Saturday, February 18, 2012


Let us pay homage to Foster Friess. He is a true American success story. Valedictorian of his tiny Rice Lake, WI high school, Friess was also captain of the baseball, basketball, golf and track teams. Majoring in business administration at the University of Wisconsin, Friess eventually founded Friess Associates in 1974, which has, for 38 years, been one of the most successful investment management firms ever, providing Friess with a fortune that may rival if not surpass that of Mitt Romney. Friess doesn't make things...he makes money.

As a born again Evangelical Christian who attributes all his success to his faith, Friess has poured millions into religious and conservative political causes. He discovered a special combination of the religious and conservative in the Presidential campaign of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is running around the country issuing calls for the fusion of religion and politics never quite seen before. Santorum injects his rigid, non-reason based religious views on topics such as marriage equality, access of working folks to adequate health care, and even fuels his Armageddon like call to bomb Iran.

Until this week Friess' largess provided Santorum and other conservative causes like the Koch Brothers and the anti union, anti education agenda of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has been hidden from mainstream voters. Then Friess couldn't resist the opportunity to chime in on the completely invented culture war issued raised by Republicans, including Santorum, regarding birth control. During an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Friess dismissed the urgent need of women for contraception with the tone deaf joke that "back in my days they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly".

The tens of millions of women who require and depend on affordable and dependable contraceptives for family planning and many non-pregnancy related health issues do not think Mr. Friess and his religiously extremist candidate are very humorous. The GOP is beginning to realize, to their horror, that come November 6, those millions of "gals" will remember Mr. Friess and whoever represents the utterly insensitive and backwards thinking GOP ticket. And on November 7th, Foster Friess may be passing out a lot of free Bayer Aspirin. But thankfully, it won't be used to prevent prevent'll be used to cure a massive post-election hangover.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Rich McDermott, my fellow Glen Ellynite, generated so much heat with his long letter bashing all things Obama (Glen Ellyn News, February 9th) that I could barely hold onto the paper; but so little light I could barely read it if I could.

His focus was on the recent Obama Administration decision to require Catholic institutions such as universities, hospitals and charities to provide women with the same access to birth control at no cost as every other such institution, whether religious or secular. Mr. McDermott omitted that the requirement does not apply to churches and related organizations closely tied to a religion's doctrinal mission. Many employers of the former group, which enjoy government funding, hire many non-Catholic as well as Catholic women. These folks should not be denied access to critical reproductive health care services including contraception. That is called taking care of the commons, a concept that Mr. McDermott displays a profound ignorance of when he disparages the Affordable Health Care Act as being "shoved down our throats". The forty million uninsured Americans sure are thankful they're finally swallowing the benefits from that legislation which is finally protecting their health care needs from a heartless private health insurance industry more concerned with billions in profits than a healthy citizenry.

Nor is Mr. McDermott willing to admit that 98%, nearly all, of sexually active Catholic women use contraceptives, and every poll of Catholics, sexually active women or otherwise, shows a majority of Catholics approve of this new ruling. Under Mr. McDermott's logic, a religion which believes that blood transfusions are immoral should have the same right to prohibit their inclusion in covered services.

I suspect that this call to battle against the President over a manufactured "culture war" issue reflects desperation from the lack of substantive issues since Obama has killed Osama bin Laden, ended our senseless and murderous Iraq war and presides over 23 straight months of private sector job growth in an unquestionably improving economy. And all of this has been accomplished in spite of a Republican deadlocked Congress overtly determined to deny him any progress.

As Mr. McDermott prepares to lead his legions into culture war battles against an imagined heathen President, he might want to look around. The paucity of fellow warriors will reflect the belief of most that McDermott's crusade is not just a tempest in a teapot, its more like a tempest in a thimble.

Originally published in the Glen Ellyn News, February 15, 2012