Can’t We All Get Along?

During the annual Door County Economic Development Corporation luncheon held in Sturgeon Bay on April 30, Congressman Reid Ribble’s theme was “Can’t we all get along?” referring to “the bitter partisan divisions” that exist in our nation’s capitol.

Congress persons getting along is a dreamy thought, but it would do nothing to change the sorry state of affairs that exist in Washington. Basically, our Congress is controlled by lobbyists, both domestic and foreign, who buy favorable taxation, legislation for major corporations and wealthy clients, along with Israel dictating America’s middle east policy.

If interested, pick any legislator by name and Google the source of lobby money. Also, a major share of campaign funding is paid to our congressionals from sources outside of the state they represent. This nationwide pool of unlimited funds that is available to these people from major industries and special interest groups relegates working class Americans to second place. The wealthy come first, the serfs get the leftovers.

The purchasing power of the wealthy also exists at Wisconsin’s state level. Gogebic Taconite wants to mine in northern Wisconsin — no problem. $15 million flowed to our state legislators. Gov. Walker pocketed $11.4 million with a balance gifted to our Republican lawmakers. Walker also gleaned another $10 million from those who want to expand the school voucher program.

Though plenty of Democratic Congress persons are stuffing their purses with lobby money, they are doing their best to provide a national health-care plan and preserve Medicare and Social Security in their present form.

Get along Congressman Ribble? Try your theory on Sen. McConnell and his fellow Republicans who have put America on hold and divided our nation with their political obstructionism.

Ed Hodges
Washington Island, Wis.

Big Government

The Republicans first frightened us that unless we reduce our National Debt our children and grand-children will suffer — next came the example of Greece and how uncontrolled spending by the Greek government led to social disturbances — for us, they threw in hyperinflation if we do not tighten our belt. They have been relentless and constant in their message in reducing social entitlements and that our government has become too big and unmanageable and needs reduction. The strangest message was given by [former] Sen Jim DeMint {R-S.C.] who warned us that big government reduces the size of God (hunhh!) without going into the mathematics of his formula. Any politician who promises to ‘rein’ in government spending is chosen irrespective of the fact that person could have had some moral issues like ‘hiking’ in the Appalachian Trail. They have us good and scared.

M. Askarian
New York, N.Y.

Heroines of Guatemala

What a remarkable achievement for the world to celebrate! Against unbelievable odds, three women in Guatemala have triumphed in their relentless efforts to bring to justice that country’s former president for his crimes against humanity [“Three Heroines of Guatemala,” by Amy Goodman, 6/15/13 TPP].

Sadly, no one in our country, the richest and most powerful nation on earth, has ever dared to attempt what those three women accomplished.

We have our own home-grown criminals against humanity, and I only hope the day will come when they, too, will be brought to justice through the efforts of people like those brave women.

One example: John Negroponte, while serving as US Ambassador to Honduras during Reagan’s presidency, covered up human rights abuses perpetrated by terrorists trained by the CIA during the US covert war against Nicaragua. 

He should be tried and punished.

And another:  Elliott Abrams, during his service as Assistant Secretary of State under Reagan, helped to cover up the Salvadoran’s army massacre in El Mozote that left between eight hundred and one thousand civilians dead. 

He should be tried and punished.

And of course, the worst American criminals against humanity of recent times: 

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. Their illegal and immoral war against Iraq has, so far, caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. 

They should be tried and punished.

It would be embarrassing, of course, for the most powerful country on earth to lower some of its former leaders to the level of justice reserved only for the rest of us.  But until that happens, those who are immune to legal codes will continue to use national and international law as toilet paper — as they leave a never-ending trail of corpses along their path.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

The US Government Should Issue Money

The US Constitution, in its Article I, Section Eight, grants the federal government power to coin money, which is accepted as power to issue money, as the Lincoln administration issued greenbacks to pay for the Civil War.

