When We Got Scared

Your 3/1/10 cover article, “Scared Witless” asks a very good question: “When did we become such a nation of scaredy cats?”

One doesn’t have to look too far into our past — if you consider 150 years not too far. Slaves were freed. Then more people from Eastern Europe and foreign-speaking people came. The -isms began: Communism, Socialism, Nazism, Americanisms, Nationalism. We often couldn’t exactly define them, we just knew some were really bad or really good. And rather than trying to educate the electorate, some politicians used peoples’ fears as a way to get elected. And since some things were hard to explain, they became even more scary — and less explained. And it worked as a tool for some politicians to get elected.

That’s why we have so much fear of so many things. And the people’s power grows less as the politicians’ grows more. And that’s what they want. So they do it more! As long as people buy it, they’ll sell it.

Republicans don’t change the product, they just change the sales pitch. If they really wanted the country to prosper, they’d have more regulation of business practices that were unfair to customers, higher wages so people could buy things, affordable housing, more voting that’s less restrictive, “no cost” political speech on TV and radio, more productive political debate.

They win by preaching that “only they can save us from whatever they’ve convinced us is very scary.” And then, when they get in, they’re scary. If you disagree with them, you’re — of course — wrong. If you agree with them, you’re responsible when things go — of course — wrong because of their approach to everything. You can’t win, in other words, while they stay in power. And that’s all it’s about.

So when did all this begin? About 150 years ago, at least. Isn’t it time we all got smarter than this?

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Gun Restrictions Preceded Decline

I mostly agree with Richard L. Morgan (“No apologies for Obama,” 3/15/10 TPP). However, I am left wondering: How does Mr. Morgan conclude that restoring gun freedoms, which were commonplace back when America truly was a constitutional republic, will now cause it to implode?

It would seem more accurate to conclude that the last century of increasingly restrictive and ineffective gun laws coincides with the decline of our constitutional republic.

Richard J. Beukema
Wayland, Mich.

‘Pro Life’ Goes Too Far

The Utah State Legislators has ended their 2010 session with a crowning victory for the most extreme faction of the anti abortionists. Whatever your position is on abortion, I think all sensible people can agree that Utah’s pro-life faction has gone too far. Women who suffer a miscarriage in Utah can now be investigated (with intent to convict and incarcerate) for murder. You read that right; miscarriage equals murder in Utah.

In Utah any woman who has a miscarriage will immediately become a murder suspect and subject to a police investigation. Based on one incident of a 17-year-old girl who paid a friend to hit her belly in an attempt to terminate a pregnancy every woman who miscarries will be suspected of willful attempts to terminate hers.

Placed in the hands of unscrupulous prosecutors is a law that can destroy families and personal fortunes all for the sake of pleasing a few zealots and fanatics. “Willful attempts” can be described anyway a prosecutor wishes to define them; not seeing a doctor while pregnant (maybe you can’t afford a doctor visit), staying with an abusive partner (fear keeps many in such relationships), not eating a healthy diet (can’t afford that, too bad you baby killer). It takes zero imagination to see the unintended consequences of this odious bill.

I urge all readers with a sense of justice, compassion and common decency to contact Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and this bill’s creator, Rep. Carl Wimmer and let them know what a bad idea this is.

Paul Ames
Eureka, Utah

Nuclear Options

Amen to Ralph Nader’s “No Nukes” in the Public Interest column and Amy Goodman’s “Nuclear Option” column (3/15/10 TPP). The streets of the plant near downtown St. Louis where the uranium was processed for the first three atomic bombs (Los Alamos, Hiroshima and Nagasaki) are washed down weekly because their dust is still radioactive. Nevada wants no spent uranium stored at Yucca Mountain (aptly named).

During the Great Depression the federal government built Bagnell Dam hydroelectric power plant that created the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and similar ones throughout our nation. Missouri has a Taum Sauk Reservoir that pumps water from a lower reservoir to an upper one when electrical demand is low and that water converts the pump to electrical generators when the demand is high. Taum Sauk may be repeated at Church Mountain in Missouri and elsewhere in the USA so that solar and wind power may be networked into the electrical grid and stored. The planned hydroelectric power plant on the Meremac River should be built as well.

Joseph J. Kucieczyk
St Louis Mo.

Military Rules

Secretary of State Clinton said she fears Iran is heading toward a military dictatorship. But while she looks at the tiny military grain of sand that is Iran she fails to see the mountain of military spending and control over the USA.

After World War Two the US had three times the military weapons and supply piled up than was used up in the war. What was not sold for a penny on the dollar’s worth to arms dealers and surplus dealers was given to foreign countries and dumped in the ocean or scrapped for junk.

While civilian goods were rationed and people urged to buy war bonds that inflation would eat up the interest when the bonds were ripe, soldiers’ pay was $30 a month and it took an act of Congress to pay front-line soldiers an extra $10 a month, the military industry grew fat and they have ever since kept control of Congress and military spending.

The new enemy was the Communists for the next 45 years with the Korean War and Vietnam and the Cold War stockpiling nuclear and chemical weapons in a stupid arms race while brainwashing the public to be zombies afraid to speak out.

And now its a religious crusade of Christians against Islam with $12 billion wasted each month in Iraq alone on a war that was promoted by Dick Cheney and his gang with lies.

Now the USA is so deep in debt that Communist China is our largest creditor.

President Obama has named former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) to his Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to come up with federal deficit reduction. And while Simpson alone can be trusted not to play some hypocrisy con game, this group of former political people will never consider cutting military spending and every year military spending goes up. The only spending cuts will be in basic domestic needs.

