Where Did FDR Types Go?

We are being asked to believe a lot of nonsense, and don’t even question it. You MBAs and PhDs should try to get tuition refunds. Most of you don’t seem to get it.

These Bush-Cheney years were a colossal disaster which will haunt us for many years!  Insane tax cuts, unfunded military blunders that have cost us thousands of dead and wounded, made us few friends and many more enemies around the world, crippled our economy and life style, and much more.

But don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll name a dam or an airport after these guys. We usually do.

To make matters even more troubling, our economists and witless politicians tell us that this mess is “not as bad as the “29 Crash.” Right!

In the early ’30s there was little or no “Safety Net”. When people lost jobs there was no unemployment benefits or Food Stamps. When banks failed you lost your savings and home and business. There was no such thing as FDIC, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

But!! We did have some of the most caring and capable people who got together and were able to pull the country out of the mess. They thought long and hard to take measures to see that this could never happen again. But as Rick Perry  would put it, “Whoops”!  And, of course, our industrial capability hadn’t all been shipped off- shore like it seems to be now.

Try to imagine how much worse things would be without these Roosevelt New Deal programs, especially if none of them were left after the diabolic Right Wing onslaught.

Sadly, there are so few FDR types around these days. Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, and a few more. These guys are our hope, I hope. Who else is there?

Richard Di Franco
Dedham, Mass.

Draft and CCC

In your 10/1/13 issue, there were letters concerning the draft and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Both, it seems, had their good points and bad points. Both were responses to circumstances; both were federal programs.

Drafting citizens to serve in armies is a custom that goes way back. The serfs were supposed to jump to arms for defense of their lords, since their lords were the source of the serfs’ welfare. It was a two-way understanding. But volunteering has never been discouraged, either. Even during times of the drafts there were those who volunteered to serve. But there have also been those who chose not to serve at all. WWII had its conscientious objectors, though we hear more about those from the Vietnam War.

The biggest objection about the draft during the Vietnam War was that it made all eligible young men subject to the government to fight a war that came to be seen as unwinnable, no matter how many people fought — and the government was seemingly unconcerned about that. As long as they could draw on the seemingly endless supply of the young, the war would go on and on. If they couldn’t draft people, they’d have to think about an ending, so the logic went. There seems to be no other option open but to end the draft in order to end the war.

And yet the government went on to find yet another way to draft peole for war: conscript the “volunteers” in the states’ national guards. Our poor volunteers got volunteered into Iraq and Afghanistan — and for multiple tours. Even in World War I the leaders wanted an end to the war because — they reasoned — “four years was long enough for anyone to fight a war.” So there’s actually still a draft, and wars go on and on and on.

The CCC in the Depression actually built things the country needed and provided training and employment for people otherwise needing jobs — so everyone benefited. It wasn’t forever, but it helped get the country through hard times. The current volunteer thing doesn’t pay people. Why can’t people be paid for their works? CEOs don’t mind being paid for what they do. And if all jobs were done on a “voluntary” basis, sounds like slave labor to me.

Speaking of which, how come taxes for corporations and the 1% are “hardships” to be avoided, but for “workers,” they’re the price of living in the USA? All this alarm about anything that smacks of “socialized” whatever is crazy. I thought the fall of the USSR’s communism proved that ideology is dead. That means it’s not a Big Deal. If our government can’t help us to prosper (in whatever way that might be) what’s a government for? (For a hint, read the Constitution.)

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Our Chemical Weapons

John Kerry recently proclaimed “to the international community we are saying once again the United States will be the world’s policeman.” Which translates to Uncle Sam is judge, jury and executioner as to what countries we invade, what governments we overthrow, what revolutionaries we support and of course who gets bombed. War kills and Kerry’s hypothesis says Uncle Sam, in the best tradition of d past “decider” ultimately mandates who lives and dies.

A chemical weapon by any other name is still a chemical weapon. Three million Vietnamese died during our invasion of that country. Perhaps a million plus by the 400,000 tons of napalm and 20 million gallons of Agent Orange we dumped on that country. In 2012 the American Red Cross estimated there are a million people in Vietnam with disabilities related to the chemical dioxin. We also dropped eight million tons of conventional explosives on that small country.

Like napalm, white phosphorus kills by incineration. It is a chemical weapon used by our military while fighting at Falluja, Iraq. Several web sites listed “white phosphorus bombs” and “chemical attacks” Washington doesn’t want you to know about, reporting that from 2002 to 2010 half the babies born in Falluja were born with birth defects due to our military littering the environment with depleted uranium, a toxic radioactive nuclear waste.

Then there’s the old standby — tear gas — which is barred from use against enemy soldiers but is used liberally in this country to disperse demonstrations including peaceful occupiers in Oakland, CA.

Death by any other name is still death. America’s invasion of Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan has killed and maimed millions of people and proved only one thing: America has the best weapons to do the job.

Ed Hodges
Appleton, Wis.

Protect Religious Liberty

Those of us who value the Bill of Rights and its protection of religious liberty should welcome Pope Francis’ call for the Roman Catholic Church to reduce its emphasis on abortion and same-sex marriage. It is these emotional, vote-getting issues which provide the glue which joins the Church in a political alliance with conservative Mormons and evangelical Protestants, an alliance which clearly is hostile not only to public education, but also the very cornerstone of religious liberty in America, namely our founders’ gift of separation of church and state. This then-novel concept prompted my German forebears to immigrate to America in 1838. They were the vanguard of a flood of Germans who immigrated to this country in the 1860s as a result of the Kulturkampf (cultural battle) between the Prussian prime minister, Otto von Bismarck, and the Pope. Today’s coalition is led by people who seek public money (i.e. our taxpayer dollars) to fund private and parochial schools via vouchers and tax-credits, initiatives which are expressly forbidden in the constitutions of Missouri and 35 other states.

