McVeigh's not worth remembering

I am writing in response to Alexander Cockburn's column, "Remembering April 19, 1995" that appeared in the 5/15/01 Progressive Populist. This article pertained to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. On April 19, I was at school, 25 miles away from downtown. Around 9:02, while sitting in a classroom, my class felt the entire school shake and heard a noise that we all thought was thunder. Little did we know what had happened downtown. Little did we know that the biggest coward that ever entered our city was trying to flee from what he had done. Once we got word about what had happened, I consoled classmates whose parents were at work at the federal building.

The memorial erected for those 168 people is not, as Mr. Cockburn suggests, Oklahoma City's testament to escapism. The purpose of the memorial is not to educate others about McVeigh's brand of terrorism. It is to honor 168 residents of OKC who were killed. OKC had the decency to separate the memory of 168 law-abiding citizens from the memory of a brutal act of terrorism. The memorial also rebuilt downtown, which was left in shambles by the bombing. I am sure that Mr. Cockburn did not have the time to drive through downtown before the long and painful rebuilding of my city whose heart, downtown, was torn apart.

If McVeigh were a real soldier, trying to make a statement to the government, he would not have mass-murdered civilians. Real soldiers do not kill innocent civilians. Killing office workers, bankers, and day care kids is not acceptable. McVeigh is not "as American as apple pie," as Mr. Cockburn suggests. I am an American, and I am not a mass murderer. He is a sociopath, not an adequate representation of the people of our country. The people in the federal building were not being provocative and defiant. They were going to work, just as you and I do every day. I should not have to go to work and fear dying, and neither should you and neither should have 168 OKC residents on April, 19, 1995. The memorial serves a noble and beautiful purpose. McVeigh's presence would tarnish that purpose as well as desecrate the dead, for whose memory it was built.

You quoted him many times acting like a martyr, like this was all his masterminded plan and he meant to be caught to make a statement. Well, the great martyr ran like a coward from the scene and tried to escape detection. When first apprehended, he pleaded not guilty and claimed he knew nothing and did nothing in regard to the bombing. It was not until he was tried and found guilty by the court that he began to take responsibility for the bombing. Once he knew he had no way out, he tried to mask the shame of being a coward by acting a martyr. Frankly, this is a guy trying to save himself because he, in reality, does not care for anyone but himself. If he were a martyr, content with dying and happy with the "168 lives for 1" irony, then he would let the government kill him in a testament to his beliefs. I hope next time someone will stop and actually think before advocating terrorism.

Memphis, Tenn.
Email Magic2416@aol.com

Keep high education standards

Any parent reading John Buell's remarks ["Education and Its Corporate Doomsayers," 5/15/01 PP] about reforms that would impose further burdens, discourage creative teachers, and discredit public education may fear that this is an accurate picture of what we face. I would like to present another point of view, starting with some history.

In the '70s, there was a time when the student population actually declined and it was necessary that the teaching force be reduced. I and some other parents, who had been begging the schools to please teach our children and not waste their time, saw this as an opportunity. Surely, we thought, the best teachers will now be encouraged to stay, and it will be the less competent who will move on. It was the unions to fought to base reductions on seniority. Of course, this only preserved the status quo. I had always been a union supporter, but then I saw that they had put the interests of the worst teachers ahead of the best interests of my children, I learned how much trust I could put in their leadership. "Better support for our teachers" was their theme then, as it is now in Buell's column. But I am older and wiser than I was.

I was once a school psychologist; and my job involved trying to understand children who were not learning, and what could be done. Among other things, I was concerned about their poor self images and lack of confidence. I have continued to read and ponder such issues ever since. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to find myself surrounded with a flood of self-proclaimed "experts" who represent that self esteem and not learning is the goal of education, that only they are "creative", and that our children's lives will be ruined unless we reduce our expectations even further and shower them with phony praise for mediocre work.

[Leon] Botstein is right: We need teachers who have qualified as competent scholars in the fields they are to teach. We also need to level the playing field. Underprivileged children need schools that are at least as good as those available in the affluent suburbs; and they really need more support services to make up for the impoverished backgrounds from which they come. It is absurd that we can go to Jupiter but we can't provide Head Start for all the children who need it. Smaller classes are desirable, but in my opinion concentration on the early childhood years and on support services, is a higher priority.

We need leaders in education who value high standards. I'm for testing. But we also need leaders who will think about the futures of all our children. Some excel in school, some excel in sports or entertainment or useful skills (like my car mechanic!); some don't excel but are still responsible citizens and valuable human beings. How can we provide a good life for everyone, not just the "survivors"? Universal college is not, I think, the answer. We need a school system which not only leaves no child behind, but develops the best in every child.

