Dear Winston, second edition

Dear Winston,

I am from a family of NeoRepublicans but they don’t call me a commie pinko tree-hugging peace-loving freak anymore. In fact, lately, they refuse to even talk politics. Gee, is it me? Don’t they love me anymore?

Feeling Blue in Indiana
(This letter was reader submitted by alwayshope.)

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Dear Feeling Blue,

Look at it this way: If you had to defend George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, would you want to talk politics?



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* * *

Dear Winston,

Am I wrong to be terrified about what Bush may do in Iran? I just can’t get over the thought that if he decides he wants to bomb there, no power on earth will be able to stop him. And everyone with any expertise at all on the subject seems to agree that attacking Iran would prove to be a disaster for our country.

I don’t know Winston — maybe I’m just paranoid where Bush is concerned. But I can’t get over the feeling that we’re all like passengers who, while flying at 40 thousand feet in a jet running low on fuel, suddenly discover that both the pilot and the copilot both gone stark raving mad.

Terrified in Toledo

* * *

Dear Terrified,

To begin with, you are most definitely not paranoid, a condition defined as, “Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others.”

Given what has happened during the last six years, only a fool or a very loyal Republican (there I go being redundant again) would be anything but worried sick over what sort of mayhem this White House may be planning.

These aren’t just liars; they’re unapologetic liars. And they aren’t just incompetents: They’re incompetents filled with an overflowing faith in their own infallibility.

Without a doubt, the next two years are going to be among the most dangerous in the history of the republic. We have a president who worships the aggressive use of military force as devoutly as Bill O’Reilly worships the sound of his own voice. War has become both a sacrament to him and the ultimate proof of his manhood. And as with many true believers, he seems incapable of hearing any music except that coming from his own choir.

As late as a year ago, I tended to doubt that Bush would actually attack Iran: “Where would the troops come from?” I would say. “And think of how much danger that would create for our troops in Iraq, not to mention for all other Americans because of the inevitable increase in terrorism that would come in response,” I’d continue. “Surely, not even Bush would be that reckless.”

But it’s clear now I was wrong. When aggressive use of warfare is your God, concern about blowback becomes just one more treasonous heresy to be condemned or even stamped out.

There’s little question that if he gets the chance Bush will take us into Iran, although probably by way of a major bombing campaign as opposed to a full-scale ground invasion. And if he does this, it will be a mistake that our great-great grandchildren will still be paying for many decades from now.

So I’m sorry not to be able to give you a cheerier answer, but the truth, Terrified in Toledo, is that you strike me as one of the sanest people I’ve “spoken” with in a long time.



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* * *

Dear Winston,

Instead of bellyaching all the time, why don’t you Democrats ever offer constructive proposals?

Pissed Off in Peoria

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Dear Pissed Off,

Good to hear from you again.

First, a small suggestion: Try paying closer attention. If you do, you’ll soon discover that Democrats are literally dripping with constructive proposals, many of which have already been passed out of the House. In fact, they were passed within the first 42 hours of the Democrats taking power. Unfortunately, most of these bills are now tied up in the Senate, where Republicans have the power under the rules to play spoiler. Still, wasn’t it nice seeing legislation passed by at least one house of Congress that was actually designed to help ordinary Americans, instead of just wealthy special interests?

But I’ll give you one thing: Even Democrats aren’t good enough to solve problems as quickly as your Republican president manages to create them — no one can work that fast.



* * *
* * *

O.K. Judge, help me with this,

How does one determine the difference between justice & revenge?

Quandary in (kinda close to) Seattle
(This letter was reader submitted, by Chuck.)

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Dear Quandary:

Simple: Justice is what you do to someone else. Revenge is what someone else does to you.

Actually, I’m personally more comfortable thinking of justice as a process — a sacred right to fair play — as opposed to something we do to someone. Putting someone in a cell because they stole a loaf of bread, or the Hope Diamond for that matter, isn’t justice. Giving them a fair trial before doing it is justice.

