Have you kept track of the New! Improved! "Free Trade" agreements?
Our Beloved Leaders keep telling us that each proposed new treaty (any of them) will increase international trade and make us all prosperous.
International trade started about a day and a half after there were two nations on Earth. As soon as there were borders, there were people crossing them to buy and sell. Ancient Israelites crossed hundreds of miles of burning desert on foot to do business in Egypt.
The quantity of international trade was proportional to the roads and camels and horses and wagons available to haul the goods.
International trade continued even when governments called it "smuggling" and flatly forbade it. (A present-day example of this is the illegal drug trade. When people want something bad enough to lay out cold, hard cash, somebody will bring it by the ton from the ends of the earth, regardless of any governmental opposition.)
If our Beloved Leaders actually wanted free trade, the agreement could be written on a 3X5 card. The string of fraudulently-named "free trade" treaties over the years have featured boards of foreign bureaucrats to write volumes of unreadable regulations regarding trade and to enforce them with destructive "sanctions" against any business (or nation) that does not jump through all their hoops.
That is the worst feature: The free trade bureaucrats are able to tell nations (even the US) what to do, how to change our laws, and who and what to allow past our borders. ("Oh, America! You have to stop doing safety checks on Mexican produce trucks at the border.") There is this ancient "national sovereignty" thing, and the FTAA would certainly violate it. That is what the John Birch Society means by "Hello FTAA. Goodbye USA." The "Free Trade" outfit would rule America.
No. The miscalled "Free Trade" treaties are not what they tell us. They will not increase trade with other nations. They only mean to have businesses and nations under the thumb of unelected, faceless, nameless New World Order bureaucrats.
Colin Powell in his recent interview with ABC News has made an attempt to tell the nation that he was unaware that the proof of Saddam's possession of chemical weapons was "doctored."
YOU ARE GUILTY, MR. POWELL, for not bothering to have this information thoroughly checked with the entire State Department staff under you. It could have been easily verified but it seems you wanted to "go along" with it.
YOU ARE GUILTY, MR. POWELL, for keeping silent after you "supposedly" did find out that Saddam was not an imminent threat to the USA. Where was your conscience when you knew that the trigger-happy Bush would run with this and start a war? On the contrary, you bribed and cajoled other Nations to form a 'coalition of willing partners' to support the war.
YOU ARE GUILTY, MR. POWELL, for not only supporting this war but advocating that the US should increase her troop strength so as we can be more effective "killing machine."
YOU ARE GUILTY, MR. POWELL, for not taking any lesson from the Nuremberg Trial precedents which clearly laid out that being "loyal" does not mean that you condone injustice and unlawful action committed by the government.
YOU ARE GUILTY, MR. POWELL, for obeying the orders of your Commander in Chief even though you are no longer in the Armed Forces. If Gen. W. Clark could disagree with the war, so could you.
FINALLY, YOU ARE GUILTY, MR. POWELL, for in GOD'S EYES, killing in the name of loyalty (or royalty in this case!) cannot be acceptable.
It seems that more and more Americans are turning against the Iraq war.
However, Americans are not turning against the war because it has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians, many of them women and children.
Nor are Americans turning against the war because it has resulted in the deaths or maiming of thousands of young Americans, and the shattering of the lives of their families.
Americans are turning against the war because it now appears that the war is "unwinnable."
If the war were "winnable." then all the deaths and misery would be "justifiable."
I believe that it was the actress Elizabeth Taylor who put it so elegantly when she said, "There's no deodorant like success."
Richmond Heights, Ohio
Your editorial, "Negligent Homicide" [10/1/05 TPP], didn't rally a cry for indicting everyone and every agency for the debacle in New Orleans.
We are also exposed to the world, making us less safe than ever. This is criminal behavior.
Who's running the show? Certainly not the men and women who CLAIM to be running it. The real revelation from Katrina, from one end of this nation to the other, is that the people we've elected to protect us average Joes are incapable of protecting us. Yes, they have a plan, but their plan doesn't work. When something goes wrong the first thing they do is hold a press conference and spin some variation of George Bush's infamous words, "What went wrong?"
Obliviousness. Utter detachment from the needs of regular people. When the Louisiana National Guard is in Iraq for a year fighting for oil, instead of in Louisiana where it's supposed to be, what can we conclude? With oppressive gas prices and a bungled response to a long-predicted catastrophe, it's clear our needs are not being served.
