25 February 2005

For the Sake of Our Children

By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — from Earthlight http://www.earthlight.org/2005/essay52_kennedy_pff.html

I have been an environmental advocate for twenty years, and I’ve been disciplined during that period about being nonpartisan in my approach to this issue. The worst thing that can happen to the environment is if it becomes the province of a single political party. Most of the environmental leaders in our country agree with me. Five years ago, if you asked the leaders of the major environmental groups in America, What’s the gravest threat to the global environment?, they would have given you a range of answers: overpopulation, habitat destruction, global warming. Today, they will all tell you one thing: it’s George W. Bush. This is the worst environmental president that we have ever had. You simply cannot speak honestly about the environment in any context today without speaking critically about this president. If you go to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s web site you will see over 400 major environmental rollbacks that have been promoted by this administration over the last three and half years. It is a concerted, deliberate attempt to eviscerate thirty years of environmental law. It is a stealth attack, one that’s been hidden from the public.
We found, in 2003, a memo from Frank Luntz, the president’s pollster, to the president saying that if you go through with the evisceration of America’s environmental law, you are going to alienate not just Democrats but the Republican rank and file. Eighty-one percent in both parties want clean air, they want stronger environmental laws and they want them strictly enforced. Luntz said that to the president, and he said, if we do this we have to do a stealth attack. He recommended using Orwellian rhetoric to mask this radical agenda: They want to destroy the forest, they call it the Healthy Forest Act, they want to destroy the air they call it the Clear Skies Act. Most insidiously, they have installed the worst, most irresponsible polluters in America, and the lobbyists from those companies, as the heads of virtually all the agencies and sub-secretariats and even Cabinet positions that regulate or oversee our environment. The head of the Forest Service is a timber industry lobbyist who is probably the most rapacious timber industry lobbyist in American history. The head of public lands is a mining industry lobbyist who believes that public lands are unconstitutional. The head of the Air Division at the EPA is a utility lobbyist who has represented the worst polluters in America for twenty years. The head of Superfund is a woman whose former job was advising companies how to evade Superfund. The second in command of EPA is a Monsanto lobbyist—these are not exceptions, these are the rules across the agencies. I think it’s a good idea to bring business people into government, to bring that experience and expertise. These individuals did not enter government service for the purpose of promoting the public interest, but in each of these cases, rather to subvert the very laws that they are now charged with enforcing. We are seeing the impacts of this already. This year, for the first year on record, the EPA announced that the dead zone in Lake Erie—you remember Lake Erie was declared dead prior to Earth Day 1970—is growing. Our water in this country, according to EPA, is getting dirty for the first time since the Clean Water Act was passed.
The rollbacks from the Bush administration have affected the lives of millions and millions of Americans adversely. Consider just one industry: the coal-burning utilities. One out of every four black children in New York now has asthma. I have three sons who have asthma. We don’t know why we have this epidemic of pediatric asthma, but we do know that asthma attacks are caused primarily by two components of air pollution: ozone and particulates. In the Los Angeles Times recently there was a description of a study that’s about to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine that shows that even small amounts of ozone pollution do permanent damage to children’s lungs. In San Bernardino, for example, ten percent of the children have lungs that are permanently damaged, that will never recover; and that lung injury precipitates in human beings a whole host of other diseases throughout their lifetime.
We know that the principal source of ozone and particulates in our air is coming from 1,100 coal-burning power plants that are burning coal illegally. They were supposed to install controls over fifteen years ago. The Clinton administration was prosecuting 75 of the worst of those plants. But this industry gave $48 million to President Bush during the 2000 campaign, and they’ve contributed $58 million since. One of the first things that President Bush did when he came to office was to order the Justice Department to drop all 75 of those suits. The Justice Department lawyers were shocked. This has never happened in our history before, where somebody running as a presidential candidate accepts money from a criminal and then lets that criminal off the hook. Many of you remember what happened when President Clinton pardoned Mark Rich and how indignant the press and the public was at that action. But Mark Rich was one person, and he never killed anybody. According to EPA, these 75 plants, just the criminal exceedences from these plants, kill 5,500 Americans every year. After letting these criminals off the hook, the president then went and rewrote the Clean Air Act, illegally we believe. We’re suing him, we’ll win the suit, but it may take ten years, and in the meantime they’ll discharge what they want.
