Today, TPJ features some of “the best of” Dr. Jonas’ missives.  Below are portions of three articles that he has produced for TPJ prior to August 2004 that received the highest number of reader “hits.”  His insights are just as compelling today as when written.


In this column I present a few thoughts on political issues, both substantive and process, that might be of use to Sen. Kerry.  I begin with an abridged version of an open letter that Walter Cronkite wrote to the Senator last month. (c) 2004 Walter Cronkite, the letter was originally published on Friday, March 19, 2004 by King Features Syndicate.  (There no indication that it was not intended for wide distribution, without specific permission.

In Defense Of Liberalism

“Dear Senator Kerry,

In the interests of your campaign and your party's desire to unseat George W. Bush, you have some explaining to do. During the primary campaign, your Democratic opponents accused you of flip-flopping on several important issues, such as your vote in favor of the Iraq War resolution.

Certainly your sensitivity to nuance, your ability to see shades of gray where George Bush sees only black and white, explains some of your difficulty. Shades of gray don't do well in political campaigns, where primary colors are the rule. And your long and distinguished service in the Senate has no doubt led to genuine changes in some positions. But the denial that you are a liberal is almost impossible to reconcile.

When the National Journal said your Senate record makes you one of the most liberal members of the Senate, you called that "a laughable characterization" and "the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life." Wow! Liberals, who make up a substantial portion of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the independent vote, are entitled to ask, "What gives?" It isn't just the National Journal that has branded you as a liberal. So has the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action. Senator, check your own Web site. . . . .

“What are you ashamed of? Are you afflicted with the Dukakis syndrome -- that loss of nerve that has allowed conservatives both to define and to demonize liberalism for the past decade and more? . . . .

If 1988 taught us anything, it is that a candidate who lacks the courage of his convictions cannot hope to convince the nation that he should be given its leadership. You cannot let the Bush league define you or the issues. You have to do that yourself. Take my advice and lay it all out, before it's too late.

(Signed, Walter Cronkite)”

I am delighted to note that Mr. Cronkite and I share the same enthusiasm for getting control of the agenda as a major key to winning this election.  In the context of the “liberal as a dirty word” strategy that the Georgites have already begun using, the Senator might use something like the following recipe (one that I originally sent along to the Dean Campaign [remember it?] some time back):

"If 'liberal' means . . . then I am a liberal”

being for protecting the Social Security System providing health care security for everyone

creating a Homeland Security system that is more than a name and a vehicle for ending the security of our Constitutional rights

creating environmental security and preservation for the benefit of all the people, not just the special interests

maintaining our the strong defense of our national security by ensuring that our military resources are not wasted on unnecessary foreign adventures, nor on unnecessary, unproven hardware

restoring the security of a balanced budget and ands achieving the end of ever-spiraling Federal deficits

reversing the addition of large amounts of extra pocket money for Bush's rich friends and contributors

And, add (or delete, sniff, sniff) ingredients as desired. This approach serves to get the agenda onto substance, not negative slogans.  Doing so always benefits Democrats and hurts Republicans, especially the Georgite variety.

Getting 20% of the 50%

Steve Gheen’s excellent column of 3/23/04 detailed the current polling numbers, national and by state.  They show a very close race, both in the popular vote and the electoral vote, especially in the so-called “battleground” states.  If those numbers hold true, we are in for a very tough fight, and Constitutional democracy could very well lose.  The key to this election in my view (and that of others to be sure) is the 50% of eligible voters who don’t ordinarily vote in Presidential elections.  (The proportions are even worse for Congressional elections.  In that “Gingrich landslide” of 1994, the Republicans won the Congress by getting a total of 19% of the eligible voters nationally to the Democrats’ 18%.  Some “landslide!”)  The polls show that the number one reason for not voting is that eligible non-voters perceive no differences between the candidates that make the effort worth it.

