The Big Con

The campaigning never stops; the election never ends. It begins again with Ted Cruz this week.

Here’s the thing with our present crop of “conservatives”: They want to balance the federal government’s budget as states are required to. They don’t seem to care that states operate under different conditions and that requiring balanced budgets hurts the states. They don’t mind welfare for corporations, but hate welfare for individuals. They don’t want the poor — working or not — to get financial assistance or have any rights to object to pay or working conditions, especially as a group — i.e. unions. Yet they claim to care about people — unless they don’t. Rich people should not pay taxes because they don’t use services, they say. Poor people should pay taxes because they do get services. But they shouldn’t get services or welfare checks because that will make them “dependent” on government. And government is the problem, not the solution to problems. Which they will solve if and when elected, because they will end government services to the poor and cut regulations on the rich (i.e. businesses).

They claim to know the Constitution better than anyone else, and have more insight into the Founding Fathers’ intent on its articles than anyone else. That, of course, is baloney, as well as being in the realm of magic and mind reading, as well as claiming a better connection to the dead than anyone else. They can’t prove it, but they simply claim it. Believers must then simply believe! Shades of Nixon’s “If the President said it, then it’s true.”

They claim to want to keep government (i.e. federal government) “out of people’s lives.” But they don’t mind intruding their religious beliefs into women’s rights to abortion or federal government efforts to get healthcare for its citizens. They claim The People should rule as if representative government is not already by the People who voted for these reps.

To try to follow their “logic” will make a person go crazy. There is no logic to what they want for us, who are also the People — if just not their People. They are exclusionary, undemocratic, uncaring, whimsical, illogical, dogmatic, regressive and without helpful solutions to our problems.

Before the Great Recession and the Great Depression the Republicans had their way with us. They complain ever after about Democrats’ solutions, which do reverse our collapse and make us better.

How many messes do we have to experience before the American people see that the Republican/conservatives are not what they claim to be? Don’t people realize that they do have the power to get from the government — federal, state and local — what they want from it? Business succeeds because it follows good practices. It can’t exist without laborers or customers. You may build it, but nobody has to come — in spite of what the movie says.

If we want healthcare, we can have it. If we want fairness for labor as well as business, we can have it. We are citizens, and government serves us. If it doesn’t, we can make it do so. Not everyone believes government is the problem. People with misguided ideas are the problem.

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Maybe It Can Happen Here

The shadow of Sinclair Lewis’ book, It Can’t Happen Here, seems to be hanging over the entire nation today. Creeping radical conservatism is turning many state governments into carbon copies of corporate dictatorships. Federal and state legislators owned by ALEC [the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council] and other “free trade” groups do their anti-government assignments faithfully with no concern for the security and economic balance for the middle class — nor for the seriously intense struggles of the jobless and poor. The obscene exploitation of the dim witted and racially prejudiced citizens is the most abominable last resort of all. In my district, Rep. Mark Meadows was campaigning with the suggestion of “sending Obama back to Kenya.” (It was on the evening news.) The yahoos he was speaking to clapped and hooted their delight. He won anyway — with some very “creative” district juggling. So now North Carolina has at last joined the red plague. More redistricting is planned very soon — in time for 2016.

The white supremacy assumption is simply a short cut to self esteem when one desperately needs it. No matter how counterfeit the illusion is, it satisfies. To despite and vilify a powerful, intelligent black president is impossible to resist. With the 21st century surge of profits and unfair tax relief those eager entrepreneurs of goods and energy fuels have decided to demand that they should have the upper hand in making laws and directing all government processes. Does that not smell like fascism?

Sinclair Lewis described some fantastically nasty events in his 1935 novel that are not relevant to today’s realities because he wrote it as satire and exaggeration. But the basic theme of extreme power greed remains the same. It has made the history of mankind a really bloody, rocky road from the very beginning. The American plan was to specifically avoid that ugly road — so what’s going on here?

Helen McKinney
Sapphire, N.C.

Don’t Depend on Foundations

Ralph Nader’s column (“Foundations: Rethink Your Priorities,” 3/15/15 TPP) citing the less than ideal record of the foundations (Ford, Rockefeller, et al.) in granting funds to fight against those who would pull the rug out from under our so-called democracy, seems to soft-pedal (uncharacteristic of him) his criticism, compared to what Arundhati Roy tells us about these same foundations. Whether it is women’s rights, or the right to live, “the Indian government is waging a vicious total war against its own citizens” in their vast central jungles and mountains which have been tribal homelands for thousands of years. They are being rounded up and herded off these lands to make room for the mining, aluminum and steel industries, and their land flooded by big dams to power these same industries. The natives consider the building of big dams “a crime against humanity.”  

