Voting Isn’t Enough

We should not be surprised or shocked at the Republican wave that dominated our recent elections. Concerning voter turnout, Will Durst [“Scary Mask,” 11/15/14 TPP] said we could “cut the apathy with a soggy bar coaster.”

One reason for this is because most of us understand that the game is rigged and feel powerless to change it. The super rich control nearly all aspects of our politics. Voters are offered few choices in progressive candidates because the money decides who gets to run for office, from the state and local levels to the national scene.

Even so, if people had the opportunity to vote on a website from their smart phones and laptops, the turnout would probably be immensely higher. However, the corporatocracy would never allow it. Voter suppression works extremely well for them, so much so that Governor Sam Brownback, the architect of Kansas’ devastating GOP policies (“Sam Brownback’s last-ditch Hail Mary” H.D. Parton, 11/15/14 TPP), was reelected.

Those Americans who do turn out to vote are so uninformed that they continually vote against their own best interests. When the issue is spelled out, such as raising the minimum wage, the vast majority vote as liberals. Yet these same people elect Republican candidates whose only agenda is to block Obama. The corporate-owned media intentionally keep us ignorant on important issues like jobs and fair taxes for all, instead whipping up fear of ISIS and Ebola (11/15/14 TPP, Joan Walsh, Gene Lyons, and Leo Gerard) and televising mud-throwing, childish commercials.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says our main problem is the battle between the rich and the poor. Our government is almost completely ruled by bank/corporate interests. On Real Time with Bill Maher (11/7/14), the senator said we need to eliminate campaign donations and negative advertising from our elections. How?

Ted Rall (“Millions of Gen Xers will be homeless” 11/15/14 TPP) says we “can hit the streets to demand action now.” The US has millions of streets, but the masses have no effective, focused direction for the anger and frustration. We don’t even vote with our dollars (the few we have to spend) because the general public is not well informed of corporations’ dubious deeds, i.e., outsourcing, tax exemptions.

How do you get all that anger on the same page and aim it at the banks and corporations? The oppressed 99% are people of innumerable cultures, races, and religions. So the privileged 1% just keep us fighting amongst ourselves, meanwhile taking from all of us to their own selfish gain. Perhaps the inevitable solution will be that the empire must collapse so that it can be re-built as a true democracy.

Kendra Jo Dudley
Rochester, Minn.

How You Solve a Problem Like ISIS

Some Republicans are blaming President Obama for the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “If only President Obama had not withdrawn our troops completely from Iraq this would not have happened”. It is the same foolish thinking like “If only King George had sent more soldiers across the Atlantic the American war of Independence would not have happened”. Also in the case of Iraq they were not willing to grant immunity to our forces for those who would have been left behind — especially not after our response to punish the “cowboys” of The Blackwater Group. We were not willing to continue spending millions of (taxpayers) dollars which were given to “sons of Iraq” (the Sunni Tribal Chieftains) to gain their loyalty to fight the insurgency.

Congress would not have sanctioned this expense. Some critics are using the example of Japan, South Korea etc. where our troops are still there — they have yet to fire a single bullet to establish their presence and to think that we would be doing the same thing in Iraq is foolish and shows ignorance of the divergent society which exists in Iraq.

M. Askarian
New York, N.Y.

Ideology on Supreme Court

In their latest attack upon the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”), opponents have now challenged the subsidies that millions of people now receive to make their insurance affordable. The opponents charge that the word “State” in “Exchanges established by the State” does not include states which have elected to use the federal Exchange. Thus, they say, unless a State has set up and operates its own State Exchange, its citizens are not entitled to the subsidy benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

The opponents have now succeeded in stampeding the US Supreme Court into prematurely (in my opinion) taking a case involving that issue to decide the matter. I say “prematurely” because the case was still pending on application for en banc hearing before the Federal Court of Appeals at the time the Supreme Court took jurisdiction.

The argument in favor of the subsidies is straightforward. The statute says “established.” It does not say “operated” or “run” or say that state-funded bureaucracy must be involved. It is entirely reasonable and logical that if a State decides to rely upon the Federal exchange, that exchange is “established by the State” as surely as if the state created its own bureaucracy. Indeed, an opposite reading of the statute would mean that those States must spend more, rather than less, on healthcare benefits, because they would be required to create a bureaucratic structure to administer the subsidies.

