Letters to the Editor

We believe that the Dutchess Greens and the progressive community should bring new opinions to the political process. The corporations, with their well fed lobbyists, compliant congressman, and docile press, have dominated the political discourse for long enough. At least one group in Dutchess County must stand for the needs of working people, the environment, and neglected minorities.

Why don't you write a letter to a local paper? The Poughkeepsie Journal limits letters to 250 words, and The Freeman to 400 words. All the papers require that you include your hometown and a daytime phone number. Send your letters to the following newspapers:

We hope that the following letters to the editor that have appeared recently in local papers will show you what has been missing from the public debate.

Letters Published Locally

Israel's barbaric attacks on Gaza and Lebanon have made me think differently about America.

The pictures of a million refugees seeking shelter while the civilian infrastructure around them is obliterated can change one's life view. The bombing of electrical power plants, water treatment facilities and ambulances are all war crimes under any number of international laws. The scale of human suffering purposely conceived and carried out by one of the strongest and best equipped armies in the world leaves one thinking the depths that human beings can descend to. What civilized country could watch this from afar and not be horrified at the massive slaughter of innocent civilians?

The answer is close to home, my own country. The "New York Times" calls these attacks "legally and morally justified." The talking heads on TV extoll the weaponry used for the slaughter, all American made and paid for by our tax dollars. The House of Representatives, in a fit of moral depravity, passes a resolution applauding the carnage. It is almost a world turned upside down, where my country loses its claim to humanity because it does not act human anymore.

Perhaps we have become hardened to the suffering of others. We have done the same in Iraq. We have tortured in prisons around the world. We have sacrificed justice for the ecstasy of revenge and military triumph. We are sick in our hearts, and someday will wonder how it came to be.

Fred Nagel

In 1513, Machiavelli wrote "The Prince," a handbook for the ruthless control of a population by its richest and most powerful members. Were he alive today, his advice to our nation's elite might be the following.

Establish control over both major parities by paying for their campaigns. That way, politicians will never pass laws favorable to anyone but you.

Buy up the media and turn its news function into entertainment based on movie star scandals and local crime. That way, no one can report on your illegal accumulation of power and wealth.

Privatize all medicine and education. Eventually only you and your children will have access to health care and college. An unhealthy and poorly educated population can be more easily controlled.

Establish a new era of perpetual war. Anyone who questions your ultimate control can be labeled a terrorist, thrown in prison and tortured.

Use the fear generated by perpetual war to establish a vast spying network against all the nation's citizens. Keep every communication, every financial and health record to shadow and intimidate anyone committing thought crimes against you.

Build the most powerful military that the world has ever seen. That way, you can undermine and destroy any potential democracies through invasions abroad and martial law at home.

Create a new system of computer based voting machines that are easily manipulated and leave no paper trail. Use your control of the media to eliminate exit polls. That way, you will never be threatened no matter how people vote.

Fred Nagel

There is another way to end the Iraq War, and we are seeing it all across the country as small towns and villages vote to bring our troops home. Twenty-four out of 32 communities in Wisconsin just approved an advisory referenda calling for troop withdrawals to begin immediately, or to have all U.S. military out of Iraq by the end of the year. In 2005, people in about 50 cities in Vermont okayed similar measures at town meetings. The citizens in these communities had several things in common.

First, they understood the connection between the Iraq War and higher school and property taxes. They realized the link between the war and the lack of health insurance and college scholarship aid available to their kids.

And secondly, they understood that democracy is more than just voting every four years or privately disagreeing with the war in the safety of their own homes. Democracy simply requires more participation than that.

Our national politicians won't end the war. To them, it's all about playing it safe and being elected again. It's just easier to let the slaughter of poor people's kids go on; they are not in politics to do the right thing.

We must discuss this war in our own communities and in our own town halls. And if we are too scared or lazy to do that, then our experiment in democracy will surely fail.

Fred Nagel

On this third anniversary, let's all thank Bush for the Iraq War that had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, no relationship whatsoever to Al Qaeda and no ties to September 11th. Thanks Bush for a war that is three years and counting with no end in sight. Thanks for the death of 2,300 and wounding of 15,000 American soldiers and countless tens of thousands of Iraqis for illegitimate reasonings. Thanks for the $400 billion dollar (and counting!) price tag while American social programs languish and American debt is raised to all-time record levels. Thanks for having no understanding whatsoever of the complex and ageless tribal and sectarian relationships in Iraq that makes any hope of a "democratic" government next to impossible while the possibility of a civil war looms larger every day. Thanks for the illegal, warrantless spying on Americans within your "war on terrorism" with the only excuse that "we should trust you on this one". Thanks for the absolute incompetence that has created worldwide animosity toward Americans after invading a sovereign nation under the guise of "pre-emptive strike" justification and thereby allowing other nation-states to justify their violent aggressions under the same war-mongering spirit. Thanks for making the world a less safe and secure place through your wars and threats of war rather than attempting diplomatic solutions or building international coalitions to fight terroristic violence.

Thanks Bush. Thanks for everything.

Jeff Akins

I listened to a couple of Army recruiters talking to high school students recently.

In Iraq, recruits would be "building schools," "coaching soccer teams" and "giving out candy to kids." Naturally both recruiters were constantly being "kissed and hugged" by children. Iraqi people were "loving" the occupation, especially since we brought them "clean water and electricity that they never had." Moreover, "girls can now go to school for the first time in 40 years."

As for GI benefits, one recruiter stated simply that he got more credits in Iraq than he "ever could have at Dutchess Community College." The message was straightforward. We "care about you" and want you to make the "right choice for your future."

Of course, there is fun in the Army too, with the "best toys" to play with, including the latest guns and tanks. It's mostly about killing "the bad guys who brought down the twin towers." In the process, the Army "makes a man out of you."

Over 80% of Iraqis want us to leave. Over 50% support armed attacks against us. We have devastated their infrastructure and public services. Girls have gone to school in Iraq for decades. Now it is too dangerous. The GI educational benefit is so poor that it takes more money from soldiers than it pays back. Vets have higher unemployment and lower lifetime earnings than non-vets. A quarter of all homeless are vets.

Why are we letting con artists into our high schools?

Fred Nagel

Bush mistakenly believes his power as Chief Executive extends beyond Congress and the Law! The idea that there are circumstances where unchecked executive power is just runs contrary to Constitutional checks and balances sewn into American government.

"If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" "No treaty," replied John Yoo, the former justice department official who wrote the crucial memos justifying President Bush's policies on torture, detainees and domestic surveillance without warrants.

Yoo publicly debated last month the radical notion of the "unitary executive" - that the president, as commander-in-chief, is sole judge of the law, unbound by hindrances such as the Geneva conventions, and has inherent authority to subordinate independent government agencies to his fiat. This is the cornerstone of the Bush legal doctrine.

Yoo's interlocutor, Douglass Cassel, a professor at the Notre Dame law school, pointed out that the theory of the unitary executive posits the president above other branches of government: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo."

"I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that," said Yoo.

There are no cases where the President or any elected official, or any American for that matter, is above the law regardless of circumstantial argument. To think otherwise is to ignore democratic governance and justify totalitarianism.

Jeff Akins

The word "dictator" is as old as the concept of democracy itself. In times of grave crisis to the state, the Roman Senate gave special powers to one person, suspending liberties and the rule of law. Unscrupulous politicians, however, soon learned how to extend and manipulate a crisis to gain permanent control over the Roman people. By the middle of the First Century BC, the Roman experiment in democracy was dead.

Hitler used the same tactic after the burning of the Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament. As Chancellor of Germany, Hitler declared a state emergency and began locking up everyone who opposed him. Soon, thousands of German citizens were in jail without charges, stripped of all civil liberties and brutally tortured. Most never returned; the Nazi horror had begun.

Since 9/11, our President has, on his own authority, violated international and Constitutional law in the detaining prisoners without due process, declared a permanent state of war without Congressional approval, ordered the massive wiretapping of US Citizens, and claimed the right to torture prisoners despite laws passed by Congress. Placing himself above the law, above the courts and above the Constitution, President Bush has threatened the very core of our American democracy. You may think in your complacency that all this can't happen here. It already has.

Fred Nagel

Many Americans ask, "What can we do?" If you feel powerless, despair. If reason and decency appear squeezed out of government. If you suspect your school board might require teaching of evolution with a warning label. If you vainly wait for Democrats to remember they once opposed wars of aggression, domestic suppression and unfettered accumulation of wealth by a favored and connected class, you may have become so desperate for encouragement that you read editorials for solace.

I choose my words carefully: America veers dangerously close to becoming a fascist state. As Britannica defines; fascism exalts the nation over the individual, uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition, engages in severe economic and social regimentation, and promotes corporatism which merges state and corporate power. We fretted for decades about communists. We should have ignored their patched and leaky submarines and paid more attention to domestic cancers growing in our corporations, government and political parties.

I write small pieces that annoy middle-of-the-road Democrats and Rush Limbaugh fans. I'd like to say you could petition your government, causing Congress to oppose this domestic state-sponsored fascism. I'd like to say the press is our watchdog or offer a major party presidential contender worthy of support. Unfortunately I have no simple answers, but I will keep searching while shouting from the rooftop about injustices. We can only save ourselves. Talk, write, agitate. No retreat, no surrender. Paint it on your car bumper, grandma: THIS DRIVER HATES FASCISTS.

Jeff Akins

I share Dennis McGuire's anger at anyone who would desecrate our country or its flag. As a citizen and a veteran, my country has always meant a lot to me.

Since I don't see hoards of flag burners on the horizon, perhaps there are other desecrations more worthy of our collective wrath. Defunding FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration), and giving tax breaks to the multimillionaires has left an ugly blotch on Old Glory. Lying to the the American people about weapons of mass destruction, and sending our young to die in Iraq for the profits of big oil leaves another hideous stain. Locking thousands of people up for years without due process or trial tears at the very fabric of what we hold dear. And then there are the assaults on civil liberties, from snooping at what we read in libraries to going through our medical records. All of these things are grievous affronts to the ideals this nation was founded on.

Congressman Sweeney, of course, voted for all these desecrations. No wonder he is pushing a flag burning law, using it as cover while he continues to shame the nation. He will, no doubt, be waving the flag as he fights to give the nation's Social Security to Wall Street, delays the cleanup of the Hudson River for General Electric, and tries to eliminate the estate tax for the richest .5 percent of the pollution.

According to Samuel Johnson, slippery politicians have always used these tactics. "Patriotism," he warns us from the 18th Century, "is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

Fred Nagel

Pump and dump used to be a Mafia tactic for making money. They would buy a tiny business, and through financial manipulation and false advertising, sell millions of shares to unsuspecting investors. Soon the shares were worthless and the money gone. So were the mob.

CEO's of large corporations soon became interested in this new way of making a killing. First came the deregulation of business during the Reagan years. Then the Republican Congress passed laws making it harder to sue companies for stock manipulation, and allowing accounting firms to both consult for and audit the same corporation. The stage was set for Enron, where billions put in by stockholders were skimmed off by its corporate leaders. In the end, investors had nothing, as did all the retired workers of corporations that Enron bought up.

Every week another major corporation admits to pumping up the value of its stock so that CEO's can cash in stock options. Bristol Myers hid inventory and reported false sales so that its CEO could walk away with 23 million. "Restating earnings" is the nice way of saying that stockholders took a beating while CEOs made out like bandits.

Perhaps our country is the ultimate pump and dump, with hundreds of billions in tax cuts going to the top one percent, paid for by gutting Social Security, Medicare, public education, and the environment. Bush and Cheney are old hands at this, cashing out right before the fall. Mafia tricks on a national scale.

