Saturday, May 05, 2018

Friends don't goad friends into criminal war

One of the most dangerous actions against the United States and world peace ever, got little notice last Monday. This refers, of course, to the shameful and false presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran is in violation of the 5+1 nuclear agreement requiring the US to withdraw from this pact up for re-approval May 12. US Withdrawal blows up detente with Iran; threatening them with regime change, either in the form of economic collapse or outright war, and likely sabotages striking a nuclear deal with North Korea. Nobody outside of Israel's Likud Party and US hard line war hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo give any credence to Natanyahu's baseless charges. Trump has been demonizing the Iran agreement as a ludicrous campaign pledge and presidential position for nearly three years now since this war saving deal was implemented by Obama. Trump knows nothing of its substance and appears utterly deranged in how recklessly he puts America and the world at risk with his relentless threats to end it. Netanyahu, fully aware of how easily he can manipulate, intimidate and fool a totally unfit president, played the Iran war card to perfection with his nuclear fairy tale. Netanyahu hated Obama because he couldn't goad him into war with Iran. With Trump he's got the stooge he's longed for. Maybe, to take a page from Facebook, it's time to de-friend Netanyahu and Israel's Likud Party. Friends don't goad friends into criminal, self destructive war.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Roskam sure knows about 'missing an opportunity' to save lives

My congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) had this to say at a health care subcommittee hearing last week:
“In the Medicare program, many of these cutting-edge ideas have failed to be used to their full potential. In turn, our seniors are not able to benefit from greater efficiency, access and increased positive outcomes in receiving health care. Even worse, while some Americans already have access to these groundbreaking models, they are at risk of losing their pathway to receiving this care once they turn the age of 65. In fact, it is not out-of-line to say that we are missing an opportunity to save lives with these advanced treatment methods.
What utter nonsense. Roskam spent the last ten years trying to prevent, repeal, defund, degrade the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed over the opposition of Roskam and his fellow Republicans, from saving tens of thousands of lives, and giving tens of millions a shot at better health without going bankrupt paying for privately financed health care. But Roskam's romance with private health care, which is still largely unavailable to tens of millions, is such that he continues to bash Medicare, besides the ACA, another lifesaving area of the American health care system.
Roskam has no credibility trash talking Medicare, much less the Affordable Health Care Act, as he's done for the past decade. As I told him to his face last year at a Glen Ellyn Civic Center meeting with several constituents, "If you had been successful in preventing passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the tens of thousands saved by it...would be dead.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Natural life should join capital punishment in Illinois' history scrap bin

Kudos to the Illinois Prisoners Review Board (IPRB) for releasing mass killer Carl Reimann April 26, on his twentieth try for freedom. Reimann committed a truly horrible crime in 1972, killing 5 in a Yorkville restaurant robbery. But unlike the Trib Editorial Board (An Illinois mass killer walks free, May 1) the IPRB used enlightened criminal justice principles to release the 76 year old Reimann whom they've determined poses no threat to warrant squandering further precious tax dollars. The Trib is outraged, even giving implicit support for the death penalty as a means of preventing society from having to deal with the trauma of experiencing Reimann's release. But the Trib offers no argument at all other than the knee jerk response of 'lock em up till they're dead'. Releasing elderly offenders such as Reimann who has passed scrutiny for 45 years as no longer needing to be incarcerated, is more than fiscally responsible. It is both humane and in the interests of promoting a just society.
Back in 1924, two Chicago men, not much younger than Reimann in 1972, got life plus 99 years for the kidnapping and murder of a distant cousin simply to prove their superiority to mankind. The prosecutor Bob Crowe was outraged when famed attorney Clarence Darrow plead them guilty, then used their case to keep Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb from the gallows and begin the long, uncompleted march to end capital punishment for mankind (now ended in Illinois). Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936 but Leopold dedicated his prison life to serving his prison mates and society in general. His good works won him parole just 34 years later. He continued his educational and pubic service activities in Puerto Rico till his natural death 13 years later. Whether conscious or not of the Nathan Leopold saga, the Illinois Prisoners Review Board did the right thing. Maybe the Trib Editorial Board should review the Leopold - Loeb 'thrill killing' in the Trib's archives....and rewrite their editorial.

