Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sen. Kirk undermines US - Iran detente

Illinois has the misfortune of being home to Mark Kirk, one of the Senate's most virulent war mongers. Kirk entered the US House in 2001 and proceeded to champion and pay for, without reservation, our trillion dollar criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The man loves militarism and warfare, legal or otherwise, and on his watch its been all otherwise. You will not get a smidgeon of criticism or guilt about this madness from Kirk. He trumpets American exceptionalism 24/7/365 even if what we're exceptional at is seeking empire against seemingly defenseless nations. What he and his neocon buddies in Congress like John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) never contemplated, is that the hapless souls we bomb can fight back with booby traps and suicide bombers, putting both Afghanistan and Iraq in the loss column. These insane wars have left hundreds of thousands of GI's dead, wounded or mentally damaged, with a suicide rate that now exceeds combat as their biggest cause of death.

Not content with his handiwork in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kirk's now working in concert with the aforementioned McCain and Graham to derail the President's effort at d├ętente with Iran. New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has established the first dialogue with America since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Both presidents are working to reduce tensions with mutual concessions from Iran on its alleged nuclear program, and America on its crippling economic sanctions. But Kirk is leading the call for even more sanctions which guarantees failure. Tragically, that is precisely what he wants to placate his handlers in the war party who need new militarism to sell their wares, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, directing his American puppets to bring about regime change in Iran since he can't do it alone. Kirk appears clueless to the terrible irony whereby he survived his near fatal stroke with million dollar plus medical care while his economic sanctions serve to degrade health care delivery to ordinary Iranians, causing many to suffer and die. Incredibly, Kirk had the audacity to tell CBS's Sixty Minutes that his gold plated stroke lifesaver hasn't garnered his support for universal health care. "We simply can't afford it", he opined, not mentioning its because we need that money for criminal wars.

Mark Kirk would be better served joining the peace wing of Congress which includes a smattering of Republicans as well as Democrats. He could start by telling McCain and Graham to get lost and burning his membership cards in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex and the Israel Lobby. Then he should offer his full support for substantive US-Iran talks, the kind of diplomacy that kept me safe for the first 45 years of my life during the Cold War between the US and Russia.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rep. Pihos should risk losing job by supporting gay marriage in Illinois

"I'm willing to lose my job over this issue. But I won't go down without a fight."

My Illinois state representative Sandy Pihos (R-48) didn't say that but she should have. Instead, it was the more morally and politically courageous Illinois House Republican Ed Sullivan of Mundelein who favors same sex marriage in spite of being challenged in the March 18, 2014 Primary because of his support of gay marriage.

Pihos is also being challenged in the Primary by Lombard Village Trustee Peter Breen. Breen moonlights as Vice President and senior counsel for the ultraconservative and religious Thomas More Society which vigorously opposes gay marriage through legal challenges against gays filing challenges to this disgraceful relic of second class citizenship. That is disgusting. If there were a God he'd shun the bigots in the Thomas More Society like the plague.  So far Breen doesn't have gay marriage as a campaign issue against Pihos since she's on record as a NO vote when the issue is called. Is she a homophobe or a bigot who opposes gay marriage on specious moral or religious grounds? Of course not. She is a smart politician who wants to survive the Republican Primary where the turnout may not reflect the overall and inexorable march to granting gays full civil rights. So she relies on the old "I must respect the majority of my district which opposes gay marriage" refrain.  The answer to Pihos and similarly minded legislators is the same as for legislators in the South who voted with the majority against granting civil rights to blacks: CIVIL RIGHTS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO MAJORITY RULE.  The time has come for her to join groundswell supporting marriage equality across the land. New Jersey legalized it last week and a court ruling is expected shortly to make New Mexico state number fifteen. 

Every legislator must leave office someday, either by choice or an unforeseen event such as losing an election. Rep. Sullivan has looked into his heart and soul and determined that it is better to do the right thing by his second class constituents, indeed his second class fellow man, than sacrifice decency and principle to ensure one more turn at the noble position of legislator. If he loses the Primary over gay marriage he can walk out of Springfield with his head high and his legislative legacy in tact. As a humanist and eternal optimist, I believe Rep. Sullivan will survive his Primary challenge and continue to serve 100% of his constituents with distinction. He is on the right side of history. I'd like to say the same about my representative Sandy Pihos.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Music pick: Windmills of Your Mind

If there is no perfect song, "Windmills of Your Mind" (Music: Michel Legrand; Lyrics: Alan & Marilyn Bergman) comes close enough for me. After hundreds of listenings in the 45 years since its Oscar winning debut in "The Thomas Crown Affair", it's seamless combination of lyrics and music about the interior dialogue we spend much of our existence pondering, still stops me in my tracks. It's featured to honor Noel Harrison, who made just $250 recording his Oscar winning version in 1968. Harrison died Sunday at age 79. The son of British acting great Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady's Henry Higgins) Harrison dabbled in singing, acting, Olympic skiing, even beekeeping on a rural Nova Scotia farm with no electricity, but never topped his definitive version of an amazing song