2007-01-26 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta


Sacrifice

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents in the final analysis, a theft from who hunger and are not fed, and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

Dwight David Eisenhower

While the decider was planning the escalation (surge) in Iraq, his nieces were debutantes in New York City this holiday season. In Congress, Republicans who had no problems with giving the most privileged in our nation economic and social life tax cuts are now stating an increase in the minimum wage will hurt the least able of our nation.

These same Republicans (and most Democrats) did not discuss the disgusting $210 million dollar exit bonus given to the CEO of Home Depot. Some Democrats do not want an increase in taxes for the families that earn over $500,000 per annum. The day after the decider announced his plans to increase troop numbers in Iraq, Senator Boxer was criticized in some media for confronting Secretary of State Rice with the fact that neither Rice nor any member of Congress has a blood relative serving in Iraq. It is noteworthy that the Bush twins have not visited the troops for morale bolstering. President Bush will veto any bill that will lower drug costs for our elderly if pharmaceutical or insurance companies oppose the plan. It would appear the political and economic elite (both Democrat and Republican) oppose their class participating in any sacrifice in resolving the issue of participation in Iraq, the threat of terrorism, and social justice.

It is ironic that the White House is attempting to link our invasion of Iraq without international approval or documentary justification to the war on terrorism. I still do not understand how a nation conducts war on a tactic of power struggle. All Americans remember the horrific attack of September 11. It is clear we need to confront the threat of international terrorism. At the same time each year since 2001 more Americans in this country have died or suffered injuries because of workplace accidents, unsanitary medical facilities, automobile accidents, and the lack of proper inspection of our food delivery system. Can our nation continue to expend resources of blood and treasure in a futile effort to secure the profits of Halliburton or the ego of a blueblood frat boy?

France has had a campaign to reduce auto accidents and accidents have been reduced dramatically. Other nations have reduced workplace accidents. President Bush wants to give over one billion dollars to Iraq for infrastructure improvements. At the same time, many rural and ghetto school buildings in this country need repair, our transit systems are neglected many Americans have sub-standard housing and our borders are wide open. FEMA is still not reformed. The September 11 commission and the Iraq Study Group recommendations have not been met.

The Iraq Study Group and the September 11 commission are the bipartisan alternative the Bush administration says does not exist. Our president though, has saved us from the constitutional crisis of bodily fluid stains on an intern's dress. Now, the Rockaway Irregular links the progressives to terrorist groups stating we have the same goals. I would like to remind my colleague that the present administration met one of Bin Laden's demands- the removal of American troops from Saudi Arabia.

President Bush may shed tears when awarding a well deserved Medal of Honor to a deceased soldier's family, but sees no conflict in decreasing veteran benefits. It is now evident that over sixty percent of Americans oppose the escalation of troops at the commencement of this strategy. No conflict can be successful without the support of the population in a democratic society. This support will only decrease as soon as causalities mount. We are now confronted with a more powerful Iran. There appears to be an effort by some in the administration to escalate the conflict outside the borders of Iraq. There are plans to build an American embassy the size of the Vatican in Baghdad and build ten American military bases in Iraq. There does not appear to be a phased or planned withdrawal.

Our decider has put naval commanders in positions usually reserved for land commanders. This would lead one to believe there may be plans to attack targets in the Gulf by sea. Are we planning for peace or preparing for continued larger conflict? Will our Congress act in a responsible manner? Past history indicates a politically safe compromise that will allow the White House largesse to pursue its policies will occur.

This nation needs to confront the issue of why those who clean bed pans, sweep our offices, watch our children, take care of our old, and pour our coffee are asked to send their offspring overseas and fight our war. Why are these people not entitled to an adequate remuneration for their labor, decent health care, and adequate safety regulations in their workplaces, union representation, and livable housing? Why does the American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) need to sue the United States Labor Department asserting the department failed to issue regulations requiring employers to pay for protective equipment for employees? Why is their no outcry when the Ohio Supreme Court upheld in a 5 to 2 decision that upheld a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise's petition to deny a teenager worker's compensation because he failed to follow the company's guidelines? The seventeen-year-old boy was severely burned. Worker's compensation was a product of the Progressive Era and was considered to be a no-fault benefit that provides timely income for an injured employee and little prospect of legal action by employees. Why does the New York State Department of Education use taxpayer money to send children with emotional or learning disabilities to schools that use "physically and mentally abusive forms of behavior modification"?

According to a New York Times article from Sunday, January 7, the modification tactics include "electric shocks, seclusion, and sleep and food deprivation." Why aren't our religious, legal, political, advocates of children and populace demanding an explanation? Our mass media appears to be more interested in the disgraceful feuds between billionaires and talk show queens, sport celebrities' sex exploits or drug use, and Ivy League rape charges. The only media source for the AFL-CIO lawsuit, the worker's compensation issue, and the NYS Department of Education was the New York Times.

It is not often that a letter to the editor in a publication impresses a columnist of that publication.

In the December 29 edition of the Wave I was pleasantly surprised by the incisiveness of a letter written by Dan Guarino.

He wrote: "The pursuit of a war not because it was needed but because it was desired, the robust embrace of torture, the vigorous denial of justice and disregard for law, the ascendancy of arrogance and disdain for the rest of the world, the prostitution of the planet which was the creation of God's own hands, the enrichment of the wealthy at the expense of the poor, the celebration of ignorance all show no signs of slowing down."

Touché!

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