May 11, 2007
Re: Comments From Readers
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
From: Patty Vinyard
Sent: Sat 5/5/2007 5:10 PM
Subject: Moral Meltdown
Dear Mr. Velvel,
I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment. You listed some "good"
examples of immoral actions on the part of our government. There are more that you could have listed that are primary. For instance, the theft of Indian land, and the slaughter of Indians in their own land - both immoral. The Government and the business interests continue to "enjoy" (and destroy) what they took. There was never any reckoning or accountability for the murder and the theft and destruction.
I am descended from a Cherokee woman who apparently saw the writing on the wall and married a white man from Germany - assimilated. My heart truly aches for what was lost. And yet, while my family attempts to blend in, there are things that were passed down that mark us as different, and it only started to make sense once I learned of our ancestry. Small social mannerisms such as leaving a room unannounced and in silence, an open mind to mysticism associated with nature, and a deep concern for conservation of soil quality and wildlife (my father is a farmer). In my home town we were considered to be nice people, but somewhat odd or eccentric.
Maybe the forces of immorality have not won yet. But they don't seem to be losing ground either. Perhaps their reckoning will take place in the form of a sudden collapse. Only thing is, for all their victims there will likely never be justice.
Thank you for your insightful writing. And don't get on any small aircraft.
From: John Doraemi
Sent: Sat 5/5/2007 10:22 PM
Subject: The immorality of calling Iraq a "mistake."
I've seen this euphamism countless times, and it sickens me.
If you walk into your neighbor's house and murder him, the "mistake" defense isn't going to fly.
After 2.7 million deaths since 1991, it's beyond comprehension.
Journalists and politicians continue to backtrack on their bloodlust by calling it a "mistake."
This has no place in an article about morality.
From: Doug Harvey
Sent: Sat 5/5/2007 10:38 PM
Subject: Re: your article at Counterpunch
Just a note to say "Right on, Dr. Velvel."
From: Martin Maloney
Sent: Sat 5/5/2007 11:00 PM
Subject: Re: Moral Meltdow
* * * * *
...Because he is a man of such rectitude, Wolfowitz has hired the famous Washington mouthpiece, Robert Bennett, to represent him, and Bennett has proceeded to play hardball with the World Bank -- another sure sign of Paul the Pr. . k's innocence, right?
* * * * *
And you have the gall to attack the press! First, as the dean of a law school should know -- and pay homage to -- guilt is a legal term, as in "innocent until proved guilty."
Second, you just pulled one of the dirtiest tricks in the press' bag of dirty tricks: You implied wrong doing because Wolfie hired a lawyer. A hardball-playing lawyer, at that.
The old "He must be guilty -- he hired a lawyer" de facto slander.
Isn't someone who is accused of wrong-doing a total fool not to hire a lawyer? And as good a lawyer as he can afford to hire? More to the point, why else run a law school to train lawyers?
BTW, I loathe Wolfowitz. You didn't gore my ox.
Protect the Constitution -- preserve the right to keep and arm bears!
Sent: Sat 5/5/2007 11:19 PM
Subject: moral meltdown
oh come now, all those decadents have been chosen by the 'democratic' citizens of this country and do you really think it was so much better in 1890 ? american exceptionalism not only revels in its present woes, but pretends to be better than national socialist germany in 1933-45. flabbleclap !
gui rochat apostata
From: Ed Ciaccio
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 12:19 AM
Subject: Re: The American Moral Meltdown Accelerates
Dear Dean Velvel:
One major disagreement with you in this otherwise fine article: Iraq, like New Orleans, is an example NOT of incompetence, but criminal negligence on the part of the Bush administration.
I am one of those who believes, from much evidence, that the Bushies (Cheney especially), know exactly what they are doing: keeping Iraq divided and in chaos so our troops have to remain to secure the oil and threaten Iran from our permanent bases; and gut the minority sections of New Orleans.
As Greg Palast says: You know what you call the New Orleans former residents who will never be able to return? Democrats. As in the federal attorneys purge, this is part of Rove's plan to steal the 2008 elections & keep the Republicans in power.
