I think the fines levied against these corporations are far too low. The only way to effect real change in greedy corporate conglomerates is to hit their wallet. Big companies like Glaxo and American Tobacco can easily absorb the paltry fines currently levied for their gross misconduct by factoring such minuscule amounts of loss into their annual budgets. Howver, if companies know that illegal behavior will cost them in the long run, I bet we would see changes in the way corporate America behaves.
No grudges, for peace’s sake
This article leads me to believe you think holding grudges is a good idea. Why is it a good thing that some eastern nations continue to make war over a grudge that is hundreds of years old? Why is it a good thing that entire cultures are driven by nothing less than a sub-intellectual growling desire to destroy an old enemy?
This article suggests that America is somehow stupid and wrong in its ability to forget the recent past in order to more peacefully move on with the near future.
Mineta no betta
RE: “The Bush Files”
Bush’s appointment of Norman Mineta, a Democrat, is not a peace offering.
Norman Mineta was a senior vice president and managing director of Lockheed Martin, one of the primary Star Wars defense contractors. Not coincidentally, Lynne Cheney is on Lockheed Martin’s board of directors. Mineta, along with Star Wars advocate Don Rumsfeld, will fire up the Star Wars issue to stuff the coffers of his favorite defense companies.
As is the case with Bush’s other picks, Mineta is a convenient token ethnic whose less-than-pure background fits perfectly with the corporate-right Republican agenda. Do not buy the charade.
San Francisco, Calif.
Don’t simplify “Alzheimerstan”
Ted Rall points to the obvious: As Americans we suffer a deep-seated political and cultural amnesia, a pathology which seems historically par for the course.
However, Mr. Rall is simplifying the political crisis: that the blood of the Crusades and the conflagration of racial hatred and religious zealotry is a more righteous way to “get pissed off” than our faint ways of forgetting. I share Mr. Rall’s frustration with the political apathy towards the insidious presidential elections this year, and I too wish we could become excruciatingly pissed off at this election, as with the long history of social injustices in our country.
Tobacco’s secret support
Congrats on a great list. One question, though: What would you expect British American Tobacco to do? Allow the price on their legal wares to go up artificially in order to cause sales to go down? That’s ridiculous. If the government or other anti-tobacco advocates were honest, they would call for the prohibition of tobacco. Perhaps some advocacy groups do, and my hat is off to them.
But the government would never do this. Why? Because like a junkie — or a nicotine addict — they are addicted to the tax money that tobacco allows them to spend. Hypocrites like Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stand on the floor of the Senate and declare for the cameras that they support the strongest anti-tobacco legislation possible.
Then why not make it illegal? I think the answers is obvious.
I agree completely that as a culture Americans do not posses a long-term collective memory. I think part of this equation lies in the sheer volume of both information and “non-information” that saturates our daily lives. Ads, entertainment disguised as news, magazines, newspapers, cable, radio and even the Internet all compete for the news consumers’ attention.
We live in a daily barrage of information and advertising propaganda, and actual historical events like the election become part of the background noise of American media life. We aren’t expected to digest and learn from news. We are only expected to consume the news, and like so many plastic products in our culture, it’s disposable. Another day, another sale.
Kill your television
Why bother with memory when you can watch TV?
In the past year I’ve been to Cuba, Mexico, Scotland, England, and the Netherlands. In all of these places people watch TV in moderate amounts, but their lives don’t depend on it and their societies aren’t built completely around it. There are other things to do, and people in the streets and squares to spontaneously bump into and interact with. Take a walk in suburbia and you’ll probably just see cars — another reason to live TV. Unless you’re in a culturally vibrant American place, real life pales in comparison to TV. And when life is TV, history is TV, and societal amnesia is the result.
DU makes strange bedfellows
First of all, let me state that I am a conservative Republican and that I believe firmly that, ideologically, you are a living anachronism, the last surviving specimens of Homo Marxistus whose voice still squeaks, albeit loudly, from the dustbin of history.
So do not mistake me for one of your tree-hugging, tofu-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, big-brother loving, enviro-communitarian fellow travelers if I agree with you on the danger of using depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds.
Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s perfectly all right to blast the hell out of our enemies with whatever nasty stuff we’ve got; however, at times we use nasty stuff that can’t tell the good guys from the bad ones. DU should not be used in areas where our own men or the civilian populations that we are trying to protect from themselves will be exposed to it.
