Monthly Archives: March 2014

A library book-talk you don’t want to miss

The book is America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come, co-authored by Oak Parker Michael Lotus and James Bennett.

The speaker is Michael Lotus. Date and time: April 9, 7 pm in the Oak Park library’s Veteran’s Room, 2nd floor of 834 Lake Street.

He is one of the library’s scintillating series of author-speakers, the third of six currently scheduled for April and May — on books about growing food and cooking it, how women of all ages can enjoy sex, how children raise parents (yes, it’s not a typo), and walk-racing in the 1870s and 1880s!

Been there, done that — 20 years ago, talking up a book on library time — and it was a pleasure, believe me.

As this and the other talks will be a pleasure for you the book-reader and thinker of great thoughts.

This America 3.0 book, which uses the language of software development to describe three Americas, one past, another present, a third yet to come.

America 1.0, roughly 1603 to 1860, was a time of “muscle power, wind and water power . . . the world of farms and small towns and frontier settlement.”

America 2.0, our own America, has been an age of coal-powered steam engine, railroads, street cars, automobiles. Wealth rapidly increased overall. “Ordinary citizens,” finding themselves “at the mercy of events,” demanded help from their government beyond anything they had previously “needed or wanted.”

It became the Progressive Era, what we have now, with its increasingly grim future of “borrowing irresponsibly, defaulting silently on creditors through inflation, squeezing taxpayers with more thorough intrusion and coercion, confiscating the private savings of Americans in the guise of ‘rescuing’ them, eating our seed corn by confiscating medical facilities and running them down without proper reinvestment, and in general stripping and looting the country.”

Now what? As bad as that sounds, Lotus and Bennett see a way out, along the way offering one fascinating historical explanation after another of our character as a people.

Thus the American nuclear family has been dominant, as in Britain, as opposed to the primarily extended family on the Continent. Germanic and English inheritances (not racial but cultural and economic) shaped us throughout the two Americas, 1.0 and 2.0, and are to be tapped and mined for the brave new world of 2040 and beyond.

Come to the Library April 9, to hear about all this from Michael Lotus, and maybe become a convert from pessimism about America’s future, in the process — who knows? — laying down a few bucks for a signed copy.


Sen. Harmon’s Fair Tax not the real Fair Tax

The real Fair Tax has been around a while, and it’s just the opposite of Harmon’s definition. Again, he spins and spins and spins. Objections abound from Fair Taxers from around the country in Wed. Journal comments, as here, ripped from the online pages of the Wednesday Journal:

Uncommon Sense
Posted: March 26th, 2014 9:03 PM
Is this Fair Tax going to be like the Affordable Care Act? With liberals you can always count on the exact opposite of whatever they name their bills.

Jim Bennett from Summit, NJ
Posted: March 26th, 2014 5:21 PM
This group has improperly used the name “Fair Tax” to identify their movement. THE FairTax(R) is a movement to promote a national retail sales tax to replace Subtitles A, B, and C of the Internal Revenue Code and to phase out the IRS over a three-year period. For more information, go to

Beverly Martin from Fulton
Posted: March 26th, 2014 5:00 PM
Using the name “fair tax” is dishonest since the name “FairTax” is protected by copywrite law and would end the income tax which includes any type of flat tax which still depends upon income reporting and taxation. Many people and organizations have deliberately used the term fair tax to mislead and confuse voters. This explains the difference between the FairTaxHR25 and the flat tax. learn more at

Kenneth Smith from Sunnyvale, CA
Posted: March 26th, 2014 1:48 PM
I agree with Randy Fischer. The Fair Tax is trademarked and stands for legislation currently pending in both houses of Congress at the federal level. Randy explains it well in his comment. Further detailed information can be found by simply Googling Fair Tax. We need to make this happen by insisting that our U. S. congressmen/women and U.S. senators co-sponsor and actively support the Fair Tax.

Randy Fischer from Ocala
Posted: March 26th, 2014 1:24 PM
Senator Harmon must stop appropriating and misusing the name Fair Tax or any derivation of that name. It is a violation of trademark to do use it and it is being used contrary to the purposes of the group that have the name. HR-25 is proposed federal legislation seeking to replace the income tax, death taxes, dividend and interest taxes and corporate taxes with a national retail sales tax. Income taxes are inherently evil and punish hard work and thrift. Stop using that term.