I live in New York State. Most of the fish in New York are now unsafe to eat from mercury contamination. I live two miles from the state of Connecticut; in Connecticut every freshwater fish is now unsafe to eat. Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that in 19 states it is unsafe to regularly eat any freshwater fish, and in 48 states at least some fish are unsafe to eat. The mercury is coming, largely, from those same 1,100 coal-burning power plants. We know a lot about mercury that we didn’t know five or ten years ago. We know that one out of every six American women of childbearing years now has so much mercury in her womb that her children are at risk for a grim inventory of diseases: cognitive impairment; mental retardation; autism; blindness; kidney, liver or heart disease. I have so much mercury in my body, I was told by Dr. David Carpenter, who is the national authority on mercury contamination, that if I were a woman of childbearing years and produced a child, that the child would have cognitive impairment, and, he estimated, a permanent IQ loss of five to seven points. There are 630,000 children born in this country every year who have been exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb.
Recognizing this threat to the American public, the Clinton administration reclassified mercury as a hazardous pollutant under the Clean Air Act; that triggered the requirement that those companies remove 90 percent of that mercury within three and a half years. It would have cost, according to EPA, less than one percent of the revenues of those plants for them to do that. That’s a great deal for the American people, but it’s still billions of dollars for that industry. Eight weeks ago, Bush announced that he was scrapping the Clinton-era rules and substituting, instead, rules that were written by the industry’s lobbying firm Latham and Watkins. On their face, they say that they have to clean up, within fifteen years, 50 percent of the mercury. But they’ve woven so many loopholes into the new rule that they will literally never have to clean up. The chief lobbyist for the firm who wrote it is now the head of the Air Division at EPA.
We are living today in a science fiction nightmare, a world where, because somebody gave money to a politician, our children are brought into a world where the air is too poisonous for them to breathe. This is a world where, because somebody gave money to a politician, my children and the children of millions of other Americans can no longer enjoy the seminal, primal activities of their youth—which is to go fishing with their father or mother and come home and eat the fish. I live two hours south of the Adirondack Mountains. This is the oldest protected wilderness area on the face of the Earth; it’s been protected since the 1880s. Today, one-fifth of the lakes in the Adirondacks are sterilized from acid rain which is coming from those same coal-burning power plants, and this president has put the brakes on the statutory requirement that those companies remove the materials that are causing the acid rain.
I flew recently over the coalfields of the Appalachians. I saw something that if the American people could see there would be a revolution in this country. We are cutting down the mountains, literally cutting them down. The coal companies blow off the tops of the mountains, using 2,500 tons of dynamite in West Virginia alone every year. They fire the workers: When my father was fighting strip mining in West Virginia in 1968 there were 114,000 coal miners digging coal out of West Virginia. He told me that strip mining was not only going to destroy the economy of West Virginia in the long term but it was designed to destroy the jobs so that they didn’t have to employ union labor. Now, there are only 12,000 miners left to get the same amount of coal. They do it by blowing off the tops of the mountains, and they take that rubble and they dump it into the adjacent river valley. They’ve already covered up 1,200 miles of our streams. We are destroying, flattening this landscape that is a part of American history. It’s the source of our values, our virtues, our character as a people; the landscapes, the mountains where Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone roamed, and we are cutting them to the ground. Of course it’s illegal, you cannot take rubble and debris and toxic waste and dump it into a river without a Clean Water Act permit, and the Clean Water Act could never let you get a permit to do that. So we sued. Joe Lovett, the attorney from West Virginia, sued the Bush administration and the Army Corps of Engineers for allowing this practice to happen. We won the lawsuit, and the judge enjoined all mountain top mining. Two days from that victory, the Bush administration rewrote the Clean Water Act to allow mountain top mining to continue forever; not only that, but changed the structure of the act so that anybody can dump rubble and debris simply by getting a rubber stamp permit from the Corps of Engineers.
If you ask the people in the White House who are promoting this legislation, Why are you doing this?, what they’ll say is: We have to choose between economic prosperity and environmental protection—that is a false choice. In 100 percent of the situations, good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy. We want to measure our economy based upon how it produces jobs and how it preserves the value of the assets of our community. If, on the other hand, we want to do what the Bush administration has been urging us to do, which is to treat the planet as if it were a business in liquidation, to convert our natural resources to cash as quickly as possible, to have a few years of pollution-based prosperity, we can generate an instantaneous cash flow and the illusion of a prosperous economy. But our children are going to pay for our joy ride. They are going to pay for it with denuded landscapes and poor health and huge cleanup costs that are going to amplify over time and that they are never going to be able to pay. Environmental injury is deficit spending. It’s a way of loading the costs of our generation’s prosperity onto the backs of our children.
