2006-10-20 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

Halloween Horrors

As ghosts, goblins, and witches roam our streets looking for treats, it is appropriate to examine the tricks many politicians and social commentators are playing on Americans. Our Constitution is becoming toilet tissue by the Bush/Cheney regime. Congressional intention when making legislation is now interpreted by the administration by issuing signing statements when the executive (aka George W. Bush) signs the legislation. Church/ State relationships appear to be influenced by political affiliation. Both the right and the left ignore our historical perspective of the role of the news media. We ignore potential threats to our health and safety. At the same time, we continue to fight a war that is only making us more insecure.

Recently, Italy, one of the major participants of the coalition of the willing, has announced their withdrawal from Iraq by the end of this year. This leaves our nation and the United Kingdom staying the course. Withdrawal will leave Iraq in chaos according to the Bush administration. All indications are that the country would have a civil war and probably break up into two or three entities. What ever happened to Mission Accomplished?

It is a gross exaggeration by the editor of this newspaper that the Progressive claimed or implied that there is a secret deal for Hamas and Hezbollah to recognize the legitimacy of Israel. My previous column stated that both Israel and the United States have secret negotiations with both organizations according to the Jerusalem Post, and the New York Sun (both pro Israeli newspapers). It is my contention that negotiations imply de-facto recognition.

On September 25, 2006 the New York Sun reported that a decision was made by "President Bush and other top officials to use the phrase 'the militant wing of Hamas' to describe those responsible for recent attacks on Israeli soldiers." The article continued to state: "Mr. Bush used that or similar phrases on at least five occasions in July. The American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, also used the phrase as part of what seemed to be a concerted attempt to split Hamas and to encourage more moderate members to soften their line toward Israel." This is in recognition that some political organizations and movements in the Middle East and elsewhere have political and military wings. It would appear both Israel's Olmert and the United States' Bush are taking the Progressive's advice to negotiate with the political wing of Hamas and Hezbollah. On September 26, 2006 the New York Times reported Olmert was meeting with officials of Saudi Arabia. In previous articles I stated that the New York Sun reported Israel was negotiating after the ceasefire with Hezbollah to secure the release of Israeli soldiers.

Why does Howard Schwach, the editor of this newspaper, feel it is "Typical New York Times progressive, politically-correct tripe" to believe Muslim immigrants from the Middle East are drawn to our shores for the same reasons as previous immigrants, for economic opportunity and political freedom? Does he feel Muslims cannot assimilate? It is also my contention that other ethnic groups in our past came to America with different opinions than the majority of Americans. Irish immigrants often raided Canada because it was part of the British Empire. Mexicans often express their belief that a large part of the western United States was stolen from their country.

Our nation should decide how to secure our borders with a comprehensive immigration policy instead of fighting a war that enriches Halliburton. Muslim immigrants cannot be considered suspect simply because of their religious affiliation. I know of Coptic Christians from Egypt (no fans of Muslim extremism) who feel many Americans suspect them because of their national origin. Religious prejudice is wrong and since the Second World War has been considered un-American.

Many people who supported Israel's excursion into Lebanon feel the New York Times was biased in its reporting. Many believe FOX News, WABC radio hosts and the New York Post were biased with their approval of the excursion. Maybe we all should go to the New York Historical Society's exhibit regarding Politics and the Press in American History. We would all realize the press (including this paper) is rarely completely objective. Israel's excursion into Lebanon is being perceived by many across the globe as a military and political failure because of Israeli belief in military solutions, and not the reporting of any newspaper.

True friends of Israel realize that military superiority will not secure a Jewish state in the Middle East. Demographics indicate that an agreement with its neighbors will be the true resolution.

The New York Times on September 22, 2006 reported the I.R.S. is investigating the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. According to the article: "The church said it regarded an I.R.S. investigation of an antiwar sermon delivered by the church's former rector on the Sunday before the 2004 election as an attack on freedom of speech and religion." Last time, I spoke about church and state issues. America should not be in the business of regulating sermons and churches should not be tools of political agendas. Monies given to religious organizations by government entities should be used to benefit all citizens and not for sectarian purposes. Our present administration appears to give monetary compensation to compliant religious groups that support its political agenda. There is a movement in Congress, supported by the Bush/Cheney regime, to allow military chaplains to use sectarian prayer before groups of personnel of various faiths. A multicultural society must be sensitive to how religious expression is allowed when government funds are provided. Military chaplains provide a service to all soldiers and need to express denominational beliefs only when appropriate.

On September 19, 2006 Ralph Peter, a columnist for the New York Post, reported on the food delivery system: "Neither Democrats nor Republicans have adequately addressed the vulnerability of a super centralized system to either terror or a nationwide transportation breakdown. Agriculture hardly registers among critical infrastructure protection programs." He went on to state: "Another infrastructure issue that's even more immediate - one we all should be angry about- is the vulnerability of the power grid." This summer the spinach scare and the blackouts in many parts of this city should make us concerned as to the priorities of the folks in Washington.

Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote on September 20, 2006 regarding import taxes: "We tax imported sugar ethanol, which would finance our poor friends, but we don't tax imported crude oil, which definitely finances rich enemies." Where is the new Bush policy, which was announced in the State of the Union address?

Howard Schwach, the editor of The Wave, stated in the September 22, 2006 issue, "Civic education is officially dead." I agree. Many of us were not shocked when we heard more Americans know the names of the three stooges than the three branches of government. The city's Department of Education should reevaluate and resurrect the study of civics and geography.

No Count from Transylvania can frighten the Progressive more than a Congress and a President that do not live up to their constitutional responsibility.

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