One hundred years ago, just before Christmas, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which gave power to issue money from nothing to a Board of about 15 major banks. This Act does not repeal government power to issue money; that would have required ratification by three-fourths of the states.

These banks have garnered incredible wealth, but an estimated 25 million US workers are jobless and millions more work for  poverty wages. We need a massive effort to compel Congress to compensate and cultivate our nation’s richest resource — the labor of the people.

Jean G. Braun
South Euclid, Ohio

Eulogy for the United States, Not Obama

I agree with many of Lee Papa’s insights in “A Preemptive Eulogy for the Obama Presidency” (06/15/13 TPP). Certainly, Papa is on target when he writes, “We knew that there was also an entire industry devoted to crushing dreamers into harsh realists…that machine was ready to go the moment that Obama was elected.” I also agree with Papa that Obama has pretty much signed a death warrant for his own administration, and we can now expect endless congressional “scandal” hearings.

I disagree with Papa, however, that Obama is an altogether too willing political amateur who destroyed his own presidency by holding out the handshake of compromise too often to his “political enemies,” and, thus, “fell right into their trap.” Obama is more than a naïve victim of these Machiavellian tactics. His actions make more sense if we view him as a politician who was vetted by and beholden to powerful corporate forces long before he was elected president. The many industry players he appointed to high political offices attest to his true loyalties.

We need only look at his “compromises” on Social Security to see that he is a pretty sophisticated player in a complex game of political charades. If he was the people’s champion, as he purports to be, his unqualified support for Social Security would be a no-brainer. Social Security contributes nothing to the deficit, it has the widespread support of the American people, it is the cornerstone of the Democratic Party, it is an issue that could guarantee future elections will go to Democratic candidates, etc. There isn’t a single downside for Obama, if he is a true Democrat, to support Social Security. Yet, he persistently holds it out as the sacrificial lamb to demonstrate, as the mainstream media claims, his willingness to compromise. However, handing an ancestral farm over to greedy bankers so one’s parents have no shelter, no food, and no income, hardly qualifies as a “compromise.”

Obama’s true loyalties have been hidden in plain sight for a long time. Sadly, they reflect how our national elections have often become cruel jokes perpetrated on those Americans who still believe they are really getting a choice, when the corporate vetting of the candidates took place long before they made their presences felt on the national stage. The eulogy for Obama’s presidency is really a eulogy for a nation that has been betrayed by a form of institutionalized corruption that mocks the will of the people.

Dennis M. Clausen
Escondido, Calif.

What About Move To Amend?

I’m just a tiny tad disappointed in The Progressive Populist. There I was, reading the 6/15/13 edition and making note that so many of the articles were about how pernicious Citizens United is. In fact, Citizens United has been a popular target of discontent by contributors to TPP, and the subject of derision by all news media ever since it was handed down by the Supreme Court [in January 2010].

So far, I don’t know anyone, nor have I heard of anyone who thinks Citizens United was a victory for the American people. I don’t watch Fox News, but I haven’t heard any jokes about them glorifying Citizens United, so it looks like even Fox News is afraid to praise it. The closest thing I ever heard was Mitt Romney when he said, “corporations are people too, my friend.” But he no sooner said it and his Republican supporters booed him to his face.

I think it’s fair to say that no matter where you turn everyone insists that something has to be done to overturn Citizens United. So, will you please inform your readers that something is being done, but the movement needs signatures. After all, it was from TPP that I first heard of www.movetoamend.org. Somebody has to get the ball going to put the national spotlight on their proposed 28th Amendment, why not TPP?

It’s just so disappointing to read, over and over again, that something needs to be done, but the very people who publish complaint after complaint don’t inform the reader that there is an excellent solution out there, i.e., publish a complaint — list the solution — www.movetoamend.org. Get it? Do it for every article, in every issue.

What the heck, the proposed 28th Amendment is short, why not post it as a permanent fixture in your journal, extolling everyone to sign up at www.movetoamend.org. After all, until there are enough signatures to ratify it, TPP won’t be wasting its time.

