Saving Illinois: Getting more bang for the state’s bucks

Illinois is insolvent, unable to pay its bills. According to Moody’s, the state has $15 billion in unpaid bills and $251 billion in unfunded liabilities. Of these, $119 billion are tied to shortfalls in the state’s pension program. On July 6, 2017, for the first time in two years, the state finally passed a budget, after lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto on raising taxes. But they used massive tax hikes to do it—a 32% increase in state income taxes and 33% increase in state corporate taxes—and still Illinois’ new budget generates only $5 billion, not nearly enough to cover its $15 billion deficit. Continue reading

Policing for profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s thinly veiled plot to rob us blind

Let’s not mince words. Continue reading

Trump may fire Mueller but he can’t stop state and global investigation of money laundering activities

Strongman President Donald Trump has floated the idea of firing Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller if the former FBI director crosses a “red line” and delves into the financial practices of Trump and members of his family. However, the president cannot escape current and reportedly planned investigations of money laundering pursued by non-federal entities, including state attorneys general. Even if Trump pardons members of his family, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for “all past and present crimes,” presidential pardon power only applies to federal criminal charges, not those brought by the states and, definitely, not criminal indictments by foreign legal authorities. Continue reading

Hail to our flounder-in-chief

Only half a year into the Trump administration and the narcissism, prevarication and corruption have our democracy in crisis.

Fish stinks from the head, as the ancient Greeks first said, and right now there’s a 250-pound flounder stinking up the White House and all those around the place. Continue reading

Trump seeking way out of Iran nuclear deal?

It’s an international agreement, involving the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany. Continue reading

United States drowning in an ocean of subjectivism

CS Lewis has a great point. Everywhere in the United States the disease of subjectivism is present. The evidence abounds: The polarization of the political system; the dismissal of history because of discomfort with historical facts; “trigger” warnings for literary texts that offend sensibility; the vicious censure befalling authors for developing literary characters of a different race or ethnic experience, applying the rules of law for some and not others; or disavowing a higher spiritual power of some sort. Continue reading

Back from the grave: The revenge of the Soviet empire

We are living through one of the most staggering political events in American history. What became very tangible with the exposure of Donald Trump Jr.’s email exchange with the lawyer who headed Putin’s PR campaign against the Magnitsky Act sanctions is earthshattering. What is unfolding is unprecedented and has America reeling. Continue reading

US moves against Iran raise spectre of wider regional conflict

US President Donald J. Trump, in a step that could embolden Saudi Arabia to move ahead with plans to destabilize Iran, has instructed White House aides to give him the arguments for withholding certification in October that Iran has complied with its nuclear agreement with world powers. Continue reading

Worst on record cholera epidemic in Yemen

Obama’s war on Yemen, escalated by Trump, bears full responsibility for what Oxfam calls the worst outbreak of cholera “ever recorded in any country in a single year.” Continue reading

‘The Israel Lobby’: Time for a second edition

A decade ago in 2007, John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Academic Dean of the Kennedy School from 2002–2006, published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The publisher was the prestigious publishing house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The authors made a convincing case that Israel operating through its American lobbies, which are not registered as foreign agents, succeeds in using US foreign policy in Israel’s interests. The authors conclude that the use of US foreign policy in Israel’s interests is damaging to both America’s national interests and to Israel’s long-term security. Continue reading

We’re drowning in it

You know what I mean, I don’t have to spell it out. I’m not referring to the necessary healthy kind, the kind that has gotten a bad rap on account of its necessary smell. Continue reading

Trump lashes out as Mueller’s investigators close in

In a July 19 audio-taped interview with three reporters from The New York Times, a paper that has been disparaged by strongman President Donald Trump as a failing business reporting “fake news,” Trump had harsh words for the entire upper echelon of the Department of Justice. Trump lambasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the “Russia probe” and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for being a secret Democrat from “Baltimore.” Trump also attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI director James Comey, and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. Trump made it clear that he would have not chosen Sessions as his Attorney General had he known he would recuse himself from Russian investigatory matters. Continue reading

Freedom Rider: Kamala Harris and America’s oligarchs

The proof that America is not a democracy is quite obvious. Academic studies and our own common sense tell us that this nation is ruled of, for and by wealthy individuals and corporate interests. One of their most tenaciously held prerequisites is the ability to decide who does and doesn’t run for office, and the presidency is their most prized possession of all. Continue reading

Have a blessed military-industrial empire!

You go to the butcher shop and the sweet young cashier gives you change and says ‘Have a blessed day.’ You call one of your small business customers and they bid you adieu with ‘Have a blessed day.’ You watch some news talk show on the boob tube and the commentator says, ‘Bless our brave warriors.’ A lady at a retail store cashier line gets into a conversation about our (so-called) ‘Iraq War’ and she states equivocally ‘When someone breaks into your house, you have a right to kill them.’ Churches throughout America have, ever since 9/11, been falling over themselves to make sure to ‘Bless our brave troops,’ never beginning to focus on the tens of thousands of innocent civilians our ‘brave troops’ and drone missiles and WMD have murdered in the name of this ‘War on Terror.’ This is madness amplified to the Nth degree! Continue reading

Glioblastoma as metaphor

For those of us who see the dead, the children’s bodies washed ashore, charred skin, how are we supposed to feel? What are we to think? Continue reading

The ‘deep state’ then and now

Have you ever seen a photograph of yourself from the past and laughed or grimaced at the way you were dressed or your hair style? It’s a common experience. But few people draw the obvious conclusion about the present: that our present appearance might be equally laughable. The personal past seems to be “over there,” an object to be understood and dissected for its meaning, while the present seems opaque and shape-shifting—or just taken-for-granted okay. “That was then,” says the internal voice, “but I am wiser now.” Historical perspective, even about something as superficial as appearance, rarely illuminates the present, perhaps because it makes us feel ignorant and unfree. Continue reading

The story behind the Jerusalem attack: How Trump and Netanyahu pushed Palestinians into a corner

In early October 2016, Misbah Abu Sbeih left his wife and five children at home and then drove to an Israeli police station in Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. Continue reading

Criminalizing support for BDS

BDS activism is vital to demand Israel be held accountable for its longstanding high crimes against millions of Palestinians. Continue reading

America’s Trump, not Trump’s America

Strong words from a brave woman unknown to most Americans because her bravery and boldness didn’t just concern a minority group but all of humanity. She demanded radical change in a system and not just one or another representative to operate that system in a more beneficial way for her group. And the Catholic Worker, the organization she founded and led, operated on behalf of the poorest of Americans while working to both help them and everyone else by advocating and working for radical social change of a system and not just its board of directors. She called a spade a spade, unlike most political leaders of her time and ours. They give euphemism a really bad name and are more likely to identify a spade as a club, hypocrisy as democracy, war as peace, and humans as a market. Continue reading

Don’t trust business with education

Greasy politicians use education funds to enrich corporations—and themselves.

Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick are lucky: They inherited a big chunk of the multi-billion-dollar fortune that Dick’s dad Richard amassed through his shady Amway corporation. But what they’ve done with their Amway money is certainly not the American Way. Continue reading

Trumpcare has long been with us

Watching CNN’S New Day health care exchange Tuesday morning I was ready to explode after Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo traded words. Cuomo pointed out that many Republicans now favor simply doing nothing on health care until Obamacare falls apart, with, perhaps, a push from the president. He then remarked that a great many people would suffer. Continue reading

Yemen: The war that isn’t happening even as it’s happening

The manipulation of news and the distortion of reality are the most powerful weapons in the hands of power. They can make a whole reality disappear. Continue reading

This is not a ‘victory’

Every two to four years, we the people are given the opportunity to vote. This is our claim to living in a democracy. Continue reading

There’s no ‘free market’ solution to health care

A fully privatized system can never adequately provision the nation.

The Republicans have big plans for health care in this country: to eliminate coverage for millions of Americans while delivering a big tax cut to the rich. Continue reading

Six-month update for Trump voters

So after six months, has he delivered what he promised you? Continue reading

‘The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America’

A Q&A with author Nancy MacLean about the elusive James McGill Buchanan.

Author Nancy MacLean has unearthed a stealth ideologue of the American right. Her book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” tells the story of one James McGill Buchanan, a Southern political scientist and father of “public choice economics.” MacLean details how this little-known figure has had a massive impact on the ideology of the far right. None other than Charles Koch looked to MacLean’s theories for inspiration. They are libertarian—but with a twist: bluntly, it “entails restrictions on the freedom of the great majority in order to protect property rights and the prerogatives of the most well off.” MacLean shows how this idea can be traced down through the last 60 years of right-wing politics, starting with Brown v. The Board of Education and continuing with the Koch brothers’ empire. And she demonstrates that those followers and those in thrall to the Koch billions are pumping up their fight under the new administration. Continue reading

Zombies R Us: ‘We the people’ are the walking dead of the American police state

RIP George Romero (1940–2017). Continue reading

The Trump standard

What did Trump say when confronted with proof that his son jumped at the prospect of meeting with a “Russian government attorney” offering to dish dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for his candidacy? Continue reading

On nationalism

If you like these lyrics, you’re most likely to be young, progressive and/or a Westerner. A video of the song begins with John and Yoko walking through a misty woods towards an elegant mansion. Above the door, there’s a sign, “THERE IS NO HERE,” a clear reference to Thomas More’s Utopia, which literally means “no place.” Whereas More was being satirical, Lennon sang “Imagine” quite earnestly, and his admirers see it as an ideal. Considering how things are going in the West, they feel closer to this goal of having no countries than ever. Borders are bad, and nationalism is just another word for fascism, they believe. Continue reading

That night the lights went out

Forty years after the torrid summer of 1977 brought a massive blackout, New Yorkers confront a different kind of powerlessness.

Forty years ago this summer, the lights went out. Continue reading

Identifying the root of our problems

The environmentalists are fighting their fight, the anti-racists are fighting their fight, those who want universal healthcare are fighting their fight, the anti-imperialists are fighting their fight. I could go on and on but the message should be clear . . . we are divided into pockets of struggle, ignoring the very issue that is the root of all these struggles and around which we should all unite . . . CAPITALISM. Continue reading

New lawsuit aims to stop Trump’s ‘sham commission’ dead in its tracks

Suit filed a day after White House releases commenters' personal information in comments that show hatred for voter commission

As the White House releases 112 pages of colorful comments—and personal information—after it asked for the public to weigh in on its so-called Election Integrity Commission and received an overwhelmingly negative response, a new lawsuit aims to protect voters’ privacy rights by stopping the controversial commission’s sweeping data demand. Continue reading