Talk About Reality

Having recently read Hal Crowther's piece, "In the Realms of the Unreal" [9/1/04 TPP], I was moved to recognize it as the most rational and astute appraisal of our national conscience (or lack thereof) I have ever come across in print. As a retiree who was never in the employ of the corporate world, I found Crowther's ideas striking harmonious chords with my life-long dismay over the American collective psyche. Further, as a "liberal" Democrat and a devout atheist, I have, for years, been puzzled how anyone in a democracy could claim to be a Republican and/or believe in an afterlife. I've recently decided that both conundrums could be explained by assuming that these folks have accepted free-trade capitalism as a religion! One wonders if Marx intended capitalism to be coupled with religion as, "the opium of the people?" This bent would confirm my suspicion that those who vote Republican are likely high on something other than their own wealth. And it might also explain why the Democratic National Committee has, over the last couple of decades, cultivated a cozy corporate relationship instigated by a faulty pragmatic theory that money equates to electoral votes -- while ignoring that money actually equates to legislative votes. And this only proves that our political community is as far from reality as is the general populace.

I must apologize for expounding thoughts that likely echo Crowther's own, but I thought he might like to know that there are kindred spirits at large in our society. I'm also prompted to confess that I feel I belong to the democratic wing of the Democratic Party and, as such, I embraced Paul Wellstone and Dennis Kucinich as my political bellwethers. Fate has stilled Sen. Wellstone's voice and a combination of the DNC, the Democratic Leadership Council and a disinclined media has effectively muffled Rep. Kucinich's views. As a result, I'm being asked to vote for a man whose name I have difficulty recalling (it's something like Kennedy? Or Clinton?). Talk about reality! And lets hope Mr Crowther continues to talk about it.

Bruce J. Kullen
Lisle, Ill.

Dash Denial

Crowther-basher L. Lieberman, of Columbus, Ga. ["Crowther Over the Top," Letters, 10/01/04 TPP] is the one "over the top" (or is it under the bottom?). I found Crowther's piece ["In the Realms of the Unreal," 9/1/04 TPP] to be the best I've read yet in your pages. He has deftly nailed our key national illness: denial. He has, in fact, convinced me to revise my own post-election writing plans to concentrate on that denial and the cultural war context. I now believe that if we do not take this on, full in the face, we will all be sputtering off while watching an easy Cheney-Bush (Jeb) victory in 2008.

Barry G. Parsons
Madison, Fla.

Fascists are Here

I have read and re-read Thom Hartmann"s excellent article of 9/15/04 TPP, "Veep's Ghost Warns: It Can Happen Here." I'm currently excerpting it for notes to present to my mass media classes at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif. As someone who is deeply involved in media, a subscriber to journals from The Progressive and The Progressive Populist to The American Conservative and the Economist, my thought is that it's not a case of "It Can Happen Here;" it already has. If we accept Hartmann's, Wallace's, and the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of Fascism, and I do, we are currently living under an American Fascist regime. This is a troublesome assertion on my part. President George Bush is a Fascist, and the Fascist wing of the Republican Party is now, and will probably be for the next four years at least, in power. Orthodoxy suggests that when a dictatorship seizes power that it does so violently: people are shot, a military coup occurs, tanks are in the streets. In our case the coup occurred without a shot being fired. It was the election of 2000, decided by a conservative wing of the Supreme Court. Since then, corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, and others have reaped millions and billions of dollars in contracts and profits. Hartmann says that in 1938 Mussolini dissolved his Parliament and replaced it with the "Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazoni" -- the Chamber of Fascist Corporations. This is where we are today. The country is driven by corporations and corporate lobbyists in league with an extreme rightwing arm of the Republican Party. Our problem is that we, as Progressives, always optimistic and hopeful, do not want to ADMIT to ourselves, that the game is over. We have an American Fascist government, and if George Bush wins this election the next four years will see the US descend into a spiral of military, economic, and social upheaval not seen since the Civil War. These are BAD times.

Ed LaFrance
Sebastopol, Calif.

Wake Up, Christians

I sincerely hope that Rev. Allen Brill's message ("Open Letter to Christian Conservatives," 10/15/04 TPP) to the Christian conservatives is seriously considered by them before they cast their votes on Nov. 2.

I wish that there was some way that this group can hear the cry of pain and sorrow of the grief stricken Christian Iraqi mothers who have lost their children to Bush's 500-pound bombs in this war. Let them explain to such mothers why they are supporting Bush the "child killer" just because he claims to be a pro-life candidate.

Wake up, my Christian brothers, and see the Light!

M. Askarian
New York, N.Y.

Secure Nation

Ralph Nader's comments on the Bush administration's failure to care for the people ["Don't Wait for Killer Flu," 10/1/04 TPP] reminded me of another instance which recently outraged me.

When New Orleans was threatened with a direct hit by Hurricane Ivan, we heard estimates that about 50,000 people without cars were at risk of death, mostly by drowning in that city below sea level. The only disaster preparation was the city's stocking 10,000 body bags. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for dealing with natural disasters as well as terrorist threats, and the danger to New Orleans from hurricanes has been known for years. Clearly if the government had been doing its job there would have been an evacuation plan to get all those 50,000 people out of harm's way.