There is no stronger advocate for free-market capitalism than myself. The free market spawns efficiency, and efficiency means the elimination of waste. Waste is pollution, so in a true free-market economy you would eliminate, as nearly as you can, pollution. In a true free-market economy you can’t make yourself rich without making your neighbors rich and without enriching your community. Polluters make themselves rich by making everybody else poor. They raise standards of living for themselves by lowering the quality of life for everybody else, and they do that by escaping the discipline of the free market and forcing the public to pay their production cost. You show me a polluter, I’ll show you a subsidy. Corporations are externalizing machines; they are constantly trying to figure out a way to avoid their own costs and foist it out on the public.
I’ll give you an example. When the coal companies, the utilities, discharge mercury into the air they are avoiding one of the costs of bringing their products to market, which is the cost of properly disposing of a dangerous processed chemical. When they avoid the costs they can out-compete their competitors, they can out-compete gas and oil and wind power. But the costs don’t disappear. They go into the fish, they make children sick, they permanently injure children’s lungs, they put people out of work, they acidify the lakes in the Adirondacks and they’ve destroyed the forest cover of the Appalachian Mountains all the way from Georgia up into Quebec. Those impacts impose costs on the rest of us that should be reflected in the price of that product. All of the federal environmental laws are meant to restore free-market capitalism in America. I don’t even consider myself an environmentalist anymore. I’m a free marketeer. I go out into the marketplace, I track down the polluters and I say to them, We are going to force you to internalize your costs the same way that you’re internalizing your profits. Americans have to understand that there is a huge difference between free-market capitalism which democratizes our country, that brings us prosperity and efficiency, and the kind of corporate crony capitalism which is as antithetical to democracy in America as it is in Nigeria.
I work a lot with farmers trying to fight industrial hog meat production, which is not only one of the primary threats to the American environment but also one of the primary threats to the American worker. It’s allowing a few monopolies to control our food supply and to put farmers out of business. Fifteen years ago there were 27,000 independent hog farmers in North Carolina, today there are none. They have been replaced completely by 2,200 hog factories, 1,600 owned or controlled by Smithfield Foods, one large corporation. They produce such huge amounts of waste they have to dispose of it illegally, and so they have to corrupt political officials in order to continue operating.
I gave a speech a group of 1,200 farmers in Clear Lake, Iowa, and I said that I am more frightened of these large multinationals than I am of Osama bin Laden. I got a standing ovation from all the farmers in the room, but I got six months of abuse from the farm bureau. I stand by what I said. It’s the same thing that Teddy Roosevelt said, that our country was too strong and too committed to ever be destroyed by a foreign enemy, but our democratic institutions would be subverted by what he called "malefactors of great wealth," who would destroy them from within. Another great Republican, Abraham Lincoln, during the heat of the Civil War in 1863, said, I have the South in front of me, and the bankers behind me and for my country, I fear the bankers more.
From the beginning of American history our greatest political leaders—Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams and Andrew Jackson—have warned America against allowing large corporations to dominate our political systems and our lives. Another Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, the most famous speech he made was warning America against the domination by the military-industrial complex. Franklin Roosevelt said that the domination of our nation by large corporations is the definition of fascism. I have an American Heritage Dictionary, and the definition, if you look up fascism, says, "the domination of government by large corporations driven by right-wing ideology and bellicose nationalism"—that’s getting to look pretty familiar. The problem with letting large corporations dominate our government is that it erodes democracy, it erodes our capacity to participate in public life, our capacity for dignity, and it allows these entities to squander resources that belong to our children. But the thing that we’ve squandered worst of all is our natural heritage: the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the wildlife, the lands—all these things that make us proud to be American. This administration has taken the conserve out of conservatism. They claim to like the free market, but what they are really embracing is corporate welfare capitalism, socialism for the rich. They claim to love property rights, but only when it’s the right of a polluter to use his property to destroy his neighbor’s property or to destroy the public property. They claim to like law and order, but they are the first ones to let the large corporations and their corporate contributors violate the law at public expense. They claim to love local control and states’ rights, but it’s only in those instances when they’re taking down the barriers to large corporations.
