Saturday, June 04, 2016

Most dastardly double cross of all time?

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Uncle Sam dealt Russia a deal. If they would disband the Warsaw Pact (Eastern European neighbors aligned with USSR), the West would disband NATO. Russia agreed and complied. Uncle Sam didn't, double crossing Russia and gobbling former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO right up to Russia's doorstep. In 2014, the West instigated a coup against the pro-Russian, but duly elected Ukraine president in an effort to not only bring Ukraine into NATO, but destabilize Russian president Putin. Naturally and justifiably, Russia pushed back, grabbing back the Ukraine province of Crimea containing a strategic Russian naval base. US war hawks promptly restarted a slightly cooler version of the Cold War, demonizing Russia and its president Putin as the bad guy in this totally avoidable crisis.
Presumptive GOP candidate Donald Trump is the most hate-filled, boorish, uninformed and dangerous main party candidate in history. But even his shotgun approach of reckless and incoherent spewings occasionally hits the mark. His criticism of NATO and cuddling with Vladimir are more on the mark (even though he's clueless why) than the mainstream ravings of the political establishment promoting new Cold War with Russia and pushing the Nuclear Clock closer to Midnight.

Friday, June 03, 2016

The apology Obama should have given.

On his recent Pacific trip, President Obama visited 2 countries of American atrocities: Vietnam and Japan. Many in the peace and nuclear free movements wanted to hear an Obama apology for the unnecessary A Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but that was never an option. The victors write the histories, and the US quickly created the false narrative that the A Bombs saved half a million GI's (or possibly even a million) in spite of overwhelming evidence, including the assessment of seven of eight 5 star WWII generals, that the bombings were unnecessary. That includes Ike and Mac.
But being the losers in Vietnam didn't prevent America from paper-overing the grotesque carnage we visited upon that sorrowful land that simply wanted freedom from colonial oppression. Our kids learn in school that over 58,000 Americans perished in our futile attempt to prevent Vietnamese reunification. But they don't get the full story of the devastation we unleashed upon Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia before we were mercifully thrown out in 1975.
What devastation you ask?
Seventy-five percent of South Viet Nam was considered a free-fire (genocide) zone
Over 4 million Southeast Asians killed
13,000 of 21,000 of Vietnamese villages were severely damaged or destroyed
Nearly 950 churches and pagodas destroyed by bombing
350 hospitals and 1,500 maternity wards destroyed by bombing
Nearly 3,000 high schools and universities destroyed by bombing
Over 15,000 bridges destroyed by bombing
10 million cubic meters of dikes destroyed by bombing
26 million bomb craters created courtesy of American B-52s
21 million gallons of extremely poisonous herbicides were dumped in 20,000 chemical spraying missions between 1961 and 1970; the most intensive use of chemical warfare in human history. As many as 4.8 million Vietnamese living in nearly 3,200 villages were directly sprayed by the chemicals. 24 percent, or 16,100 square miles, of South Viet Nam was sprayed, an area larger than the states of Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island combined, killing tropical forest, food crops, and inland forests
Over 500,000 Vietnamese have died from chronic conditions related to chemical spraying with an estimated 650,000 still suffering from such conditions; 500,000 children have been born with Agent Orange-induced birth defects, now including third generation offspring
Nearly 375,000 tons of fire-balling napalm was dropped on villages
Over 35,000,000 tons of ordnance was expended from aerial and naval bombing, artillery, and ground fire
150,000-300,000 tons of unexploded ordinance (UXO) remain scattered around Vietnam
Even more than the A Bombings, the president should have apologized for what his predecessors did to Vietnam half a century ago.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Gov. Rauner's 16 month trek up Brownback Mountain

Gov. Bruce Rauner has a political hero...and it's not Abe Lincoln. No, Gov. Bruce looks west to Kansas, whose finances and school systems have been ruined by Gov. Sam Brownback's $1.1 billion in tax cuts for the rich, enacted in his first term on the promise that the greedy rich would 'trickle down' some of their newly found largess to help less fortunate Kansans. Instead Kansas finances imploded with per pupil spending crashing down 'Brownback Mountain' to $3,800 per pupil from an adequate $4,400. Classes have been cut; staff riffed and school days cancelled. The implosion has mostly hurt the poorest and most vulnerable districts while affluent districts continue to thrive. The Kansas Supreme Court pushed back, saying Brownback violates state Constitutional provisions to "provide fair and adequate support for ALL school districts". The Court imposed a July 1 shutdown to enforce their fairness edict. Instead of complying, Brownback and his Republican legislature are despicably threatening to cut off funding for the Court and working to replace the offending justices. The Court is holding fast as Brownback pushes Kansas students to the brink.
Illinois' Gov. Rauner sure must envy, not only Brownback's heartlessness, but his legislative muscle that Illinois Democrats will not supply. Illinois students are not suffering as much as their compatriots in Kansas only because Speaker Madigan and his minions have their back. It's gonna take awhile but come November, 2018, Illinoisans can finally say, "We're not in Kansas, anymore."