Friday, March 08, 2019

Trump challenges Palin for stupidest foreign policy comment

In 2008, VP candidate Sarah Palin burnished her foreign policy credentials by claiming an edge in monitoring Russia thusly:
“They’re our next-door neighbors,,,And you can actually see Russia, from land, here in Alaska." Palin still hasn't lived down that idiotic comment, but there is a glimmer of hope.

Yesterday, in his CBS interview President Trump one upped Sarah, saying we'll keep troops in Iraq indefinitely since keeping them there will allow us to watch arch enemy Iran because "if there’s trouble, if Iran is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do,”
Apparently, Trump is only sending troops to Iraq who have Superman like X-Ray vision and are also blessed with ESP.
Move over Sarah...your stupid crown has just been snatched by That Man In the White House.

Durbin, Duckworth diverge on perpetual war, free speech

Our two Democratic Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth couldn't be further apart when it comes to a sane foreign policy. Durbin correctly voted against a non-binding Senate resolution opposing Trump's call to pull all US troops out of Syria and half our troops out of Afghanistan with a goal of ending that senseless war as well. Duckworth, who routinely sides with the US war party, voted in support.

Durbin also correctly voted NO to Senate Bill 1 (Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act of 2019) which allows states to punish businesses and individuals who support BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) against Israel for grotesque, inhuman treatment of Palestinians. That bill has been condemned by virtually all Constitutional experts as denying First Amendment free speech rights, the most sacred of American ideals. Quashing free speech was no problem for Duckworth who voted YES.

When Duckworth entered Congress in 2013 she pledged to oppose further illegal, immoral and criminal war which she acquired first hand knowledge of in Iraq. Once a Congressperson, Duckworth abandoned that pledge to become of champion of rampant US militarism around the world.

Two Democratic senators from Illinois; one in touch with our better angels; one tilting toward forces spelling doom for the American Experiment.

AFGHAN Service Act needs truer name

Kudos to Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Tom Udall (D-UT) who introduced a bi-partisan resolution Monday requiring all 14,000 US troops be out of Afghanistan within a year of passage. It also would repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) used by the last 3 presidents to wage perpetual war around the world since the 911 attacks. The resolution is cleverly titled AFGHAN (Afghan Forces Going Home After Noble) Service Act. A believer in truth in legislating, I'd change that to Afghan Forces Going Home After Needless Service Act. Why? Sen. Paul put it best that $6 trillion on endless wars that can never be won is a waste.   

R Kelly's novel interpretation of double jeopardy unlikely to work

R Kelly is arguing that since he was found not guilty of sexually abusing two underage girls back in 2008, no new cases with different underage girls can be brought against him. That is a profound mis-reading of the double jeopardy legal principle. One not guilty verdict does not immunize him or anybody else from prosecution of the same alleged crimes with new victims. Kelly should consult with his attorney before making any additional outrageous claims on national television. If his attorney was consulted and approved Kelly's bizarre defense, he should be investigated for malpractice. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Uncle Sam major destroyer of Venezuelan people

We should all be deeply ashamed how our government adds to the terrible suffering of the Venezuelan people. Much of their suffering is due to incompetent, corrupt political leaders. Some is due to sinking oil prices affecting 95% of their exports. But a major factor is crippling US sanctions designed to rid the US of a hated socialist regime targeted for change since the election Hugo Chavez 21 years ago. US propaganda hides our mendacity and the truth about Venezuelan governance from the American people. While the US plotted Chavez' demise, be was reducing extreme poverty there from 40% to 7% by providing improved health care, education and food assistance. But when oil prices sank after Chavez's death in 2013, the US used its worldwide economic clout to deny critically needed credit relief. Trump's new round of sanctions in 2017 pulled $6 billion from their economy the first year. UN Special Investigator Alfred De Zayas studied the crisis that year, determining US sanctions constituted "economic warfare", recommending the International Criminal Court investigate US sanctions as "crimes against humanity".

The US claims it will bring US style democracy to the starving people of Venezuela. The vast majority of Venezuelans want removal of cruel US sanctions, access to international credit, and end to criminal threats of military intervention. They want to eat and to live free from the fear Uncle Sam represents. Never has 'Yankee Go Home' been more appropriate.

Trump channels Castro at CPAC

Tho as far right as Castro was far left, Trump sure emulated the late Cuban revolutionary leader yesterday at the CPAC Convention, railing against the Democrats for two agonizing hours. Up in Revolutionary Heaven, Fidel must have been a tad concerned Trump might challenge him for the non-stop talking title. He needn't worry. Trump ran out of demonic Dem bashing about 4 hours short of Fidel's best effort.

