Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dart hits bulls eye with conceal carry "monstrosity" remark

In nearly seven decades following Illinois politics, my prize for worst legislation ever goes to this year's conceal carry bill. To placate a few hundred thousand gun obsessed Illinoisans whose manhood suffers when their not packing an extra rod, Illinois has put the 12 million plus other Illinoisans at risk for even more gun carnage in the most violent so called civilized country in the world. It was a matter of state pride that Illinois was the last holdout to such insanity, but alas, come January 1, 2014, that wonderful distinction ends.

That is why Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart calling the new law a "monstrosity" is so welcome. Dart points out that the state police, responsible for overseeing the permit process, are only required to file an objection to a conceal carry permit if the applicant has 5 or more arrests in the last 7 years or 3 or more gang-banger arrests. That means the overseers are NOT required to object to a conceal carry bloke who's had four arrests in the last seven years or two gang-banger arrests. That's very folks who have no business owning a gun, much less concealing and carrying it. If that's not bad enough, Dart points out that Illinois State Police are prohibited from searching the more comprehensive national database LEADS which would surely ensnare gun carrying undesirables that will slip through the porous  Illinois system. Furthermore, Illinois screening for the mentally ill is woefully inadequate. It flags only those who have been committed to a hospital for psychiatric treatment or have been determined by a doctor to be a danger to themselves (and by extension, the general public).

The best New Years resolution the Illinois legislature can make is to hold hearings to quickly fix, or better yet, rescind the "monstrosity" of Illinois conceal carry. And the first witness should be the sensible and sane Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Music Pick: Little Walter

Marion Walter Jacobs (1930-1968), better known as Little Walter, is a seminal figure on electric blues harmonica. Arriving in Chicago from Lousiana in 1945 at age 15, he was already a seasoned itinerant, guitarist and acoustic harmonica player who giged and busked around the south from the age of 12. Growing frustrated by the emerging Chicago electric blues guitar sound that drowned out his harmonica, Little Walter electrified his sound and in so doing, created a whole new harmonica vocabulary which enshrined him as the greatest blues harp player ever. He was a meal ticket for the Chess brothers at Chess records throughout the 1950's, being first choice to accompany most of Muddy Waters' records besides charting a number of Chess hits under his own name. Walter lived a troubled and often violent, alcohol fueled personal life and died after his last street fight during intermission at a South Side gig. His portrayal in the great film about Chess Records, "Cadillac Records" is hard to watch. The feature is the only film available of Water and shows off his casual artistry, playing at a blues festival in West Germany just a few months before his death.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Billion dollar Bruce buying IL GOP gubernatorial nod

The three GOP officeholders vying to become the GOP gubernatorial candidate, State Senator Kirk Dillard, State Senator Bill Brady and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, might as well toss in the towel today. Billionaire businessman Bruce Rauner, who has more million dollar domiciles than most men have suits, has just wrapped up the GOP nod with months and a day to the Primary.

How? Simply by dropping just one of his one thousand millions of dollars on TV ads that have vaulted this money mogul, previously unknown to the general public, into a lead he'll never relinquish. Dillard, Brady and Rutherford, A.K.A, "The Three Paupers" don't have a chance. They have no money to counter the cool $1.5 mill, pocket change for Billionaire Bruce, that has left their campaigns in tatters. Will 999 millions left to spend, Billionaire Bruce can avoid debates on substantive issues as he hides behind a blizzard of greenbacks.

Truth be told, my moniker "Billionaire Bruce" may represent a bit of satiric hyperbole as neither I (nor anyone else outside the Rauner fiefdom for that matter) can certify Billionaire Bruce is truly a billionaire. All he'll offer is that he made a nifty $53 million last year alone (over a twentieth of a billion), and that he's worth "hundreds of millions". It is understandable that he wouldn't disclose that he truly is a billionaire as B for billionaire is the scarlet letter of billionaires buying high office.

Billionaire Bruce may be a smart guy and may have the interests of the state at heart. But blasting his formerly better known contenders out of the gubernatorial race with limitless millions is a disgusting perversion of our democratic form of representative government and should be resisted by all who cherish it. I have two suggestions for Billionaire Bruce. Either drop out of the race or give just one million of your fabulous fortune to each of your three contenders to give them a smidgeon of hope come March 18.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Uncle Sam wants die in a Yemen wedding party drone strike!

How many Americans saw the headline: "US drone strike kills 11 in Yemen wedding party", had their eyes glaze over and quickly turn to the funny pages? Mine didn't and I couldn't. Reading in horror of what is becoming an all to familiar event, an American drone unleashed its bomb on a wedding party convoy, not an al Qaeda convoy as US military suspected. To put names on the pile of flesh and blood we created ...they are:

Hussein Mohammed Saleh Al Ameri, 65
Mohammed Ali Massad Al Ameri, 30
Ali Abdullah Mohammed Al Tays, 35
Zeidan Mohammed Al Ameri, 40
Saif Abdullah Mabkhout Al Ameri, 20
Hussein Mohammed Al Tays, 20
Motlaq Hamoud Mohammed Al Taysi, 45
Saleh Abdullah Mabkhout, 30
Aaref Mohammed Al Taysi, 30
Saleh Massad Al Ameri, 42
Massad Dayfallah Al Ameri, 25

These victims, just like us, had mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters; now all denied their loved ones due to a murderous mistake that will never be punished. Last May, President Obama told the National Defense University, “Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set.” On September 2, 2012, twelve Yemenis civilian children were killed when a drone “missed” its target car carrying a suspected al Qaeda member. On May 15, 2012, fourteen civilians, including a pregnant woman, were killed in a drone strike in a Yemen residential district. On March 9, 2012, a US drone strike in the al-Baydah province killed 34 individuals. There are dozens, maybe hundreds more incidents of this senseless slaughter of innocents. Besides being the most heinous of crimes, these acts breed endless hatred of America and recruit many more extremists wishing to do us harm than they possibly kill.

The next time you attend a wedding party, or any event consisting of more than a dozens folks, be thankful you are not in Yemen or Pakistan or Afghanistan or Somalia where American drones roam unmolested and reign death down on any large gathering they believe might include bad guys deserving summary execution. And when you hear that the chant: "U.S.A. Number 1", it may very well refer to the killing of innocents.