Experience Can Be Bad

John McCain is trying to convince us Obama does not have the experience to be our president—as it relates to whom? By resume, two of our most politically experienced presidents, Truman and Kennedy, blundered into the Korean and Vietnam wars which collectively killed over 112,000 and wounded over 256,00 American soldiers. With these two failed wars as past history to draw from, a father who was an ex-president and six years as governor of Texas, President Bush manufactured the evidence and duped our Congress into going to war with Iraq. With virtually no political experience, Obama had the common sense to speak against that incursion.

Available to Bush was/is supposedly the best intelligence network and political advisers money can buy. Despite all this expensive expertise, America has lost out on all issues in the world arena since Bush took the helm. He and his entourage of so-called experts are absolutely clueless on how to deal with small nations. All they have to offer are sanctions, bombs and “all options are on the table.” While on the campaign trail, John McCain declared he intends to perpetuate this failed GOP policy.

America cannot keep invading or threatening small countries like some kind of international bully just because the current administration does not like their form of government or leaders. To continue on with this type of gunboat diplomacy will kill a lot of people and ultimately destroy America’s economy - we’re close to economic ruin now.

Does Barack Obama lack the dark age political savvy of the previous century?—I hope so.

Ed Hodges
Washington Island, Wis.

Don’t Settle for Obama

Re “Obama’s a Good CEO” by John Cullen [7/1-15/08 TPP]: When will you tire of “settling” for the lesser of the evils in the political process? If you support Obama, fine. But as one of the few media outlets practicing any semblance of actual journalism, I implore you to pressure Obama to commit to real progressive actions, not lip service and empty rhetoric.

If not now, when do you get tough with the Democrats to force them to give a damn about the party’s poor/working/middle class base? To make Dems truly fear the base’s withholding of support if they don’t respond to voters’ needs? The left’s tepid, selective criticisms and eventual cave-in endorsements won’t scare any Democrats nor will it provide the public with the info it needs to make wise choices and pressure politicians.

And don’t give me the whine of “we have to settle and hope for the best because the Republicans are much worse.” Time and again, lefties and progressives have been wooed by the Democrats to get elected only to watch said Dems ignore their interests and collude with Republicans to enact agendas detrimental to the well-being of the average citizen. How many times does one get dumped on before fighting back and risking the consequences? If this type of cowardice and “settling” had been in vogue during the MLK/civil rights era, I’d still be sitting in the back of the bus ...

I don’t care who the Populist endorses. I just ask you not let ANY candidate coast on his/her personality, big war chest and crackerjack marketing machine. Times may get tougher if the left stands firm, fights for its interests, and loses a round or two, but times won’t ever improve if we continue to allow Democrats who are supposedly “with us” to keep acting against us.

Beverly Rice
Charlotte, N.C.

Don’t Need Another JFK

David Talbot [“Obama/Kennedy vs. McCain/Goldwater,” 6/15/08 TPP] is dead-on in likening Barack Obama to John F. Kennedy. Once again, a charismatic, eloquent politician may deceive much of the American public into believing that US foreign policy is a force for peace in the world. While delivering speeches that inspired a sense of idealism, President Kennedy was covertly engaged in brutal counterinsurgency campaigns and assassinations around the globe. Making a mockery of international law and non-intervention treaties, the Kennedy administration helped overthrow popularly-elected governments and supported right-wing dictatorships throughout Latin America, escalated US involvement in Southeast Asia, launched terrorist campaigns against Cuba, and approved Operation Northwoods, which targeted Americans. Well-meaning but naïve “liberals” like Talbot will continue to lap up all the pablum that Democratic politicians spew forth. The dichotomy between Kennedy’s words and actions should serve notice that we can’t take Obama’s—or any political leader’s — noble pronouncements at face value.

David Harrington
Chicago, Ill.