From: lloyd rowsey
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 1:27 AM
Subject: Your "The American Moral Meltdown Accelerates" in CounterPunch today
This is absolutely the finest piece of precisely right-on (to date myself) outrage I've ever read! For many years I've considered Chomsky to be our greatest national resource, but you know, he IS boring. You sure ain't boring, Lawrence -- your morality is emotional as well as intellectual -- and you're always perfectly INTELLIGIBLE. Yours is truly a VOICE, my friend.
I particularly liked your characterization of "I am (and I do, I think, I say)" as "the perpendicular pronoun disease." Absolutely perfect. Is that yours, or maybe my asking just shows the extent I've succeeded in blocking out the idiocies of "the cast of hacks, bums, liars, publicity seekers and nonstop self aggrandizers" and how much else I've blocked out in blocking them out.
Keep up the good work, my man.
Date: Sun 5/6/2007 4:20 AM
Subject: Lying to get a job
Lawrence, when it comes to lying to get a job, that must apply to 60 or 70% of the US population, in any application that does not include with its job description picking up trash.
Start with members of the US Supreme Court, especially the last 9? perhaps 8 or 7 or 6 to be generous.
Go down in importance from there.
Other than that your article could be said to be on track.
From: JANET CONTURSI
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 9:04 AM
Subject: your article
Yes, there are a few "good people out there," but unfortunately, they are poorly informed, over-christianized, and totally conformist. Throughout elementary and high school, they are taught conformity and never learn critical thinking. By the time they get to college, not only can they not think, but they can't write, spell, or put a sentence together. They tolerate levels of social violence, political corruption, blatant lies, and war crimes far beyond what any intelligent, moral people would be expected to tolerate. They are the prime example of a herd mentality--following whatever leader "pisses the farthest." They have been well-socialized to depend upon and respect authority, and cannot tell the difference between authority and authoritarianism. Americans, unlike Europeans--who will vigorously protest any infringement of their rights--are passive, pathetic, ignorant "good people."
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 9:12 AM
Subject: Re: Moral Meltdown
Dear Mr. Velvel,
Fantastic phrase!!...."perpendicular pronoun disease". If you thought this one up, you're a creative genius. I hope the phrase isn't patented as I'm going to be using it, though only in conversation - I'm not a
writer. However, I'll be sure to give you due credit.
Actually, in regard to the disease, I'm afraid that it's a bit more endemic than you might think. Given your professional status, I seriously doubt that you associate much with non-intellectuals. I do however; and I can assure you that the disease runs rampant throughout virtually every economic sector and social class in this society. I'm "only" 52 years of age, but I do remember the "normal" cultural demeanor
of most people in this society in the 50's and 60's. For many reasons,
we are now awash not so much in a cult of individuality as in a cult of infinite egoism. In fact, there isn't a phrase strong or accurate enough to describe the situation. Hubris? Doesn't even touch it. Even that word is bandied about too much these days and it still doesn't adequately capture what is going on. A new psychological lexicon is needed. Call it the Marie Antoinette or the Sun King syndromes; in extreme cases the Nero syndrome. Everyone these days....virtually everyone!!....is a gift from heaven, filled with the mightiest appetites and yet perfectly willing to wallow in banal superficialities.
From: Mcgrane, Mary
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 10:55 AM
Subject: great article
Dear Dean Velvel,
As always, your recent article in Counterpunch was great. By coincidence, I read your article after an earlier posting by Frank Menetrez (April 30) on the ongoing Finkelstein-Dershowitz conflict. I thought I would put to you, as a Law School Dean, the same question I posed to Menetrez regarding Dershowitz's academic status at Harvard Law, as follows:
As an academic, it troubles me to see the tenure decision for Finkelstein being derailed by Dershowitz. This is a huge assault on Finkelstein's academic freedom rights and it will be a travesty if he is not promoted. Regarding Dershowitz, his own rise to academic prominence puzzles me. If you look at Dershowitz's faculty webpage on Harvard Law's website, his scholarly accomplishments are not impressive. He has a series of books of course; however, there are questions of plagiarism (verified by Finkelstein), authorship by Dershowitz's assistants, and the fact that the books are political diatribes and have nothing to do with scholarship and the law. Dershowitz appears to publish very little in scholarly journals. He lists, under "periodicals", articles in Penthouse and the Jerusalem Post; magazines and newspapers, not peer-reviewed journals. Penthouse appears to be one of Dershowitz's favorite periodicals, as he lists numerous articles in this scholarly magazine. So how did this guy get promoted to Full Professor at Harvard Law so quickly, 1964-1967? And how did he earn the Felix Frankfurter Professorship? It is a mystery to me how someone like Dershowitz has risen to the top of the legal/academic system.
