Letters to the Editor

(June 2, 2008)


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How to Answer one's Critics with Class; Support the Nader-Gonzalez Campaign; and be Nice to ol' Bruce Anderson: Gilles d'Aymery's Blips #70 and Meeting Ralph Nader & Matt Gonzalez

Dear Editor:

I see by your latest "Blips" that some folks are still trying to mislabel you as a "Hater of America." I thought I'd offer up the stock answer I like to toss back whenever I find myself in receipt of this misguided accusation. It usually falls on deaf ears, but occasionally can lead to a constructive exchange. You might find it useful in that respect.

You say I hate America, but I'm not certain that I do. It all really depends on your definition of America. What I know I do hate is ignorance and the bigotry it leads to and perpetuates. I hate unchecked greed and the "mine first!" absence of empathy towards those who may be in need of a temporary helping hand. I hate the economic injustices enforced by corruption in government, especially when that corruption is abetted by an institutional apparatus designed to hide the sources of influence. Above all, I hate the perverse reliance on violence as the means to any end. If these are the characteristics you most closely associate with your idea of America, then the assessment, from your perspective, is accurate. If this is your America, then yes, I hate it. But I, personally, have yet to witness any evidence that these particular human and social failings take note of or confine themselves to any notions of political sovereignty or mutually recognized borders. I find that they exist, in varying degrees, everywhere and I hate them equally wherever I find them. America is irrelevant to both the problems we face and the solutions we should be pursuing.

Also, thank you for your many kind words in support of the Nader/Gonzalez candidacy. There are far too many individuals and organizations that espouse a progressive political rhetoric, but deeply dependant on the benefits that flow from the status quo, choose to view Nader only as a threat that needs attacking. Since they can't argue with his identification and analysis of the problems that must be overcome or his carefully thought out proposals for working toward their solution, without exposing the vacuity of their own rhetoric and "progressive" credentials, they attack the man. "He's an egomaniac! Delusional!" they cry. I'm sure, like the rest of us, Mr. Nader is also saddled with an ego. But it should be clear to anyone who has heard him speak or has read his policy statements, (which admittedly requires no small effort, given the blacklisting treatment afforded him by our media) that it's not his ego which motivates his work. After waiting and watching for as long as he possibly could, he decided to run again only when he realized that no one else was going to step up and make the personal and professional sacrifices needed to front this kind of campaign. Nor is he delusional. No one knows better than Ralph Nader that he is not going to win a single electoral vote, let alone an election, in 2008. He may be unreasonably optimistic about his goal of achieving ballot access in every state, but that's where the expectations end. Nader understands that his role is to offer citizens disenfranchised by an entrenched oligarchy an opportunity to voice their opposition and a reasonable alternative to the corporate underwritten imperatives of a Democrat/Republican "choice." His mission is in promoting an understanding that the rules provided by our Constitution do not limit us to the choices being shoved down our throats by the programming of a heavily invested media. This campaign is about holding the door open through one more election cycle, with an eye toward our future awakening. Five or six elections cycles down the road, when the social, moral, and economic collapse we see accelerating now has become exponentially worse, a significant number of voters will come to understand the depth of their betrayal at the hands of a system that has never represented their interests. When we one day wake up on the barren shores on which we've been deposited by this corrupt duopoly of political muscle and finally find within ourselves the motivation to use the power invested in us by our Constitution to evict the landlords and take back our building, it will have been the hard and unselfish work done early in the century by people like Ralph Nader that has kept the possibility alive.

Oh, and one other thing, Gilles. Ease up on Bruce. Like you, I've missed the fiery persona and aggressive invective of an earlier incarnation of the Anderson Valley Advertiser. But, while he may have shifted his priorities somewhat in the direction of more local issues, I've detected no erosion in the integrity of Mr. Anderson's principles, values, or goals. Let's consider the possibility that he's just decided to pace himself for the long haul, this time around. After all, we all still have a very long road ahead of us. Of course, if Anderson were to read any of this letter, he'd no doubt dismiss me as just one more Subaru driving lib-lab, devoid of any sense of our inevitable doomedness, and exercising his right to stand out on the porch and bark futilely at the moon as the world circles the drain. He may well be right about that, but I'll stand my ground and keep on barking because he might just be wrong, too. It could be that if we keep on seeking the truth, one day things will start to get a little better. In the meantime, I hope you guys can both continue to find the resources to keep up the good work you're doing, because I remain a devoted reader of both Swans and the AVA.

