The other night while I was relaxing on the shore of Guffin Bay, I was startled to see what appeared to be a shooting star whiz in and stop right in front of me.
Like our president, Tom DeLay and other born-again guys, apparently I had been chosen for one of those faith-based vision things we keep hearing about.
Yup, that's what it was because I heard a voice say, "Stewart, I'm going to have to speak to you because you have been overly rude to faith-based President Bush."
I said, "Oh, oh." (So maybe I'm not right all the time after all.)
The voice said, "I'm on my way to the White House for an important Social Security briefing to help Mr. Bush convince the people to trust him this time. So I've only got a short time to prove to you his faith-based sincerity."
I figured maybe this would be a good chance to put in a plug for gay rights, so I said, "While you're there would you remind the president that it's immoral and unconstitutional to deny marriage equality to gays and lesbians?"
The voice quickly responded, "I think it's in the Bible someplace that it's OK to cheat the gays out of equality. Otherwise the Pope, Pat Robertson and of course your faith-based President Bush would never condone it."
I almost made a smart remark here but thought better of it because I was sure I could win my next point. I said, "Why's it considered rational for President Bush to invade and occupy Iraq causing thousands of casualties and then scold the Soviets for doing the same to Baltic nations 60 years ago?"
The voice quickly answered, "There you go again. You liberals are always trying to compare apples with oranges. The difference is that the Soviets were atheist-occupying commies while the USA is a Christian democracy just trying to help the Iraqis manage their oil fields in a freedom-loving way."
Then the voice said, "I really have to get to the White House so do you have anything reasonable to say for a change?"
"I'm curious, so can I see what you look like?"
"Of course. Here I am."
"But I thought the other guy had the horns and an arrow-like tail."
Next I heard an hysterical laugh before a comet-like light flashed southward on a direct line to the White House.
Guffin Bay, N.Y.
Mr. Clare J. Crowley's "Church Lousing Up USA" letter [6/16/05 TPP] is historic revisionism. Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Mo., was the one who threatened to deny communion to Catholics who were pro-choice on abortion. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops disagreed with Burke but said that any "local ordinary [bishop]" could use his own judgment. Five local ordinaries in the US [out of 195 dioceses and archdioceses] agreed with Burke. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's letter reminded American bishops of the principle of proportionality. Basically, where is the greatest good and least evil in the candidate you vote for?
After reading the letter, St. Louis Archbishop Burke softened his stance. "Catholics for Kerry" distributed campaign flyers in Catholic churches comparing the two candidates' records on Catholic social doctrine. No Catholics were denied communion in the archdiocese, to my knowledge. I still have a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on my car and I am a member of my Roman Catholic parish council.
The editor of the St. Louis Review, Archbishop Burke's "house organ," stated that Archbishop Burke never has interfered in an election and never will. I suspect that he said this after being corrected by a letter from the man who became Pope Benedict XVI.
Joseph J. Kuciezczyk Jr.
St. Louis, Mo.
John Buell's positive remarks about immigrants ["Notes from a Red State," 5/15/05 TPP] are uninformed. Maybe because he lives in Maine, he does not see the adverse consequences apparent in the Mexican border states. The flood of legals, and illegals, is driving down wages, especially in the low-wage sector. There is also a huge tax burden of providing public services, such as education, health care, law enforcement, etc., to a large, poor, non-English-speaking population.
Editor Notes: Immigrants might drive down wages but they do pay taxes, in many cases for services they cannot claim. The New York Times reported 4/5/05 that the Social Security Administration estimates that seven million or so illegal immigrant workers provide the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year that they won't be able to claim as retirement benefits, as well as $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes.
Thank you for the most progressive views per copy in the country, month after month.
While I respect that you have some diversity to keep up with the right-running middle, I wish it wasn't on the front page. Galbraith, in "Slip the Deficit Trap" [5/1/05 TPP] should have titled it "Slop on the Deficit."
I admit to finding fault with nearly all of his points except that I agree we can take the money spent on Iraq and rebuild America &emdash; with a vision.
My first point is that deficits hand over money to the rich in other lands and here &emdash; my last count was over $400 billion a year on various interests. Why not just call it a tax to subsidize the rich?
Now, envision no national debt &emdash; in fact, a national surplus each year to buy out inefficient and corrupt monopolies and run them competitively by several worker- and consumer-owned cooperatives. These firms could eventually be used by the government to regulate the economy, both by wages and prices.
Now, envision no income taxes on anyone making less than $60,000 a year, and progressive taxes up to 95% on the rest.
These measures could be phased in gradually, and the federal budget gradually lowered by cutting back military and debt spending to 5% or less of what they get now.
If we don't dream the "impossible" we won't even realize the possible.
Clear Lake Calif.
After reading Wayne O'Leary's insightful "New Deal vs. Ownership Society" column in the 6/1/05 TPP, I realized that the threat or actual loss of three basic several safety nets is providing a volatile brew of deep resentment and mistrust of government's so called compassionate role towards the vulnerable and needy. Thus, as O'Leary astutely observed, Bush's ownership society depends not on guaranteed governmental entitlements, but expects individuals to face risk themselves, dressed up as self reliance, and selfishness clothed in the colorful garb of freedom and independence. In other words each of us faces a Darwinian world, each on his or her own.