Punishment is often necessary, appropriate and even wise. But I like to think of justice as something more inspiring.



* * *
* * *

Dear Winston,

Why do you think so many Democrats so desperately want to see Al Gore run for president this time? Last time, back in 2004, most Democrats seemed to be glad he decided not to run.

Wondering in Waterville

* * *

Dear Wondering,

Steve wrote an open letter to Al Gore urging him to run a little over a year ago: He emphasized the remarkable consistently with which Gore has been right about just about everything that has mattered in recent years.

I agree with Steve as far as he goes, but I think there’s something more than that at play in the current outbreak of Gore love. As we’ve become increasingly resigned to how much damage Bush has done to this great nation, there has been a natural tendency among Democrats to focus on the crime that started it all — the theft of the 2000 presidential election.

It has been almost cruel, really, having to watch Al Gore come into his own — author, filmmaker, statesman, speaker of the truth — during the very same years George W. Bush’s mendacity and incompetence have become so apparent. What a catastrophically bad choice was thrust upon us.

It’s clear now that 2000 wasn’t just another presidential election: It was one of the hours of great decision that come to every nation on rare occasions — a choice between radically different paths leading to radically different ends.

It brings to mind what Robert Frost said:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

In November of 2000, we chose (or actually had chosen for us) the path of hubris, arrogance and perpetual war. And as Frost said, “that has made all the difference.”

Al Gore doesn’t just represent the strongest possible Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, although I personally believe he is that. He also offers us the closest thing we may ever have to a chance for some sort of redemption for what came before.



More updates of Dear Winston will be coming. Feel free to post questions to Winston in the comments.

* * *

Check out the first edition of Dear Winston.

Check out the episode archive.

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17 Responses to “Dear Winston, second edition”

  1. alwayshope Says:

    I am happy to hear you support Al Gore. The “what if” scenario Steve wrote about is the perfect course for Gore to take. The bit he did on SNL used the same idea and I loved it. I think re-electing Gore would be the kind of poetic justice we crave right now.
    When he finally gets out there and people can look and listen to the man who would not have made the disastrous decisions as the current occupant,
    he will be very appealing. When he chooses Jim Webb hope) for his vice, he’ll get even more respect.

  2. alwayshope Says:

    Dear Winston,
    What can we do about the cowardly corporate media? When Bush talks about health care and education and energy, why does no one ask him why nothing has been done about these issues for the last 6 years? I know, he would say 9/11 changed everything, the necessary wars changed everything, but why should that stop them from asking? Why not then follow up by asking why Congress can’t serve the people as well as serve the White House?
    Why not ask him why, if debate is healthy as he claims, he doesn’t ask his minions to stop questioning the patriotism of his opponents? The only ones left who support him are the radicals he says he doesn’t agree with.
    He says that opposing his “surge” before even giving it a chance to succeed is wrong, AND he says that talking to Iran is out of the question because it won’t work? (before giving it a chance).
    Why do they let his twisted logic and hypocrisy go?
    And why oh why do they pretend that he is not corrupt, deceitful and insane?!!!

  3. alwayshope Says:

    Justice is a meal served to all.
    Revenge is a dish served cold and eaten in solitude.

  4. hizzhoner Says:

    Dear Winston,

    I think you’re right about the next two years being dangerous for our country. I think you’re also right about Bush worshipping military actions. The point that makes Bush more dangerous in these last two years is that he is accountable to no one. He doesn’t have to face the public for re-election ever again; the only way he can be reached is through impeachment and then he has his stalwarts in the Republican Party to protect him….at least forty (40) of them anyway….

    I’m wondering if impeachment shouldn’t be done pre-emptively …I mean, after all, if we can have pre-emptive wars, then, most certainly, we can have pre-emptive impeachment. The “Bush Doctrine” fits very nicely here….if you even “think” your enemy will attack, you have the right to attack hime first (or something like that)…so it follows, that if you “think” Bush is going to commit HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS then you have the right to impeach him first!

    Hey, I kinda like that…….


