Re: "Mission to be Decided" by Joe Conason [1/1-15/06 TPP]: Another mealy-mouthed Democrat prefers spin to the truth.
Joe Conason says Howard Dean's comment about the war being unwinnable was irresponsible and gave the Republicans ammunition.
I guess Joe's been out of the country the past few years; the Republican machine, along with mainstream media's help, don't need much ammo to trounce the opposition. They were doing that long before Dean came on the scene.
What is it about Dean that rattles the Dems and the pundits who love them so? He's outspoken, but at least he's not spouting gibberish. Given the 24/7 lies and distortions spoken by the Republicans and their media outlets, Dean's comments are rather tame.
His populist views on the economy, healthcare, and corporate malfeasance are shared by a great many average folks. His viewpoint regarding the war is blunt, but it's the truth. Why are so many people (including Repubs) calling for an immediate or phased-out withdrawal from Iraq? If we were winning, most of these folks would say stay. I guess Dean said it too simply; he should have used some of the b.s. rhetoric that Conason did to make the same point.
This is the main problem with the Democrats. They are too timid about standing up for something. Always worrying about being P.C., about polls, about pissing off some corporate CEO or Republican swing votes. Such indecision and wishy-washiness won't do squat to get votes. Standing up and fighting for what is right will. One may not win all the time, but keep slugging and soon victories will be plentiful.
On another note, what's your paper's take on Howard Dean? I fear you run from him as well. ... We need to hear more candidness from the Deans out there and less polished pablum from the usual suspects in the party and media. Thanks.
Editor Replies: Dean is doing a great job, despite establishment Democrats' claims that he's neglected big fundraisers and party bigwigs. Appealing to more small donors, the party raised $51 million in 2005, a record for an off-year and 20% more than the comparable period in 2003. He also has made it a priority to rebuild Democratic organizations in all 50 states and traveled to 34 states and territories in his first year to talk about progressive Democratic values and raise money for state and local parties. But he's still just the chairman; he can encourage candidates to run for office but it's up to the grassroots to elect progressive populist candidates and keep them honest.
And so it came to pass that our diva of mendacity, The Condoleezza, went forth unto Europe. To the bemused Europeans she said, "The US does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances." As the crowd began to mumble, she quickly added that there really was a Santa Claus and so you better not pout and you better not shout. Thus spake Condoleezza.
Meanwhile, back in the "homeland," Condy's boss, The W, spoke before a military (as usual) audience. Verily, he said unto them that we in the US government do not and did not torture anyone, and of course, we won't do it again. He closed with his favorite Bible verse, "extraordinarily render unto Caesar the enemy combatants that are Caesar's." And no one was able to answer a word, nor from that day on did anyone in the press question him anymore.
But, now it happened that in the den of Congress Dick The Cheney went forth. He was wroth with anger. The stiff-necked senators had voted for an amendment that denied the power of The Cheney to torture. Then, out of a whirlwind The Cheney spoke to the Senate saying, "Cursed be the amendment, and who are you to question The Cheney! Where were you when I laid the foundations of the war on terror!" And so the Fox prophets proclaimed that the stiffnecked congress will repent thus sending a sweet aroma to The Cheney.
Now it may seem curious, to those not in the right light, that the same leaders who claim a policy of no torture also curse a law forbidding torture. But, ours is not to question why, ours is but to do ... or is it?
With Republicans in control of so much of the government in Washington, D.C., these days (for five years), blaming the Democrats for any failed ideas or policies is more like the guy who kicked the cat because he was having a bad day. The other half of that is to wonder why such "God-fearing" people should be having to deal with so many "Acts of God" and catastrophes that have happened ever since they showed up. And, rather than question or examine themselves and what they might be doing wrong, they look for a Jonah &emdash; Democrat, liberal, terrorist, "Old European" &emdash; to throw out of the boat. How did this country ever get along before they showed up? One wonders.
The worst part of this is how left out the Rest of Us are feeling in his lopsided "Democracy." Which brings me to my point: Since the Republican Right (which appears to be a redundancy) has God all sewn up, it remains to the Democrats to remind everyone that, according to the Bill of Rights, it is not a requirement for citizenship in this country that anyone has to believe in any god or to practice any religion. The government, in fact, is supposed to be neutral on this issue.
In fact, if the Democrats at this point just reminded people of what the Constitution says on a lot of issues, they would be fulfilling their roles as another way to go and pull the country back to where it should be at the same time &emdash; not a bad accomplishment. It's like what our near neighbor, Canada, seems to get from our examples of what not to do; like China, for being the latest and newest, gets to soak up all our technology and chemical/pharmaceutical know-how without any of the expense or agony of research. Meanwhile, we throw away some of our most valuable lessons &emdash; i.e. the things that demanded the Progressive changes of the last 100 years and our failed military expeditions, for example &emdash; so that we will remain stuck forever in the great expenditures of wealth and lives. So much for having to be "first" in everything ... Remember 7-Up, the Uncola? There you go, Democrats.