If Kerry can get 20% of the 50%, that is if he can raise participation from 50% to 60% and get the bulk of those usually non-voters to vote for him, he will win in a true landslide.  The lesson from the data on why eligible non-voters are non-voters make it quite obvious what Kerry must do.  Clearly distinguish himself from Bush, by taking what are mainstream American positions (see the list above) that the Georgites try so hard to define as “left” and can be successful, when they re, only because they are so far to the Right. And yes, distinguishing himself that way will also draw that ever-increasing slice of “Anybody but Bush” customarily-Republican voters to him.

The Battle Royal Within the Kerry Camp

Inside the Kerry Campaign (at least as of this writing on March 29) I see a battle royal being waged behind the scenes between the DLCers and the Kennedyites whose strategy and tactics got him the nomination.  The resurgence of Kerry's primary campaign can be traced to the taking over of it by Mary Beth Cahill from Sen. Kennedy's office and the conversion of both its policies and its rhetoric from DLC type to the Dean and Kennedy type  If the latter win the battle, Sen. Kerry will almost certainly beat Bush.  If the DLCers win, he is indeed meat (which is what they may, in a Nader-type thought process, want so, they think, they can run Hillary in 2008).

#2:  BRIEF ESSAYS (March 25, 2004)

On occasion, in my column I am going to post a set of brief essays that are somewhat related, primarily reflecting thoughts on current issues.  To some of the subjects, I may return in some detail at some time in the future.

Controlling the Agenda

This election, as with virtually every one (see my book, The New Americanism, chap. 16, esp. pp. 287-289), will be won by he who controls the agenda.  If the agenda is Kerry and what he did and did not do in Vietnam and whether he threw his medals or someone else's or ribbons over the White House fence, and how he voted one way on a bill and then another after it was amended, Bush wins.  If the agenda is George W.M.D. (War/ More Deficits) Bush and what he has done with the presidency and the nation, Kerry wins.  As Lee Atwater preached, always attack; never defend, just as the Georgites are doing now.  If anybody needs defending, it's Bush, but you will hardly ever hear any of that from the Georgite camp, unless and until they are really cornered.

The Georgites realize this very well. Notice that there are very few elements of defense of the Bush record (indefensible of course) in their current campaign-initiating broadsides.  That says a whole lot.  They know very well that if they can continue to make Kerry the agenda, they win. There is only one man who can beat George Bush in this election, and it's not John Kerry; it's George Bush. The Georgites know this very well, and their whole campaign strategy is designed around that knowledge.

On the other hand, if Kerry simply concentrates on attracting as many ABB (anybody but Bush), as well as the regular Democratic, votes as he can, and forgets about the rapidly-dwindling marginal “middle, if Kerry can just put Bush and all his many defects out there and keep them out there, he wins. It's as simple as that: the Gospel according to Lee Atwater. In the campaign against the last Bush, the motto was "It's the economy, stupid."  This time around it must be, "It's Bush, stupid!" for if it isn't, that's really stupid.

"There is no 'Middle Ground“

One of the liberals' main faults is that they think continually that there is some "middle ground" that can be gotten to if only reasonable people will get together. That position was well expressed by the DLCers Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden who actually came to Bush’s defense over the charges by former Bush advisor Richard Clarke that the Georgites totally ignored the very clear warnings on the dangers that a-Qaeda presented.

Well, there is no "middle ground" on whether the rich should pay less and less their deserved share of taxes, or whether we should have gone to war on Iraq unilaterally with lies as the rationale, or whether the health care delivery system should first and foremost be a profit center for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, or whether Social Security as we have known since the New Deal should survive or become a profit center for the securities industry, or whether energy policy should be designed first and foremost for the present profit of the oil companies, or whether global warming is real, and so on and so forth.  These are all questions that have two distinct sides, and all the talk from people like the DLCers who "deplore the present situation" and ask people to reason together and find that "middle ground" will not change that reality.

Bush's International 'Achievement’

One of the amazing aspects of Bush policy is that it has achieved something that even Hitler never did (that is up until, for Europe, Sept. 1, 1939, and for the US, Dec. 8, 1941): receive almost universal condemnation from both governments (to a greater or lesser extent depending upon their state of dependency on the US) and people from all around the world.  Very few remember that the pre-war Hitler had many admirers, or at least "tolerators," in the major pre-war "Western democracies," that is the UK, France, and the US, many more in the UK and France surely than Bush has now.



