Hal Crowther, usually so astute, seems to be indulging in wishful thinking when he contends that the pale and testosterone-addled Republican Party is in decline [“Twilight of the Pale Patriarchs,” 2/1/13 TPP]. Consider:
(1) Obama beat an unlikeable empty suit who’s only claim to the highest office was that he knew how to make money; which he made, as described by Newt Gingrich, by practicing “vulture capitalism.” Nobody pointed out that the last (primarily) businessman in that office was Herbert Hoover.
(2) While eight of nine swing states voted Obama, six of those sent more R’s to the House than D’s (e.g., Florida 17 to 10, Penn. 13-5, Wisc. 5-3, etc.).
(3) Those (supposedly blue) states are contemplating changing their electoral vote from winner-take-all to by Congressional district. If that was in place Romney would’ve won.
(4) Fourteen states have total Republican control, i.e., governor and both legislative chambers.
(5) Obama won despite the voter ID myth and laws, some upheld, some not. That would seem to indicate the Democrat’s strength, but it also illustrates how the mainstream media (MSM) accommodates the regressive and aggressive. E.g., much to-do validating a phony issue but little about Republican voter fraud. E.g., indictments of a Nathan Sproul in Florida, Colin Small in Viginia and incidents in several states.
(6) With electronic machines the R’s have privatized voting (See “How to Rig an Election” by Victoria Collier, Harpers, November 2012).
(7) Then there is the polling place issue, obvious since 2000, but, again, little concern from the MSM. This tactic of Republican Lieutenant Governors making some voter sites no wait and others long, long wait certainly cost Kerry Ohio, and therefore the presidency, in ‘04. Those 6,7 and 8-hour waits, especially in Florida and Ohio in the last election certainly cost Obama, but, again, the MSM won’t fault Republican tactics. Those patient and patriotic voters are one reason Obama won; another is that Independents thought him more likable than the Governor (who would hardly concede that he was once a Governor). What happens when the Democrat has a charm deficit (Gore, Kerry) and the R’s run an affable guy or a charming woman?
(8) When Democrats talk of “entitlements” and “spending,” they are talking the R’s language. Only once have I heard a Democrat (John Kerry) explain that “spending” isn’t frivolous, it is investing in, for instance, much-needed infrastructure. When Obama put Social Security “on the table,” he conceded that that secure and independent program was, as the R’s conflate, just another entitlement (the next thing to welfare) and not an earned benefit. The D’s are losing the war of connotation and they have no rhetoric to counter big lies. Anyone for “death panels”?
(9) And the debt/deficit problem that D’s talk about, as if they never heard of Keynes or “austerity recession,” just like Republicans. I don’t think I have to explain to your readers that jobs are the problem and the only solution to the debt and deficit secondary problem. (Of course I seem to be saying that European governments have it ass-backwards.)
San Francisco, Calif.
You can’t argue gun control without repealing the Second Amendment. A right is absolute. It is not subject to license or tax. It is immune to the will of the majority, though disarmament be argued in terms practical and marginal.
Yet nobody truly regards guns as an equal and universal right. Nobody — not Wayne LaPierre, not Yosemite Sam, not the staunchest live-free-or-die-er — wants guns in an airliner, at the Super Bowl, in rush hour traffic. They don’t want some rights-based philanthropy arming homeless citizens. They are skeptical of their neighbor’s firearm, and (properly) mortified to see it brandished. They thought it prudent to disarm (with extreme prejudice) the Symbionese Liberation Armey and Black Panthers. They absolutely do not want arms distributed by Occupy, Acorn or PBS. (Thanks for your pledge!)
Responsible gun owners exist, indeed predominate. But what other narrow interest claims unalienable right for their hobby? And why did they cede their lobby’s control to certifiable nuts? Gun nuts are a cluster of fetishists, fascists and fantasy-dwelling paranoids. And let’s not slight the cracker element (else Plaxico Burress would be a martyr to gun rights).
The NRA is running a tidy little swindle: a factional privilege pleading for tolerance. The nuts want only their kind to wield arms. Who but a nut would freely engage a reality of self-inflicted harm to indulge a delusion of self-defense? (Let’s declare our sacred right to free-roaming household cobras! For security!)
