Hal Crowther, in his excellent (as usual) essay "Remember November" [1/1-15/07 TPP], writes "the truest thing about the lessons of history is that they are never learned." Yes. And so we seem to have forgotten the world-wide economic crash of 1929 -- the direct result of stock market manipulation and other corporate schemes.
The word capitalism denotes an economic system predicated on the four worst flaws in the human psyche: Vanity, greed, avariciousness and an innate penchant for tyranny; it is symbiotic with our nature. This, of course, explains why it is preferred by many, and is also an immutable argument for the absolute necessity of a firm regulation of its affairs. Left to run amok, it inevitably will self-destruct.
This is exactly the path the neo-conservatives have contrived to set it upon. Corporate connivance unrestrained stands as a greater threat to the continuation of our democracy than all the weapons, real or abstract, al Qaeda can muster. With all the global corporate entanglements, a crash, if it comes, will be mighty -- and the resulting chaos could be permanently fatal to our governing ideal. A hungry populace will follow anyone -- ask Hitler.
If, as a modern Diogenes, you should take a lantern and go in search of a true patriot, you'd best hit the streets on the other side of the tracks.
Has anyone else noticed how the stats presented in your resume of Gen. Pinochet's career (Dispatches, 1/1-15/07 TPP) closely resemble those of your poor excuse for an Emperor, George III? I quote: "Pinochet ... overthrew the elected ... government ... with the assistance of the CIA. Then he set up a secret police network that hunted down dissidents, executed at least 3,197 leftists and labor activists and tortured 29,000 while another thousand disappeared with no trace. Hundreds of thousands were sent into political or economic exile. In league with other right-wing dictators ... Pinochet set up Operation Condor [think "Freedom"] to pursue dissidents across the globe ..."
Only the loot that Pinochet stole is missing in Bush's case; his vice colleague has presumably stashed that away in a safe place for any future legal challenge. All those millions of die-hard supporters from 2000 and 2004, including the Diebold executives, must not give way -- else how will the "W" Presidential Library keep alive the dream of still an another noble well-heeled dynasty (if not Clinton or McCain, then Obama & Sons)?
My compliments to TPP for publishing two articles of diverse opinion, concerning the Iraq Study Group, back-to-back in the 1/1-15/06 issue.
The first, by Greg Palast, paints an unflattering but, sadly, accurate portrait of the Report as an ineffectual product of James Baker III, the Bush family "consigliere." It reveals the deeper and more ominous implication of the truth behind what is a bona fide civil war in Iraq, with Iran backing one side and Saudi Arabia supporting the other.
The second, by Sidney Blumenthal, portrays the report as more credible and worthy of the president's attention; but then it properly slams Bush for dismissing it and, instead, seeking the counsel of his circle of enablers who tell him what he wants to hear.
These two pieces, together with "The Politics of Triage" by Bob Burnett, combine to make a remarkably perceptive and accurate appraisal of the indescribably tangled mess in which the United States now finds itself. Between staying in Iraq or getting out, it's impossible to say which is the worse alternative. There are no good choices. Where, in heaven's name, do we go from here?
A brief comment in closing: the Health Care piece by Joan Retsinas references a familiar syllogism: "Ignorance is bliss." As syllogisms go, this one is commonly and universally misquoted. The complete saying is as follows: "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."
Thanks for a great publication. Keep up the good work. We need it now, more than ever.
President Bush wants to cut additional taxes according to his latest statements. Since we are borrowing more than $3 billion every day of the year, it is the height of fiscal irresponsibility to cut taxes. Instead, we should be repealing all of the tax cuts that have been passed since Bush took office. And we should seriously be looking for new ways to increase the revenues that the government needs, to get back on a fiscal path that will guarantee future financial stability.
Two suggestions that should be considered are 1) tax all radio and TV advertising 5% or 10%, and 2) put nominal tariffs on goods being imported from countries that use sweatshop labor to produce the goods that we buy. But the president and his advisers should be able to figure out a number of other ways of raising revenues to offset this tremendous amount of borrowing that we are saddled with. Because we are borrowing more than $2 billion per day just to take care of our trade deficit, it is obvious that tariffs would be useful in lowering this figure. These could be altered downward, or eliminated in the future, as income and spending came into balance.
Do we really need the $439 billion defense budget (2007 request), when a significant percentage goes for fighting wars against nations, when the main problem confronting us is fighting terrorism? And why is the two billion dollars being spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan each week, omitted from that figure?
The big question remains: how long are we going to be able to find lenders willing to continue to lend us more than $3 billion a day? As the dollar continues to depreciate, can we expect the lenders to keep on buying our Treasury notes and bills, when they can get higher, and more stable income, from other foreign currencies?
Now is the time for the white evangelistic fundamentalist churchgoers that helped put Bush in the White House to admit they were deceived by his false prophecy and join hands with mainstream America in the march to impeach George W. Bush.
Alabama government employees [Sens.] Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, who were willing tools in the hands of Bush in creating the shame of Iraq, could do their Republican Party positive service in lieu of the next election cycle by starting the impeachment process from the Republican side while in Washington.
By the way, Mr. Sessions, what happened to that homeland security fence you promised to build a couple years ago?
