There Is a Choice

The last paragraph of Les Leopold’s 6/15/10 article (“Help: What’s the Cure for Financial Insanity?):

“Imagine if we could vote for something like a jobs and environment party, free from Wall Street’s money, that was dedicated to putting ALL of our people to work building a truly sustainable economy? Now that would be really insane.”

I don’t know whether Mr. Leopold is really that naive or just trying to be subtle, but of course there is such a party, and it certainly isn’t the Democrats. I’ve been reading TPP for a number of years now, long enough to remember when the editors decided that the Democratic Party was the only way to go. That’s been pretty much accepted wisdom in the paper since, but the fallacy is now crystal clear: As writer after writer in the paper points out, the new Democratic administration and Congress, the result of huge efforts by progressives (populist and otherwise) are in some ways WORSE, farther right, and a greater threat to our civil liberties than even the Bush administration. Escalating the war in Afghanistan and issuing waivers for offshore drilling AFTER Deepwater Horizon exploded are only the most obvious examples. Then there is the grossly inadequate financial “reform,” the immediate reason for Leopold’s article.

Then David Sirota piles on, telling us just why “The Left” in this country is so feeble: “many ‘progressive’ institutions are not principled at all — sadly, lots of them are just propagandists for Democrats, regardless of what Democrats do. ... in the Obama era, the “The Left’s” destructive, party-over-principles motivation has become impossible to hide, especially recently.” Then he goes into blistering detail.

What does all this say about TPP’s commitment to the Democratic Party? Some of us with long memories could have told you this approach was self-defeating: for at least 40 years (in my personal memory), people have been struggling to “reclaim” the Democratic Party; and for the last 38, it has moved only, steadily and surely and now tragically, to the Right: to the point where it is far to the right of Reagan and in some ways even George W. But even more destructive, because, as Sirota points out, so many people who would fight a George W. will make excuses for an Obama or Pelosi.

In fact, experience implies that all those efforts to pull the DP to the Left only drove it farther to the Right. That’s because they only reconfirmed those people’s commitment to the party, telling it it didn’t really need to win them back. It’s very simple: in order to have leverage, you have to have someplace else to go, a credible threat. And you have to pull the trigger occasionally, cost them an election. The Right does this regularly. Why do they have more guts than we do? Plus, of course, those futile efforts to change the Democrats soaked up the money and personal energy that could have built a progressive populist alternative. I don’t really think that even a threat from the Left will “Change!” the Democratic Party; we will have to replace them, leaving them as the “center-Right” with all their corporate bribes.

Nonetheless, Mr. Leopold’s wish is granted: it’s the Green Party. (Full disclosure: I’m an officer, unpaid, in the Oregon Pacific Green Party.) Some of us have put in the thankless effort to build a real alternative that is committed to peace, sustainability, social justice and economic equity. It needs to be a lot stronger? Of course. But thankless labor has gone about as far as it can: now we need the rest of you. You can have your unrequited passion for the Democratic Party, or you can have a strong, progressive populist party. You can’t have both. It’s up to you. You can contact us via the national party website, www.gp.org. Click on “States” in the upper left to find your state party (or learn that you need to build one, as in a few states).

We’ll be thrilled to hear from you.

Charles Newlin
Corvallis, Ore.

Higher Law

I’m stepping next to Connie Schultz’s side, not only because I like her, but because she’s right. (“What Happens in Arizona Is Everybody’s Business,” 6/1/10 TPP).

Perhaps we should blame our faulty educational system that Arizona’s politicians, and those who voted for their Alien Exclusion Act, don’t understand the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

They obviously don’t know that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment applies to citizens and non-citizens alike — including undocumented immigrants.

They are also obviously unaware that the US Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to regulate immigration — not the states.

Furthermore, although Arizona’s constitution says: “We the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution” (Article II, Sec. 12), it surprises me that most of its people choose to ignore God’s instructions concerning aliens, written in Leviticus 19:33-34:

“And if a stranger sojourns with thee in your land, you shall not vex him.

“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you and thou shall love him as thyself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Could it be that Arizona’s legislators, and those who voted for their Alien Exclusion Act, are not only ignorant about the US Constitution — but are also hypocrites?

David Quintero
Temple City, Calif.

Who’s an Immigrant?

Connie Schultz warns us that “What happens in Arizona is everybody’s business” (6/1/10 TPP), but she should have excluded the Native Americans. The Native Americans are quite used to this as they have been witnessing this scenario for quite a few years. In a way, the Arizona clampdown offers a glint of hope for them. Could the movement to deport uninvited people from the South of the Border possibly lead to sending the uninvited people (and their descendants, friends and family) who came to this shore on the Mayflower back to Europe? The gleeful lawmakers of Arizona best answer this question.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Second Thoughts

Leave it to the NRA faithful, represented by Richard J. Beukema from “democratic” Michigan, to proclaim [in “Gun Restrictions Preceded Decline,” Letters, 4/15/10 TPP], “... increasingly restrictive and ineffective gun laws coincides with the decline of our constitutional republic ...” My disgust with increasingly conservative Obama administration policies coincides with even more disgust with the NRA cry — an arsenal in every home, a gun on every hip — misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.

