Reactionary Revolution

If that sounds like an oxymoron, it’s because it is. After reading Hal Crowther’s excellent essay (“Rabies on the Right,” 6/1/10 TPP) I returned to my copy of Paul Krugman’s 2004 book, The Great Unraveling, and felt compelled to share his prescient warning with readers of TPP. In his introduction, written in the depths of the Bush II regime, he outlines a conspiracy to drag the country back to the Middle Ages by dismantling the federal government and reducing its function to protecting and enhancing the privileged few, defending them against all potential threats from within and without the county, at the expense of the unprivileged majority. This “revolution” has been promoted as a Populist, Libertarian movement, portraying “Big Government” as the enemy of the People. The following is my distillation of Krugman’s introduction.

In fact, there is ample evidence that the coalition that runs the country now [2004] believe that some long-established American political and social institutions should not, in principle, exist – and do not accept the rules that the rest of us take for granted.

He then goes on to list the targets of this “revolution”: Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, etc. Leaders of the coalition believe that the New Deal and Great Society programs must be eliminated. They also want the rule of Military Force to define our Foreign Policy, unilaterally, and most oppose the separation of Church and State.

They may have lost the White House recently, but they remain a militant minority, determined to do whatever is necessary to get their way. Drug Reform “Town Halls,” “Tea Parties,” and countrywide speaking tours by Sarah Palin, Dick Armey and others reflect their success in galvanizing fear, ignorance and distrust of the Federal Government. The jury is still out on whether they will succeed in co-opting the Republican Party and shoving “moderates” out of the way, but they are here to stay, and the insipid, ineffective opposition of “Liberal” twits offers little hope that they will fail in their determination to use our democracy to effectively destroy itself.

Krugman quotes extensively from the doctoral dissertation of the young Henry Kissinger (of all people!) at Harvard in 1957, A World Revisited. It covers the reconstruction of Europe after Waterloo, and the failure of the diplomatic establishment to recognize and overcome the revolutionary power of the France of Robespierre and Napoleon, drawing parallels to the failure of Europe to deal effectively with the rise of totalitarian Fascism in the 1930’s.

Krugman then quotes Kissinger in order to clarify the utter failure of the US Liberal establishment with the Right-Wing “Revolution” (they are actually, of course, not “revolutionaries” but Radical Reactionaries) now in full attack mode:

“Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent, they found (find) it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that means to smash the existing framework. The defenders of the status quo therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protest actions were merely tactical; as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes; as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions. Those who warn(ed) against the dangers are (were) considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstances are considered balanced and sane. ... But it is the essence of a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing to push its conclusions to their utmost conclusion.” [my emphasis]

Krugman then cites the 2001 tax cut and the 2003 Iraq War as prime examples: “...a long standing goal of the radical right is an end to all taxes on capital [and estates], moving to a system in which only wages [and, and, perhaps, consumption] are [minimally] taxed – a system. If you like, in which earned income is taxed, and unearned income is not.”

He then offers some rules for reporters and citizens:

1) “Don’t assume that policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals.” “Revolutionary movements which aren’t concerned about the rules of the game, have no compunction about misrepresenting their goals.”

2) “Do some homework to discover the real goals.” They aren’t really that subtle. If you pay attention to what they are saying or writing before the official press released of TV appearances, you’ll have no trouble learning their real agenda.”

3) “Don’t assume that the usual rules of politics apply.” “Because a revolutionary power does not regard the existing system as legitimate, it doesn’t feel obligated to play by the rules.”

4) “Expect a revolutionary power to respond to criticism by attacking.”

5) “Don’t think there’s a limit to a revolutionary power’s objectives.” Quoting Kissinger again: “It is the essence of a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.”

Krugman then asks: “What can we do?” His answer: “I have a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a movement in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country. How and when this moment will come, I don’t know. But one thing is clear; it cannot happen unless we all make an effort to see and report the truth about what is happening.”

My own question for Krugman and for anyone reading this is: “How bad does it have to get?”

Shorey Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.

Reagan on a $3 Bill

Donald Kaul has won at Pin the Tail On the Donkey with his rebuttal of the suggestions to replace the portrait of U.S. Grant on the $50 Federal Reserve note with one of Ronald Reagan (“Keep Grant on the $50 Bill,” 5/15/10 TPP). Phony as a $3 bill would better fit Ronald Reagan. If the Fed were to issue a funny-money $3 bill, as illegal tender, the Reagan portrait would fit.

My personal recollection of Ronald Reagan sometimes described as a “great communicator,” was that every time I saw and heard him speak, I thought his message was a mendacious prevarication, whether describing Contra terrorists in Nicaragua as “freedom fighters” or a costly boondoggle like unproven “missile defense.” It was during his administration that we lost the fairness doctrine and also lost the financial regulation that led to the S&L failures and bailout, and don’t forget Iran-Contra. Were these grievous errors faulty judgment or perhaps listening to the prognostications of the wrong astrologer? Ronald Reagan might have been a contender for worst US President, but another Republican imitator came along and beat him him out of contention hands down. And unfortunately we all suffer the consequences.

Arthur House
Franklin, W.V.

Fascist Corporatists

Regarding “Fascism Makes a Comeback” (by Joseph B. Atkins, 5/1/10 TPP), we would be wise to remember that Mussolini said fascism should really be called corporatism because it is the merger of the corporations and the state, which is what the right wingers and Fox “News” pundits really want — their beliefs have nothing to do with saving America for Americans. As it is, our federal government would rather allow Massey Energy to continue to operate despite numerous safety violations, as well as protect it from protesters, than protect mine workers. It would rather give BP a free pass on its environmental compliance, and likely its clean up efforts in the long run, than protect guys on the platforms or preserve the environment for itself and for those who need it clean enough to make a living. We live in a largely corporatist/fascist state already, regardless of who is in the White House or controls Congress. Most people just don’t realize it — yet.

