October 5, 2008 -- How dare Sarah Palin call Bill Ayers a terrorist! That's like Marie Antoinette calling Jean-Paul Marat a terrorist.
September 24, 2008 -- Innocent Enron employees get screwed out of their pensions by greedy executives. Bush does nothing. Innocent renters get screwed out of their homes by greedy landlords.
Bush does nothing. Innocent homeowners get screwed out of their homes by greedy lenders. Bush does nothing. Poor blacks get blown out of their homes by Katrina. Bush does nothing. Greedy
zillionaires on Wall Street get into financial trouble because of their own arrogance. Bush wants to give them $700 billion! McCain/Palin would be no different. Conservatives are naturally mean and
typically favor the rich over the rest of the people.
September 23, 2008 -- One purpose of government in a capitalist society is to protect the people from the capitalists, not by hamstringing free enterprise, but by regulating and controlling the
actions of corporations so that their executives cannot rob their employees or cheat the people. In an unregulated, uncontrolled capitalist society, greed runs rampant, the rich get richer, and, one
way or another, the people get screwed.
As soon as George Dubya Bush took office, he deregulated as much as he could, gave away Bill Clinton's carefully managed budget surplus, cut taxes for the rich, and generally let greed run
rampant. The current subprime mortgage lending crisis, the credit crisis, the record federal deficits, and the failures of several major banks and investment firms are entirely the fault of conservative
Republican deregulatory policies. Bush cuts taxes but spends anyway. He spends on wars instead of education, health care, or infrastructure. When the rich executives of Enron screwed their
hard-working employees out of their earned and deserved pensions, the federal government did not lift a finger to help these innocent victims of fraud and theft; but when the rich executives of Wall
Street now find themselves in trouble because of their own greed, Bush wants to give them $700 billion!
Right-wingers are firmly anti-socialist -- except when their rich buddies are in need. The rich have always had socialism for themselves -- but want to deny it to the rest of us -- because it would
decrease their capacity to indulge their greed.
September 12, 2008 -- Whether the gall of the right wing exceeds its hypocrisy or whether its hypocrisy exceeds its gall is a constant question. Both are gigantic!
There is no ethical difference in kind between the American Republicans unilaterally invading the sovereign nation of Iraq to start a futile war on demonstrably false pretenses and the Russians
unilaterally invading the sovereign nation of Georgia. Yet these Republicans want to condemn Russia and impose sanctions on it. They would be appalled if anyone were to suggest condemnation
or sanctions against the United States for its aggression or warmongering.
According to these Republicans, any person or country that attacks the United States is a "terrorist," but the United States has the God-given authority to attack with impunity, and without itself
being labeled "terrorist," any person or country it wants.
July 24, 2008 -- What utter nonsense!!!
"LIMA (Reuters) - A naked model photographed using Peru's flag as a saddle while mounted on a horse will face charges that could put her in jail for up to four years for offending patriotic symbols,
the country's defense minister said on Wednesday.
"The suggestive shot of Leysi Suarez, whose main job is dancing for the band Alma Bella, or Beautiful Soul, was splashed on the cover of DFarandula magazine and has caused a political uproar as
Peru prepares to celebrate the 187th anniversary of its independence from Spain on Monday.
" 'These are patriotic symbols that demand total respect, and using them improperly requires punishment,' Defense Minister Antero Flores told reporters. 'This is an offense.'
"Flores has ordered a public prosecutor to take up the case and file charges."
March 18, 2008 -- For any problem, identify and isolate its cause, then attack it there. That is what radicalism is. A radical, literally, is one who goes to the root of a problem. Radicalism is the only
way to create permanent, just, or reasonable solutions to any problem. Any other approach is only window dressing.
The current problem of the disenfranchised voters in the Florida and Michigan Democratic primaries is entirely the fault of the legislators in those two states. They knowingly, premeditatedly, and
contemptuously voted to defy clear, precise, fair, and pre-existing Democratic Party rules for the timing of primaries.