And the latest (11:45 or so) in re: Harmon’s “fair tax” from Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller:

* The House Revenue Committee has voted down a proposed constitutional amendment for a graduated income tax while approving Speaker Madigan’s “millionaire’s tax” – a three percent surcharge on income over $1 million.

Today, by the way, was the “Fair Tax” Statehouse lobby day. The group has focused more of its progressive tax efforts on the Senate, but it got a taste of harsh reality in House Revenue today. A rally is scheduled for noon.

Madigan one, Harmon nothing?


Tags: Fair+tax, HR+25, progressive+tax+Illinois, Sen.+Don+Harmon, Rep.+Mike+Madigan, millionaire’s+tax


Japan pays attention . . .

. . . to Oak Park:

OAK PARK, Ill.—When I walked along the snow-covered sidewalk, my feet made a slight crunching sound. A cold spell lowered the temperature to 15 degrees below zero, making me hunch my shoulders. When I looked up though, my eyes were drawn to houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the maestro of modern architecture. . . .

. . . writes Eiji Hirose, Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent for The Japan News. For him or her it was a “Trip Through Time,” about “Turning a suburb into a masterpiece,” with attention (naturally) to Frank Lloyd Wright.

In case you Oak Parkers and others have gotten blase about it all.

Don Harmon’s fairness runneth over. End cometh for unfair tax?

Senator Don and others had a problem last June, how to pay for things. Voters were waiting, hands outstretched. But the wherewithal was running short, he judged. So he decided to return to the well. Amend the constitution, ditch the one-size-fits-all flat tax, and raise more moolah!

He filed the senate bill on the last day of the session, early enough to “build momentum” in the months ahead, he told The Daily Herald, even get people used to the idea of paying more to live in Illinois. It would be by way of a brand-new progressive income tax. A fair tax, he called it on the hustings last summer, and the bill’s synopsis has it.

Gone will be the “non-graduated rate . . . [so] that this may be a fair tax,” It says. Which is b.s., as if this amendment is a new bill of taxpayer rights, when it’s for moolah. The vote’s a-coming. We are to find out who has the fairest tax in our land, hoping the answer will be our great state of Illinois!

Meanwhile, some have more to give and must do so. Get into the deep pockets, therefore. Save the state, save the programs.

How deep the pockets for this pursuit of extra moolah? Deep starting at $18,001 a year, covering all those people who would otherwise be cruising along unfairly, even outrageously. Let them cough up.

Especially those at the top, making over $500,000 a year. Don’s fellow (or sister) Dem in the House wants 9% of their overage — her bill is “nearly identical” to Don’s — up from the flat 3.75% which is to succeed the current (temporary) 5%.

She wants 8% of what’s over $195,000, 7% of over $95,000, 6% of over $58,000, 5% of over $36,000, and finally 4% of the aforementioned $18,000.

Make more than a princely $18,000, you get a tax increase. It would be “one of the largest transfers of wealth in the history of Illinois,” says the Illinois Policy Institute, and “not from the wealthy to the poor – but from the general public” to unionized government workers.

Senator Don wants this. Give it to him. He’s a man of the people. Deep-pocket citizens, unite! Give Senator Don your vote, give him your money. It’s fair!

SEOPCO’s Friday Night shenanigans . . .

SEOPCO (Southeast Oak Park Community Organization) knows a good thing when it sees it:

Get ready to sham-ROCK out at the inaugural Green Mile Pub Crawl on Friday, March 14 from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Why pack yourself into a single crowded bar this St. Patrick’s Day? Spread the shenanigans around Berwyn’s Roosevelt Road on the year’s night of nights to get out.

Participating venues will be lit green in the spirit of the Emerald Isle. Tip your favorite pint and take part in a night of revelry including bagpipers, Irish fare, dancing and music including traditional folk to karaoke.

No covers. No cost to join the crawl. No need to drive. Free shuttle service will be available between bars, including FitzGeralds, Wire and the Friendly Tap.

Check out the Green Mile Pub Crawl webpage for more information.

Don’t forget our SEOPCO membership drive going on this month. Visit our webpage to contribute.


To like Ike or not to like Ike, that is our question

Let us now praise Ike Carothers, or at least point out how he is not an absurdist candidate, made for horrifying Democrats and amusing Republicans.

