Prelude to Empire

I am writing in response to the letter from Gary Walker ["Use Earthly Facts," 10/1/05 TPP], who asks, "I am wondering why liberal Christians insist upon claiming rights to the god who created hell."

First of all, the categories "liberal/conservative" are political philosophies that operate mainly in this country. The categories don't exist Biblically, but a segment of our country has appropriated the Bible and its interpretations to itself, by itself, for itself. Anyone reading the Bible for themselves can and will find many things in the Bible to challenge such readings, because the Bible is about God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, not god, the leader of only one particular sect at one particular time. And so, no one could claim "rights" to Him. And if they do, they obviously don't know Him very well. ...

The other thing I'm concerned about is how Bush and his party push for him to get more power every time there is another catastrophe! And they do it as if they had planned and were just waiting for an occasion to make their move. This is exactly how Julius Caesar got where he did as Rome went from a Republic to an Empire. When you point out in your 10/1/05 article about Ireland how our media ignores Irish history, they seem to generally ignore all history, as Molly Ivins points out, even from recent events. ... The blurring of the religious/state boundaries tilts toward the president's power being blessed by the religious powers, too, which is unAmerican and very Roman Empire-ish. This needs to be watched carefully. ...

The Republicans seem to be intent on knocking out all the things set in place to protect individual rights and government programs that actually help people, not just businesses, corporate or otherwise. Doesn't seem to matter what you're selling, as long as you're making money. But if you have no money, you might as well not exist &emdash; you're certainly un-American, it seems, to Republicans.

We have real challenges ahead of us. We all need each other to get through. But let's stay alert. And stay tuned.

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Where's Robin Hood?

It became apparent during Bush's Sept. 15 speech that New Orleans would never again be the same. The stench of contaminated waters has not yet cleared and already the stench of corporate opportunism and exploitation is moving in (in the form of no-bid contracts), aided by the highest level of their government cronies. It might be interesting to start watching the stock market prices of Halliburton, Bechtel, etc.

When will we reverse this trend of robbing the poor to give to the rich? Where is Robin Hood when we need him?

Those government officials who were responsible for diverting funds away from the levee-strengthening project should be charged with homicide and the state of Louisiana should sue the Bush administration for the damages. New Orleanians know best how to rebuild their homes and communities and I hope Mayor Nagin will continue to resist the Bush corporate and government meddling. We have all witnessed how inept and arrogant this administration is in the area of reconstruction.

Caroline Gardner
Freeland, Wash.

Fuel Efficiency

Regarding David Friedman's "New Fuel Economy Plan is More Fraud" [10/1/05 TPP]: Some Ford models have mixed-fuel capability: 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol or methanol. There are a few filling stations in the St. Louis region that serve this mixture. Ford, Honda and Toyota now sell hybrid engine cars. After-market plug-in batteries are available that make them even more fuel-efficient. DaimlerChrysler is coming out with a plug-in hybrid soon. With mixed-fuel, plug-in hybrids we may get up to 500 miles on a tank of gasoline (the remainder being ethanol, a renewable fuel or methanol).

The federal government should accelerate the expansion of this technology into minivans and light trucks by funding the US Postal Service to use trucks and vans with this technology. It will also expand the availability of mixed-fuel filling stations. The USPS did this with electric trucks in Cupertino, Calif., and propane-powered trucks in Texas in the 1970s.

Instead of wringing our hands and crying "woe is me" or "our inept and unjust energy policy," we should be writing the president and our congressional representatives to effect a positive change in it.

Toyota won't build a plant in Alabama or Mississippi because their workforce is too ignorant to build cars. [Both states] and the federal government have Republican administrations. They should be able to tax the wealthy enough to correct this problem. Liberal progressives say, like Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization."

Joseph Kuciejczyk
St Louis, Mo.

No More Lessers

For shame! Your coprophagous editorial of your 10/15/05 issue urging us to support the Democratic Party is disgusting. The party of F.D.R. has long since disappeared. Nader is correct in insisting that the party has been irretrievably corrupted by the same moneyocracy that owns the Republican Party. Joe Lieberman, John Breaux and Zell Miller represent the Democratic Leadership Council that controls the party. What progressives? Kucinich and company haven't a ghost of a chance for nomination. Diane Feinstein and Hillary Clinton have never been progressives.

During the last election I held my nose and voted for Kerry who, in the third debate, stated that he had admired Bush's performance after 9/11. No longer shall I ever vote for the "lesser of two evils." Lacking access to any progressive candidate, I will vote as I did in the 1996 presidential election: George Washington for President.

Walter Tegnazian
Orlando, Fla.

Worst. Conclusion. Ever.