For example, workers can no longer rely on the private sector to pay for health benefits. General Motors, facing bankruptcy, is considering reducing or eliminating its health-care plan for current or retired workers. Pensions are no longer secure. The bankrupt United Airline recently asked the government's pension agency to take over their pension plan. It may result in reduction of benefits to workers, especially to pilots. Finally, Social Security is under fire by Bush, faces change and possible elimination if he achieves his way of "saving" it.
The loss of these three iconic guaranteed benefits, along with a steadily declining level of real income to the American worker, may lead to a serious question whether Bush's serious absence of compassionate concern and sense of fairness to protect the worker can be easily condoned by people in distress.
Elkins Park, Pa.
I get Alexander Cockburn in The Nation and the Populist. Since he makes sense only l0% of the time, I must cancel those or get him in eight more publications.
[Re: Cockburn's "The Decline of the Left," 6/15/05 TPP]: To think he'd value [Laura] Bush as a leader over [Hillary] Clinton (and no, I don't want her to run for president) is to ascribe to the flat-earth theory. When Ms. Clinton was heading the student body at Weseley and making the cover of Life as an electrifying commencement speaker, Ms. Bush was a nondescript sorority girl and elementary school student at SMU. Like her husband, she's had a free ride with the media that tormented Hillary Clinton. Think, for example, of the consequences of an angry Hillary's grabbing her car keys and killing an ex-boy friend with her car. I don't think Ms. Bush committed vehicular homicide, but had that been Hillary, the GOP, in a crusade funded by the likes of Scaife, would still be excoriating her. Had she and Bill turned up at a dirty T-shirt contest, with Hillary wearing anything like "I love Bush's thing-e" and Bill's something like George W's, "I love Bushy things" (courtesy, Texas Monthly, virtually a Bush house organ), the Religious Right would still be burning them in the effigy of a flame as hot as they want for them in hell. Had Chelsea become anything like Jenna, Barbara or Nicole, that would be all the evidence needed that they were both dreadful people. And on and on it goes.
Mr. Cockburn, look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I will nauseate Ms. Lambeth in only one publication per month."
Cedar Park, Texas
I've read the notice in the paper of the beginning drive to replace FDR's head on the dime with that of Ronald Reagan. That is an insult beyond belief. I was in college during the Great Depression so I am well-acquainted with everything that happened. I firmly believe we could have had a revolution if not for FDR and his many successful efforts to bring us out of chaos not to mention his leadership in World War II. Anyhow, I'd like to see TPP run a big article with enough emphasis to make people aware of this before it can be rammed through our docile Congress.
This protest may not make any difference, but it relieves my mind. ...
Inheritance is an outright gift that creates uncontrollable, powerful family dynasties and should be taxed heavily. The people that benefit from this did not earn it, someone else did!
Someone, because of an accident of birth, enters this world a million/billionaire and someone else enters into a working-class family, without even health care. This flies in the face of phrases such as "born equal", "equal treatment," "fairness," even "democracy" itself! Of course, ideals like these are inconsistent with a mean-spirited, conservative, corporate, capitalist government whose ideals are "survival of the fittest," "dog-eat-dog" and "sink or swim." They call it a "free market."
And this administration calls itself "religious"?
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Does anyone else believe as I do that the so-called "nuclear option" should be taken all the way to the wall by the Democrats, including into court. Who gave Dick Cheney the Constitutional authority to declare that the Senate's own rule &emdash; that to change its rules MUST have a 67-vote majority &emdash; is no longer in effect? He simply presides over the Senate and votes in case of a tie, but does not make or change rules.
The Republicans, especially when they are wrong, never say die, never quit, never give up, and even go into court in order to win. We are in the right here. The Democrats should not have bargained away the rights of the minority, because as soon as they want to exercise their Constitutional right to debate (filibuster), the Republicans will say they are going to use this nuclear option (they are now calling it the "Constitutional" option.)
Yes, we must file suit and settle this issue once and for all on the actual merits.
Forest Park, Ill.
So what if Colin Powell lost all his years of credibility with his presentation at the UN with flimsy evidence of Iraq's chemical weapons. So what if Condi Rice had to lie again and again about the "mushroom clouds" scenario. So what if Dennis Hastert had to show his lack of historical knowledge when he said that Saddam and Osama are "cut from the same cloth." So what if [New York] Gov. Pataki kept on foolishly repeating that Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attack. So what if Rev. Graham still thinks that the dead US soldiers were killed in defending freedom instead of saying it was for the Iraqi's freedom. So what if Paul Wolfowitz predicted that Iraqis will greet us with flowers which turned out to be "the hurting kind" and injured more than 12,000 of our soldiers. So what if Saddam has been a dictator for over 30 years and Bush could not let him be in power for a few months more for the UN inspectors' final report.
Many more "so whats" can be added to the list above but the end results are what will count: Iraq will be a democratic state in the next few years. A few more years? and I say (do not groan) SO WHAT?