Friday, December 21, 2018

Illinois won't go to going to pot

Seen a number of anti Illinois pot legalization letters in Chicago papers lately and not one favoring the inevitable: pot legalization in Illinois. The letters against channel the mindset of the folks who passed Prohibition in 1919 and decried its revocation in 1933. The anti pot folks miss so many points favoring legalization I ponder whether they were written under the influence.
Their major fallacy is the implication we'll be allowing something that currently doesn't exist: pot use. But 55 million Americans, including over two million in Illinois use pot with all the revenue going to the bad guys. And those two million Illinoisans enjoying weed can't be certain of its quality and potency, leading to problems similar to imbibing moonshine booze rather than legal hooch. From that standpoint alone, legal pot in Illinois will provide a twofor: less health problems for legal pot users and significant revenue transferred from the bad guys to the good guys. How better off health wise will legal pot users be than the illegal ones will be tough to quantify. But if Colorado, which realized $247 million in revenue last year with 38% of Illinois' population is a guide, Illinois stands to achieve upwards of half a billion a year.
That leads to another fallacy in the naysayers posts: legal pot will not solve Illinois' financial problems. That's a false argument because legalization is not intended to do that regardless of that cool half billion eventually flowing into our depleted treasury.
The 21st century Prohibitionists ignore one of the more subtle benefits of legal pot: de-mystification of pot use among teenagers. Back in the 60's I remember still the thrill of trying something that was 'illegal', when I puffed my first joint. This is borne out in Colorado where pot use among teenagers is down slightly rather than up since legalization four years ago.
The anti pot legalization folks should study the proposals from legislative leaders Heather Steans (Senate) and Kelly Cassidy (House) to understand how thoroughly they are learning from the 9 states and DC who have preceded Illinois with legal marijuana to craft a morally, medically and financially responsible pathway to end the second great Prohibition in American society.

Illinois shines beacon of abortion rights and access in regressive Midwest

Illinois women and the men who support them are duly proud that Illinois remains committed to women's' reproductive health and abortion rights as other Midwestern states push back against both. This is evidenced by the steady stream of nearby women into the Prairie State for safe, legal and affordable abortions. Last year out of state abortions increased 21.7% while overall abortions increased just 2.5%. Illinois' progressive approach to preventive reproductive health likely contributes to less abortions among Illinois women. But women in need arrive from Iowa where they face a 20 week limit on the procedure and a disgusting 3 day waiting period. They arrive from Wisconsin which has just 3 abortion providers serving an average of 424,000 women of reproductive age each. They arrive from Missouri with just a single provider, due to an onerous law requiring abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Illinois has 24 providers, each serving just 120,000 such women. Four Planned Parenthood clinics closed in Iowa due to state defunding, a measure likely to increase the need for abortion as it's being made more unattainable. But Illinois legislates against their neighbors' pushback, increasing state financed abortions for the poor and for state workers, as well as legislating that repeal of Roe v. Wade will not threaten abortion legality here. While Illinois appreciates the flow of travel money into Illinois from out of state women out of local options, every Illinoisan of good will longs for the day such women can get the most basic right of full reproductive health right in their own back yard.

Trib's idolatry of Chase inner city investment no cure for Chicago's poverty

Trib's idolatry of Chase inner city investment no cure for Chicago's poverty
The Trib's editorial 'How Chase seeks to seed prosperity on Chicago's South and West sides' see's enlightened capitalism as the cure for 300 years of slavery, white supremacy following Emancipation and institutional racism which keeps large pockets of poverty, crime and despair entrenched for hundreds of thousands on Chicago's South and West sides. Those governmental policies appear nowhere in the Trib's view which they posit is caused solely by "disinvestment - the void as risk-takers in the private sector took their dollars elsewhere." What nonsense...those risk takers were never there in the first place. As minorities moved into established neighborhoods, every bank, with government encouragement, 'red lined' the South and West sides, forcing middle class whites to flee where they were allowed to invest, dooming their new inhabitants to the hopelessness that has become intractable.
Then along comes JPMorgan Chase, investing a paltry $40 million over three years and voila, prosperity is just around the corner. Why paltry? Chase made $27 billion last year so their investment amounts to a little over 0.1% of net profits. And what have those vast wastelands of poverty received? 37 small business loans, 176 mixed income housing units preserved and a college offering associate nursing degrees. While each of those actions is helpful to a few, the overall impact is infinitesimally inadequate for rebuilding the South and West sides. The editorial amounts to a commercial for Chase and its capitalist banking brothers. By glaring omission the Trib is in utter denial of governmental policy which created America's ghettos and which has the only means of eliminating them, not with a paltry $40 million, but with hundreds of billions currently being squandered on criminal wars and tax cuts to the greedy rich. Billionaire Chase CEO Jamie Diamond is no dummy. Throw $40 million at Chicago's impoverished neighborhoods and get $40 million worth of good press that worships the banking industry even after they crashed the housing market, and nearly the entire economy, a decade ago.

Syrian troop withdrawal right thing to do

I, along with every other member of the antiwar movement, applaud President Trump's decision to withdraw the remaining 2,000 US soldiers from Syria. We're not holding our breath, however, that he will actually complete this small step of ending one immoral, illegal and criminal US military intervention round the globe. Trump has reneged on doing what he announces, whether good or bad, more times than can be counted. The pushback from the war party, of which he heads up as president, has been ferocious. Military, media and congressional hawks are trumpeting doom and gloom as if the sky is falling from this proposed paltry pullout. But many of the half million killed, seven million displaced within Syria, and five million refugees are tied to US intervention in the 2011 Syrian civil war. Back in 2013 the US ratcheted up its involvement to prevent Syrian President Assad from defeating the rebels. We cared not a whit for the Syrian people. We cared about deposing Assad in our proxy war against Syria's neighboring allies Iran and Russia. Instead of being peacemakers, America extended with war for years. Even with the US now acknowledging Assad's victory with Russian help, the war party is loathe to remove a single soldier from any country we are practicing murder and mayhem. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Niger are just the ones we know of. The resignation of hawkish Defense Secretary James Mattis within hours of the troop withdrawal decision, citing policy differences, does not bode well for completion of the announced troop withdrawal. But we peaceniks will, like Camus' figure in the Myth of Sisyphus, keep pushing that boulder of peace up the mountain from which it always rolls back down. Maybe with US troops in Syria, this time we'll get them over the mountain.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Speaker Ryan, Yemen war enabler, leaving Congress on a low note

House Speaker Paul Ryan apparently never learned one of life's most important lessons: leaving on a high note. This week Ryan, in his last month as House Speaker and member, used a cynical parliamentary procedure to prevent even a House debate on our four year long involvement in Saudi Arabia's murderous, criminal war in Yemen. He inserted a provision in the sure to pass Farm Bill preventing such debate till the new House convenes next month when Ryan will be conveniently absent. On the same day he quashed debate on America's complicity in creating the largest humanitarian crisis on Earth, the Senate, which previously voted to allow debate, voted to invoke the War Powers Act of 1973 to end US involvement in Yemen. In a show of moral clarity, seven Republicans broke with the Trump administration calling for continued war; voting along with all 49 Democrats to end it. Ryan replicated the cynical maneuver he took last month, inserting a provision to avoid Yemen war debate in a bill passed to allow hunting of gray wolves. Maybe Ryan figures if it's OK to hunt gray wolves, it's OK to hunt Yemeni civilians, over a hundred thousand of whom have died under US bombs dropped by Saudi pilots or starved to death from the famine we've enabled. Though he's leaving Congress, Ryan likely has his eye on a future presidential run. Voting to even allow debate on ending one of America's criminal wars does not fit the image he needs to curry favor and money from the military, the defense contractors and the political class that simply loves perpetual war. Forget Paul Ryan's handsome, presidential bearing. Behind those ramrod good looks, lies the soul of a monster.