Medicare’s Lost Seniors

In Joan Retsinas’ Health Care column of 7/1-15/08 TPP, the statement was made that “now everybody older than age 65 has coverage.” This is not so. Employees of certain public pension systems that do not pay into Social Security as part of that employment must have 10 years — 40 quarters — of other work coverage by Social Security to qualify. This hits teachers from 19 states, including Illinois, who are single, that is no spousal coverage, especially or SSA work of theirs.

This is not well known. ... Please correct.

Katherine D. Taft
Chicago, Ill.

Despite both Froma Harrop’s and Joan Retsinas’ (7/1-15/08 TPP) statements to the contrary, Medicare does not cover everyone 65 and older, nor is it automatic. It seriously irritates me to see lack of research published as fact.

I am a federal disabled retiree (Department of Defense), will be 65 next month and have been told I am not eligible for Medicare. I can, of course, purchase it for more than half my monthly income, which is over the limit for Medicaid.

Getting along is a matter of imagination and frugality. There is no PC in this home. I grow a great deal of my food, shop at thrift stores, recycle ... well, you get the idea. Quite happy, though I’d much prefer to have a medical coverage. One visit for a broken kneecap was more than my monthly income. I never went back.

Medicare is hardly a solution, anyway, since there is just too much it doesn’t cover, including alternative medicine.

My personal plan is to stay active, eat healthy food and use the money not spent on Medicare to stay warm this winter. Even at $100 a month (what a friend pays) it won’t go far.

Terry Fitzgerald
Gillett, Texas

Editor Replies: An estimated 675,000 retirees from government jobs are not covered by Medicare—about 1.5% of the 40 million Americans over age 65. Dr. Gordon Schiff, a physician at Cook County Hospital and past president of Physicians for a National Health Program, wrote in the November-December 2002 Health Affairs he didn’t know that he would not be covered by Medicare until he was told by a telephone operator who recently had retired from the hospital, because Cook County (like about a quarter of the nation’s counties and many school districts, which are supposed to provide their own retirement insurance) did not deduct Social Security taxes from paychecks employees who were hired before 1986. Congress eliminated the Medicare exclusion of public employees, but only for employees hired after 1986. All states have Section 218 agreements with the Social Security Administration to provide Social Security and Medicare coverage for employees of state and local governments, but the state determines which groups of employees are covered and the extent of coverage varies SSA notes (ssa.gov/slge/faqs.htm).

Dr. Schiff concluded: “Our nation’s health care system is riddled with exclusions, exceptions, and programs based on special circumstances for determining eligibility. Even reforms such as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for uninsured kids, COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) for continuing coverage after job loss, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 for protections against certain types of insurance discrimination for preexisting conditions further complicate an already complex and baffling situation. What we need is a simple universal system where everyone contributes and everyone is covered.

“As we learned, even Medicare—the closest thing our country has to universal coverage—isn’t truly universal. And although Medicare’s public employee loophole has now been plugged for new workers, other gaping holes exist throughout the system. Still falling into the void are millions of uninsured workers, those who are between jobs and unable to afford insurance, and the small number of us who are not covered by Medicare when we turn 65. It is unconscionable that a wealthy country such as ours is creating such gaps faster than it is filling them.”

Peace Institute Is At Hand

On June 5 the US Institute for Peace broke ground for a building in D.C. This institution for two dozen years has existed in lieu of our having a US Peace Academy, a four-year military college for 18- to 22-year-olds who’d major in non-violent conflict resolution and graduate with military rank.

This was voted in by Congress in 1984. We might have had 20 graduating classes by now, those officers rising through the ranks and sitting with war planners, but advocating peaceful conflict resolution.

The funding idea was hijacked and morphed into being an institute of older scholars, probably doing useful work, but not being the equivalent of West Point, US Air Force Academy, Naval Academy in Annapolis or the Coast Guard Academy.

I have a hope ... that we might get eight years of an Obama presidency, and in that time, at last, the US Peace Academy will come to be. Our young who are diligent and good and opposed to war can serve in careers of peace-making, with rank.

