Useful Idiocy

Frank Rich, in “The very useful idiocy of Christine O’Donnell, 10/3/10 New York Times), turns around what an anonymous higher-up Republican called O’Donnell’s “disturbing pattern of dishonest behavior” and Karl Rove saying she gave “nutty pronouncements” on Fox News to suddenly praising her right afterwards, that she was a true populist.” According to Rich, her style of populism could be a cover for the anonymous corporations and billionaires who support her and the Tea Party in a joint anti-government fight to continue the Bush tax cuts of $3.7 trillion, a bonanza for corporations over the next 10 years.

This money kept in halting the high-end tax cuts could be used to bolster Social Security and Medicare, used to invest in alternate energies, improved and new infrastructure, exploring and investing in employment possibilities, housing reform. The fact that O’Donnell and her party are a danger is because, as Rich notes, they are a pawn of the anonymous power elite who can spend unlimitedly on candidates of their corporate-oriented views and thus undermine the democratic voting process. Given their overwhelming financial influence in elections, my greatest fear is not O’Donnell and her idiocies but what she represents — a country without a soul, run by the anonymous few who care only for profit, not for the common good. Our country is at serious risk to lose our way of life. It’s more than a party issue; it’s now a frightening omen of future derailment of democracy.

Elkins Park, Pa.

Ditch the Duopoly

Hal Crowthers, “A Nation of Narcissists” (10/15/10 TPP) expends an enormous amount of verbiage to convince us that the lesser of two evils is not so evil. Instead of explicitly or implicitly accepting the lesser of two evil political party affiliations, your paper should explore a way out of this dilemma. Continued voting for the duopoly is taking us further and further from our democratic ideals into the abyss.

San Francisco, Calif.

Path to Plutocracy

One of Ronald Reagan’s first official acts on becoming president was to lower taxes on the wealthy. Bill Clinton raised them. George W. Bush lowered them. During all three administrations, and presently Obama’s, billions of dollars of lobby money have flowed into our nation’s capitol from domestic and foreign sources. This endless stream of money from the corporate horn of plenty has prostituted our Congress to where our country is no longer a government of, by and for the people.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court says that corporations “are people and have the right to be politically heard” and they can now can send all the money they want to legislators at any level of government to influence elections. That judicial blessing by the highest authority in our nation has propelled America on a path to plutocracy.

President Bush bailed out Wall Street and banking and President Obama bailed out the blue-collared labor of the automotive industry. After the GOP hemorrhaged billions of dollars to the wealthiest segment of our economy, they fought hard to defeat President Obama’s worker stimulus packages, extension of unemployment benefits to out-of- work Americans and money to help preserve teachers’ jobs.

Historically, the Democrats have always favored the middle class who labor for a living and the poverty stricken; conversely, the Republican party has empirically been the care givers for big business, Wall Street and wealthy Americans.

So who should you vote for in this money-dominated political environment? It all depends which rung of the economic ladder you are standing on — place your X accordingly.

Washington Island, Wis.

Expand Social Security

I totally agree with the article (“Correcting Myths About Social Security,” by Hank Kalet, 9/15/10 TPP) and want and hope that the government expands the program as Mr. [Steve] Hill suggests. [Editor’s Note: Hill, of the New America Foundation, proposed removing the cap on taxable wages beyond the current $106,800 and removing other tax breaks for the wealthy and using the additional revenue to double Social Security benefits.] But I also feel it will be a long struggle with all the greedheads and Tea Party types and Blue Dog Dems. But this is the best idea for the program, we the people and our future. A start for this would be to get Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to put the Social Security Forever Act up for a vote in the Senate. I ask you the readers to support the expansion of Social Security by writing your federal representatives, magazines and political organizations and AARP, etc., to get the ball rolling on this, and remember, forward (D), not backwards (R). Say no to the party of no on Nov. 2.

Sarasota, Fla.

Editor’s Note: The Social Security Forever Act (HR 1863), sponsored by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla), would impose a 6% surtax on earnings about the current cap of $106,800, split between employers and employees. It is stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee. There apparently is no companion bill in the Senate, which is supposed to let the House initiate revenue bills, so there’s no bill for Reid to bring up for a vote.

Read Whole Bible, Constitution

What is most disturbing about those to the right of the Republican Party is what they have done to Christianity. It’s been said that “religion makes bad politics, but politics makes bad religion.” When the king is also the god, you wind up with either a bad king or a bad god — or both.

I would suggest that the Right Wing could use more Bible knowledge, and that the Left Wing could, too — to counter the Right Wing. Too many people think they know what the Bible says, and they don’t. Too many people don’t even know what can be known about God and what can’t. Too many people fight over things God really doesn’t give two hoots about and accept or put up with things He really can’t stand and wants us to give up on. But in America, a political rally should not be church, and church should not be a political rally. Somehow, somewhere, we got these mixed up — if one really knows and believes the US Constitution and the Bible.

I can’t speak for believers of other faiths, but it seems that Americans of all people should know the basics of American history and beliefs. The Right Wing that claims to care the most about the basics of America seems to know the least. Can’t they at least get these things straight before they start prescribing for everyone else? Apparently that’s asking too much of them.

Those people who show up at veterans’ funerals with signs blaming gays for “the failing of America” should know that if Sodom and Gomorrah really were the example of God’s punishment for “homosexuality,” there would hardly be any human habitation still standing a few years after S&G disappeared. What God punishes “a people” for could be an interesting study. Throughout the Old Testament are numerous instances of God’s punishment for their (i.e., His people’s) going against His commandments. But more important are the blessings God promises for the people who keep His commandments. It seems it would make more sense to be concerned with those.

“Conservatives” are always so anxious to punish people for “wrongdoing,” and afraid that somewhere someone might be getting something they “don’t deserve.” Good grief! When did that become Christian? According to “conservative” doctrine, we must each die for our own sins and fear God’s eternal damnation if we goof up! If that’s the Good News of the Gospel, we should all eat a Bible, let alone read or believe one. This is where Right Wing Conservatives blow it, at the foundation level. Such a building cannot stand.

Presque Isle, Maine

Protect Your Mother

In her article, “Yellowstone Neighbors, Wake up to Drilling Threat,” (10/1/10 TPP), Andrea Peacock writes that several petroleum corporations want to begin drilling for gas in the beautiful Montana region where she lives.

As she so eloquently argues, there will be good paying jobs for everyone, and plentiful amenities for the community — but that it’s a Faustian bargain, since those powerful corporations will rape the land, such as they’ve done in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

We’re all familiar with the common saying: “We only have one mother.” The implication, of course, is that we should love, respect and protect our mothers, because we can never replace them when they are gone.

In the same manner, I hope the people of Montana will not be tempted by the promise of jobs for everyone, and will realize that their land is their only mother.

I trust they will show her the love and respect she deserves — and protect her from those who would ravish and plunder her.

Temple City, Calif.

Shrimpers Aren’t Environmentalists

I take great exception to your 8/15/10 lead article on the ubiquitous Diane Wilson, on several accounts.

I’m no friend of big corporations, by any means, and I suppose I thank Ms. Wilson for her anti-British Petroleum activism, but it comes a bit late. ...

However, I am near speechless at the thought of a Texas shrimper being anything remotely “environmentalist.” Anyone who has ever been around a shrimp boat when its bilge is pumped overboard has seen oil pollution, and anyone who has ever seen the “by-catch” [other unwanted marine creatures caught in the nets] (often far greater than the weight of any shrimp hauled in) will have seen a reason why our local bay fishery base is declining.

The result of any chemical pollution is theoretical, but the by-catch, dead by drowning in the nets, is visible, tangible and measurable.

Next is her assertion that she learned in 2006 that she lived in the “most-polluted county in the US.” Which county might that be? (And says who?) If it is Calhoun County, then I suspect she is exaggerating. I’ve lived in the region for years and just across Hynes Bay in Refugio County for the past several, directly downwind from the Polyolefins refinery in the coal season.

Our crops thrive, we have no smog, our bay fishing is as good as it could be from what little is left by the shrimping industry, and everyone who needs one has a job.

We need to attract more residents — not drive prospective ones away with careless assertions that we are the most unhealthy neighborhood in the country (unless you have some other interpretation of “most polluted” and “toxic.”)

This begs the question: Would our local ecology be better off with Ms. Wilson out on her shrimp boat killing everything except crabs — or out massaging her ego (in blackface yet) as a pseudo environmentalist.

M. Curtess
Austwell, Texas

Editor Notes: In 1989, the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory ranked Calhoun County, Texas, as the most toxic in the nation. (The report in the article that she learned of the ranking in 2006 apparently was in error.) Lavaca Bay in Calhoun County was designated as a Superfund site in 1993. In 1995, the Calhoun County Resource Watch, founded by Wilson, sued Alcoa related to the pollution from a chemical plant and a bauxite plant and the company subsequently agreed to address the pollution and protect the shrimp and oyster breeding grounds, the EPA reported in May 2003. As recently as 2009, another chemical plant in Calhoun County ranked second in Texas in pollution, with 17 million pounds of chemicals released into the environment (based on 2007 data), the EPA reported, according to the Victoria Advocate (3/19/09).

More Clarification on Second Amendment

David Barkin (Letters, 10/1/10 TPP) says we’re all in the militia. Allowing for his hyperbole, though I am not and never was in the militia, it is still not a “well regulated” militia if no one knows who has what weapons or how proficient they are in use and care of their weapons. Since the clear objective of the Second Amendment is to ensure the existence of a well-regulated militia, measures which promote that objective, such as the registration of firearms and required training in their use as a condition of ownership, are in no way inconsistent with that amendment.

Baltimore, Md.

Don’t Blame Firefighters

An item reported under “Dispatches” in your 11/1/10 issue read, in part: “FIRE CREW LETS HOUSE BURN. Conservative writers at the National Review defended the privatized South Fulton, Tenn., Fire Department, which stood by and watched a family’s home burn down, with three dogs and a cat perishing, because the family had not paid a $75 subscription fee required by the city after the penny-pinching Obion County government refused to provide the service …

“The firewatchers were condemned … by the Humane Society of the US …”

I am not in a position to comment whether the South Fulton Fire Department should or should not have responded to the fire at the home of a non-subscriber. I do not know all of the facts. But I would submit the following for your readers’ consideration before rushing to judgment:

First, as surprising as this may sound, many state laws provide that municipalities are not required to provide fire and emergency services – they only enable municipalities to provide such services on a career or volunteer basis if they choose to do so and to authorize the collection of tax revenues for such services.

Second, the state’s/municipality’s insurance coverage for fire and emergency services personnel may have precluded a response by the South Fulton Fire Department to a fire at a non-subscriber’s residence. If a South Fulton firefighter had been killed or injured, the firefighter and/or his/her family may not have been protected under the state’s/municipality’s insurance coverage if a response to a non-subscriber’s fire were deemed to be a non-covered event.

Third, firefighters are taught and trained to risk much — ie, their lives – only if there is much to be gained by taking that risk — ie, saving another human life. As tragic as the loss of a pet may be to its owner, in the fire service, it is generally considered not worth the risk of a human life to attempt to save a pet.

And yes, I am a volunteer firefighter.

Laurens, N.Y.

From The Progressive Populist, November 15, 2010


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