Let No Lie Go Unchallenged


The Copley News Service printed an editorial cartoon ... that depicted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi yelling attack and vowing to end the culture of corruption. A cartoon rendering of Pelosi was pictured, riding a donkey weighed down with saddlebags of money labeled "Abramoff."

The cartoon, a lame attempt to convey hypocrisy on Pelosi's and the Democratic Party's part, is predicated on an oft-repeated and shameless lie. According to the Center for Responsive Politics website, "Abramoff has not donated one red cent to Democrats or Democratic groups." This information can be viewed at the non-partisan resource Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org).

Indian tribes that were defrauded by the criminal cabal of Jack Abramoff, and Michael Scanlon did make political donations to Democratic candidates, but then they always have. Native Americans are the Democratic Party's most loyal ethnic voting block, in large part because of the party's long history of being sympathetic to and respectful of tribal interests.

In contrast, Abramoff who promised to influence and change the votes of Republican lawmakers, referred to his Indian clients as "morons and troglodytes." Michael Scanlon wrote, "I want all their money," and squealed with glee in another email, "Weez gonna be rich!" It is clear that Abramoff and Scanlon were less than respectful of their Indian clients and the only interest they had in mind, was their own self interest.

A lawmaker that accepts a "donation" in return for a vote, has in the eyes of the law, accepted a bribe, just ask the disgraced, Randall (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif., most recently of the Federal Prison System.

Those that try to deflect blame by attempting to falsely infer that this is a bi-partisan scandal are not only violating the commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor," they are also showing their contempt for the intelligence of the voting public by assuming we are not sophisticated enough to understand the truth.

The Abramoff scandal has been described as the biggest scandal on Capitol Hill in over 100 years. It has been reported between 25 and 60 senators, representatives, congressional staffers and administration officials are tainted by the stench of Abramoff's money machine. They share one distinctive characteristic. They are all Republicans.

Former congressman Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), a defender of lobbying and Congress, said there have always been members who get caught "stuffing money in their pants." But he said this is different -- a "disgusting" and disturbingly broad scandal driven by lobbyists whose attitude seemed to be "government to the highest bidder."

Another Republican lawmaker, comparing the Abramoff scandal of today, to the congressional scandals of the early 1990s said, "We (Republicans) have become more corrupt and drunk with power in 10 years, than did the Democrats in 40."

The congressional scandals of the early 1990's resulted in the ruling party being swept from power. The fear of those on the right, over today's far more reaching and expansive scandal, and corruption, is only exceeded by their fear that history often repeats itself.

Mike Kohr
Princeton, Ill.


Religion & Politics

We all respect Thomas Jefferson, the Author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of our better Presidents, right?

Well --

Jefferson wrote as follows: "that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint ... That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical ... that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right."

It's a strong document, a cogent expression of the meaning of (and actually the foundation of) the separation between church and state. Its celebration is rightly noted and all too frequently forgotten, an exultation of free will as a "natural right."

So, then, the insistence upon a single narrow point of view as the only "Correct" one is anathema to anyone who professes respect for American Values. It is a sad commentary on the state of our Republic that we have allowed religious differences to define our discourse, and lead to rancor and calumny.

In case you didn't notice, what Jefferson SAID was, "Religion and Politics don't mix." That is a principle our Republic has held sacrosanct for most of its existence, and is indeed paramount to its success as a viable form of government. Most of us worship the same God, whether we call ourselves Christians, Moslems, Jews, Theists, Deists or Freethinkers, and it is unfair and indeed unconstitutional to call any particular creed the "Only right one."

Jesus said, "In my Father's House are many mansions." What he MEANT was that good people went to Heaven, regardless of their brand.

It is repellent when a profoundly un-Christian group seizes power and then chooses to use the most restrictive form of "Christianity" as a tool with which to manipulate the electorate, simply because that narrow-minded group can be counted upon to be easily used in spewing forth the particular brand of vitriol the "In-group" chooses to inflict on the populace. "Un-Christian?" Yes. Read Matthew 5:7, the summation of the Christian creed, in the words of Jesus Himself, and then consider the ACTIONS of these self-professed "Christians."

"If the shoe fits, wear it." But I sincerely hope it does not. The primary rock on which our Republic rests is tolerance for a variety of opinions, because only in enlightened discourse can we arrive at the truth. Anyone who is absolutely convinced of the rightness of his convictions has a very good chance of being wrong.

Edward G. Robles
Franklin, N.C.


Late Christmas Gifts

On Friday, Dec. 23, the host of a program that reviews the news of the week on our local NPR radio station invited listeners' to call in and say what holiday gifts they would like to give to our government officials. One man, for example, said he would give Bush a two-week vacation with his daughters in an unarmored humvee in Iraq. To Cheney he would give a few weeks in an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. I came up with my own gift list:

I recently read For God and Country, the autobiography of Captain James Yee -- the former Muslim chaplain at the Guantanamo prison camp -- in which he details the ordeal of having been wrongly -- maliciously, in my opinion -- accused of treason by the US military in which he was so faithfully and proudly serving his country. Among other hardships, he was kept in solitary confinement for 76 days and subjected regularly to humiliating strip searches. So, to George W. Bush I would give 364 days in solitary confinement in a military brig -- no contact at all with his family or lawyers, and daily inspections: "Open your mouth, stick out your tongue, drop your drawers, lift up your left testicle, lift up your right testicle, turn around, bend over, spread your cheeks." After that sentence was served, I would re-gift it to him next year.