As a political candidate myself I discovered that the leaders of this coalition actively support and oppose specific political candidates including public school board elections.

The leaders of this coalition have banked on the emotional issues of abortions and same-sex marriage in order to gain control of party primary and public school board elections, and their agents have infiltrated our media, courts, executive and legislative branches, and our political parties.

Donald D. Meyer
Labadie, Mo.

Save the Trains

Forrest Whitman’s article in your 9/1/13 edition is right on target. While appropriations are made for highways and airports (the vast majority of airports are publicly funded), passenger trains suffer from underfunding. If we enforce the idea of transportation supporting itself, we will see interstate highways having toll gates go up everywhere.

However, Mr. Whitman made one error in his article. Chicago’s terminal station for the Southwest Chief is now Union Station. Dearborn Station headhouse is now preserved as a shopping and entertainment venue.

It is interesting that the Santa Fe had a contract with the Chicago & Western Indiana RR that operated Dearborn Station for a lease lasting 999 years. Now the yards behind Dearborn Station are home to condos, walk-ups, shopping centers and parks.

On a personal note, I remember taking the train into Dearborn Station on the Wabash Banner Blue when we moved to Chicago in the ’60s. I remember the train platform in the station being more crowded than the airport of today. As a kid, I was amazed.

Given the economics and relative comfort of train travel, I personally believe that passenger rail has a bright future. Everyone should try a train trip - you may like it so much you will see it as a great alternative for the future.

John A. Middleton
Chicago, Ill.

Progressives Need a Choice

If progressives let the pre-2016-election years go by unchallenged, we will again be facing two miserable choices. I don’t see the chance of a third party developing in time, but certainly a good strong coordinated progressive movement could be built with a platform that could force consideration by major candidates and perhaps provide some good non-presidential candidates.

How could this be done? Perhaps to start, by getting support of progressive spokespersons for a list of major issue demands such as decent pay for service and unskilled jobs, union organizing protections, climate change requirements, civil liberties guarantees, some kind of controls on Supreme Court justices, humanitarian controls on drones and other brutal executive branch tools.

The progressive leaders agreeing with this approach would use print and electronic media, speeches and interviews to win support from followers and others of the public who agree with some or all provisions.

This campaign would be nation-wide, geared to coordinate a movement that now is so scattered and fragmented that it wields no political power.

Without action, I can see voters in 2016 forced to decide between Hillary, another status quo politician,, and a far worse GOP candidate. Out of a progressive upsurge could come promising local and state candidates once a viable movement is established.

Jeanne Riha
Corvallis, Ore.

Issue Scrip

Government shutting down because it cannot borrow more money and further enrich those who are gaming the dollar currency system, need not mean that those who work for their livelihood must be shut out in the cold. The federal government could issue its own kind of scrip as many cities did when President Roosevelt shut down the banks for a time during the Depression. Scrip was basically an IOU, like the dollar, a promise to redeem for something of value.

If the government pays in some kind of scrip for work performed by its employees, and that federal scrip circulates well in the economy, it could serve as a pilot project for issuing further scrip based on work performed to gainfully employ all willing Americans. We should tell Speaker Boehner (and other Ohio Congresspersons): Issue Scrip!

Jean G. Braun
South Euclid, Ohio

Smart Voters Wanted

Once again someone who is supposedly somewhere on the left of the political spectrum blames Ralph Nader for Al Gore’s defeat at the hands of the stumble bum Bush II. Ralph Nader has done more pro bono publico than any US president since Roosevelt. Yet TPP lets Froma Harrop get away with what is obvious to even the likes of me. Froma cheers the concept of “moderate” Republicans and says we need them. As the linguist from MIT (Noam Chomsky) put it, we have “moderate Republicans” and they’re called Democrats. TPP is the only newspaper I read other than Space Alert, The War Crimes Times and The Catholic Worker, so I know I read it in one of those.

For the last time, we are in the pickle jar because twits like Froma and the American public cannot comprehend that the purpose of elections in a so-called republic is to elect those who will best serve the common good. In the event that the kleptocratic political parties (D&R) manage to get stooges on the ballot, the requirements of pencils in the voting booths allow for write-ins. That the American public is too stupid to recognize the likes of Nader is one reason why Fidel Castro thought that a few months of terror by Robespierre was needed to correct the hundreds of years of terror by the ancien regime.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

More Context

I totally agree with Donald Kaul’s opinion of George Will [9/1/13 TPP]. I have long thought that Mr. Will’s main talent is to bring any set of disparate ideas together  to form the wrong opinion. Anyhow. I must object, however, to Mr. Kaul’s quotation of Samuel Gompers, when asked what labor wants, as saying “more.” This is how regressives have been telling the story for decades, and it’s like saying the Gettysburg Address consists of “Four score.” A more complete quotation of Mr. Gompers goes like this, “more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” I could hardly think of a greater set of goals for a democratic citizenry, except, of course, for the 1% who have gained so much wealth and power by dividing and conquering the rest of us.

Bill Ericson
Hartford, Conn.

Atheists No Angels

This letter is in response to Donald Kaul’s article, “Et Tu, Buddhist?” [9/15/13 TPP] in which he admitted a simplistic broad stroke of connecting violence in world history to religion’s “warlike nature.” Is violence a part of religious nature or human nature? The three biggest leaders of killing, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, were atheists. Kaul suggested a better separation of church and state as part of the solution. Is not government with its wars and oppression the biggest purveyor of violence in history? Man can be holy and man can be the beast. I believe we need more people like Buddha, Gandhi, King, Rabbi Hershel, and St. Francis as the solution to violence.

Kenneth Cooper
Washington, D.C.

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2013


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