If there is to be any revote of the Florida and Michigan primaries -- and there should be -- then the cost should come out of the pockets of the legislators who created the problem in the first place.
The people, the Democratic party, the candidates, and the legislators who voted against holding early primaries are all innocent and should not be penalized or financially burdened.
In any case, let us abolish both the party convention nominating system and the Electoral College. Let the direct popular vote alone elect the President!
October 18, 2007 -- I am a feminist because women are not naturally violent. They use violence only when provoked. Men, on the
other hand, use violence as their recreation, their preferred means of communication, their raison d'être.
October 8, 2007 -- Maybe the rich and powerful did not invent religious dogma or conspire to promulgate it, but they certainly have
profited from it.
October 2, 2007 -- Over and over and over again well-meaning baseball umpires with bad angles of vision get home run calls wrong.
The Colorado Rockies lost a run last night in the National League Wild Card Playoff Game because six umpires called a legitimate
home run a ground-rule double. That the Rockies eventually won the game in extra innings was poetic justice. If the Rockies had lost
that game by one run in nine innings, then they should have all flown as a team to Philadelphia and squatted in Citizens Bank Park
until Major League Baseball either granted them their rightful status as the Wild Card winner or at least reinstated the home run and
had the playoff game replayed from that point.
Athletes who are cheated out of their rightful finish by correctable circumstances beyond their control deserve real justice. Fair is
fair! Vanderlei de Lima, the Brazilian marathoner who was knocked out of leading the race by a fan at the 2004 Athens Olympics,
deserved the gold medal (even if with an asterisk) instead of his bronze, and the gold and silver winners should have each voluntarily
stepped down a notch. Major League Baseball needs to authorize the well-aimed instant replay camera as the final judge of home
runs -- NOW!
July 26, 2007 -- If any people allows itself to be governed by a dictatorship, then it is that people's own fault. Witness Nazi Germany. But what can a people do to prevent being susceptible to
dictatorship? First, ensure maximum education in critical thinking for all, to the extent of the ability of each. Second, eliminate nationalism. It is just a short step from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
to the mentality of Sieg Heil! Third, install only political leaders who are neither beholden to religious interests nor likely to let their personal religious beliefs color their political decisions. Fourth,
July 24, 2007 -- Governments do not give us our freedom. We are already free. Born free! The purpose of governments is to provide security, stability, and economic opportunity -- all the while not
taking our freedom away. That is, governments exist to provide services to their citizens, and if they fail to provide these services, to preserve democracy, or to protect their citizens' freedom, then
they have no right to exist. President John F. Kennedy -- even as much as we admire him -- was quite wrong to say, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your
country." Our country, i.e., our government, exists to serve us, not to impose its will on us and certainly not to impose its will on other sovereign peoples. Those who believe that America can wage
war to protect freedom around the world while at the same time curtailing its own citizens' civil liberties are deluded and dangerous. Freedom IS civil liberties.
|July 28, 2007 -- A truly free nation has no need of political prisoners.
February 25, 2008 -- To appeal to the baser side of human nature -- violence, meanness, greed -- can easily be made exciting and fun; but to appeal to the finer side of human nature -- kindness,
introspection, commonality, fellow feeling, and shared human concern -- is often unavoidably dull. That is why right-wing talk radio is successful and left-wing talk radio is not.
February 15, 2008 -- An open comment to the Democratic National Committee: Tell the superdelegates, the Michigan delegates, and the Florida delegates all to stay home and let the people and
their duly elected delegates decide the nominee. The Democratic Party can unite behind Obama. It cannot unite behind Hillary. Her campaign is starting to stink more and more of machine politics.
Obama -- the people's choice -- can beat McCain. Hillary cannot.
February 1, 2008 -- In Plato's Philebus, Socrates and Protarchus argue whether the life of thinking or the life of pleasure is best. Both are wrong. The life of thinking is the life of the greatest
pleasure! They fail to realize that their argument is "both / and," not "either / or."