Fifty thousand is more than 15 times the number killed on Sept. 11. If you were to talk of 15 9/11s, there would be universal outrage, and demands for the resignation of incompetent and indifferent officials. But the people left behind in New Orleans were poor, so nobody in the Bush administration gave a damn, and so far as I am aware nobody in Congress has called for an investigation of Homeland Security's gross negligence.

We got lucky -- not only the people saved when the storm turned, but all of us who would have borne the national shame of their having been left to die. But we should not go on relying on luck. If the pundits and elected officials are too indifferent to demand investigations and changes, we must.

We shall have security only to the extent that we are willing to create it through our own responsible actions.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore, Md.

Vets Not Better Off

I am a combat disabled veteran of WWII (Silver Star and Purple Heart) and wonder what day of the week we can believe President Bush.

The president's budget office recently announced that it would cut a billion dollars out of existing veteran's health care programs next year if he is re-elected on Nov. 2.

This billion-dollar cut comes on top of the president's ongoing attempt to close veterans' hospitals across the nation, his $50 million cut in medical research on new prosthetics and cutting 164,000 veterans from their prescription drug coverage.

On becoming president, George W. Bush promised to cut the backlog of veterans waiting for service, but now he plans to cut 540 VA staffers who review disability claims -- even as the list of wounded veterans from Iraq is growing.

These programs are already shortchanged by the commander-in-chief to the point that 350,000 sick and injured veterans have to "stand-in-line" for six months or more because the VA system is so backed up.

Rudyard Kipling well knew politicians years ago when he wrote his poem "Tommy Atkins," how British soldiers were treated well during a war and ignored afterwards.

James R. Bird
Lumberton, N.J.

Four More Years

When I hear brain washed audiences droning "Four More Years", I cringe and ponder their reasoning.

Exactly what are these people asking for? Four more years of what?

Four more years of sacrifice by the poor and middle class?

Four more years of body bags and thousands of new patients filling up the VA hospitals?

Four more years of families being deprived of a mother or father as they go off to war?

Four more years of the wealthy getting richer?

Four more years leading us to a fascist state?

Four more years of bringing devastation to innocents abroad?

Four more years of increasing the national debt?

Four more years of lies and distortions?

Four more years of unfulfilled promises made during campaigns?

Four more years of being hated by people in other countries?

Four more years of ignoring the plight of the Palestinians?

We've already had three plus years of disappointing, shameful activities sponsored by the present administration, and when we hear selected audiences yelling Four More Years on cue, we cannot fathom the reasoning behind the chanting. And this is the party that proudly embraced President Eisenhower, yet they ignore his admonishment about war and the industrial complex.

Let's become peace keepers and when we vote in November let's make sure that a new administration will take over and do their best to make sure that the next four years will bring our country back into fellowship with mankind everywhere.

Helen L. Crowe
Claremont, N.H.

Full of Cockburn

Alexander Cockburn simply refuses to get it, and I hope vast numbers of progressives are growing just as weary of his hyperbolic Kerry-bashing as I am in this critical election cycle.

To say there's "not a dime's worth of difference" [9/15/04 TPP] between Bush and Kerry on issue after issue can only cause the objective and informed observer to question Mr. Cockburn's very sense of reality. There are significant differences and even a blind person could see them given the extreme directions this administration has taken us. From approaches to Iraq, terrorism, health care, tax policy, the economy, fiscal management, the environment, labor issues, stem cell research, the role of religion in public policy, media consolidation, education, a woman's right to choose and a host of other issues, there are stark differences in both the opposing records and plans. I respect Mr. Cockburn's right to voice his views, but his analyses are lacking, and his sense of electoral reality seems unhitched. 

Progressives everywhere better darn well get this message and get it quick: Either Bush and the rabid Republicans will be re-elected or Kerry and the Democrats will unseat them. There will be no other scenario. Right now only the Democrats have a chance to break the right-wing's power stranglehold on all branches of this government. This cycle is simply too high-stakes for out-of-reality "protest" votes. For all of Mr. Cockburn's ultra-left ravings, ravings are all they will ever be without power. No far-left revolution is going to be taking place anytime soon.

Mr. Cockburn may feel some moral-rhetorical catharsis after all this, but if progressives allow themselves to be swayed by any of it, Bush-Cheney-Rove-Ashcroft-DeLay will only be thanking him gleefully as they tap-dance all the way back to Washington.

Are Kerry and the Democrats a progressive's sweetest dream? Not necessarily. But compared to the only other possibility in this cycle, they are a progressive's tiptoe through the tulips.

Ron Bilancia
Brewer, Maine

Tax Dodgers

There's been much discussion lately about Bush and Cheney having avoided service in Vietnam, and that both rejoiced with much liquid refreshments. But that happened over 30 years ago, and many others did the same.

What's really disconcerting is that both served companies that avoided paying taxes by forming offshore subsidiaries. When Cheney was head of Halliburton, 20 subsidiaries were formed in the Cayman Islands, one of the leading tax havens. Bush's Harken Energy also formed one in Cayman Islands but never made profit. It may have been legal, but many do not consider it patriotic, honest or fair to other taxpayers.

R.A. Osten
Nashville, Tenn.

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