Vote Progressive, Not Necessarily Democratic

Your editorial in the year-end issue [“Time to Walk the Walk,” 1/1-15/12 TPP] contained a thought that was an echo from years gone by. Once again you advise us to support any Democrat in the face of electing another right-winger. Where will you draw the line? We here in the 9th Congressional District of Virginia will have the choice of another “blue dog” Democrat or an extreme right-winger. “Blue dogs” are OK as long as they have been spayed or neutered!

Both sides here are subservient to the energy industry and pay heed to little else. Our land here is under full scale attack by the coal and energy industry. Mountain-top removal, strip-mining, and “fracking” are visiting a devastation on our area that is irreparable.

Our present congressman only represents the 1% and the Democrats will nominate a blue dog, if anyone, to oppose him. There was an article in the same issue provides a real alternative to your advice. Progressive Majority offers the chance to make major changes. I will do my best to find someone in this district to actually represent the huge majority of people here.

I guess you could say that I am suffering from what I call “Obama Depression.” My wife and I worked for weeks and spent heavily {for us} in the 2008 election and cried real tears of joy on election night. Then came the harsh light of reality. It’s not that he was unable to accomplish his campaign promises; it’s that he didn’t even try for “single-payer,” card-check unionization, etc.

President Obama is a cinch to be re-elected. We need to send as many progressives to Congress as possible. To support him when he is right and to stop him when he wrong.

I look forward to TPP’s arrival and will remain a loyal subscriber, but I have to advise that continued support of the Democrats is a dead end street. Both national parties are to corrupt to govern. Period!

Best to you,

Bill Bunch
Tazewell, Va.

The New Slavers

I am writing this letter with tongue in cheek to point out one facet of the Citizens United decision which seems to me to be obviously in conflict with a basic law of the land. From what I gather from the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court it is now legal for people to buy and own other people. Corporations/people do it all the time. Mitt Romney made his fortune by doing this very thing as I understand. Bain Capital specialized in buying companies/people and sending them to China leaving thousands of real people jobless.

Since companies are now people and can buy other people (corporations) why can’t I (a person) go out and buy myself a person, perhaps someone who is homeless or a down-and-outer and give that person a place to live and make that person work for me? He/she could do house work, yard work or even get a job and I could receive the money he/she makes for my own benefit. This in effect would be slavery which now appears to have legal status according to the CU ruling that corporations are people.

[Editor’s Note: At this point, for our friend Richard Winger’s sake (see his letter, “Corporations Need First Amendment Rights,” 2/1/12 TPP), we note that the Citizens United decision was based on the First Amendment, not the 14th Amendment, which courts have interpreted to grant corporations personhood, but corporate rights as persons is implied in the CU decision, so go ahead.]

Of course I write this in jest knowing that slavery is not legal but why are corporations/people allowed to buy other people/corporations if it is not legal for a person to own another person? Abraham Lincoln wrote eloquently about this in his Emancipation Proclamation.

Why have corporations been given the status of personhood but are not required to adhere to our most basic law of the land? Why are they able to buy and sell other “people” but real live people cannot? I’m not advocating the return of slavery but trying to point out one of the double standards of corporate personhood. I would like to know how this can be. Is there some loophole in the personhood — law that alIows this? Are corporations only considered persons when it is to their benefit but not when it is detrimental to them? What rational, sane person could come up with such idiotic nonsense? Where did these Supreme Court judges take their law training, 1930s Germany?

The empty souls that typify the anti-humanitarian Christian Republican corporatists are exemplified in their only purpose in life to further enrich the wealthy and deny all others the necessities of life.

I thoroughly enjoy how your writers bring out the crookedness of the middle class hating plutocrats that run this country. Keep exposing the hypocritical cheats, liars and crooks.

Robert G. Reed
Boyne City, Mich.

Father Forgive Them

God’s name is on our money, in our pledge, national anthem, and our affirmation before we testify in a court of law. Americans claim to be 80% Christian, and 44% of our citizens attend church regularly. The Bible is our manual, and the Ten Commandments our daily guide.