First, he has a point about being forgiven, of course, even by voters. Depends what he did badly and what he did well and (frankly) how his constituents fared, comparatively speaking, especially in Chicago and Cook County, where standards are lower.

The question in any case is how, all things considered, a candidate stacks up against opponents. There are no paragons here. As for Republicans, we live where Democrats decide and others reside, so primaries matter. A lot.

Consider, therefore, the bad old Ike. In June 2006, when City Hall patronage chief Robert Sorich was standing trial, prosecutors had a list, not a little one, of clouted job seekers and their political sponsors. Ike’s name turned up more than any other alderman‘s. He was the kind of clout-wielder who gives clout-wielding a bad name.

In 1985, cleared criminally of threatening and beating a political opponent and his allies, Ike, his father, his brother William, and a fourth defendant were found liable civilly and ordered to pay the complainant $152,000. He was the kind of hardball-playing politician who gives hardball politics a bad name.

More recently, he pleaded guilty to taking a bribe and spent 28 months in federal prison, finishing his two years post-prison probation six months ago. Is this whom we want for a Cook County commissioner? 

Ald. Emma Mitts thinks so, and was in the audience at the Oak Park library for the Feb. 25 commissioner candidates forum. (Ike noted her presence.) He made a big mistake by accepting bribes, Mitts told the Sun-Times. But since his return from prison, he has been humbled, she said. “He used to have this attitude of swag. He had a walk of power, throwing his weight around — I didn’t see that anymore,” said Mitts, who was a Carothers protégé on the City Council. He’s a different man, as she sees it.

Others of her constituents have done time. “When they come back,” she said, “they don’t get a hand, they can’t get no help.” She decided to help this one.

Ike told The Chicago Reader’s Mick Dumke he’s done a lot of thinking and has grown. He looks different, Dumke wrote. “He’s still thick-chested and bulldog-necked, but slimmer and mellower. He no longer looks quite as ready to plow everybody over for not stepping to the side fast enough.”

Ike: “Sometimes trouble comes your way, but I think you have to be resilient enough to recognize you’ve made some mistakes in life, to learn from those mistakes, and you come back and you learn from them so you’re better. And I feel I’m better. I feel I’m better.”

The supposed bribe came from the (since convicted) Galewood Yards (Central Ave. north of North Ave.) developer, Calvin Boender.

But Carothers was all for the development, he told Dumke.

There was nothing in it not to like, [he said] he did not have to be bribed. The community was grateful for it and other projects he brought about while alderman, including a new hospital, a new police station, and street lights and infrastructure upgrades. But he admits that it wasn’t “appropriate” to let developer Boender pay for the work on his house.

“When the contractors came I asked him, ‘Let’s work out the details in terms of the cost,’ and he said, ‘I’ll get back to you.’ Down the road it became evident that [Boender] made the decision that, ‘Oh, I’m going to pay for that.’ And that’s the mistake that I made, to continue to let him do that. And I’m remorseful for it.”

You don’t believe him? Be my guest. But keep in mind he got $40,000 worth of repairs and World Series tickets for doing what’s done a lot by Chicago aldermen — it’s the most corrupt city, says UIC prof and ex-Ald. Dick Simpson — who are enmeshed, like it or not (they like it), in the city-businessmen partnerships that beg for collusion. Boender made millions on the deal. $40,000? Peanuts.

This situation also begs for scalp-hunting by prosecutors, who fill out the picture of Kabuki-like prancing and dancing that we call big-city government. Consider the grandstanding by Patrick Fitzgerald on the morning he arrested Blagojevich, including his over-the-top headline-grabbing rhetoric. Mission accomplished, something on order of Elliott Ness driving his souped-up, front-armored vehicle through distillery doors or axe-swinging lawmen of the same era busting up beer barrels for the late editions.

more more more later . . .

Boykin leads county commissioner race by many lengths

Rahm’s man — also Toni’s, DPOP’s, and Anan’s — trails badly, better only than fifth-placer Ron Lawless:

Richard Boykin, the former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Danny Davis D-Ill., has a 20-point lead in the race for the Cook County Board’s 1st District seat, according to a poll his campaign released first to the Sun-Times’ Early&Often.