They claim to embrace Christianity while violating the manifold mandates of Christianity: that we are stewards of the land, and that we are meant to care for nature. They have embraced this Christian heresy of dominion theology, which James Watt was the first to enunciate when he told the Senate, I don’t think that there is any point in protecting the public lands because we don’t how long the world is going to last before the Lord returns. The woman he mentored for twenty years, Gale Norton, is running the Department of the Interior.
The reason that we protect nature is because it enriches us. It enriches us economically, yes, the base of our economy, and we ignore that at our peril. But it also enriches us aesthetically and recreationally, culturally and historically, and spiritually. Human beings have other appetites besides money, and if we don’t feed them we’re not going to become the kind of beings that our Creator intended. When we destroy nature we impoverish ourselves, we diminish ourselves and we impoverish our children. We’re not protecting those ancient forests in the Pacific Northwest, as Rush Limbaugh loves to say, for the sake of a spotted owl. We are protecting those forests because we believe that the trees have more value to humanity standing than they would have if we cut them down. I’m not fighting for the Hudson for the sake of the shad or the sturgeon or the stripped bass but because I believe my life will be richer; my children, my community will be richer if we live in a world where there are shad and sturgeon and striped bass in the Hudson. Commercial fishing on the Hudson is 350 years old. Many of these people come from Dutch families that learned the same fishing methods that they’re using today from the Algonquin Indians during the Dutch colonial period. I want my children to be able to touch them when they come to shore to repair their nets or wait out the tides, and in doing that, connect themselves to New York history and understand that they are part of something larger than themselves. I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where it’s all Unilever and 400-ton factory trolleys 100 miles offshore strip mining the ocean with no interface with humanity, and where we have no family farmers left in America; where we’ve driven the final nail into the coffin of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an American democracy rooted in tens of thousands of freeholds owned by family farmers, each with a stake in our democracy. I don’t want a world where we’ve lost touch with the seasons and the tides and the things that connect us to the ten thousand generations of human beings that were here before there were laptops, and that connect us ultimately to God.
I don’t believe that nature is God or that we ought to be worshiping it as God, but I do believe that it’s the way that God talks to us most clearly. God talks to human beings through many vectors: through each other, through organized religion, through the great books of those religions, through wise people, through art, literature, music and poetry—but nowhere with such clarity, texture, grace and joy as through Creation. We don’t know Michelangelo by looking at his biography, we know him by looking at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We know our Creator best by studying Creation, which all of the religious texts mandate us to do. If you look at all of the great, central epiphany in every religious tradition in mankind’s history, the revelation always occurs in the wilderness. Buddha had to go into the wilderness to experience self-realization. Mohamed had to go to the wilderness of Mount Hira in 629 and wrestle an angel in the middle of the night to have the Koran squeezed out of him. Moses had to go onto the wilderness of Mount Sinai to get the Commandments. The Jews had to spend 40 years in the wilderness to purge themselves of the 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Christ had to spend 40 days in the wilderness to discover his divinity. His mentor was John the Baptist, a man of the wilderness who lived in a cave in the Jordan Valley and dressed in the skins of wild animals.
All of Christ’s parables are taken from nature: I am the vine; you are the branch; The Mustard Seed; the little swallows the scattering, the seeds on fallow ground. He called himself a fisherman, a farmer, a vineyard keeper, a shepherd. That’s how he stayed in touch with the people. He was saying things to them that contradicted everything that they had heard from the literate, sophisticated people of their time. They would have dismissed him as a quack but they were able to confirm the wisdom of his parables about the fishes and the birds through their own observations of the natural world. They were able to say: He’s not telling us something new, he’s simply illuminating something that’s very, very old.
When we destroy these things, we’re cutting ourselves off from the very things that make us human, that give us a spiritual life. And for these people on Capitol Hill to be saying that they are following the mandate of Christ by liquidating our public assets—what they are really doing is a moral affront to the next generation. That’s why we preserve nature. Not for our sake, but for the sake of the future. That obligation is expressed by the term sustainability. All that word means is that God wants us to use the things we’ve been given, to enrich ourselves, to improve our quality of life, to serve others—but we can’t use them up. We can’t sell the farm piece by piece in order to pay for the groceries; we can’t drain the pond to catch the fish. We can’t cut down the mountain to get at the coal. We can live off the interest; we can’t go into the capital that belongs to our children.