Michael DeLang
Rockford, Illinois, USA - May 22, 2008


Support for Ralph Nader: Gilles d'Aymery's Meeting Ralph Nader & Matt Gonzalez

To the Editor:

Hey now Gilles and Jan, I enjoyed reading your story about meeting Nader and Gonzalez. I was a little surprised, if I understood what you were saying correctly; it was your first meeting? I appreciated your support for Nader-Camejo in 2004. That's how I came to find Swans.

I met Nader in 1992 and asked him about his stand on industrial hemp. He admitted he never heard of it and asked me to send him information. Months later it was on his presidential platform and he was a write-in candidate.

Nader helped lead me from the only party I ever joined, the Libertarian Party, to re-register, Decline to State Party, which I remain registered. I voted for, supported and volunteered for Nader's 1996, Y2K, and also the 2004 campaign, where again he was a write-in candidate.

Collecting signatures for Nader's ballot access in 2004 was BRUTAL work. We lost California, but gawd I worked hard. I hope to see Nader-Gonzalez on the ballot in 2008 because we need more voices and choices for peace (especially) and an independent candidate has the right to be on the ballot. I've sent Nader-Gonzalez gas money for CA.

This year my mind has been with Ron Paul rEVOLution, and I would LOVE to see a debate between Nader and Ron Paul, both unreasonable men. Ron Paul has changed my life and perspective about politics. I used to think Nader's biggest mistake was not getting into some senate or congressional office in the 1970s or '80s. I thought maybe if he would have come in with Jimmy Carter he would be president today. But now I don't think so. I see Jimmy Carter as an industrial corporate peanut farmer who knows people won't be planting those in their gardens, although it's a major food in sustainable diets globally.

Oh well, Ron Paul gave me the idea, what if Nader had gone the other direction, what if instead of taking his concept of consumer protection to the government, he put it on the free market? Instead of a corrupted EPA, we'd have tens of thousands "EPA" offices offering consumers information and services for affordable prices. Nader gave our government some of the greatest gifts to humankind ever, and look what they have done with it and to Mr. Nader. And yet, Nader does not mention Ron Paul in his daily e-mails.

While it's a long way until November, Ron Paul is not out of the race, and he may wind up on the ticket, and that would be very interesting if Ron Paul wound up replacing McCain because Nader and Paul have a lot in common, but it seems Nader believes the government has an obligation to protect us, and Ron Paul, whom I agree with, says the government has the obligation to protect the Constitution that contains our rights to protect ourselves...never ask a government to do for you what you can do for yourself...as in protection.

Protection to government winds up being a police state. With 600 FEMA "concentration camps" having been built in the name of Homeland Security, Ron Paul makes his point...also the war on drugs...who is that protecting? Wackenhut. Correctional Corporations. Look at all the money Ron Paul's campaign made. I'd like to see this for Nader, and now I understand why Ron Paul gets the bucks and Nader doesn't (though he does get some of mine because I will always appreciate what he has given me, a reason to vote).

Would have been great to have had a Ralph rEVOLution in 1996, Y2K, 2004, or even now. I watched an old interview of David Rockefeller the other day...2005...he described Obama as what this country needs... Obama has been selected as our next pResident.

Love, because there's no rEVOLution without it.

Jeanette Doney
Fort Bragg, California, USA - May 19, 2008


More Support for Ralph Nader: Gilles d'Aymery's Meeting Ralph Nader & Matt Gonzalez

To the Editor:

I have long supported Nader and looks like I will head up the Maryland effort to get him on the ballot here.

Still, it seems extraordinarily difficult to get people to actually vote for him when they see little chance of him winning against the two-party plutocracy. I try to argue that it is not about him winning as much as it is about rejecting the two-party plutocracy.

Joel S. Hirschhorn
Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA - May 19, 2008


Farewell to Utah Phillips from the Bureau of Public Secrets Web site

To the Editor:

Folksinger and storyteller Utah Phillips, a "national treasure" if there ever was one, died last Friday, May 23.