Perhaps you, as Dean at a neighboring law school, could shed some light on this.
Again, thank you for your article.
Mary McGrane PhD
The University of Connecticut
From: douglas hoyt
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 11:00 AM
Subject: Are you Joking?
I liked your article, but then saw that you are a professor of law-a dean no less.
Are you nuts? You teach the worst type of cur in the nation to be just the most unethical rogues on the planet.
You have no defense. Your moral high ground is a joke-a hypocritical joke.
Don't you think you could do more for society by demanded the most moral go to law school than the brightest?
Start with your self, please.
Douglas C. Hoyt
From: douglas hoyt
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 11:13 AM
Subject: Please forgive my incredulousness.
You are the dean of a prestigious NE law school. I believe you could have a position effect upon the legal system to demand and get the indictment for war crimes of sirs:
Robert S. McNamara and
Other could follow.
Such as: President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, on and on.
Your aid in this matte would be greatly appreciated.
Douglas C. Hoyt
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 11:38 PM
Subject: Re: Rupert Murdoch's Purchase Of The Wall Street Journal Would Be Another Large Wall Street Nail In The Coffin Of Competent American Journalism.
You are absolutely right, thanks
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 1:19 PM
Subject: Counter Punch article
Dear Dean: I enjoyed and agree with your latest article however I believe your interest in the sexual behavior of the omnipotent ones in Washington is in a way overblown (so to speak).
I would be much more interested in seeing the enablers of the invasion of Iraq led to the gallows. Although I didn't agree with all of the sentences brought down at Nuremberg it should have set a good precedent for all of our present leaders and followers. What has been allowed to happen in Iraq in the name of the United States will forever be remembered in infamy. A word FDR used loosely on December 8th 1941.
I hope your writings get to a great number of people.
Best Regards, Robert E. Carroll
From: Alicia Siegel
Sent: Sat 5/5/2007 7:23 PM
Subject: The Decline of Morals in the United States
Professor Velvel and Ms. van Bergen:
Your articles from last October (and Prof. Velvel’s from this weekend) have given me much food for thought.
As an African-American woman, I’ve been outraged at the direction of our domestic policies since the moment Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy.
I’m outraged at all policies which punish the poor; even more so at those which blatantly benefit corporations.
I’ve had the good fortune to never have been forced into the public welfare system (either AFDC or TANF). The demolition of AFDC was one of Clinton’s many disgraceful acts. The increasing strictures placed on recipients of TANF are reprehensible. Likewise the changes to Medicare which force seniors to pay for private insurance and force them to enroll in the pharmaceutical benefit are blatantly intended to benefit the corporate sectors involved.
The attack on affirmative-action is equally outrageous. In 1619, the first black slave was sold in Virginia in exchange for provisions by a slave ship bound for Cuba. Formal slavery lasted for 246 years and de jure subjugation for an additional one hundred years. Although decreased, de facto discrimination continues (how else to account for the extreme unemployment rate among black males?). But just taking what we can count, legal subjugation and discrimination against African-Americans lasted for nearly 350 years. Affirmative-action was designed to correct the discriminatory outrages of the past. Not to mention that unlike other indentured servants, freed slaves received nothing in 1865 except their freedom. Yet, Americans have shown their readiness to curtail the program since 1978 and again in 2005(?) with the Michigan University decision. Affirmative-action has been around for about forty years. Apparently it’s unrealistic to expect it to remain in effect for 350 years.
