Unwring Your Hands

I have read numerous times recently that Progressives and Democrats are good at wringing their hands and losing elections. Certainly I have found myself doing a lot of both lately—wringing my hands and anxiously consuming large quantities of reporting on the Sarah Palin factor. Then this weekend I began to compose my fears and write this debate with myself, and I am going to use it to counter the victory chants from the other side from now on!

Why Must We Win — and win everywhere, every seat, without compromise?

We must win because: (1) Our basic democracy is in danger; (2) Our constitution has been dismembered; (3) The rights for which we have fought for decades are about to be reversed—fallaciously—in the name of Jesus Christ: worker’s rights; civil rights; children’s, women’s, veterans’, immigrants’, and voters’ rights.

And the opportunity to continue to discuss these issues until we get it right as a humane, empathetic, nurturing, inclusive, intelligent, scientific, creative, inventive, concerned and hopeful citizenry of vision, activism, community organizing and community service may be about to disappear not just for another four years—but for forever.

We have allowed the forces of regression to take over our politics—not saying those politics have ever been as progressive as we would want them to be. But wringing our hands will not change that.

Working the phones, database, volunteer drives at the Coordinated Campaign Headquarters; [reserving your latte and wine/beer budget for your local and federal candidates’ campaigns for the next 50 days will change that;] writing the next letter to the editor—and sending it to your home town newspaper as well as to your regional daily newspaper, keeping our media on notice that we are mighty and we are not going to let any of their negativity weaken us will change that; dialing the talk show host and expressing what we think as citizens, registering new voters, sporting candidate shirts, bumper stickers and yard signs, emailing our family and friends about OUR viewpoints as if they are valid—NO APOLOGIES NEEDED!—will change that; ceasing and desisting in the divisive and critical conversations we have everyday about what our candidates should or should not have done, finding one group that feels disenfranchised and empowering them to vote will change that: displaced refugees from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, minorities and youth, the elderly and poor, the independently anti-political, women, young and old, who fear that their vote for a Democrat is a ticket to hell – in no uncertain terms.

The risks if we don’t today—in this moment—dedicate ourselves to this cause and ACT in every way available to us is the loss of all that is possible in our Democracy. We have NOT pushed the envelope on these possibilities. We have that window of opportunity NOW—we can’t lose it.

My motivation is simple: my country, the realization of a true democracy and my nine — about to be 11— grandchildren.

I know that yours is equally valid. So keep me from wringing my hands and I will keep yours busy as well.

Stephanie Dillon Hamm
Austin, Texas

Great Men?

Since 1999, I have read every issue of TPP. With the exception of Rob Patterson’s articles on how much he loves HBO shows, I’ve read them all closely, and from cover to cover.

It is because of the things I’ve learned from your paper that I got a very creepy feeling from “The Republican Case for Obama” (10/1/08 TPP). Ostensibly, the article’s author, Jim Leach, is condemning the current monstrous regime, but the bulk of his piece is “Let us now kneel and worship our GREAT MEN.”

Leach praises George Herbert Walker Bush for liberating Kuwait. But, all careful readers of TPP know that Saddam was set up — he was invited to invade Kuwait by US Ambassador April Glaspie (who gave him Bush’s promise that the US would not interfere.) Once Saddam was in, Bush and Hill & Knowlton created the “Babies tossed from incubators” lie to convince the American people to support the slaughter of retreating Iraqi soldiers (and many thousands of civilians). George H.W. Bush struts around Masters golf tournaments, but he ought to be in a dungeon under a prison!

Leach cheers Kennedy and “Camelot.” From TPP I learned that we actually started the Cuban missile crisis by putting missiles in Turkey, and that it was Kennedy, not Khrushchev, who blinked.

Lyndon Johnson, who lied and lied, and bombed the hell out of Vietnam, gets Leach’s praise for his civil rights work, and Ronald Reagan is applauded for “emphasis on individual initiative.”

Criticizing “OUR TROOPS” is taboo I know, but I must say that Mr. Leach, after damning our attack on a country which did not attack us, proceeds to laud the soldiers who have carried out that attack as “the heroes they are.”

Larry Surber
Stoneville, N.C.

A/C Ruined South

I really appreciated Edward McClelland’s article on the relationship of air conditioning and politics [“Does A/C make people vote Republican?”, 9/15/08 TPP]. I blame air conditioning for the transformation of my laidback Southern home town, Atlanta, into a Yankee metropolis, from which I thankfully escaped 1412 years ago.