My gift to Dick Cheney would be to have the CIA "disappear" him and render him to a secret, undisclosed torture prison in Eastern Europe for 20 years. Add another 15 years for aborting his December "goodwill" visit in the Middle East and rushing back to Washington, D.C., in order to cast his vote in the Senate to cut assistance for the poor, the elderly and the disabled -- many of whom are veterans who fought for our freedoms -- and to cut even more taxes for the super rich. Merry CHRISTmas. And if we would just "put Jesus back into the mall" we won't have to keep Him in our hearts.

For all the other elected and appointed officials who support the Cheney/Bush policies, I would fine them two days' pay for every day they continue to serve this regime -- "cowards and thugs" that they are, and cancel their taxpayer-funded pensions; I would use this money l) to restore the pensions of all those workers whose life savings have been stolen by corrupt, inept, and grossly overpaid corporate executives, and 2) to start a public campaign financing fund to replace the current system of legalized bribery.

Caroline Gardner
Freeland Wash.


W's the Worst

In my more than 80 years, I have observed presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. Our current president is by far the worst I have seen. Nixon was driven from office, but he ended the Viet Nam war and established relations with China. Lyndon Johnson was pressured not to run again, but he gave us Head Start, Medicare and civil rights. Bush has accomplished nothing of merit.

He has robbed the poor of food stamps and medical care while giving tax cuts to the very rich. In the name of saving Social Security, he tried to destroy it. He has favored destroying the habitats of endangered species while fouling the air of our planet. He let victims of Katrina die in agony, and then encouraged Bechtel and Halliburton to profit from the disaster. He has invaded Americans' privacy with an electronic spy system.

Worst of all, he lied to Congress and the public to get our armed forces to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq, resulting in the deaths of over 3,000 American men and women and at least 30,000 Iraqi civilians. He calls the Americans' deaths "sacrifices" for the cause of freedom. I call all these deaths "murder."

Murder is indeed a high crime. Bush and his alter ego Dick Cheney should be impeached and removed from office. If the present Congress won't do the job, we can elect one that will come November.

Bill Buell
Flagstaff, Ariz.


Bring Back My Mags

Ralph Nader is so very right when he complains about serious subjects and serious authors being left out of the media. I've been complaining about it for some time, but even I didn't know how bad things were, because as a magazine reader of many years, it was the magazine content that aroused my ire.

The excuse I'd been offering for how things went so wrong was that the mags had become "New Yorked." That is, their place of publication, even if they originally had been published elsewhere, was New York, and the rest of the country had been forgotten. And it showed.

Because I ran a small antique store for several years I often encountered old magazines in boxes of stuff I purchased, and perusing the copies saw that my perception of change was not off. And mags I had subscribed to for years, particularly the women's mags and home decor ones, seemed, in the newer ones, to be written for airheads. So what they had in them, month after month, were articles about diet and fashion and sex, and some recipes, as if the readers were all stay-at-home moms who cared about nothing else. But the strange thing about that was, the '50s mags, in an era when women actually were stay-at-home moms, had articles of depth and importance in them. And women who came in my shop, even the young ones, were thrilled and delighted with the old copies, and said they hated the newer ones.

So what was happening, and what on earth were publishers thinking I wondered, to have gotten so away from what their readers wanted. But Nader refers to it as a corporate decision, so maybe market studies are showing it is good policy, although how that could be, I don't know.

Maybe advertisers need to take a good long look at what their dollars are, or aren't, buying, because I know subscriber numbers have fallen off a great deal, which is why one major magazine magazine has been reduced to faking its subscriber list, by offering five free subscriptions if I buy just one, and is why my son got multiple subscriptions to a dozen mags for $10.

Because of computer lists that are bought and sold, that no doubt identify me as a magazine person, I get frequent almost pitiful petitions from publishers asking me to buy their product, and I get phone calls from those whose mags I've subscribed to in the past, begging me to come back, and I've told some I wouldn't want their magazine even if it were free.

Which is a sad comment on what is happening in the publishing world, because I'd like to subscribe to the kind of magazines I loved in the past, but they seem to be gone forever.

Marjorie Johnson
Eckert, Colo.


Waiting for Gratitude

"Punish any Democrat who speaks against the [my] war and gives comfort to [those that I categorize as] the enemy." Loosely translating President Bush's statement, that means "castigate anyone who disagrees with me."

Could freedom of speech be denied any more blatantly? And, by, of all people, the president of the United States, the defender of freedom and democracy around the world. What I have heard about freedom and democracy in Iraq from President Bush's speeches sounds better than what we are experiencing here in the US, spying, lying, cheating and buying. Perhaps one day, Iraq will invade the US to bring to us the freedoms we lost in bringing these gifts to Iraq.

David Tierney
Lowell, Mass.


Looks Good on Paper

If Bush really said the Constitution is "just a goddamn piece of paper" ["Dispatches," 1/1-15/06 TPP], I suppose that means since no WMDs were found, that the carnage in Iraq continues so the Iraqis can have a goddamn piece of paper, too.

Earl Miller
Hayfork, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, Feb. 15, 2006

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