17 February 2005

JAGs with conscience

It's hard to know whether to be proud of the military lawyers who tried to exercise some conscience, or just plain horrified at yet more evidence of the growing trend towards fascism in this country.

Via the Kansas City Star:

Sources: Military lawyers objected to interrogation methods at Guantanamo
originally from the New York Daily News

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Military lawyers at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison tried to stop inhumane interrogations, but were ignored by senior Pentagon officials, The New York Daily News has learned.

Judge advocates - uniformed legal advisers known as JAGs who were assigned to a secret war crimes task force - repeatedly objected to aggressive interrogations by a separate intelligence unit at Camp Delta, where Taliban and al-Qaida suspects have been jailed since January 2002.

But Pentagon officials "didn't think this was a big deal, so they just ignored the JAGs," a senior military source said.

The military lawyers' actions had never been disclosed and are the first known cases of lower-level officers resisting interrogations at the Cuban camp that might constitute torture. Some officials called them "unsung heroes" for risking their careers by crossing senior officials who approved the techniques.

The potentially unlawful methods objected to by the judge advocates were among 33 procedures authorized in a Dec. 2, 2002, memo by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and used on at least two detainees.

A Pentagon report last August found the prisoners gave "important and time-urgent information."

The lawyers' objections were that battlefield interrogation methods, where slapping around a prisoner might be justifiable if it immediately saved lives, were immoral and possibly illegal if used on prisoners far from a war zone and long after their capture, three sources said. Abuse cases reported in FBI memos obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union are now being probed by the Justice Department and the U.S. Southern Command, the Pentagon unit that oversees Guantanamo.

One of the judge advocates, an Air Force officer, left Guantanamo and then filed a Jan. 15, 2003, "Memorandum for the Record," sources said. According to portions read to The New York Daily News, the memorandum noted conflicting interrogation policies at Guantanamo and objected to aggressive techniques.
These were raised repeatedly with the Southern Command by their secret unit, the Criminal Investigation Task Force, a 150-person team of investigators from each branch of the military. Its mission was to work with the FBI and Secret Service to identify detainees' fitness for military war crimes trials.

On the same day of the 2003 Memorandum for the Record, Rumsfeld temporarily rescinded his December 2002 order permitting "stress positions," the use of dogs and "mild" physical contact to intimidate uncooperative prisoners, because of legal concerns.

