Here in Missouri, for the first time in 84 years, the Republicans control both houses, and a puffed up Republican, Matt Blunt is governor. As flavors go, he is a Bush Dark. So far the major success of the Blunt administration has been to cut Medicaid severely, to the point where legislation has been passed that will end it in three years.
Starting in July, Missouri Medicaid will no longer provide crutches to the poor and disabled, or walkers, or eyeglasses or batteries for electric wheelchairs, or .... (you get the picture).
Blunt is on a slash-and-burn rampage and Medicaid has been the key target, probably because its recipients are disabled and poorly organized and are therefore easy targets. There will be insanity, homelessness and death, and as I see it there is a strong element of class warfare in all of this, particularly when the fact that for every 17 cents the state spends on Medicaid they receive 83 cents from the federal government for providers. The cuts do not make economic sense and they are cruel.
I have schizophrenia and rely on Medicaid for medications that I need to negotiate reality. Yet what type of reality do Blunt and his lobster-breath colleagues live in? We are looking at cuts that may effect 100,000 people, and many more jobs than that. And what about family members?
A petition circulated by mental health providers is useful in dealing with the scope and magnitude of the problem. The same issues are applicable to other areas of disabilities.
1) Who will help over 15,000 severely mentally ill Missourians when they can no longer receive medication and other critical services? Who will be responsible when the rates of homelessness and suicide begin to climb because individuals who need help have nowhere to go?
2) How can the State of Missouri save money when cuts will result in larger expenditures for hospitalization and treatment?
Sure, Medicaid costs money, but instead of a slash-and-burn approach, others have different ideas. Dean Henderson, who recently ran unsuccessfully against Jo An Emerson (R), in Missouri's 8th District US House race, is all for capping the cost of pharmaceuticals. "They are getting away with corporate welfare," says a stern Henderson, "and at the expense of the poor." The governor's brother is a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
West Plains, Mo.
Jim Hightower is accurate describing Tom DeLay as "a vindictive, vituperative, nasty, brutish political boss" ["'Whimpering Tom' DeLay," 5/1/05 TPP]. Of course, because he's been called on his own lack of ethics, DeLay chooses to portray himself as "poor me, I'm the victim."
The behavior is not uncommon among political bullies.
When then-Gov. Judy Nartz persecuted Native American legislators in Montana, we wrote her condemning her actions. She whined and sniveled and tried to portray herself as the victim.
When my central Montana state senator publicly condemned the Little Shell Chippewa for finally gaining federal recognition, we wrote him too. He resorted to the same behavior, "poor me, I'm a victim."
The conduct is called the "Karpman Triangle," and one of the behaviors for bullies who resort to it is to suddenly become a "victim" after being exposed.
The Karpman Triangle should be required study in all our high schools, for this mental and emotional disease is one of the keys to the world's turmoil.
Karl Rove, Marc Racicot, Dick Cheney and W. Bush are most skillful at exploiting this human weakness.
The third leg of this insidious triangle is the "rescuer."
The 9/11 attacks are a good case in point: Allow ourselves to be "victimized," and following the predictable public outrage, go in and "persecute" the hell out of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the name of "rescuing" them from some perceived dictator.
Here in Montana, we elected a dynamic duo, Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Republican Lt. Gov. John Bollinger. They aren't playing the "bully -- I'm a victim -- let me rescue you" Karpman Triangle game. They are working with Montana people to straighten out a terrible mess left by 16 years of political persecution under three dysfunctional governors: Stephens, Racicot and Martz. It's springtime in Montana.
David J. Murnion
Forest Grove, Mont.
It was gratifying to read in 5/15/05 TPP Letters, "What About Agnostics?" of S.K. Eleton's donations to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization which speaks with eloquence, skill, and effectiveness for the separation of government and religion in our country. Their importance has moved me just this past week to take out a life membership in FFRF.
Your editorial reply to Eleton's letter indicates that "nearly 90% of Americans have some religious affiliation, 84% are Christians and two-thirds go to church regularly."
My personal experience made me question those figures, and I am reinforced by the April 11 issue of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, with its main article entitled "Seventh Day Agnostics Arise: You Have Nothing to Lose but your Stereotype." Sam creates the name "shafarism" for what he calls the world's fourth largest belief system, consisting of "secularism, humanism, atheism, free thought, agnosticism, and rationalism." He feels that these millions with alternative beliefs should be allowed a voice, especially since "they have contributed so little to the current troubles" in our world.
He also questions the so-called religious character of Americans, quoting the Harris poll that shows "about half of Americans go to church only a few times a year or never" and that "21% of Catholics and 52% of Jews either don't believe in God or are not certain that God exists."
I read every single issue of The Progressive Populist as well as The Progressive Review (which now appears only on the Internet) and you are my hope in a world gone mad. Don't you wonder how a nation that is causing incredible suffering to so much of the world, including some of its own citizens, can presume to consider itself as "Christian"?
When I was a boy, many magazines ran an ad showing a skinny guy and his girlfriend at the beach with a big guy kicking sand on them. Fast forward to today and the big guy is the Republican Party, controlling all three branches of government and you know who the little guy is.
