Leave My TV and Car Alone

For the most part, I agree with [Margot Ford McMillen, “Time for TV Detox,” 4/15/09 TPP], but I must needs protest to some degree. As I have reached the age of 80 years (this July), I am retired, widowed and living about 26 miles from three of my children, grandchildren and old friends and neighbors. My fourth child lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two dogs and a cat, so I get to visit the lovely San Francisco area on occasion.

I love it out here in the country, in Wilton, Calif.—near Elk Grove and just south of Sacramento, where my view includes the cows and their calves across the road in the pasture that has a small creek running through it, and also the twin towers of our decommissioned Nuclear Power Plant, Rancho Seco, and—when it is a clear day—a marvelous view of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada ...

I have a considerable library of books, and quite a few that I haven’t read yet, and I have a large collection of LPs, opera, symphony, Marvin Gaye, Santana ... you name it; I have it, and also have a turntable that can play 45s, 33s and even old 78s ... and I have a few of those—Caruso, Tito Schipa, John McCormack et alia. Nonetheless, as I am still alive and enjoying life, I do watch my TV and would not want to cut myself off from that source of information and entertainment. MSNBC is on in my house from about 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. as I watch the political news programs—Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and frequently visit whatever is on our KVIE/Public Broadcasting System channel. I can also get Amy Goodman with her Democracy Now! show, and I am glued to the set when tennis is on—the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the US Open—and everything I can get in between.

I am fortunate to have available to me 7.5 acres of land out here, and my landlords and I have planted our gardens—tomatoes, squash, melons, okra, green beans and more, as the mood strikes us. I am also only 15 minutes away from the Davis Ranch, on Jackson Road ... which has wonderful produce and is especially noted for its “Sloughhouse” corn, usually available before the fourth of July, and also has a Christmas Tree farm where we can cut down our own trees.

But, despite all the “green” and “back-to-nature” calls out there, I would not give up my TV willingly. I am very involved in the politics of the day, and watch the goings-on in the US Senate and the House of Representatives — sometimes quite boring, but it’s background while I do my crossword puzzles and read my bridge column. If my legs continue to serve me well, I will re-institute my daily walks of 1 or 2 miles, and perhaps buy myself a bike so I can venture further. I have already had cancer—20 years ago this May—and am surviving quite well. I do not think that there is a great deal of real, solid news on the MSM channels, and so supplement the info I get from C-SPAN and MSNBC with occasional visits to Democratic Underground or other Internet sources of opinion and information.

As a young mother in Sacramento, I could not possibly have picked up the kids and the groceries and the cleaning, and gotten to the swim meets or anything else on the agenda without my car. Please consider that some of us have to have a car to survive. And, I would posit, most of us need an occasional bout with the TV to know what is going on in this big world.  

Grace Cooper
Wilton, Calif.

No GOP-Lite Senators

Kudos to Robert Borosage’s fine article [“Time to Dog the Dogs, 4/15/09 TPP] on Indiana’s answer to Mitt Romney, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

I have long been troubled with Sen. Bayh’s conservatism, but voted for him anyway, thinking that a bad Democrat was better than a Republican.

Due to 30 years of trickle-down economics and capitalistic greed I find myself in the untenable position of being unemployed, uninsured and diagnosed with colon cancer. I am nearly 60 years old, living in an area of near-Depression-era unemployment. Finding a job is impossible. Also, the interest on my meager savings account is nearly nothing.

I wrote Sen. Bayh urging him to support President Obama’s budget, especially health care initiatives. Our junior “Republican” senator instead chose to turn his back on those of us suffering from conservative ideology. To add insult to injury, Sen. Bayh didn’t bother to respond to my plight. At least Sen. Lugar (R-Ind.) replies with a partisan form letter.

Until the Indiana Democratic Party can offer an alternative to Sen. Bayh, I will leave the senatorial race blank. I will not support anyone that apparently does not care if I live or die.

Janet Collins
Etna Green, Ind.

Food Bank Disgrace

The question Nick Turse neglects to raise [“Food Banks Need Bailout, 4/15/09 TPP]: Do we need food banks? Personally, since their appearance as a result of the precipitous reactionary political decadence North Shamerica has suffered from the past three decades, I deem them a national disgrace. Had we a sensible Guaranteed Minimum Income in place, there would be minimal need for emergency aid—save by uneducated household managers. Such a program is easily affordable on this continent, but would require major cuts in superfluous military “Defense” expenditures and a progressive tax system that removes all the loopholes rich crooks use to avoid contributing to society. Unfortunately both steps are impossible to implement so long as the legislatures remain shamelessly right-wing almost to a wo/man. Far too many eligible electors fail to vote since they recognize how compromised and corrupt their “representatives” are.

Maybe just a global catastrophe can lead us to the positive socialist measures, including income equalization, which everyone can benefit from, even present-day lottery winners and billionaires. Perhaps only such a calamity can relieve us of our deformed, alienated human nature, which Karl Marx long ago prophetically pointed out competitive capitalism must produce, precluding the love and happiness we all want and need. Meantime it’s curious that in a nation so long priding itself on its Christian values, food banks’ existence is not generally viewed as a damning scandal.

Rob MacLeod
Porthill, Idaho

Citi’s Owners

TPP continues to educate those of us who thought nothing new was under the sun. Reading the article, “Nationalizing Citi,” by Bob Burnett [5/1/09 TPP] dropped a hitherto, unknown bomb into my view of the economic world. “... It’s an international institution, and its largest stockholders include Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal ... Kuwait and Singapore and Pacific Rim investment groups. Foreign investors hold much of Citi’s $486 billion debt. The bank’s main deposit base is overseas ... nationalization of Citi would have worldwide consequences ...”

