To Shorey Chapman [How Bad Does It Have to Get?, Letters, 12/1/10 TPP], a reply. Count me in as far as trying as best we can to stop the juggernaut threatening now to make its control of our country permanent: it may even be too late but we have to try, for it seems more voices arise each day. The question organization is the real issue, which Ill get back to.
Certainly niceness wont cut it. Varieties of civil disobedience will be essential, surely, but not the whole of it. For what we need is indeed an active revolution: nothing less will save us. If you will go to arepublicbook.com, you will find A Republic Can We Keep It?, a book I have written about just that. Indeed, I wrote it my effort 20 years ago, finally got it out in 2000, and in 2008 re-issued it under a new title, with a few updates.
A few considerations are surely in order. While our situation today began in earnest with Reagan in 1980 and Greenspans lust for non-regulation of markets, which brought us in short order to 2008s Great Recession it really began at the very beginning with the Jefferson-Hamilton battle and the early development of the implied powers read into the Constitution by Hamilton. Jacksons presidency introduced a powerful democratic thrust forward, though corporations had already been quietly defined as persons in the Dartmouth v. Woodward case of 1819*, with Chief Justice John Marshalls majority opinion. (Most Americans today think Januarys Citizens United case marked the beginning of this frightful equation and are rightly outraged by its premise and surely its evident consequences in this falls Congressional election.)
In short, all of Americas history has turned on the effort of the money interest to establish terminal control of the government our public sector and so Jackson et al. should be viewed as periodic efforts to balance money with democratic values and procedure, which seemingly got a boost-that-might-last with FDRs New Deal (including his 1937 effort to pack the Supreme Court with jurists favorable to his vision).
We are up against a tendency (money for me and to hell with you) always present in human history per se, given the evidence of human nature itself. The issues now plaguing us today first became visible in their modern form in the late 19th century, when the great corporations made themselves first evident, along with Teddy Roosevelts efforts to curb their rapidly-spreading power. The long view of history is important (though students in todays school are not being helped to appreciate this). This is a good time for us to read (or re-read!) Edward Bellamys Looking Backward, 2000-1887, an 1888 novel in which he foresaw the government of the far distant (2000) future as one giant corporation, which everyone would work for, only 20 hours per week, with abundant bennies, etc. Whats compelling about this is that the great fear in his time was from the left, which became only more evident during the 20th century. That the right might actually be more of a danger was obscured by our efforts to defeat totalitarianism, the Cold War, etc.
You dont really have to be an alarmist today to see that the great danger we face the terminal purchase of our public sector by our private sector is actually to some degree Bellamys vision. There were Bellamy Clubs, etc., all over the USA in his day, seeking to rouse the public to awareness of the danger at hand. And, as we have seen in our own day, following many years of Greenspan & Bush & Co., the money interest so close to victory! has had to feed Tea Partiers (gullible pawns in this game) and yell and scream about socialism (the great bug-a-boo of the 1880s), etc., to screen their effort to Complete Their Project.
What I offer in my book is a method, which is why, if it has any merit, it could be some help to those who despair. My aim was to make a revolution our necessity appear plausible, not pie-in-the-sky, as they would invariably remind us. To wit: note how our election system is essentially rigged to prevent a third party or any third way from gaining enough traction. Teddy Roosevelt came in second in 1912 ahead of the Republicans but of course things are much different now. (Enlightened) Patriots of Our World, Unite!
Santa Fe, N.M.
* The above date was corrected after publication.
After reading Bernard J. Bergs mini-masterpiece, Stop Making Vets, (Letters to the Editor, TPP, Dec. 1, 2010), Im convinced that patriotism is the cocaine of the masses.
Just like cocaine, patriotism can blur reality witness the many people who consider themselves patriotic and are easily led to believe that another nation is evil and a threat to their lives.
Mindless patriotism can also blind an individuals perception of truth. Thus, no matter what crimes his government commits against other nations, his patriotism not only insulates him from guilt, but even gives him pride.
And let no genuine patriot ever admit, question, or even suspect that his country has done anything that is not good and noble!
Patriotism, that overpowering stimulant, has accomplished what its traffickers want from its addicts: Devotion, loyalty, and courage to fight (and die if necessary) for ignoble causes.
Once, I even heard a speech delivered by an ex-warrior at a Veterans Day memorial, in which he quoted the infamous words, My country, right or wrong, my country.
In my opinion, its time to decontaminate patriotism from its dangerous jingoistic poison. What patriots need is the light of truth, tempered by the clarity of reason.
And perhaps, most important of all, they need a little humility to admit that, from its earliest history and right up to the present, our United States government has acted with arrogance and unnecessary violence against other nations.
Temple City, Calif.
Former president George W. Bush is out promoting his book and said he was upset that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
Hes upset because he cannot justify his and Dick Cheneys lies why the USA invaded Iraq and, like Cheney, he offers no apology or repentance for that wasteful stupid insane war that wasted a trillion tax dollars and near 5,000 US soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqi people dead.
A few people like myself spoke out when Bush said God told him to invade Iraq.
Every president claims to be a Christian and that they believe in God. But that Gods real name is Military Industry.
When Bush said God told him to invade Iraq there should have been a loud protest from real Christians.
What did those true Christians think about Bushs use of religion and the invocation of God to justify war?
Thats what Hitler did. On Nazi belt buckles were the words in German, God Is With Us.
Myself, I dont believe that some God rules over our lives. But I do believe that the Military Industry rules over the USA like a God.