Although racism is ever-present in Georgite politics, policies, programs, and Court appointments, it is hardly ever overt.  It is at times actually subliminal.  At present, the “type of person” targets that the Republicans have placed prominently in their sights as part of their electoral strategy are women who don’t believe that life begins at the moment of conception and the homosexual members of our society.  But that hardly means that down the road the Republicans could not once again put racism to the fore, as it was by them in the original Goldwater/Nixon “Southern Strategy.”

John Ashcroft is the Minister of State (figuratively and literally) from the Christian Right to the Georgite Regime.  He is also the most powerful person in law enforcement in the nation.  The Christian Right can hardly expect to persuade very many people beyond their own true believers (less than 10% of the population) to voluntarily support and comply with their policies and programs.  Thus, because of their fundamental numerical and philosophical weakness in our society as a whole, they have no other choice but to seek to use the criminal law to impose their will.  They are in the process of doing this in dealing with pregnant women and homosexuals.  Their Attorney General is central to the implementation of their current offensive.

Seeking to broaden the rifts in society that they feed upon, the Right could once again turn openly on the African-American population.  Far-fetched, you might say. But if it did, their current Minister to the Georgites would be right there with them.  Just consider the (generally hidden) racist background of the man who is leading the drive to gut many central elements of our Constitutional rights and liberties, Attorney General John Ashcroft.  Examining this background of his under the light is quite revealing.

On the “Southern Patriots”

In an October 1998 interview with the magazine Southern Partisan (Riverfront Times [St. Louis, MO], Dec. 28, 2000)[a copy of the Ashcroft interview can be found here – Talking Points Memo] then Attorney General-designate Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri had this to say about the principal leaders of the Confederate States of America:

“Your magazine helps set the record straight.  You’ve got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Confederate Gen. Robert E.] Lee, [Confederate Gen. “Stonewall”] Jackson, and [Confederate States of America {CSA} President Jefferson] Davis.  Traditionalists must do more.  I’ve got to do more.  We’ve all got to stand up and speak in this respect or else we’ll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda.”

It is interesting to examine some of the positions taken by the leader of the Confederate Rebellion, Jefferson Davis, on the principal questions of his time, including slavery and secession, to see which ones then-Sen. Ashcroft might have felt needed defending, or protecting from the thought that those positions were part of a “perverted agenda.”  It is fascinating that a man who would become the nation’s leading law enforcement officer would think that Jefferson Davis’ agenda was not in any way “perverted.”  One must wonder if this man, sworn to uphold the Constitution, and with many direct powers to do so, had ever read the Constitution, especially the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, specifically designed to discard Jefferson Davis’ agenda from the national body politic.

The quoted material used below is all taken from the absolutely fascinating book The Approaching Fury: Voice of the Storm, 1820-1861 by the Civil War Historian Stephen B. Oates of Amherst University (New York: Harper Collins: 1997, page numbers in parentheses.

Would, for example, then-Sen. Ashcroft have wanted to defend the following statement Davis made about Ashcroft’s own party (the Republicans)?

“Your platform on which you elected your presidential candidate denies us [the slave-holding states] equality in the Union.  It refuses us equal enjoyment of the territories . . . I ask you, do you give us justice; do we enjoy equality? . . . Without equality, we would be degraded to remain in the Union . . . . “Your votes refuse to recognize our domestic institutions which existed before the formation of the Union, our slave property which is guarded by the Constitution. . . . The leading members of your party . . . made speeches after the election announcing that the Republican triumph signaled the downfall of our domestic institutions!  And you dare to ask us, ‘What is the matter?’” (p. 368).

