<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Letters 2/1/15


Climate Change Reversal More Equal Priority

Hooray for TPP for carrying the substantial and dramatic cover story by Sen. Bernie Sanders, “12 Steps Forward for America” [1/1-15/15 TPP]. I have only one caveat for Mr. Sander’s article: all 12 steps seem to be given equal priority, when, in fact, one of them is as important as all the others combined.

I take no issue with steps to create more jobs, strengthen unions or increase the minimum wage. But the anguish of America’s middle class, can be, and no doubt will be, reversed or at least mitigated in the coming years. But with Mr. Sander’s issue number two, “reversing climate change”, there is, in spite of his phrasing, a fair amount of non-reversibility. We are, for example, in the midst of what is being called the sixth great extinction of species. The species that have been lost and that will inevitably be lost in the next few years, are gone forever. And if we lose one or more essential pollinators, the repercussions will be unfortunate.

The human demand for the earth’s resources is rising quickly as world population soars and underdeveloped countries feel they must continue to rely on fossil fuels. The supply of resources such as fresh water, ocean fisheries and quality agricultural land continues to shrink, apparently inexorably. The continuous warfare in the Middle East is predicated as much on the semi-starvation in North Africa and control of ever-dwindling oil supplies, as it is on religion, and no thoughtful person doubts that the festering and unpredictable conflict could accelerate and spread.

To breezily mention “leading the world in reversing climate change” as one apparently co-equal item on a list of twelve is chutzpah on a grand scale. The clock is ticking.

John Palmer
Charleston, W.V.

Lyons is What He Writes

This pertains to several of Gene Lyons’s columns, but especially his 9/1/14 column pertaining to Gaza (“No Peace in Gaza If Netanyahu Can Prevent It”).

Not content to write about Gaza, Lyons then mean-spiritedly compares the tragedy of Gaza with Belfast, thereby diminishing the suffering of the oppressed in Belfast. It’s easy to dismiss another man’s wound. Lyons is the armchair hero who decides whose cause is righteous and how the oppressed are to react and who is allowed to rebel.

Why would he feel it necessary to downgrade the suffering of one group in relationship to the suffering of another? What next? Will he compare the plight of the Syrians, the Iraqis, and the Afghans and tell us where they fall in his privations and humiliation ranking system?

He writes that the IRA was “addicted to the delusion that Protestants (Unionists my word) could be made powerless in Northern Ireland.” Lyons is the one who is deluding his readers. The IRA knows that it has as much chance of making its bigoted oppressor, which has been in power for centuries, powerless, as African- Americans had of making the Ku Klux Klan powerless at the height of the KKK’s power.

It is absurd, false and deceitful for Lyons to write that the intent was to make the group with all the power powerless.

The desire of the Nationalists who had been oppressed and powerless was to have a seat at the table and to try to even the playing field which to a limited degree they have been able to achieve recently. Lyons in his spiteful ignorance denies this.

In Lyon’s April 15, 2014 column (“Paul Ryan Misrepresents His Irish Roots”), he writes about his literary hero Jonathan Swift and how he shed tears at his tomb. He writes: “Reading Swift taught me more about Ireland and my Irish Catholic ancestors than I ever learned at my alcoholic grandfather’s knee, I can tell you that.” So much compassion for Swift, but coldness and callousness for his grandfather and his alcohol addiction. What reason would Lyons have for contrasting Swift who had opportunities in life which his grandfather did not? Why the gratuitous reference to his grandfather’s alcohol addiction? Lyon’s mean-spiritedness isn’t limited to the oppressed Nationalist population of Northern Ireland. Even his grandfather falls victim to it. Being around Lyons could drive someone to drink.

In Lyons’s 2/15/11 column (“Profiting from Political Road Rage”), he writes, “People react to how they find me, not to my newspaper columns.” To which I respond, you, Lyons, are what you write.

Charles McCarthy
Highland, N.Y.

Ali No Saint

In his column “Muhammad Ali is Dying ... Again”  (12/1/14 TPP), Don Rollins rightfully inveighs against the “scrubbing clean” of Muhammad Ali’s legacy. But sadly, in praising Ali’s courageous stands against the Establishment, Mr. Rollins does some “scrubbing” of his own. In his reverence for Ali, Mr. Rollins forgets Ali’s long-time adherence to the Nation of Islam with its rigid separationist ideology, its denigration of women, its espousal of “black capitalism” and its derision toward other black figures who strove for racial equality and integration. Perhaps Mr. Rollins would overlook Ali’s expressions of scorn for fellow black boxers like Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell as “Uncle Toms” simply because they did not initially accept his name-change from Cassius Clay. That contempt by Clay did not present a pretty picture.

