Saturday, August 09, 2014

Iraq: The crimianl war that keeps on killing

The war party may be morally degenerate, but they sure are smart. They smashed Iraq to smithereens and then installed a Shi'ite dictatorship to look after America's imperialist interests. But in the process they had to arm and train the Sunnis to push back Al Qaida which found an opening in the chaos we created. When our Shi'ite puppet Maliki disenfranchised and excluded the Sunnis from governance and the economy, the Sunnis used our training and weapons to combine with Sunnis in Syria, also using our training and weapons, to create a Sunni state in a large swath of both utterly divided and artificial countries. Now the war party has an excuse to start bombing and killing Iraqis again based on trumped up 'humanitarian' concerns. The bodies blasted to bits by our bombs will keep piling up along with the profits the war party reaps from this endless and senseless warfare. America is long finished as a moral force for good around the world. We lost in Vietnam, we lost in Iraq, we lost in Afghanistan, we lost in Libya, we lost in Syria, we lost in Gaza, we lost in Ukraine, we lost in in the Court of World Public Opinion. Yet the war party grinds on, firm in their mission of using every failure as a reason to keep on bombing and killing. And the American public just shrugs and tries to keep up with the Kardashians.

Music Pick: Buddy Holly

Rare clip of Buddy Holly performing one of his best songs, 'Rave On'. Holly (1936-1959) was one of 3 top rockers killed 'The Day The Music Died', February 3, 1959, in Iowa plane crash on Midwest concert tour. Though he had a short 20 month career as a top performer, Holly was likely the most influential American music artist in the fifties, inspiring the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, among others. Compared to the gaudy showmanship of later rock acts, Holly projects a straight ahead simplicity perfectly suited to letting his enormous talent pour out to his adoring audience. Just 13 and already a fan when Holly's plane went down, I still remember the shock of 'hearing the news' to this day.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Oberweis locks up the 1% vote

Leave it to GOP senatorial candidate Jim Oberweis, one of the most tone deaf politicians ever, to cop top prize in the 'stupidest political statements of the campaign' award with 87 days to go. After his rival, Senator Dick Durbin, was instrumental in shaming Walgreens to rescind their threat to practice tax inversion, incorporating off shore to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, Oberweis accused rbin of "bullying" Walgreens. While millions of Illinoisans are rejoicing over Durbin's and the Peoples' effort to stop this despicable action by Walgreens, Oberweis thinks he's making political hay shilling for the corporate slackers lusting to add even more billions, at taxpayer expense, to their vast financial wealth. Maybe Oberweis thinks everyone is like him, a fabulously wealthy business owner who spends his days and nights agonizing that a pittance of his wealth goes to help those to whom he is incapable of showing compassion. Maybe Oberweis idolizes Texas Congressman Joe Barton, who castigated President Obama for forcing Gulf destroying polluter BP Oil to earmark $25 billion for compensation, and remain a hero among Texas Neanderthals. Oberweis sure makes good ice cream. Alas, his political wisdom is indigestible.
Book Pick: 'Turning The Black Sox White', by Tim Hornbaker

Sports historian Tim Hornbaker has given us White Sox fans a long overdue re-evaluation of the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal and the role therein of demonized owner Charles A. Comiskey. The clever title refers to the near century long 'whitewashing' of the eight 'Black Sox' who threw 1919 World Series for a quick five figure payday from gamblers seeking to snag six figures via an underdog Cincinnati Reds triumph. Rumors of the fix surfaced after Sox ace Eddie Cicotte plunked the Reds leadoff man in game one signaling to the fixers, 'game on.' The fix succeeded but the Black Sox were double crossed, getting far less than they expected. When the conspiracy unraveled a year later, the culprits were disgraced, and took full blame. But when brought to trial for fraud in 1921, the narrative changed to hard working baseball stiffs being swindled out of fair salaries and bonuses by rich, tightwad Comiskey. The trick worked and all eight were acquitted. Though banned for life by new Baseball Czar Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the Black Sox were still treated as heroes by the fans. Comiskey's portrayal as the real villain in the fix was cemented first, by Eliot Asinov's 1963 best seller 'Eight Men Out' and especially the 1988 movie version. Hornbaker demolishes legend and myth by showing Comiskey consistently paid the highest salaries in the majors and frequently awarded unsolicited bonuses for good play, such as winning the 1917 World Series and defeating the crosstown Cubs year after year in the post season 'Chicago World Series.' Generous Comiskey even coughed up $1,500 per man to the clean Sox after the 1919 series to make up the difference between the winning and losing share. While many clubs fought holdout battles with their stars prior to the 1919 season, nary a White Sox held out for more dough, signing the first contract mailed out pre-season.  Truth is duller than fiction which simply involved three ringleaders with money and marital problems, and five dolts, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, who were too stupid and gullible to say 'No.' Ninety-five years on, Charles A. Comiskey, the 'Old Roman,' is finally getting his due. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Vote of shame