We have less than two years to "beef up." Our goal should be to take back the Senate with a view toward beginning impeachment proceedings. By "beefing up," I mean getting mean and nasty, meaner and nastier than the Republicans are now. Along the way, I think progressives in Connecticut, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, Nebraska and Arkansas should call Lieberman, Salazar, Landrieu, the Nelsons and Prior to task for voting with the Republicans to confirm [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales. If they don't have reasonable explanations, then we need to think about finding progressive Democrats to run against them in their next primaries. We don't need "statesmen," we need pit bulls.
With Howard Dean heading the Democratic Party, we should send money to organizations like MoveOn.org and organize demonstrations against the Bush war machine.
Thurman L. Query
Fort Myers, Fla.
On Oct. 6, 1976, 73 innocent people were murdered in mid-flight as a bomb exploded on their aircraft. The terrorists responsible for this cowardly act were caught and convicted. Then in a disgraceful act, former Panamanian President Moscoso granted pardons to these terrorists ... It was an act denounced by many in Latin America, yet applauded by a few in both Miami and Washington, D.C.
Those few included George W. Bush and Cuban criminal elements in Miami who have welcomed these men into the US. In a mockery of the US war on terror, they have applied for political asylum, seeking to halt deportation to Cuba, home to the 73 victims.
George Bush once stated, "Any nation which harbors terrorists must be held accountable." An explanation is owed to the families of victims and those fighting terrorism, as Bush and Homeland Security allow terrorists on US soil.
The recent recommendations by the 9/11 Commission were intended to protect Americans from terrorists. Inter-agency cooperation was not meant to protect "friendly" terrorists from justice. There cannot be good or bad terrorists, all terrorism is wrong!
A child killed or maimed in a terrorist attack cannot differentiate between good or bad, as moral Americans, neither should we. Before the US can stop terror, it must stop offering a safe haven for terrorists!
Editor's Note: Venezuela is seeking to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile who is believed to be in Florida, in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner. He had been jailed in Panama in 2000 for a bomb plot against Fidel Castro but he was released in August 2004.
John Buell in his very fine article "Gaming the School System" [5/1/05 TPP] might have mentioned that there is probably not one single adult anywhere in the US who would let the government force them into our Prussian-derived, factory-oriented school system for even one hour a week in order to teach them State History D1.
That is, with the best of intentions, we're doing to the kids what the authorities wouldn't dare do to us. Not to mention the fact that only in Academia do we put people on the spot to answer a question when we already have the answer in our head, a judgmental and often-humiliating procedure which ends up labeling one-third of our high-school students as no-good failures well before their brain has developed and before their lives have hardly begun.
Other results show it also: Most of those passive, obedient, bored, scared, and regurgitating "students" -- so-called -- sullenly resist books, learning, teachers, schools, homework, and then the parents.
Basic skills are pathetic; i.e. one-third of high-school seniors are proficient readers while, from kindergarten through graduate school, virtually all subject matter is happily forgotten just as soon as summer rolls around.
Schools and colleges could, however, by merely abolishing quizzing and formal assessment, become EDUCATIONAL institutions where kids are HELPED to keep on learning with the enthusiasm and effectiveness of the average toddler. But that's a story for another day, a day when I'll probably be out of a job!
Robert E. Kay, M.D.
I don't like to be disrespectful to the president, but when he flat out lies to the people, somebody has to speak up. In his radio address on April 23, he called for supplemental defense spending and "restraining the spending appetite of the Federal government".
Using "we must support our brave troops" propaganda; he blithely ignores he has already received a $417.5 billion defense budget for 2005 and now is asking for another $80 billion. This will give him the largest defense budget since World War II. For what? Surely our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan along with "the War on Terrorism" are nowhere near the magnitude of WWII. Why does he need all that money?
He then tells us he will cut 150 domestic programs. If his record to date is an indication, you can be sure the cut programs will be those help the public.
So we see that he intends to pour hundreds of billions of dollars down the military industrial rathole, enriching the investment class, while depriving you and me of needed services of the government. How long will the American public put up with such chicanery?
Addendum to John Buell's insightful column ["Lessons From Across the Pond," 4/15/05 TPP]: It might be pointed out that the main reason for the disparity in unemployment percentage figures between the US and Germany (for instance) is that workers in Germany are entitled by law to receive 36 months of unemployment compensation, versus six months over here. It is quite conceivable, given these facts, that the unemployment rate is as high, or higher, here than there.
Red Bluff, Calif.
I am sending this short little note out to you for I fear that if the citizens of various states who have senators and representatives who really believe that the privatization of the Social Security is a means of making the program whole and long-lived are not challenged and condemned, they will win and the public will lose. I know not how the recall mechanics for recall are structured in your state, but there should be some way in which to pressure or change the senator's mind or change the person who occupies that Senate seat. If the federal government would quit taking from the Social Security fund, raise the cap [on payroll taxes] or count all income as a base of payment into the SS Fund, it would not matter the graying of our population or the baby-boom members. They never account that the fund is taking in much more than needed to account for the Boomers. What happens to those extra revenues when the Boomers start to die off in 15 to 20 years? Just some thoughts from an old union man up here in the Heartland of North Dakota.
James D. Larson
Write Letters to the Editor
Please keep them brief.