Lynn R. Chong
Sanbornton, N.H.

Put Nuclear Genie to Work

One of the greatest visionaries of all time, Jules Verne, tackled the greatest dilemna of all time in one of his books: What to do about the threat of nuclear proliferation? Jules Verne’s solution: Let it spread to all nations as a hedge against constant war. For what nation would dare launch war against another if it meant nuclear retaliation and self destruction? So, the problem was not trying to stuff the nuclear back into the bottle, but rather how to put the genie to work in the cause of peace for a change. Thus does the problem become the solution.

Otherwise we are doomed to never-ending wars by banging our heads against the wall we have created with the course we are on now. Face it, we are faced with a choice of conventional warfare or nuclear warfare with the logic our present leaders are using to lead us into oblivion.

There must be a better way. Verne had a solution to the problem by turning the problem into a solution much as Plato advised so long ago when he said that the solution to a problem is inherent in the statement of the problem.

The rest is up to us. We must stop electing leaders whose brains are too fried to think straight.

Jim Reine
International Falls, Minn.

Revolt Against Big Oil

Despite the fact that there are many democracies today, these governments have allowed one industry to hold the world hostage to it. In the 18th century, social/economic justice demanded the head of Louis XVI. The Americans had a successful revolt against England. The 19th century produced many revolutions in Europe. The 1900s brought the downfall of the Russian Czar. In the 20th century, Castro shook off exploitive capitalism, as did Chavez in Venezuela not long ago. The only answer I find is that those in charge of “democratic” government have stock in the oil companies and think they are benefitting along with the CEO’s of Exxon and other energy producers.

Irene Buitenkant
Olympia, Wash.

Flood of Blame

Meandering streams that wended their way through wide marshlands have been turned into drainage ditches and large expanses of rivers have been leveed into aqueducts. The water has thus been hurried on to the sea and look out down below.

If nothing more than fingers of blame are going to be pointed in various directions because of this season of tragic floods, best we remember that both city and farmland has been channeled, tiled and surfaced to speed up runoff, and that which will raise all boats will also flood a lot of urban and rural folks.

Sam Osborne
West Branch, Iowa

Impeach Now

Congratulations to Congressman Kucinich for introducing his 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush! The dismay felt by millions of Americans over seeing their Constitution shredded by this administration has finally been addressed. It becomes increasingly apparent that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi has betrayed the American people by her actions on impeachment. Her failure to allow Congress to consider impeachment is a reprehensible political calculation, not much different than that of the administration’s firing of the eight US attorneys for not indicting Democratic officials who, they claimed, had committed voting fraud. Testimony by these attorneys, under oath, before committees of Congress, proved that there was not sufficient evidence to indict.

The resolution to impeach Vice President Cheney, which is now in the House Judiciary Committee, should be promptly voted on, and brought to the floor of the House of Representatives. We will then be able to recognize those members of the House who have the backbone to act to protect and preserve the Constitutional principles that every member swears to uphold when they are sworn into office.

Rudy Hazucha
Rockford, Ill.

High Court Gets Last Word

The gun-totin’ reader from Texas who lambasted columnist Hal Crowther evidently doesn’t know about a case that came before the Supreme Court several years ago concerning 2nd Amendment rights. A lower court ruled that the right to bear arms applied only to militia units—not to individual citizens. When that case came before the Supreme Court, the justices refused to hear it, thus letting the decision of the lower court stand. I once had the citation for the case but have lost my notes. However, anybody with access to the Supreme Court Reports can look it up.

I don’t always agree with Supreme Court decisions, but, fortunately or unfortunately, the justices have the last word on the law of the land. I certainly don’t agree that corporations must be considered as “persons” as defined in the 14th Amendment or with the more recent decision to elect “Dubya” Bush president. However, as long as we give the Supreme Court supreme power, we have to abide by its decisions.

Emily Calhoun
Cornelia, Ga.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2008

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