Let's Give Thanks

On this day of giving thanks, let's give thanks if we're a public official who gets taxpayer subsidized health coverage while one in six of the rest of Americans has zero health coverage, and at least one-half of the rest of Americans pays $5,000 to $6,000 a year for restrictive, high-deductible coverage.

Let's give thanks if we're the CEO of one of the Fortune 100 corporations, where the ratio between the top salaries and the bottom ones are over 400:1. This is the highest ratio in the history of this country.

Lets give thanks if we're the major US oil companies. In 2000 they made over $44 billion, compared to $19 billion in 1999. Guess who paid at what pumps for that increase? And while we're on the subject of oil, let's give thanks if we're Unocal Corp. for the tumbling of the Taliban. Now can that oil pipeline through Afghanistan deal go through?

Let's give thanks if we're the major food corporations (like Kraft). They can continue to use "genetically engineered" products in their foods without having to notify consumers! Thank you Uncle Sam -- the lobbyists did a great job once again! (So what if a flounder gene is in your tomato -- got something against fish?)

Let's give thanks if we're the cable TV industry. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was great. Prices are much higher, services lowered, and most communities still have monopolies handling their cable. "All praise and thanks to the free market system!"

Let's give thanks if we're the airline industry. We got the cash we needed, laid off hundreds of thousands, and our CEOs and top management didn't have to lose one buck of salary or bonus! Three cheers for corporate welfare!

Finally, let's not give thanks this holiday if we're the single mom (I call them the "soccerless moms") with two or three kids to raise, who works for a living. She may earn $15 to 25 thousand a year, pay anywhere from $600-1000 a month in rent, plus a car payment (or keep fixing a clinker), food bills, clothing, child care, gasoline, phone, cable, and if she's lucky a night out once a month! Ask yourself, how in God's name can and does she do it? Then think of those CEOs and the 400:1 ratio of earnings. Is this the America our fathers and sons fought and died to protect throughout the years?

Let's give thanks and praise to those out there who "see better possibilities". Let's never forget the words of our founding fathers: "Dissent is the lifeblood of democracy."

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless.

Port Orange, Fla.

Holler About War

I've just read your heartfelt report from New York ["Remember the People," 11/15/01 PP]. Like most, I have been following this horror as closely as anyone can given the limited, managed and wrapped-in-the-flag news reports from the majors, so I remain grateful for publications such as yours. Still, even in the voices from the liberal/left press, what few there are, there seems to be a glaring omission: No one is raising hell -- and I mean real hell and consistent hell -- over the fact that we are bombing a country that has not attacked us, one that has not declared war on us, and one that we have not declared war upon. ... Or did I miss something? We are violating international law as well by bombing Afghanistan and sending in troops, which are, by any definition, an invading force. Afghanistan may well have been harboring Osama bin Laden and his small but very evil empire for years. And bin Laden may well be the budding Hitler of our time, whose money and network of terrorists killed those thousands of innocents from the farm lands of Pennsylvania to the Pentagon. But when did harboring become tantamount to doing? We have not said, nor offered any evidence, that Afghanistan and its people planned this attack on humanity that happened to be carried out on our shores, have we? We have not claimed that Afghanistan has declared war upon the US, have we? What we -- collectively as a country -- are doing by bombing and killing innocents in probably the poorest nation on earth is no different in its inhumanity and cruelty from the attacks here on Sept. 11 except in the numbers of people killed and maimed -- and it is chillingly equal in its illegality. We are breaking the very laws that we claim with such flag-waving fanfare to cherish and to be "protecting." Where are the loud, rude voices of protest about this illegal war? We are not even couching it in nicer terms as we tried in Vietnam and Korea. We have called it what it is from the beginning: War. And while that is at least honest, it begs the question: Where is the legal authority to conduct this war against another sovereign nation?

And, more importantly, why isn't this the central question in every article on this war written in the liberal/left press? Even as you very rightly decry the bombing of this poor nation and the errant bombs that are falling on Red Cross warehouses and Afghani nursing homes and hospitals, you can still write such words as "The military campaign may still be popular and even justifiable [emphasis added] to put an end to bin Laden's crimes," without even a nod at the question of the legality of such a military campaign. This Emperor is as nekked as a jaybird, and, sadly, there is no little boy out there yelling out that fact loudly or clearly enough. Not yet. As the old song goes, "How many deaths will it take ...?"

Forth Worth, Texas

Preserve the Union

My patriotism is as red, white & blue as anybody's. I'm grateful to those who've sacrificed life and limb for our country. I'm proud to exercise the rights and responsibilities conferred upon us by their blood, sweat & tears. My family dates to pre-Revolutionary times (colony of Virginia), so, bound as I am to the defeat of tyranny and triumph of liberty, I stand with my comrades in defense of our nation's fundamental principles in the after-shock of this ghastly atrocity. I will not allow terror to shake the foundation of my country, and I refuse to relinquish my autonomy as a citizen. I am sorely abused to witness the mass defections of my compatriots from the supreme law of the land, fleeing the ground zero in our constitutional republic.