  5. Chuck Says:

    If a black man gets caught stealing a loaf of bread from a grocery store to feed his family and the judge sentences him to 5 years on the chain gang because his court appointed drunken lawyer slept through the hearing, (if he even has one of those,) and a white guy gets caught stealing a $400 dollar suit from Nordstrom, goes before the same judge, and gets off with a plea bargained 50 hours of community service because he has a high-priced priced lawyer, is that justice?

    P.O.d Chuck

  6. alwayshope Says:

    Don’t they have a law in Florida that allows you to shoot someone because you “thought” he was gonna shoot you? On South Park they call it the “he was comin’ right at me!” law. I agree. We need to impeach him now before he does something even more catatrophic.

    No, that’s not justice. Justice is rare, that’s why we crave it. Mostly we get it from books and movies or at least, we get a satisfaction and affirmation of what it is. In the real world, we have to fight hard for it and often settle for something less.

    Did anyone read the new VF article “From the guys who brought you Iraq” ?
    These PNAC guys have planned for war in Iraq all along. They are going to use the same people, the same deceptions to widen the war. The crazies have the ear of the moron president and control of the media, we are screwed if we don’t throw these psychopaths out and soon.

  7. alwayshope Says:

    I read “Out of Iraq” by George McGovern and William Polk. They discuss the things that could be done with the money we are spending pursuing this course and it boggles the mind the things that we could be doing for the price of a day or a month at war. Then I just read Krugman’s health care racket column and I am again amazed. We could insure every American and save money! We could educate everyone, we could have the best medical care in the world, we could open opportunities for everyone with a portion of what this war will cost. My God, we have the money, the resources, the creativity, why on earth are we deliberately NOT doing the right thing?
    All that money wasted on denying people their claims, on destroying society and infrastructure, and none for building and helping each other. It boggles the mind.

  8. Chuck Says:

    I’ve read McGovern & Polk somewhere & it is disheartening to think of all we’ve squandered, and of course Krugman is always an interesting and enlightening read, not least because he considers himself a conservative. But then again, we are now an almost wholly owned subsidary of China & Japan since they own most of our debt, so maybe we should bitch to them. We sure arn’t going to get anywhere with our own government.

  9. RJHall Says:

    Right-wingers just know in what passes for their “beautiful mind” that the lyrics of the old song “These Boots Are Made For Walking” presciently apply to Al Gore (even though to MY mind, those words perfectly describe Prexy!):

    “You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin’
    and you keep losin’ when you oughta not bet.
    You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’.
    Now what’s right is right, but you ain’t been right yet.”

  10. Larkrise Says:

    Insurance companies are supposed to have some regulation, but I have long felt that it is a sham. The CEO’s and shareholders suck all the money out of the healthcare system. Krugman writes:”It’s the ugly incentives provided by a system in which giving care us punished, while denying it is rewarded.” That is because the objective of our healthcare system today is based totally on making money, rather than keeping the citizens of this country healthy. There is enough blame to pass around, from the Medical Profession, who fought a national healthcare plan for years, to the avaricious pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies. The idea of the common good is out of the picture. If you mention it, all the wannabee millionaires begin screaming “Socialism!!!” This has led us to where we are today: A healthcare system that is designed more and more for the wealthy and to create wealth, millions uninsured, millions who must decide between their medication and food, overburdened ER’s, and an ever-increasing gap between the Haves and Have-Nots. It is an immoral and unjust system. Not-For-Profit Hospitals have concentrated on making their facilities like resorts, on downgrading benefits for their employees, on burdening their nurses with overwhelming patient loads, on competing with one another (Just like For-Profits) with expensive Ad campaigns, then paying big salaries to their administrators and layering on even more administrators. CEO’s of insurance companies, like Anthem, are paid enormously obscene salaries and perks. Of course, the politicians, who set the regulations,aren’t about to kill their campaign cash cows. We need to support groups like Consumers Union and others that are fighting for the public. Answer their Action Alerts. Write to your representatives at the State level and in Congress. We have GOT to make a lot more noise than we have been making. In two years, let the candidates know you will start voting out of office anyone who doesnt clean up this mess. Here in Indiana, we could start by dumping Dan Burton.