January 8, 2008 -- Anarchy can never work as long as humans are prone to anger. Anger naturally erupts into violence, and violence just as naturally devolves into crime and war. Laws, police, and
governments will always be necessary to control crime and to try to avoid war. Any viable anarchy would also require that humans be open-minded, tolerant, respectful of others' opinions, and
non-dogmatic. Shared decision-making entails that people listen to one another. Why is it, then, that some of the world's angriest, most close-minded, most intolerant, most dogmatic, most
disrespectful people profess to be anarchists?
December 26, 2007 -- Western monotheistic religions are built on the model of kingship. As such, they are contrary to the human spirit, whose essence is to be free from having to grovel, submit,
pray, beg, or see oneself as somehow unworthy, debased, or denigrated.
December 25, 2007 -- The Bible: If you understand it, then you cannot believe it. If you believe it, then you do not understand it.
November 23, 2007 -- Any chain of reasoning that elevates the value of any subset of humanity above the value of humanity as a whole is ipso facto wrong and needs to be rethought.
November 17, 2007 -- One of our main goals as state socialists is free, fair, efficient, high-quality health care for everyone, nationwide (and eventually worldwide), with all health care providers
employed in the civil service. Perhaps that goal can best be achieved incrementally. Let's start with two underserved and starkly vulnerable groups: children and veterans.
Pediatric care is the birthright of every child. Enough said! Dubya's recent veto of a child health care bill was unconscionable and, indeed, cruel.
The U.S. government's maltreatment and essential abandonment of veterans as soon as they have finished their terms as useful military personnel is likewise a moral evil. Veterans -- at the very
least as a reward for their life-risking and self-sacrificing years of surrendering their freedom to their country -- deserve the very best of health care. They do not receive it.
Veterans are refused adequate medical treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because Veterans Administration doctors, under pressure from government beancounters, diagnose
their illnesses as natural extensions of pre-enlistment personality disorders. and thus declare these patients not eligible for treatment at VA medical centers.
Marine Corps Sergeant Tyler Ziegel was wounded in December 2004 in Iraq, losing parts of his skull, brain, left arm, and right hand. According to CNN, November 16, 2007, his federal disability
payments amounted to "80 percent for facial disfigurement, 60 percent for left arm amputation, a mere 10 percent for head trauma and nothing for his left lobe brain injury, right eye blindness and
jaw fracture." The Department of Veterans Affairs declared him not eligible for further benefits.
Eligible???!!!??? Their very status as veterans ought to make them eligible for any health care or disability compensation they may ever need for the rest of their lives. No questions asked.
They should not have to apply, wait, fill out tons of forms, consult lawyers, have their eligibilities scrutinized, or pay co-pays. Doctors and bureaucrats alike ought to bend over backward to serve
July 15, 2007 -- Contrary to current American propaganda
that says freedom is not free: Freedom IS free! Just live it!
July 12, 2007 -- The end does not justify the means; the means
either taint or enhance the end. The end is not fixed. It is a
moving target. Its changes are determined by history, and the
means that are chosen and used to achieve it are the main part
of that history.
|Eric Luft's comment on a right wing evaluation of his book, A Socialist Manifesto, posted on Amazon.Com, June 16, 2007 -- "A certain customer on Amazon has tagged A Socialist
Manifesto as "treason." Also tagged as "treason" are books by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Al Franken, Ted Kennedy, Madeleine
Albright, John Kenneth Galbraith, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Terry McAuliffe, Karen Armstrong, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jon Stewart, Chris Mooney, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Kim
Stanley Robinson, Garrison Keillor, Nancy Snow, George McGovern, Bob Woodward, Chris Hedges, Chalmers Johnson, Kurt Vonnegut, Gore Vidal, David Ray Griffin, John Kerry,
Chuck Schumer, Cindy Sheehan, Norman Finkelstein, Thomas Frank, and many others -- and CDs by the Dixie Chicks. I believe that among all these folks I am in good company."
