25 Feb. 2019

The Editor
The Times Journal

I remember well the Reagan propaganda meme "Evil Empire." Thirty years ago it was used effectively to defame the USSR and to muster the US citizenry's emotions against that nation's form of government. That was then, Venezuela is today.

The criminal cabal that purports to represent us; Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Bolton and Elliott Abrams are all over the media threatening to invade Venezuela - because the Maduro government will not allow our "humanitarian aid" into their country? Because they have a socialist government? Because they have oil reserves? Or is it just because the multi-national corporations our government actually represents wants to make a killing? Yeah, I think so.

Is there some reason the Venezuelans should view the US as a friend? We've been waging an economic and propaganda war against their country for 20+ years - Why can't they just trust us? Aren't we the good guys - don't we wear the white hat and ride the white stallion? No, they know what we are.

I guess in many parts of the Southern reaches of this hemisphere we are viewed as today's Evil Empire. And it does indeed fit. Our failure to utilize the United Nations during these past 20 years proves we are the rogue actor and an imperialist empire unwilling to peacefully coexist with other sovereign nations.

We must press our representatives to block the imperial intentions of the criminal cabal. We, the rational citizens of America, must rein in the evil actors - it's our responsibility to do so.

Wayne Stinson
Summit, NY


To The Editor
The Times Journal

Note:  Text in italics censored by Times Journal 1/30/2019 edition

Recent news accounts have informed the citizens of our United States of America, also known as the Superpower Defending Democracy and national sovereignty worldwide or, by others as the Evil Corporatist Imperialist Empire, that the citizens of America, that is you and I, support the ongoing Venezuelan fascist insurgency. Really? Do you? I don’t.

The Orange Ogre and his worshipful follower, Mr. Pence, have apparently decided the time is right to initiate a coup to overthrow the socialist government in that beleaguered nation. These two have publicly recognized an opposition political leader as the rightful president of our South American neighbor. Never mind that the sitting President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected by a popular vote the fascists chose to boycott.

These statements by our putative leaders are essentially a declaration of war, not that America has not been warring against the The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for decades already. The serious economic problems they have been experiencing are due in part to the decades long sanctions and the intense propaganda campaign imposed by the United States. We have had considerable success in making their economy scream. We should be ashamed.

The malevolence and hypocrisy of America’s foreign policy pronouncements and actions regarding Venezuela are astounding. The disrespect for America’s citizens as evinced by the propaganda pronouncements of Donald Trump and Mr. Pence is appalling and should not be allowed to stand. We have a responsibility to prevent the continuation of this assault on Venezuela.

Oh, did I forget to note that there’s oil under Venezuelan soil and waters.

Citizens should contact their Representatives and Senators and direct them to end this atrocious conduct. Tell them to foreclose any planned military action and to end the economic sanctions immediately.

Wayne Stinson
Summit, NY

A Warning for America  -  Nov. 2016

By Timothy Snyder, Professor of History, Yale University,
15 November 2016. Excerpts from a Facebook post here

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it...

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf...

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important...

4. When listening to politicians... Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism." Be alert to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency."

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire...

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying... and read...

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom... 

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so...

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. ..
10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people...

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers...

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate... do not get used to them. Remove them...

13. Hinder the one-party state... Vote in local...state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay...

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet...

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends... no country is going to find a solution by itself. 

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have... claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms...the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service...know that evils of the past involved policemen...Be ready to say no

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

Prof. Snyder subsequently published "On Tyranny" (2/28/2017) a small book he refers to as a pamphlet. Recommended by scfpg - available at:  http://www.powells.com/book/-9780804190114


Fascism history

On August 30, 1932, in the shadow of the rising Nazi power, Clara Zetkin--German Marxist and member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD)--opened what would become the last session of the Reichstag (Germany's parliament).

As the oldest member of the assembly, Zetkin was its chairwoman and had the right to an opening speech. She used her speech to call for all working and oppressed people to unite to smash the fascist threat and move towards a socialist revolution to overthrow the bourgeois government, because of its complicity in the Nazis' rise, violations of the German constitution and impotence in the face of the horrors of the Great Depression. 

Despite being nearly blind and unable to walk (she had to be carried to the podium), and in the face of Nazi threats that they would assassinate her, Zetkin gave an impassioned speech outlining the strategy of the "united front of all workers in order to turn back fascism."

The workers' movement didn't succeed in turning back the Nazis. By the following January, the "Machtergreifung" (seizure of power) took place: President von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on January 30. The Reichstag was dissolved. The Communist Party was banned. Its members either went underground, into exile, or were tortured and murdered. The organizations of the working class were annihilated. Nearly 100 of the non-Nazi members of the Reichstag were hunted down and killed. 

Clara Zetkin fled to Moscow, were she died the following June. In a period of a little over a decade, Germany went from a country on the brink of working-class communist revolution to a Nazi dictatorship which would bring war and genocide to all of Europe.” 
Zetkin's speech should be of interest to every American. Her observations seem to be applicable to to our circumstances today. Our circumstances are not as critical those of her times but the parallels should recognized and her warnings understood.  

Well worth your time, check it out. WRS

Concerning Militarism

 July 2017

Bruce L. Tryon, President
Board of Education
Coblskill-Richmondville Central School District

Carl J. Mummenthey,
Superintendent of Schools
Coblskill-Richmondville Central School District

Dear Sirs,

I was pleased to attend the Class of 2017 Commencement Exercises and to observe my granddaughter and all her classmates receive their diplomas. However, there was a moment I found very disturbing.

In the beginning of the program the audience was urged to remain standing for the Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance. While not to my liking, and troubling in their own way, these rituals were not unexpected and indeed, were indicated in the provided program. It is what came next which I found troubling.

The introductory speaker appealed for all in attendance with either past or present military service to stand to be recognized. We, the assembled friends and family who were there to observe and honor the graduates, were then exhorted to applaud the military identity of some among us. Even more disturbing was the thunderous response of the audience.

What does such an exercise have to do with purposes of the gathering? I believe nothing. To what end is such recognition requested by a school official? What lessons are being offered our newly franchised citizens? Reverence for warriors? Primacy of submission to authority? I need an explanation.

I submit such indoctrination is a disservice to the students, our community and the nation. This is especially true considering the reactionary forces presently in control of our government. Please share these criticisms with board members and staff.

I would like an opportunity to discuss these issues with you in the near future.


Wayne R. Stinson


Chris Hedges quoting Sheldon Wolin

That the patriotic citizen unswervingly supports the military and its huge budget means that conservatives have succeeded in persuading the public that the military is distinct from government. Thus the most substantial element of state power is removed from public debate. 

Similarly in his/her new status as imperial citizen the believer remains contemptuous of bureaucracy yet does not hesitate to obey the directives issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the largest and most intrusive governmental department in the history of the nation. 

Identification with militarism and patriotism, along with the images of American might projected by the media, serves to make the individual citizen feel stronger, thereby compensating for the feelings of weakness visited by the economy upon an overworked, exhausted, and insecure labor force. 

For its antipolitics inverted totalitarianism requires believers, patriots, and nonunion “guest workers.”


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