Saturday, June 07, 2014

Bergdahl big problem for war party

It's too early to know the fate of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl now that's he's returning home after five years captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan, but if up to the war party, he'll disappear from public scrutiny as surely as his last five years. That's because Bergdahl puts a face and eloquent voice to the war party's endless and senseless and murderous wars in the Middle East and their plans for more. Bergdahl bought their baloney about protecting America and spreading wondrous democracy before having an epiphany. Apparently, he witnessed one horrendous crime against the Afghan people too many which inspired this from his last email home:  “The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in is all revolting. I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored truck. We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them."

That type of truth telling will not sit well with the war party who still propagandize Americans about the righteousness of our failed and senseless interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and their proposed big ones against Iran and Russia. But the American people are wise to their lies and warmongering, wanting nothing more to do with more unnecessary murder and mayhem. So the war party conducts a double assault; first on Bergdahl's character to destroy giving his most relevant views a full  hearing; then attacking the President on the ludicrous claim he's endangering America with the prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home.  They hate Bergdahl for his truth to power straight talk and they hate Obama because he's clearly not a Bush style war loving Commander In Chief. Thankfully the virulent warmonger Sen. John McCain and his warmongering wannabe successor Mitt Romney lost the last two elections to the peace-minded Obama. And thankfully, the President took the patriotic and compassionate action to bring home the truth teller Bergdahl. He may wind up there in the pantheon of heroes like Pvt. Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julien Assange who hold up a mirror and a microphone to the madness of the war party, and help get America back to its founding purpose of peace and freedom for mankind.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Uninvited guest at DuPage Board pay raise meeting

There was an uninvited guest at Tuesday's DuPage Board meeting where a majority of Board members voted to increase their pay beginning in December, 2016. That would be the of issue of wealth and income inequality which is stalking America with greater dysfunction than since the Roaring Twenties collapsed in the Great Depression. Several principled Board members alluded to this issue by voting and speaking out against increasing the already substantial $50,079 pay of mostly affluent professionals for a PART TIME gig. They referred to this unneeded largesse coming at the expense of already strapped taxpayers, the County Board members being among the highest paid in state, and the money needed for substantive citizen services rather that to provide more toys for the already well off.

Among the more tone deaf defenses offered for the increases came from attorney Sam Tornatore who astoundingly claimed that "if we dont' do that (increase pay) we're sending a signal to the County Board members they're not doing a good job." Ouch! I wonder if Tornatore, a Republican, adheres to the GOP commandment that the working poor trying to survive on $8 an hour ($16,600 yearly for FULL time work) don't deserve a living wage because they'd be ripping off their fabulously well off employers and besides, their low pay proves they're incompetent slackers?
It was bad enough the DuPage County Board tried to ram through these increases without adequate public notice; a shenanigan halted by a local citizen watchdog who blew her civic whistle for all to hear. But to go ahead and pile on more goodies to public officials, some of whom feel they never get enough, gives a local lesson to all watching how the game of income inequality goes on and on. The DuPage Board increase reminds of a line in Leonard Cohen's prescient song 'Everybody Knows':
            "Everybody knows the fight is fixed; the poor stay poor, the rich get rich" 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Have RINO, will campaign: Wire Breen, Lombard


Back in January, West Suburban Patriot (DuPage County Tea Party group) member and future GOP candidate for Illinois District 48 state representative Peter Breen told Wheaton Tea Partiers his reason for running: "I've decided to do a little RINO hunting" (laughter and cheering).  Those of you not members or fellow travelers of the doctrinaire, ultra conservative Tea Party may be inquiring what big game is Mr. Breen is referring to since there was no mention of RINO's in school civics. That's because RINO stands for Republican In Name Only and is a snide, derisive term Tea Partiers give any Republican not locked into their bizarre, anti government mindset. Democrats may be the enemy but RINO's are considered traitors. And the RINO Breen set his sights on was District 48 state rep Sandy Pihos who made a career of being anything but a rigid, anti-government zealot. Republican Pihos earned respect throughout her district from moderate Republicans, independents and even many Democrats for her hard working, open style. From personal experience I know she would meet with any serious constituent to discuss issues even when her own views would be strenuously challenged. But Pihos failed to join, the not LOW tax, but NO tax crowd who don't want government doing the Peoples' business of growing jobs, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, educating the next generation, extending full civil rights to the LGBT community, improving health care, including reproductive freedom, protecting the environment, and mending holes in the social safety net.  West Suburban Patriots are nothing if not true believers, turning out on Primary day to send Pihos packing so they could send their RINO hunter to Springfield. But Breen's brand of political extremism may not play well with the great majority of the district tired of doctrinaire cults who won't listen to their concerns. And it's still a long way to November 4.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Roskam's VA fix a political Band-aid

