Tuesday January 8, 2013

When it comes to Congress, it’s all in the details

Editor of the Reformer:

You recently published yet another letter taking Congress to task for being dysfunctional and for failing to get something done. This is a fashionable point of view, but it misses the point badly. If nothing is happening in a deeply divided legislature, then it is not dysfunctional at all. This is not a display of partisanship, it is a display of a deeply held disagreement about policy.

When it comes to the work of a legislature, getting something done is not the point. Getting the right thing done is the point. Had Bush succeeded in privatizing Social Security that could have been seen as getting something done. It would have caused a disaster in the ensuing crash but it would have been getting something done.

What is going on now in Congress is not a mystery. The House is under the control of an extreme right-wing element that generally sticks to its, um Š guns. And in the Senate that same right-wing element causes every consequential vote to require a filibuster proof majority. A small group of people, backed by enormous amounts of corporate money and by lobbyists for right-wing billionaires, and by Astroturf groups backed by those billionaires, have destroyed the general political consensus that we enjoyed in the years of prosperity between the war and the disaster that was Reagan.

The right wing in America is no longer embarrassed by greed. In effect, it celebrates it. Admires it. And thinks the greatest greed serves the greatest good. That’s why we see such admiration for the philosophy of Ayn Rand amongst people like Paul Ryan and his ilk.

What you mistakenly identify as loyalty to party and lament as partisanship is actually loyalty to class. And we are seeing the party of the wealthy and powerful defending the interests of the wealthy and powerful. It is not partisanship, it is class warfare. And guess which class is winning? Hint: is income inequality growing or shrinking?

So, do not wish for them to "get something done." Because the details matter.

Dan Kinoy,

Newfane, Dec. 3

Newtown disaster

Editor of the Reformer:

I have a couple of comments on issues that have been raised since this tragedy. I have heard it said "How could God let this happen?" We need to remember that we, the silent majority allowed the vocal minority, atheist, ACLU etc., to have God removed from schools and public places. God gives us free will and where He is not welcome the devil slides in and takes command. Also there is so much violence on TV and video games perhaps some who may be shaky upstairs begin to live it. So let’s put the blame on this one where it belongs.

Second issue, gun control ... Let’s not punish millions of hard working, law abiding citizens who own guns for protection, hunting or target shooting because of the horrific deeds of a half dozen or so crazies. Let’s find a way to sort out these few nut cases and get them out of society. Maybe pass a law protecting anyone who reports someone who seems potentially dangerous to the authorities from being used (in this sue happy world) We have a few politicians who would like to disarm America so we would no longer be citizens protected by our constitution but subjects to the whims of the regime. I believe our president leans that way and all he has to do is wait for the opportunity to appoint one or two supreme court justices. I also believe that millions of armed citizens are a very good deterrent for any country that would like to see our great nation destroyed. Let’s not let it happen from within. By the way I do not see the need for military style weapons or accessories for above purposes.

Lawrence Cook,

Dummerston, Dec. 19

Blame the mother

Editor of the Reformer:

I have been reading all the letters pertaining to the tragic murders in Connecticut. Let’s see: blame this, blame that, let’s punish every law-abiding American gun owner for what one deranged demonic psychopath did.

Who’s really to blame? Why did his mother buy those guns when she knew damn well that son of hers was unstable as hell? To teach him responsibility? That’s no different than handing a drunk the car keys. Enough said.

Gary Mosher,

Saxtons River, Jan. 4

A ratio of death

Editor of the Reformer:

Consider this: 5 to 176.

What a ratio: five Israeli citizens killed versus 176 Palestinians. And that’s only because powerful, modern weapons provided by us, the USA. Hamas had old fashioned rockets that were inaccurate and that is the math of recent killings in the Near East.

Behind those sad numbers lies a long history of warfare. Israel announced recently its plans to build 300 new housing units in East Jerusalem, which is and was Palestinian land, and Palestinian hope as a center for its hoped for new state. The Palestinian people are divided by two leading groups: Fatah and Hamas. Fatah has as its goal a peaceful settlement with Israel and a long history of failed attempts. The fact is that Palestinian people live under a virtual occupation with few rights: Their ancestral land was taken over by Israel’s government, and now further plans of more takeovers are on the books. They are severely limited to travel for work by frequent checkpoints in Israel, clean water is pumped into new settlements and to people in Gaza are left with brackish water only which makes any agriculture impossible and frequent illnesses from drinking polluted water; Palestinian poverty and unemployment is very high as there are so many travel restrictions and no industry allowed in Palestinian Gaza. There are reports of widespread malnutrition especially among children within Gaza. Streets are littered with garbage because there is no collection services, streets are not paved and big walls are built to isolate Palestinians from each other and other services.

So, with all these restrictions to their living standard, there is no wonder people under this occupation are frustrated and angry; especially the young, unemployed are now turning to Hamas which promises them to be able to fight for their rights. And this may lead to wider world conflicts. I still hope for a new peace in the Holy Land.

The letter was written by someone who has lived and worked in Gaza and who really admires the Palestinian people.

Trudy Crites,

Brattleboro, Dec. 30

Kudos for Karush

Editor of the Reformer:

This is a long-overdue expression of appreciation for the column "Our Neighbors" and the glimpses Becky Karush provides of everyday life in our community. Her gift as a writer is to let the people she features speak in their own voices, and her spare prose is all the more eloquent in framing these cameos. She captures the essence of the extraordinary in ordinary life-work that goes on day-by-day in our midst. Her Dec. 29-30 column "A dog’s life" is a case in point. Not only can I feel the warmth and weight of the dog speaking to us, I can also sense the ripples of healing and peace pulsing through the hands and hearts of the people who experience the dog’s presence. A big thank you to Ms. Karush for reminding us that what may seem mundane is often truly magnificent. I hope to see her essays published as a collection.

Marcia S. Steckler,

Brattleboro, Jan. 4