To the Editor: Despite an eight-year habit of capitulating to the Executive, Congress too has a role in bringing us good government. America has voted for change, and that doesn't apply only to the White House. Until we separate campaigning from fund-raising our laws will always favor the wealthy. Until we change our seniority rules, power will reside with the oldest members of congress, rather than the most competent. No one can seriously argue that the system we have is working. This upheaval is the opportunity to build a more perfect union for the future. Barry Levine
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine <email@example.com> Date: Thu, Dec 25, 2008 at 7:33 AM Subject: Federal Cases of Stock Fraud Drop Sharply To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor: Those of us who wondered why president Bush's approval rating never reached zero can stop wondering. We now know who funded him, who backed him, and who benefited from his mis-rule. Barry Levine
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine <email@example.com> Date: Wed, Dec 24, 2008 at 9:06 AM Subject: Afghans and U.S. Plan to Recruit Local Militias To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor: If Afghanistan is indeed an irredeemably failed state, then local warlords may be the only allies who can help us against the Taliban. Such a judgement mustn't be made lightly; to empower these warlords is to undercut the central state in which we have invest so much hope and so many lives. As we put weapons into the hands of local sectarian forces, we abandon any future in which the U.S. can withdraw to leave an Afghanistan at peace. Rather we will have set up a house of cards that will collapse into bloody civil war on our departure. Barry Levine
To the Editor: While the experiment ongoing at Columbia is praiseworthy, it will teach us more about the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges than about the Brooklyn. We just don't know the composition of the cable on the Brooklyn. During the construction, it was discovered that J. Lloyd Haigh had been supplying cheaper brittle iron wire in lieu of the expensive steel for which Roebling had paid. To this day, no one know how much of the wrong wire is incorporated in these load-bearing cables. Roebling built well, and the bridge continues to serve us into its second century. Its future is still unknowable. Barry Levine
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 8:46 AM Subject: Bush v. Gore Set to Outlast Its Beneficiary To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
The Ninth Circuit Court, seeking to issue a ruling without creating a precedent, has cited as precedent Bush v. Gore which claimed to be a ruling that established no precedent. It's an elegant knot that leaves me groping for the proper precedent. Heller? Kafka? Moebius? While Bush v. Gore may establish no precedent, it may yet be the foundation of an industry teaching topology to lawyers.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM Subject: Redefining the Role of the U.S. Military in Iraq To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
Until U.S. forces--whether they are called "troops" or "advisers" or "contractors" are out of Iraq--they will continue to die and will be seen as a provocation to Al Qaeda recruiters. We can all remember a time when zero Americans died in Iraq in an average month, and any deaths were news-worthy. Until we get back to such a baseline, talk of "success" teeters between farce and blasphemy.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 11:14 PM Subject: Bush Aids Detroit, but Hard Choices Wait for Obama To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
While it may amuse president Bush to trap president-elect Obama in a promise to Detroit, the bailout of the automakers is problematic. Most glaringly, the power of the purse belongs to Congress, not to the Executive. The president has no more power to bail out the automakers than he has to make war a foreign country. Oh, never mind.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 11:14 AM Subject: An Inquiry in Baghdad Is Clouded by Politics To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
Depending on the substance of the charges of "coup", the purges in the Iraqi government are either the first or the second blow in the new civil war. Despite the recent delusion that the Surge has "succeeded", Iraq will descend into open civil war when the Americans--troops and contractors--leave. That would be so at the end of fifty-year occupation as surely as it would had we left this year. The difference between the two scenarios can be measured in the American lives spent in the interim. Our adventure in Iraq hasn't been financed by Iraq's own oil, hasn't defeated terrorism, hasn't improved the lives of Iraqis and hasn't made America safer. Where is the benefit to be weighed against the price in lives?
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine <email@example.com> Date: Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 7:26 PM Subject: Iraqi Journalist Hurls Shoes at Bush and Denounces Him on TV as a 'Dog' To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor: If president Bush read the news rather than relying on filtered briefs from his sycophants, he would be less surprised to find he is not loved. Had he spent more effort in serving the people and less in packing his news conferences with shills like Jeff Gannon, he might even deserve a civil welcome. Barry Levine
To the Editor: If there has been "a rough consensus...among the Democrats...to stimulate competition" in healthcare plans, it is because they felt obliged to kowtow to senator Lieberman. "Competition" in this context codes for keeping our healthcare system in the hands of the insurance companies. Now that he is no longer the irreplaceable fifty-first vote in the senate, we can begin working on a plan that serves the people, rather than those companies. Barry Levine
To the Editor: The "war" paradigm is unhelpful in our struggle against terrorism, not least because there can be neither armistice nor peace treaty. The duration is therefore undefined. POWs who could be detained "for the duration" of a conventional war are doomed to lifetime incarceration in a "war on terror"--without charges, without trials and without appeal. Likewise, the extraordinary powers that the President claims in times of war have no expiration date when there can be no armistice and no peace. A responsible president would have emerged from attacks of September 2001 as the leader of an international coalition to apprehend and eliminate a criminal band who threatened the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran as much as that of the United States. Instead, president Bush--eager to claim wartime powers--called for "crusade". It will take a lot of work to accomplish now what could have been done in 2002. The lives lost can never be replaced. Barry Levine
To the Editor: Our constitution enumerates the powers of Congress. To it alone is given the power to initiate (declare) war, and to end war (ratify treaties). To it alone is given the power of the purse. Somehow with the War Powers Acts of 1990 and the authorization for use of force of 2002, our congress has tried to delegate the first of these powers to the Executive. Now, with the TARP, it seems to have given over the purse as well. The constitution offers no hint that one branch can delegate its powers to another, but who has standing to challenge them when they shirk their responsibilities? Barry Levine
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine <email@example.com> Date: Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 10:49 PM Subject: Report Blames Rumsfeld for Detainee Abuses To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor: If "responsibility" means anything in this administration, it must mean that our public servants in the Executive branch are accountable for decisions and actions made on their watch. In this case, secretary Rumsfeld has been found to have put the U.S. in violation of our treaty obligations under the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. Since our constitution makes our treaty obligations the supreme law of the land, this constitutes a high crime. Our department of Justice would be derelict in its duties to ignore such a transgression, even in the name of bipartisan amity. Barry Levine
In some alternative universe, union busters are "reformers", those who would invest in our children are "the establishment" and David Brooks is a "voice of reason". Yeah, and I am the walrus. Koo koo kachoo.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Fri, Dec 5, 2008 at 10:00 AM Subject: Israeli Troops Evict Settlers in the West Bank To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
The lame-duck administration of Ehud Olmert continues to enforce the law, even taking to opportunity to advance peace in ways that would be politically difficult if he were staying in office. The lame-duck administration of George Bush spends its last days gutting environmental legislation. History will judge which regime was scandalous.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 9:35 AM Subject: Mukasey Sees No Necessity for Pardons in Terror War To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
If our Attorney General sees need for neither prosecutions nor pardons for torture committed by agents of the Executive, it may be because he doesn't understand our treaty obligations. When the U.S. signed on to the Torture Convention of 1984, it became the supreme law in the land. Any American who has tortured since then has violated our treaty obligations. According to our constitution, that's a "high crime". I look forward to a United States that reclaims its place in the community of nations. If that doesn't start with honoring our treaty obligations, we won't have achieved the change we voted for.
If--as seems clear--the terrorist attack on Mumbai was launched by a group in Pakistan--the government of Pakistan faces an existential crisis. If it cannot make and enforce decisions of war and peace with its neighbors, it presides over a failed state. No non-state faction can be permitted to drag a whole nation into war. The stakes are enormous. Consider the meaning of a Lebanon with nuclear weapons.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 10:28 AM Subject: British Balance Benefit vs. Cost of Latest Drugs To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
The British Health Institute's decision to "spend the same amount saving or improving the life of a 75-year-old smoker as it would a 5-year-old" is important. While Americans might not arrive at the same conclusion, that conclusion would have to emerge from a conversation we have yet to begin. Currently, a majority of our healthcare budget is spent prolonging the last weeks of dying. I think that's a gross mis-use of our finite resources, but that's just my opinion. A rational healthcare plan for the nation must include a discussion of priorities.
Dr. Greene expresses surprise that "many people still don't know what 'organic' means". He shouldn't be surprised. To many of us, "organic" still means that branch of chemistry dealing with carbon compounds, just as it says in your dictionary. The English language gains new words and new meanings for old words all the time. This newspaper has reported ongoing debate over what constitutes "organic" in fish, in meats and in produce. His expectation that everyone will recognize such a recent valence for an old word is itself the surprise.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: barry levine<email@example.com> Date: Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 9:08 AM Subject: Nationalism of Putin's Era Veils Sins of Stalin's To: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
In clamping down on the flow of information, Mr. Putin has been just going with the autocratic fashion of the day. Americans should remember that--in his year in office--President Bush sealed presidential papers back to the Reagan administration; he continues to dodge the Presidential Records Act of 1978. As another George taught us "he who controls the past, controls the future".