The constituent email from my Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) regarding problems at the VA proposes a Band-Aid to fix a gaping wound there as wide as the Grand Canyon. Roskam touts his House Republican bill H.R. 4031, which, according to Roskam. "gives VA leaders every possible tool to improve management and hold their team responsible for delivering high quality care." Every possible tool? Don't make me laugh. H.R. 4031 simply gives the V...A Secretary the power to "remove any individual from the Senior Executive Service if the Secretary determines the performance of the individual warrants such removal." That's it! A problem with the VA? Just fire a few civil service professionals and the problem is solved. Never mind that the law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, may violate the due process rights of VA employees; needlessly inject partisan politics into an otherwise nonpartisan workforce; and risk having the VA secretary overreact and fire a few folks so he can claim he's doing something to solve an incredibly complex problem.

Then there's the 1,800 pound elephant lumbering around the VA issue. For the past seven years Congressman Roskam has supported our senseless and failed wars that have poured hundreds of thousands of needless patients into the VA system. If that isn't bad enough, House GOP Chief Deputy Whip Roskam adheres slavishly to the Republican Tea Party agenda which views government as unnecessary to solve real problems; but instead must simply keep cutting taxes for the already well off and cut, cut, cut government services to pay for those tax cuts. This double whammy of increasing the VA's caseload while strangling its resources is deplorable. Roskam's bill is a worthless political stunt.

At the end of his email on the VA, Roskam offers this bit of help: "House Republicans are encouraging veterans impacted by VA mismanagement to speak out at so we can more fully understand the scope of this problem and fix it." That's an easy one. Every veteran should log on and send the Congressman these four words: "Show us the money!" And they may add these four as well: "No more wars, Congressman!"

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Pops on Pot

Though not widely known, Louis "Pops" Armstrong (1901-1971) was a pioneer in more than just jazz. He may have been the most celebrated frequent user and unabashed proponent of marijuana for recreational purposes. Pops puffed po...t nearly every day of his long, wondrous life, except for the 10 days he spent in an LA jail (he could have served 6 years) for taking a toke at intermission at Sebastian's New Cotton Club in Culver City, CA in 1930. Apparently, a rival jazz band dropped a dime on Louis to eliminate their competition. The cops, being ardent Armstrong fans, let him finish his gig, then apologized to him on the way to the hoosegow. Louis avoided pot problems for the next 41 years but never shied away from invoking its benefits. Late in life Armstrong had this to say about his favorite means of relaxation: "The respect for gage (marijuana) will stay with me forever. My life has been an open book, so I have nothing to hide. And well Mary Wana honey, you sure was good and I enjoyed you berry, berry much." He viewed pot as an herb similar to the peppergrass and dandelions his mother gathered to administer to him and his sister as a digestive aide. "It relaxes you, makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro. Marijuana was a thousand times better than whiskey. As a youngster, I witnessed a lot of the old time musicians fading from the scene who turned to drinking on and off their jobs, trying to prove they were still as good as they once were." In 1953 Louis penned his autobiography, 'My Life in New Orleans' which ended at age 22 when he arrived in Chicago to join his idol King Oliver at the Lincoln Gardens at 35th and State. The next installment was cancelled by his manager because Louis proposed that "this whole second book might be about nothing but gage." He was infuriated at pot being lumped in with dangerous narcotics, claiming accurately "A man such as myself who've played nothing but good music for his public all over the world...never has let them down during the whole forty-five years." 
As medical marijuana becomes legal in many states including the Land of Lincoln, and recreational marijuana is pouring millions into the depleted coffers of Colorado and Washington, state legislators and federal regulators would do well to heed the words of ol' Pops. Better yet, they should listen to his most explicit, though still veiled 1933 recording, 'Sweet Sue, Just You', extolling what he fondly termed, "my assistant." Does anyone else hear this as a precursor to the Beatles 'A Day In The Life"?