Alex Clayton
Westminster, Colo.

Tell the Whole Truth

I thought I would never see it: “Truth Has Fallen, Taken Liberty With It” by Paul Craig Roberts (5/15/10 TPP). Fantastic. The gatekeepers of the left have defied their corporate handlers and allowed an article in their precious corporate grant funded rag to see the light of day — an article which questions the role of the Government in the 9/11 official story. We need more of the same now before we completely lose our country! I love your paper, but don’t you see, ignoring the truth on 9/11 just makes everything else you write a lie. I know everyone needs a job. You need to feed your kids, but we are in desperate straits right now; we need to make sacrifices, all of us if we are to overcome the criminals who have overtaken our country. Please more of the same!

Kathy Sullivan
Albuquerque, N.M.

Editor Replies: Corporate grant funded? Are you kidding? What corporate plutocrat worth his country-club membership would give us a grant? In theory, we sell ads, but you can see how successful we are at that. In fact, we’re funded almost entirely by individual subscribers.

Keep Tax Returns Private

So Dave Zweifel wants me to show my tax return to my neighbor, my banker, my relatives, my Facebook friends and everyone else (“Let People See Tax Returns,” 5/1/10 TPP). But at least I can also see theirs. Is he serious? What is “progressive” about allowing anyone to see anyone else’s tax return ? Did he really think this through? I thought we — that is, most of us — believed in some right to privacy, especially from predatory private-sector snoops. But it’s not just a matter of principle; tactically, Zweifel’s proposal is a disaster. Can you just hear Sarah Palin and the tea-partiers stoking up this one: “Big government liberals now want you to put your tax return on the internet!” And Corporate America, who we’re supposed to be fighting, would seize on this plethora of information to bombard us with more unsolicited ads. The last thing we need is even more personal private information in the hands of big businesses. And then there’s the implications for civil lawsuits, for non-litigious disputes, for everyday interaction. The unintended consequences are endless.

Next time Zweifel gets an loopy thought like this one from his Madison ivory tower, I advise him to talk to TPP columnists like Margot Ford McMillen and Jim Hightower who are a little more plugged in to the real world. And hope that Hightower doesn’t give him a Goober Award for such a ludicrous idea.

Bill Cooke
Lexington, Ky.

Burning Cigarettes

Jake Whitney (“The Science of Fraud,” 6/1/10 TPP) used the Tobacco Industry’s evasions as an analogy for the denials of climate change skeptics. Their denials of the obvious continue to this day in relation to the current issue of the “fire safe cigarette.” While activists campaigned for a “self-extinguishing cigarette” (one which would not continue to smolder when not being puffed on, thus avoiding smoking-induced house fires) the tobacco industry, with a straight face, maintained that the technology to do this had not been developed. This in the face of a history of the deliberate addition since the inception of cigarettes of chemicals to induce their continuous smoldering, in previous days nitrates, the ingredients of gun powder and fireworks. Today, due to the toxicity of the latter, other ignition inducers are reportedly used, but their identity is a trade secret (in addition to several hundred other additives).

Legislation is finally forcing the adoption in most jurisdictions of a cigarette caused to extinguish by intermittent bands of paper glued to it. The extinguishing capacity of this design is not 100%, but we are prevented from obtaining a 100% safe cigarette by the bare-face lies from industry to the gullible public. Cigar and pipe tobacco contain no ignition inducers and extinguish immediately when not puffed. About 50% of house fires are caused by cigarettes in the USA with approximately 500 resulting deaths a year.

Dimitri L. Contostavlos, M.D.
West Chester, Pa.

Brilliant Deniers

Your paper has some brilliant writers and thinkers. When it comes to recent health care reform it also has some brilliant deniers. How in heaven’s name is giving almost total power to the private health care industry going to get us to Single Payer? Social Security and Medicare did not start as private entities that were expanded upon. They were stand-alone government programs that were expanded on. How is giving away the store lock, stock and barrel to the very private insurance companies that are the cause of our health care problems going to solve our problems?

Denise D’Anne
San Francisco, Calif.

Corporate Incarceration

The US Supreme Court has decided that corporations are entitled to the same rights as individuals. Pursuant to this principle corporations should be entitled to the same punishments as individuals for wrongdoing. If a corporation is found to be responsible for a wrongful death (manslaughter) the punishment should be the same as that for an individual. The punishment for an individual found guilty of manslaughter is imprisonment for a period of time, not a fine. Imprisonment means taking control of that individual’s body and all of his or her activities. In the same way a corporation found guilty of manslaughter should be taken over by a federal or state agency as is done in cases of tax delinquencies by small businesses. Earning of the corporation should be controlled by the agency as well as remuneration for executives. At the end of the term of incarceration the corporation should be returned to its stockholders.

Decisions have consequences, downsides as well as upsides.

Arthur Robbins
San Diego, Calif.

The Beat Goes On

Welcome to the new health care reform (tweaking) while the people of the United States are waiting for 2014 to appear. Meanwhile, the health-care cartels’ foot-soldiers and their capos are out gearing up to control the exchanges and make sure that the flow of money will not be interrupted by anyone or in any way by state or local politicians. Did you know that 28 states so far are refusing to implement state exchanges or parts of the health reform law? Also, let it be known that the health-care cartels’ foot-soldiers and capos are running and influencing the exchanges. So between the suits and the opposition to parts of the health reform bill, more people will die and their homes will be foreclosed and the beat goes on.

S. Einhorn
Tampa, Fla.

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2010


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