Fred Nagel

We're going to get new voting machines, but it looks like the state is going to allow each county to get what kind it wants.

When people go to vote, they want their votes to be recorded the way they cast them, and they want them to be counted according to how people actually voted. It has been demonstrated over and over again that the new DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machines (touch screen voting) can be manipulated in various ways to "fix" the vote. See www.blackboxvoting.org, www.verifiedvoting.org and the article in John Hopkins Magazine Election Alarm by David Keiger: www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/0204web/vote.html.

What makes the problem worse, is that the computer voting programs are proprietary, which means they are trade secrets and no one is allowed to know how they work. So the computer programs can be manipulated either by the computer company itself (or its employees), or by an outside hacker, and there is no way this can ever be detected. Unless the ballots are also recorded permanently on paper, so they can be checked by hand count, or by optical scanner. But the optical scanners can also be fixed to give fake results, so there has to be a system for a recount of paper ballots by hand. Recounting by going back to the DRE computer or the optical scanner won't work, since you are only recounting the votes after they may have been changed. ]

Many people do mismark ballots or make mistakes in voting, like voting for two candidates for president. Computerized voting machines are useful there, since they can be set to reject such invalid ballots, and tell the voter to vote again . Optically scanning a paper ballot as soon as it is cast, before the voter leaves the voting booth, can do the same thing, if they are programmed to do it. Some disabled people, (e.g. those who are blind) will need special ways to vote. Allowing them to bring someone into the voting booth with them would be a simple solution in many cases.

But having a paper trail where the ballots can be recounted by hand if it's necessary, is the only way we can guarantee the voting process itself is fair and honest. Any politician who says we don&Mac226;t need it should be bluntly asked why he or she wants to have a system that can be fixed and no one will ever be able to prove it. Do we even want to take a chance of that happening?

Richard Vineski

Two years later and still living in shame.

There were no weapons of mass destruction, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq were based on lies.

We have tortured prisoners in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The pictures got out, and the world has seen our mindless barbarism, our sexual and psychological war crimes.

We have killed tens of thousands of Muslims in every way conceivable. We have flattened their cities beyond recognition. What is Fallujah now? A desert? A moonscape of stones and craters?

We have sent over 1,500 of our youth to die in a disgraceful occupation where they are hated and reviled. We have used depleted uranium in a vast array of weaponry, knowing full well that our service personnel will be contaminate for the rest of their lives, and that their children will suffer birth defects.

We have allowed our media to present only the positive aspects of the Iraq war and occupation. And since there are none, we have accepted staged fantasies of our welcome as liberators and of Iraq "free" elections. We are lied to daily by our TV's and by our newspapers, while pictures of coffins coming back from the war are hidden from our view.

Not our shame because we voted against the Bush war machine? Not our shame because our sons aren't drafted yet ? Those excuses have been used before, by a generation of Germans and Japanese who sat back and let their leaders destroy half the world.

Fred Nagel

It has been almost 37 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He is a national figure, representing the spirit of change and nonviolent resistance. His best known work was with the civil rights movement, struggling to achieve some degree of equality for minorities in America. This work was bitterly resisted by those in power at the time, and we must still fight racism every day. In an era of war, poverty, violence and hate, he preached peace, compassion and brotherhood.

Perhaps more than any public figure since, Martin Luther King lived a life that embodied his principles, and fought unceasingly for them. He challenged greed, corruption and injustice wherever he encountered them, never compromising his beliefs for the sake of convenience. And, in the end, it was for this that they killed him.

The textbooks and movies emphasize King's work in gaining the same civil liberties for blacks that were afforded to whites and for this the nation will forever owe him gratitude. However, there is a tendency to forget his controversial but powerful statements against the war in Vietnam. These protests did little to make him more popular, but revealed a great deal about the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War.

Vietnam was a war sold to the American public on the key premise of bringing democracy to that country at gunpoint. The people of the country would welcome us with open arms, assist in defeating the threats to freedom that resided there and become a prosperous democratic republic. To boot, they would be indebted to the United States for years to come, provide an ally against the Soviets, and open up a new market and source of labor for American corporations. Martin Luther King's counterargument is best made in his own words:

"We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor."

We now find ourselves almost two years into a war in Iraq, with more than 1,300 dead Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis killed. More than $270 million is spent each day to fund the occupation, money that comes out of domestic programs to fund education, fight poverty and provide social services. All of this, in the name of bringing democracy through the barrel of a gun. Martin Luther King could never reconcile his beliefs with the cost paid by the American people for what he felt was an unjust war. One can't help but ask how he would feel about the war today.

Jan. 17 is a national holiday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s accomplishments. On that day, if no other, take a moment to consider the meaning of the war in Iraq, and what his views may have been regarding it.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Pat Kelley

Two years later and still living in shame.

There were no weapons of mass destruction, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq were based on lies.

We have tortured prisoners in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The pictures got out, and the world has seen our mindless barbarism, our sexual and psychological war crimes.

We have killed tens of thousands of Muslims in every way conceivable. We have flattened their cities beyond recognition. What is Fallujah now? A desert? A moonscape of stones and craters?

We have sent over 1,500 of our youth to die in a disgraceful occupation where they are hated and reviled. We have used depleted uranium in a vast array of weaponry, knowing full well that our service personnel will be contaminate for the rest of their lives, and that their children will suffer birth defects.

We have allowed our media to present only the positive aspects of the Iraq war and occupation. And since there are none, we have accepted staged fantasies of our welcome as liberators and of Iraq "free" elections. We are lied to daily by our TV's and by our newspapers, while pictures of coffins coming back from the war are hidden from our view.

Not our shame because we voted against the Bush war machine? Not our shame because our sons aren't drafted yet ? Those excuses have been used before, by a generation of Germans and Japanese who sat back and let their leaders destroy half the world.

Fred Nagel

In a recent Poughkeepsie Journal, I read Larry Fisher-Hertz's column about the needs of the homeless and also, a front-page article about the at least $17.6 million reserve fund in Dutchess County's bank account. While it is encouraging to hear, from several directions, about concerns to create more affordable housing in Dutchess, we must not neglect, in the meantime, to Band-Aid the immediate crisis of insufficient shelter for the homeless population.

The dead of winter is not the only time it is inhumane to leave human beings outdoors at night.

County Executive William Steinhaus speaks about the need to spend money on a mandated jail expansion. Jail expansion is not mandated if we reduce our jail population. Expanded alternatives to incarceration, help with bail, and programs to reduce recidivism and speed up trial dates would all reduce the jail numbers, at about half the cost. Sheltering the homeless, rather than forcing them to walk the streets at night would, itself, reduce arrests.

Please tell your legislators spending money on a temporary emergency shelter, for those not able to be served by the 12-bed shelter, until they can be helped to return to a home-living situation, is a priority. The board of elections (845-486-2473) will tell you who your legislator is. Then go to www.dutchessny.gov or www.dutchessgreens.org to find their contact information.

Margaret Human

Historians have estimated one million American fighting men have been killed in action since the formation of the United States. Some believe there have been even more. Regardless of the number of fallen soldiers, it is certainly an understandable, and perhaps necessary, patriotic emotion that can be publicly declared by a waving flag.

Your recent article on the Never Forget Flag and its adoption by various American organizations was- and is- such a public declaration. There would be very few American families not effected by the idea of a Never Forget Flag.

Let us too -NEVER FORGET -that it is our politicians and our top military brass that must bear the dark responsibility for sending our young soldiers to their untimely deaths. It would be an act of kindness to only tar and feather these unfrightened and unbloodied leaders. Yes, yes—by all means--- let us never forget.

James R. Mathes

One would have to be a moron to miss the connection between the giant tax cuts for the rich that Bush passed in his first term and the gutting of Social Security that he is pushing for in his second. But the robbery of 98% of this country’s citizens has been in the works since the early 1980’s.

Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan was in on the scam that time as well. Taxes were greatly increased on the poor and middle class to "save Social Security” and the resulting revenue surpluses (close to a trillion dollars) were used over the next twenty years to give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.

Once more, the working people of this country are going to pay more and get less, this time in new fees to Wall Street for private accounts, and in reduced Social Security benefits for retirees. How is it that the great majority of this country can be swindled time and time again?

Our corporate controlled media is partially to blame. But more important than the media is the massive accumulated wealth already at the top. Greed is a sickness, and the more the ultra rich have, the more cunning and ruthless they become. They now own not only our media, but most of our "elected" officials as well.

Their current attack on Social Security is an act of violence directed at every working American. A plutocracy gone mad.

Fred Nagel

Bush's speech sounded so much like history repeating itself that many Americans cringed. "We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out," said Bush in his State of the Union. "We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors and able to defend itself."

President Johnson offered this same oratory about the escalating war in Vietnam. His rhetoric was typical on Jan. 12, 1966: "We fight for the principle of self determination -- that the people of South Vietnam should be able to choose their own course, choose it in free elections without violence, without terror, and without fear."

Americans who forget Truman's warning, "those who do not read and understand history are doomed to repeat it, can expect a hard lesson. We must vigorously apply our First Amendment right by questioning obvious rhetoric for the sake of our soldiers (sworn to silent obedience), our children (future soldiers?) and the world community (victims of Bush's objectives). Bush must understand that no militaristic application of money and/or American lives can make geopolitical outcomes turn out his way . to think otherwise makes the words democratic and self-determination ring hollow, to Iraqis and Americans.

Jeff Akins

If a grueling civil war breaks out as the political evolution of Iraq unfolds in coming months, those praising the Iraq vote should consider how the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary because bloodshed and struggle are typical internal elements within most every nation-state's radical political reformations (e.g. - Cuba of 1958-9, United States of 1770's and 1860's, China 1949, France 1789-99, etc.).

Recognizing this, it is unfortunate that Bush tried to accelerate the internal process through exterior meddling. America should not have wasted billions of dollars and forfeited thousands of lives (American and Iraqi) attempting a forced outcome. In short, neoconservative goals of "remaking the world in Bush's (and Cheney's and Kristol's, etc.) image of geopolitically good" are corrupt policy ... but we all can wait a while longer to see what time shall tell about how Iraq evolves under neocon tutelage.

Jeff Akins

Most of us have experienced the death of a loved one and know the grief that the loss of one life can bring. But the deaths of 100,000 men, women and children seem incomprehensible. The recent tsunami in Southeast Asia is simply beyond the human imagination.

So too the tsunami that this country has unleashed upon the people of Iraq. Our military has killed 100,000 civilians in less than two years of warfare. Our bombs have pulverized their cities, destroyed their factories and obliterated their way of life. And the assault against Iraq continues unabated.

Our media is very successful in explaining just why this US tsunami is necessary. Only the reasons keep changing, from weapons of mass destruction to restoring democracy. Now the media tells us our military can't leave given the destruction it has already caused, like in Vietnam where we killed two million all in the name of saving them.

The real reasons behind US military aggression are very clear to the rest of the world: huge profits by US weapons manufacturers and oil companies. But the American people continue to be fooled, sacrificing billions as well as the lives of their sons and daughters for the enrichment of a few.

Perhaps a people's tsunami will come one day, and all the right wing fanatics in the Pentagon, all the billionaire CEOs with blood on their hands, all the corrupt and lying politicians will be swept away, restoring our nation to its rightful owners.

Fred Nagel

In corporate America, government decisions are always based on what makes the most profit.

A case in point is the Star Wars program, billions spent on militarizing space when our last serious enemies used box cutters. Most of the money is pure profit to a few, huge defense contractors with long histories of ridiculous cost overruns, no bid contracts and faked test results. No one ever holds these corporations accountable, except when it comes to donating money to the two major political parties.

Contrast this nationwide scam to the effort and money spent on developing a vaccine against Avian Flu. Since corporations can’t make a huge profit on vaccines, our government has done little or nothing to protect millions of Americans from what just might be the plague of the 21st Century.

The US spends more than the rest of the word combined on "defense," little of which goes to supporting our troops in battle, or when they return home as veterans. At the same time, the US spends the least of any developed country on manufacturing vaccines for their populations, even though this places millions at risk. Avian Flu, a potential worldwide killer, would hit our unprotected population with particular ferocity.

A government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations will never put its citizens above the profits of a few. We see in Washington the last stages of this "corporatism...the merger of state and corporate power," Mussolini's definition of Fascism.

Fred Nagel

The 1920's were good for millionaires, but not for the remaining 99% of poor and middle class citizens. By 1929, one percent owned just about everything there was to own: all the stocks and bonds, all the newspapers, and everyone in Congress. The millionaires speculated and the stock market crashed. Suddenly the Great Depression was upon us and we were a nation of angry, unemployed workers, all potential revolutionaries.

Roosevelt's New Deal saved Capitalism from the excesses of its greediest millionaires. Social Security was its centerpiece, a guarantee that older workers wouldn't be cast off and relegated to a life of poverty. Eventually, workers believed in their country again, going on to win WW II, and to rebuild the economy.

George Bush and the Republicans are recreating the debacle of the 1920's. The media is a corporate propaganda machine again. The Congress is made up of millionaires serving billionaires. And Social Security, like the rest of the New Deal, is on the chopping block. Bush will save Social Security like he saved Fallujah, leaving nothing but rubble. In a few years, the super rich and the corporations will pay no taxes, the middle class will work long hours only to be discarded without a pension or healthcare, and the poor will fight endless wars to preserve corporate profits.

And this time, when greed brings about its inevitable economic collapse, the nation's poor and middle class may not be so forgiving.

Fred Nagel

President Bush is mouthing the notion that this country is almost divided down the middle. He wants to unite all of us together. Will he do that? He doesn't seem to understand what a democracy is in his own country and yet he wants to change the whole world into democratic nations.

How can you, President Bush, represent 51% of a nation, say you want to unite us and still not change your plans? You cannot write discrimination into the Constitution. It opens a Pandora's Box for more. If two people of the same sex can't unite and have all the rights of a married couple, what comes next? Two people in wheelchairs can't marry because they might have disabled children? Two Muslims can't marry because they may raise their children to be terrorists? Should we make that a Constitutional amendment as well?

This country is made of many different peoples. Go to any big coastal city. You'll be a minority. Soon you'll be a minority in your own country unless you write an amendment that says no more people can immigrate to America and anyone who isn't a white Protestant Christian can't have children. I'm glad that you believe in G-d and values. I too take my faith very seriously. A victim of rape, that child fought in the first Gulf War. I also happen to be a poor, Jewish, lesbian in a wheelchair. I have reason to be afraid of you. It doesn't feel good.

Gloria Ghedini

Colonialism Dehumanizes the Occupiers

My friend, Aziz, had a rough time at JFK Airport as he and his three children, all of them American citizens, were coming back from visiting Pakistan.

Aziz is a Muslim-American and an active member of his local Mosque. He is also a very mainstream professional, an American educated engineer and lawyer who has been living here for more than 30 years. Like so many immigrants to our country, he has become successful because he is hard working, intelligent, and open minded. In many ways, his achievements have embodied what is best about America.

His treatment by a border patrol agent at JFK represents the worst that is America. Officials who use the term "boy" and threaten deportation are narrow minded bigots, unfit for public service. But the racism directed against Aziz shows something even more troubling and that is the disregard that higher level officials have shown towards this type of behavior. Hundreds of similar complaints about the treatment of Muslim Americans have been made to no avail.

Perhaps our military occupation of the Middle East breeds this type of racism. How do American troops suppress a popular uprising in Iraq without demonizing its people? During the Vietnam War, all Asians were "gooks" to be kicked or shot at. During the occupation of Iraq, all Arabs are "ragheads" to be beaten, stripped, and humiliated. Colonialism dehumanizes the occupiers until they behave like animals, whether patrolling the streets of Baghdad or the customs services at JFK.

Fred Nagel

Standing Alone in Ignominy and Shame

Now that the 9/11 Commission has given its voluminous report, let's take a look at what it purposely leaves out.

The attacks on that day were carried out, according to Osama bin Laden, because of Israel's occupation of Palestine and our troops in Saudi Arabia. Since 9/11, Israel has gone on to take more of the West Bank, and we have gone on to occupy two more Arab countries, Afghanistan and Iraq.

We say we are there for the best of reasons, while at the same time taking control of the region's oil resources. Israel maintains that its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population is all about self defense, while at the same time grabbing ever larger chunks of the West Bank.

Nobody in the world believes these excuses for occupation. Instead, the world sees how the US and Israel have treated Arabs, from torture and missile attacks on civilians, to the destruction of homes, schools and hospitals. Pictures of Palestine look like pictures of Afghanistan and Iraq. The images of their smoldering ruins fan the hatred of millions of Muslims worldwide. And like Vietnam, the brutality and murder won't stop until Israel pulls out of Palestine and the US pulls out of the Middle East.

The United Nations General Assembly voted 150 to 6 to condemn the wall Israel is building on Palestinian land. Israel and the United States voted against the resolution, standing virtually alone in ignominy and shame.

Fred Nagel

Learning from Cuba

At this moment I am writing from Havana, Cuba to offer a unique perspective regarding the new restrictions on Cuba which come into effect today. I am part of what will be the last group of American medical students to travel to Cuba under the auspices of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC). We are spending four weeks here learning about the health care system, meeting doctors and medical students and exploring the delivery of medical care in variety of clinical settings. The new regulations outlaw any educational travel under ten weeks, a requirement which makes it impossible for medical students to come to Cuba.

The Cuban health care system has developed innovative ways to address the same issues that we face in American medicine, such as accessibility and universality; we students are learning valuable lessons which we hope to bring home to enrich our medical communities.

I urge readers to voice their opposition to these new restrictions, if not in solidarity with the Cuban people, then in acknowledgement of what we Americans will no longer be able to learn from them.

Teddy Nagel

The Last to Know

Perhaps ordinary Americans are the most shocked of all to see pictures of torture and humiliation at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These were not pictures from Saddam's era. No, these feature American troops, both men and women, smiling over the naked and piled up bodies of helpless Iraqis.

Our government is calling the torture an "isolated incident," and many Americans are eager to believe that. But the facts just keep getting in the way. The Pentagon was aware of these allegations for the last four months. The Red Cross and Amnesty International had been telling top government officials about these types of abuses for the last year.

Now we hear from British military sources that ill-treatment and degradation is routinely taught to and used by the special forces of both the US and England in reducing "R2I" or "resistance to interrogation." Such training specifically uses female guards to taunt and humiliate naked male prisoners. Other methods include hooding, sleep deprivation, time disorientation and "depriving prisoners of fundamental human needs, such as warmth, water and food."

Major General Miller, commander of military jails in Iraq, has confirmed the use of 50 "coercive techniques" that can be used against enemy detainees. His last assignment? He ran the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay.

We sweet, ignorant Americans are always the last to know. Our "War on Terror" is in fact a war OF terror, directed against Iraq civilians, and Afghan civilians. And our billions in military aid to Israel pays for terrorizing Palestinian civilians.

Fred Nagel

Dutchess must speak for restoring liberties

The Patriot Act has put Americans' civil liberties at risk without making us more secure.

Many conservatives, including New York Times columnist William Safire, have been critical of provisions that allow the FBI to investigate the library, purchasing and computer records of innocent citizens without obtaining a warrant or informing the individual that they were a target of investigation.

More than 320 states, counties, cities and towns have passed resolutions opposing sections of the act that threaten civil liberties. Such a resolution will be coming before the Dutchess County Legislature shortly.

Recently, the Legislature indicated its disinclination to vote on matters it claims are out of its jurisdiction. However, this directly affects county law enforcement agents, librarians and bookstore owners. Any of these could be forced to assist the FBI in gathering information about county residents without their knowledge, and face harsh penalties, including jail, if they tell anyone about it. We're not talking about terrorists; it could be applied to anyone who dissents from government policy, or is even suspected of doing so.

Contact your county legislator and urge him or her to oppose those portions of the act that would threaten the freedoms we are fighting to bring to Iraq. Sign our online petition at <http://www.dutchesspeace.org>www. dutchesspeace.org

For more information, go to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee web site: <http://www.bordc.org>www.bordc.org

Pat Lamanna, Dutchess Peace Coalition, Poughkeepsie

Three Lies of Occupation

Colonial occupation of a foreign country always requires lies, and the US invasion of Iraq was no exception. Lie number one was the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction, a carefully planned deception that the Pentagon fed to willing media outlets like "The New York Times" and the "The Washington Post." The second lie involved the good intentions of the occupiers. US troops were there to build schools and create a free and democratic society. Again the Pentagon created the fantasies that appeared this time in the editorial sections of the nation's major newspapers.

The third lie was reserved for the nation's TV and radio, that the invasion of Iraq was in response to the 9/11 attack on America. Most Americans were led to believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, a cynical manipulation by the Pentagon and the nation's major media. The war was depicted as pay-back time, just like the Hollywood revenge movies that fill our big screens. Put on a uniform, salute the flag, and the average high school graduate could kill Arabs with a moral outrage that made him/her feel good inside, while being a hero back home. This third lie was directly responsible for the torture and humiliation of so many Afghan and Iraqi civilians.

In one of the ironies of this war, the consequences of the third lie made the second lie impossible to believe. Once the pictures of Abu Ghraib prison came out, Americans suddenly found it difficult to remember all our noble intentions in Iraq. And that is a good thing, because ending the occupation will require ending our illusions. The invasion and occupation were all about billions in profits for defense contractors and oil companies. The rest was a deadly deception practiced on both the people of Iraq and of the United States.

Fred Nagel

For a long time now, I have had various concerns that I wish to share

What is happening to Camilo Mejia, the Mexican-American soldier who served in Iraq but now refuses to return, because he does not want to see more civilians killed for oil?

Why are our valiant young men and women, serving in Iraq, not receiving adequante protective clothing? I have friends who have paid, out of their own pockets, for a better jacket for their sons.

How come only one congressman has a relative serving in Iraq? It is very convenient to send others to do the "dirty" work.

Why is so little written about the alarmingly high number of injured and about the high suicide level? Of course, I don't mean that names should be revealed, but Americans have a right to know the consequences of this war, based upon deceptions and lies. If your teenager lied seriously, would you reward him with a significant gift? Should we reward Bush with a second term? Here is another fact, little known: In May, 2003, President Biush pledged 15 billion dollars to combat AIDS in developing countries. However, in his budget this year, Bush asked less than $2 billion dollars (for this cause) for 2004 and considerably less than $3 billion dollars for 2005. He also made a pledge for the Millennium Change Account, which would give assistance to very poor countries. Originally he sought $1.6 billion dollars for fiscal year 2004, then cut it to $1.3 billion dollars. Yet, there is plenty of money for the war. I urge all to register and to vote in November. Think about these facts. Even if the economy improves, we must not forget the terrible suffering caused to many of our fellow American for, sadly, no reason. This was not World War II. As one woman told me, "My brother died (Iraq) for nothing."

Gloria Ghedini

Ministers should be congratulated for actions

As a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie, I am proud to support my minister, the Rev. Kay Greenleaf, in her stand on same-sex marriage. Whether Greenleaf and others are guilty of breaking the law is yet to be determined. But there is no doubt these courageous people have called attention to the injustice and absurdity of a law that defines marriage according to religious values.

It's time to separate the religious sacrament from the conferring by government of certain rights and benefits, which should be equally available to everyone. If that means letting religion have exclusive jurisdiction over the ''m'' word, and calling all ''civil unions'' by their correct name, that's fine with me.

Patricia G. Lamanna

A Present Danger to Library Users

I went to the Starr Library in Rhinebeck recently and asked to put a notice on their community bulletin board. The notice was from a community group, the Dutchess Peace Coalition, and described how to sign an on-line petition advocating the privacy of library records. Patrons of the library were urged to go visit the web site www.dutchesspeace.org and to sign this petition, which will eventually go to the Dutchess County Legislature.

To my surprise, the head librarian objected to the following words on the notice:

"The government now claims the right to inspect your library records, including what books you take out and what web sites you look at." She said that the Starr Library had never revealed any information like that.

I explained that the USA Patriot Act gives the federal government the right to come in and demand these records. Shouldn't people at least know about that possibility?

She said the notice would just upset people coming to use the library, and repeated that the library had never been asked to do this. I reminded her that she couldn't tell me if the library had been asked, according to the Patriot Act's "gag order" imposed on library personnel. She remained unmoved.

Many librarians are on the forefront of protecting readers' privacy. In a special 2003 resolution, the American Library Association declared that "sections of the USA Patriot Act are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users." Moreover, the ALA encouraged all librarians "to educate their users, staff, and communities...about the dangers to individual privacy and the confidentiality of library records resulting from those measures."

Why leave out the users of the Starr Library?

Fred Nagel

CIA Scorecard

Two democracies down, and two to go. Not a bad scorecard for the CIA over the last year. The Democratic Republic of Georgia was easy, and followed a familiar pattern. The CIA hired a small group of armed agitators who in turn created chaos in the country. Stories about the "liberation" of Georgia were then planted in the US press. The reason behind the CIA backed overthrow was never revealed, President Shevardnadze's reluctance to allow a US backed oil pipeline through his country.

Haiti's democracy was overthrown in almost the same fashion, with CIA armed and financed rebels. Again, misleading stories about President Aristide were fed to the US media. And again, the real reasons for the CIA action were never alluded to, Aristide's doubling of the minimum wage and his refusal to privatize basic services.

Venezuela's democracy proved more difficult to eliminate. Despite millions of CIA dollars and a total control of local media, President Chavez returned triumphant after being held prisoner for two days. That is not to say that the CIA has given up on this effort. Derogatory stories about Chavez are routinely planted by the CIA, while the real reason behind overthrow attempts are never revealed, the desire of US oil companies to control Venezuela's vast oil reserves.

The last democracy on the CIA hit list may never even need to be overthrown. With its press completely controlled, and both of its parties safely funded by wealthy elites, the people of the United States offer no threat to the global corporate agenda.

Fred Nagel

Virtual Democracies

Recently US forces just handed over "virtual control" of Saddam Hussein to the new government in Iraq. Virtual control, of course, is not physical control. He will remain in US custody for the foreseeable future.

Today US forces handed over control of all of Iraq to a new interim government in the form of a "virtual" democracy. Virtual in this case means about the same thing: pretend. The Iraq government will not be able to make laws that interfere with US control of oil reserves. They will not have the right to ask US forces to leave their country. The Iraq government will be there for show while we run things.

John Negroponte, our new ambassador to Iraq, is an old hand at virtual democracies, having set them up in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the 1980's. He knows how the game is played.

So do the Iraq people. During the period of colonial rule after World War I, England set up what it termed a "constitutional fiction" in Iraq. England controlled oil resources under a pretend democracy.

Pretend democracies are never pretty. The British killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in the 1920's through aerial bombardment and poison gas. Central America in the 1980's was awash in death squad blood, much of it orchestrated by Negroponte and the US training facility in Georgia called the "School of the Americas."

Iraq will be similarly costly as more and more of its people take up the fight for real national sovereignty and an end to US occupation.

Fred Nagel

Battle for Equal Protection

Ulster County DA Donald Williams might encourage ongoing stability in our communities by allowing New Paltz Mayor Jason West to continue performing marriages under his jurisdiction rather than charging Mayor West with a nuance of State Law in order to appease an element who would deny a minority population the legal protections the vast majority of us now enjoy. This is position is clearly discriminatory and divides our communities rather than strengthens them.

The battle for equal protection under the law is forever ongoing and if Mayor West believes that under the NY State Constitution people should not be discriminated against, and until State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer makes his recommendation about that law and higher courts have ruled, DA Williams should drop the charges against the Mayor and stand down.

In fact, I would suggest that the DA not only drop the charges against Mayor West but stand up for the people of Ulster County and the Hudson Valley by supporting the Mayor's efforts at creating stronger communities and neighborhoods. Mayor West should be congratulated and has my full support.

Jeff Green

Intelligence Failures and Hillary Clinton

One has to sympathize with Senator Hillary Clinton during her recent interview by the Editorial Board. A full year after the invasion of Iraq, everything is still a "deeply concerning puzzle" to her. She asserts that, "you have to trust your president that he will deal in an above-board way with matters of life and death." She suspects a possibly intelligence failure that she wants to get to the bottom of. But how do we get to the bottom of Hillary's own failure in intelligence?

Her excuses for the illegal and unjustified invasion of Iraq sound almost as imbecilic as her president's. According to Hillary, Saddam was a "megalomaniac who had already demonstrated irrational behavior and thinking." By all means, we should sacrifice 500 US soldiers when faced with foreign leaders like that! She states that Saddam, "thought he could make some sort of trouble for the United States and the region, he had before and he would again." Thinking about causing "trouble" for the US should certainly be enough to justify the killing 10,000 Iraq civilians.

It turns out that her vote for war had something to do with 9/11. No wonder 50% of Americans think that Saddam caused 9/11, when our own Senator can't distinguish the difference between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Using the attack on the World Trade Center to justify her vote for war is worse than ignorant. It is duplicitous. For Hillary is not stupid at all. That judgment must be reserved for those who voted for her.

Fred Nagel

Iraq Posed No WMD Threat

According to David Kay, recently resigned chief inspector of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In fact, after months of searching no WMD programs were discovered. Kay stated that most if not all the intelligence used to justify the Iraq War was flawed. Kay's explained how UN inspections drove Iraq to abandon weapons production and destroy stockpiles. So there was not only no imminent WMD threat, even the potential for such a threat did not exist. Kay, who claimed he would find WMD, now plainly states WMD were not there after all.

Taking America to war is the sole responsibility the Bush Administration. Bush Senior, former head of the CIA and aware of executive responsibility, certainly discussed limitations of intelligence data with his son. Nonetheless, Bush Junior stood before Americans and stated with absolute surety that Iraq was a threat, Iraq had WMD and other falsehoods. Impeachment proceedings were brought against a President for possibly lying about sexual impropriety. Does this standard also apply when a President has "mislead" a country into war or does casting blame on the intelligence community or debating the definition of "misleading" deny similarities?

Jeff Akins

The Problem With Dean

The corporate media does not want anyone to run for president who challenges the twin pillars of American political thought: support for military expansion abroad (in its various guises of fighting Communism, fighting drugs, fighting terror), or support for corporate domination of every aspect of domestic life.

We continue to support the worst human rights abusers in the world, from Columbia to Israel, with not millions but billions in military aid. We continue to undermine and overthrow democratically elected government's from Venezuela to the Democratic Republic of Georgia when their oil or access to oil makes their countries valuable to our corporations.

We continue to dismantle everything in our society that does not make profits for the major corporations. That includes public education, the US Post Office, Medicare, and Social Security, as well as public health and protection for our environment. The relentless corporate media insures that we remain passive consumers of products rather than active participants in these decisions.

Although Dean is far from being a leftist, he seems to scare the likes of "The New York Times," as well as the usual cringing cowards of the Democratic Party establishment. He scares them because he is not reliant on corporate funding to run his campaign, and therefore not completely predictable in his support for militarism abroad and corporate domination at home.

Fred Nagel

Support Our Troops by Bringing Them Home

Jeremy Feldbusch came back from Iraq blind. The explosion that caused his blindness also caused brain damage, leaving him subject to seizures and mood changes. His mother talked about seeing a female soldier crawling through the halls of the veterans' hospital with her 3-year-old son behind her. She lost both of her legs in Iraq. This is the real face of war, a face that Americans do not want to see. These terrible injuries were not necessary because the war and the occupation were not necessary.

Sgt. Feldbusch did not go blind to protect our freedom or "our way of life." They never were threatened by Iraq. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Even George W. Bush had to admit that. He went blind because of the arrogance, distortions and lies of George W. Bush.

Many letters have been written to your newspaper urging us to support our troops. Yes, we must support them. But how? The best way is to petition our government to bring them home. Not in a year, or two years, but now. As long as they stay in Iraq they will be targets for attack. The Iraqis will always see us as an occupying power.

Long after Iraq is but a fleeting memory, these soldiers and their families will bear the scars of the tragedy that is Iraq. George W. Bush has given us and the world a disaster and he must be held accountable.

Elias Tanenbaum, disabled veteran of World War II.

U.S. Patriot Act abuses should concern Dutchess, Poughkeepsie

Concerned about the effects of the USA Patriot Act, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee of Dutchess County sent a questionnaire last fall to all the candidates for the Dutchess County Legislature. A quarter of the candidates responded.

All candidates agreed the county should refrain from racial and political profiling and from collecting information about political or religious groups extraneous to specific charges, all activities that may be required by the Patriot Act.

We thank candidates Sandra Goldberg, Jim Hammond, Richard Keller-Coffey, Laurence Kopczak, Barbara Lindsey, William McCabe and Joel Tyner for their concern for the civil liberties of residents of Dutchess County.

Those residents who wish to urge our Legislature to join more than 200 towns, counties, municipalities and states that have passed resolutions expressing concern about portions of the Patriot Act, may sign an online petition through a link to our group's Web site at http://www.dutchesspeace.org.

Pat Lamanna, On behalf of the Dutchess County Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Occupations, Theirs and Ours

One might argue that all occupations are the same. But the occupation of Palestine and the occupation of Iraq have so much in common as to be remarkable.

Both occupations are being carried out by military super states. The US is the world's only superpower, and Israel has 600,000 on active duty, 4,000 tanks, 8,000 armored vehicles and over 300 advanced jet fighters, not to mention its sizable nuclear arsenal. By several measures, it is the forth most powerful military in the world.

Both occupations violate international law, the UN Charter, and the Geneva Convention, and the Nuremberg Charter. Moreover, both occupations have been roundly condemned by almost every other country in the world.

Both occupations are being orchestrated by right wing, militaristic leaders whose grip on power comes from keeping their populations in constant fear.

Both occupations say they are about "fighting terror," although they are really about grabbing more land and water (Israel) and oil (US).

Both occupations have produced moonscapes of destroyed houses, farm lands and factories. Palestinians and Iraq's both live in subhuman conditions, without jobs, health care or even food and water.

Both occupying armies are so hated that any number of Palestinians and Iraq's are willing to blow themselves up just to kill a few of the enemy.

Both occupations are supported by our two, Democratic, US Senators. Both occupations are being paid for by the same group of people, the US taxpayers.

Fred Nagel

Hope in the Geneva Accord

A reader's response to Thom Shaker's letter that lamented Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's brutal treatment of the Palestinians and his ability to bully President Bush is typical of pro-Sharon supporters: a distortion of historical facts and the assertion that Arabs must accept their fate and learn how to be democratic.

But growing numbers of Israelis and American Jews see hope in the Geneva Accord. Unlike the unjust terms slapped together at Camp David, the Accord, unofficially, continues Taba, the thoughtful negotiations that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak walked away from. (See www.btsvshalom.org and www.tikkun.org)

Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair claim they will make Iraq an example of democracy for all Arabs. But instead of sendiing others to die, they should show personal courage of their own. Bush should support the Geneva Accord and tell Sharon and the Christian Right that in a democracy the bible cannot be used to steal Palestinian land. And Blair should admit it is not democratic to make the Irish second class citizens to the descendents of the British invaders. Let Blair get out of Northern Ireland and take the vicious anti-Catholic Ian Paisley and his kind with him .

Julie Adams

Ending Apartheid

I would like to publicly thank the members of Jews Against the Occupation for their recent presentation at Vassar College. In two hours, they reviewed both the history of the Israeli/Palestine conflict and the realities of every day life for those in the occupied territories.

The speakers had all spent time in the West Bank and Gaza, risking their lives to witness and film events there. Of course, they told stories of the huge wall being erected through Palestinian territory, of the sniper towers shooting into people's houses, of the endless checkpoints that have brought commerce in Palestine to an end, and of the American made bulldozers that methodically destroy more and more Palestinian houses and olive groves.

But to me, the most moving story took place at a checkpoint that had been closed for hours. Many Palestinians were patiently waiting to cross. Among them was a young woman in labor, whose moaning and cries were affecting all those in line. After several hours, the Israeli forces decided to open the checkpoint. They told the group that the men must be processed first, a procedure that took another hour. "They knew the women was in pain" the speaker said. "They did it to shame the Palestinian men, making them go before the women was allowed to continue on her way to the hospital. It was sadistic."

Jews and non-Jews must continue working together in opposing the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. Apartheid ended peacefully in South Africa; it can end peacefully in the Middle East.

Fred Nagel

Sue Kelly and Iraq

"When Representative Sue Kelly answered by letter protesting her vote in favor of the Iraq War, she stated "We must get rid of the WMD that Saddam definitely has." Since no such weapons were found, Rep Kelly is following the Bush administration by no longer referring to this blatant deception and is reverting to our liberation of Iraq. She talks about the glowing state of life over there. However, I have spoken to journalists and to returning soldiers who depict quite a different stroy. One Marine told me that Kelly was chosen a selected area. Of course, some Iraqis are happy about the removal of Saddam, but it is obvious that many are rebelling against American occupation. I read foreign periodicals with polls that the majority of the Iraqi civilians destest our rule. No one denies how heinous Saddam was, but schools existed, as well as hospitals. This is not the situation in many countries in Central and South America, countries where dictators have almost always existed and with whom the United States government has maintained diplomatic relations. In fact, our big businesses have been very willing to do business with these dictators. I lived through the Batista regine and can attest to this.

I am also very bothered that our media rarely mentions our returning wounded soldiers nor the fact that no psychological assistance has been offered. These are our brave young men and women. Where are those billions of dollars going? We must demand answers!"

Gloria Ghedini

Letters to the editor, Green Party

This letter is in response to Tom Cleggs letter. Tom, thanks for the letter, and the good questions. Glad you asked. First of all let us say, that some of your questions are related to the energy issue, which as we can see-you are coming from a biased position. You work at Indian Point, and we can understand you being critical of anything that sounds like alternative energy. It appears that you are worried about losing your job. So we can see where your coming from.

When the nuclear reactor is finally shut down, yes we need power, chances are there will be other sources, like Canadian hydro power, from the wind farms that are popping up all over, and gas and oil. Chances are Tom, you may still have your job, converting the nuke plant into something that is really safe.

Installing solar panels on the roof of city buildings is a first step, to be used as an example of how solar power does work. After the initial investment is paid off, the energy received will be free, for a long time. I am presently working on a house that does have solar panels installed, and they work great, and they actually make the electric meter spin backwards when more power is being produced than consumed.

I also recently attended a conference in Poughkeepsie on alternative energy, and one of the presentations was from a representative from a wind company. Wind power is available, 24 /7 - at a slightly higher price, but it is clean, renewable energy. In time, when more wind mills are installed and more people buy it the cost will go down. Some of the ways the city can reduce taxes, are to make the buildings we have more efficient. For example, some buildings the city owns, like at the sewage plant are heated with electric heat, the most costly heating source available. If elected mayor, one of the first things, I will have an energy audit done, to determine what is the best way heat, not the easiest.

The reason why a lot more homes are not using solar, wind or other alternative sources is because the energy policy is this country is bought by big oil companies, you didn't know that?

There are good reasons why we police review board. First of all, as a way to provide checks and balances to our city government. As reported in other issues of this paper, there are problems in the police department which no one seems to be able to do anything about. There are a few rotten apples that spoil the bunch. A lot of people have been stepping forward with horror stories of how they have been processed by the department. The current administration has a blind eye and will not solve the problem, because they are part of the problem. A police review board that I help set up, besides having the power to bring charges against an abusive officer, it will be a deterrent to any police officer that does not act like a professional. This will bring the cost of the department down, just in insurance cost. Ask the present mayor how many law suits the city presently has against it and how much this cost, just in insurance premiums, not the mention the abuse that people have to suffer. She will side step that question.

Then you go on about the youth program. I guess you would rather see the kids hanging out on main street, where the cops still have to watch them. The greens would prefer to see the kids involved with positive things, like after school activities. Generally kids are not bad, and they don't need police to watch them. If there were after school activities, they would be under adult supervision. The school has put up with many years of service, and chances are it was build with kids in mind, so I doubt that what your saying is true.

Your statement about Indian Point are self serving. We do not need nuclear power. The terrorist flew right over Indian Point and if they wanted to, they probably would have caused more damage by crashing into the plant, making Beacon a ghost town. But that and all the other reasons are not enough for you. You need a place to work, and to you, that is more important than the safety of millions of people around you. Don't worry Tom, the country still needs skilled people, you will still be employable, if your interested in alternative energy.

Lets keep the channels of communication open, thanks for your letter Tom.

Dan Searles -- candidate for Mayor of Beacon -- Green Party 

Propaganda As News

Last summer less than 5% of Americans thought that Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attack on our country. By the time of the US invasion this spring, well over 50% of Americans believed Iraq was responsible. This remarkable shift in opinion occurred despite several findings by the CIA that no creditable link existed between Iraq and al Qaeda.

One might wonder how over half of all Americans were convinced of something that was not true. How did people in our local communities come to believe a link between 9/11 and Iraq that simply was not there?

The answer lies in the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence, a propaganda unit that was supposedly closed down after 9/11. The "Nation" magazine (6/23/03) does a fine job of tracing planted stories from the Pentagon down to local newspapers and radio stations. Do you remember reading a story about Iraq germ warfare labs in the "Poughkeepsie Journal"? Or possibly a story about radioactive material found near Baghdad? Let's take a look at how pro war propaganda is distributed to the general public.

On April 21, Judith Miller, one of the "New York Times" top reporters, wrote a story explaining why no weapons of mass destruction were being found in Iraq. According to Miller, these weapons were destroyed or converted to civilian use right before the invasion. Her sources? A man standing at a distance from her in Baghdad who US military sources told her was an Iraq scientist. She had not talked to the supposed scientist, but had read a letter he had written, which was translated for her by these same US military sources. Moreover, the Pentagon had requested and obtained permission to both review and make changes in Miller's article before it was published.

And the story you read in the "Poughkeepsie Journal"? Major news sources in the rest of the country read the "Times" daily to assess what stories to cover and what credibility to give them. Headline stories by Miller almost always made it to the front pages of America's local newspapers. Of course, the fact that these stories were created and even edited by the Pentagon were never part of the final copy.

Several recent stories by MIller in the "Times" reflect what the Pentagon wants you to believe: "US Analysts Link Iraq Labs to Germ Arms" and "Radioactive Material Found at a Test Site Near Baghdad" and "Trailer Is a Mobile Lab Capable of Turning Out Bioweapons, a Team Says." Many Hudson Valley residents get their news from the headlines of the "Poughkeepsie Journal" or the "Kingston Freeman." But what they take for good reporting is often nothing more than Pentagon propaganda.

The Pentagon often works closely with other agencies in the federal government to manipulate the news. There is the office of Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Charlotte Beers, an influential figure in the advertising industry. There is the CIA itself which secretly funds news reporters, authors, and media commentators, not to mention the "advisory" role it plays in numerous Hollywood productions. The CIA's role in manipulating news in other countries is equally problematical, since many of these same stories come back to front page prominence in our nation's newspapers.

Is it any wonder that a growing percentage of Americans now believe that weapons of mass destruction have already been found in Iraq? We often recognize how our politicians lie to us. What we may not realize is how distorted our local news media has really become.

Fred Nagel

One by one the pretenses justifying war with Iraq are sloughing off, and it is becoming obvious that the citizens of the United States were duped by a cynical administration.

There was no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and the administration knew this even as they tried to make us believe there was. Saddam was not a threat to the US if the resistance to the invasion is any evidence, yet the administration tried to make us fear him. Chemical and biological weapons cannot be found in Iraq, and there is no evidence of a nuclear program. UN weapons inspectors told us this for months, but Bush chose to invade anyway because, in the classic rationalization of Colin Powell, "everybody knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction." When the invasion finally came, much to the relief of Wall Street, who but the most naive really believed that this war was simply to "liberate" Iraq, as its justification was magically transformed into on that fateful day? If that is true, why did we protect the oil ministry and not the social infrastructure as Baghdad was looted?

To those who opposed the war, this is no surprise. The pill is all the more bitter for those who supported the war, for now they see how crudely the administration played upon their patriotism and their trust in government. The time has come for all of us to work together to demand answers to hard questions. This administration must be held accountable.

Jeff Walker

At a recent press conference, President Bush said that Saddam Hussein's sons were "brought to justice." I don't see it that way because I believe that the American ideal of justice is predicated upon the phrase "innocent until proven guilty." The President's words demonstrate the "guilty until proven innocent" mentality that characterizes his attitude in many situations.

This attitude is frightening, but not surprising, to Americans concerned about abrogation of our privacy and freedom through the "Patriot Act." It is also frightening, but not surprising, to the rest of the world as it watched the pathetic spectacle of the world's most powerful nation beating up on a third world country over chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Colin Powel'sl statement that "everybody knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction" show just how pervasive this attitude is. Tens of thousand of Iraqi deaths in the name of a justification that ultimately turns out to be a paranoid fear at best, or a thinly veiled deception at worst, show how deadly it is.

The admistration might believe that the murder of Saddam Hussein's family members (however bad they might be), and their hunt for Saddam himself, will distract us from the fact that little of the evidence presented in the prewar justification was true, but I hope we are smarter than that. Wanton murder of the bad guys is never acceptable even though we see it on television and in movies, and it is time to help the President reorient his moral compass.

Jeff Walker

WMD Missing

First of all, I applaud the editorial in today's (June 5) editorial of The Poughkeepsie Journal. The American people must insist that the Bush administration answer to this very vital question: Where are the WMD? We have a right to know; this war has caused great devastation to both Americans and to Iraqis. The sister of one deceased marine told me "He died for nothing." The International Red Cross states that Iraqis continue to suffer tremendously from lack of humanitarian aid. American soldiers continue to be killed by hostile Iraqis.

I would also like the Bush administration to explain why it never said or did anything about the 3 million people who died in the Congo since 2000. I do not buy the reason for this last war (since the WMD have never been found) as the liberation of these people. There are starving children right in the United States.Yes, mass graves were found in Iraq, but mass graves were found in San Salvador, Algeria, and Cambodia, and this government made no comment. Of course, they don't offer what Iraq can offer us.

I did vote for Bush and feel terribly upset by all his deceipt and lies. We must all speak out! Some of the blind patriotism presently displayed will end when Americans feel the impact of cuts in education, care for the elderly, and poor health care.

Gloria Ghedini

Forget About Weapons of Mass Destruction

Feeling a little silly having killed thousands of Iraqi civilians and 200 American and British troops because of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? Weapons that didn't exist?

A little uncomfortable that you were lied to by all your leaders? That your President and Secretary of State kept referring to "intelligence sources" that turned out to be outdated and plagiarized reports, manipulated evidence, and outright forgeries? That your TV talking heads never let on that anything was amiss? That Congress swallowed all these lies without a moment of doubt?

If you are feeling like a fool, just don't think about weapons of mass destruction any more. That subject is gone. Convince yourself that we invaded Iraq because Saddam killed so many of his own people. I know it is hard to change reasons so quickly like this, especially after we have just destroyed an entire country. But our media will help you out. "The New York Times" will run a front page story about Saddam's evil doings, right under a picture of Bush's visit to a Polish concentration camp. Think of Saddam as Hitler, as our President does.

Public Radio will offer stories of Iraqi's butchered by Saddam. Forget about those weapons; move on. Pretend you have attention deficit disorder.

And by all means, don't think about all those years that America was funding Saddam, supplying him with weapons, and defending him before the world community. That way lies madness.

Fred Nagel

Israel's Human Rights Abuses

In his criticism of my letter regarding the misuse of the term anti-Semitism, Joel Levy, of the Anti-Defamation League, says it is reprehensible, absurd and offensive to compare Jewish suffering with Palestinian suffering. I would use the same adjectives to describe the racist belief that Jewish suffering has greater importance. Israeli soldiers who crush innocent Palestinians to death with bulldozers do not make the crime less horrendous because their people died in crematoriums.

Levy says it is anti-Semitism to single out Israel's human rights abuses and U.N. violations; but what other country gets billions of American tax dollars to foster these abuses and violations? Ariel Sharon is in violation of international law, but he is allowed to believe that he can decide what scraps of land he will "grant" back to the aggrieved owners. Those Jews and members of the Christian Right who put pressure on our cowardly legislators to continue this injustice must share the responsibility for the endless deaths of innocent Israelis as well as innocent Palestinians.

It is ridiculous to pretend that extremists who think they can push each other off the coveted land will comply with the "road map". Only an international force that protects both sides, while enforcing U. N. resolutions will end the madness. Then saner minds can work together for reconciliation and healing.

Julie Adams

Raising the Specter of anti-Semitism

Millions of Palestinians are locked in the largest and most densely populated ghetto in the world. Their homes are bulldozed, their olive trees cut down, their hospitals blockaded, and their schools destroyed. A third of their children are malnourished. They are a people on the edge of extinction, without rights, without land, without hope for the future.

According to Joel Levy of the Anti-Defamation League, even this description of Palestinian suffering makes me an anti-Semite. In a recent letter to the editor he writes, "...the ugly specter of anti-Semitism is raised when Israel is singled out for unrelenting criticism because of claims of human rights abuses or noncompliance with United Nations resolutions." I assume that unrelenting criticism of other nations is OK, leaving me free to criticize Guatemala for a twenty year war against its indigenous population, Serbia for its ethnic cleansing and murder of Muslims, and Indonesia for its genocide against the people of East Timor. But turning a critical eye on Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians brands me as an anti-Semite.

Mr. Levy, aren't you in fact using the term anti-Semitism to cover up what Israel is doing to the Palestinians? Does your organization exist to fight bigotry and racism here in America, or is it a smokescreen to hide the worst excesses of Sharon's Fascist and apartheid regime? You simply can't do both. And if you and your organization choose the latter goal, then you do a grave disservice to Jews and non Jews alike who would be your allies in a real fight against racism and anti-Semitism wherever it appeared.

Fred Nagel

The Next War, Please

Now that this war is over, let me say what's been on all our minds. I hope we don't have to wait as long for the next one. It was so exciting that it made even the grossest reality shows look like the Bradey Bunch. There were great villains, real ones who said nasty things about America right up to the time we just greased 'em. And we kept on greasing until the body count left no one doubting about who was number one in the world. Number one! Number one! We really did stack them up. A snuff movie that left you feeling all good inside.

In all this, there must be a time to honor our own brave heroes. Oh, how we wished for more interview time with their families. How did they really feel about their loved ones in so much danger? And when old glory appeared on the TV, with all that swelling music, well it just made us fight to keep from crying.

So what are the networks waiting for? Embed those journalists, and let's get on to "Showdown Syria" or something like that. It doesn't matter what country, as long as their equipment is thirty years old and they don't have any planes and missiles. We have set up so many evil dictators in the world, it shouldn't be to hard to find another.

Then we can begin the cycle all over again, with the good versus evil thing, and our swaggering little Texan promising to "take them out." We can get back to hating those leftover hippies still trying to ruin our fun after all these years. "Nuke 'em!" we will yell out our car windows again, and then gun it. Feels so fine standing up for God and country.

Of course, someone may write in condemning this letter as being cynical and unpatriotic. But see, that is half the fun. We all love being righteous, and in wartime we can make an orgy of it without even being embarrassed. Go on, write. Get stirred up, even teary eyed. You'll enjoy it, and so will we.

Fred Nagel

Anti-Semitic Charge

My recent letter to the editor "startled" Louis Schneider. First I condemned centuries of violence and hatred directed towards the Jews. Then I condemned decades of violence and hatred directed towards the Palestinians.

Maybe I will surprise Mr. Schneider even further when I say that I have always respected and admired Jewish culture and Jewish traditions. In my experience, Jews have almost always led the fight for social and racial justice in America. I suspect that this is true in other countries as well, at least from what I have read and studied.

Yet I do not hesitate to condemn a man like Sharon. Perhaps a little history will explain why. In October 1953, Major Sharon led his "elite" Unit 101 into the town of Kibya in the West Bank. According to Israeli historian Avi Shalaim, "The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to rubble: 45 houses had been blown up, and 69 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, had been killed."

By 1982, Sharon had directed many such operations. But is was at the Sabra and Shatilla camps that he earned his name "The Butcher." There he orchestrated the murder of over 2,000 men women and children, a crime that even an Israeli government tribunal found him "indirectly responsible" for.

Does Mr. Schneider think that my respect and admiration of the Jewish people could ever make me overlook the crimes of Sharon and his government? There are many Jews and non-Jews alike who are working against the occupation of Palestine. If you abhor racist violence and murder, how can you do anything less?

Fred Nagel

The Label "anti-Semitic"

The label " anti-Semitic" is being as misused as " communist " was in the past.

Hitler was anti-Semitic when he declared the Jews inferior, forced them from their homes, stole their land, beat, humiliated and killed them. Jews and non-Jews who protest the same treatment of the Palestinians are hardly anti- Semitic. Yet those who say " never again " to oppression but believe the Palestinians should meekly surrender their land and their rights call their critics anti-Semitics just as Southern racists called civil rights workers Communists when they could not rationally defend segregation. In the mind set of the time, the label worked well and slowed the efforts for justice.

Zionists and their fellow neoconservatives in the Bush administration are now working openly to prevent a Palestininian state. even as they plan to reconstruct an oil pipeline from Iraq to Israel .Both administrator Jay Garner and US backed Ahmed Chalibis have strong Likud ties. It is not anti-Semitic to worry for the Middle East.

Julie Adams

"Matrix" for the Middle Class

There are few moments in science fiction movies as captivating as Keanu Reeves waking up to find that everything he had ever believed was a lie, and that his very life was being drained away while he slept. When the pod opens to reveal his shrunken body and astonished face, we all share that moment of horror and betrayal.

How we would agonize if we ever thought that our lives and the lives of our families were similarly being drained away while we lived in a fantasy world, unaware of our peril. We get up every day, like Keanu, and work until we are exhausted. Then we come home and watch TV until bedtime. All those talking heads assure us night after night that our leaders are doing the right thing by us, and that we should respect, even revere them. And we believe them, yes we believe.

What we don't see on our TV screens is a real world as devastating as any science fiction movie. Everything that we think real is, in fact, an illusion. We think that someday we will get Social Security and Medicare. We think that our children will get a good high school education, even go to college. We think they will get medical care when they got sick, job training when they are unemployed, and access to a library when they want knowledge. We think that we will always be able to afford the taxes on our home, even save a little for a vacation. We dream the American dream, and we are happy.

But in Dutchess County, Pataki's proposed funding cuts included a loss of $12 million in Medicaid, a loss of Health Plus eligibility for 300 families, school aid losses of $19 million and property tax increases of 14%. The reason for all these cuts as well as for outrageous increases in state tuitions and drastic reductions in the tuition assistance programs is simple. The federal budget is deeply in debt and states are getting less and less.

Our TV's won't tell us, but our federal government is spending its billions on weapons programs designed to benefit a few corporations and a handful of extremely wealthy individuals. The 2004 Military Budget is set to be $399 billion, not including the $79 billion request for 6 months in Iraq. An additional $300 billion may be needed to occupy Iraq over the following two years. On top of that is another scam: the Star Wars missile defense program, something that has never worked but is being purchased anyway.

Tax cuts for the very rich and the multinational corporations will complete the gutting of the federal budget. We, fantasizing in our middle class "matrix," will get a few hundred dollars back on our taxes. Former CEO's like Dick Cheney will get $100,000 or more. Add to that the reduction of the dividend tax, estate tax, and capital gains tax and you have thievery unprecedented in modern times. The Bush administration estimates that $1.4 trillion will be needed from the Social Security fund to pay for all these military increases and tax cuts in the next 10 years.

We in our TV cocoons may wake up one day to find ourselves back in the 19th Century, when the very richest one percent made all the decisions and were insulated from any need to share their wealth with an impoverished mass of underpaid workers. To get us back there, the current administration plans to do the following: eliminate all taxation on private capital; phase out public pension fund retirement systems; eliminate a federal role in housing , healthcare, and assistance to the poor; restore private and church funded education at the expense of public education; eliminate or greatly reduce environmental, health and financial regulation of large corporations; severely restrict unions, especially those for public employees.

While this is happening to ourselves and our families, we dream on, confident that our TV's represent reality and that our leaders are honest, even compassionate. But one day, our pod will open, and how withered and helpless we will really be. And how betrayed.

Fred Nagel

Anti-Semitism and the Palestinian People

It is not easy for non Jews like myself to comprehend the suffering caused by anti-Semitism. We can read "Diary of Ann Frank," or "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a number" or any of the hundreds of books that explore the history of Jewish persecution. We can visit the former Jewish ghettos of Venice, Prague, Budapest, Paris, or a hundred other European cities and read about what happened there. We can turn a critical eye on our own history by reading the words of Charles Lindbergh, the Reverend Billy Graham or Father Charles E. Coughlin. We can study why boatloads of Jewish refugees were turned away from our shores during Hitler's time. We can try to understand anti-Semitism, but we can never fully come to terms with the scope of its madness.

Studying anti-Semitism raises our consciousness about many other ethnic and racial persecutions, some of them sadly condoned and funded by our own government. Three troubling examples come to mind: the mass murders in East Timor, the assault on the Kurds in Turkey, and finally the ethnic cleansing and slaughter of the Palestinian people. In all three cases, the strategic and commercial interests of the US triumphed over decency, morality, and basic humanity. Our country provided the weapons, and kept the worst stories out of the US media.

Perhaps a day will come when a grandchild of ours will read the diary of a young Palestinian girl, written in the basement of her bullet ridden home. The diary will describe her fears for her Palestinian family and her hopes for a normal life someday. Our grandchild will turn to us and ask how America ever allowed such terrible things to happen to innocent people.

Fred Nagel

The First Casualty

The first casualty of war, as they say, is truth. Let's take a peek at the dead truths in some of these first body bags.

Truth: there is no link between 9/11 and Iraq. But our President referred to 9/11 over ten times in his recent justification for war against Iraq. Large numbers of Americans now believe that Iraq had something to do with this attack on the United States.

Truth: there is no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. In fact, they remain to this day deadly enemies. But in justifying this war, the President and the unquestioning media have linked them together so often that many Americans believe they support each other.

Truth: there are no functioning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The place has been crawling with inspectors for the last six months and they have found nothing. Yet, the President and the media keep up the falsehoods about nuclear weapons and empty warheads until large numbers of Americans are taken in.

In respect for our Constitution, let us proclaim what is true and what is not while we still can. What is true is that our President and most members of Congress are lying to us about the reasons for this war. What is true is that our media has given up on objective reporting and is quite willing to omit news the rest of the world gets about this war, and print news it knows to be untrue. If you are getting your news from American TV or from newspapers like the "New York Times," you are simply being lied to.

And finally, what is true is that America is entering a new phase of empire, driven by powerful elites in the oil and defense industries. To call these interests ruthless and undemocratic is simply an understatement. They are treasonous, willing to kill American troops, and hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians for oil and military profit. When the real body bags start coming back, we must remember those in high places who have betrayed our great nation.

Fred Nagel

Missing in the Congressional Debate

The reason we are going to invade Iraq doesn't make sense to many Americans. Saddam committed his worst crimes with military equipment, germ warfare technology, and intelligence reports supplied by own government. His weapons of mass destruction, if he has any, must surely pale in comparison to those in the hands of other countries in the region. Congress seems convinced, but many of us know there is something missing.

But there was something missing about the invasion of Panama too. If you remember, we invaded Panama because their leader was a "drug runner," a charge that was just as true for the many years that he was still on the US payroll.

There is always something missing when we bomb and attack other countries. The reasons are always forgettable because they are fake, like the reason for invading Iraq. Since World War II we have bombed or involved our military in China (1945-46, 1950-53); Korea (1950-53); Guatemala (1954, 1967-69); Indonesia (1958); Cuba (1959-60); the Belgian Congo (1964); Peru (1965); Laos (1964-73); Vietnam (1961-73); Cambodia (1969-70); Grenada (1983); Libya (1986); El Salvador (1980s); Nicaragua (1980s); Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998); Yugoslavia (1999); Afghanistan (2001). That is not counting the numerous governments we have overthrown, a much longer list. And the reason for all this military action?

The reason is that we live in a corporate dominated, military state that currently has troops in over 120 countries, spends more on its war machine than all the other nations combined, and controls more of the world than any other empire in history.

As citizens, we have paid for this military dominance with our financial well being, with the blood of our sons and daughters, and with our precious democracy, an obscene price for an empire that benefits only the very richest of our citizens.

Fred Nagel

Bush Voter Against War

Contrary to Shelly Viani's statement that those opposing this war voted for Gore, I am one person who even gave a victory party upon Bush' election. However, I carefully considered all angles concerning this war and not one of them justifies such a drastic decision. Primarily Saudis and Pakistani were connected with September 11, an event which I never forget. We should learn from Lisa Beemer, widow of hero Todd, that hatred and vengeance are not the answer.

What happened to our noble determinations, as French people in this country now encounter antagonistic actions? Why didn't Bush listen to his own Methodist leaders who joined with other major religions, imploring him not to start this war? I feel less safe now, as the United States has set a precedent for pre-emptive war. If we are so concerned about oppressed people, why don't we do something about Cambodia?

I care indeed for our troops, which is the reason that I deplore Bush's action in decreasing benefits to veterans. It is disgusting that all the billions already spent do not include enough basic supplies nor postage in sending care packages. I become very bothered to hear about such light casualities. How do the families of our slain 131 soldiers feel about that? For that matter, I feel sadness for the over 3000 Iraqi civilians killed and hurt. On top of this, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. I only pray that the world be aware of the many Americans against this war.

Gloria Ghedini

Thought Crimes

Pity: for the American troops who thought they were getting a good deal by joining the military, only to find out that they had to kill people in a third world country to pay for college.

Disgust: for our media that proudly presents propaganda as truth, and war as a spectator sport.

Despair: for all our citizens who pay so much of their taxes to the Defense Department when defense is the last thing our military has done in the last fifty years.

Respect: for the Iraq soldiers who, despite the overwhelming military superiority of their invaders, fought long and hard to protect their families and their country from occupation.

Frustration: at knowing this war is illegal, immoral, and insane and not being able to stop it before thousands of people were killed for the profits of a few.

Hope: that those in charge of the butchery that has become US foreign policy will some day face punishment for the war crimes that they have forced on the American people.

Understanding: "It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism." Vietnamese Buddhist leader, quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King

Fred Nagel

Support for War Indefensible

I am amazed that Lewis Brownstein can seriously argue that France, Germany, Russia, and China are destroying the United Nations. Maybe Professor Brownstein's position is not so unbelievable once one learns that the vast majority of PhD dissertations in political science ignore the domination of US society by the corporate state as a de facto apology for this domination.

Since the Second World War the US has either ignored or used the UN security council as a fig leaf for policy decisions to bomb or invade 22 sovereign nations. None of these nations developed into the democracies that the US had promised in justifying these interventions. The US has also worked to undermine all major attempts to extend and strengthen international law under the auspices of the UN as the best hope for peace and stability in the world. For example, the US rejected the establishment of an international court, of obvious value in the war on terrorism. The imminent war with Iraq is the most egregious extension of US foreign policy to date. It is meant to gain control over Iraqi oil and fresh water resources as a major step, complete with US oil and military corporate-friendly client governments, toward total US control over the Middle East.

The largest anti-war movement in world history testifies to the transparent cynical reality of US policy. All Americans would reject this policy if they knew the real reasons for the war as briefly outlined here. This irresponsible preemptive war will make the terror of 9/11 pale in comparison with the catastrophes sure to follow.

Bruce Luske

Debate Has Ended

The debate has ended for Congress. It has given up on its right to declare war, or even to discuss what most Americans want. Rich and corporate fed, our elected officials know that their sons and daughters are safe, that their pensions are secure.

The debate is over on our TV's too. There is nothing left but the drumbeats of war: interviews with brave young soldiers, reports on desert fighting tactics. And then there are the lies. Saddam is Al-Qaeda. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction exist. Iraq actually threatens the United States. War is peace.

The debate is over and our troops are poised to strike. We have a million warheads pointed at another third world country, ready to turn its streets and buildings into smoke and rubble. Those who rule us have decided on war, and Americans are left to sort things out as best we can. To kiss our loved ones goodbye. To make do with less. The poor of our country will pay with their children, and the middle class with their life savings. Thousands of Iraq civilians will pay with their flesh and bones. Perhaps hundreds of thousands. War is costly.

The end of debate about war shows us that something else has has run its course as well. Once our democracy was all about debate and different opinions. That is what made our nation unique two centuries ago when it was young. Our government was created "by the people and for the people." Not just for the rich. Not just for the weapons makers, and the oil barons. Not just for the CEO's. Back when our democracy was new, we the people decided the course of our nation. Now we are simply told to obey. Debate has ended, and so too has our once proud democracy.

Fred Nagel

Flim Flam Politicians

I went to a taxpayers' forum in Hyde Park a couple of years ago to listen to Congressman Sweeney. Part of his tax relief presentation was about eliminating the estate tax, the "death tax" that he claimed was robbing family farmers and small business owners of all that they had worked for during their lives. He then urged repeal of the capital gains tax as another way free the average American from unfair taxation.

The average American? Only 1.4 percent of Americans pay estate tax. A husband and wife can shelter well over a million dollars in assets before they start paying a cent. And that is before they get a good estate lawyer to shelter much more. I looked around me for the people in the audience who looked like millionaires. They looked more like farmers, small business owners, and salaried workers, exactly the people who would lose out if millionaires paid no estate taxes. The elimination of capital gains would be another enormous tax relief, but to the same group, the wealthiest 2 percent of the population.

John Sweeney's district probably doesn't even have a great number of millionaires. So why would he keep pushing tax cut programs that would leave all the rest of us paying much more? If the rich don't pay their share, of course, everyone else who owns property will, for schools and for local government services. The less capital gains paid by the rich into the federal government, the more the rest of us will have to pay in salary taxes. Working people would be making up a loss of over 100 billion over the next ten years.

Sitting in the audience, I wondered how we ended up with politicians who serve so few people. Of course, they don't admit that they serve the wealthiest, but it doesn't take too much to see through their distortions. Maybe the average person doesn't care if he or she is being flimflammed. Maybe they only get their news from TV and are just terribly misinformed.

What will Americans have to lose before they start questioning the con artists who are supposed to serve them in Congress? Their Social Security? Access to health care for their children? Free public education? Or are there no limits on how many ways the average American can be cheated?

If I thought there was a political party serving the remaining 98 percent of us, I would rest easier. But over the last 40 years, the tax rate for working people has doubled while the rich and the huge corporations pay less and less of their share. In my lifetime I have seen a democracy become a plutocracy, a rule by the rich that is fully supported by both major parties.

Working harder and getting nowhere? Better start working for change while you still have the shirt on your back. Try www.dutchessgreens.org.

Fred Nagel

This Time It's Different

I know America has invaded other countries in the past. We invaded Panama a decade ago because its president was a "drug dealer," a reason as ludicrous then as the "weapons of mass destruction" argument is today. But for all our military conquests, the war against Iraq is something different.

I know these American invasions have been feared and resented by the rest of the world in the past. There have been UN resolutions against our militarism. There have been World Court decisions. But for all the anti-American rhetoric of the last forty years, the judgment of the rest of the world this time is different.

I know that there have always been segments of the American population unhappy with a foreign policy based on weapons sales, military intimidation, and the bombing of sovereign nations. Many Americans have seen this military aggression as immoral. Others have resented the pouring of our national treasure into the military, especially when there is so little left over for education, health care, and other programs that benefit people. But for all the criticism and protesting in the past, the opposition to the Iraq war here at home is something different.

Never before has America so clearly violated international law in a military operation against another nation. Never before has the rest of the world been so clearly united in its condemnation of and revulsion at our military aggression. And never before have large segments of the American people seen so clearly that their government is closer to being a military dictatorship than a democracy.

The road before us is empire. For all of humanity, let its reign be short.

Fred Nagel

Millions of Americans

Millions of Americans were recently handed an early death sentence, courtesy of lobbyist for corporate America. Hundreds of billions of dollars can now be legally stolen from American workers, just like hundreds of millions were stolen from IBM'ers when they implemented a cash balance pension conversion which ignited a national review of cash balance pensions, including senate hearings, IRS halting of approval for future conversions nationwide and the start of the IBM union movement.

I think everyone realizes that when you rob retirees of their pension and they are forced to choose between eating, paying the rent and medicine, many will end up bankrupt and headed for an early grave. The statistics are clear, the poor and impoverish die long before those with the means to support themselves.

Unfortunately, millions of those formerly self supporting members of the corporate employed middle class face a certain early death complements of the recent ruling which will make Enron thieving ways seem like a minor event in history.

Will James

Only in America

Eighty percent of US citizens believe our impending war against Iraq is about weapons of mass destruction. The rest of the world is certain that the war is about Iraq's huge supply of untapped oil. How can there be such a difference in opinion?

Perhaps it is what Americans don't know. We don't know the reason our own government is sending billions in military aid as well as US troops to Columbia, the worst human rights abuser in the Western Hemisphere. Think oil, lots of it discovered by Occidental Petroleum. They don't know why our leaders are spending millions in covert aid trying to overthrow a democratically elected government in Venezuela. Think oil again, the fifth largest producer in the world, led by a president who wants oil revenues to go to the people of his country. We don't even know that our government has a history of overthrowing democratically elected leaders when they get in the way of oil profits. Think Iran back in the fifties.

The average American has no idea about of any of this. According to Richard Nixon, this county's leaders have never had too much to worry about because, as he put it, "Americans are like the children in a family." We have always been thought of as rubes, not smart enough to see that these wars in other lands will cost us our health care, our education, our retirement savings, our standard of living, and even our security. Too dumb to see that all the profits from these wars will go to a few immensely rich families whose sons never end up fighting on the front line. We will stand there, saluting our flag with tears in our eyes while we get the shaft. Only in America.

Fred Nagel

To the Editor

Your last month's Community Commentary in "The Citizen" is anything but that. Writing on Social Security "reform," Matt Moore would have us defund part of this valuable program because of deficits that he contends will start to appear in 2017. Some crisis.

Who is Matt Moore? He is part of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right wing think tank based in Texas with lots of money to spend convincing people to give up their Social Security. One such TV add in 2000 costs the National Center $500,000. Other big issues for this think tank? Abolishing the "death tax." According to the think tank, we have to protect small businesses and farmers against this vicious tax that eats up their life's savings. The problem is, only the top one percent of the country pays estate taxes. By repealing it, you would end up benefiting only the people who fund think tanks like the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Will think tanks funded by the very wealthy be able to rob the rest of us of all we have paid into Social Security? Only if we remain ignorant. A fool and his money are soon parted.

Fred Nagel

At Another Man's Table

The ancient Greeks wrote of one who sits at another man's table, in effect beside (para) the food (sitos). Since then, natural scientists have applied the term parasite to some of the most complex and disturbing relationships found in nature. There is the parasite that makes its way into a fish's brain, forcing the fish to swim near the surface where it can be eaten by birds, the parasite's next target host. In effect, these parasites alter an animal's behavior, destroying it for the parasite's own ends.

We have also discovered that some human parasites are more complex than those who sit at another's table, flattering and amusing for a meal. In the labyrinthian world of corporate relationships, modern day parasites come closer to resembling the insidious threats of the natural world than they do the fawning hangers-on of old. Worldcom, a disaster for investors and a calamity for its employees, was manipulated to grant its CEO, Bernard Ebbers, $408 million in personal loans before it went bankrupt. At Enron, the CEO, Lou Pai, contrived to give himself $353 million in stock options before the shareholders lost their 401-k's and the employees lost their jobs.

Closer to home, GE laid of tens of thousands of Americans and moved their jobs abroad while its three top executives skimmed off $550 million in salary and stock options. Jack Walsh, GE's former CEO, even fashioned a pension for himself that pays $10 million annually for life. Lou Gerstner, former head of IBM, cut back on his employees' pension plans while lavishing $366 million on himself over five years.

The current administration is riddled with corporate parasites, Cheney as CEO of Halliburton, Treasury Secretary O'Neill as CEO of Alcoa, Secretary of the Army White as top executive at Enron. It is no surprise that this administration engineered a tax cut for the richest 2% of Americans that will eventually bring down Social Security and destroy any chance of universal health care for all Americans. These human parasites flourish by destroying their hosts, and once in control of a corporation or a country, there usually isn't much left. The staggering and ill gotten wealth of the few now threatens the life of our nation, its institutions and its people.

Fred Nagel

Hidden Costs of Empire

A person's hidden costs are often the most damaging type since important decisions are made without taking them into account. This is certainly true on a national level as well. Auto manufacturers and oil producers are the source of many hidden costs in terms of air pollution, environmental destruction and global warming. These giant corporations make billions by transferring hidden costs to you and me.

The Defense Department is another hidden cost. Of course, we need defense. But do we need to spend close to 400 billion dollars on it per year, more than the rest of the world combined? That huge expenditure is only necessary if you look at what the Defense Department actually does, and that is to insure that US corporate interests are predominate in the developing world. When poorer nations decide to charge more for their fruit, labor, oil, etc., the CIA tries to overthrow their government. If that doesn't work, it is time for the US military.

History will look at the long list of US backed coups and invasions as what they are, the dirty side of empire building. And US corporations have benefited hugely from this military dominance of the rest of the world. But the hidden costs to you and me are there as well. This country spends such an enormous amount on its military that there isn't much left over for education, healthcare, daycare, or nursing homes. Although free in other developed countries, these basic needs are beyond reach for millions of Americans.

Terrorism is the new hidden cost of empire building. The US controls an ever larger segment of the world's oil production, but in so doing has incurred the hatred of millions of displaced and impoverished peoples. It was only a matter of time before foreign groups were formed to strike back at our civilian population. Like the gradual erosion of our environment and the lack of funds for basic human services, terrorism is a cost the American public may not have chosen to pay had they been better informed. American corporations have everything to gain by keeping these costs secret and out of the public debate.

Fred Nagel

The Last Refuge

Skimming off the top has been going on in Government for a long time. Since the 1970s, every working person in America has paid a greater and greater percent of their wages for taxes. Corporations and the very wealthy have seen their taxes go in the opposite direction; they have paid less and less. Instead of what other countries give their citizens, like health care, higher education, day care, etc., our country has been spending its revenues on corporate giveaways and a massive military buildup. Social Security will be the next program to fall as the interests of working people slip further and further from view. Corporations and the very rich provide over 90% of campaign contributions, so why should Congress or the President worry too much.

It turns out that the same redistribution of wealth to the top two percent has been going on in corporate America. Corporate executives (including our President and Vice President before they ran for office) have been manipulating profits through accounting fraud, cashing their stock options at inflated prices, and getting out before the roof falls. Not everyone, of course, escapes before the collapse. Employees get crushed, retirees see their pensions disappear, and millions of investors not in the inner loop get wiped out.

Now that all this is obvious to most of us, we enter a period of extreme danger for our country. Just as "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel," a war with Iraq is looking pretty good to those at the very top. What better way to divert our anger at how they have robbed us? And just like Viet Nam, it will be body bags for our sons, and the National Guard for the Bushies.

Fred Nagel

Muslim World Hates KFC

Turns out that the Muslim World hates us for our fast food, our freedom to shop, and our generally successful way of life. What a relief that they don't seem to care about other, darker issues that we don't like to think much about either.

It seems that the Muslim World doesn't care about our one sided support of Israel, a country that has employed ethnic cleansing, assassinations and invasions against the Palestinians, whose land they keep deciding belongs to an ever larger Israeli state. Nor do Muslims seem to mind our ten year bombing of Iraqi that has probably caused the starvation of tens of thousands of children. They don't care about our decade long support of the Turkish military in their efforts of wipe out the Kurds. They haven't noticed our successful attempts in the past to arm and provoke wars between Iraq and Iran. They even forgot that we overthrew a democratic government in Iran and brought in the Shah, precipitating decades of religious wars and strife.

Muslims are a simple lot, at least according to the media and our President. They don't care that our policies have killed hundreds of thousands in order to control the flow of oil in the Middle East. If we would just keep our McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken to ourselves, why they would stop being so envious and just leave us alone.

Fred Nagel

Class War for Dummies

Statistics are boring. Who cares that working people's tax rate has doubled since the 1970's and corporate tax rates have been cut in half? Why worry that CEO salaries used to be 20 times the average worker's salary and now are more than 350 times? And what's it to the average guy that the top two percent in the country owns almost half of everything there is to be owned? Bush's recent tax cut proposal would give $1,000 to families earning $50,000 and $53,000 to families earning one million. Yawn.

Of course, who thinks about what other developed nations give their citizens like free higher education, health care, and day care? We never had them, so we have grown accustomed to graduating from college owing $30,000, without health care or affordable day care for our children. No big deal.

But Enron has changed all that. It is a mini course in how the top guys make billions and the workers lose their jobs and pensions. It demonstrates in a nutshell how corporations pay no taxes (Enron paid taxes only one year in the last four) and get massive tax breaks (they were scheduled to get a $254 million tax rebate). It is easy to see how they use offshore corporations as tax havens, and buy off both parties and the President to make sure things go smoothly. In short, Enron is a dummy's guide to the type of warfare the corporate elites have waged on the poor and middle class for the last thirty years.

Fred Nagel

Final Solution to the Palestinian Question

Our ally in the Middle East has become our moral embarrassment. Israel's brutality against the Palestinians has been recognized and condemned by most other countries in the world. It is only here that the public has not fully grasped the ethnic cleansing and state organized terrorism that Israel has directed towards the Palestinians for the last several decades.

Jews are the most persecuted people in the twentieth century. The Holocaust will forever represent the ultimate moral depravity of man, that of state organized extermination. That a people so traumatized by racist violence should in turn persecute another ethnic group is understandable. It cannot, however, be excusable.

Israel is our major ally in the oil wars of the Middle East. In its pursuit of oil, our government will look the other way as Israel establishes settlements on more and more Palestinian territory, assassinates Palestinian leaders, and ultimately forces a "homeland" solution that looks like what white South Africa had in mind for their black majority. Rather than exterminate all Palestinians, they will ultimately force them into isolated ghettos without any hope of having their own nation.

Our government is without morals when it comes to wars for oil. It is the US people who must ultimately prevent Israel's final solution to the Palestinian question.

Fred Nagel

Deliberate and Systematic Destruction

Views of Palestinian refugee camps show a moonscape not unlike images of Warsaw after the Jewish uprising against the Nazis. In many parts of the refugee camps there is nothing left but rubble and bodies, the inevitable result of bulldozing city blocks without evacuating civilians. There is no doubt that Israeli settlements will follow, one people supplanting another through genocide (defined in Webster's as the "deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group").

Should we limit our blame to the Israeli Army for using its 600,000 troops, 4,000 tanks, 8,000 armored vehicles and 300 advanced O.S. F-15/F-16 jet fighters against the small arms fire and rocks of the Palestinians? Perhaps we should also examine the 3 billion in subsidies and advanced weaponry the United States gives to Israel each year. Perhaps we should expose the group of wealthy, Jewish extremists in America who fund and encourage the endless building of new settlements on Palestinian land. Perhaps we should reject corrupt politicians like Senators Clinton and Schumer, and candidates McCall and Cuomo who encourage Israeli genocide for Jewish votes in New York.

Why is our country the only one left in the world arming and supporting the pariah state of Israel? We must follow the example of courageous Jews who are defying Israel's descent into madness. There are hundreds of Israel soldiers refusing to serve in "occupied lands." There are progressive Jewish groups in this country showing us the way. As Americans we must stand together, Jew, Christian, Muslim to demand that the United States stop paying for the ethnic cleansing and slaughter of the Palestinian people.

Fred Nagel