So whose needs ARE being served by the prodigious productive output of American society? Could it be that we wake up every day and work our butts off servicing the needs of corporate vampires? The oil companies, Halliburtons and defense contractors that profit from war and catastrophe? Was The Matrix right? Are we simply human batteries who generate energy for corporate monsters that have no concern for our well-being? Do these corporate vampires suck energy out of us and zap other parts of the world with it in an endlessly cruel fantasy of global expansion? Why should we pay the ultimate price for that?
We need systemic change in America and that leadership is not going to come from either major political party. We need to reorganize the priorities of this nation, putting people before corporate expansion, and we can't wait another minute to do it.
Here is what I think Katrina has taught us: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld should each be given a broom, a dust pan and a dumpster, and be locked inside the Superdome. No electricity. No water. No food. No medicines. No change of clothing. Just the suits on their backs. No aides or advisers.
They should be let out only after a full and complete inspection shows that they have cleaned up the entire building and put it back in working order.
And you can tell them I said so.
I just have to spread the word for all who are trying to find their way among all the conflicting verbiage. I have just finished a small gem called Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast by Mike Tidwell . This is a sharp analysis of what needs to be done and what keeps it from being done, that reads like a travel adventure. (Better than McPhee, my highest praise.) All candidates for office had better talk to this man ASAP. After I stopped laughing and crying I had to ask myself how I ever thought I understood Louisiana before.
I have no connection with Tidwell at all, though I guess I wish I did. Just happened to find this book in our wonderful joint computer catalogue, and it was kindly sent to me by the town library of Belmont, Mass.
[Re: an editorial at www.populist.com that Democrats should demand term limits for Supreme Court justices before they approve any of Bush's picks for the court:]
I strenuously disagree ... to impose term limits would simply play into the hands of the right, who would like nothing better than to dismantle the Supreme Court and remove the wall that keeps Justices from being influenced with either promises of a lucrative future or intimidation.
Hermosa Beach, Calif.
After reading the several articles on Cindy Sheehan, as well as Farhad Manjoo's concerns with appealing to the mainstream ["After Cindy Sheehan," 9/15/05 TPP], I have come to some contrary conclusions:
The Bush administration is rotten to the core. The Iraq war is only one facet of that rot. Domestically, this collection of thugs has so deeply undermined America &emdash; its environment, economy, system of justice, liberty, etc. etc. etc. &emdash; that it may be years, if ever, before we recover.
And all this happened &emdash; according to poll after poll &emdash; with a population divided almost equally on support of Bush.
The fact that the war's failure has changed public opinion doesn't necessarily mean a great national awakening. It may just mean that the war is going badly so Bush is less popular. If, by some miracle, events start improving, will the mainstream be more ready to see American military deaths again as patriotic sacrifices?
The nation hasn't shown much concern over the huge number of Iraqi civilian deaths, nor has the majority, unlike the dissident minority, reacted against the incredible domestic misgovernment. In my opinion, these years have been a vivid demonstration of the failure of mainstream Americans even to try to protect their democracy.
It is useful to protest the Iraq war, but it's not our responsibility to suggest exit strategies. The clique that got us into this mess has the job of getting us out. More useful, I think, would be trying to elect some decent representatives in 2006 to the present degenerate Congress.
I was pleased to read the "Ethanol Can Help" letter by J.L. Doksansky [9/1/05 TPP]. A hybrid car with a plug-in battery (available as "after market" editions to Toyota, Honda and Ford cars and soon to be available from DaimlerChrysler), with mixed-use fuel tanks to accept 85% ethanol or methanol and 15% gasoline, will go 500 miles on a gallon of gasoline. We should petition the president and our congressional senators and representatives to provide the US Postal Service with hybrid, plug-in-battery, mixed-fuel-tank trucks to accelerate the use of these technologies. (The USPS had electric trucks in the 1970s in Cupertino, Calif., and propane-powered ones in Texas.) This will make mixed-use 85%-15% filling stations available throughout America and eventually eliminate our need for foreign oil. (There is shale oil in Colorado and untapped fields off the California and Florida coasts.)
St. Louis, Mo.
Impeach Cheney First!