Drug War Feeds Prison Industry

Remember when President Eisenhower, in his farewell address, warned future leaders to avoid the military-industrial complex? Of course, his warning was, and still is, ignored.

Witness our nation’s perpetual state of armed conflict, and the resulting billions of dollars sliding into the pockets of war profiteers. Now, as reported in “Privatizing Prisons Creates Incarceration Incentive,” (3/15/12 TPP), we have the prison-industrial complex raking in handsome profits for corporate prisons.

After all, our justice system is keeping their prisons crammed with multitudes of nonviolent offenders — mainly drug users.

A sweet agreement, no doubt, which benefits the corporate prison honchos and their pimp legislators who depend on corporate money for their reelection campaigns. Thus, to convince their constituents that our society is in dire peril, they point to the overcrowded prisons as proof that we need to build more jails to make room for more criminals.

I fear that the violent and wasteful cycle of our nation’s “War on Drugs” will never end, unless and until we change our system of dispensing justice.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

Bigotry Expressed on the Right

The illusion of racial supremacy has been a vigorous force for counterfeit personal empowerment for many white (and mostly southern) men and women.

It has been that way for so long that even though the politically acceptable national discourse is for tolerance and respect, those primitive, intrinsic, self-serving games of the ego are still alive and thriving.

The right wing exploiters of public emotions suggest that President Obama is Muslim, Socialist, foreign-born, etc., and the rowdy rabble eat it up with gusto.

They were simply given a semantic permit to hate — providing the same gut satisfaction that blatant racial slurs would. The 2008 election absolutely horrified so many hard-case (emotionally needy) bigots that they were driven into fits of ridiculous nonsense.

Alexandra Pelosi, the brilliant daughter of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, made two documentaries. The first one was a series of interviews with Tea Party demonstrators shortly after the election.

The recent documentary has been done by interviewing people who populate the rural South.

Both films demonstrated so dearly that the inflammatory nonsense spewed out by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and the wiseass nabobs of Fox News was eagerly taken to heart and proudly repeated by those folks who obviously had not had any other information that would have clouded their indirect line to bigotry.

That venomous attitude carried by people to the voting booth can seriously destroy the social progress that is in their best interest, and they have no way to realize that dilemma.

The state of proud shallow mindedness will not soon evolve out of the screwed up psyche that the human species is occasionally prone to revert to.

Incidentally, many ages ago we all were dumb, vicious wildlife; Blood, bone and brain.

That dumb, aggressive, proud nature can still be a part of modem society.

It must be the “devil” of religious mythology. That homed, cloven hoofed effigy is, after all, depicted as half human. Think about it.

Helen McKinney
Sapphire, N.C.

Weaponized Athletes

Today I was listening to a ridiculous discussion about bringing criminal charges against athletes for causing serious injury while engaged in professional sports. This is an absurd discussion in a culture where we entertain ourselves by glorifying brutality.

The interviewers themselves said that, “Everyone likes a hard hit. The harder the hit, the more they like it.”

It has gotten so that in hockey games the biggest attraction that is aired on the nightly sports broadcasts are the fights and the hits more than the game. Now, we have men in chain-link cages fighting mixed martial arts tearing each other to shreds for the enjoyment of their viewers. Is it any. surprise that we have such a sharp rise in domestic violence?

The question is not do we need to bring criminal charges against athletes who very obviously cause injury to other players on the field, but why do we titillate ourselves with such violence? Is it any wonder that infused with this winning dominance that we have thrust our control into so many other countries around the world?

It is like the too big to fail syndrome we went through with Wall Street in 2008. They were too big to fail, so we made them even bigger.

We upped the ante. We did not solve the problem. We are, after all, capitalists, those who take advantage of losers. What sort of sociopathic mind would bet on his clients’ failure except a money cannibal?

The reports of increased head injuries caused us to provide better helmets. We did not solve the problem. We aggravated the problem by providing the ability for them to hit each other even harder. Perhaps we should invest in steel helmets. Examine the equipment of a football player, or a professional hockey player.

It is a good indication of the measure of violence involved: pounds body weight, how fast moving, how hard-hitting.

When the players look like gladiators, athletics has evolved from sports to savagery. Coming soon, human sacrifice. Instead of giving a score, sportscasters will give body counts. If you like brutal sports, you will love war.

David Tierney
Lowell, Mass.

Blame System, Not Soldier

So a soldier in Afghanistan flips and kills 16 unarmed civilians, including children and in an instant he becomes an unredeemable aberration in the media and the public mind.

I read today on veteranstoday.com prosecutors are to go for maximum charges as if he alone was involved in the ongoing disaster that is America’s occupation of Afghanistan.

Our Great Leader vows to hold all involved accountable but we know that not to be true. None of those who planned this war crime throughout the summer of 2001 and signed the invasion order the day before we had an excuse to wage war will be mentioned or face prosecution.