Our vigilant heroes with their strap-on courage are prepared to shoot it out with those hombres lurking in the hi-def recesses of every home. They imagine themselves unsworn deputies to Sgt. Friday and Lt. McGarrett and Marshal Dillon. It never occurs to them that a gun drawn in an actual crisis will make them pre-emptive targets to late-arriving cops.
Gun nuts count themselves minutemen ready to repel invasion. (Lord knows those Vietnam dominos have been toppling 40 years. They’re poised to complete a land bridge from Kamchatka to Alaska.) Simultaneously these patriots stand alert to homegrown tyranny. Don’t ask; they define tyranny. Instinctively “good Germans,” they are jake with the Patriot Act, and militarized party conventions, and bathetic homilies to The Troops. They clamor for Big Brother surveillance and Hollywood curtailments to address the problem of mass shootings. But these guys know tyranny when they see it. It stands out like a brown guy in a White House.
Since the Civil War — the last decent chance for small arms to overthrow vested authority — the balance of firepower has grown unassailably lopsided. Gun nuts persist in their patriotic fantasy. Whereas a scoped rifle could never bring down a tyranny, one can bring down a tyrant.
Barack Obama is anything but a tyrant. He is a faithful servant of powers that be, a reliable agent of status quo. His characteristic effort on behalf of gun control — measured rhetoric urging toothless measures — should appease the crazies. But crazy does not submit to reality.
The nutcase right is trolling for assassins. The gun control left is giving them ammunition. Though nobody in the liberal camp is extolling repeal of the Second Amendment, the gun nuts hear it loud and clear — and now who is delusional?
Ted Rall wrote an article, “Awaiting a Slut Moment” [1/1-15/13 TPP]. The title itself I found beneath professional journalism. Then the article proceeded to justify adultery because “its standard human behavior and not a moral failing.” When does morality get weighed by consensus? The truth is larger than relativism. Do the Commandments or Jesus’ condemnation of adultery mean anything? Rall called it “harmless fun.” Has he not known the emotional pain and scar tissue adultery has caused on the family unit? Harmless? He then proceeded to justify Clinton. Did he not see Clinton lost his moral authority and our government came to a halt? His immorality and all adultery has a cost. Sin can not be dismissed so sophomoric as he said “whatever.” I contribute to your fine paper but I believe you erred in publishing this insulting article. Your paper wails against cheating on Wall Street, the Pentagon, in sports, workers rights, the environment ... but can tolerate marriage infidelity? I don’t get it and don’t want to.
Ted Rall’s “We Don’t Have the Right to Care” [2/1/13 TPP] was a harshly indignant, yet passionately reasoned indictment of the public breast beating and hand wringing over the Newtown shooting victims, and other incidents like them. Obama tried to shed tears at the podium, Congressional leaders fell all over themselves vilifying American gun love. The public held candlelit vigils, gathered flowers and posed for the news cameras. It was yet another theatrical demonstration of American hypocrisy, but Rall forced us to confront the dark heart of the matter.
“The truth is,” said Rall, “we’re pro-mass murderer.” Our President engages in extrajudicial drone wars in multiple countries with our tacit approval. We don’t care about children killed in Moslem countries. We hold no vigils for the collaterally damaged kids who are maimed and traumatized by the deadly terror we drop on them from the skies. If we let our elected officials torture and kill in our name, then we best accept part or most of the blame for their rogue behaviors.
But at the least, when tragedy strikes in public places and kills American children as in Newtown, let’s agree that Americans are a people that revel in power and position which war helps to achieve for us. Let’s agree that we’re indifferent to the suffering of those not our race or our creed, for the most part. And let’s agree to stop trying to outdo each other as public mourners for our own, until we mourn for those on whom we bring outrageous tragedy. Thanks, Ted Rall, for showing us our hypocrisy.
Right on Ted Rall! This country spouts meaningless platitudes bemoaning violence; all while we’re blowing up half the planet!
Riviera Beach, Fla.
What this country needs is an honest banking system, where if they do wrong, the criminals are prosecuted. Where hedge funds and private equity are making huge amounts of money off of the backs of hard-working middle class taxpayers. A lot of this corruption happened because of subprime loans and robo-signing. You find a lot of these people living in tents and last night on TV, I saw where 1,000 people were living in the sewers under the streets of LasVegas. We must have legislators get out and have more Listening Sessions in their districts with the common voters, who represent the 99%.
We rail against abortion and the use of frozen embryos for stem-cell research and the use of birth control pills is cause for a congressional investigation. Same sex marriage is an affront to our traditional religious values as is teaching sex education and evolution in our schools. Should national figures consensually meander outside their matrimonial bounds they are disgraced and ostracized. We protest “the gun” in America, yet spend 30% of our national budget on armament to invade, fight and occupy foreign countries.
We shed tears with our President for the school children gunned down at Newtown but none for the dead children of the Middle East, or the grim casualties of the unnecessary invasion of Iraq and extended occupation of Afghanistan, or the children of Pakistan and Yemen killed and wounded by the aptly-named Hellfire missiles fired from our drones, or the children of Gaza blown to bits by Israeli bombs paid for by the $3.5 billion of our tax dollars gifted to Israel. (Should you need substantiation of the above, Google Civilian Casualties of Iraq and Afghanistan, Children Killed by US Drones and US Aid to Israel. Of equal interest is OpenSecrets.org., Israeli PAC Donations to US Congress Persons.)
Along with our high moral code we hold candlelight vigils, erect shrines and memorials to those killed by crazed individuals and terrorists. Our flag flies at half-mast as we kneel in prayer attempting to find closure to senseless acts of violence here in America, while turning a blind eye to the death and suffering of people in foreign countries.
When will it ever end? When will we ever learn?
Wow. What a great deal for our already underserved veterans. Thanks to Walmart’s meritocracy, returning soldiers may, after having served their country under the most demanding circumstances most of us will never experience, eventually earn enough money working for Bill Simon to afford the company health plan. Is this the American dream they signed on to protect? Is this anyone’s idea of a good living standard for workers at all?
South Orange, N.J.
Jim Hightower states [in "Let a Grunt Run the Pentagon for a Change," 2/15/13 TPP] that “I didn’t know a whole lot about Chuck Hagel ...” That is so only because he has refused to do his research. In my letter to Jim dated Dec. 31, 2012, I suggested that he read Chapter 3 of Black Box Voting by Bev Harris titled: "Why We Need Disclosure of Owners ... Chuck Hagel Poster Boy for Conflict of Interest." It’s only 7 pages long and can be accessed online free of charge.
Harris’s facts are not a conspiracy theory but the disclosure of a brilliant technique to manipulate the outcome of supposedly democratic elections that are staged by using willing and unknowing voters as props to get a fixed outcome: Where has the American press been?
If in fact Chuck Hagel, was elected to the US Senate in 1996 by rigged voting machines then he should be in prison not the Defense Department.
Port Angeles, Wash
Editor's Note: The cited chapter notes that until two weeks before he announced his 1996 run for the Senate in Nebraska, Hagel was the chairman of American Information Systems, which later became ES&S and made voting machines that counted 56% of votes in the US, including those in Nebraska. He did not disclose his former position on personal disclosure documents, although Harris states that Hagel retained a financial interest in the McCarthy Group, which owned ES&S, through 2002. Hagel later claimed that the ownership was excepted from disclosure requirements (a view disputed by an Ethics Committee staffer). However, there is no evidence in that chapter that Hagel or ES&S manipulated votes — only that his 1996 victory was an upset and that Nebraska had no provision to allow a losing candidate to verify vote tallies by counting paper ballots.
If Dems would only fight half as much for the working class and Social Security people as Republicans fight for the rich, then all would be able to afford their meeds. Only in America would their be a law saying government cannot negotiate with drug companies about cost.
P.S. How about out Senate leader taking a dive? Now there will not be any help for the poor, like minimum wage.
YES! So great to have Donald Kaul back. Donald, don’t over-exert yourself, but please write when you can. We miss you.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was responsible to increase security at all US embassies in Africa and elsewhere facing uncertain attacks. That is why I cannot vote for her if she runs for President in 2016. She fell asleep at the wheel!
From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2013
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