Im almost 79 years old; my life is about over. And Im glad I never spent one day fearing a hell or fearing even more an afterlife up in the sky. And when I think of all the hypocrites I have known who claimed to be true Christians I sure would not want to spend eternity near them. ...
Both Christians and Moslems came out of the same religious creed that promises an afterlife in a paradise and many on both sides live good, decent lives and many others live in pious, guilt-ridden misery and many others are stupid and nuts and want to relive the crusades of the 11th and 13th centuries, with war between Christians and Moslems invoking hell on each other in the name of religion. And the only God that is happy with that and living in paradise off of war profits from our tax dollars is the Military Industry God.
As a recently naturalized American and of the Islamic faith I am very disturbed with the Islamophobia gripping this Nation. To blame the entire Muslim World comprising billions of people, of all nationalities, for a few handful of extremists amongst them is grossly incorrect. It would be akin to blaming the world of Christianity for what happened in Rwanda in 1994. The Hutus (predominantly Christians) massacred more than 750,000 members of the Tutsi tribe and their sympathizers this action was mainly due to political and economical reasons and had no bearing on Christian doctrine. No one has called these merciless killings as Christophobia. I fail to understand why this Islamophobic scare is constantly being used by our media (more so the Right wing). Is there a political reason? Truly.
New York, N.Y.
Voltaire once observed that Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Although written many years ago, in the 18th century, it tends to ring true even more today, which proves that despite giant strides made in information, knowledge and science, human gullibility has remained essentially unchanged throughout the ages.
The height of absurdity is the belief that US invasion of foreign countries is done in an effort to establish freedom, liberty and democracy (while only a semblance of it remains in evidence here) by forcibly introducing it via missiles and daisy cutters.
Some of the resulting attendant atrocities can simply be summed up with three names: Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo, to which the use of international illegal black sites and the criminal practice of extraordinary rendition will also have to be added.
Seemingly, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Red Bluff, Calif.
I am very concerned about this temporary plan which Obama supports to reduce the payroll contribution to Social Security from 6.2% to 4.2%. Note that the reduction of payroll contributions is not 2% but in effect about 30% of total contributions. Weekly savings in the plan are $9.62 for those earning $25,000, to savings of $41.08 for those making $106,800, the wage cap (USA Today 12/8/10). Hardly significant savings! The total of lost revenue to Social Security, the 30%, is $120 billion, a huge amount that seriously endangers its future. If deficit hawks raided the fund again and succeeded in making the cuts permanent, it would mark the beginning of the end of Social Security, our key safety net, in old age, disability and poverty.
Elkins Park, Pa.
When Congress borrows billions in order to extend tax-cuts for the wealthy, but opposes extending unemployment benefits for the working class, while cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, isnt that like TAKING from those seeking crumbs under the table, but GIVING to those already gorged at the feast?
Usually when TPP arrives I read it cover to cover, but not with the 12/1/10 edition. I glanced at the many responses to the election and the pitiful attempts to find something positive. For over a year many of your columnists have been whining and complaining about Obama, not doing our agenda, not being forceful, giving in and a disappointment, much like the Baby Boomers are we there yet and why is it taking so long? Or that black woman on national TV: Im tired of defending you.
What country are you all living in? This is Medieval America: racist, ignorant & proud of it, living in another century and wanting to stay there, the American Taliban Party (formally the Republican, with the Tea Party, including every crazy and nut-case available), with its slogan Our way or no way and pronouncing, before Obama even took office, that their main and only objective is to bring him down and humiliate him.
The independents vote by throwing darts to determine who to vote for and the junior-high generation is much too busy worshipping vampires and vapid celebrities, texting, twitting, and music blasting in their ears 24/7 to take time vote. We are the smallest minority and the most despised, with the exception of gays and atheists. So, what did you expect? You helped make it happen.
DAVID N. CAMPBELL
It is beyond comprehension how our supposedly LEFT publications can support the Democratic Party. Why encourage the bastards that have consistently supported the corporatization of our electoral system? This party has either directly or indirectly brought misery to the world with wars that killed and maimed millions. The US with the support of the Democrats is the unquestioned champion in the world of weapons sellers and weapons fabricators. This is the party that put forth discriminatory programs (in effect causing abuse and even death) as Welfare Reform, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Dont Ask and Dont Tell. This is a party that has yet to find a war funding they didnt like. The latest outrage is the Health Care Reform (Deform) that locks in and enhances the health-care industry. How about Obamas deficit commission that targets Social Security and Medicare for cuts? And last but not least refusing to touch womens right to be the sole proprietor of their own body, which is effectively causing so much misery and even death.
San Francisco, Calif.
As I read Joel Brinkleys Nuclear Club Has Yet Another Applicant: Burma is For Real [11/1/10 TPP], I thought TPP had joined the mainstream hate fest against Hugo Chavez. Terms like Venezuelas ever pugnacious president (What nation has he invaded?) and inveterate loudmouth (one has to yell to be heard above the corporate media noise machine) are the kind of continuous media jabs, subtle propaganda labeling typical of the neoliberal Milton Friedman-dominated media and US State Department. From the mouths of both never is there a kind word or bit of truth concerning Chavezs Venezuela. Other than that, the article was pretty good.
And then I got to the bottom of the article and saw he is an Ivy League professor of journalism and former New York Times correspondent and knows exactly what he is doing. And besides, what else would one expect from anyone associated with the nations Paper of Record? The Times pretty much showed its true face with its promotion of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and ignoring the real story of the 2000 election theft. Why would any one give much credence to that rag anymore?
CLEE PAUL AMES
From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2011
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