Friday, December 06, 2013

In Roskam world, drumbeat for war against Iran goes on

Checking my Congressman Peter Roskam's website,, I was astounded to find not one, not two, not three, but four headline stories promoting increased sanctions against Iran:



While the administration has achieved a long overdue and substantive breakthrough in establishing diplomatic ties with Iran and easing the nuclear crisis, Roskam has joined a small group of war party faithful to sabotage any rapprochement with their current bete noir. He knows that such talk jeopardizes this critically needed breakthrough, and that tougher sanctions guarantees their failure making war more likely. That, apparently is OK with the Congressman, who has never encountered a criminal war of choice he hasn't embraced by spending trillions to prosecute it. With the failed Iraq war mercifully over and the failed Afghan war nearing an end, the war party needs new fields of battle to gain wealth and power at the expense of desperately needed investment in our people and our infrastructure. Sadly, my Congressman is right there on the front lines demanding irresponsible actions at a time when wisdom, diplomacy and common sense are in short supply.

Apparently, Roskam has been too busy speaking recklessly and writing poison pen pieces trumpeting aggression to have observed the 50th JFK assassination retrospective. If he had he might have learned that the one year old future Congressman only survived to see two because infinitely wiser and peace loving leaders like JFK were able to over rule the war mongers of 1962, preventing WW III. That a former history teacher like Roskam flunked that lesson to go on to Congress championing endless spending on endless militarism is tragic for the 6th District, tragic for America; indeed, tragic for the world.

Music Pick: Louis Armstrong

Louis at his peak, October 21, 1933, in Copenhagen, Denmark. He spent much of 1933 and '34 touring Europe to escape the mobbed up managers who threatened to kill him if they couldn't secure his services. First film extant of an incandescent star utterly bursting with talent and energy. Am I the only one who sees a bit of Michael Jackson in his prancing at he beginning of the feature "Dinah"? When he returned to the US at the end of '34, he hooked with powerful Capone era mobster booking agent Joe Glaser who ended the talent war and guided Pops to world wide stardom for he next 33 years.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Up with the Pope; down with the dopes

Though a non-theist who left the Catholic Church half a century ago, I still follow the parade of Popes influencing the world's Catholics and by extension all mankind because of the enormous influence they potentially wield for good. And what a joy and revelation that the seventh pope of my lifetime, good Pope Francis, is truly fulfilling that ideal. First, he called out the homophobes in the Church who obsess about giving full citizenship to their gay brother and sisters, telling them to "get over it" and focus on true spirituality needed to improve life on Earth.

Now he's upped the anti in human kindness by issuing his "Apostolic Exhortation" denouncing "the new idolatry of money" where he warned,
"The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings".

Right on, Pope Francis. He's wisely and correctly using shame and guilt to call attention to the gargantuan disparity of income between the wealthiest 2% and the remaining 98% on America's economic ladder, more correctly portrayed as a growing abyss. This disparity began with President Reagan's hoax of "Trickle Down" economics used to lower tax rates on the rich to funnel endless wealth to himself and his rich buddies in the golden 2%. This ruinous creed accounts for the top 2% growing their income by over 33% since the recent recession while the bottom 98% increased theirs a miniscule 0.4%. Today, 47 million folks, a fifth of Americans, require food stamps to subsist. Meanwhile heartless and un-Christian legislators strive to cut, cut, cut critical anti-poverty programs, vote against every sensible job creation program, and strive 24/7/365 to abolish the ACA giving 40 million uninsured their first ray of medical help relief. They, above all others, need to study "Apostolic Exhortation" and look deeply into their flawed souls.

Radio hate monger Rush Limbaugh may become apoplectic about Francis' call to address the sin of greed, calling him a Marxist, but this non-theist prefers to call him what he eventually will be by his Church: a saint.

Music Pick: Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) spent a quiet half century teaching mathematics at Harvard and UC Santa Barbara. But his night job was most cool, being simply the most revered political and social satirist of the 20th century. This classically trained pianist who quickly converted to musical theater, entered Harvard at 17 in 1945. He would entertain his friends with his ribald and scatological parodies and satires such as "Fight fiercely Harvard", which urged on the effete Harvard intellectuals to triumph in football. His stichk became so popular he invested $15 to cut a album entitled "Songs by Tom Lehrer". Only able to sell his 400 copies on campus as radio stations wouldn't touch his controversial stuff, Lehrer skyrocketed to world wide fame on word of mouth testimonial alone. He eventually toured America and overseas performing his cracked vision of life before adoring audiences. He abandoned his career about 1978 and retired from academia 20 years later. Rumor his it that at 85, he still hangs out at the UC Santa Barbara campus; maybe even regaling locals with his 50 song repertoire. The feature "Elements" demonstrates his awesome singing and pianism. I've only heard one person even try to match Lehrer on "Elements" (the actor who plays Harry Potter) and he botched it. Try this song, Bennett.