Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ol' Sparky makes a comeback

Tennessee legislators took a giant and deadly step backward in the inexorable drive to abolish the death penalty when they passed legislation reinstating the electric chair in the Volunteer State. They did this so Tennessee can keep killing undesirables when drugs used in lethal injection are not available due to drug companies refusing to sell their wares for state sponsored killing. Tennessee becomes the first state to reinstate the electric which had been abandoned in all 50 states due to both its cost and more importantly, its grisly nature. Lethal injection, the only specified execution method used in the 32 states still in the execution business, is on its way out. State officials in those backward states are scrambling to find a cheap, easy and humane way to accomplish what never is humane, ennobling or worthy of a civilized society. Ol' Sparky has killed enough - thousands since the first electrocution in 1890. Enough condemned have had blood gush from their heads or burst into flames or refuse to die while writhing for many agonizing seconds. And more than a few have been innocent...or strapped in Ol' Sparky rather than imprisoned simply because they were black. The only thing state legislators in Tennessee should volunteer for is to make The Volunteer State the 19th to abolish capital punishment.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Roskam should investigate Bush Iraq war crimes, not Benghazi

Visit my Illinois Sixth District Congressman Peter Roskam's website, and you'll find 3 of the 4 'Latest News' headlines deal with Benghazi and Roskam's appointment to the Select House Committee investigating that September, 2012 terrorist incident. This utterly partisan political stunt is nothing but the latest GOP effort to undermine the Obama administration and derail the likely presidential election of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The House GOP, including their No. 4 leader Roskam, have capitulated in their effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act as their sole strategy to regain the White House. Thirteen Benghazi investigations should spell the end of this hyped, overworked issue, but if the House GOP can vote against the Affordable Care Act 55 times, they can launch investigation number 14 against Obama and Clinton on Benghazi. Roskam and his fellow House GOP leaders are nothing if not stubborn...and foolhardy.

Since Congressman Roskam will never vote to improve the nations health care needs, never vote to raise the nation's poverty level minimum wage, never vote to extend unemployment insurance to the millions out of work and never vote for a single jobs creation bill that doesn't involve senseless war, the Congressman investigate something truly important and neglected. I refer to the uninvestigated potential war crimes of the Bush administration in launching their frightful war of aggression against Iraq in 2003. While most honest folks around the world believe this was a criminal war deserving of punishment, that will remain conjecture till fully investigated. One reason Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice never leave the good 'ol USA is that they subject themselves to possible arrest for Iraq war crimes. President Bush even cancelled a speaking trip to normally friendly Switzerland over calls by human rights groups for this arrest.

It's understandable you will never see the Iraq war crimes issue get a single mention on Roskam's web site. Entering Congress in 2007, Roskam immediately pledged allegiance to the war party, voting for every one of the hundreds of billions of dollars in their failed Iraq and Afghan wars and joining in the chorus risking war with Iran over hyped nuclear programs. Roskam signaled his allegiance in a 2006 debate at College of DuPage where he said, "I don't have a strategy to win in Iraq, I have a goal... that it end well so we don't have to go back." Mr. Congressman, it didn't end well for hundreds of thousands of Americans dead, wounded, or suffering from PTSD. It didn't end well for millions of Iraqis. If you think it did, consider a trip there, to see first hand the carnage and desolation you helped enable.

Congressman Roskam might be adverse to investigating potential Bush era war crimes in Iraq considering he had this to say on September 21, 2006, when running for Congress: "the U.S. should stay the course...and...U.S. troops should not return home until Iraq is safe. He further stated that "the Sixth District is not a cut and run district" when criticizing his first Congressional opponent Tammy Duckworth, seriously wounded serving in Iraq, who had infinitely more experience and wisdom than Roskam to speak against the Iraq war folly.  A month later Roskam upped the ante on his unrepentant Iraq war support arguing Bush goofed by not going into Iraq with "full force". Apparently, hundreds of thousands dead and millions wounded or made homeless doesn't constitute "full force" in Roskam's worldview. Then, in one of his most astonishing statements, freshman Congressman Roskam supported the 2007 war escalation saying,  "There are encouraging reports coming out of Iraq that Baghdad is becoming more secure, and the insurgency is being mitigated."

Maybe, it's not a good idea to have Roskam participate in a House Select Committee on potential Bush Iraq war crimes. It might just hit a tad close to home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Old cars shine at Glen Ellyn vintage car fest

The Glen Ellyn Historical Society held its first vintage auto fest at the Society's Main Street facility Sunday. Over 50 vintage autos showed up to wow the large afternoon gathering. Featuring cars from the Studebaker and Packard auto clubs, but including dozens of other makes, the fest also included auto presentations on the history of Studebaker, Packard and other topics in the near by Historical Society headquarters. Wife Mary who volunteers at the Society, recruited me to direct cars (shoehorn is a better word) into the six connected areas on the Society's grounds. I thought that would be a piece of cake. No way. Maneuvering these 50 to 90 year old cars with no power steering, driven by equally old drivers, was both difficult and stressful. I had visions of creating a "twofer", causing one classic to bang or scape into another, damaging two beauties on one fell swoop and incurring the wrath of two loving owners. After two hours and 55 cars safely in place, I was exhausted but relieved the event would be dent-free.

Besides the fabulous cars, a couple of which valued north of a hundred grand, the owners provided fascinating stories of their devotion to collecting one of the great American art forms of the 20th century. One Glen Ellyn couple brought their his-an-hers 1930 era Pierce Arrows (the Cadillac of American cars before Cadillac was King). They dressed in period threads straight out of the Great Gatsby and piped Jazz Age music from their boom box to an appreciative crowd. Another owner turned his bullet nosed 1950 Studebaker Champion, supposedly designed after the famous WWII P-38 Lightening fighter, into a car version of that famous plane. See this fabulous customization at

With nearby Wheaton, Lombard and Downers Grove boosting their local economies with weekly vintage car shows, its time for Glen Ellyn to grab a piece of the action with their own old car nights. Sunday's vintage auto fest at the Glen Ellyn Historical Society proved there's a bunch of Glen Ellynites who will support it.