Not a former president or any member of The Project for A New American Century, which made up most of his cabinet (including his VP and brother), will be mentioned as accessories to this one atrocity among many contained in this greater atrocity. And certainly Great Leader himself, who continues this ongoing waste of blood and treasure will not implicate himself as a responsible party.

No, only the soldier will be held fully accountable. The powers that be will laud the system for its willingness to investigate this event and find the “truth” (Just like Abu Graib?) that will be ladled on the public as proof positive that the system is deserving of praise in its relentless pursuit of justice and accountability by bringing the perp to pay for his crimes.

The system that placed him and thousands of others like him in harms’ way in repeated deployments will once again, as always be self exonerated, exalted and placed outside of all responsibility. The same system that defined a war of aggression as the supreme war crime as it contains all crimes that follow will forget its own definition and continue breaking its own laws.

It will absolve itself, pointing their bloody fingers in feigned righteousness at this tired and war weary soldier shattered in mind and spirit doing the dirty and horrible job that in truth needn’t be done, a job that they themselves and their ever more precious than your children will never consider nor be called upon to do. The system is the problem, not the soldier.

Clee Ames
Eureka, Utah

No Surprise

Why are we surprised that a US soldier killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan? The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has arguably the most detailed open-source database on drone attacks, lists some ranges of the toll: between 2,412 and 3,063 people reported killed. Of them, between 467 and 815 were civilians and 178 of them children.

US soldiers are paid by tax payers to do this. They are trained to be killers of whomever the US government determines as our enemy.

If we do not want our young people going overseas to kill others we need to stop paying for war, weapons, training for our young to kill and continued hospitalization and rehab for the injured and disabled soldiers.

It is time for us to teach nonviolence instead of violence, especially during this time of Lent when we remember Christ’s love shown to his torturers and murderers, his enemies. We need to remember that Christ taught and lived nonviolence. He preached love of one’s enemies, not killing or maiming them.

He told us to pray for them and do good to them, not make life miserable for them. We need to change our ways by following the way of Christ if we are ever to have salvation and happiness in the world. Bring the troops home to learn nonviolence instead of killing others. When  Afghans kill others they are called “terrorists.” When US soldiers kill civilians they are called “freedom fighters,” “heroes” and even “Christians.”

Rev. Don Timmerman
Casa Maria House of Hospitality
Milwaukee, Wis.

To War, To War

Since the New Deal, Republicans have lusted after a Democratic depression and a Republican world war. They aren’t particular if they have to precipitate both. Barack Obama balks the next war by sitting in the Oval Office.

Neo-cons won’t hand him this blank check. (War is the ultimate Keynesian stimulus. Bomb a crater; fill it in.) Obama is an able and (alas) willing Commander-in-Chief. But the GOP has trained its base to despise everything Obama touches.

America would wage its war absent home-front support from the most reliably, blindly patriotic. The warmongers get their way with a Republican win this November. The Republican contenders vary in their commitment to “exceptionalism” (the Frank Luntz-ified Yankee Doodle “master race”). Romney, like Obama, would tackle Iran respecting the superpower tensions its geography invites.

But, as life imitates art, policy incorporates campaign bull. An Iranian war fought on behalf of the God-and-Stripes Ameri-cult would inexorably escalate.

Freedonia may undertake another pointless Bush war. But we are a feeble superpower with a diminished industrial capacity and inflated martial tradition. We are about to commit the fatal error — the only sin in warfare that gets punished — and pick an even fight.

M. Warner
Minneapolis, Minn.

Global Rules Needed

Some economics experts recently question the wisdom of the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act in 1999. This would allow the merger of commercial banks and investment banks. If we look at the causes to it, we see that the powers in this country and others focus on how to make changes that increase global competitiveness.

Since they affect the globe, we should attempt to make global rules to protect people from them. Samples include: separation of people’s money from investment gambles, minimum wages, environmental and ecological protections, and democratic government. Their lack has global effects, respectively: deep economic crashes, depressed wages, global warming/ecological disasters, and wars.

Therefore they should have global, minimum standards that all humans would agree on.

Telemachos Mavrides
Mesa, Ariz.

Keep Religion Out of Gov’t

In his article about contraceptives (Bishops Run Power Play Against Birth Control, 3/15/12 TPP), Gene Lyons hit the nail on the head with the statement “Religious organizations have the right to believe anything they like, but not to impose those beliefs upon others.” That is true not only for contraception, but for abortion, personhood at conception, gay marriage and other LGBT rights, prayer in public schools, stem cell research and anything else religious conservatives are trying to legislate into or out of our lives. I consider it religious persecution, and I’m surprised that no one has used that argument in legal actions to stop those intrusions on human rights once and for all.

Gayle Voeller
Carmichael, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2012


News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2012 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652