September 30, 2007 -- Whichever nation commits the first hostile action in another nation's land, water, or airspace loses whatever moral advantage it may have had in the ensuring war. Whichever
nation enters war only by responding to an attack upon it gains the moral advantage. In other words, any invasion is evil, whoever starts an offensive war is evil, and whoever wages a defensive war
is not necessarily evil. Hitler attacked Poland and France before any nation attacked Nazi Germany; and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor before the United States began any hostilities against Japan.
Thereby the Allies gained and kept the moral advantage until the end of World War II.
Any so-called "preemptive strike" against Iran or any other nation that might attack the United States would be evil, and would lose for the United States any moral advantage it may have in the
conflict -- however evil the other nation may already be.
September 7, 2007 -- As long as people form relationships, friendships, families, tribes, or nations on the basis of skin color, there will be racial conflict. The way toward ending racial conflict is just
to dismiss the very idea of race -- probably the most superficial of all natural human characteristics -- in all dealings.
A person is a person is a person.
Interracial dating is beautiful. Interracial marriage is beautiful. Interracial children are beautiful.
Single-skin-color communities are cauldrons of violence, islands of hatred, and fountains of ignorance.
September 7, 2007 -- The so-called People's Republic of China has become a for-profit corporation, the world's largest. Its leaders are its managers and its citizens are its powerless, unionless,
hopeless employees. Its gap between rich and poor grows ever wider. Its rich bosses have as little regard for its working poor as in any other for-profit corporation. To paraphrase Calvin Coolidge's
remark about the American people, "The chief business of the Chinese people is business."
Where is the communism in any of that?
September 6, 2007 -- Defenders of the church, the ummah, or the synagogue point to the fact that these religious establishments have founded hundreds of excellent institutions of higher learning.
This point must be conceded to them -- but how much more excellent these schools, colleges, and universities would have been if they had been founded by secular concerns!
September 6, 2007 -- There is no freedom within the large corporation for its employees. They are self-enslaved to the aims of the rich.
September 5, 2007 -- One thing that we should have done -- that we generally did not do -- when marijuana was so cheap and plentiful in the sixties and early seventies was, after we had cleaned
the seeds, stems, and twigs out of our ounce bag, instead of just throwing them away like so much trash, to scatter those seeds everywhere, wherever we found fertile ground and suspected that
they might grow. We could have made marijuana as widespread, random, and uneradicable as crabgrass, poison ivy, box elders, or kudzu. Then it might not be so expensive or hard to find now.
September 4, 2007 -- If one picture is worth ten thousand words, give me the ten thousand words!
Verbal media can convey stories, images, emotions, and ideas. Non-verbal media, even music, can convey only stories, images, and emotions, all with great and powerful urgency, but not ideas.
Non-verbal media can just suggest ideas, which are necessarily discursive and live in the domain of words. Only verbal media, words, can convey actual ideas and thus foster slow thinking, or what
David Hume called "cool reflexion." Non-verbal media demands to be pushed ever further into itself, with ever increasing immediacy, thus hindering reflection; but verbal media always points beyond
itself, opening new doors. Words, used properly and with skill, can convey anything. Nothing is ineffable!
September 3, 2007 -- Perhaps we cannot credit Bill Clinton and the Democrats for balancing the federal budget, but we can certainly blame George "Dubya" Bush and the Republicans for
September 2, 2007 -- "Box of Rain" by the Grateful Dead + "Just a Little" by the Beau Brummels = "If It Makes You Happy" by Sheryl Crow.
September 1, 2007 -- There are no lords!
