Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Boehner's Boo-Hoo Boo-Boos

By Nick Paleologos

In commenting on the power of his office, a former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives once quipped, “Powerful? Let me explain something to you. At the end of the day, I preside over two hundred and forty people that I didn’t hire, and I can’t fire.” Yet David Bartley was, by most accounts, an enormously effective leader of the House. Not so, John Boehner.

You know you’re having a bad day as Speaker when your own bill to fund the Homeland Security Department is voted down because a mini-mob of your party’s members leave you in the lurch:

Washington Post: “a major defeat for Speaker John Boehner who has struggled to govern even as Republicans hold unified control of congress.”

Politico: “Boehner Fails Again”

New York Times: “a stunning and humiliating setback for Speaker John Boehner…”

Since this weepy and woebegone “leader” of the House Republicans in congress was elected Speaker, events like this have become routine occurrences. The current hapless and hopeless fight over putting the country at risk because a few of your colleagues labeled as “illegal” the president’s recent executive order on immigration is just the latest in a long line of Boehner boo-boos.

Still it’s amazing how much slack the chatter class is willing to cut him. Poor John, we’re told. He doesn’t believe any of what he’s saying. He’d much prefer to get something done. He’s only doing what he has to do. Blah. Blah. Blah. Seriously? A real leader would face down the fools on his far flank and force them to actually read the document they so eagerly wave in everybody else's face—the United States Constitution.

The last time I checked, the Supreme Court gets to say what’s constitutional and what isn’t. And if you don’t like their decisions (Obamacare, Citizens United, Immigration, etc), you have three options: change the law, change the court, or change the constitution. It’s up to the Speaker of the House to give a stern reminder to guys like Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks that, no matter how many years he spent in the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s office, shutting down the US government because he can’t get his way is not an option. Period.

That’s what Tip O’Neill would have done. That’s what Sam Rayburn would have done. How much longer must we wait for John Boehner to transform himself from a leader in name to a leader in fact? Suffice it to say that they won’t be naming a federal building after him any time soon.

It’s too bad that the aforementioned David Bartley—who went on to become President of Holyoke Community College—didn’t teach a course on how to be a great Speaker. For starters, he might have advised John Boehner to take a look at his job title in the Constitution: Speaker of the House, not Speaker of the Majority Party Within the House. As that title should tell him, the job description is to find a working majority of all the members in support of public policy choices that most closely mirror his own political philosophy. Plain and simple.

It has been less than two months since the GOP has taken full control of this congress and sadly two things are undeniably true:

1) The radical tail is still wagging the rational dog.

2) That dog won’t hunt.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


by Nick Paleologos

Within a week or so of arriving in Princeton, New Jersey back in 2012, I took a walk around that college’s amazing campus. As I emerged from under a huge stone archway I found myself staring at a building (left) so beautiful, and so strikingly familiar that it brought me back instantly to some of the most cherished moments of my childhood. Turns out I had stumbled upon the home of Princeton University’s Richardson Concert Hall.

Yes, the same Henry Hobson Richardson who designed the place where I spent endless joyful hours as a kid. I’m talking, of course, about the Woburn Public Library (right).
I can still see Mrs. Kennedy, lording over the children’s section from her desk at the far end of the uniquely circular room just inside on the right--surrounded by a treasure trove of stories that fired my imagination and fueled my curiosity.

It was my home away from home. And with every day that passed, a much bigger prize beckoned from the other side of the lobby. The adult section looked like nothing else I had ever seen--like a cathedral of knowledge where every question could be answered. Seemingly endless book-filled alcoves and narrow circular staircases with wrought iron railings loomed over polished wooden tables with sturdy captain’s chairs that stretched on for what seemed to my elementary school eyes like the length of a football field.

And on many a hot summer day, after playing down at Library Park, I found myself sitting on that cool stone bench just outside the huge, thick wooden door with my voice echoing off the portico slabs like I was at some English Castle. The Woburn Public Library is a magical place. I loved it then. I love it now.

We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jonathan Bowers Winn who believed that knowledge in the form of books should be available free of charge to the people of Woburn. And he didn’t just talk the talk. In 1854 (while serving as a delegate to the state constitutional convention) he pledged his entire salary of $300 to the establishment of the Woburn Public Library—provided that the city matched his contribution. They did. Nearly twenty years later, Winn’s brother Tim left the city ten times that amount ($3,000) for the same purpose. Then in 1875, Jonathan’s son Charles outdid both his father and his uncle by leaving the city $140,000 to build a “library building that shall be an ornament to the town.”

