It’s Dinnertime, Sparrows!

To survive the economic catastrophe we must stand up and speak out against the Bush-Cheney “horse and sparrow economics” that the Republicans want to keep in place with their idea that the huge tax cuts for the richest people will fix the economy.

The Republicans cry that Obama’s stimulus plan will be a tax burden on our grandchildren. But where were both political groups when Bush-Cheney ran the national debt up from $5 trillion to $10 trillion?

They all went along with the free market deregulatory banking and speculative real estate bubble that gave the illusion of prosperity until it burst.

The Democrats went along like cowardly zombies when Dick Cheney was promoting invading Iraq based on the lies about weapons of mass destruction, and before it’s done Iraq will cost the US taxpayers trillions of dollars, if we include the lifetime disability to wounded and sick.

There was a total lack of common sense in Congress and the White House by selling China interest-gaining bonds to pay for the war, with now $2 trillion in debt to China.

John McCain didn’t have a clue how to get out of this economic mess. Lucky for us he was not elected, or someone like Rudy Giuliani.

Work-a-day Americans are mad as hell about how those bankers used that first economic stimulus bailout money to give themselves huge bonuses. Rudy Giuliani stood up for Wall Street bankers and almost cried and said, “Those multimillion-dollar bonuses they got trickle down to clerks to sales staff to waiters in swank restaurants and real estate agents selling mansions and gardeners and housekeepers and trash collections.”

That is horse and sparrow economics, whereby if you let greedy horses gorge on oats, some of that grain will pass through their systems and be deposited on the ground for the sparrows to peck at and enjoy.

Al Hamburg
Torrington, Wyo.

Don’t Eat Tortured Food

Russell Baker, the popular former New York Times columnist, was so right when he wrote that we’re not only what we eat, but also what we read. I only wish every person in America could read Margot Ford McMillen’s, “Confined Animals Sink the Farm” [3/15/09 TPP]!

If they could, we’d all be compassionate consumers by never again eating meat or eggs, or drinking milk from animals imprisoned and tortured in factory farms.

Instead, we would launch a grassroots movement to return farming and animal husbandry to the small farmers in America—not only because they love farming and take pride in their work, but also because they are the best custodians of the land.

And we would no longer entrust our land, our food, or our health to the greedy hands of corporations whose only concern is profit.

David Quintero
Temple City, Calif.

Still Dangerous

As Mark Engler seems to put it in his article “The End of the End of America” [3/1/09 TPP], since Obama won, it’s time to pull the wooden horse outside the city gate into the city and party. Naomi Wolf was wrong. We were never in any danger to lose our freedom [Engler seems to believe].

No, Naomi Wolf is right and Mark Engler is wrong. Just look at the facts. Obama won because the economy is bad and not for any other reason. The Military Commissions Act and everything else Naomi Wolf wrote in The End of America remain unknown to most people. Indeed, had not the economy tanked, Sarah Palin, a woman with strong ties to both the Alaskan Independence Party and the Aryan Nations, would now be just a heartbeat away from being president. Also, the power that Bush gave himself are passed on to the next president, and every president to follow. If that very fact is not a danger to our freedom, what is?

Engler said that what Bush has done is nothing new, and he cites the Cointelpro raids as an example. But never before has a president set forward a policy of which the aim is to destroy the Bill of Rights and our form of government as we know it. And Bush came by close to it.

Sadly, people like Mark Engler still don’t get it.

David Raisman
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Crimes Unpunished

Regarding Ted Rall’s “That’s It? If Bushies Escape Justice, What’s Left of the US?” column [2/15/09 TPP], last month a letter writer mentioned Vincent Bugliosi’s The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008). “... [T]he most serious crime ever committed in American history—the president of this nation, George W. Bush, knowingly and deliberately taking this country to war under false pretenses, a war that condemned over 100,000 human beings, including 4,000 American soldiers, to horrible, violent death. That, of course, is the most serious consequence of Bush’s monumentally criminal behavior.” State attorneys general may find this actionable and justice would be served.

On the other hand, President Abraham Lincoln had a policy of “Malice to none and charity to all.” Confederate Gen. Bedford Forrest massacred the mostly black garrison of Fort Pillow: 300 strong, after they had surrendered to him. This proved counter-productive because the black soldiers (whom Union Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler called his “Native Guard”) used “Remember Fort Pillow” ever since, and they were about 179,000 strong, according to the National Archives.

Forrest was pardoned after the Civil War and became a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan that he left when it seemed to violent for him. An editorial in the now defunct St. Louis Globe-Democrat once recommended naming a St. Louis public school after him.

Hindsight is 20-20. Bring charges for 9/11 against Osama bin Laden to the International Criminal Court in the Hague based on his video testimony; with an indictment from it, the Taliban would most likely turn him over and there would be no reason to invade Afghanistan. There never was a valid reason to invade Iraq. Radio talk show host Randi Rhodes calls that a “shell game: Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum and so forth.”

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk Jr.
St. Louis, Mo.

Crimes Still Illegal

In “Pardon the Miscreants,” 3/15/09 TPP, Joe Conason’s sentence, “But the president is understandably reluctant to be perceived as punishing the previous administration and exacerbating divisions-even for the loftiest purposes of democracy and justice,” is either an attempt at dark humor or a non sequitur. If Conason thinks Obama can “seek truth without vengeance” then there has to be a massive amendment to the Constitution of the US, which will enable us to violate at will the Torture Ban Treaty and all of the Nuremberg Tribunal laws. Given the speed with which the US has enacted the Equal Rights Amendment, we have a long wait ahead. The logical consequences of the Bush Junta getting off scot free is that we have to open all prison gates and let the torturers, murderers and rapists go free. Collectively their crimes pale to insignificance when compared with our crimes in undertaking illegal preemptive wars all over the world since 1945.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

Remember the Elderly

I was born in 1923 and remember the Depression very well. I remember sitting with my farm family and listening to the Fireside Chats. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a man to be honored and respected in our home. And he made mistakes, which he corrected and persevered and he kept the people’s confidence with his honesty.