August 31, 2007 -- If one is to judge the worth of people, there can be few better criteria than how they take insults -- or even better, whether they perceive insults that are not there, that are merely
constructive criticisms. One month after the 9/11 attacks, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal offered $10 million to New York City for relief. In connection with his donation, he read a statement
suggesting, among other things, that the United States might be more sensitive to the plight of the Palestinians and more evenhanded in its policies toward the Middle East. Fair criticism and good
advice! But New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani perceived this recommendation only as an insult to America. He did not consider its content. His refusal to accept the prince's money marked him as
an arrogant, jingoistic, self-righteous idiot. People who only perceive that they have been insulted, who do not care or even understand what the content of the criticism may be, who are
insufficiently introspective to recognize any opportunity for personal growth in the content of a perceived insult, and who cannot react with anything but anger to it, are essentially counterproductive
of civilized life -- and on that account worthless.
August 17, 2007 -- People are quite willing to uglify their roofs with antennas, satellite dishes, etc., but not with windmills or solar panels. Think how much clean, renewable energy we could generate
if every roof had just one little windmill on it.
August 6, 2007 -- Renzo Llorente <spain.slu.edu/directory/dir_faculty_soc_hum_llorente_r.html> writes some of the most poignant aphorisms since Friedrich Nietzsche and George Bernard Shaw.
Read his "Exercises in Provocation" in Left Curve, No. 31 <www.leftcurve.org/LC31WebPages/LC31Toc.html>.
August 6, 2007 -- On this 62nd Hiroshima Day, anti-nuclear rallies and protests are happening worldwide. One of my correspondents wrote in this connection, "Nuclear power is having a resurgence
as a 'solution' to global warming. People seem to have forgotten that nuclear technology is very hard to contain."
Difficult, yes. But not impossible. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Some nuke plants in the past were unsafe and deserved to be shut down. But naive li'l ol' me still trusts science to make them safer.
Don't get me wrong! I'm not pro-nuke. I'm just not anti-nuke. My preferences for generating energy are, in order from top to bottom: wind, solar, geothermal (used in Iceland with incredible
success), hydro, nuke, then carbon-burning fuels (distantly last).
The issue of nuclear bombs is not the same as the issue of nuclear power. Let's not conflate them.
|October 12, 2001
His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Dear Prince Alwaleed bin Talal:
I would like to take just a moment to thank you for your recent demonstration of empathy with those suffering from the devastating and heinous September 11 attacks on the United States Pentagon
and the World Trade Center. I would especially like to thank you for your most generous offer of $10 million to assist those Americans in need as a result of those attacks.
I was disappointed that Mayor Giuliani chose to decline your generous offer and instead criticize you for your observations of events in the Middle East. Whether he agreed with you or not I think he
should have recognized your right to speak and make observations about a part of the world which you know so well.
I think Mayor Giuliani would do well to listen to the words of one of our greatest Americans, former Senator Robert Kennedy. In 1968 he said that America "is a great nation and a strong people. Any
who seek to comfort rather than to speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration--they deny that greatness and drain that strength. For today as it
was in the beginning, it is the truth that makes us free." I believe Senator Robert Kennedy's remarks remain as inspirational and true today as when he first spoke them over 30 years ago.
Let me say that there are a growing number of people in the United States who recognize, like you, that U.S. policy in the Middle East needs serious examination. Indeed, on the same day that you
made your remarks about US policy in the Middle East, the Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, The Honorable Henry Hyde, spoke on National Public Radio and said, "There's
no question in my mind that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important issue in dispute, and has generated a lot of the animosity towards us because of our unwavering support for Israel,
which will remain in place."