Despite that, we all know who are opposing the ACA and that they are in control of Congress. We also know that at least three of them are currently on the Supreme Court. It is entirely possible that ideology will overcome humanity, and if that occurs, it will be a sad day indeed for our citizens.

Frank L. Schneider
Chicago, Ill.

Gospels Speak to the World

“Liberal Seminaries and Their Identity Crisis” by Donald Rollins [11/15/14 TPP] is very sad. It sounds like the Gospel of Jesus Christ has no more relevance in this world. The cure for that is 1) to read the Gospel of Jesus Christ and 2) get out into the world more.

Maybe there’s a separation of Church and State in the country. Maybe. But it should be obvious there is a shortage of countries backing Christian principles, to say the least. There’s hunger (physical and spiritual), poverty (ditto), sickness physical and mental, injustice, ignorance, violence, lack of peace, distrust/mistrust, hypocrisy and, as [St. Paul’s letter to the] Galatians says, among other things, why the Galatians were having so much trouble. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. [Gal. 16:7] That doesn’t mean only Christians, either.

It’s a spiritual thing and it’s everywhere. And you don’t have to know Greek or Latin to understand it.

If the seminaries are adrift, perhaps they should just fold. If the Bible can’t inspire anyone, well, where will fruit of the spirit come from? The “...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” [Gal. 5:22-26] This is true for any couple, group or nations, not just Christians.

If there’s another philosophy or spirituality dogma out there that has better ideas, at least seminaries should know and teach them! Otherwise, stop pretending you know and believe the Gospel of Christ, and do something else you find fulfilling. It’s OK, I guess. But don’t say God isn’t talking to mankind or doesn’t know what we need.

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Webb Wasn’t Impeccable

Will Bunch’s “Gary Webb, Jon Stewart, and Stories That Are Too True to Tell” [11/15/14 TPP] provides useful information about the causative agencies driving the decline of investigative reporting. However, I object to using Gary Webb as role model for investigative reporters and Mr. Bunch’s characterization of Webb as a “great journalist.” The basis of my objection is hinted at by Bunch’s equivocal and unexplained concession that Webb’s Nicaraguan/CIA expose has been “dinged but never disproved”.

In August and September of 1990 I was the plaintiffs’ counsel in a libel trial in which Webb and the Cleveland Plain Dealer were defendants. Mr. Webb defamed the operators of the Cleveland 500 and Cleveland Air Show in multiple articles that claimed that race and air show “profits” had been siphoned off and otherwise prevented from reaching the city coffers via false/inflated costs and other nefarious methods. The resulting uproar cost my clients their municipal permits to operate the events, large financial losses and their reputations. By the time the trial occurred Gary Webb had taken up a new job with the San Jose Mercury-News, where libel allegations continued.

During the 1990 trial in Newcomb, et al. v. Cleveland Plain Dealer & Gary Webb, Mr. Webb spent considerable time under my cross-examination. His distortion of information to achieve a preconceived conclusion, the use of ax-to-grind informants without checking their dubious reports for accuracy, filling in factual omissions with unverified charges and selective reporting were all demonstrated during his tenure on the witness stand. A unanimous jury verdict awarded the largest libel award that had ever been rendered in the state of Ohio ($13.4 million), with approximately one-half of the verdict amount consisting of punitive damages. Since N.Y. Times v. Sullivan (1964) punitive damages in media libel cases may only be awarded when a plaintiff proves actual malice (i.e. knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth) by clear and convincing evidence. I submit that an investigative reporter does not deserve the adjective “great” when she or he publishes with knowledge of falsity and/or with reckless disregard for the truth.

The postscript to the verdict against the paper and Mr. Webb was a settlement during the appeal process, after a new trial was denied. Despite Mr. Webb’s (and the CPD’s) repeated trial attempts to cloak Webb’s reporting with the protective cloak of the First Amendment, the first item of the settlement incorporated the defendants’ insistence on a stipulation that the plaintiffs never reveal how much had been paid as recompense for the untrue, libelous and actual malice driven Webb stories. So much for the public’s right to know.

Jerome S. Kalur
Bozeman, Mont.

From The Progressive Populist, December 15, 2014


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