Remember, Mr. Sessions, when you took the oath of office you swore on your Bible you were an honest man, just like George W. Bush did.
Larry Joe Robinson
Phil Campbell, Ala.
Tuesday morning, Jan. 9, we awoke to the news that an AC-130 Hercules conducted two raids in Somalia, a country in Africa dangerously close to our precious petroleum producers in the Middle East, to kill known al Qaeda terrorists, proving that our mania to hunt down and eliminate terrorism anywhere in the world remains legitimate and undaunted. Thank God for terrorists. The twisted logic in this paraphrased statement released by the Department of Defense implies that the unilateral, imperialistic, aggressions of the Bush administration are justified by The Decider of "anything goes."
Not only is the king parading around the world butt naked, but we have a megalomaniac in the White House wearing the mantle of impunity who had to approve this mission, or should we courtmartial the errant Air Force pilot? It would shock the majority of the voting citizens of this country to know the number of countries, and the total number of American military personnel assigned missions of "national interest" to the United States around the world. George W. Bush thinks that he is anointed the holy oil of demagoguery, but it looks more like the oil of ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron.
1st Lt., USMC (Retired)
It would seem that George W. Bush has found another opportunity to exercise his penchant for starting wars. This time his foe is the Congress, the Baker-Hamilton Commission, many retired and active military leaders, as well as a large majority of the American people. His emphatic declaration of war was on his 60 Minutes interview Jan. 14. He made it clear that a troop surge of 20,000 or so troops in Iraq is non-negotiable, and will go forwards regardless of any opposition.
This latest display of arrogance and disdain for reality should be cause for alarm. Are we not already too deep into the Iraq quagmire?
Already tarnished, America's image throughout the world can only go into free-fall. Congress must assert its powers to the maximum degree to assure that the United States returns to a less bellicose stance, and focuses on diplomacy and compromise to achieve reasonable aims that war has so miserably failed to accomplish.
Are these just empty words uttered during the holidays? Make them mean something by calling or writing your Congressmen. Demand that they start PROMOTING PEACE. It appears that protesting war and more military action throughout the world does little good. It is time to promote peaceful coexistence! Let's focus on all the things that can be done with the billions of dollars and wasted manpower that are now going down the black hole of Iraq and elsewhere. We can have better schools, health care, fix our crumbling infrastructure, feed and house the poor, get our National Guard back home to focus on emergencies, stop our dependence on foreign oil by putting resources into developing alternative sources of energy, create viable employment, etc., etc.
Throughout the world, we are wasting resources and precious energy in perpetuating wars. War solves nothing, only creates future conflicts from tenuous ends. Our leaders "don't get it." We need to let them know that citizens at home and everywhere are suffering collateral damage while our treasury is being wasted. Man's survival ultimately depends upon goodwill toward others and that cannot be attained through military action. This worldwide insanity needs to end ... soon. We need to provide leadership in promoting peace not more war. Don't let Washington forget what you voted for in this last election.
In my opinion, as Democrats are inherently more enlightened than their counterparts, that very fact might lead one to wonder if we should turn the other cheek, and do onto Republicans as we WOULD HAVE them do unto us. As G.W. took office Republicans took an aggressive stance towards "anyone" who opposed their most conservative and unjust policies and opinions. They questioned dissenters' "patriotism." I believe that this in itself is characteristically unpatriotic of Republicans. It reminds one of the echoes of the communist witch hunt of the McCarthy Era in the 1950's. Republicans denied their opponents their Constitutional rights to challenge and debate their positions on the floor. When national unity was most desperately required, those in power denied Americans this right, by denying their representatives the ability to be politically effective.
As a result, I call for unity amongst Americans. Any politician who denied this government and essentially the American people of fair and representative governing should be DENIED those same rights in the 110th Congress! They should be denied the ability to speak on the floor, debate issues, fair scheduling and access to rules that would render them politically viable, as they had done to Democrats since G.W. took office. This is absolutely necessary and should continue until a public apology is issued, adequately addressing their shortcomings, mistakes, and unjust decisions. This should be our Bipartisan America calling. Speak out!
Americans and the world at least deserve this! To Republicans: In recognizing your mistakes and seeking atonement, not only can you begin to repair your scarred reputation, but you will set this country and hopefully the world on a path to healing. The first step is recognizing your mistakes.
Has it occurred to anyone, or am I alone in wondering what has happened to such established descriptive terms, as "working class" and/or "blue-collar workers", who still comprise a substantial segment of our society?
It seems that miraculously they have been elevated to the so called "middle class" which is absolutely absurd. In my opinion, it is done in an effort by the media to distance itself from displaying interest in the affairs of common people, in this elite-driven society of ours, so far removed from the principles of a real democracy -- i.e. rule of by and for the people.
Issues like low income, poverty, struggling people and families have been wiped off the table, by conveniently lumping them in with the "economically challenged" middle class, which might have problems having overextended themselves in their effort to acquire mansions and luxury cars.
Moreover, if the working poor among us have been elevated to such lofty status, they certainly don't need to be acknowledged, because they have made a real Houdini disappearing act. A sleight of hand unexcelled in the annals of indecency.
Red Bluff, Calif.
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