Or perhaps it is the following statement that some might teach as indicating that Davis was following a perverted agenda, one for which then-Sen. Ashcroft would want to set the record straight:

“The state of Mississippi gave warning and declared her purpose to take counsel with her southern sister states whenever a President should be elected on the basis of sectional hostility to them.  With all this warning, you paused not.  Such a President [the first Republican] has now been elected.  The quarrel, then, is not of our making.  Our hands are stainless.  It is you who are the aggressor. . . . “If in the pride of power, if in contempt of reason and reliance upon force, you say we shall not go, but shall remain as subjects to you, then, gentlemen of the North, a war is to be inaugurated the like of which men have not seen before [emphasis added]” (p. 369).

Or perhaps the following is a statement of Davis’ that some critic might perversely use to further his or her own agenda:

“I would, however, say a word to those who have attacked our social institutions by evoking the Declaration of Independence and its phrase ‘all men are created equal.’  By that Jefferson clearly meant not equality of the races, but the equality of the men of the political community at that time.  The phrase had no reference to Negroes, who were not then regarded as citizens” (p. 371).

Then-Sen. Ashcroft referred to “traditionalists,” saying that they “must do more.”  One wonders if that would include doing more “to stand up and speak,” for example, about Davis’ view of the institution of slavery:

“The abolitionists, howling at us from afar, could not see how well treated our slaves were.  They called slavery a sin.  By what standard did they measure it?  Not by the Constitution, which recognized property in slaves.  Not by the Bible; that justifies it.  Not by Christianity; for servitude was the only agency through which Christianity reached the Negro race.  Not by a comparison of the slave’s lot to that of the free black in the North; the one well provided for in all his physical wants and steadily improving in his moral condition; the other miserable, impoverished, loathsome from deformity and disease which follow after penury and vice.  Negroes were not fit for freedom because they were unable to care for themselves.  As the descendants of Ham, the graceless son of Noah, they carried God’s curse on Ham and so were slaves by divine decree.  How then could slavery be a sin?  It is, in fact, a moral, social, and a political blessing” (p. 219).

Finally, there was the famous explication of the theory of white supremacy uttered by the CSA Vice-President, Alexander Stephens.  About it Jefferson Davis said: “what Stephens said was true, perfectly true” (p. 382).  To defend that theory, and the institution of slavery too of course, Davis and Lee and Jackson gave their lives (literally in Jackson’s case) and subscribed “their sacred fortunes and their honor.”

Here is what Stephens had to say about the theory of white supremacy, which theory would presumably be, to then-Sen. Ashcroft’s way of thinking, not a perverted one:

“Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were, and are in violation of the laws of nature.  Our system commits no such violation of nature’s law.  With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law.  Not so with the Negro.  Subordination is his place.  He, by nature, or by the curse against Cain, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system.  Our new government is founded on the opposite idea of the equality of the races.  Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the White man; that slavery --- subordination to the superior race --- is his natural condition.” (pp. 381-2)

Notice the Biblical references used by Stephens, above, and Davis in the previous (but hey, guys, I’m confused: is it the curse of Ham or the curse of Cain that is primary here?)  Sounds just like the Christian Right justifying their policies and programs by the use of selected references to the “inerrant" Bible, doesn’t it?  So if they can use what one particular English translation of a Latin translation of a Greek translation of a Hebrew translation of an original Aramaic text to inform national social policy (backed up by the force of the criminal law) in dealing with pregnancy and homosexuality, who says they could not return to it to inform policy on what they call “race?”

And so, we now have as Attorney General of the United States a strong Christian Rightist who has characterized as “patriots” men like Lee, Jackson, and Davis who had subscribed “their sacred fortunes and honor” to defend a political philosophy and economic system based on the theory of white supremacy and the institution of slavery.  Since they all, as former officers in the U.S. Army (and Davis was Secretary of War, 1853-57, under Franklin Pierce) had sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, by taking up arms against it, actually they were all traitors.

Here is Ashcroft defending them and saying that he had “to do more” in carrying out that task.   Yes, this is the same man who has characterized anyone who dares simply to disagree with Georgite foreign and military policy as a traitor.

So, no return to open racism under a re-elected Georgite regime?  I wouldn’t be too sure.