Acton, Mass.
PS. In the '70s I was not living in Acton.

Hit corporations in their bottom line

The American public is mostly in denial about the government regulatory agencies. Here is my newsflash: The agencies are not working for the public.

No, it is NOT the job of citizens to get these agencies to work for us. It is the job of citizens to deal with reality. Willet Dairy ["Agribusinesses use farm laws as cover," by Christine Navarro, 6/1/01 PP] and all other corporations are about money. If the dairy markets its own brand, boycott it. If it sells to other brands, boycott them and tell them why. Find out who their major investors are, and go after their revenue streams in whatever ways are available: boycotts, organize coordinated stock selloffs and deposit withdrawals, etc. Find out how they make their money, and monkey wrench it.

As for agribusiness, power companies and water privatization: If space aliens arrived and announced they were taking control of our food, water and electricity, we would recognize it as an act of war. Why pretend it is not war when the "aliens" are corporations pretending to be "persons"?

Billings Mont.

Gore does OK

Re: "Al Gore: The First Hundred Days" [6/1/01 PP]: Arianna Huffington seems to have gotten off the track on day one.

What REALLY happened is this:

Day 1: Al deposits payoff check in anonymous Swiss bank account. Wonders briefly how obvious his statement, "It's all going according to plan," was. Decides nobody will suspect a thing if he disappears for a while. Realizes he's annoying enough that people will be grateful if he disappears for a while. Also wonders who will play him in the movie after everyone finds out he threw the election. Hopes it will be Robert De Niro. Goes to bathroom mirror to recite monologue from Taxi Driver. Spends next 100 days watching De Niro films and feeling impotent.

Philadelphia, Pa.

Try universal health insurance

There was a long article recently in the Boulder paper about the problems people in the rural areas were having with health insurance. Insurance companies pulling out because it wasn't profitable.

There is a solution. If you have prior illnesses and can't get coverage, if you are an employer and are tired of the expense and hassles of insuring your workers, if you are a businessman and are faced with bad debts from people overwhelmed by medical expenses, if you work for a company that does not insure its workers, if you are in fear of losing your insurance for any number of reasons, if you are a physician and are tired of being underpaid and hassled by insurance companies there is a solution. It is Universal Health Insurance. This is government insurance, not government medicine. It is responsible to the public, not the stockholders.

The money is already there. Back when the non-profit Blue Cross was the only game in town, they paid out 94% of the premiums in benefits. The big cream-skimmers now get upset if they pay out 80%. Hospital administrative overhead has doubled. Physicians' offices have greater expense and headaches. The uninsured tend to get care one way or another for serious problems. Many of the problems become serious and expensive because of delayed treatment.

If you are happy with your present situation and are positive it cannot change, then ok. Otherwise get on your legislators. If enough people do this, the influence of the big money can be counteracted.

(retired health care administrator)
Boulder Colo.

Another MD for universal health care

The recent editorial "Health care for all" was great. I would like to make three points as this important need continues to be addressed.

(1) Health care and health insurance are not the same. Insurance involves profits of the carriers which may run to 20%.

(2) One reason health care in the United States [is in trouble] is that, with the exception of some not for profit organizations, the delivery systems are not integrated and coordinated.

(3) Coverage for prescriptions will be needlessly expensive as long as the unusually high prices are paid to the drug manufacturers, compared to prices elsewhere in the world.


San Diego Calif.

What is our goal?

Phil Carmody ("No Boutique Voter," Letters, 4/15/01 PP) is absolutely right in his depiction of the Democratic Party under the DLC as Republican Light, so I'm not surprised that he wants to stay with Nader in 2002. If the Greens put up enough candidates, they can insure an overwhelmingly Republican Congress. Then in 2004, if Nader can double his constituency, Bush will be ensured of a plurality and a legitimate claim to having been elected.

Meanwhile, Bush is in the process of filling about 100 vacant judgeships that the Republicans refused to let Clinton fill. And Bush's favorite judges are Scalia and Thomas. There should be a Supreme Court vacancy somewhere in this scenario, with Scalia now Chief Justice. They can then tear up the Constitution and dismantle the Federal Government.

What I fail to see is how all this gets us any closer to universal health care, a living wage, an end to the drug war, affordable housing or care for the homeless. Dare I suggest that the proper tactic is to fight within the Democratic Party to overcome the DLC and perhaps energize the 50% of the electorate who see no reason to vote?