When we threw off the yoke of monarchy in 1776, we enshrined in our Constitution the exclusive reservation of war powers to Congress, not to the executive. As explicitly set forth in Article 1, Section 8, "Congress shall have power to declare war." I stood beside my elected representatives when they swore a solemn oath to defend and protect the Constitution. I do not stand with them now. They have broken their oaths of office, abandoned the supreme law of our land, and defiled the very flag to which they feign to pledge allegiance.

As our chief dictates this undeclared "war against evil" and his "doctrine" that "either you're with us, or you're against us", millions of his flag waving subjects stampede, evading their obligation and ceding their freedom. I do not run with them now. I will not surrender my sacred heritage to our enemies, nor turn my back on the heroes who sacrificed that we may breathe free. I will not stand idly by while the pillars of our sovereignty are reduced to rubble, nor commemorate those pulverized on 9/11/01 with the bellicose spasms of a rogue nation. I will not compound the carnage by laying to waste the cornerstone of our union, to be scattered as debris in the gutters of history. It is my duty to oppose this illegal "war". I demand a congressional declaration of war prior to any military attack. If your flag doesn't stand for this, it doesn't wave for me.

Your fellow citizen,
Atascadero, Calif.
Email csi@thegrid.net

Don't Settle for Lesser Evils

I'm puzzled and disappointed by the letter writers published in your 11/15/01 issue who feel they must knock Nader and a third party. They seem to have gotten stuck in the time of Roosevelt.

As long as Republicans and Democrats in government can be bought with corporate money, Republicans will attract the lion's share of campaign contributions and Democrats, under the leadership of the DLC, will be scrambling to sell out the public trust and the people to big corporate interests even cheaper. Nader and the Green Party wouldn't be necessary if the Democratic Party took care of its responsibilities and constituencies.

As long as money, not life, is society's ultimate value, voters will be betrayed again and again. For me the priorities are radical campaign finance reform first and then a whole slew of other reforms, including proportional representation and ending media monopolies.

Most of all, we need to be aware that while we get ourselves into political tizzies, nature's life support systems are collapsing under corporate assault. Breathable air, drinkable water and wholesome food can no longer be taken for granted. That's where I see the real threat to our peace and tranquillity.

Unrepentant Nader/Green voter
Garberville, Calif.

Build Condos Instead of Star Wars

A few years ago we had a football player in the government. He had one good idea. What he said was that the reason the government is reluctant to build more low-cost housing to help the poor is because the tenants trash the property. The solution is to sell the condominiums to the tenants rather than rent. People will trash your property to show their resentment at having to rent. They do not trash their own property. Make the condo payments the same as the rent (with low, government-sponsored interest) and if they live to be a hundred they get their condo paid for. Homeowners are better citizens.

Since there is such a shortage of good ideas around Washington it looks like everybody would have latched on to this good idea but alas no one talks about it and the number of homeless people in our great cities is disgraceful. This winter a lot of people will die because they are homeless and they freeze to death.

If, on Sept. 11, Star Wars would have been completely effective it would not have changed the outcome one iota. So that day of infamy should have proved that pursuing star wars is a boondoggle because the danger to our country is not from Russian missiles but rather it is from terrorists and Star Wars has absolutely no effect on them. The money would be better spent building low cost condos for the poor.

Yours truly ,
Waco, Texas

What's With Mallard Fillmore?

The December 2000 selection of George W. Bush as president and the subsequent media coverage was very upsetting. I started to look for alternatives to the Time Warner cable TV offerings and the (Gannett) Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper and Time/Newsweek pap. I found (find) no worthwhile alternate TV programming. At Barnes & Noble I found The Nation and In These Times, which led me to your outstanding publication. I continue to expand my exposure to liberal publications, but yours is best. Thank you.

I continue to receive the Poughkeepsie Journal for local news purposes. Within the last year they have started to publish the "Mallard Fillmore" "cartoon." I believe that Dolores Cullen would agree that the artwork reflects some talent but I believe the intellectual content is vapid and reactionary -- a poor attempt to counter Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury."

That Bruce Tinsley's efforts are vapid and reactionary are, of course, merely my opinion. But what of the facts as presented in the attached strips?

I wrote the Journal to ask if they had verified, or evaluated, this information as presented. I got no response.

Do you, or your resources, have any comment on B. Tinsley's assertions -- or in reality, those of the Capital Research Center.

What gives?

With sincere "thanks" and best regards,
Poughkeepsie, NY

Editor Replies: The Austin American-Statesman last year also added "Mallard Fillmore" as a counter to "Doonesbury." We're still waiting for a funny panel; we can't speak to the accuracy of Tinsley's claims.

Priorities Mixed Up

That America just awarded the biggest contract in history, $200 billion, to a defense conglomerate rather than to medicine says a lot about the direction we have set ourselves on in the first years of the 21st century. Imagine what that amount of money could have done for cancer research.

Monticello, Ark.

Make Election Day a Holiday

Reading John Buell's column, "Patriotism, Democracy and Dissent'' [11/15/01 PP] inspired this thought:

Election Day -- Democracy Day -- should be made a national holiday, specifically commemorating the heroes and innocent citizens (of other countries, as well as the US) who died on 9/11. Also the able-bodied survivors who risked their own lives to make sure the less abled got out too, should be commemorated as well.

Freeland, Wash.


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