NEWS ITEM On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council voted in favor of launching an international, independent inquiry into the possibility that Israel violated international humanitarian law and international human rights during its assault on Gaza. Of the 47 members of the Council, 29 nations voted in support of the inquiry, passing the resolution. Seventeen countries abstained, mostly European nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The odd, bizarre candidacy of Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner could be the strangest Illinois gubernatorial candidate I've observed in this, the 15th Illinois gubernatorial election I've followed. Near billionaire Rauner affects an $18 watch while forking over a cool hundred grand for a fourth parking spot at his luxury downtown penthouse.  Fabulous public school New Trier wasn't good enough for his daughter who didn't qualify for a more prestigious magnet school, so Rauner places a call to an educational big shot and voila, daughter of Bruce bumps Miss Nomoney for a coveted spot. A year later six figures of Rauner wealth is attracted to the magnet school door.

But becoming a member of the exclusive one hundredth of one percent wealth club wasn't good enough for Rauner. Hundreds of millions may not buy happiness, but they might be able to buy the governorship. He spent millions to barely edge his main GOP rival in the Primary. Now he's parlaying his fabulous insider wealth for a chance to practice 'his way or the highway' on the 13,000,000 of us who will become guinea pigs for his heartless version of fiscal austerity. How heartless? Rauner was against the recent Illinois Medicaid expansion under Obamacare even though it offers health and life saving benefits to hundreds of thousands. Rauner favored lowering the Illinois minimum wage back to the unconscionable federal level. Rauner disparages teacher union bosses (his term) which is nothing but class warfare against those who give more back to society than Rauner could ever imagine. How about massive layoffs and even possibly shutting down the state government? That is not hyperbole. Here is Rauner at a recent GOP county gathering:
 "We may have to go through rough times. We may have to do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers. Sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while. That's what we're gonna do."

If peoples' needs don't involve the ever glorious dollar, Rauner is clueless and heartless. To placate the homophobes who virtually all reside in his party, he refused to support or even acknowledge the need for Illinois' half million gays for first class citizenship. He thinks giving folks full citizenship should be put to a referendum. He'd have made a great Southern governor during the civil rights era.

Calling gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner strange is kind. He's dangerous.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Quotes from Israeli genocide in Gaza

 "Hamas has stated forthrightly that it idealizes death as much as Israel celebrates life. What other way then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely? … Anyone who lives with rocket launchers installed or terror tunnels burrowed in or around the vicinity of their home cannot be considered an innocent civilians. If po...litical leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?"

Yochanon Gordon, Times of Israel columnist

"This is our country – our country exclusively, including Gaza." Israel must complete "conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters. "

Moshe Feiglin, duputy speaker of the Knesset

"Don't ever second guess me, again."

Israeli President Netanyahu criticizing the Obama administration for trying to broker a Gaza cease fire

"Hating Palestinians isn't racism, it's values."

Sign held up by Israeli girls on a Facebook page calling for a war of revenge against Gaza

The US cannot stop Israel's ongoing military destruction of Gaza. We cannot make Israel end its blockade which inexorably degrades Palestinian life in Gaza. We cannot force Israel to negotiate fairly and substantively for a Palestinian state. But we can withdraw our annual $3.1 billion aid which facilitates these crimes against humanity. We can stop vetoing UN measures designed to achieve justice for the Palestinians. And we should refrain from high-fiving conduct that should repulse us.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Music Pick: Louis Armstrong

August 4, 1901, and not July 4, 1900, is the real birth date of Louis "Pops" Armstrong. He spent his entire career wrapping himself into an iconic 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and it stuck till a diligent researcher unearthed his Aug. 4, 1901, birth certificate long after Pops' July 5, 1971 death. To celebrate the birth of this musical modernist, West End Blues, from June 28..., 1928, is the feature. . After finishing their gig at Chicago's Lincoln Gardens, Louis and his Hot Five consisting of Earl Hines, piano, Fred Robinson, trombone, Jimmy Strong, clarinet, Mancy Carr, banjo and Zutty Singleton, drums, headed for the Okey Studios and laid down this track for a measly fifty bucks and no royalties, standard fare for exploited, scuffling jazz musicians during the twenties. There is something magisterial about their conception of this King Oliver tune that transcends even great recordings. Many have tried to duplicate Pops' opening intro in the last 86 years but they've all come up short.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Cowardice on display

If you want to see political cowardice at work 24/7/365, just observe the president and the Congress grovel before the Israel Lobby to support their crimes against humanity in Gaza. They accept every lie and false narrative offered by Israel to justify their continued devastation of the world's largest open air prison, whose inhabitants they keep just above the subsistence level in 'peaceful' times. While this unholy alliance of war crime enablers can never fully redeem themselves for their actions, they can begin the process by cutting off all aid to Israel, much of it used to wreck the devastation, till Israel ends their military incursion, ends the blockade of Gaza and negotiates in good faith with Palestinians for a Palestinian state.  Alas, it's true that there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.