Honolulu, Hawaii

Nader was right!

The Bushwackers are in the driver's seat both in Washington, D.C., and in the "muddled" state of Florida!

In Washington, the "mantra" is tax cuts for the wealthy, "Star Wars in your eye," and lots of barnyard droppings for your dinner table.

Here in the "Sunshine State," a dark cloud hangs over the thousands of civil servants employed by the state.

They can now be fired at the whim and will of their "certified" Republican bosses!

The Bush boys have taken the entire book from the "Robber Barons" of yore!

Remember J.D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil and others?

The record of the Clinton-Gore team has been heavily perfumed by liberals, but it still stinks!

Ralph Nader was right on target for a People's Party to save our democracy.

Tallahassee, Fla.

Can't wait for utopia

Your paper caters to the liberal community. Unfortunately, young extremists can afford to wait forever for utopia, so they can waste their vote knowingly in a strive for perfection.

Elderly people like myself (age 83) and low-income people of color can't afford to tolerate a Republican president.

I have read that wealthy Republicans contributed to Nader's cause. Did any stick to him personally?

Tucson, Ariz.

Tax Fairness

From 1955 until 1990 I was employed by ... a man who owned and operated his own business but was not incorporated. From around 1941 until 1981 the top income tax rate for an individual was 70% of all income over $300,000 per year. During the '60s and '70s I helped my boss make a profit on the work that we did and I resented the fact that the federal government got 70% of the profits that he made. While he never complained about it I thought it was immoral for the government to take over half of the man's money.

Early in 1981 the former governor of California took over the Oval and the first thing that he did was cut the top rate from 70% to 50% which I thought was a good thing and I applauded him for doing this. Trouble is he found this so easy to do that he cut it from 50% down to 36% which was overdoing the cutting thing very greatly. In this world our peers are the Europeans and the Japanese and they continue to allow their richies to contribute around 60% to 65% of their income in excess of 300 thou per year. The fairest way for citizens to pay for the services of the government is through the progressive income tax and when Bonzo cut the top rate to 36% he damned near destroyed the system.

Our nation holds several tons of PhDs in economics and it is fascinating that hardly any of them can agree on what time of day it is. It does pretty well seem that there are many many factors involved in our economic upturn which started under Bush I and flourished under Slick Willie. Most of these gurus will agree that one of the most important things that happened was the Arkansas Bad Man adding a 10% surcharge to Bonzo's 36% top rate thus changing it to 39.6% for income over 300 thou per year. This effected something like about 0.4% of taxpayers but the money was helpful.

Now the new Oval person is going around the nation telling people that now is the time to kill, cook, and eat the goose. Remember how Shrub I never could understand the vision thing as he called it. Evidently it is a peculiarity of that family that they cannot comprehend that when the goose is dead there simply will not be any more golden eggs.

Yours truly,
Waco, Texas

First Amendment opportunists

Could somebody please check to see how many senators cited First Amendment objections to campaign finance reform that also vote to ban flag burning?

My guess is that these are free-speech foxhole conversions.


Brooklyn, Mich.

So what do we do?

Why don't your change your name to "Ain't It Awful?". You have pages of complaints and revelations. And not a word about what to DO -- what to DO -- about it.

How about a policy that each article must carry an after thought ... what one might DO about this.

Carlyle, Ill.

Can't stand imperialism

The worst thing about Nicholas von Hoffman's article ["Media Twits Flay Kerrey, but Dine With Kissinger," 6/1/01 PP] defending Bob Kerry (a minor but All-American war criminal) is not your childish display of the tu quoque ("you too!") fallacy, but rather your arrogant presumption that the US has the right to dictate morality to anybody. (You speak glibly of the US "fighting force needed ... where great swaths across the planet are falling into the permanent, lawless barbarism of diversity conflict," etc.) This imperialist theme, a.k.a. "American exceptionalism," is likewise the underlying presumption of the "populism" of the newspaper that printed your drivel; which is the main reason for my deciding against renewing my subscription to same. I see nothing "progressive" about imperialism, nor do I think that "populist" pandering to anybody's nationalism does anything but evil. Why don't you Americans mind your own filthy business?

Belton, Mo.

Editor's Reply: I respectfully think you misunderstood von Hoffman's point -- that the media are preoccupied with what Kerrey did but honor Kissinger and ignore that US forces have killed hundreds of civilians in military actions under Reagan, Bush and Clinton. You might want to read it again.


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