The numbers, posted below, show an incredible surge by Boykin since January and a steep drop by former Chicago Ald. Ike Carothers.

The poll also shows that despite Blake Sercye’s high-profile endorsements — including from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Secretary Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — he is in fourth place, behind Carothers and activist Brenda Smith. Ron Lawless is also running in the crowded March 18th primary.

In a survey of 400 likely general election voters taken by GBA Strategies Feb. 25-27 — after the Emanuel, Preckwinkle endorsement — the poll shows Boykin with 34 percent, Carothers with 15, Smith with 13 and Sercye with 10. The survey, however, shows 23 percent undecided, meaning there is some room even with less than three weeks to go. 

What do you know?

(H/T @rosiepowers)

Psst! Don Harmon has an opponent in the primary

He’s Bob Galhotra, of Galewood, a public defender in Cook County since 1990, past president of the public defenders’ union, AFSCME Local 3315, and avid opponent of the pension legislation that Pat Quinn signed in December — and more importantly, that Don Harmon pushed through.

A “painful and difficult” decision it was for Harmon, he told The Daily Herald, the most so of his 11 years in the senate.

Galhotra would like to make it even more painful, as he explained in an open letter in the Sun-Times to “participants in the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighters, Chicago Municipal Employees, Cook County Employees, Chicago Public School Teacher and Judicial Retirement Systems.”

“Your pension and retirement security is under attack,” he wrote. “Our state government has sent us a clear message: You and I are next. You can’t stop this alone, but we will, together.”

The senate bill “stole the pensions of hard working families,” passing with the minimum number of votes. Change one vote, he said, and “we can protect what’s been promised to us.”

Harmon’s is the only Democratic Senate seat contested in the primary, he said.  “Tell our Democratic Party leaders that there are consequences for stealing our pensions.”

The Herald explained:

That’s the bill [what Galhotra would hope to get passed if elected] Harmon said he and other Senate colleagues preferred, but it didn’t have enough votes in the House. Some estimates say the bill wouldn’t have saved the state as much money as the one that passed — a projected difference between $55 billion and $160 billion.

In other words, what Galhotra wants was not achievable, or so Harmon and other judged.

And though Harmon says he and others have had doubts about the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1 [which became law], “we had to act. We couldn’t politically posture.”

“It doesn’t solve the problem, but I think it gives us a fair amount of headroom to climb out of this hole. When you’re in the bottom of the hole, the first thing you do is stop digging,” Harmon said. “We could not sit on our hands and say, ‘No, we’re just going to let the state sink.’”

In other words again, the senate has just begun to fight; and union members and supporters are bound to have even more to complain about, assuming Harmon wins again.

Not to mention that if he does not, the Dem leadership is bound to find another vote to fend off Galhotra and his allies, because as Harmon told The Herald, the problem remains to be solved.

Save the toxicology-call centers, says Don Harmon, when save the state is the issue

Being an avid supporter of toxicology centers, I can hardly object to Sen. Don Harmon’s latest in a flurry of legislative initiatives geared also, if tangentially, to keep him in the public eye in this election season.

A state senator’s effort to keep the Illinois Poison Center open has cleared a key hurdle.
Oak Park Democrat Don Harmon’s legislation passed from a state government committee Wednesday and now heads to the full chamber for consideration.
Harmon’s office says the Chicago-based toxicology call center handles about 82,000 cases each year.
The center has [suffered] a number of recent budget cuts. Harmon says it could close for good at the end of June without more funding.
Lawmakers face a tight budget year due in part to the expiration of the state’s income tax increase next January. [italics added]

Harmon’s plan would direct a small portion of the fee charged by cellphone companies . . . for 911 services to pay for poison control.

This initiative also serves to call attention to the expiration of an income-tax increase, for which his solution is a constitutional amendment he is now promoting that would provide a progressive income tax to replace the current flat tax (one rate for all incomes).

This latter he continues to designate a “fair tax,” seeking to steal thunder from “fair tax” legislation — introduced in 1999 and reintroduced every session since then — that abolishes the IRS and substitutes a national consumption tax. He likes to fool around with terminologies, as in his “two percent” Illinois income tax increase, from 3% to 5%, which demonstrates shocking innumeracy, and the less egregious because arguably justifiable “marriage equality” for same-sex marriage.

Clever rascal.