To The Daily Sun,
During times of economic hardship, the nation's corporations become "grassroots activists" claiming they are on your side and care only about your "freedoms." Historically in New Hampshire, the political right has been very successful at convincing many middle class and indeed, low income voters that their own interests are in line with the corporate "fat cats."
Let me share a few examples that might ring a bell with you. Everyday, we hear of the financial problems caused by Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and unemployment insurance. If your life, or that of your family is made better by any of these government programs, you are simply the cause of the problem. Corporate pundits and lobbyists have even coined a word that summarizes your crime — you are getting "entitlements" which implies that these are benefits you did not earn, when in fact you did. We all paid our payroll or SSI tax with every paycheck. Even unemployment insurance is something that you paid into, even if you never collected.
To correct your irresponsible behavior, the "Teapublicans" are trying to persuade you into signing onto having your Social Security cut along with your health benefits and everything else. Many Republicans in Congress are pushing to reduce your benefits by weakening Social Security and Medicare, while curtailing food stamps, even for families of active armed forces personnel.
Perhaps, an even greater outrage is to hold the American people hostage by trying to force the president to defund Obamacare, the Affordable Care Law. This law, already passed by Congress and approved by the Supreme Court not only provides health care for 32 million uninsured Americans, but prevents insurance companies from refusing to cover all citizens no matter what their health history. One example, before the law, an innocent little baby born with a pre-natal condition could never get insurance coverage, during his lifetime. How can people who say they care about family values want to return to this injustice?
If President Obama does not agree to defund the law, the Teapublicans want to shut down the government and refuse to pass an increase in the national debt, preventing the U.S. from paying its obligations. This will make our money worthless and destroy our credit in the rest of the world. And the Republicans call everyone else "financially irresponsible?"
It is your choice, for we live in a democracy. Are you going to vote your self-interest and conscience or give the people who are philosophically against necessary programs the power to run your government? The choice is clear.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 10:57
To The Daily Sun,
Can patriotism be treason?
Contemporary concepts of American Exceptionalism imply it can. If we apply those concepts to end our planet's romance with self-government, Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese historians may well report it was.
The concept of American exceptionalism originated with Alexis de Tocqueville in his sentinel two-volume thesis "Democracy in America." In 1831, the French government sent him to study American prisons. For nine months, the young man (he was 25) traveled extensively studying American economics, sociology and political institutions.
He did not use the word "exceptionalism." The American Communist Party brought the word to the lexicon in the 1920s.
Tocqueville thought America was "exceptional" because it had not evolved as European nations had. Born from revolution, America, in Tocqueville's estimation, was the world's first "new nation." Its nature grew from a unique ideology of liberty, individualism and equality.
European communists in the early 20th century believed the collapse of western capitalism and revolt of the working class were imminent. American communists, however, thought an exceptionalism principle applied to the United States. Its industrial might, abundance of natural resources and absence of class distinction would hold collapse and revolt at bay for an extended period. (We might note none of these exceptions is true today.)
In our time, "exceptionalism" has come a long way from meaning different or fortunate. We clearly mean better. Would-be officeholders cannot enter political competition without explicitly acknowledging American superiority. Concepts and utterances such as "American decline" or "end of empire" are taboos in the political dialogue.
Few, if any, politicians or pundits dare suggest promotion of American exceptionalism is akin to treason. Perhaps it is time they (and we) considered that proposition.
The Constitution defines treason very narrowly. Even in times of shooting war, it is not always clear if a particular act is treason.
The more we bicker among ourselves, the more we are coming to view one another as enemy. As we become our own enemy, do our definitional concepts of treason become clearer or more muddled? Flag waving may have its place, but when we substitute it for problem-solving, are we patriots or fools?
We worry our kids are among the worst educated in the developed world; but when common sense is the measure of things, does it matter? If we embrace or reject science as it compliments or diminishes our personal beliefs and druthers, is the Age of Enlightenment still in our rear view?
Many, if not most philosophers would say the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (particularly the Bill of Rights) are crowning jewels from the Age of Enlightenment. If exceptionalism requires we ignore the wisdom of Enlightenment — that reason is supreme and everything is open to criticism — do we really think patriotism based in exceptionalism and dogmatically driven "common sense" provides sufficient guidance for decision-making in an era of constant change, competition and danger?
There was a time when we were less occupied with our omnipotence and grandeur. We thought our republic was an experiment, a great one to be sure, but an experiment nonetheless. It would not always meet our expectations, but we would make it better next time.
We still take pride in the belief our republic is self-correcting. At one time that meant we were willing to work on problems and deficiencies. The proposition the nation will mystically heal itself if only government ignores problems would seem strange to the pragmatic people who founded and built this country.
We were not a people who felt the need to brag on ourselves or to have our ideals of superiority constantly reinforced by politicians. We could accept our nation was imperfect but clung to the proposition it was on an endless journey to "a more perfect union."
A constant stream of objective measures paints a portrait of fading greatness. We can ignore data or we can respond. We can push government away and expect unrestrained capitalism to create an equitable society for ourselves and our kids, or we can push government into the fray to "promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. . . ."
If exceptionalism were just feel-good ideology promoting optimism and encouraging us to face down hard times with confidence, it would serve us well. It is not. It undermines our will to face reality and make the collective sacrifices that are greatness.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 10:53
"Congress doesn't have a whole lot of core responsibilities," said Barack Obama last week in an astonishing remark. For in the Constitution, Congress appears as the first branch of government. And among its enumerated powers are the power to tax, coin money, create courts, provide for the common defense, raise and support an army, maintain a navy and declare war.