The objectionable interrogations were done by Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, a separate intelligence unit seeking tips on terror threats, sources said.
Defense Department officials refused repeated requests for comment by The New York Daily News.

The dispute about the methods at Guantanamo began after the September 2002 sacking of the camp's commander, Army Brig. Gen. Rick Baccus. He was replaced in November by Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, whose later attempts to "Gitmo-ize" Iraq's prisons tied him to the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.

In October that year, just before Miller's arrival, the U.S. Southern Command asked the Pentagon to use harsher methods on detainees resisting questioning, and by December Rumsfeld had approved the techniques, which Miller then encouraged.
An Air Force colonel with the war crimes task force told a superior he was "aghast" at the harsher techniques. Long interrogations and isolation had been effective, a senior former officer said. And Miller dismissed the concerns of the judge advocates who were persuaded the interrogation policies violated the law, sources said.

11 February 2005

Senator Feinstein vows not to "throw Social Security overboard"

Social Security Reform: My vow not to throw Social Security overboard
Dianne Feinstein
Friday, February 4, 2005

Social Security has provided America's senior citizens with a guaranteed retirement income since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed it into law 70 years ago, and I believe it would be a dramatic mistake to privatize even part of the system.

Half of all American workers today are not covered by retirement plans. For them, Social Security is it.

More than 4.3 million people receive Social Security benefits in California, including 860,000 of them with no other source of income. We have the highest cost of living in the nation. When we produce new jobs, more than likely they are part-time and minimum wage without adequate pension and retirement benefits.

Keeping Social Security intact has become more important than ever.

In his State of the Union speech, the president vowed to "strengthen and save Social Security." But in proposing to carve out private accounts, he offered no specific proposal on how he would shore up Social Security or pay for the privatization.

Over the long run, changes are needed in Social Security, but we need to do it right. Unfortunately, the president's plan would cut Social Security's funding, weaken the program and make its financial problems worse.

With all the "crisis" rhetoric coming from the administration, people are beginning to fear for the future of Social Security. Wednesday night, after months of declaring that Social Security is in crisis, the President went so far as to declare that by 2042 Social Security would be "exhausted and bankrupt." That's simply not true.

We have time to do what we need to do to shore up the program financially. On our side of the aisle, we want to fix it, and I believe we can. There is a difference of opinion over the long-term shortfall of revenues facing Social Security. Using very conservative predictions of U.S. economic growth, the Social Security Board of Trustees -- which includes three members of the president's Cabinet -- has estimated that promised benefits will continue until 2042, even if no changes are made. After 2042, recipients would continue to get 73 percent of their benefits for at least another three decades -- again, with no dramatic changes to the system.

But to ensure that the benefits continue at the current level until 2080, $3.7 trillion is needed, according to the trustees.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the trustees are under- estimating economic growth; that $2 trillion is necessary to close the gap; that recipients would get all their promised benefits until 2052, even without any revisions in the program; and that they would draw 78 percent of their benefits for three decades, until at least 2080.

These are big numbers. But by making some balanced long-term changes, we can ensure solvency much further into the future. Some have made proposals along the following lines:

  • -- Raising the annual cap for payroll taxes gradually from the current $90,000 to $143,000, which could provide up to $1.6 trillion over 75 years;
  • -- Ensuring increases in Social Security benefits are more accurately linked to inflation, which could save $680 billion over 75 years.
  • -- Repealing President Bush's tax cut for those earning more than $200, 000 and transferring the revenues to Social Security, which could save about $2.9 trillion over 75 years.

One other alternative would be to have the Social Security trustees conduct an independent and comprehensive actuarial evaluation every five years and make recommendations to Congress based on this data. Congress could approve or reject these proposed changes.

These proposals, and others, deserve careful study so that we fully understand the costs and benefits of each. I deeply believe that our nation should take the time to do this analysis, instead of rushing headlong into one plan or another.