The political climate in India today mirrors the Koch brothers’ wettest dreams for the USA. Three hundred million people live on less than $1 a day, while the number of Indian millionaires jumped in 2009 to 127,000. Roy sums it up nicely in “Walking With The Comrades” with this rhyme from anonymous, England, 1821:

“The law locks up the hapless felon

who steals the goose from off the common,

but lets the greater felon loose

who steals the common from the goose.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

Democracy vs. Citizens United

Roger Bybee’s article titled “Right to Work Laws” [3/15/15 TPP] is one more instance in a series of criticism against Citizen United law so hastily decided by the Supreme Court. Members of this court, by allowing labor unions to contribute to political candidates, thought that they were balancing the scale while giving equal chance to Corporations and big donors. To start with it was unfair as labor unions were nowhere near the capacity to fund candidates as were the corporations and wealthy individuals. To further diminish the ‘buying power’ of the unions, Republican governors soon got in the act. By declaring that their states as a “Right to Work State,” union members not necessarily would have to pay union dues which they very well knew would diminish the financial clout of said unions. The expression “right to work” is as fiendishly coined as “death duty” (instead of inheritance tax). If ever we can no longer call ourselves a free democratic nation we now know who to blame — members of the Supreme Court and Republican governors such as Scott Walker.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Liberal TV

Eric Boehlert’s incisive analysis of the respective retirements of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart [“Stewart, Colbert and a Diminished Liberal Voice?”] deserved its TPP front page headline status, for, as Boehlert said, they certainly were “the most influential American liberal voices in the last half-century” to have a soapbox that prominent in daily American culture. They were our generation’s Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason doubling as Walter Cronkite and Eric Severeid, shifted hilariously left (in Colbert’s brilliant schtick, via an arch Hannity/Limbaugh phase shift).

As Boehlert emphasized, their most critical function was pointing out Republican disinformation and hypocrisy by doing simple, basic journalism a mainstream media locked in meek, moment-to-moment “he said/she said” refused: returning to archives as recent as months-old to show diametrically opposed GOP bloviation and disingenuity. It was hoisting-on-petards as easy as shooting ducks in barrels; but it was Colbert/Stewart’s style, grace and steadfastness that made it epic.

Even the topical “All in the Family” eventually ran its course, but a news cycle sans-Colbert-skewering already seems like no news cycle at all, and as Boehlert said, his and Stewart’s prominent savvy liberal takes that conservatives couldn’t match won’t be easily replaced. I share that dismay, but have to wonder in a time of feckless Democratic Party disarray if leading Dems didn’t check into the Colbert-Stewart Newshour and say, “Our job is done; we can go back to sleep now...”

I think maybe Jon Stewart might finally be saying, “We carried the ball long enough ... You got the picture. Your turn.”

Mike Wettstein Jr.
Appleton, Wis.

Ban All Nuclear Weapons

Re: “The Bibi-GOP Clown Show” by Donald Kaul [4/1/15 TPP]. The GOP’s blatant intrusion into our president’s negotiations with Iran sheds an all-too-clear light on the possibility of our next war. I only hope that the United States, despite its efforts to prevent other countries (besides its friends) from developing nuclear weapons, will refrain from sending our young people to die in Iran.

Although other nations possess nuclear weapons, it's painfully clear that ours is the only one that has used them. On Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, we incinerated 120,000 innocent civilians within a few seconds, and caused thousands more to suffer for years from the radioactive poison of those diabolical weapons. Unfortunately, there are always some reckless heads of state who will rush to war under any pretext. We can only hope that none of them are stupid enough to use nuclear weapons and risk bringing humanity closer to extinction.

The morally superior alternative, of course, is for every nation to agree to ban all nuclear weapons. Many people of good will, such as the Friends Committee on National Legislation (fcnl.org), are dedicated to the cause of world peace. We should support their efforts.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

War Allowed by Cowards

In January I watched on TV an amazing bunch of crap being spouted at the United Nations by people who should have known better, and I wondered if I was going crazy, because if a nobody like me, in a nowheresville like I live in, could figure out that going into war in Iraq was nuts, why couldn’t the so-called experts know that?

But I’d been reading magazines and newspapers going back to 1992, in which far-right nutsos were telling us that we needed to straighten out that part of the world, but I thought saner minds would prevail. I guess I was wrong about that.

Two of my brothers fought in WW II, and one served on an aircraft carrier that was the first one hit by a kamikaze plane, and the other one was badly injured on the island of Bougainville, when he and another soldier were dragging wounded men off a battlefield on stretchers, when a shell went off and tore through his back, and killed the guy at the other end of the stretcher. But still my brother managed to get the guy on the

stretcher to safety, and won a bronze star for his heroism.

My husband who died 18 years ago, served nine years in the Air Force, but never had to go to battle. But when he died, an article in the paper said he was a hero, because when he was a retired postman from Boulder and we moved over here, he who loved kids and loved sports, coached and umpired many of them, and he helped build beautiful parks for them, and he died by drowning while taking some on a canoeing trip when their canoes overturned in fast water, and they all survived.

Three people I knew served in Vietnam, and all died there, including our doctor’s nurse, and my niece’s husband.

But something there is that loves a war, it seems, and the rest of us are too cowardly to walk away from it, so they win and we lose and call it victory.

Marjorie Johnson
Eckert, Colo.

From The Progressive Populist, May 1, 2015


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