The trial balloon offered by Rep. Charles Rangel of reinstating the draft indicates its absolute necessity if America is to continue its present policies. But what are our policies in essence? Is it to make the world "safe for democracy"? This canard that so incensed my father and his World War I generation has been proved to be so mendacious that we find ourselves continually fighting for world democracy since 1917. This in itself disproves the assertion of Abraham Lincoln that you cannot fool all the people all the time. Yes, you can!
The draft is completely antithetical to the hallowed tradition bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers. They believed that militarism ultimately destroys the freedoms of the people. After World War II, under the guise of defending our country from an alleged potential Soviet attack, we armed to the teeth. Militarism became an integral part of our lives. No longer was the army derided as a refuge for the shiftless but became an honored institution manned by professionals. This is the essence of militarism. Congress gradually lost its power and prestige; the imperial presidency was born.
After the war America was supreme, checked only by Soviet power. Although the demise of that power left our country as the sole superpower, our military-industrial complex (Cheney and the neo-cons) are attempting to impose a Pax Americana on the world. Our banker-industrialists strive for world hegemony in the interest of gaining super profits. The term democracy is propaganda to persuade people to acquiesce to such policies.
We have over 200,000 troops in over 240 countries to build and sustain our Empire. We have built 12 permanent bases in Kosovo and are presently constructing 14 more in Iraq. This means that we shall not leave Iraq voluntarily. The Project for a New American Century (1997), organized and staffed by the neo-cons, envisions permanent bases in the Middle East as an essential step towards world hegemony. We are also building bases in the Moslem former republics of the USSR that also command immense reserves of oil.
This history of empire from ancient Greece to that of the British reveals that empire is most profitable for the ruling few but calamitous for the people &endash;- always. First the privileges of the people are curtailed and subordinated to military concerns. Concomitantly the legislature becomes weak as a strong leader becomes imperative in order to make decisions and immediate action practicable. The immense cost of wars spreads destitution among the people who fight them. And catastrophe when the empire dies as it eventually must.
Empires cannot be created cheaply. The vast military cost precludes that. And ancient Roman history demonstrates clearly that even the most gross despoliation of the conquered peoples was not sufficient to defray the costs. The profits went to the patricians; the costs were borne by the plebeians. However, monetary cost is but one aspect. The common people must fight the wars. Not only treasure but also blood is necessary. This is why we must have a draft within the coming year. We need ever increasing taxation to provide the means and human bodies to sacrifice to the gods of empire.
Whoever should win the presidency, the struggle for world hegemony, our American Empire, shall continue. Therefore the draft is inevitable.
And so, the pattern continues: political candidates who either are incapable of or unwilling to give a direct answer to a direct question. Latest example? Pete Coors, the latest wealthy, out-of-touch elitist and/or lawyer running for office -- in this case a Colorado Senate seat. On NBC's Meet The Press, anchor Tim Russert asked Mr. Coors if he saw a contradiction between his stance against gay/lesbian couples being allowed to adopt a child and the fact that his company, Coors Brewing Co., is sponsoring a Montreal event featuring gay and fetish activities. Mr. Coors' response, if you can call it that? Some drivel about his company's values, which he claims are American values. He falls in line with nearly every politician out there, refusing to admit a mistake, flaw or contradiction, let alone to take responsibility for it. His competitor offers more of the same. It's sad when you come to expect this from those who would be -- and those who are -- our leaders.
From all indications, this lack of leadership with its example of "do as I say, not as I do" will go on until we get the money out of politics so real people who understand real problems and are willing to solve them stand a fair chance. We need less Michael Bloombergs, George Bushes, John Kerrys and their accompanying cash-raising machines throwing their money around and thus drowning out the voices of their competition with their supposed "solutions" that, as we've seen, solve nothing. What we need more of are real people with intelligence, vision and courage of conviction, all of which are absent in politics today. The Democrats and Republicans clearly are not the answer.
George Bush and John Kerry need to do some straight thinking about taxes. Is taxation evil? Maybe a necessary evil? Or is not support of the government a basic responsibility all patriotic citizens share?
Bush claims taxes are evil. He calls for "tax relief" -- with most of the relief going to millionaires.
Kerry thinks taxes are necessary, but he is pledged to hold the line ("no tax increases for the middle class"), even in the face of urgent national needs.
You and I get tremendous yields from our tax dollars invested in public schools, state universities, medical research, highways and a host of other worthwhile programs.
Tax dollars may be wasted in unnecessary boondoggles, such as expensive "smart" missiles that can't find the way to their targets. Unjust tax loads are a problem. Greedy companies that overcharge the government for goods and services should be prosecuted.
Tax money well spent makes the country a better place for us and for our children and grandchildren. Our tax dollars bring hope to sick and starving people abroad. It's our patriotic duty to pay a fair share of our government's expenses. It's our moral duty not to avoid paying expenses now due, thereby saddling future generations with our unpaid obligations.
I have tolerated the entire diatribe written about how great a populist Ralph Nader is and how we should vote for him for president, not John Kerry. (You have another column this issue, 11/1/04, "Don't count Ralph out" by A.V. Krebs.)