We elected the most Christian of all presidents, George Walker Bush, who twice claimed he talked to God. George was also quoted in a national publication that “he prayed he was God’s messenger.” George took us to war on his concocted notion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. No WMDs, no problem. Christian America gave him a second term. Total civilian Iraq casualties: 105,000 to 130,000 and 1.5 million refugees. A half a million more were lost to degraded infrastructure.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth Uncle Sam. Estimated Taliban deaths: 10,000 to 20,000, Afghanistan civilian deaths: 12,500 to 14,700 and Bin Laden sleeps with the fishes. Under the king Hammurabi code of justice of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the 3,000 deaths at the World Trade Center have been avenged ten thousandfold. Yet, our drones continue to rain death from the sky on the innocent, friend and foe alike. Worthy of mention is the $3.5 million in annual tithings that America sends to the keepers of the Holy Land to brutally subjugate Palestinians.

While all this death and destruction is being heaped on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, our American prelates of all Christian denominations stand mute and condemnation from the pulpit is nonexistent. As to Christian Americans, in 2010 only 6% of our citizens surveyed said our Mideast wars were of any consequence.

It is long overdue that we remove the plaque on the Statue of Liberty that mentions “our lamp beside the golden door” and replace it with Jesus’s last uttering: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

Ed Hodges
Appleton, Wis.

Little Bit on Soul

Re: “An Ethical Challenge” by Hank Kalet [12/1/11 TPP]: The fetus becomes a person at birth, when Soul, which contains the breath of life, enters it. Soul runs the body until the body dies, when it returns to the place in the Heaven Worlds from whence it came. If a Soul does not come, the infant is still-born.

Soul is an atom of Divine Spirit. Every person is Soul on Its own path home to the Most High Creator of Souls.

There are already too many bodies on this Earth for it to sustain. Our biggest problems are overpopulation, clean water and food for all. We can survive without oil, gas or gold, but we can’t survive without potable water or food.

Dorothy D. Stanley
Durham, N.C.

Protect All Life

Recent issues of your fine paper have painted an unflattering picture of the Pro-Life movement in articles and letters to the editor. The picture painted was of a right-wing one-issue voter insensitive to other issues. That may be one face but it is not the majority. In the Catholic tradition of the Theology of the Seamless Garment (from John 19:23) we are encouraged to be Pro-Life on all issues: war, environment, economics, capital punishment. Maybe only the saints achieve this and that is why they are saints but it is a noble goal in our human spiritual journey. Pro-Life is a natural extension of liberal and progressive. Does not the unborn child deserve protection under Natural Law? Are we not called to protect the most vulnerable? Can violence outside the womb or in the womb ever be the answer?

Ironically, the last pro-choice letter, “Preborn and Unborn” by Nancy Churchill [1/1-15/12 TPP], followed a letter from St. Joseph County, Indiana. St. Joseph in Scripture had to protect the vulnerable Jesus in the womb and as a child. King Herod slaughtered the innocent children to kill the new expected King. Joseph fled with the Holy Family.

Today we should fight non violently for all who are vulnerable, young and old, because we are called to be one holy family.


Ken Cooper
Washington, D.C.

Editor’s Note: St. Joseph County, Ind., also is home to Notre Dame University, whose administrators were condemned by many Catholic bishops in 2009 for allowing the pro-choice President of the United States to speak at graduation ceremonies.

OSW Enthusiasm Gap

Laurence Kohlberg’s stage theory of adult moral development might give a clue to this problem of a large gap between public support for an idea and public support for street protesters advocating that idea (which we have seen with civil rights, wars resistance, nuke resistance, feminism, and pretty much any street resistance movement you can think of.) Based on his data, Kohlberg outlined 3 levels of moral development: the pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional levels. Each of these levels consists of two stages, for 6 stages in total. In terms of numbers, if we were to graph these levels onto a bell curve, it would roughly put 80% in the conventional category and about 10% each in the pre- and post-conventional categories. The conventional level is just that, the level of moral development attained by the average citizen, and reflecting exactly the kinds of moral values on which a solid society is based. These are, in particular, (1) high regard for how you are viewed by others (stage 3), and (2) high regard for maintenance of law and order (stage 4).