Second Amendment creation and history has been manipulated to justify every conservative dogma since the nation’s formation. No standing army existed. “Well-regulated militia” meant gathering and training self-armed individuals into groups to defend against the European standing armies. The first “gun laws” were local and state by conservatives to deny firearms to the 19th Century minorities, i.e., free slaves, indentured slaves, Catholics, etc. The State militias got their butts kicked in the War of 1812 and failed to defend the “nation” against the British.

Except for isolated populations in the far north, hunting is no longer necessary to survive. Firearms are designed to kill other humans. Armed police are the local “militia” for most of the population.

Current “militias” are not “well-regulated,” but just the opposite, as fear vehicles to impose conservative policies over all of society. Unfortunately, the Second Amendment has been elevated to occupy a superior dominance over all other “rights” of the Constitution. It is now the favorite vehicle to establish theocratic, fundamentalist Christian dogma along with corporate oligarchy to overthrow all other aspects of the Constitution. Telescope crosshairs are acceptable political portraiture against dissenters. A rogue, conservative Supreme Court leads in redefining the Constitution freedom document into legal fascism.

No, Mr. Beukema, gun laws have not coincided with the decline of the Constitutional Republic. The Second Amendment is the least “right” necessary to the survival of this Constitutional Republic.

Richard Morgan
Bellingham, Wash.

Don’t Forget Franco

I agree with David Quintero (“Religion and Fascism,” Letters to the Editor, 6/1/10 TPP). However he forgot to mention the third vertex of the fascist triangle of evil: Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain for almost 40 years and since 1957 the darling of the USA. Franco was a traitor who led the 1936 coup against the democratically elected government of the Republic. This is well known. Perhaps his collaboration with the Nazis (that he had a “Division Azul” fighting against the Allies in the Russian front isn’t so well known). The Catholic Church was an unholy supporter of the dictator. In fact, Catholicism was the only religion allowed. You had to be baptized by the Catholic Church, obviously, otherwise you would not get a birth certificate; before getting married, couples had to attend “Religious Instruction” classes, etc. All of this without counting the thousands of Republicans that were executed after the fascists won the war.

As I mentioned, in 1957 Eisenhower went to Spain and warmly embraced (literally) Franco, in public, in exchange for many military bases, of which at least one is still in operation (Rota). Franco was declared “defender of the Free World”.

R.M. Iñigo
Charlottesville, Va.

Old-Fashioned Ideas

In today’s “debates” on issues, too often quantity is mistaken for quality. TV and radio demand that no second of time is left empty. The Internet seems to be limitless space that begs to be filled. The tsunami of words and images in our electronic landscape is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” — nothing clarifying or actually useful. No one seems to really have any answers, and no one seems to be actually listening to anyone. This is as helpful as an unplugged oil well under one mile of water.

May I suggest another book, The Cultural Contraditions of Capitalism, by Daniel Bell, published in 1978, that explains in helpful detail how and why the world is where it finds itself today. I know it’s not flashy or animated. It’s just words on a page. But if both (or all) “sides” on these issues would look at at some of this “ancient scripture,” they would be enlightened. (Kevin Phillips and Joseph Stiglitz are useful, too!) Of course, some would think reading a “Liberal’s” work would contaminate their pure minds, but it also could be seen as another form of Saturday morning cartoons, if that would make it seem less risky. (Ooo, those “Sixties People”!)

Every farmer knows that growing things have certain requirements if they are to thrive. Nations are growing things made up of people who grow and need the right conditions. Your paper has articles for farmers and about farming. And even in the “wilderness,” there are times and seasons — and reasons! — for things that go on there. These times are a continuation of all that’s come before, but we are still working in our fields and have a common need for a fruitful harvest.

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Medical Care in Greece

My family and I have good health insurance insurance in Greece. My husband works at a university so we are all on his health insurance plan.

In the USA he also worked at a university and we paid for the most expensive and, we thought, the best health insurance offered, which was Blue Cross Blue Shield at the time.

In Greece we have no doubt that when we become sick our doctors will see us, regard our problem seriously and do everything they can to help us recover. We can use our health books to get care anywhere.

In the States we knew when we were sick it was highly unlikely the doctor would be able to help us or even pretend to take our ailment seriously. When surgery was necessary we knew we were in fight with Blue Cross Blue Shield and no matter how awful we felt we were in for a long-term struggle to force the health care system to help us recover.

Along the way we had the good luck to meet enough caring and serious doctors that we could find our way to passably good health. Unfortunately most of the doctors were not helpful and often they were insulting. ...

Most of our doctors and our pharmacists have studied in northern Italy. They understand the importance of diagnosis and using the proper pharmaceuticals to relieve health problems.

My radiologist has the most technologically advanced instrumentation in her office. Each year she gives me my mammogram, osteoporosis test as well as other necessary tests such as blood flow of arteries.

When I go to my general practitioner and other doctors I carry my records in a folder and two books. The smaller book is the book the doctors describe the office visit. At the end of the office visit I sign the page, they keep the white copy so they can be reimbursed from insurance. The yellow copy of the original information from the white copy remains in my health book. In this way we are able to have a record of the date of my last office visit and any notes that have been included.

The larger rectangular book is where the doctors write prescriptions. The pharmacy keeps the white copy and the yellow copy remains in the book.

There are no secrets. Doctors and pharmacists can refer to these two health books for records of the patient’s history.

Vicki S. Nikolaidis
Crete, Greece

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2010


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