But, then, perhaps Obama's contempt is justified. For consider Congress' broad assent to news that Obama has decided to attack Syria, a nation that has not attacked us and against which Congress has never authorized a war.
Why is Obama making plans to launch cruise missiles on Syria?
According to a "senior administration official ... who insisted on anonymity," President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people last week in the two-year-old Syrian civil war. But who deputized the United States to walk the streets of the world pistol-whipping bad actors. Where does our imperial president come off drawing "red lines" and ordering nations not to cross them?
Neither the Security Council nor Congress nor NATO nor the Arab League has authorized war on Syria.
Who made Barack Obama the Wyatt Earp of the Global Village?
Moreover, where is the evidence that WMDs were used and that it had to be Assad who ordered them? Such an attack makes no sense. Firing a few shells of gas at Syrian civilians was not going to advance Assad's cause but, rather, was certain to bring universal condemnation on his regime and deal cards to the War Party which wants a U.S. war on Syria as the back door to war on Iran.
Why did the United States so swiftly dismiss Assad's offer to have U.N. inspectors — already in Damascus investigating old charges he or the rebels used poison gas — go to the site of the latest incident?
Do we not want to know the truth? Are we fearful the facts may turn out, as did the facts on the ground in Iraq, to contradict our latest claims about WMDs? Are we afraid that it was rebel elements or rogue Syrian soldiers who fired the gas shells to stampede us into fighting this war?
With U.S. ships moving toward Syria's coast and the McCainiacs assuring us we can smash Syria from offshore without serious injury to ourselves, why has Congress not come back to debate war?
Lest we forget, Ronald Reagan was sold the same bill of goods the War Party is selling today — that we can intervene decisively in a Mideast civil war at little or no cost to ourselves.
Reagan listened and ordered our Marines into the middle of Lebanon's civil war. And he was there when they brought home the 241 dead from the Beirut barracks and our dead diplomats from the Beirut embassy.
The only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history. Congress should cut short its five-week vacation, come back, debate and decide by recorded vote whether Obama can take us into yet another Middle East war.
The questions to which Congress needs answers:
— Do we have incontrovertible proof that Bashar Assad ordered chemical weapons be used on his own people? And if he did not, who did?
— What kind of reprisals might we expect if we launch cruise missiles at Syria, which is allied with Hezbollah and Iran?
— If we attack, and Syria or its allies attack U.S. military or diplomatic missions in the Middle East or here in the United States, are we prepared for the wider war we will have started?
— Assuming Syria responds with a counterstrike, how far are we prepared to go up the escalator to regional war? If we intervene, are we prepared for the possible defeat of the side we have chosen, which would then be seen as a strategic defeat for the United States?
— If stung and bleeding from retaliation, are we prepared to go all the way, boots on the ground, to bring down Assad? Are we prepared to occupy Syria to prevent its falling to the Al-Nusra Front, which it may if Assad falls and we do not intervene?
The basic question that needs to be asked about this horrific attack on civilians, which appears to be gas related, is: Cui bono?
To whose benefit would the use of nerve gas on Syrian women and children redound? Certainly not Assad's, as we can see from the furor and threats against him that the use of gas has produced.
The sole beneficiary of this apparent use of poison gas against civilians in rebel-held territory appears to be the rebels, who have long sought to have us come in and fight their war.
Perhaps Congress cannot defund Obamacare. But at least they can come back to Washington and tell Obama, sinking poll numbers aside, he has no authority to drag us into another war. His Libyan adventure, which gave us the Benghazi massacre and cover-up, was his last hurrah as war president.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
Susan Estrich's August 23 column — "Evil Comes in all Colors" — reveals some blind spots the size of galaxies.
Can she really believe that gun control would have defeated the result of the evil residing in the "beasts" about whom she wrote? Estrich is an intelligent educated person but a blind spot that huge is dysfunctional. To think that gun control would have prevented the "beasts" from arming themselves is just plain unrealistic idealism. Stupid....or insane?
Estrich makes no distinction between "the right to possess a weapon" and the requirement that a weapon be used responsibly. Not only is that stupid but it borders on evil itself by advocating that real rights should be taken away by government force.
I don't like guns. But less I like people who have no regard for freedom. Gun control solves nothing. America needs a cultural revolution steering youth away from violence and sensationalism (turn off the TV), and that certainly cannot be led by law makers who too often are self-serving fortune seekers who sacrifice integrity for personal gain, or wrong-minded blathering columnists.
David M. Zebuhr
Last Updated on Monday, 26 August 2013 11:27
To The Daily Sun,
Thanks to the efforts of so many in our community, the first year of Got Lunch! Inter-Lakes was a huge success!
The mission of Got Lunch! Inter-Lakes is to provide a grocery bag of nutritious luncheon products, packed and delivered each week of the summer recess, to the children of families within the Inter-Lakes School District that find themselves in need of a little helping hand.
The program acquired the funds to purchase the food through the heartwarming generosity of the local business community, faith and civic based organizations and individual sponsorships.
In cooperation with the Inter-Lakes School District and the dedicated custodial staff at the elementary school, each Monday morning a group of committed volunteers, packed grocery bags full of luncheon products for the week and delivered them throughout the townships that make up the Inter-Lakes School District. In total 6,155 lunches were delivered this summer!
On behalf of the board, please accept our deepest gratitude for your generosity, both financially and through your volunteer efforts.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
The Board of Got Lunch! Inter-Lakes
Carla Horne, Christine Hodecker-George, Cathy Merwin, Andre Garcia, Roger Nicholls, Steve Merrill, Danielle Gintoff, Trish Laurent
Last Updated on Monday, 26 August 2013 11:21