His performances featured the songs, jokes and lore of hobos, tramps, cowboys, migrant workers and Wobblies. Although he made a number of fine recordings, he was most truly in his element in live performances, where he knew how to draw the audience into a song or story and would leave us cracking up with laughter at some outrageous punch line that would unexpectedly pop up in the middle of his apparently rambling reminiscences.

Video clips can be found here, along with various other performers doing some of his songs --

For more recordings and links, see http://www.utahphillips.org/

Ken Knabb
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
Berkeley, California, USA - May 26, 2007


George Walker Bush's War Against Iraq: Five Long Years and Counting...

To the Editor:

American taxpayers need to ask some cold, hard questions of their leaders.

After 5 years of invasion and occupation, TRILLIONS spent of taxpayer dollars and THOUSANDS of U.S. military and Iraqi soldier and civilian casualties, who are the REAL winners of the Iraq War?

Are the winners the American people? No, they aren't.

So who ARE the winners?

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was led by the United States along with some British forces and some smaller contingencies from Denmark, Poland, Australia and from some other nations.

While the mainstream news media often remind us of the failures of the Iraq War, the money spent and the lives lost we seldom hear of the winners.

There have to be some winners or else we would NOT still be in Iraq for 5 years. There has to be a reason we are willing to remain there and it's NOT out of the goodness of our American hearts.

According to the periodical, Foreign Policy, the top 10 winners are the following:

1.. Iran --- the newly found power of Iran's Shiite leaders are due in large part to the Iraq war. Interestingly enough, despite being the prime source of enabling of that power, the Bush administration has turned its attention to Iran as its next consideration for military action.

2.. Emergence of Moqtada al-Sadr --- the interesting evolution of a radical Shiite cleric's rise to great power.

3.. Al Qaeda --- despite what the Bush administration states about the terrorist network, it had been badly injured after the 9/11 attacks but received its "second wind" after the invasion of Iraq.

4.. Samuel Huntington --- a mild-mannered man whose sharp opinions about the collision of Islam and the West, about the role of the military in a liberal society, about what separates countries that work from countries that don't, have proved to be as prescient as they have been controversial. Huntington has been ridiculed and vilified, but in the decades ahead his view of the world will be the way it really looks.

5.. China --- the industrial giant, as well as other nations, was provided room to grow and to prosper, thanks to the US attention to and war with Iraq.

6.. Arab Dictators --- while prior to the Iraq invasion and occupation Arab dictators were being scrutinized and subjected to US pressures to reform, now they are more independent and less concerned.

7.. Price of Oil --- as many American consumers now consider, the Iraq War sparked the high cost of oil (and gas) and the profits awarded OPEC Mid-East nations will continue long into the future.

8.. The United Nations --- for many years the world pointed the finger at the UN because of its poor record regarding its peace-keeping actions throughout the world. Suddenly, it doesn't look so bad in comparison.

9.. Old Europe --- in addition to feeling they were right in viewing the Iraq invasion and war as being wrong, the nations of Europe have strengthened their economy while the U.S. remains financially stressed by the war.

10.. Israel --- thanks to Iraq the pressure on Israel to continue the peace process with its Arab nations has been shelved indefinitely.

At this point in time, the reasons for invading Iraq are inconsequential in comparison to the long-time cost of the process in world reputation, taxpayer dollars, human lives and the new and more powerful Mid-East order.

When we ask the question, "Who are the REAL winners of the Iraq War?" the U.S. is not even in contention. While it is true that various American-owned companies have made billions from the invasion and occupation, Americans themselves and their government have lost a great deal.

How long the Iraq occupation will continue is an unanswered question; however, the longer the U.S. remains in the Mid-East the deeper it digs its own burial plot.

The future of the U.S. will be dependent upon the new leadership change as of January 01, 2009. The new administration will have to review, consider and modify the current administration's actions during the previous 8 years. Whatever the new leadership decides will influence dramatically America's direction and the world order for generations to come.

Peter Stern
Former Director of Information Services, University Professor and Public School Administrator, political writer well-known and published frequently throughout the Texas community and nationwide. He is a Disabled Vietnam Veteran and holds three post-graduate degrees. He can be reached at pstern AT austin.rr.com
Driftwood, Texas, USA - May 19, 2008


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Published June 2, 2008
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