Saturday, July 28, 2012


At first blush Leona Helmsley and Ann Romney would appear to have nothing in common. Helmsley, after all, looked the part of her moniker "the Queen of Mean" given to the imperious, stern, dark haired billionaire real estate mogul for her legendary mis-treatment of the poorly paid folk who cleaned up after her. On the other hand, the sweet, blond, soft spoken Romney, appears to be the perfect wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother one could possibly imagine.

Alas, the two have more in common than meets the eye. Helmsley, who died in 2007, and Romney, running hard to become First Lady, both amassed immense wealth and worked very hard to pay as little tax as possible. Hemlsley and her husband, Harry, engaged in all sorts of illegal schemes to avoid taxes including having contractors on their private dwellings send the invoices to their hotels as business expenses. These shenanigans eventually landed Leona in the hoosegow for tax evasion and extortion. Ann Romney, and her husband, presidential contender Mitt, may not have broken a single law or mis-treated a single business associate in conformance with their image. But they sure haven't paid much tax, either, as far as we can determine from their meager financial disclosures. Ann and Mitt did it the old fashioned rich way - off shoring as much income as possible to the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Switzerland.

Back in 1989, Leona Helmsley was quoted at her trial as telling her housekeeper: "We don't pay taxes. Only little people pay taxes". Ann Romney told an interviewer 23 years later when questioned about her finances: "We've given you people all you need to know."

To paraphrase novelist F. Scott's Fitzgerald's most famous quote: "The rich are very different from you and me.....they pay less taxes".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Last week, while vital social services to the needy are being cut and our infrastructure crumbles almost before our eyes, Congress voted down a chance to bring our bankrupting Afghanistan war to an end. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (Dem, CA) offered an amendment to the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill, that would have required the safe and responsible withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan. During a mere one hour debate, she pleaded with her colleagues to stop this "unconscionable" waste of American and Afghan lives. She pointed out that the vast majority of Americans want this murderous and failed venture stopped. Ironically, the 75% vote (312 to 107) to quash Lee's amendment is virtually the mirror opposite of the near 75% of Americans who want the war ended.

So, the $88.5 billion we will squander in Fiscal 2013 to bring more death and destruction to Afghanistan and American military personnel will proceed as planned. Why? Most Congressmen are either part of, or totally controlled by, the Military Industrial Complex, who demands the gravy train that feeds their wealth and power keep chugging along. Kudos to the 107 who voted with the people. Raspberries to the cowardly three quarters who didn't.

Also published in the Glen Ellyn Patch, July 25, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

It is disappointing that the Tribune editorial board, in today's "A race to the bottom", completely falls for the moral equivalency of the Obama, Romney attacks on each other.

For the past four years, including the 2008 campaign, the President has endured with enormous grace, civility and wit, the most vicious, false, racist and demonizing assault by an opposition party on a candidate and President in my 60 years of following politics. Where was the Trib editorial board when the Tea Party, the fictitious grass roots propaganda arm of the GOP, created and funded by the GOP mega millionaires, and promoted by Fox News, endlessly portrayed Obama as the un-American other: black, socialist, Hitler-like, a monkey, domestic terrorist, foreign born. Let's get this straight: this despicable campaign was ignored by the GOP moguls and their media supporters like the Trib, because they both knew it was working, and as a non-official entity, it gave them and you, cover.

I do not know how you folks get you information to say, "Mr. Obama, your in artful scolding about what built whose business was beneath you", but it sounds like the faked Romney ad that essentially video-shopped Obama's speech to conveniently leave out Obama's reference to governmental infrastructure that underlies and nourishes EVERY private business success. Furthermore, it is simply incomprehensible that you could preach to the Prez that "you will need to work with business leaders and Republicans to promote job growth". Obama has twisted himself into an almost unrecognizable pretzel at times to compromise, educate and plead with these two groups for bi-partisan support of job creation measures. The GOP, as promised in their meeting the day after the election to oppose EVERY single Presidential measure to further their single goal of making him a one term President, has done just that: delaying and filibustering and and voting down every one of those job creation measures, precisely as promised. That needs to be exposed and challenged.

I have listened to hundreds of Obama and Democratic leaders' speeches and interviews these past four years and haven't encountered a single false, malicious, mean-spirited, incendiary comment like top GOP Romney strategist John Sununu's recent remark that President Obama "should learn how to be an American". That is said specifically to appeal to the racist, foreign born, socialist, terrorist and freeloader imagery the GOP us using in their desperate attempt to regain the White House. I have heard, however, intelligent and serious persons speak to me in full sentences and paragraphs about what is lacking in our country and what needs to be done. I have not heard such thoughtful, reasoned discussion of issues since Jack Kennedy in the 1960's and Adlai E. Stevenson in the 1950's. From the other side we get mostly calls for more tax cuts for the very wealthy and more job cuts for the hard working and needed unionized public employees, including teachers, police, fire fighters and postal workers.

As far as anti Romney attack ads, it is entirely fair, indeed necessary, to educate the voting public about how candidate Romney made hundreds of millions of dollars in some part from promoting job outsourcing, or as he calls it "job off shoring". It is entirely fair and necessary to raise questions about Romney's bets against the American economy by sheltering much of his hundreds of millions in income offshore as well. We can only get these serious questions answered if Romney gives us a few more years of tax returns to examine.

That is not a race to the bottom, gentlemen, its a journey to the top; albeit alone.