I can agree with your editorial ["Worst. President. Ever." 01/15/05 TPP] almost to the last word. It's the "What You Can Do" part that offers the fly in messy political ointment. "Frustrated with the corrupt Republican administration," glosses over Democratic collusion with the Republicans and it remains an open wound for most anyone of a progressive bent.

The Democrats have yet to offer up anything in the way of opposition to Republican insanity or American government and the modus operandi of preemptive war and genocide on people that simply can't defend themselves. John Kerry (you know, the one that walks on catsup) maintains that "we need to stay the course in Iraq", which is wholesale obscenity and murderous treachery. Hillary offers America not very much. Joe Lieberman offers America not very much. Joe Biden needs to sit down and shut up.

Current Democratic policy is null and void. Current Democratic policy is without direction, relevance, currency, and is nothing more than "let's appease Israel."

Calling for progressives to vote Democratic is ridiculous. Voting Democratic in November 2004, got America nowhere. Just another fraudulent election for the books. The Republicans and the Bush administration are inherently evil and that is a given. If the Democrats figure that "progressives" are automatically in their corner, the Democrats make one huge miscalculation. Give us substance and then we can talk.

Don Nash
Murray, Utah

Elect Decent Reps

After reading the several articles on Cindy Sheehan, as well as Farhad Manjoo's concerns with appealing to the mainstream ["After Cindy, 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.

Jeanne Riha
Corvallis, Ore.


Every time I encounter someone in the workplace, I am reminded of just how much we have failed to properly educate US citizens in the fundamentals of communication: reading, writing and speaking. Few would argue that the time is long overdue for the US to "get back to the basics" of a fully functional education system. We need to exclusively focus on the development of communication skills from kindergarten to eighth grade along with annual testing that measures aptitude and interest. Training in mathematics should be limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Unless communication skills are fully mastered, there is no need to advance to high school.

For those who graduate to high school, the emphasis could evolve into a curriculum of philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, science and religious studies. Books such as For Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide could be used to foster an understanding of different religions. Athletic activity would be strictly confined to cardio-vascular exercises and all sports would be eliminated. While there would still be an emphasis on communication skills, the focus would now be on developing a foundation of basic knowledge so as to be able to graduate to college. Testing for aptitude and interest would continue through high school increasing the chances of picking the right field of study. Those not continuing on to college would enter some type of apprenticeship training for the purpose of learning a trade. For those who do graduate to college, the student would continue to study an advanced version of the same curriculum as high school but only for the first two years then they would complete their education by strictly focusing on coursework designed to train them in their field of study. Nearing graduation, internships would be required to begin the transition to the working world. Think of how different our society would be if our education system could just teach the fundamentals of reading, writing and speaking.

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio

Future of Union

I am writing you today to invite you and your membership to come join us in our efforts. Since August 2004 we have began building this online ongoing active discussion forum at our website with issues ranging from the labor movement, politics, health and safety, civil rights and more. We here at Future of the Union want to strongly encourage you and your membership to come and join us at www.futureoftheunion.com and at least check it out yourself to see what everyone is so excited about. With the help of various union leaders and activists we have been progressing forward with gaining more exposure through email lists, newsletters and word of mouth. We believe that there is great potential for this, but we can't do it without your participation. Help us spread the word and promote this great tool for the labor movement. I and everyone at FOTU hope to hear back from you or see you at the website.

Todd M. Jordan, Director
Future of the Union
PO Box 6552
Kokomo, IN 46904

Preparation W

President Bush was openly accused of having a lackadaisical response to the tragic disaster brought about by Katrina. One should not be too hard on him. He had a lot to learn about hurricanes and the suffering they cause. Someone should have informed the president of the following:

1. A hurricane is dangerous and unpredictable.

2. Hurricanes are graded 1 to 5 with the latter being the most dangerous.

3. Katrina was anticipated as possibly a number 5 hurricane.

4. New Orleans in particular was very vulnerable because the city is below sea level.

5. Thousands and thousands of people were at risk.

6. There were poor people who were not able to evacuate and were at great risk (as he now knows from his overhead flight).

7. There was the likelihood that death and disease would follow in the wake of the hurricane.

8. The beautiful city of New Orleans and other cities were wiped out.

9. It was, in short, a national disaster, perhaps the worst that ever befell this country.

10. It was the sort of thing a president should cut short his vacation for.

Montague Ullman, M.D.
Ardsley, N.Y.

More Lions

I heard this quote on an Annie Dillard book on tape [For the Time Being]: "We have had too much talk of sheep ... I want to see the lions come out." &emdash; Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955, paleontologist, Jesuit, geologist, philosopher. Ever so well put!

Betsy Eggerling
Mertztown, Pa.


From The Progressive Populist, Nov. 1, 2005

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