Ashcroft’s ethics and politics
RE: “Election News and Views”
While I agree with much of the alarm which has been raised about Sen. Ashcroft’s extreme conservative views, and while I share the concern about Sen. Ashcroft’s opposition to civil rights, freedom of reproductive choice, etc., I have a more personal perspective on Senator Ashcroft.
I knew Sen. Ashcroft personally for many years. I spent a year working with him 1982-1983. While I must admit that our political and philosophical views could not have been much more at odds — I am a moderate/liberal Democrat — I nevertheless found him to be a very sincere and decent man of high personal integrity.
Additionally, I was surprised to read the charges of racism leveled against him, as he appointed a well-qualified African American friend and classmate of mine as a judge in St. Louis. Conservative, yes; dogmatic, perhaps; racist, no.
Since the reality is that Sen. Ashcroft is likely to be confirmed by the Senate, I think that the most important thing for us to do is to ensure that the Bush administration and Attorney General-designate Ashcroft realize that “compassionate conservatism” does not mean simply pursuing a right-wing agenda. They will need to be constantly reminded that such views are out of step with the American electorate, which actually gave more of its votes to Vice President Al Gore in support of a much more moderate political and social agenda.
Stephen D. Landfield
Morris Plains, NJ
A truly evil corporation
RE: “The Trouble With Percy”
The hottest fires in hell are reserved for Monsanto.
Richard W. Wheeler
“Legal” but unjust
The Bush partisans in the Florida state government and the US Supreme Court have staged a putsch. They have done it by using Republicans in high offices to disguise their assault on democratic procedures. If Scalia had led a division of federal troops to Florida to stop the vote talley, he would have been roundly resisted. He and his colleagues could achieve the same end by using legal means, so they did.
Hitler tried to attain power through an armed putsch. It failed. He then used democratic means. The end result was the same, but it was tolerated and respected because it was legal. Apparently all you have to do in this country to perpetrate an outrage (and to get away with it) is to make it “legal.”
Have we forgotten that in much of the country black disenfranchisement had the force of law? States’ rights, they called it. If the “unofficial” recounts should show that Bush did not receive the popular vote majority in Florida, a national movement should be started aimed at forcing his resignation. History shows that democracy whithers when bullies are allowd to take power against the popular will.
John A. DeSimone
Consumerism over democracy
I think we’re all fat, lazy, and too busy shopping for junk made in some foreign sweatshop to give a damn about anything but building another closet to hold it all. American society has been depoliticized to the point that it is impossible to express simple truths to your neighbors and have any chance that you will be understood.
This is an excellent article on America’s short memory. I’ve arrived at the disturbing conclusion that critical thought is virtually extinct in the United States. This is truly a nation unique to the world, one populated by brain-dead corporate media zombies. Keep up the truthful and insightful analysis.
Powerless in the system
I can’t help but think that for many of us, it isn’t that we don’t remember, it’s that we don’t know what to do about it. I have no end of acquaintances who are sickened by this whole episode and are still wagging their heads in disbelief. But what can we do? If this election made anything clear, it was that the will of the people doesn’t mean squat. But other than urge my elected representatives not to forget that the disaster that happened, I don’t know what else to do. And I have little hope of that doing any good.
Where to go from here?
I think that we have to pick our battles. For Americans, life has to go on. We cannot waste time dwelling on the past. We have to cut our losses and prepare for the future.
Since the US Supreme Court appears to have become so right-wing, we must make sure that no more Scalia-type zealots get appointed to federal positions. I am writing to powerful Senators and the Democratic Party to urge them to defeat the Ashcroft nomination.
We have to watch the Bush nominations carefully. If the nominees do not appear to be a big threat to our democratic way of life, we should let those go. If it’s for a position which has the power to do great harm to the American people — as with the Attorney General — we must approach the nomination the way we did American intervention in Vietnam: mobilize.
Skewed view of Election2K
Ted, I think you’re a spineless, effete semi-intellectual with more interest in rabble-rousing and riots than government by reason and law. Like most, you missed the essential truth of the US Supreme Court decision along with the fact that they agreed 7-2. The Democrats — by their post-election chicanery, lies, and propaganda — poisoned the well thereby denying anyone the opportunity to drink. And by abusing the ballots during hand recounts, attempting to deny selected votes, cherry picking selected pricincts, misrepresenting citations and so forth, Democrats made a recount an honest imposssibility.
But let’s assume for a minute that Gore wins Florida. There is proven voter fraud in Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois, that, if rectified, would probably swing the election to Bush. So it becomes blatantly obvious Gore was such a weak candidate even the advantage of incumbency combined with Democratic cheating couldn’t defeat an indifferent Republican campaign.