That slogan “Support The Troops” is a lot of crap to support military spending. I had seven older brothers in World War Two and I was in Korea in 1952 and Vietnam in 1967. We cannot afford as a nation to accept limitless costs for militarization and war at the expense of the needs of our children and their future.

Al Hamburg
Torrington, Wyo.

Corporate Whores

My very recent observation is that Democrats are elected to do the dirty work that Republicans can’t. It was Clinton who pushed through NAFTA, repealed Glass-Steagall, signed welfare reform legislation ending safety nets for the poor, expanded corporate welfare, and enacted many more Republican initiatives. Progressives fall behind the Democratic leaders, but they will at least pretend to fight Republicans. Bush tried to privatize Social Security and failed. Now we have Obama to make it happen, but privatizing Medicare will take precedence and this health care bill will make that happen. Thank you!

The New Deal Democrats are all dead. All we’re left with today are the New Democrats; aka “corporate whores”.

Frances Tegnazian
Orlando, Fla.

Single Payer Errors

I have been a citizen lobbyist for a National Single Payer Universal Health Insurance system over the last 30 years, ever since I observed how well my Canadian mother, as well as many relatives and friends, were served by their system, and I am pretty knowledgeable about this subject. Also, I have been a supporter of Public Citizen, a strong supporter of HR 676, a Single Payer system, for over 30 years.

In your editorial, you have stated that HR 676 would be a Socialist system. Not so! We already do have a socialist system that is the best-run health care system in our nation: the Veterans Administration. It is not only funded by the government, but the hospitals are owned by the government, and the doctors and other health care staff are employed by the government. England has a socialist system, with the government employing doctors and staff, and owning the hospitals. Most of the other developed nations, including Canada, have systems with the government as the insurer, but the hospitals and staff are private. HR 676 would be such a system, where Medicare would be the insurance administrator, processing all billing (administrative costs for Medicare are under 4% as compared to closer to 30% through private insurers), but all doctors and staff, and hospitals would be either private or municipally owned, as they are now.

You also stated that private insurers would be put out of business if HR 676 legislation was enacted — also not true. In Canada, although the private companies complained that they would go out of business if a Single Payer system were established, they are still surviving profitably, insuring luxuries, such as private and semi-private hospital rooms, travel insurance, and the more frivolous kinds of cosmetic surgery.

Unfortunately, most of our members of Congress are “bought” by the private health-related industries, through over-generous campaign contributions. They serve their pay-masters, not us — especially since the Supremes opened the flood-gates of corporate campaign largesse!

Our only hope of getting any progressive legislation that would serve all of us “little” people, would be if we can have true Campaign Finance Reform, as is now practiced for intrastate elections, in six states. Its genesis was in New Hampshire, developed by ex-Congressman John L. Rauh, for all state legislative seats as well as the gubernatorial position, and was since adopted by Maine, Connecticut, Arizona, New Mexico and North Carolina. The citizens of those states are so happy with their system that, when they were polled, 83% wanted to keep their system. To learn more about this system, look up their website, www.YouStreet.org. Ex-presidential candidate Bill Bradley, ex-Republican Sens. Alan Simpson and Warren Rudman, and even political satirist Stephen Colbert are joining forces to try to co-opt this system for the rest of the nation. It would give qualifying candidates a choice to use ‘clean public money’ to finance their campaigns, so that they would have no quid pro quo obligations, as they do now, in return for the fat corporate contributions.

Robin E. Nadeau
St. Augustine, Fla.

Wallace’s Missed Opportunity

Having lived through the complete Depression and FDR’s administrations I found Nate Pedersen’s article (“Bad Timing Crushed Progressive Wallace,” 3/15/10 TPP) interesting and accurate as regards Henry Wallace. FDR actually gave William Douglas’ name to the committee as his preferred running mate in his last term, but was forced to take Truman, as Nate says. This was a tragic error as to its effect on our history as Truman was a military man and of the 17 ambassadors he appointed 16 were military people. There would never have been a Cold or Korean War since Douglas was respected and trusted by Stalin. Truman hated Stalin. If Douglas was in power Stalin would have been advised of the Atomic Bomb and assuredly advised of our intentions to drop it on Japan although it’s more likely Douglas would have used it on a strictly military target.

Did you know that within one week of dropping the Bomb every newspaper of importance had drawings on their front pages showing how much of Moscow we could destroy if we dropped the bomb on it? Remember we were still allies. The Russian people were stunned by this unconscionable act and were reported crying as they asked Americans over there how we could do such a terrible thing to them. We thought you were our friends they kept repeating. This very act destroyed any possibility of we being friends and laid the grounds for the Cold War. Remember they had lost 21 million people in the War. Even Stimson, Secretary of War, wrote a letter (a copy of which I believe I still have) asking Truman to share the knowledge of making the Bomb with Russia, obviously feeling they would eventually find it out anyway and doing so would solidify our friendship and lead to our cooperating peacefully.

Truman’s election to the presidency was a tragedy we’re still suffering from.

Alton Eliason
Northford, Conn.

Who’s In Control

David Sirota is right on when he says (“Rogues Gone Wild,” 3/15/10 TPP) that our president is not in control but is being controlled. Old Harry Truman stared down a much more powerful and popular general than McChrystal and came out on top. Much has changed since then. We think of Reagan and Bush as strong executives, but then they were giving the Pentagon a free rein. When Obama wanted to close Guantanamo he found out who was in charge. I was not aware of the DEA insubordination but it is just another example. The Republicans say he will be a one term president and just maybe the CIA said he might not finish one term. Remember JFK?

Carroll Johnson
Douglassville, TX

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2010


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