  11. Chuck Says:

    I’ve never quite understood why socialism became such a bad word. Since humans are social animals, and since what’s good for the group is therefore good for me, (with a few exceptions, which I’m writing about in a very short story,) it seems logical therefore, that what harms the masses will eventually harm me and/or my descendents. (If I had any.)

    I really should think these comments through before I submit them, but what’s the fun in that?

  12. Again Says:

    thanks alwayshope, Larkrise for your clear words, what is needed and what should have been done - to sum it up: If you worship the Holy Privatization, based on the Sacred Law of the Strongest, it is simply a sin to care for the poor and weak!

    Hey, even God doesn’t help them, you know? It’s said, that heaven helps those who help themselves, not that heaven helps those who need help

    but all sarcasm aside…


    I really should think these comments through before I submit them

    for me your comments sound very thought through

  13. Larry the Red Says:

    Chuck - There’s no simple answer to your question about how socialism came to be a dirty word in this country. Plenty has been written on the history of American socialist thought and political movements, as I’m sure you know. Personally, I think a lot of the answer resides in the ability of FDR’s “malefactors of great wealth” and their conservative mouthpieces over the years to exalt the idea of Americans as rugged individualists and thereby create a false consciousness in the minds our middle and working classes. Part of that consciousness is the rejection of thinking in terms of class at all. Socialism is the same as Godless Communism and that’s unAmerican, by God. QED.

  14. alwayshope Says:


    Hey did anyone see the review on Buzzflash about Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill??!!
    I’ve read and know a little about this outfit….but i don’t think I could read that book and keep a grip.
    Doesn’t it just sometimes becomes so over whelming…the possiblilities, I mean, the probable as well as the wacko.
    This “war” on terrorism doesn’t, isn’t a war. But if we keep calling it that and accept it in our national psyche, we just continue to accomdate these Orwellian maniacs. The “war’ on terror is a confused mess of mass information corrupted into fear-mongering, the “war” in Iraq is an occupation, the “war” in Afghanistan is a fractured nation, waiting to be built in an opium den.
    (do those really exist?, I could use one I think.)

    I just keep telling myself that people are sick of lies, are sick of being led by people who don’t care a bit about them and sick of war and threat of war and OH my God … they gotta be sick of Cheney!

    I’m just ranting. I hurt my back shoveling snow and I’m self medicating with a few beers. It’s nice to have a place to come late at night and just rant if you want to. I love the posts of all the thoughtful and brilliant patrons of this little place. Some are over my head, but since I’m curious, I google and discover new things.

    Okay, stick a fork in me.

    Oh and Larkrise………How ’bout them Colts?!

  15. FreeDem Says:

    Is any/everyone reading Dr Altemeyer’s On line book at I have been facinated by what he has been writing as was John Dean, before he wrote it online.

    I would be interested in the opinions and insights from the folks in the room about it. I also just put up a data list at that includes Dr Altemeyer first thing under the “vital data by others” list. I think it would be a good basis for a long conversation.

  16. Chuck Says:

    I hope your convalescence is going well. I can certainly commiserate with your plight! Why, just a week or two ago we had nearly 3 inches of snow ourselves. The temperature hovered between 20 and 30 degrees for several days and my wife had to spend nearly an extra 15 minutes getting to work. All I could do was put another log on the fire and sip hot coffee and such. The good part of it was the schools closed down, so our 18 year-old house guest was able to finish his homework (mostly,) and entertain a dozen or so of his dance group as they practiced their moves for an upcoming event. (More than 3/4s of whom are females between the ages of 16 & 17.) It was difficult, sipping hot beverages and watching young booty, but I muddled through.

    Compassionatley, Chuck

  17. Chuck Says:

    P.S. Colts Go! (Wish it had been Seahawks though.)

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