There are so many problems, serious problems, and are we being informed? Obama quotes FDR and indicates his profound respect and honor but I’m beginning to see that he is no Roosevelt. How can our people survive if there are no jobs? That was the first thing Roosevelt did to stop the effects of unbridled greed that had been the modus operandi of the years that preceded the Great Depression. Does anyone see the similarities between then and now? When will the men in power address the big problem of the jobs here in America going global? What were they thinking? With no jobs here, how can taxes be paid? Shouldn’t that be a priority?

My little mutual fund has gone from stability for me to “in the tank.” I could access from it to pay insurance and taxes before but no more! I’m 85. Social Security is not enough to live on. Health care is too expensive. Taxes are punishing. How do old people cope?

Betty Smith Graham
Greenville, Ohio

Waking From Dream

I woke up this morning remembering my dream. I was at work as an economics instructor at Wichita State University (Kansas) in the 1960s and ’70’s. As a newly trained economist then and as a lowly instructor, I was given the task to teach Consumer Economics, and I loved it, my all-time favorite course. In due time, in the course, there was a section on the Stock Market. There was not the time to go into all the details, just the function of the stock market in the economy, a little history and a little investing philosophy. Which is: NEVER invest more in the market than you can afford to lose! Always remember the risks, and there are many.

When did the whole country go to sleep and believe the dream that the market would always rise and there was no risk? From the top to the bottom, it seems everyone bought in. Bush wanted to put Social Security in the market. Employers moved the risk of maintaining pensions to their employees/retirees in 401ks. And so on. Now that we are in a rapid contraction, it almost seems like we feel the record rise in the market is/was an entitlement. It had been bloated for years anyway, with greed and spending beyond our means. 

So let’s get real and let go of the illusions and build our way back to balance and diversification on more solid footing and not demand the impossible from our leaders. I get a little tired of all the second-guessing already of President Obama. He does not have the power to recreate for us all our “assumed” losses. We have to begin by making better decisions ourselves, too. The Stock Market is not the only place for savings/investments. Time to wake up!

(Yes, I have an IRA, like others, and it is down in value of course. I am shouldering that risk and trying not to whine. Also I am hoping a few of my students remembered what I told them so long ago.)

Linda (Graham) Gruer
Shelton, Wash.

Don’t Fear Socialism

The word “consumer” is now used almost exclusively by the media and those speaking for big business and/or the obscenely and in most cases criminally—although not so recognized by our corrupted and servile government—super wealthy. The use of “consumer” instead of the respectful word “patron” or “customer” to denote members of the middle classes is intended to subconsciously convince the average person that his or her sole function is, by spending one’s meager income, to enable the wealthy to become even wealthier. “Consumer” brings to my mind a picture of pigs feeding at the trough. The masses now apparently accept the word; but I find it denigrating and insulting. Ironically, it is the “Robber Barons,” as they were correctly called in the early 1900s, who are feeding at the trough, slurping down the national wealth produced by the workers.

FDR was a great president, but what he accomplished after 1929 was exactly what he intended; that is, he “saved capitalism.” He was a member of the elite but realized he had to do what he did to prevent either the rise of socialism or the decline of the USA. Although I voted for Obama both because I thought it was about time that someone at least half “black” filled the office of president, and because I feared the results if “McBush” got in, I will be much more satisfied the further Obama moves to the left. Socialism is not communism (as we know it). European countries are socialist (in varying degrees) but most, even in the Balkans, are at least as much a democracy as we are.

Phil Sullivan
Woodstock, N.Y.

Seize Non-Profits

Is there any research organization willing to uncover the amounts of capital stashed in foundations, trusts and other non-profits?

Tax-exempt enterprises’ privileged status is overlooked in the rigors of a nation under threat of takeover by global lenders. Resources enough to cover payoff of our national debt probably rest therein.

Impounding resources of tax-exempts, leaving their earnings to continue their operations, could not kill the gooseying mechanisms of golden egg producers.

To unnecessarily enslave dwindling numbers of tax-generating Americans axes the neck of the real golden goose.

Freeing hidden wealth set aside in times of largesse seems the better expedient for this financial crisis.

Emily B. Hughes
Nashville, Tenn.

Letter to Obama

Having served during three wars, 1942-1973, I feel remiss in not offering concern on the wars in which we are engaged. Although you are responsible and have info I don’t have, I offer the following:

I am against any further excursion into Afghanistan. The Russians, even with short supply lines, after nine years left with their tails between their legs. Also, I see no reason for staying in Iraq.

The Christian world does not understand (not that I do) the Muslim world and their constant battles between different sects of their faith. We are considered Infidels, worthy only of bloody destruction.

Let them solve their problems. I don’t have the answer, if anyone has. I am tired of seeing us waste our youth where they not wanted. Also, the financial drain on our faltering economy. Because Democracy is good for us doesn’t mean it is for other nations.

I certainly pray this never ending war will not be your Waterloo. People are getting tired of war, even just ones, much less fighting in an area for an idea the warring nations do not want to even consider, “PEACE”.

For what it is worth!

Col. Colin J. N. Chauret, USAF Retired
Universal City, Texas

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2009

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