I think the legislation passed over the past 26 years has done egregious harm to all Americans who are not millionaires. The repeal of the Glass-Steagal (?) Act which forbid the merger of commercial banks with insurance companies and brokerage firms resulted almost immediately in corporate connivance perpetrated against average investors seeking honest advice. The 1996 Telecommunications Act, when mentioned at all, was sold the public as ending cable monopolies. The stated goal was to increase competition and lower consumers’ prices. Some eighteen months or so later, the Los Angeles Times reported that just the opposite had occurred. Here in California, voters supported energy deregulation. One provision of Proposition 9 was that consumers would pay the energy company’s “stranded costs”. What were these costs? They were the costs of operating nuclear power plants that had never been able to break-even, let alone show a profit. And now Americans are being asked, with a straight face, to consider nuclear power as a realistic alternative?! That’s beyond-the-pale on so many levels, I can’t even begin to address it.
When voters’ support is desired, we’re told we’ll benefit as consumers. Whenever legislation will affect us as citizens, nothing is said, because it’s usually bad. The bankruptcy bill was bad because exceptions were denied for health-care, which is a basic human right and should be the right of every American citizen.
During this administration, I can’t think of a single piece of legislation that hasn’t by its very nature, been corrupt, as in: anti-average citizen, anti-human rights, un-Constitutional, etc.
I’m at the end of my rope with the so-called Christian Right and the cynical leaders of their movement. They claim to be patriotic. The Kansas legislature’s Alice in Wonderland decision to simply redefine “science” to fit the Christian Right agenda sent me over the edge. How can refusing to prepare the next generation to understand the technology of this century, or to have the skills to compete in the job market, patriotic? Or have they already invested all their money overseas and figure there’s no need to understand how gravity works to get a job as a dog groomer or a food server? I don’t think one penny of my taxes should fund the bloated Dept. of Defense that simply acts as a funnel to Northrup-Grummon, Raytheon, etc., but I file every year and pay if I must. The Christian Right claimed to take offense that their taxes in any way funded first-trimester abortions for poor women – and poof! Funding for poor women to get abortions disappeared. Now, under TANF, decent support for those children has also disappeared.
I wish that every time legislation is slated to be voted on, I could be home to e-mail my representative and ask these questions: How does passing (or defeating) this bill benefit the nation as a whole? Who benefits from the passage (or defeat) of this bill? How do you benefit from the passage or defeat of this bill? As often as I can I e-mail asking for their support or defeat of a piece of legislation, but I think I may try this tactic instead.
Whenever I hear someone promoting the separation of church and state, I want to say, “Okay, but it’s a two-way street. First, since you wish to teach Bible-based (meaning Christian) creationism in public schools, your tax-exempt status is hereby revoked. (They want to play, they got to pay more than campaign contributions.) Second, if you want to continue to teach Bible-based theories in public school classrooms, secular science will hereby be taught as part of every Sunday-school class. You cannot refuse, you are a tax-paying entity and receive tax dollars for your institution.”
Next time some judge and his right-wing supporters want to hang a Decalogue in a courtroom, may I humbly suggest that the Bill of Rights would be more appropriate (and more useful) than the Ten Commandments?
I agree that the Abramoff scandal was an example of corruption of the highest order. But it was also corruption of a type that is most visible and easiest to explain. When an entire system has become corrupt, the extent of the rot tends to be denied simply because its overwhelming and disheartening to contemplate. We must try anyway.
Thank you for your time.
Long Beach, CA
From: Robert Borosage
Sent: Mon 5/7/2007 2:53 PM
Subject: RE: Let's Hear It For Hillary.
BUT WHY BY YOUR STANDARD WOULD THIS BILL BE ANY LESS PHONY
SINCE BUSH WILL VETO IT AND THE SENATE WILL SUSTAIN
IT HAS NO DIFFERENT EFFECT THAT HILLARY’S THING
AND THAT IS TO REQUIRE SENATORS TO VOTE ON WHERE THEY STAND
That is useful – and that is what both your funding cut off and Hillary’s revocation of authority would produce.
Not a law, but a target list
From: Robert McKinney
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 12:23 PM
As Mark Twain said of our representative government in his day,
"we have the best Congress that money can buy". Political ethics
must be the worst contradiction in the English language. I currently
live in Japan where corruption is considered a normal political practice.