At the same time, CNN played an interview with former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who stated that America must "deal with some of the issues that animate the hostility" against us,
like "the treatment of the population of Iraq" and that "the Israelis are stronger, so they're naturally inflicting much more casualties than the Palestinians on the Israelis and that produces frustration
Your Royal Highness, many of us here in the United States have long been concerned about reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that reveal a pattern of excessive, and often
indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces in situations where Palestinian demonstrators were unarmed and posed no threat of death or serious injury to the security forces or to
Israeli peace organizations like B'Tselem accuse the Israeli Defense Forces of violating the most fundamental rules of international law in committing atrocities against Palestinians. The Israeli Gush
Shalom boldly states that "Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is the root cause of the violence and hatred. As long as the occupation continues, bloodshed will continue and
Indeed, Your Royal Highness, all people of good conscience understand that this kind of mistreatment breeds a hotbed of anger and despair that destabilizes peace in the Middle East and
elsewhere. Until we confront the realities of events in the Middle East our nation and the nations of the Middle East will be at risk.
Your Royal Highness, there are many people in America who desperately need your generosity. People who have been locked out, marginalized from America's mainstream. All of those people are
poor and too many of them are people of color. A black baby boy born in Harlem today has less chance of reaching age 65 than a baby born in Bangladesh.
Your Royal Highness, the state of black America is not good. It is painfully visible in Washington D.C., where, just a few hundred yards from the White House, one can find black man after black man
huddled in bus shelters, doorways, over subway ventilation shafts, sleeping on the street, thrown away like trash. Ironically, many of them are Vietnam veterans who, having served this nation with
distinction in Vietnam, now find themselves without adequate care and accommodation. Unfortunately, this same scene is repeated in each and every one of our major cities here in the United
I am ashamed to say that my home city of Atlanta is no exception. Just last night my son was out with members of Atlanta's Muslim community who, for years, have been feeding Atlanta's homeless.
Sadly, no one in mainstream Atlanta knows about the tireless and generous work of the local Muslim community. But the poor know, and I guess at one level that's all that matters. But on a broader
view mainstream America should know.
The Justice Department admits that blacks are more likely than whites to be pulled over by police, imprisoned, and put to death. And, though blacks and whites have about the same rate of drug
use, blacks are more likely to be arrested than whites and are more likely to receive longer prison sentences than whites. Incredibly, 80% of people in prison in the United States are people of color.
Twenty-six black men were executed last year, some probably innocent; America began 2001 by executing a retarded black woman.
Government studies on health disparities confirm that blacks are less likely to receive surgery, transplants, and prescription drugs than whites. Physicians are less likely to prescribe appropriate
treatment for blacks than for whites and black scientists, physicians, and institutions are shut out of the funding stream to prevent all this. I serve in Congress where the Black Caucus is shrinking.
Yet, sections of the Voting Rights Act will soon expire, and quite frankly, after crippling Court decisions, there is not much left of affirmative action to mend.
In the FBI's own words, its counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) had as a goal, "to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the activities of black organizations and to
prevent black "leaders from gaining respectability." And instead of real leaders, COINTELPRO offers us hand-picked "court priests" who are more loyal to the plan than to the people. Court priests
who preach peace, peace when there is no peace.
As you can see, the statistics are very grim for Black America. Although your offer was not accepted by Mayor Giuliani, I would like to ask you to consider assisting Americans who are in dire need
right now. I believe we can guide your generosity to help improve the state of Black America and build better lives.
My office can provide you with a list of charities who labor under the most difficult circumstances to try and improve the lives of the people they serve. I hope you will consider reaching out to our
charities and to our people who are in need.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.
Member of Congress
November 2, 2008 -- Now McCain and Palin are hiding behind "Country First"
posters. Where does that leave Palin's beloved Jesus?
"Country First" is typical of the simple-minded nationalism that conservatives
have always exploited to cajole the people. Nationalism is just selfishness writ
large. Nationalism is parochialism disguised as universalism.
October 9, 2008 -- Aha! So now the ultra-right-wingers, the consummate
privatizers, the very people who wanted to privatize Social Security, are
nationalizing banks and other financial institutions! Where would our Social
Security be now if we had listened to them?
While they are so eager to nationalize, let them nationalize the health insurance
companies so that we can at last get the affordable, simple, and universal access
to health care that we all deserve.