Saturday, January 30, 2016

Time to give a hoot about the Houthis

Ask a hundred citizens who the Houthis are and you may get a hundred blank stares. That's in spite of the fact the US is committing war crimes against these folks in their country of Yemen. We're not killing them directly; we've outsourced that messy business to Saudi Arabia, who is concerned about the Shi'ite Houthi rebels taking power in neighboring Yemen, previously ruled by more Saudi friendly Sunnis. Saudi Arabia fears Houthi influence in Yemen empowers their arch Shi'ite rival Iran in the great Shi'ite - Sunni civil war throughout the Middle East. That's their prerogative, but it shouldn't be Uncle Sam's, whose not a whit endangered by who rules Yemen. Yet, we're selling Saudi much of their weaponry, refueling their murderous bombers and providing logistical support for their killing thousands of civilians and bombing of dozens of hospitals and schools. Aiding and abetting the Saudis makes us partners in their war crimes. Even though they supplied most of the 911 hijackers, fund Islamic extremists including ISIS, and chop off heads of dissidents like we fine red light violators, Saudi Arabia continues as one of our best Middle East allies. Maybe that $100 billion in US weapons of mass murder they've purchased in the last five years has more to do with our shared war crime conspiracy against the little known Houthis than our true national interests. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We are all residents of Flint

When an anti-government governor poisons the citizens of Flint to save a few bucks, we are all being poisoned politically.
When an anti-government governor refuses to expand Medicaid to score political points, we are all being denied proper health care.
When an anti-government governor refuses to adopt a budget with sufficient revenue to provide for the needy, we are all being denied responsible government.
Think about that the next time a rich businessman attempts to buy your vote on false promises of prosperity for all.

Roskam's Iran hostage crisis: Day 12

My Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) is in his 12th day of holding the Sixth District hostage to news the world is implementing detente with Iran. The welcome news 12 days ago greatly reduces possible war with Iran. It means we can begin normalizing relations with a major Middle East power; a step toward reducing political tensions in the Middle East. It means we can begin trading with Iran; a likely boost to our economy.

But you won't find a whisper of this transformational diplomatic development at Instead, you will find fearmongering press releases, going back too 2012, warning of any detente, nuclear deal or diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. Apparently, Roskam has invested so much political capital on behalf of the war party and the Israel Lobby to defeat detente with Iran, he cannot bring himself to even acknowledge it on his website. Instead his uses what should be an educational tool to hide from an inconvenient truth. That is a shame. While entitled to his opinions on Iran detente, he is not entitled to ignore reality. That is a core duty of his job as Congressman.

The 700,000 resents of the Illinois Sixth deserve better. Maybe, this November, they will get it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

It's Republicans and Trib, not Dems, going off the cliff

Monday's Trib editorial, 'Will Republicans and Democrats go off the cliff' poses a false equivalency between the Republican Trump and Democratic Sanders presidential campaigns. It strongly implies each party is being hijacked by an extremist out of touch with the "sensible center."  But the differences are huge, on a Grand Canyon scale, which do great injustice to Sanders, and his followers.

Consider the false equivalency. According to the Trib, Trump's divergence from the "sensible center" is that "Trump has done his best to alienate Latinos, blacks, Muslims, women and anyone with an aversion to Sarah Palin." Missing is the necessary background of Trump's relentless pathological lying; xenophobic and racist charges; and denigrating commentary that has made him a grotesque caricature of a responsible candidate. Also missing is that Trump's freak show campaign resonates with the current majority of Republicans in every poll, whether state or nationwide. Rather than being a fringe GOP contender, Trump represents the 'insensible GOP middle' the Trib erases from their vision of a 'country club' Republican Party.

Your only evidence of Sander's extremism is your claim he's a "self described democratic socialist." That is a meaningless charge, McCarthyite in fact, as it's today's version calling him a 'communist'. It doesn't reflect one whit on his exemplary record of 8 years as Burlington, VT mayor, 16 years in the House and now 9 years as Senator, representing Vermont. During that incredible 33 years of public service, Sanders has displayed, wisdom, class, and decency, championing fiscal responsibility, opposition to war and unbridled militarism, rebuilding America's infrastructure, truly caring for our vets and ameliorating the concentration of wealth in a tiny ruling oligarchy. Far from being outside the "sensible center", Sanders represents it, in the same way FDR did during the Depression. Millions of otherwise disaffected young idealists now rally to his campaign, and millions more will join in should he garner the nomination.

The Trib Editorial Board is terrified of both a Trump and Sanders finale. Trump because he's already wrecked the Republican brand beyond repair. And Sanders? You folks can't stomach a leader focused on undoing the vestiges of economic royalty you enjoy at the expense of the great majority.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Drat! No peace candidate in 2016 election

The saddest aspect to the 2016 presidential election is the absence of a peace candidate, or even a healthy debate about bellicose US war mongering. The Republican field is horrific, with the nine candidates left veering as right as possible bragging about how tough they will be with our imagined enemies. They promote no fly zones in Syria, rescinding the Iran nuclear deal, even refusing to talk to Russian President Putin or any other world leader they deem hostile. US weapons makers, beneficiary of their tough talk would be ecstatic if any Republican would ascend to the presidency.

Alas, they don't have much to fear from the Democratic contenders as well. The frontrunner Hillary is a proven ally. Senator Clinton voted to invade Iraq before declaring it a mistake. As Sec. of State she was the driving force behind regime change in Libya which got thousands killed, turning Libya into a failed state. She borders on matching Republican rhetoric promoting regime change in Syria, an utterly senseless policy that has only led to more death there and threatens wider regional war. Even My Boy Bernie is skittish about opposing our endless criminal bombing against mostly innocents throughout seven countries in the region, calling for expanded detente with Iran and refusing to condemn the atrocities perpetuated by the Saudis and Israelis against their imagined enemies. Hell, he's willing to keep funding their efforts to avoid irritating the US war party which prospers on those murderous policies.

Enabling all candidates from avoiding the peace issue is the compliant media in the tank for the war party. Debate moderators frame every foreign policy question from the war party scrip asking how we'll deal with hyped threats from Russian, Syria, Iran, even ISIS. Raising the specter of withdrawal from Middle East militarism will never pass their lips if they want to stayed employed in America's Fawning Corporate Media. The last sensible media peace pundit, Phil Donahue, was summarily fired by MSNBC for opposing the Iraq war in 2003, despite high ratings.

Dammit! We deserve better. The welcome peace initiatives of the Obama administration; ending most ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; baby steps towards detente with Iran; re-engaging with Cuba; are not enough. It was painful to hear the President waste seven minutes of the State of the Union bragging about how America squanders it treasure outspending the rest of the world combined on murderous munitions. He gloated how Russia's become bogged down by its two client states Iran and Syria, omitting how we've become bogged down trying to rule the world.

Oh, I forgot. In 21st century America, war is still the health of the state.

Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn