Photo credit: Reuters

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Dear Mr. President,
Didn’t read your May 10 letter until today. It was sent via e-mail rather than USPS and went straight to spam. Are you cutting expenses–postage, heavy bond paper and envelopes? I’ll check spam more often from now on. But I wonder if you’re aware what’s going out under your signature. I know you don’t write letters yourself or even sign them–the machine that signs each one exactly the same every time is a dead giveaway–but really, Mr. President, the 9 letters I’ve received so far are fatuous claptrap filled with clich├ęs and political spin. Here’s some examples from that May 10 letter:

“CREATING JOBS AND GROWING OUR ECONOMY: My administration has taken critical steps to accelerate our Nation’s economic growth so that we are producing jobs at a faster pace. … we are working tirelessly to push our recovery forward…”
Really? From what I read, the recovery has been mostly for those who got bailed out; job growth is not keeping pace with job loss; and unemployment is back up to 9%.

“IMPEMENTING TOUGH WALL STREET REFORM”
I won’t bother to quote what follows. Wall Street reform is a joke; real reforms got stripped out of legislation soon as the lobbyists heard about it. Nothing of significance has changed.

“ASSISTING HOMEOWNERS: Access to the American dream continues to be tested by a mortgage crisis that threatens the stability of families, neighbourhoods, and our entire economy.”
True. But those phone numbers to call for help including “your mortgage servicer?” Not likely. Unless forced to, banks won’t help. They make more from penalties and late fees than a renegotiated mortgage. And government programs to help homeowners? By every report, a failure. 872,000 homes are now owned by banks, double the number in 2007; a million more are in the process of foreclosure and another 2–3 million “under water,” expected to go into foreclosure soon. What are the banks doing about it? Slowing down the foreclosure process to prevent their “assets” from losing even more value. In some places housing prices have plunged 75%. No TARP for homeowners!

Mr. President, What about we stop spending $13+ billion a month on wars to kill people and start helping Americans? What about we stop welfare for the rich and the corporations (agribusiness, big oil, multinationals, banks, etc.) and invest in education, healthcare and infrastructure? What about we stop taking from the poor to give to the rich and start closing the gap between rich and poor? Or is that too much to ask?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Dear Mr. President,
I laid off for an entire month; it doesn’t matter if I write or not. Even kept silent about the assassination of bin Laden–shooting an unarmed man in the face is not a “Justice is done” moment in my book, but an act of Old Testament revenge. Nor did I express my disgust at the celebrating, fist-pumping Americans chanting USA! USA!–as though his death were some kind of Superbowl victory–and the pictures of you glad-handing the troops afterward as though you’d done something to be proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad bin Laden won't be planning more attacks or inciting jihadists to kill, but justice was not done and his death won’t change a thing and you know it. What has me riled up however, is an article in this week’s New Yorker about the Injustice Department’s persecution of another government whistle-blowers, Thomas Drake, who tried to expose corruption, fraud and waste in the NSA and has been indicted on trumped-up charges of espionage and aiding the enemy. Shades of Bradley Manning! Once again you side with the scaremongers and alarmists against the very people you said were so important to democracy–government whistle-blower. Mr. Drake is a poster boy for the kind of whistle-blower you hailed in 2008 and abandoned after the election. Both Drake and Manning are heroes of democracy while you preside over the most draconian crackdown of government leaks in our history. And a double standard to boot. John Deutch, Alberto Gonzales, Sandy Berger, all charged with the same crime as Drake but not prosecuted. The Bushies who broke laws let off, the telecom companies who broke the law got immunity. Once again the little guys, those without friends in high places pay the price. But what’s scary is the reach of the NSA. I think few people realize its scope and capabilities: 5,000 acres; 3 times the size of the CIA; 1/3 of the US’s entire budget for intelligence gathering; the capability to intercept and download the electronic communications equivalent to the entire contents of the Library of Congress every 6 hours. Whew! That’s some agency. And unfettered. They are the people who pursued warrantless wiretaps, our own version of the KGB. And when someone blows the whistle on them, they’re targeted for retribution and charged with being traitors. This is the stuff of Mubarak and Assad, of Saleh and Qaddafi, of oppressive and undemocratic regimes everywhere. Mr. President, it’s your job to inform yourself of the truth and stop the injustice.