For a century and a half, the Woburn Public Library--one of the most beautiful and historic public buildings in Massachusetts--has been at the center (literally) of the city's civic life. And knowledge is even more important now than ever before. So the moment has arrived to prepare the library for the next 150 years: where the latest information technology is still available to all Woburn citizens free of charge; where curious young kids can appreciate a grand old building in brand new ways; and where precious historical artifacts from Woburn’s storied past can be on permanent display for future generations.

Today, in a manner reminiscent of the Jonathan Bowers Winn challenge of 1854, the state of Massachusetts is pledging $10 million to the Woburn Public Library if only the city will match that contribution. Opportunities like this come along—well, once every 150 years! Make no mistake about it. If Woburn doesn’t step up to the plate, another city will. And money pledged to us will go someplace else.

Now is the time for this year's city fathers to show they are worthy successors to the Winn legacy; and that they cherish this “ornament to Woburn” as much as the state does—not to mention the private citizens who have already pledged several million dollars to the cause.

It’s time for Woburn's elected leaders to show the world the real meaning of Tanner Pride.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


The U.S. economy added 3.1 million jobs in 2014, the most since 1999.

That makes a total of more than 8 million full-time private sector jobs added since 2011.

Still, wages remain flat. "Trickle down economics" does not work.



Accumulated offshore profits at end of 2013:
General Electric: $110 billion
Microsoft: $76.4 billion
Pfizer: $69 billion
Apple: $54.4 billion
Exxon Mobil: $48 billion
Citigroup: $43.8 billion
Google: $38.9 billion
Goldman Sachs: $22 billion
Walmart: $19 billion
McDonald's: $16 billion

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Punch Up, George. Not Down.

by Nick Paleologos
January 28, 2015

Last week I read an op-ed piece by George Will in which he decries “The Entitlement State.” Mitt Romney’s famous 47% aren’t just a problem for Mr. Will, they are a full blown catastrophe. And yes, we should definitely put an end to the entitlement state. But not the one he’s talking about. The other one. That gaggle of ungrateful, unpatriotic plutocrats to whom George Will has apparently pledged his allegiance. 

You know who I mean:

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to pay lower tax rates than everybody else while still complaining that taxes are too high.

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to pay pennies into social security for every dollar you pay and still slam your retirement benefits as unsustainable.

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to keep 95% of the wealth created by a nation of workers whose income has barely budged in thirty years, and then blame those same workers for not being able to afford health care, college tuitions, or anything else.

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to secretly spend billions buying public officials to do their bidding--even when it contravenes public opinion--and still complain that the government they own won’t get off their backs.

We’ve got an entitlement state alright. But for some reason George Will can’t see it. Which is amazing when you think that his favorite baseball team is the Chicago Cubs--the Windy City’s working class also-rans who haven’t won a World Series in nearly a century, and who play on a field that was built entirely with private funds the year Woodrow Wilson was elected president.

When it comes to our National Pastime, I would have expected Mr. Will to be parked in an overpriced box seat, sporting Yankee pinstripes and sipping cocktails in the billion dollar ballpark that the Steinbrenners’ Evil Empire built—with taxpayers picking up half the tab, of course.

And why did the richest team, with the highest payroll, and the most World Series rings, get taxpayers to pay for half the cost of Yankee Stadium--when most of us can’t afford a hot dog there, let alone a bleacher seat?

Because the New York Yankees are “entitled” to taxpayer support. You see, in George Will’s world, the more successful you are, the less you should have to pay. Taxes are for working stiffs, not millionaires.

The workaday players on George Will’s beloved Cubbies enjoy a minimum salary and free agency for one simple reason. They formed a union. But in the real world, George Will opposes both a minimum wage and unions.

In baseball, earned run average is calculated the same way for both the highest and the lowest paid pitchers. You don't get to have a low ERA just because you have a high salary. Everybody plays by the same rules.

In the real world, most of us probably wouldn't mind kicking 35% of our hard earned income into Uncle Sam’s coffers if it weren’t for the fact that the wealthiest Americans only have to pay 14% of theirs. 

Mr. Will has two degrees from Princeton. He’s a very smart man. Occasionally I even agree with him. And when I don’t, I always appreciate his civility. I just wish that he would put the power of his pen, and the weight of his considerable intellect to the task of righting the country's real wrongs.

Punch up, George. Not down.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ted Cruz Sings The Blues

Senator "Sincerity" responds to the
President's State of the Union Address