Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Will Trump's first veto be to extend US war crimes in Yemen?

With a Republican Senate, President Trump has not had to issue a veto. McConnell's minions there would never send Trump a bill requiring whipping out the veto pen. That may change soon as the Senate takes up H.J.Res. 37 which invokes the War Powers Act of 1973, requiring Trump to end criminal US involvement in Saudi Arabia's merciless war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. It passed Wednesday 248 to 177, with 18 Republicans joining all 230 Democrats voting for peace. 

With 60,000 dead, a million suffering cholera, and 15 million facing starvation from a Saudi blockade, Yemen is the most devastated place on earth. Passage in the Senate is possible as enough Republicans may join all the Democrats to take back war making power from the president as required by the Constitution. Of course, most Americans are oblivious of this momentous initial step by Congress to end one of American's many criminal wars because last Wednesday's House vote was virtually ignored by mainstream media. That is tragic for the beleaguered Yemenis being blown too bits by US bombs dropped from US planes piloted by Saudi killers. It is also tragic for the worldwide peace movement and for mankind. How grotesque that Trump's first and possibly only veto might be to continue war crimes we're paying for with our tax dollars.

Reefer Madness afflicts Chicago papers over cannabis legalization

If you read Chicago paper Letters To Editor published on cannabis legalization, you might think it has zero public support. In addition, you could surmise the effort to legalize cannabis is bringing a whole new dangerous drug into the the Prairie State which will cause major societal problems. I've not seen a single letter taking the opposite, and greatly more informed view.
None of these 'sky is falling' missives mention over a million Illinoisans use marijuana illegally, pouring hundreds of millions into black market coffers. The majority of these users are millennials, those coming of age in this century, who are turning away from a much more dangerous, indeed deadly drug, alcohol. They're spending less money on pot, using less to achieve the relaxation it provides, and suffering virtually none of the aftereffects from their former drug of choice. Nationwide public support for legalized muggles is 61%, not zero. Beer sales are plummeting so fast that major suppliers Heineken and Corona are beginning to explore THC (pot's psychoactive ingredient) laced non-alcoholic beer. Hey, they'll have to make up that 4 million less barrels of less beer shipped every year somehow.
The bad guys are freaking out, worried the cash cow chewing their illegal grass will meander over to Illinois' legal grass farm, helping fill the gaping hole in the Illinois budget. Maybe these are the folks who are writing all those gloom and doom letters how cannabis will destroy Illinois' social fabric. The legal US pot market of $6 billion will grow (pun intended) to $50 billion in seven years. They know it and are very worried. Legal pot is now at our doorstep in Michigan.
Chicago's papers do not serve the public when they only publish letters channeling the bizarre, indeed hallucinatory 1936 film, 'Reefer Madness', produced by a church group that warned of manslaughter, suicide, rape and madness from puffing a joint. Come on Chicago letters editors. Time to raise your letters section to a higher level.

Trib still AWOL on gun carnage commentary

It was easy to predict the Trib's response to the mass gun slaughter in Aurora ('After Aurora, Illinois has to tighten gun law enforcement'). Just enforce the gun laws on the books and the massacre would have been prevented. That is the NRA playbook: no new laws, just better enforcement of current laws. That argument is fallacious with the Gary Martin crime because any such person bent on murderous revenge is committing 'suicide by mass murder'. He would not have been deterred from illegally acquiring one of 390 million guns infesting our society if his personal firearm had been confiscated. Blaming lack of enforcement has always been the Trib's response to mass shootings (3 or more murdered) that happen daily (345 in 2017).

When will the Trib take on the NRA and the gun lobby by demanding:

Smart gun technology to prevent any gun from being fired by other than its owner. Smith & Wesson tried to implement that after the 2000 Columbine massacre but stopped after an NRA boycott tanked sales. No gun maker has dared try that since.

End to state laws that forbid pediatricians to begin discussion of gun violence with kids starting at age 3. A 2011 Florida law threatened doctors with license suspension and fines if they did that. The law was overturned by a federal appeals court but less onerous such laws are on the books in several states.

Repeal of the Dickey Amendment, the 1996 law forbidding the CDC from spending funds on gun violence research that could possibly advocate for gun control.

End to legal immunity for gun manufacturers. Over 500 people a year die from accidental shootings. If a toy or household product caused such carnage, the maker would be hauled into court in a flash.

These are just four major initiatives of many which the Trib never touches for reasons only the Editorial Board can answer. The US has a gun violence death rate 25 times higher that any other wealthy nation. Our ratio of 120 guns per 100 citizens dwarfs the measly 32 per hundred of the next highest wealthy country, our neighbor Canada. Gun deaths per 100,000? US 12; Canada 2.

Ignoring the nearly 40,000 annual gun deaths from murder, suicide and accident by offering "Oh, just enforce current laws" is not responsible editorial policy. The Trib can and must do better.

Trump to Maduro military, 'Dump Maduro or die'

President Trump, citing the evil American bugaboo 'socialism', made a not so veiled threat against the Venezuelan military keeping President Nicolas Maduro in power against Juan Guaido, whom the US selected to depose him. Trump spoke at a political rally with Guaido before thousands of Venezuelan-Americans Monday in Miami, home to over 100,000 Venezuelan-Americans, the largest such group in the US. His words should be chilling to anyone promoting a peaceful foreign policy, and especially Venezuelan military whose lives Trump put in jeopardy:

Warning that if they continue to back Maduro, "you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything. We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open." The key word here is 'all' which translates to US military action certain to inflict death and destruction in a country having zero connection to American national security interests.

Trump fails to grasp the irony of calling Maduro an illegitimate ruler while he's under investigation for collusion with Russia and other entities to subvert the election which put him in the Oval Office.

Trump claims we're motivated by humanitarian concern for Venezuelans, starving amid both political corruption and incompetence by Maduro's regime. He omits one of the biggest factors causing starvation: US economic sanctions designed to squeeze Venezuelans to abandon socialism for a US friendly ruler. This began when socialist Hugo Chavez assumed power in 1998 and began lifting the Venezuelan people out of poverty. Trump banged away at the socialist demon saying "Socialism is dying in Venezuela. It promises prosperity but delivers poverty. Liberty, prosperity and democracy are being reborn".

US decades long sanctions against the Venezuelan people constitute crimes against humanity. Any military action against the Venezuelan government would constitute war crimes.

The 'ism' Venezuelans fear most is not's American exceptionalism.

Facts of death

Nearly 12,000 civilians in Syria and Iraq have died under bombs dropped from over 30,000 US led air strikes since President Obama launched Operation Inherent Resolve in June, 2014. The US has killed most of those innocents but our partners in criminal war: Britain, France, Belgium, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the UAE and the Netherlands have contributed to the carnage. While Obama began the slaughter to prevent the US from being pushed out of an area they never had an iota of business interfering with, President Trump has ramped up US air strikes, with his former defense secretary James 'Mad Dog' Mattis saying last year we've gone from a "policy of attrition to one of annihilation". When questioned about shocking civilian casualties Mattis pooh-poohed them as wartime "facts of life".

Actually, those 12,000 civilians are facts of death.

The good and the bad of '4 more years'

Fifty year Chicago Alderman Ed Burke said it was a "great day'' when he heard his supporters shout "Four more years" in celebration of his resounding re-election as 14th Ward Chicago Alderman.

Later this year he'll likely consider it a "terrible day" if a judge proclaims "four more prison" should 'Fast Eddie' be convicted in his upcoming corruption trial.