Presque Isle, Maine
Regarding Ted Rall's "Case for National Recall Election" [1/1-15/06 TPP], if that had been in place at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, Harry Truman's Fair Deal and Dwight D. Eisenhower's progressive policies would never have gotten off the ground. The monied interests of the country would have campaigned to recall all of them before anyone knew the value of their programs. The City of St. Louis, Mo., has had recall since at least 1914. My alderwoman, Sharon Tyus, survived two of them, launched by people who envied how successful she was in improving the 20th Ward. She was finally gerrymandered out of office by "The Powers That Be." She was only middle class and black. ...
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.
Where are the guardians of the soul of America? Our founding fathers in their wisdom left future generations of Americans these guardians.
We the people are the main guardians of our democracy but materialism, ignorance, indifference and apathy have blinded and lulled these guardians into a soulless, dreamless sleep.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were our founding fathers' greatest gift to future generations of Americans but these special guardians of our democracy have been made useless because of the refusal of our judicial, executive and legislative branches to use their checks-and-balances powers of impeachment and criminal indictment to prosecute the criminal activities and abuses of power that the other branches of government have been involved in during the last five years.
In their wisdom our founding fathers also gave the American people another guardian and that was a free press (mass media) but if this powerful guardian becomes seduced by the dark side where greed, self-interest and deception reign then the people are mislead and the soul of America can be destroyed and be replaced by the three evil forces of fascism, Nazism and McCarthyism.
These times we all live in today is indeed a tragic and sad time for all those Americans who love their democracy, truth, justice and the American Way because all of America's guardians are failing to guard the gate to the soul of America and as a result the dark forces have taken over this country and what America needs at this point in her history are not 20 million John Adams but 20 million Patrick Henrys!
It affects all of us in many (often imperceptible) ways. Services, once covered by taxes, are now provided by private enterprise on a for-profit basis.
Greencards, of which I am a holder, were once issued for life until 1995, when it was decreed that they were to be renewed every 10 years from that day forward. The filing fee was set at $70.
Fast forward to 2005: The INS office is populated by 4-5 uniformed officers and a host of civilian employees working for a private company. The filing fee? $255.
Evidently,the entire federal government is up for sale. My example is but one of many, and proof positive that capitalism corrupts and absolute capitalism corrupts absolutely.
Eventually this needs to be addressed and begs the question: "How can this situation ever be remedied"? It is nigh impossible to dislodge pigs from the trough.
What kind of a system are we handing off to future generations?
Red Bluff Calif.
Reading the John Buell column "Nightmares and Dreams: The Auto in American Life," in the 11/1/06 TPP (I am a little behind in my reading) ... We should promote the use of those $100-$200 electric scooters for the thousands of short trips everyone makes each week. (Disclosure: I own a scooter, but have no financial interest in promoting the greater use of them.)
Every time I scoot to the grocery store or post office, etc., I have at least one person come up to me with either questions about the scooter, or a cheery statement something like: "Now, that's what I need, instead of having to use a gallon of gas to pick up a loaf of bread!" My response is always encouraging, but there are still only less than a dozen scooters in this spread-out town of about 70,000.
If hundreds of scooters zipped through the streets, there soon would be a call for separate lanes to accommodate traffic doing less than, say, 15 mph, the top speed for most electric scooters. Thus, scooters, which have an approximate run of five miles on a single charge, and bicycles (electric and regular), perhaps as well as runners, could stay out of harm's way from auto and truck traffic. Scooping out such lanes from sidewalks, etc. could prove cost effective to the community in gas savings.
The scooters are fun to ride, easy to maintain, and for those who could not ride a two-wheeler, there are several 2-wheel models available. Abundant interest will meet the various needs. Most scooters come with a basket, and I often hook my "little red wagon" onto the saddle, so I am able to carry quite a load. I have had a car all my life, and have driven many hundreds of thousands of miles, yet I doubt I will ever have another car. I am planning on moving up to a motorbike, and am in the process of designing a sidecar-cum-tent arrangement, and am looking forward to touring the country in it. Imagine the difference in gas consumption between even a small car and a motorbike traveling across the 48 ...
I am going because, sadly, I believe this country is finished, and I will be saying goodbye. It well may destroy both itself and much of the rest of the planet, and certainly I doubt it is beyond becoming a civil democracy within two generations; probably never again.
M. Neven Du Mont
It is time to tell that drunkard in the White House that that "goddamned piece of paper" [Dispatches, 1/1-15/06 TPP] is the only source of his authority, and if he doesn't like it he can go back to Crawford.
Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Bush's comment in the 1/1-15/06 TPP that the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper" may be the first thing he's said in the past five years that wasn't certifiably idiotic. I think William Lloyd Garrison called it a "covenant with ... the devil" before burning a copy of it in the town square [in 1854]. I probably read this years ago in Howard Zinn's A Peoples' History of the US.
Bernard J. Berg
Editor Notes: Garrison, an abolitionist, objected to the Constitution permitting slavery. He opposed the Civil War until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Gene McCarthy's death is a reminder that a senator can show moral courage even in the face of strong opposition from his or her party and the power of the president if he is to truly represent our country. McCarthy spoke up tirelessly against the war in Viet Nam which was spurious to begin with and led for years to tremendous losses and gave rise to widescale violent opposition and eventually to our withdrawal. We realize now we should not have been there and now we are faced with a similar situation of a war created out of lies and deception. Is there a congressman, particularly a Republican, who has a deep unyielding conviction about the false basis for this war and the need to end it soon, who can challenge his party and president and fight for what is right for the country?