I now live in the northeast Georgia mountains where I’m among a handful of Democrats. I identify myself as a liberal, with bumper stickers proclaiming my support of Obama and two Georgia Democratic candidates running for Congress, as well as “Support the troops; bring them home,” and “The last time we mixed politics and religion, people got burned at the stake.” So far, no rightwingers have responded (they probably consider me a harmless lunatic) but several liberals have. We rejoice that Georgia, for the first time in years, is considered a swing state in the incoming presidential election.

In regard to air conditioning, I seldom use it, unlike my (mostly) Republican neighbors. During the summer the A/C unit for the apartment building where I live hums almost constantly, as do my two electric fans when I’m home. Of course, they run on electricity but require a lot less than A/C would.

Emily B. Calhoun
Cornelia, Ga.

Cut Palin Some Slack

An entire newspaper awash with articles negatively discussing Sarah Palin, Republican Party’s nominee for the Nov. 4 election! [10/1/08 TPP.] Nothing positive, nothing balanced.

Especially noteworthy was the part about her infidelity to her husband with his business associate. No proof offered of any kind; Palin denounced it as a total lie, and it appears it might just be a total lie. However, TPP printed it. That makes you an accessory to the National Enquirer, that slander rag known everywhere as the bottom-feeder of yellow journalism.

I’ve been a faithful subscriber and supporter for a while now, and it never occurred to me you would stoop so low. It makes me think Sarah Palin scares you, and that you are afraid of having a woman in such an executive position. Better to destroy her. Ask such questions as to whether she can have children and also an executive position (don’t ask Obama or Biden that)—talk about her daughter Bristol’s pregnancy—write “Don’t They Have Birth Control In Alaska?”—this is important to discuss before discussing the nation’s problems.

Just for the record, I used to be a Democrat. I used to trust the media. I used to think The Progressive Populist was a people’s newspaper.

Dr. A.Z. Reed
Johnson City, Tenn.

Stay Out of Bedrooms

I was shocked by Rob Patterson’s self-righteous denunciation of John Edwards (“he is also reckless, arrogant, hypocritical and two-faced, in addition to being dishonest,” 9/15/08 TPP).

Jeez, Rob, don’t you think you should save some of that vitriol for real evildoers? Like, maybe, the people who tell lies in order to stuff the coffers of war profiteers and murder innocent civilians?

We can’t know what goes on inside other folks’ marriages. That’s none of our business. Let’s concentrate on bringing the real bad guys down.

Brian Fox
Oneonta, N.Y.

Palin Mocks Organizers

Sarah Palin ridiculed Barack Obama’s work as a community organizer, and the Democratic party for being “elite.”

As a social worker, I would like to see her practice her evangelical religious fervor and spend a year community organizing in any tough neighborhood, rural or urban. I have worked in both. Her bravado would last about 30 seconds in America’s real world.

Hockey games and shooting moose from helicopters pale in comparison to working at any detention facility in the USA.

And yes, people who earn less than $500,000 a year (average income of Republican delegates at the convention) have daughters who get pregnant, and even poor women have babies born with handicaps. But those people have to worry making a living, and paying for healthcare.

They don’t have the safety nets that Palin’s version of the middle class has. And they don’t have admiring groupies cheering them on as they display family dysfunction before an international audience.

Rather than ridiculing or belittling, Palin and her Hummer-driving, polo-playing, bourbon-drinking, Gucci-wearing Republican pals need to come out of their gated communities and get a dose of reality in America’s real world.

Carol J. Moessinger, LSW
Crafton, Pa.

I’ll Keep My Guns

Re: Letter from David Quintero (“Try Non-Violence,” 9/15/08 TPP): I have respect for Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi. I also see the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan as “ordinary people armed with rifles and handguns,” defending themselves against “trained soldiers with tanks, helicopters and other technological paraphernalia designed for killing.”

Passive resistance against Rove, DeLay, Cheney, Bush et al.? I think that is what they hope for, so they can laugh at it.

There are places for guns and they should not all be in the hands of power.

If a leader appears who can command massive passive resistance, I will follow.

In the meantime, I will stay armed in case Wal-Mart and Mobil decide they know what I should be thinking.

