Thursday, June 12, 2008


June 2, 2008

Congressman Peter Roskam
150 S. Bloomingdale Road, Suite 200
Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Dear Congressman Roskam,

Lack of moral courage appears to be a hallmark of your Congressional career these past seventeen months.

With your keen and insightful intelligence you know as well as the roughly two thirds of Sixth District constituents that the Iraq war was made up, sold with lies and continued for sixty-three months with shameless propaganda. Yet, as Congressman, you continue to fund it with twelve billion dollars monthly while Iraqis and Americans needlessly suffer and die.

Somehow you have compartmentalized this immoral position from your daily duties as our Congressman. There is no Iraq war issue to review or comment upon on your Congressional website. There is no call for a war tax to pay for its estimated three trillion dollar price tag which most certainly adds to the colossal financial woes we face as it damages our standing and reputation around the world. There is no plea for the sons and daughters of your constituents to join the military to be served up as canon fodder for a cause we now know was to make the Commander in Chief revered by historians as a great wartime President. And there is no sense of shame or outrage that 1,041 Americans and untold thousands of Iraqis have perished on your watch through May, 2008.

Having run for office by pledging unquestioned support to the war party and their catastrophic war, you know you are boxed into an untenable position. Your solution? Simply pretend that it does not exist. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west and 300 million dollars must be spent during that daily cycle no matter what and no questions asked.

You would do well to read one of the great speeches in American history, Martin Luther King’s April 4, 1967 anti Vietnam War speech entitled, “A Time To Break Silence”. King’s display of moral courage in giving that speech was breathtaking. He risked and received a torrent of criticism from President Johnson who had supported his civil rights work; from leaders within the civil rights movement who felt he was abandoning the task at hand of securing black civil rights; even from the progressive news organization such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

In the speech King asserts,
“Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the
task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the
human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist
thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.”

But knowing full well the criticism that would follow his speech, King concludes,
“I have worked too long now, and too hard to get rid of segregation in public
accommodations to turn back to the point of segregating my moral concern.
Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And
Wherever I see injustice, I’m going to take a stand against it whether it’s in
Mississippi or in Vietnam”.

Forty-one years after that speech, former presidential press secretary Scott McClellan, for three years the public face of the deception, propaganda and mis-information which enabled the Iraq war, exhibited a bit of the moral courage that King so eloquently cried out for in 1967. He has cut his ties with the war party forever with his memoir “What Happened?” which strips away the last shred of respectability from a President and his councilors who so foolishly plunged us into this quagmire of bankruptcy, both moral and financial.

When you finish Martin Luther King’s speech, pick up McClellan’s mea culpa to see first hand that no matter how much damage one does during one’s time in public service, it is never too late to speak as well as know the truth.

Sir, you know the truth. It is time to speak it and to act it. Don’t wait till you are out of office like Scott McClellan. Do it while there is still time to make a difference.

Respectfully yours,

Walt Zlotow

Originally published in Glen Ellyn News, June 12, 2008


All of horse racing fandom and many outside the the Sport of Kings are contemplating the astonishing failure of Big Brown to compete in the Belmont Stakes and complete the Triple Crown last Saturday.

Running third going into the final turn, jockey Kent Desormeaux signaled his Triple Crown "sure thing" to engage his booster rockets for the patented burst of speed he's employed to win all five previous races including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes by a total of thirty-nine lengths. Instead, Big Brown morphed into Big Bust, refusing to run and finishing dead last, a first for any equine competing for the last leg of horsedom's greatest feat.

Was it the quarter crack that developed in his left front foot a week before the race? Could it have been the use of anabolic steroids fed our wonder horse up till just before he won the Derby in April. They are banned in ten states but in none of the three where Triple Crown events take place. If the other nine contenders were affected by the ninety-three degree heat it didn't cause them to quit.

It may have more to do with the folly of man who has been training horses to risk life and limb for the pleasure and profit of their masters since 4,500 BC. It is in our nature to control those who have no voice and no say when it comes to doing our bidding, whether it's less fortunate people or thoroughbred horses. Big Brown was moving to the Winner's Circle at the Derby when second place finisher Eight Belles broke down and was destroyed trackside after her gallant run to glory for her owners.

Maybe we sell these wondrous creatures short. Could Big Brown have sensed the injustice and stupidity of the fate that is handed to him and his lesser steeds and simply rebelled against the exploitation they have endured for six thousand, five hundred years? If so, Eight Belles, up in horse heaven, would be smiling. And man again learns, you can lead a horse to the Triple Crown, but you can't make him run.

Originally published in Chicago Tribune, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Presidential hopeful John McCain says he will return America to fiscal responsibility by vetoing any spending bills with unnecessary pork barrel earmarks. The earmarks he speaks of are a pittance compared to the $300 million we spend every day in a war the Senate Intelligence Committee has finally and officially proclaimed to be based on lies.

If McCain really wants to return America to fiscal responsibility, he should promise to turn off this spigot of blood money used to needlessly kill American soldiers and Iraqis every day in Iraq. It would also have the benefit of ending our participation in war crimes.

This is what we call a "twofer."

Originally published in Chicago Tribune, June 10, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008


The avalanche of hate, disparagement and vilification aimed at Father Michael Pfleger for his May 25 over-the-top sarcasm directed at Hillary Clinton is puzzling. Usually such response is directed at someone who truly does something dreadful to the public interest.

Not being a churchgoer, I don't know a single man of the cloth personally. The only local holy man I am familiar with is Father Pfleger, who has been an inspiration to me since he chose to dedicate his life to the betterment of his Englewood parish, and by extension Chicagoland and America.

I taught school in that neighborhood from 1968 to 1972, and can only marvel at the good works Pfleger has accomplished during these past three decades.

It would be interesting to compare all the good works and deeds of the thousands of Pfleger's stone-throwers against the good works and deeds of this single man. His may well be a mountain versus their molehill.

I suggest Father Pfleger take the two-week break from his parish requested by Cardinal George to contemplate the need to leave politics out of his sermons. Then he should get back to the task of creating a better parish, a better Chicagoland, a better America.

And if he ever does leave the priesthood, he may want to consider stand up comedy.
His sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ was a hoot.

Originally published in Daily Herald, June 7, 2008