Despite believing myself to be somewhat well-read, nowhere had I previously read or heard this statement of fact about the true nature of the financial institutions, i.e., holding companies, hedge funds, and private equity groups responsible for the present economic failure, and/or the true recipients of the “bailout” funds. This tells me that our entire financial system is ruled by the worldwide cartels in Big Oil. The interlocking systems of finance and market manipulators have consistently looted individual pocketbooks through price gouging at the gas pump beginning with the Nixonian 1970s through the summer of 2008. Those monstrous profits were used to purchase and gain ultimate control over all financial systems in this nation. More of the same were used to fund the media corporations and think tanks to skew the national dialogue to a conservative agenda. Politicians of both parties were bought and bribed to deregulate the financial systems and remove all anti-trust legislation and enforcement from the governing system. The financial criminals were free to create the “derivatives” to create “new” wealth.

Now that the system has imploded, the past and present governing systems in this country have committed debt models to protect the assets of foreign rulers and governments. Our nation is to suffer unemployment and financial bankruptcy to recoup the losses of the foreign and domestic, most -favored, oil-slime elite with the real dollars from the citizenry. The traitorous acts are unforgivable. The continuation of these policies by the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress reveals the depth of corruption. Obama’s low bowing before the Saudi King makes more sense now.

Corporate media was a willing partner in the entire traitorous movement to brainwash the citizenry while hiding the monstrous nature and size of the criminal takeover of the financial systems and government of this nation. The oil connections of the Bush/Cheney administration, the entire Republican Party and the majority of the elected Democratic shills allowed this traitorous conspiracy to reach full fruition. The entire Bush/Cheney ascension and retention of power makes much more sense now.

Today’s report of CitiGroup and JPMorgan glowing reports after the infusion of the “bailout” funds is just one more slap in the face of those who thought we lived in a democracy under Constitutional Law.

Richard L. Morgan
Bellingham, Wash.

Credit for Mess

I find it strange that for years the Republicans wanted to deregulate anything the government had any control over. Now, since that has happened, look at the mess that we are now facing. But the Republicans had help from spineless Democrats (closet Republicans) and nobody is taking any credit for that mess. For people who are supposed to be adults, they sure act like spoiled brats. And let us not forget that old saying, “That those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it.” Does the saving and loan mess ring a bell? Not to any bought and paid for politician!

Dennis H. Kuykendall
Kuna, Idaho

White-Collar Crime

Over the centuries, laws have been passed and enacted to protect society from crime, with sentences imposed as means of retribution, but also to serve as a viable and visible deterrent. So-called white-collar crime has been a staple and fact of life, and our system of jurisprudence has always chosen to treat such individuals as rogues and scoundrels, rather than the criminals they really are, resulting in a slap on the wrist, or a modest sentence with a relatively brief stay at a Ritz Carlton-style prison, such as Lompoc, Calif.

Certain egregious cases from the past come to mind, obviously long forgotten, such as the Michael Milken junk bond scheme, Ivan Boesky’s insider trading, the savings-and-loans debacle, the BCCI bank scandal etc., which were mostly covered up and trivialized, only to be boldly replicated on a much larger sale by the likes of Enron, Anderson and Worldcom, to mention just a few, which set the stage for the incredible coup we have witnessed unfold on Wall Street over the past few months, which has brought this country and the world to the brink of total disaster.

Drug dealers are rightly judged to be leeches lodged at the artery of our communities and nation, which has resulted in the passage of suitable Draconian laws, with long-term incarceration and forfeiture of their ill gotten gains, such as real estate, cars, boats, jewelry, bank accounts and other assets.

When attempting to gauge the collective damage wrought by the criminal activities on Wall Street and the pain, suffering and misery it has inflicted upon millions of our fellow citizens, one cannot escape the conclusion that it far exceeds in scope that of thousands of thieves, burglars, robbers, muggers and murderers (suicides committed) and therefore should be equated with drug dealers and dealt with accordingly.

This, once again, brings up the question of whom the system is designed to serve: Wall Street criminals, corporations, oligarchs, plutocrats or “We the people” who have been relegated to the status of bit players, bail-out fund providers and pack mules for their larcenous enterprises.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Debate Single-Payer Health Plan

I heard a debate on single payer [NPR Radio Times, 4/15/09] between Steffie Woolhandler, co-director of the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and Robert Moffat of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Health Policy Studies Institute. The key, in fact overwhelming, issue for Mr. Moffat, who supported the private insurance model while admitting to some problems, was that “we were returning our health care to the government;” doctors would be “agents of the government,” which would rule on the care ... In essence, the private insurance system is relying again on using scare tactics to kill the need to change our health care by inciting an irrational generalized populist fear of government control in our lives — whether it is health reform or in other key aspects of public life. However, the public is undaunted and strongly moving ahead with single-payer reform, not only in the House with Rep. Conyers’ proposal of HR 676, but in the Senate with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ recent landmark American Health Security Act of 2009, and more locally with resolutions proposed most recently by city councils of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa.

Sid Moss
Elkins Park Pa.

Toxic Assets Uncounted

Amid all of the talk about bailouts and toxic assets, one question still has not been answered: What is the real underlying value of the so-called toxic assets? The market value of many of them is nil. But they represent real mortgages and underlying debt instruments. Are all of the underlying debts in default? Half? Part? Any?

We have paid billions to AIG, Citi and other banks and financial institutions. We should be entitled to know the status of debts represented by those bundled securities. Until we find out how much of a scam has been imposed upon the American public, we cannot have any confidence in the market or in our government’s efforts to restore the financial system to health. There is a strong feeling that those on the inside have continued to manipulate the system for their own benefit. That has to stop. We need more sunshine on the financial world.

Frank L. Schneider
Chicago, Ill.

From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2009

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