Penny Geoghan
Owls Head N.Y.

Bush’s Impeachment Status

Robert Borosage’s 8/1/08 TPP article is correct that if Congress does nothing regarding Bush’s abuse of power they acquiesce to it.

On July 14, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) introduced HR 1345 stating that George W. Bush has violated “his Constitutional duty,” and “has committed abuses of power.” It urges “that he be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Speaker Pelosi urged the Judiciary Committee to consider the resolution, and it was referred to the committee 218-183. Hearing was held on July 25.

I don’t think that Bush will actually be impeached. There are only about 130 days left in the administration, and Congress does not move that fast. We still need a public declaration that Bush-Cheney-Rove-Rumsfeld’s conduct in office was unacceptable.

This is more than just public condemnation. It’s called “precedent.” If Congress does not condemn this administration’s abuse of power, it acquiesces to it. By doing nothing, Congress would agree that future administrations can act the same way.

If Congress does not take action, the International Court of Justice may have jurisdiction over Bush’s violations of the Geneva Convention. Bush can only pardon himself and the others from prosecution under American law.

What would be the international impact of the World Court trying former United States officials for “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity” or “crimes against peace”? An American president, vice-president and secretary of defense would stand trial, like Slobodan Milosevic, because Congress failed to take action.

Kucinich has over 2 million supporters for his impeachment petition. He’s also trying to persuade other members of Congress to co-sponsor the Bill. I urge you to sign onto Kucinich’s home page (kucinich.us) and to please ask your congressman to help move the impeachment resolution through the system.

Roger L. Thomas
Ambridge, Pa.

Rights are Inconvenient

I saw democracy crushed under a bootheel at the Republican National Convention. And I helped.

On Thursday, the final day, the last couple hundred of us who give a crap about the Constitution assembled on the Capitol grounds [in St. Paul, Minn.]. Police moved in and declared our peaceable assembly “unlawful.” In other words, any contingent of peace officers in riot gear can suspend the Constitution without the formality of martial law. I doubt it. But what do I know? I’m just a lousy citizen with an imperfect understanding of my rights under the First and 14th Amendments from having read them.

Our demonstration dispersed, nevertheless. Without marching orders, spontaneously, we unacquainted individuals headed for the routes downtown to the hockey arena (I decline to use the corporate name) and the free speech zone(?)(!).

Minnesota’s beautiful Cass Gilbert Capitol commands a hill across I-94 from downtown St. Paul. Police sealed off the causeways downtown at Robert Street and John Ireland Boulevard.

There ensued an hours-long standoff with stolid riot cops facing down the angry, chanting people. Now and then the civilian side would undulate like a school of fish in a tide. A sortie of cops had seized a solitary protester, barracuda picking off a clownfish.

The police presence waxed, reinforced by numbers and snowplows and thrumming helicopters. The protest waned. But it wasn’t arrests that thinned our numbers. It was freedom. It gradually dawned on each of us we faced a choice, to force our own arrest or shuffle on home to a familiar bed. By twos and threes as daylight failed we chose the comfortable bed.

Given freedom, what need do rights serve? Frankly, they’re inconvenient. They make a citizen confrontational, and abrasive, and faintly ridiculous. Rights demand effort from citizens, and that’s just unAmerican.

So don’t go calling me a Good German. USA! USA! USA!

Sic semper pajamas.

M. Warner
Minneapolis, Minn.

Mission Accomplished

An excellent article about the auto industry death in Wisconsin (“From Promised Land to Graveyard,” by Roger Bybee, 9/1/08 TPP). Kenosha has also become a “bedroom community” for Northeastern Illinois. Given the folks from Illinois have “upscale jobs” and demand quality, Kenosha is doing “okay.”

Can it be said Conservative ideology is nothing more than “white-collar terrorism”! Hmm! Destroy the faith in the American Government; sabotage the working therein—Osama would be proud.

Robert Kantola
New Berlin, Wis.

The Lord’s Pipeline

In June 2007 Ms. Sarah Palin was in her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, promoting a gas pipeline. She said, “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.

Mercy me, I didn’t know the Good Lord was in the pipeline business.

Wow! I have been enlightened by the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Dan Sweeton
Lebanon, Tenn.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2008

Home Page

Subscribe to The Progressive Populist

Copyright © 2008 The Progressive Populist.