Letters to the editor and columnists have denied that Nader was a "spoiler" in the 2000 presidential election, giving the seat to George W. Bush, who by the way, has trashed the environment, our freedoms and our political system.
I have only one thing to say: See the column "Conventional Wisdom" in the Oct. 25 issue of Newsweek magazine. You'll see Nader's photo and the caption, "Spoiler."
Nader "Now says Kerry wouldn't make a good president. The only thing missing is a Bush-Cheney button on his lapel," Newsweek reports.
Nader revealed his disrespect for Kerry and all that he represents while showing his contempt for all of us who want to rid America of this cancer that threatens all that we hold dear as Americans, including citizens from all facets of our body politic, including moderate Republicans.
Nader finally showed his true colors. He has sold his soul to the Republican Party that has funded his efforts to get on ballots in different states, not because they believe in any of his convictions but merely to defeat Kerry.
I now dispose of Nader in the same garbage bag of disrespect in which I have thrown Colin Powell and John McCain, two other once-respected patriots who have sold out their principles in order to facilitate Bush's goals to dominate the world through the exploitation, the blood and the resources of our great nation.
Shame on Nader and anyone who now stands with him!
My copy of The Nation arrived with a depressing anti-Nader ad signed by people committed to Ralph Nader's politics. All of them deluded into believing John Kerry will turn around the disastrous Cheney administration policies.
These former 2000 Nader campaign boosters should be too well versed not to realize that the nation is ready for a progressive revolution as was proven by Dean's appeal to the public until he was smeared by the Democrat bigwigs.
Of course they also know that congressional bribetakers are more concerned with their congressional longevity than sponsoring needed anti-corporate legislation. So, what happened? Easy -- the former boosters took the popular way out. But not before covering their butts with a lukewarm "... even while we strongly disagree with Kerry's policies on Iraq and other issues."
It's disappointing to see my heroes like Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, Tom Tomorrow and Howard Zinn fall in line even though they must realize that Ralph Nader's 2004 candidacy is simply to encourage the disappointed 2008 voters to demand a progressive ticket, no less, for a surefire victory.
And that could very well be our last chance to avoid a future fascist dictatorship.
Guffin Bay, N.Y.
My take on the letter of 10/15/04 ["Small-Town Economics"] from [Elliott] Case is that Kansans are independent hardworking people. Given. But Bieri's review offers other forces at work in What's the Matter With Kansas?
Abortion, gay rights, women's rights are personal freedoms -- not to be judged by the pseudo-religious, nosy neighbors or by government. But what a church! In Kansas City huge gas-guzzling trucks cruise with radio blaring and with "Jesus Saves" on the bumper sticker. Going to town they pass billboards shouting more "JESUS."
Something else is brewing much more ominous for civilization: manpower! Male dominance is on shaky ground. Hence, guns, wars, heroes and violence are imaged on the screen and depicted as entertainment -- even phoney wars and heroes will do. They feed the male ego -- burying the poets, artists, writers, teachers who are male, also. What a combination! Jesus, the mild, and Rumsfeld, the deceiver and bully.
People vote their image, and the image is pushed. Is Bush the macho puritan? Hardly. He's the front man, the cat's paw for the neo-conservatives, who have been planning world conquest for the last 13 years. Liking him, yet believing he leads is nonsense. If Kansans hope for the myth of "small government," it's not surprising, but it's not mentioned by Bieri. If Kansans think Bush got to the White House by "hard work," can't someone tell them he got there by lying and cheating? Can't someone show them that they, as farmers, are cannon fodder as well as are the trapped foot soldiers? To admit that one has been duped is very difficult. It's easier to continue to fiercely defend the dream that we are the knights in armor hunting down the evil ones. When "Kansans" are so deceived , we all lose, including their apologist, Mr. Case.
There are two great forces in our country: Corporate Interests vs. the People's Democracy. Having untold money to spend, corporations have invested 70% of their money in the Republican Party and 30% in the Democratic Headquarters Party. This may explain why there is little debate on the issues.
Corporations largely own the media. Consequently we only hear and read corporate-friendly news. The other side of the issue is seldom presented.
An example of this recently occurred in our local county, but corporate-owned, newspaper. Their new editorial policy requests that people wanting to express a political opinion submit a payment of $10. This same paper recently published a photo of the governor who is up for re-election.
No matter which party wins the upcoming election, we the People need to begin the mighty effort of regaining our Democracy.
Mary H Rowley
Please oppose HR 975 that would overhaul bankruptcy law. Its advocates lend at 20% interest and borrow at 3%. They don't need this bill. "This punitive measure dismissed the fact that nearly all bankruptcies are the result of illness, job loss or divorce -- not abuse by borrowers," per the September/October Public Citizen magazine ... "The bill would take discretion away from judges to take into account a debtor's level of responsibility or the cause of their financial problems. It imposes the standards for declaring bankruptcy that do not take into account individual family needs for expenses like shelter, food and transportation. It also does nothing to rein in credit card promotions and excessive interest rate practices that burden vulnerable working families."
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.
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