Bill of Rights Waylaid

Re “Use & Abuse of Patriotism” [Editorial, 10/1/16 TPP]: Among Obama’s promises that attracted me to him was that if he became president, he’d waste no time in closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Well, almost eight years later, I’m still waiting.

Incidentally, why doesn’t the government just call Guantanamo what it really is — a concentration camp?

The Fifth Amendment of our Constitution is not ambiguous: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law ...”

And neither is the Sixth: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial …”

Those great men who signed the Constitution placed their trust in posterity to respect the principle of justice for all, which they formulated in that unprecedented instrument of law.

Yet, if they could witness how today’s custodians of the Constitution have abdicated their civic duty, I’m sure they’d weep.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

Sexism Gets More Attention Than Nuke Renewal

Two recent events offer a stark, disturbing picture of what occupies the public mind, the public consciousness. This is showcased by the huge media attention granted to a former beauty contest winner and her contempt for Donald Trump’s comments about her and other women. This story achieved both headline status and a long run in the electronic media. All of this because the Republican candidate of choice directed yet another verbal attack towards women.

Contrast these events with the recent pronouncements from Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Carter’s pronouncements deserve global headlines, review and intense, ongoing debate. Mr. Carter advised the world that the United States is “forging ahead” with its plans to spend “hundreds of billions” of dollars modernizing the US nuclear force. The price tag eclipses a trillion dollars over 30 years. Mr. Carter also segued into the bizarre when he advised the world that the United States is “beginning the process of correcting decades of underinvestment in nuclear deterrence.”

It is not just the staggering financial cost and waste of this insanity that deserves widespread and immediate global review, though that is bad enough. What deserves the greatest review and outcry is the lethal and, yes, demonic belief, conviction and mindset among military planners and select politicians that a nuclear war can be “won.” This conviction and firmly held belief is woven into and in fact is the foundation for our trillion-dollar nuclear modernization plan.

This story and this planning is the sentinel topic not only for this upcoming election but for all global humanity. It is even more urgent than the catastrophic consequences of climate change. What is at stake here is human survival. Also of huge concern here is that this issue is not even recognized or acknowledged as an issue. It’s as if the population has somehow been intellectually and morally anesthetized by the unrelenting drumbeat of infotainment and corporate propaganda that collectively strips us of reason and the ability to recognize these the most urgent issues facing the planet. This all has to change if our children and grandchildren are to survive. The choice is still ours.

Jim Sawyer
Edmonds, Wash.

Still Have Questions About 9/11

The title of Froma Harrop’s piece in the 8/15/16 issue of your wonderful paper struck a deep chord within me (“Questions remain on Saudi role in Sept. 11”). While I’m grateful the 28 pages were finally released in the interest of transparency, the true title could have just as well been “Questions remain about Sept. 11.” Pure and simple.

No one wants to talk about it anymore. It’s just not cool... Even Amy Goodman won’t go near it. Shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008, he stated that he did not want to look back on the events of that day, but that he wished to look forward instead. Let’s just let bygones be bygones.

In Ms. Harrop’s article, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) was quoted as saying, “We need to put an end to conspiracy theories and idle speculation that do nothing to shed light on the 9/11 attacks.” I could not agree more.

The 911 Commission’s report was far from exhaustive and left many unanswered questions. It is my hope that someday the events of that day will be investigated in a thorough and transparent manner. You know, like Sherlock Holmes would do ... Here are just a few questions that the 9/11 Commission’s report never addressed for whatever reason:

• How did 4 commercial airline flights lose contact with air traffic control for up to 2 hours without being approached or intercepted by NORAD fighter jets or the USAF?

• Why did it take the Bush Administration over a year to finally agree to a formal investigation into the events of that day?

• Why did President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney refuse to testify to the 9/11 Commission on the record and under oath? They only agreed to appear together and behind closed doors.

• Why did the 911 Commission fail to examine or even mention the free fall collapse of WTC 7 into it’s own footprint later that afternoon?

• And finally, how does the release of the 28 pages help to shed light or answer any of these questions? It doesn’t. And that is precisely the point.