It would demoralize me to no end if someone had a cogent argument against the proposed 28th Amendment. Please don’t do that to me without offering a solution.

To me, there is another profound question I’m presenting to those who should care about it: Namely, what form of government do you want, a democracy, or a plutocracy? I submit that these insidious Supreme Court rulings that culminated in Citizens United — with more to come — will make our government — if it already isn’t — into a de facto plutocratic oligarchy.

Frank Petranech
Wauwatosa, Wis.


Dealing with the topic of terrorist attacks was addressed in columns by Tom Tomorrow (and gun violence), David Sirota (blowback), Arianna Huffington, Tina Dupuy, Ralph Nader, and especially Ted Rall in the 6/1/13 TPP.

The American authorities appear to have been combatting terrorist risk by surveillance, armed security guards, repressive laws, and the Obama administration’s attempted and successful drone killings. The drone killings are like attempted destruction of starfish by tearing them in half. But each half  grows into a complete starfish, one becomes two. When drone killings have included innocents, especially children, the reaction is fear and blowback to incite more terrorism. It is a many layered problem with most approaches which are being used repressive, violent and not especially successful.

In the 6/1/09 TPP, a column by John Nichols memorializing Jack Kemp provides two quotes pertinent to terrorism. “‘The only way to oppose a bad idea is to replace it with a good idea’ said Kemp”. Drone bombings which kill innocents are a bad idea. The second quote was Abraham Lincoln’s: “Do I not destroy my enemy if I make him my friend?” Written as a slogan: PREVENT TERRORISM — MAKE FRIENDS. Making friends may be a greater challenge than killing those who might otherwise seek to harm us. But it should be tried and may prove less expensive than using weapons.

For the oppressed, terrorism is a bad idea. Nobody wins, all lose. Violence begets violence, tit for tat and your adversary may have more and better weapons.  A better idea is to choose from the over 200 non violent techniques published by Gene Sharp, head of the Einstein Institute. And they are more effective than violence.

Arthur House
Franklin, W.V.

Organized Labor Shows Way

I must compliment you on Wayne O’Leary’s article, “Labor’s Orphans in the Storm” [5/15/13 TPP]. It was quite good and dovetailed well with three other articles I had recently read in other publications. Perhaps he and David Moberg (May 2013 In These Times — “Can Manufacturing be Reborn in the USA?”), and Kevin Drum, the author of the article “Terminated” in the May/June 2013 Mother Jones, could collaborate on an extended article or appear on a panel presentation on the talk circuit.

These articles reminded me of the origins of several turning points in the history of labor problems. Such as the first efforts to ensure a steady secure living by one’s skilled labor were championed by the craft or trade guilds with their apprenticeship programs and master builders. They replaced the use of impressed untrained workmen taken from the fields, grog shops and prisons and shown rudimentary use of tools that might be new to them and with no further training — pressed into service. The guilds would eventually be broken by industrialization and replaced by modern Unions which had their beginnings heavily associated with socialist parties (perhaps the unions should walk away from the Democratic party and return to their earlier roots — the Progressive Party or the Democratic Socialist Party for a more symbiotic relationship), and since manufacturing jobs are now being replaced by Service, IT and Al type of positions, perhaps the unions should concentrate on organizing those job positions, and perhaps it is time for the unions to establish new apprenticeship and educational programs to aid their members in transitioning to new work opportunities. Just a thought: perhaps the afore-mentioned authors would like to run with it, or, perhaps not.

Roy J. Better
Hot Springs, S.D.

Nader Got It Right

Ralph Nader’s article [“Don’t ignore how others see us,” 6/1/13 TPP] on the consequences of America’s campaign against “terrorism,” is the most perceptive, reasoned, sensitive critique of the subject that I have read. It sums up the situation perfectly.

Jeanne Riha
Corvallis, Ore.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2013



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