Prostitution is very much a part of the entertainment side of the
political game in Japan. Human trafficking and sexual exploitation is
just a darker aspect of the entire repressive mechanism of the
modern corporate world that is Japan. Any Tokyo "madam" who
publicly announced the names of her more prominent "clients" would
have a very short life expectancy and would soon be found floating
in Tokyo Bay! "An apparent suicide" would be the official cause of death.
Her death would serve as a grim reminder to anyone else foolish enough to
disclose the sexual habits of any senior government
officials or corporate leaders. The Japanese love to flaunt their
love affair with sex and express only contempt for amateurs like
But God America is now a nation being dismantled by the worst
sort of parasites who falsely claim to represent their fellow Americans.
I laugh in scorn every time one of our patriotic representatives in
the Congress or the White House begins a speech with the populist
ring to it, "My fellow Americans....". Who the hell is he or she kidding?
America today has a government "by the plutocrats, of the plutocrats
and for the plutocrats" and to hell with the common man. Bush's cute
tax cuts for the rich, for his rich friends just amuses now. Dick "dick"
Cheney really must have loved that new tax law. And what was Bush's
connection with the failed Enron corporation? That story still needs
to be examined much further, but it never will. They even bought off the
Justice Department and the Supreme Court. Everything and everyone
is for sale today in Bush's neo-con fascist state.
And this is the "democracy" that we plan to foist on the
Iraqi people? Small wonder the insurgency in that country will never
stop killing Americans until we depart their land. We think too highly of
ourselves and our "way of life". And if Iraq was merely a poor region
of the Middle East with few resources and NO oil, I don't think Bush or
Hillary Clinton would have been in favor of invading the country.
But you never know, we went into Somalia. What a joke that was.
The world has lost faith in America's professed love of democracy.
It is now a much darker place. Perhaps a new Dark Age will descend
upon the world, with global warming being one aspect of this new
But thank you for your essay. I liked it. Moral meltdown continues.
What happened to America's other war, the war on drugs? What about
LBJ's war on poverty? What about the civil rights movement? What of
the war against illiteracy? By spending obscene sums of U.S. money on
the Iraqi war, Bush is depriving Americans of so much needed social
supports, like better health care and a good education for every child.
I hate his empty rhetoric. "No child left behind". He means no "rich"
child left behind. For millions of American children they are born into
poverty, receive a very poor education, and for most, their fate is
sealed. Bush must love class warfare, he has done so much to promote
it in the US. But most of the bums now serving in Washington D.C.
have little in common with ordinary Americans. We are becoming a
Banana Republic, with the rich going off to their gated communities
every night. How they must fear and hate the poor. Look at the
Katrina vicitms left to die at a sports dome. Katrina might very well
have been a sign of the impending collapse of America's social order.
If we have a Katrina health care system for poor folk and the elderly,
much chaos. What of a Katrina like educational system? That is already
the case for millions of American youth. And there's the Katrina
military system, only poor youth are willing to sign up knowing that they
risk going to Iraq and coming home in a metal coffin. Rich kids scoff at the
idea of serving their nation in time of war. Their idea of patriotism is
flying a very big flag in front of the stock market on Wall Street.
Just wanted to say thank you. and rant a bit.
Robert McKinney (Tokyo, Japan)
From: Dana Trantham
Sent: Sun 5/6/2007 10:29 PM
I enjoyed your column, http://www.counterpunch.org/velvel05052007.html,
The American Moral Meltdown Accelerates.
In particular, I have observed firsthand the preference for credentials over competence you described. A former coworker at an engineering CAD software company was fired after a merger with a larger company because he lacked a Bachelor degree. They prefered a Bachelor degree in a related technical field. He had high school plus a 2 year Associate degree from a technical community college and lots of solid experience. He had been a software tester for at least 12 years and a system administrator for more than 3 years when he was let go. His work was excellent and he was highly regarded. Yet, the parent company was adamant about it's policies and refused to grandfather him in or allow him to work towards a degree.
From: Gregory Barrett
Sent: Mon 5/7/2007 9:51 AM
RIGHT ON! Outstanding.