The real questions concerning this crime against our country have been asked by professional architects, firefighters, demolition experts, retired military personnel and families of the victims. And they have nothing to do with the 28 pages that were just released.

The search for the truth continues. It has been said that there are three things that can not long be hidden; the sun, the moon and the truth. May it ever be so.

Gardner Hathaway
Asheville, N.C.

Pence’s Role Model

Recently Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, when asked whom he would choose to emulate as his role model, named Dick Cheney. Is Mr. Pence aware that Mr. Cheney was in a position to discourage President George W. Bush from attacking Iraq? We all know how this war has led to disaster for both the US and Iraq. Experts opine that ISIS got a start during this war thanks to Mr. Al-Zarqawi and the thousands of soldiers, battle trained, who migrated to Syria once the Iraqi army was disbanded. Dick Cheney was only concerned with Iraqi oil and did not ponder the bad effect this war could have. I wonder if Mr. Pence will give a similar kind of advice to Mr. Trump who now laments the loss of oil revenue. Mr. Cheney was a disaster and former President G.W. Bush knows that very well and does not even mention his name. Why would Gov. Pence seek former V.P. Cheney as a role model beats all reasoning. Is another disaster coming?

M. Askarian
New York, N.Y.

Don’t Mess with the Bear

Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly a dictator and kleptocrat, fully deserving of the disdain poured upon him by the western media. But it seems like the liberal and left-leaning pundits of the media are beating the drums of war against the odious autocrat without just cause.

The Ukraine and Crimea have been part of Russia since the 17th and 18th centuries and the West making them into a casus belli [an act that justifies war] can only lead to disaster.

How would Americans feel if Texas and the Southwest, territories seized from Mexico in 1848, should break away from the United States and join a Latin American economic and military alliance? Russia, as George Kennan wrote over a half century ago, should never be totally trusted. But neither should it be provoked.

Stanley Niemiec
Fairview Park, Ohio

What Corporate Responsibility?

In your 9/15/16 issue, a letter to the editor from Philip L. Williams states corporate boards have no obligations to benefit society.

In the article, “Exxon’s Lies and a Word from the Pope,” John Buell states a corporation’s obligations are to its consumers, workers and the larger community. Corporations are granted special privileges by government, but accompanying these privileges are obligations. The shareholder is owed corporate honesty, but only residual earnings after workers and community responsibilities are met.

Who is right?

John Iho
Trenary, Mich.

John Buell responds: Thanks for this thoughtful question. My short answer is that both views are correct. Mr. Williams is citing the legal obligations of a corporation. Those obligations today are a reflection of the increasingly prevalent ideology of shareholder value. One of the purposes of my piece was to suggest that shareholder value is an inadequate, even destructive, norm and that corporations have a moral obligation to act in a more socially responsible manner.

If current law makes this impossible, something I doubt, Congress should be lobbied to change that law.

How Democracy Ends

Donald J. Combover tried to paint all undocumented immigrants in this country as violent criminals. He didn’t call them “immigrants” although most of them have risked their lives coming to this country because the places from where they’ve come threatened them with starvation, violent death, or worse. He called them “illegal aliens,” a term that denigrates the humanity of the millions of law-abiding, hard-working people who take the lowest paying jobs and try to get by, raising their children to have a better life.

Lumping all undocumented immigrants as “aliens” and “criminals” is a big step toward fascism and despotism. We’ve seen this before in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, in Franco’s Authoritarian Spain. Where does it lead? First the undocumented immigrants, then the liberals and political opposition, then racial minorities, then religious minorities, and then ... and then poor folk who get conscripted into fighting foreign wars for the “glory of the Homeland,” dying and suffering disfiguring wounds for the satisfaction of the despot’s pride.

Watching this demagogue give a speech on MSNBC shocked me as I saw, first hand, the ferocity of the untrue statements he uses to whip up emotional support for cruel policies that would destroy our free society. I’d like to fault the media for giving the Wannabe’s campaign more than an hour of free air time without giving equal exposure to Hillary Clinton. But I also have to acknowledge that without such exposure, I wouldn’t have seen what a dangerous threat his candidacy is to the civil liberties we hold dear.

It now is incumbent on the media to give Clinton an equal amount of free media coverage of her campaign speeches.

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2016


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