One area of US, Russian policy convergence that harms humanity

The cluster bomb is one nasty munition. It's a bomb containing many little 'bomblets', which can spray a wide swathe of enemy territory, making it a truly efficient killing machine. Unfortunately, up to 30% of the bomblets don't go off; burying themselves in Mother Earth to blow off the limbs or snuff out the life of an unsuspecting innocent who happens upon one. Much of the civilized world is so repulsed by cluster bombs, 103 of them ratified the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions outlawing them. The two most prominent exceptions are the US and Russia. America hasn't used cluster bombs since 2009 in Yemen but still stockpiles 1.5 million of them, containing 90 million of those unfriendly little fellows. Untold thousands, maybe millions of US cluster bomblets say hello to new victims in Vietnam and Iraq every day. Our cluster bomb fellow traveler Russia just unveiled an advanced cluster bomb that can't be detected by radar or infrared devices preventing its being jammed. Russia's Sputnik News claims that "Russian sub-munitions are way smarter than their U.S. counterparts." Who does that sound like? Speaking of that man in the White House...his administration last November rescinded a 2008 US pledge to scrap all US cluster munitions.

It's unusual for the US and Russia to agree on anything. Alas, the one biggie they find common ground on is how to fill the ground around millions of innocents with one of man's most insidious killing implements.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Real obscenities hurled 565 miles away

President Trump called for an end to the White House Correspondents' Dinner tweeting it was an 'embarrassment' and 'Fake News'. He was referring of course, to comedian Michelle Wolf's twenty minute monologue skewering politics and its journalists, with a focus on the Trump administration. Many conservative Trump supporters echoed Trump, including the prominent Hugh Hewitt who charged Wolf's monologue didn't serve journalism. Oh, contraire. Wolf played the court jester to perfection, using graphic language and word pictures to present the unvarnished truth about an obscene huckster who used the vilest of obscenities against blacks, immigrants, progressives, the poor and marginalized to entice sixty-three million folks to entrust him with the our and the world's future. Listening to the entire Wolf monologue, I didn't hear one naughty word I don't hear everyday, including from my own lips. I didn't hear one word picture that didn't sizzle with truth about a corrupt narcissist who puts my children and grandchildren at great risk of inheriting a degraded world much worse than the one I inherited from FDR in 1945.

No, the real obscenities hurled in Washington Saturday night were spoken 565 miles away in Washington Township, Michigan, where the Trump trotted out his grotesque and vile stump speech to the masses of folks who hate the same people he does. Two examples: "Be careful of your 2nd Amendment. OK, be careful. Be careful of your 2nd Amendment if they get in." And, "If we don't get border security, we'll have no choice. We'll close down the country."

Michelle Wolf is not my new favorite comedian...she's my new favorite social critic.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Echos of WWII willful denial of Holocaust in US response to Israeli border massacres

Seventy-three years after Nazi concentration camps were liberated, historians still debate how much the US knew of the Holocaust and how much America willfully ignored it to the peril of millions. Regardless of the truth involved, one lesson is clear: man should never turn his back on outright dehumanization and slaughter of his fellow man. Yet, that is precisely what America and its allies are doing in their heartless denial of the weekly shooting down of Palestinians protesting at Israel's border to the open air prison of Gaza set up to strip Palestinians of their humanity, if not their life. This is not Club Med the Israelis have created in Gaza; it's Club Death, with a blockade of food and supplies that produces slow motion death as opposed to instant death from an Israeli sharpshooter's bullet. At the fifth Friday protest three were shot dead and hundreds wounded, bringing the 5 Friday protests to 41 dead and over 5,000 injured. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called the loss of life deplorable, saying a “staggering number” of injuries had been caused by live ammunition. Israel refuses to authorize an independent investigation, relying on US vetoes in the UN Security Council to keep their weekly massacres unchallenged. Israel blames Hamas for the violence in the same vein that southern US racists blamed communists and outside agitators for the despicable racial violence they inflicted on blacks demanding first class citizenship in the South. It's no more valid to blame Palestinians from trying to break out of their dehumanizing prison than it would be to blame Nazi concentration camp victims for trying to escape the death camps. With stunning hypocrisy the US uses the slightest human rights abuses to sanction, even threaten regime change of countries it doesn't like. With allies like Israel we use every resource to ignore and enable the grotesque treatment of those with no voice and no power. At some point the staggering death and injury count will stir the conscious our our leaders and our people. Maybe.