The president has suggested that fundamental and dramatic change is needed -- in the form of private accounts. But even the president's own advisers acknowledge his proposal would do nothing to address the Social Security shortfall. In a leaked White House e-mail, Peter Wehner, one of the president's principal advisers, stated, "We simply cannot solve the Social Security problem with Personal Retirement Accounts alone."

In fact, the president's plan to let workers begin diverting up to 4 percent of their income (or two-thirds of their Social Security contribution) to private accounts starting in 2009 would add more than $4.5 trillion in debt over the next 20 years, according to the Center on Budget Policy Priorities. But Bush has not, thus far, said how he would pay for this.

Social Security was never meant to provide more than a safety net -- the average payment today is $10,461 for all future recipients, and the average payout to retirees is $11,458. So in order to ensure additional financial security for our seniors, we also must do much more to promote America's retirement savings. But instead of the president's risky proposal that would provide little additional revenue for beneficiaries, we can make small changes such as automatic enrollment in 401(k) accounts and a simple check-off to enable people to put part of their income tax refund in an IRA account. Some financial experts estimate that these two small changes alone could double the national savings rate.

Americans must do more to prepare for retirement. But we can do it without a fundamental dismantling of Social Security.

04 February 2005

My Letter to AARP: Let's Have a March on Washington

February 4, 2005
AARP 601 E. Street NW

Washington, DC 20049

Re: Strong Measures Needed to Oppose Irresponsible Bush Plan to Wreck Social Security

To whom it may concern:

I read with growing dread the articles in both the New York Times and Washington Post today to the effect that the people who will be most badly hurt, if this Administration’s reckless and deceptive campaign to wreck Social Security is successful, will be precisely my cohort: people in their early 50’s.

I believe that the Bush politicos hope to blunt opposition from AARP and other advocacy groups for Seniors’ interests by "guaranteeing" benefits to those over 55. This is reminiscent of employer tactics in wage negotiations to create two-tier wage scales where older workers are "grandfathered" into favorable wage and benefit packages while new employees are welcomed to the Brave New World of lower or no-benefits, and lower non-guaranteed wages.

I want to strongly urge your organization to treat this most dangerous threat to older Americans’ financial security in years as what it is: POLITICAL WAR. Not only the younger tier of your members today, but all of the organization’s future members, are seriously threatened by this ruinous plan.

I contributed when your petition appeal on this issue arrived recently. But I think the strongest possible action is necessary. Please consider organizing an AARP March on Washington against the Destruction of Social Security.
Thank you.

Very truly yours,

David Studhalter

03 February 2005

Hell, no! To Bush Plan to Ruin Social Security

I'm sending this to my congressman and 2 senators:

Dear ~,

Having reviewed the contents of Mr. Bush's deceptive and ill-reasoned speech on the State of the Union, I just want to emphasize once again: IF THERE IS ONE ISSUE DEMOCRATS EXPECT CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THEIR PARTY TO FIGHT ALL THE WAY AGAINST, IT'S BUSH'S WHOLLY UNACCEPTABLE PLAN TO RUIN SOCIAL SECURITY.

There can be no real compromise with such a dangerous and elitist scheme, obviously motivated as it is by a desire to turn back the clock to before the very existence of New Deal Social Programs. Obviously, they want to ease the path for the very rich even more, at the expense of everyone else. The misleading propaganda techniques used by this most-dishonest-ever administration are effective, but they can't fool everyone, and older Americans are saying, 'Hell, No! We won't have it and we won't support anyone who cooperates in any way with it!'

Thank you.

02 February 2005

Dean Reported Likely to Be DNC Chairman

The New York Times is reporting that Howard Dean is likely to be chosen as DNC Chair. I regard this as a positive development, amid the bleak news from Washington and the increasingly dismal prospects of the US economy and foreign policy stance. The good doctor is a solid, real Democrat. I firmly believe that Democrats will not turn the tide and take back the country, to use Dean's fabled phrase, until they stop trying to be Republicans light.