Fill Courts with Misdeeds of Past Presidents

I enjoyed Secretary Clinton giving the McCain star chamber what for. Benghazi is Arabic for Whitewater. This was a witch hunt, plain and simple — and Hillary’s a near thing! Every inquisitor from Cotton Mather to Joe McCarthy to the persecutors of Bradley Manning know the last thing you want to do is accuse somebody with powers.

The antithesis of the trumped-up charge was soft-peddled Watergate. To this day you’ll hear uninformed liberals decrying the bungled burglary, or bleating, “It’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up.” Look, there’s no high crime in election finagling, least of all an election you’re running away with. This was just Nixon, the Lombardi fan, giving it 110%.

The actual case against Nixon was he installed a shadow government. He was raising money outside Congress to fund covert operations, culminating in the murder of a duly elected president [of Chile]. There was a good chance Nixon, impeached and convicted, would have had to be executed, certainly extradited. Congress thought it more seemly to let him resign in disgrace. But with this abdication of duty Congress ceased to be a co-equal branch. And the shadow government remains in real control.

Congress busies itself with grandstanding, foot-dragging and dog & pony shows. It would be a fine thing if our national legislature resumed the people’s business. But first it must get its mojo back. Impeach Nixon for Allende’s murder; Andrew Jackson for the Trail of Tears, in defiance of the Supreme Court; James K. Polk for the undeclared Mexican War; Woodrow Wilson for terror tactics in the Philippines; and George W. Bush for election fraud (twice). I imagine Barack Obama might be inspired to cough up info on drones and covert wars and CIA black funding sources. And we might just get our republic back.

M. Warner
Minneapolis, Minn.

Benghazi Absurdity

“Benghazi Hearings” by Joe Conason (3/1/13 TPP) proves once again that the Republican senators are on a wild-goose chase. Most of them kept on repeating the number 4 — “Four Americans died in Benghazi” — The 4 who died had families — the cause of the 4 who died needs an investigation ... etc. The group who complained the loudest remained mostly silent when more than 1000 times the 4 (4,000+) died in Iraq. They remained silent when more than 12,000 times the 4 (48,000+) died in the Vietnam war. If anybody deserves to be questioned, they are the proponents of the Vietnam war (if they are still alive) and those who supported the Iraq war. We dare not talk about the very many multiples of 4 of the Iraqi and Vietnamese who died. Historians will never be able to comprehend this “Theater of Absurdity” known as the Benghazi Hearings.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Money Destroys Democracy

I disagree with John Young’s objectives regarding campaign funding (“The People vs. Buckets of Money,” 2/15/13 TPP). “Citizens United” (whoever gave it that name?) needs to be rescinded, not amended. Seeking “to elevate role of small individual contributions”, or enacting more public campaign financing is not the point. Both ACCEPT THE NEED for excessive amounts of money to be spent on these campaigns.

There is no rational justification for a two-year long, $6 billion campaign season! Imagine all the good uses that money could have done, much less the time politicians could have devoted to actually doing their jobs. Corporations could pay their taxes rather than evading them and then even contribute to paying the country’s deficit. Sure, the media employs more people to sensationalize the political “sporting events.” But they are already a corporate mouthpiece so they would still have found the money necessary to tell lies and distort the truth.

The entire election process needs to be revamped; then there would be no need for all this money to be thrown at it. Shorten the election to three months maximum. Have local, state and federal governments send FACTUAL information on the issues and candidates to every registered voter. Make the actual voting easier and efficient by mail or computer. Study other countries elections to see how to avoid all the controversies of ours.

An educated voting public is far more desirable than the one we now have which gets so much disinformation bought by campaign contributions. Basically our system sucks all the money out of our economy while creating a political nightmare. If I supported every request for small individual contributions of $3 to $12 that I receive every day, I could not afford to live. We need to stop this unending money merry-go-round! Money is not the answer, it is the destroyer of our democracy.

Patsy Kelley
McCall, Idaho

Lower Living Standards

The airwaves and press should be brimming with information regarding the ongoing decline of our living standard and deterioration of the social infrastructure in this country, once the envy of the world, but now inexorably on its way to the lower rung of the socio-economic ladder in the western industrialized world. Instead, we are constantly bombarded with faux positives, such as the re-emergence of a vibrant Stock Market, creation of millions of new jobs, etc. ... all highly promoted as a sign and harbinger of emerging positive economic trends.

Maybe the following information will help put these things in perspective: Over 46 million of our working citizens, and counting, now live in poverty with an annual income of less than $11,700 per individual, or $23,000 for a family of four. A broader and even more realistic definition of the working poor, would include 146 million, whose income is insufficient to cover basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, transportation, child care, health care etc. ... barely separated from financial disaster by a mere paycheck or two.

Large numbers of these citizens and actual profit creators are employed at 50 of our highly successful national retail and fast food chains, which routinely pay their top executives an average of $10 million a year, not counting lavish perks and stock options, and have since 2006 provided approximately $175 billion in dividends to shareholders, while their workers are eligible for food stamps and Medicaid, which equates to even more corporate subsidies financed by us taxpayers! Roughly 60% of highly touted newly created jobs since the 2008 Wall Street collapse happen to fall within the minimum wage category, which is hardly a cause for glee or celebration!

Professing to be a Christian nation begs the question: What happened to the least of our brothers and sisters, or the biblical admonition of loving one’s neighbor? All down the profit greased corporate sink hole? I got mine, see how you get yours?

As of March 1, a new movie titled A Place at the Table, which I highly recommend, is in national distribution, and might just help open the eyes of those among us, who stubbornly refuse to see.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Inhumanity Toward Animals

Good for Jim Hightower in exposing the terrorism of Big Ag [“Outlawing Exposes of Factory Farm Horrors,” 3/1/13 TPP].