There are plenty of black liberation figures to revere more unconditionally, and Ali can be respected for specific reasons, but from a Democratic Left perspective, he simply was not a saint.

Stephen E. Appell
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hillary’s Liberal Enough

I do not understand why TPP is embracing Bernie Sanders. The American people are not going to vote for an elderly Jewish socialist.

I do not want the Democratic primaries to be tainted by his socialist baggage.

I do not want Hillary to move any further to the left. She is liberal enough for most Americans.

Hillary may not be ideal but she is the strongest candidate that the democrats can run.We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

We should be rallying around Hillary not trying to make her weaker.

Reba Shimansky
New York, N.Y.

Obama Wrong on Trade

In Letters ["Obama's Done Fine, 12/1/14 TPP], Reba Shimansky is rightfully praising President Obama for passing the Affordable Care Act and bringing home 140,000 troops. He also saved the auto industry and who knows what else. But how about his efforts to pass the terrible Trans-Pacific Partnership so-called trade deal and other secret behind-closed-door deals? They are unthinkable! It's hard to believe he would do such a thing.

It looks to me like the good times for the middle class are over!

Jack Karpinen
Superior, Wis.

Pitfalls of Percentages

The arithmetic of percentages seems to be the sort of struggle for journalists that apostrophe usage is for ordinary writers. Wendell Potter gets it wrong in his otherwise illuminating piece titled “Health Insurers Win Midterm Elections” (12/15/14 TPP) when he claims that the Dow Jones has increased 160% and UnitedHealthcare 315% since the President signed the ACA in March of 2010. Certainly, the Dow Jones is 160%, and UnitedHealthcare 315% of what they were at that time, but that doesn’t mean they increased by that percentage. The problem is that the initial 100% is being counted as part of the increase. If I bought a stock in 2010 and it still had the same price today, I wouldn’t claim I had garnered a 100% return, but a 0% return. Thus, since Mr. Obama signed the ACA, the Dow Jones has increased 60% while UnitedHealthcare has jumped 215%. Mr. Potter’s point still stands, but journalists need to be a little more careful the way they throw percentages around.

Jim Shaw
Grand Blanc, Mich.

Open Cuba

Re: “Obama’s Legacy: Defining the Course Forward” [12/15/14 TPP] I agree with Jesse Jackson. We should have opened up diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba many years ago.

It amazes me that for more than half a century already, a reactionary group of Cuban expatriates and their descendants have not only dictated American foreign policy in respect to Cuba, but have also demanded a permanent embargo against that country!

If there is a classic example of wealthy people having politicians on their payroll, those Cubans and their flunky American lawmakers are among the most obvious.

I hope to see the day when an American president and members of Congress find the courage to lift our nation’s onerous embargo against that unfortunate country.

Why must the people of Cuba suffer because of their American brothers’ stubbornness?

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

Term Limits Needed

Gene Lyons [“2 years of ‘Animal House Republicanism’” 12/15/14 TPP] attributing the Republicans and Newt Gingrich’s rise to “king of the hill” in the 1994 election had very little to do with Clinton’s tax increases. What it had to do was with the first item of Newt’s “Contract for America”: “Term Limits”.

The people thought there was going to finally be an opportunity to get rid of the same incumbents that were bedded in a system that left no hope of change except Term Limits.

The validity of this was the election of some 12 candidates, none of whom were expected to win, who ran on the promise of serving only 3 terms in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate. Newt knew he had the winning number, but he misjudged the determination of these 12 to fulfill their promises to their constituents. 

On his first called conference with these 12 he was stunned when he told them term limits was off the table, and they rose in unison and told him they were dedicated to keeping their promises and voting their consciences and electorates’ welfare. They proved to be a thorn in his side through his entire reign and were the factor that determined his removal as speaker. 

As ridiculous as it sounds, and despite Newt’s eventual loss of credibility, I predict if Newt had run his presidential campaign on promoting term limits for the Representatives and Senators he would have won over both Democrats and Republican candidates.

So starving are the voters for a change they would vote for anyone promising a change. Lack of the possibility of their vote making a difference is the real reason so few bother to vote.

I wonder how many remember it was the liberal members of the Supreme Court in 1995 that killed the validity of States to limit terms in Federal elections. It was Thomas, Rehnquist, O’Connor and Scalia who dissented, with Kennedy making the difference as he does in most decisions today.

Just imagine how different we and the world would be if we had term limits today.

Alton Eliason
Northford, Conn.

From The Progressive Populist, February 1, 2015


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