'Get Abrams'

When German and Japanese war criminals were corralled after WWII, we executed some and imprisoned many. But in the US we keep recycling them to continue the dirty business of regime change in countries we lust to control. Elliot Abrams is exhibit A in this nefarious exercise of raw, murderous power. Abrams spent the 1980's as Assistant Secretary of State supporting grotesque right wing Latin American dictatorships, even encouraging their death squads responsible for tens of thousands of deaths to thwart left wing rule in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Convicted of lying to Congress, Abrams was pardoned by George H.W. Bush on the recommendation of his Attorney General William Barr. Yes, the same William Barr now serving as Trump's Attorney General. Abrams has many friends in the foreign policy establishment who have worked assiduously to rehabilitate his blood soaked image. 

Americans got a peek at the underbelly of Abrams' role with dictators, death squads and thousands of innocent bodies when grilled by MN Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at a House hearing on Venezuela. Abrams, likely the most experienced American official on regime change, was appointed Special Representative for Venezuela which brought about the heated exchange with Rep. Omar on his 1980's dirty work. How important is former war criminal Abrams in Trump's effort to depose Venezuelan socialist leader Nicolas Maduro? Back in 2002 Abrams, working as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, had advance knowledge of and offered moral support for the short lived coup against then Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez. Trump vetoed an earlier appointment of Abrams as Assistant Secretary of Stare two years ago due to Abrams' campaign criticism of Trump. What changed? When seeking an experienced thug to grease the demise of Maduro and the ascension of US hand puppet Juan Guido, the uniform cry in the Oval Office was: 'Get Abrams'.

Three reasons Chicagoans should resist Trib's call for regime change in Venezuela

Three reasons Chicagoans should resist Trib's call for regime change in Venezuela

The Trib's editorial '3 reasons Chicagoans have a stake in Venezuelans' plight' should send a chill down down the back of every Chicagoan who reads it. But it's not the chill from the Trib's fear its 'chicken little' sky is falling warning that US efforts to oust Venezuelan strongman Nicholas Maduro might fail. It's the chill of a major media outlet unconscionably supporting out of control US government exceptionalism on the world stage Here are three real reasons Chicagoans have a stake in Venezuela's worsening crisis:

1. Promoting regime change is immoral, indeed criminal, except against a nation directly attacking the US . The Trib has never resisted any US effort to destabilize nations it doesn't like, or simply won't do US bidding, which now numbers 68 since the end of WWII. Millions are dead, wounded or made homeless by this destructive policy which always ends if failure, regardless whether the strongman we've targeted is no longer around. Just ask the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. But when Uncle Sam declares a new regime change target, the Trib falls right in line.

2. Crippling economic sanctions to effect regime change represents a crime against humanity. The Trib should demand an end to US sanctions, including the theft of billions of Venezuelan oil revenues, which is the biggest single factor in Venezuela's humanitarian crisis. But not of word of this US manufactured human suffering ever reaches Trib readers who, unless otherwise educated, will believe the US is solely motivated in relieving rather than exacerbating human suffering.

3.US regime change in Venezuela is part of a new US Cold War, this time against not only Russia, but according to the Trib, "other countries hostile to the U.S. that also back Maduro and would love to further challenge the Americans’ dominion in this region: China, Iran, Cuba and North Korea." Let's try to understand this. The Trib is fine with the US dropping hundreds of thousands of bombs on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia and Niger; killing hundreds of thousands of innocents; but woe be to the nation that dares offer economic aid to Venezuela, systematically being destroyed economically by the US.

The more the US ratchets up Venezuelan suffering to rid our hemisphere of another socialist state, the more the 140 plus countries not controlled by Uncle Sam will step in to keep Venezuela safe from rapacious American capitalism promoted by a US installed sock puppet. This should give Chicagoans true reason to hope.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Trump's foreign policy 'I win, you lose' approach spells failure everywhere

Never has a US president so utterly failed in foreign policy endeavors as Donald Trump. A blessing for Trump (but a curse for everyone he encounters), Trump combined his father's inherited wealth with his personal charisma, unlimited greed and craven ruthlessness to create a fabulous lifestyle of wealth, privilege and public adulation. Little noticed in the Trump wake were the little people and small businesses scattered like so many pins in the path of Trump's reckless business bowling ball.

Historians will be debating Trump's inexplicable rise to the presidency for decades. But there is no debate over his utter failure to translate his corrupt business and entertainment acumen to US foreign policy. So many countries; so many failures.

The worst is his blowing up the 5 + 1 Iran nuclear deal, signaling his true motive of regime change to serve the interests of the US war party and the countries that virtually dictate US foreign policy: Saudi Arabia and Israel. This move, among others, prompted the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to Midnight (nuclear winter), the closest to Doomsday since 1953.