In her book Slaughterhouse, Gail Eisnitz documents through personal and dangerous visits the atrocious conditions of both non-humans and workers in farm animal factories throughout the country. She worked as chief investigator for The Humane Farming Association (hfa.org), an organization dedicated to abolishing confinement practices and providing sanctuary for abused and misused farm animals.

The general public is largely unaware of attempts to block out exploitative and inhumane practices not just of farm animals but of animals used for instance in research and experimentation and the entertainment industry.

As Albert Schweitzer said: “Until we extend the circle of compassion to all living creatures, human themselves will not find peace.”

Richard Laybourn
Bloomington, Minn.

Right-Wing Apocalypse

For millennia people have shaken with fear at the horrifying images from Revelation — St. John’s psychotic vision of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Death, Pestilence, Famine and War. Today, in the “good old” USA, we have our own variant of the horsemen, plus one — the Five Black-Robed Horsemen of the US Supreme Court. Just as St. John’s horsemen swept away everything before them, our Five Horsemen are in the process of destroying some of the very foundations of our supposedly democratic society.

Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy in their apocalyptic crusade have set aside our right to privacy (warrantless wiretapping), have institutionalized bribery and the buying of elections (Citizens United), curtailed the right of citizens to join class action suits (Wal-Mart Stores v Dukes et al.), have most recently ruled that Monsanto can continue to control and monopolize seed production, and are most likely to gut the 1965 Voter’s Rights legislation which prevents racial gerrymandering. And as they ride into the darkness who knows what other desolations are on their agenda? These perverse-minded jurists are not chipping away at our rights as citizens, but taking a jack hammer to those rights. And with each decision the power of the corporate oligarchs becomes more entrenched and oppressive. Just as an aside: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) voted to confirm the head horseman, Chief Justice Roberts. I wonder if the Senator has ever publicly expressed any regret for his very regrettable decision. Wouldn’t an apology be refreshing coming from a politician?

Al Salzman
Fairfield, Vt.

History Repeating

“Deficit Delusions Endanger Your Job” and much more, writes Robert Borosage in the 3/1/13 TPP. The insanity of world leaders pursuing a monetary policy of austerity in a recession amounts to a suicide pact say some students of history. It is a panic response to unsustainable government debt owed to private banks which governments authorize to create money for profit. Nations can create legal tender debt free as is their sovereign right.

A market economy requires putting ever more new money into circulation to keep up with growing productivity and population. The ultimate source of that money is the legal tender created (manufactured) only by a sovereign government. Witness governments bailing out insolvent Big Banks using sovereign power to create money.

Keynes mocked the folly of bankers (page 128 of his General Theory) who bring on economic collapse with foolish money creating excesses. He counseled government spending to maintain a market economy when private sources of new money (debt) are deficient.

Only the US Treasury can create the debt-free US legal tender which the Fed dispenses by the trillions of dollars to recapitalize insolvent banks. The US Treasury can just as directly provide the federal government with debt-free legal tender to pay federal expenses putting new money into the market economy without adding to the deficit. In her recent report, Ellen Brown explains “How Congress Could Fix Its Budget Woes Permanently” <http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/budgetfix.php>.

Robert W Zimmerer
Beaverton, Ore.

Kill a Vulture, Save an Eagle

Here is a simple idea to save the post office AND end the totally amoral “should be illegal but it isn’t” payday loan debt slavery rackets. Reinstate the Post Office Savings Plans the banksters successfully lobbied out of existence in 1966. That would reinvigorate the US Postal Service, give rural folks access to basic financial services and end the shameless exploitation of urban poor by payday loan sharks. The infrastructure is already there, all that is needed is the hiring of more people to process the basics of checking and savings accounts.

There is already a movement to end payday loan-sharking, with successes in a few states. Combining the idea of resurrecting the Post Office Savings programs would be an immediate counter argument to pay day supporters that smugly claim they offer financial services to a population excluded from traditional banking due to low income.

Offering only short term loans at 200% to 400% interest to this low income population, they claim to serve is anything but a ‘financial service’; it is usury on the level of grand theft larceny. They are modern day temple money changers and should be treated as such.

Clee P. Ames
Eureka, Utah

American Gulag

Amy Goodman [in “Brennan, Kiriakou, Drones and Torture,” 3/1/13 TPP], speaks truth to power when she writes, “the recent excesses of US presidential power are not transient aberrations, but the creation of a frightening new normal, where drone strikes, warrantless surveillance, assassination and indefinite detention are conducted with arrogance and impunity, shielded by secrecy and beyond the reach of law.”

Pray tell, what is the difference between our emerging Gulag government and the former Soviet Union that imprisoned Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the middle of the last century? Solzhenitsyn later explained that a Gulag government evolves slowly, often in full view of citizens who walk past the prison walls daily, never thinking they might someday find themselves pulled into one of the doors and locked inside. In The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn writes: “We have been happily borne — or perhaps have unhappily dragged our weary way — down the long and crooked streets of our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood, rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to penetrate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away from us. In addition, we have failed to notice an enormous number of closely fitted, well-disguised doors and gates in these fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one!”

Today the Soviet Union Gulag model of government, which we were once willing to start a nuclear war to protect ourselves against, has become the model our politicians in both major parties seem determined to replicate in our own country. This model gives free rein to tyrants (or a single tyrant) to rule with impunity, unfettered from the Constitutional checks and balances that have been slowly, systematically undermined by those in power. Even more cynically, these politicians simultaneously mouth patriotic platitudes while building their Gulag and eviscerating the very freedoms that once brought the world’s oppressed to the New World to escape from tyranny. The ironies are sickening!

Dennis M. Clausen
Escondido, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2013



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