. While its passage would not give Palestine a vote in the UN General Assembly, it may bring Palestine under the aegis of the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court. This would allow Palestine to seek legal address to Israel's presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Could the current bombing frenzy be related to that upcoming non-member statehood bid?

There is more debate over these reckless Israeli policies within Israel than there is in the US. That is shameful and must change. Israel's present policies promote endless war, continuation of unconscionable treatment of an entire people, and ultimately jeopardize the long term security and well being of Israel.