It is not difficult to see, therefore, why significant numbers of people might agree to certain policy-oriented statements (on civil rights, ending a war, curtailing Wall Street power, taxing the rich) and yet feel no “support” at all for, or even knee-jerk revulsion against, those creating “disorder” in pursuit of those policies. Nixon, of course, was the absolute master of manipulating for his own political ends this gut-level revulsion of the majority against those creating “disorder.” But the American right on the whole seems to better understand this dynamic than does the left. Notice how even with Tea Party folks showing up fully armed, the rallies still take on the undercurrent of support for “law and order”; even the Militia Movement folks assume this mantle!

The recognition that morality stands above “law and order” is, in Kohlberg’s research, reflective of higher level moral thought, and only reached as a solidly habitual way of thinking by a relatively small minority of people, though many others can be spurred to consider it in specific cases, such as when police (symbolic enforcers of order) are turning dogs loose on children or casually coating unarmed and peaceful people with pepper spray at close range. The upshot of what needs to be learned from Kohlberg’s research, however, is that street protest movements need to very early on demonstrate itself as supportive of law and order, and standing again disruption of social order, if they want to gain widespread public acceptance. This is not, of course, an easy thing to accomplish when the actual goal of a movement is truly dramatic upheaval in the current system. But history demonstrates that it is not impossible either.

Peace and love,

Dan Liechty
Normal, Ill.

Obama’s Populist Themes

Your headline “President Obama: Evolution of a Populist” should have said “Candidate Obama: Evolution of Populist Campaign Themes.” As millions of voters have noticed, Obama campaign themes have little resemblance to Obama policies.

Candidate Obama, running on populist themes, won a great electoral victory in 2008. People who believed in those themes then experienced two years of increasing disappointment, as President Obama abandoned the campaign themes to follow his actual policies.

The election of 2010 saw Candidate Obama again voicing populist themes. Far fewer people believed in him this time, enabling the Republicans — running on populist themes of their own — to win major victories. Then, once again, President Obama abandoned the campaign themes to follow his actual policies.

Now in 2012, we see Candidate Obama once again campaigning on populist themes. Many a voter, justifiably frightened of what a Republican might do, is hoping that this time will be different. But with sadness, I predict that it won’t be.

If he wins again, he will continue the policies of the past four years. Maybe that’s better than what a Republican would do — but populism it ain’t.


Edward Jahn
Leesburg, Va.

Hysteria Over Iran

When people call a person a “Christian,” what do they mean? If you listen to the recent Republican debates you get the idea that Christianity has to do primarily with sexual morality. However, there is little mention of sex in the Christian Gospels; but there is a lot about loving one’s enemies, refusing to retaliate, giving aid to those who try to harm and kill you, sharing what you have with the needy, etc. None of these basic messages of Christ seem to be mentioned  by the “Christians” at the debates. The “Christian” debaters say that success is judged according to how much material wealth one has. However Christ, according to the Gospels, seems to be saying that happiness or success is not achieved by having a lot of wealth. Happiness or success is achieved by sharing your wealth and doing good to those who harm or threaten to harm you. A hero is not a materially wealthy person or a person, who for defense or any other reason,  strikes out at his or her neighbor;  but one who tries to make his or her enemy a friend, to make it easier for the enemy to be good. It seems to me the debaters should re-read and meditate more on the Scriptures to see what is required by one who calls oneself a follower of Christ, a Christian. If we were really “Christians” we would not be at war, and the world would be a happier, safer place.

Don Timmerman
Casa Maria Catholic Worker House
Milwaukee, Wis.

From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2012


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