Trump ignores calls from Congress; indeed the world, to end US support of Saudi Arabia's genocidal war against neighbor Yemen which has killed over 60,000 and sentenced millions to disease and starvation. Trump's rationale? We can't alienate our best weapons customer and ally in Iran regime change.

Trump looked at Obama's sensible, long over rapprochement with Cuba and said "Bad deal". His fix was simply to further hurt American tourists and business by restricting personal US travel and ending plans for US investment there currently being gobbled up by the rest of the industrialized world.

Trump reviewed the 20 year long US effort to destabilize the hated socialist regime in Venezuela and concluded "Not good enough", embarking on increased sanctions and threatened war to install US puppet Juan Gaido who will make Venezuela safe for rapacious US capitalism.

Instead of promoting peace and justice between Israel and their subjugated Palestinian captives, Trump blew up the peace process by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, reducing aid to the starving, destitute Palestinians, and remaining mute as Israeli soldiers shoot down Palestinian protesters at the border.

Trump utterly squandered his one chance at international success; his historic June, 2018, summit with North Korean leader with Kim Jung-un, a diplomatic breakthrough unattained by 11 previous presidents going back to the 1953 Korean War armistice. But instead of doing diplomacy, Trump did grandstanding, declaring the North Korean nuclear threat resolved; even promoting himself for the Nobel Peace Prize. His second go at personal diplomacy blew up without a single agreement over Trump's signature negotiating style of 'I win, you lose'. For the past year Jong-un has made numerous concessions while the US keeps all sanctions solidly in place. Jong-un, no fool, told the Art of the Deal to paint his mission a failure.

Alas, unlike TV huckster Trump who can declare to one of his un-reality show pawns "Your fired" in a heartbeat, the American people must wait an excruciating 600 more days.

GOP plays anti-Semitism card to sabotage Congressional end to Yemen war

Last month the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution invoking the 1973 War Powers Act to force an end to America's criminal war in Yemen fought by our Saudi Arabian proxies with US planes, bombs, refueling and intelligence. Unfortunately, House Joint Resolution 37 has gone to the Senate with a poison pill inserted by war loving House Republicans which allows Senate Majority Leader McConnell to prevent a vote. The war continuing tactic was an amendment praising Israel and condemning the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement to bring relief to Palestinians subjugated by Israel. Though that amendment has nothing to do with Congress retaking war making powers inscribed in the Constitution, its passage gave Majority Leader McConnell the opening to have H.J. Resolution 37 declared no longer 'privileged'. This allows him to prevent a vote which he could not prevent if H.R. 37 remained privileged. Confused? Not if you're a Republican who wants to keep Yemen an American killing field. That's how Congress works; ignoring the American people, indeed, the vast majority of the world, who want an end to our war crimes in Yemen that have left over 60,000 dead and millions suffering disease and starvation.
There is still hope for peace. Democratic and a few Republican Senators will introduce a 'clean' Senate resolution next week. If they can keep another anti-Semitism amendment from being inserted, a vote must occur with a chance of passage. If so, it's back to the House for a true Joint Resolution to end the shame of America on the world stage. Peace in Yemen. If not now, when?

Trib editorial supporting 2 House gun control bills a good first step

It took to March 1, 2019, but the Trib finally got on board two sensible gun legislation initiatives: background checks for private gun sales and extension of the background check deadline from 3 to up to 20 days (the 'Charleston Loophole" that allowed Dylan Roof to acquire the gun used to kill 9 in a church). If not mistaken this is the Trib's first teensy foray into supporting sensible gun legislation instead of simply bemoaning the weak law enforcement of existing gun laws. Interestingly, the Trib fails to mention it's the new Democratic House majority that passed these two laws and it's the Republican Senate majority that will likely consign them to the NRA congressional trash bin, never to get within range of a last minute Trump veto. For reasons only the Trib Editorial Board can explain, drastic action to tamp down the near 40,000 gun deaths yearly, the true national security issue, has never been a priority for the Trib. That is both shameful and a dis-service to a public demanding action. 
But kudos for this first baby step. Now let us ever hopeful Trib subscribers see an editorial demanding:       
End to manufacture and sale of assault weapons which are essentially machine guns; enactment of smart gun technology to prevent any gun from being fired by other than its owner; end to state laws restricting physicians from discussion of gun violence starting at age 3; repeal of the Dickey Amendment, the 1996 law forbidding the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from spending funds on gun violence research; end to legal immunity for gun manufacturers. 
Tackling these issues will vault the Trib into the forefront of sensible editorial commentary on gun violence. Those of us promoting this debate trust the Trib will channel the the Sixth Century BC Chinese text Tao Te Ching: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". The Trib just took it. 
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn