Why Not Liberal Government?

I’m grateful for the opportunity to read columns by Jim Hightower, Ted Rall, Ralph Nader, Alexander Cockburn and others in TPP. But I am also galled by columns that are off-base, irrelevant, or fluffy feel-goods that have no real content, such as Joyce Marcel’s “Calm Down, America.” Ms. Marcel is saying, in essence, that my outrage over Obama’s appointments of neo-con insiders to his cabinet, or his position against gay marriage, or his plan to escalate the war on terror in Afghanistan, is hysterical and inappropriate. She wants us to suspend discussion and judgment until Obama has a chance to prove himself. As if the glimmers of his true colors already apparent should be ignored. She compares those of us who have passionate feelings and skepticism about seeing the government finally do the right thing to Chicken Little. We are not panicking or hysterical. We are people who dare to talk about what’s really going on. And we do understand the plight of the politician who in order to remain inside the system and make small steps toward sanity must not appear too radical lest he lose that opportunity. Yet Obama still falls short. Why not, for example, immediately release the large proportion of Guantanamo detainees of whom there is zero evidence of wrongdoing? This action is widely supported popularly and even by the government which has pronounced the existence of the prison as illegal. Why not appoint a cabinet of respected, expert liberals that actually reflect the president’s commitment to change. There is no shortage of rivals who would be happy to share their opposing views.

Ted Rall, as always, hits the nail right on the head this issue.

Jonah Salzman
Burlington, Vt.

No Bygones

As a fan of Garrison Keillor’s work it was disappointing to read his article, “Let War Crimes Be Bygones,” listing his reasons that we should forgive the Bush administration’s involvement in the atrocities associated with the war in Iraq. I found statements like, “I’ve been with old lefty friends, who can get emotional about the Haymarket bombings in Chicago and the innocent men railroaded to the gallows, but dear hearts, it happened in 1886. Let’s move on,” to be infuriating and demeaning, a position that suggests that the passion instilled in people from their understanding of injustice and loss of life from certain historical events to be unfounded because it happened so long ago, but wouldn’t that argument contradict the rather current series of atrocities associated with the war in Iraq, or is that history too old as well. Frankly I have never liked anyone telling someone, to Get Over It, it is dismissive, as is Mr. Keillor’s equivalent, “Let’s move on.”

Furthermore, Mr. Keillor shockingly suggests we “go talk to the voters in Ohio about war crimes,” as if American citizens are to blame for this, with no mention of the significant possibility that the Bush machine with its unscrupulous far-reaching influence was able to place Diebold voting machines, a major contributor to his campaign, in those precincts, machines that incidentally can be manipulated without detection.

Beyond that, he opines that a legal battle over war crimes would put a drain on things like, “decent train service in the Midwest,” as if these two possibilities are on the same plane in magnitude, and furthermore that financial concerns should in his mind take precedence over things like costly justice, and that limited funds should be spent in ways he deems are more important. How awful it would be to me, to let this economic downturn be a reason to choose one over the other.

Lastly, Mr. Keillor insists that, “What’s needed here is not punishment, but truth.” He tells us, in so many words that it’s really okay to let the guilty walk, once we learn that truth. In my mind, with this thinking he is supporting what all criminals already believe, that the end always justifies the means, and further emits a clear signal not to worry about such trifles as law. If he is correct, the Constitution for me will have the same value as a sheet of toilet paper.

Steve Weaver
Baltimore, Md.

Hightower Misses Punch

Jim Hightower, usually walking on water, which precludes the use of a boat, missed it thus far [“‘Profits,’ Other Bankster Tricks,” 6/1/09 TPP]. His comments on banks, while on target, left out the most grievous insult to the people.

Bankers produce nothing, yet they and their ilk pay themselves unwarranted enormous sums to do their work. They are able to do this because they pay themselves with money they bilk from others. Less pay to themselves would mean more to the investors and the companies they do business with and herein is the problem. The people they do business with also produce nothing.

Those who have depended upon business and government leaders to lead have been misled. They have found a way to take from the workers, blue collar and farmers, to pay themselves for manipulating paper. This is true in every industry I am aware of.

There is no problem with those at the top making more money than those at the bottom, but 100 times more? They are not worth that much. No one is. Seven times more than the bottom paid employee is sufficient.

The problem no one addresses is that we’re all in this together. Those with aptitude, attitude, and demographic advantage depend on those at the other end of the scale. Our social system, while supporting capitalism, can also support taking care of our fellow man. It should not be dependent upon government to do this, but the social/economic system itself.

Instead, we cheer and bow to those who demean their fellow man in order to become rich. The opposite should be true. We, the people, should support efforts to improve oneself, to make more, but thievery, in whatever form, excess greed as indicated by exorbitant pay (anything more than 7 times earnings of the lowest paid employee in the bureaucracy) should be viewed as morally wrong.

Bill Gates is a case in point. Sure, he started the company, but his business methods, his overcharging for a product which could have been sold for much less and still make a reasonable profit, indicate someone who should not be worshipped, but someone we should all be ashamed of.

Lewis Guignard
Crouse, N.C.

Mess with the CIA

In “Don’t Mess with the CIA” in the 6/1/09 TPP Donald Kaul sides with the president in making a preemptive judgment against any prosecution of CIA officials, and presumably, by extension, any contractors or anyone else employing, or rationalizing by legal memos or directives from above, “harsh interrogation methods” since we “need to move forward,” and it may cost future elections. “Immaculate souls” aside, the question is, how would Mr. Kaul, or the President, propose to ensure that the precedent of torture is not legitimized by essentially sweeping the issue under the rug in the name of political expediency. I think we should support the Congressional folks who are attempting to air out the issue and let the chips fall where they may to help ensure torture is not done again. It would send a signal that there are not two sets of laws, one for the common folks and another for the high and mighty.

Rex Carey
Midlothian, Texas

Tied to Cars

Froma Harrop [“Cars: What We Need vs. What We Want,” 6/15/09 TPP] knows people who own three vehicles but take transit to their job. Good for them, but I’ll venture that among most tri-owners, that at least two of those autos are coming-or-going five or more days a week. Yes, the problem is more a matter of cars on the road than mere possession, but the latter seems to influence the former.

What problem? Global warming, of course, but that is only a “survival-of-the-human-race” problem and will be deferred while we dither about the here-and-now economy. No, I’ll cite a problem that is a scosh less dire than those two. It might be called “auto-colonization.” A correspondent of mine from the planet Serious (not to be confused with the Dog-Star) observes that there seems to be an irresponsible species that more-and-more, dominates on earth. He describes it as carapaced and variously colored. Those “dominants” are attended to by bi-peds, who are agile and even more numerous, but quite weak. Buildings and businesses are dedicated to the well-being of the dominants. Endless ribbons of smooth surface, he observes, are laid over the natural terrain to accommodate their specialized, quadricyclic, rotary-traction locomotion.

Katharine Mieszkowski says that “Electric Cars are Coming!” Well, since a “green grid” seems to be developing even slower than the modest increases in electric mobility, those few green cars will get their juice from that most polluting of fuels, i.e., coal. 35 mpg and alt-fuel cars are an improvement, but that also means—and then figure in increasing population—more damn cars. “Two Billion Cars” pronounces an expert’s title; the subtitle, Driving Toward Sustainability, sounds rather oxymoronish. It suggests the question: just where will there be an incident of traffic-stasis so severe as to cause a revolt against those dominant vehicles? My correspondent guesses somewhere on the I-95, or maybe the L.A. freeway system; or it could be in Bangkok, Tehran or Houston. Or, are we homo sapiens so adaptable that we just might accept that frustrating temporary sequestration during arterial congestion as normal. I was idling on the I-80 for an ungodly hiatus the other day and, hell, I lived. But is that living? Multiply those 45 minutes by millions (or 2 billion ) and we’re talking mass detention.

Jerome Bronk
San Francisco, Calif.

Fed Up

Re “Campaign Bribery” by Robert G. Reed, Bay City, Mich. [Letters, 6/1/09 TPP]: I enjoyed your description concerning how the US Congress is bribed by the cabal organized by the banking industry. I would go even further to say this even includes the office of the President.

To further understand these Wall Street high jinks and how to correct them I would suggest the following book. See chapter 47 pages 451-462, The Web of Debt by Ellen Hodgson Brown, J.D.

We need to nationalize our treasury money system without using the Federal Reserve to manage our nation’s finances to bankrupt our grandchildren for decades to come. We need to return to the Greenback system used by President Lincoln during the Civil War which did not include the Federal Reserve, a private institution full of high jinks, a true cabal. This book fully exposes our present Federal Reserve system. Starting on page 457 the book goes on to outline how the Congress can establish a new system without the obsolete vulture capitalist investment banking system known as the Federal Reserve, serving its own interests at the expense of the public’s.

Clinton Fisk Wells
Parkville, Md.

Fight for Single Payer

Just read your editorial in the 6/1/09 TPP, “Reset For Single Payer.” All of it right on the mark especially the indecent amount of money that goes to our legislators in campaign funding. Of course, it is no news that they have been bought and paid for, a subject that should rile our entire nation into action to end it once and for all. And of those tepid Dems who always seem to vote counter to core values of true democrats. One must take greater care in who we vote for and we will have an opportunity in the upcoming mid term elections.

Yes, our President will be judged on his action on health care reform. It will be his defining issue. And so I would like to make one correction on a statement in your great editorial. No, we don’t want the inclusion of a plan that members of Congress have. This would be failure and not success for Obama. It is not a government plan as so many mistakenly think. What Congress has is a choice of 180 private plans heavily subsidized by our government. The last numbers I had been quoted was that the members pay about $300 per month with the government picking up about an additional $800. This is heavily subsidized with the insurers still reaping a harvest. One government legislative assistant I know has bills of $38,000. So the issue of impending bankruptcy and frequent letters for payment is ever present. Don’t be kidded by some of our legislators pushing this awful proposal. And be aware that Baucus is keeping single payer out of the debate because he knows of its popularity which is increasing by the day. Montanans for single payer have set up appointments in many towns and cities throughout their state to meet with Baucus aides. The activists are becoming more visible and vocal which is what must be done. From the bottom up.

Pearl Korn
Bronx, N.Y.

‘Health Care Reform’ is Really No Change

“Health Care Reform.” Someone like the propagandist Frank Luntz (author of Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear) must have thought this up. Calling it Health Care Reform omits the fact that no health care systems would be changed. Under single payer only the payment stream to hospitals and doctors changes. Hospitals and doctor services aren’t going anywhere nor are they to be “reformed.” But health “care” reform allows the right and insurance companies and their pundit apologists to equate it with “socialized medicine” rather than eliminating the parasites who skim the payments to hospitals.

By combining those three words rather than talking about payment streams as in “health payment procedure” the first thought when hearing the phrase health care reform means changing medical practice. Nothing could further from the truth. Score another one for spin that has gone undetected by the mainstream and the rest of the streams as well.

Lon Ponschock
Appleton, Wis.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2009

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