Bad, Bad Jerry Brown
Re “Jerry Brown’s Comeback” by John Nichols [June 9/16]: I have been voting for Jerry Brown as long as I’ve been voting for Tom Hayden—but not this time. In his quest to prove to himself, perhaps, that he is an independent man, Mr. Brown is bringing us fracking.
This is California! We have all the sun and wind necessary to create a solar/wind-powered, energy-efficient, carbon-neutral state that could be a shining star. Jerry has the drive and creative energy to create a program that would put thousands of disenfranchised Latino and African-American kids to work in their communities doing something to make us all proud! Instead, he is bringing us fracking. He will never get my vote again.
When will California’s governor display the smarts to have desalination units installed along the state’s coast? They would pipe cleaned ocean water into drought-stricken areas and provide drinking water to their inhabitants. Ditto for states that border the Gulf of Mexico. During his presidency, Jimmy Carter promoted water pipelines from the Gulf to the Midwest. Congress ignored him. Now, because of political ignorance, drought threatens our agriculture. Would a President Bernie Sanders act smarter? Yes.
Brown does not fit the mold of either party. He is solution-oriented, trying to find out what works without regard to dogma and party ideology. He also appears to care more about the vast majority of us than about powerful special-interest groups. The fact that he alienates both sides should tell you something.
He Speaks Like an Angel
Thanks for introducing Nation readers to my friend the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II [“A Prophetic Moral Vision,” July 7/14]. He is a brilliant strategist and tactician who speaks like an angel. At the end of his article about movement building, there was an unfortunate typo. You printed: “God has given us everything we need; all we need to do is fight back and fight forward. And if we do it, our children’s children will holler our name, because in the time of challenge, we did not give up.” Sometimes we do “holler” when the racist right tries to aggravate the man-made breach in the human race we have dedicated our lives to repairing. But here, he wrote “hallow,” as in “hallowed be thy name.”
Al McSurely, civil rights lawyer
chapel hill, n.c.
How Progressive Is the RPA?
Re Steve Early’s “Will Big Oil Retake Richmond?” [June 9/16]: Mike Parker, along with the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), has unleashed a misguided, middle-class-liberal agenda on Richmond, California’s working class. After the voters passed Measure T, a tax on Chevron, Chevron challenged it in court, and in 2010 Parker and the RPA pushed through, without public discussion, a settlement of this litigation. The city got $114 million from Chevron over fifteen years, and Chevron got a fifteen-year moratorium on new taxes. Measure T was a grassroots effort against enormous moneyed opposition—the people stood up to Chevron for the first time in Richmond’s history. Parker and the RPA’s so-called progressives squandered this major victory.
In 2011, Parker and the RPA proposed a regressive sales tax, Measure D, to be levied on a poor working-class community that already had the highest sales tax in the area. The voters defeated it. In 2012, Parker pushed an inventory tax, Measure N, a regressive levy on merchants based on sugar products. Defeated again, by an overwhelming margin.
In 2013, the RPA and Parker pushed an eminent-domain scheme purportedly to assist homeowners in danger of foreclosure. In fact, it would not help those most in need and, if implemented, would cost the city years of litigation and burden it with higher interest rates on its bonds.
The RPA and Parker have consistently acted in the interest of the gentrifying element while alienating the working class and furthering class and ethnic divisions. They have made a mockery of the term “progressive.”
Charles T. Smith
I liked George Scialabba’s piece on Charles Krauthammer [“Floats Like a Vulture,” June 9/16], but I must clarify his statement about the Normans not committing genocide. True, unlike the Saxons, who destroyed Celtic Britain, the Normans did not immediately try to destroy Saxon England. This changed after Saxon resistance grew. William the Conqueror did pursue a scorched-earth campaign against post-invasion resistance. Though he did not displace Anglo-Saxon civilization as thoroughly as the Saxons displaced the Britons (no Celtic place names survive east of Wales and Cornwall), the Norman invasion devastated the Saxons.
I completely agree with George Scialabba’s criticism of Charles Krauthammer’s writing, but I deplore Scialabba’s hash of history. “A conservative intellectual was virtually an oxymoron before the Industrial Revolution,” he proclaims. What does he make of Samuel Johnson or Thomas Hobbes? Not conservative? Not intellectual? “Feudalism shunned intelligence; capitalism profits from it” implies that anything before the Industrial Revolution was feudalism. How does he explain the Tudors? Highly intelligent themselves, they elevated men like Wolsey and Cromwell because of their intelligence. But the Tudors came after feudalism’s heyday. So take an unimpeachably feudal figure, William the Conqueror, who relied heavily on the smart and educated: he saw to it that Lanfranc became archbishop of Canterbury for that very reason. What we know as the university arose largely from the need of medieval administrators, in state and church, for well-informed men proficient in reading and writing.
George Scialabba’s review of Krauthammer’s Things That Matter weds the patience of Job to the dispassionate vision of John Stuart Mill. Every errant Hammer blow Scialabba answers with diligent investigation. With every shot across the bow, the reviewer restores calm to the teapot. He builds from the columnist’s wildfire sentiments to show Nation readers like me the heart and mind of one of the right’s warhorses. As to the feeling of helplessness I get reading Sir Charles, Scialabba reminds me that getting the other side is the first step of a 1,000-mile journey.