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  • Friday, December 30, 2011

    A Sad Note!

    One of my first and most brilliant readers has died and I want to honor her memory.



    Margaret was a Culture Kitchen blogger for awhile and, while there, was one of our best bloggers. She moved on long ago, and I always missed her presence at CK. But she went on to what she considered bigger and better things. In her 80's she discovered her public voice and I am proud I was one of the people who encouraged and helped her find that voice.

    This comes late because I mainly interacted with Margaret Bassett by email. So if I didn't hear from her, I didn't think much about it. But I knew she was over 80. She was a subscriber to my Progressive Democrat Newsletter from the beginning soon after the 2004 election. She had seen me as something of a hope for the future in messaging, something I think she overrated me on, but I was flattered and tried to live up to.

    Today I sent out a message to my subscribers that my writing of the Progressive Democrat Newsletter had clearly been on hold for over a month and I wasn't sure if/when it would come back.

    One email bounced. It was the first time Margaret's email bounced in all the time she read my stuff. So it caught my attention immediately. It sent a shiver down my spine. So I did a quick google search and discovered what I feared...Margaret had died, back in August, at the age of 89. I cried.

    [NOTE: Damn! In the preview I realize that a lot of the old material I post has formatting problems, but it is midnight and I am sad at her passing, and I don't have the attention span to fix everything...Margaret's brilliance speaks for itself even with formatting errors!]

    Margaret was an original FDR progressive just like my grandmother. She was about 20 years younger than my grandmother, but clearly they had experienced many of the same things and their political lives had been very similar. Margaret somehow connected with my blogging and for a brief period I was her connection (from where she lived in Red Tennessee) to liberal politics. She wrote me often and we had long discussions by email from which she drew inspiration and I learned a lot. I quoted her in my writing, seemingly to her surprise and pride. She forwarded my newsletter to others, to my surprise and pride.

    Eventually her blogger presence developed beyond my newsletter, extending to MyLeftWing, Culture Kitchen and Political Cortex, and then to OpEdNews where she became something of a force of nature. Most of my writing that ended up at OpEdNews was thanks to her. And she sent me a lot of their stuff as well.

    But my favorite material from her was on the blog Culture Kitchen. I recruited her for Culture Kitchen. She was on it for only a brief period, but she participated in some amazing discussions about race in America that blew everyone away. I am sorry I can't link to these amazing discussions because Culture Kitchen is currently in limbo because of a conflict between our wonderful publisher and the (evil?) site host, but trust me, people of ALL races were moved by Margaret's comments on the history of race in America.

    She left Culture Kitchen, to our loss, when she became active with OpEdNews. From what I gather OpEdNews gained from our loss. From then on she would occasionally comment on my Progressive Democrat Newsletter, more occasionally post something from my newsletter to OpEdNEws, and also would send me info from OpEdNews. For some years if I didn't hear from her for awhile I would get worried. In fact she was one of two people I would worry about if I didn't hear from. Margaret I worried about because of her age, and another blogger I recruited for Culture Kitchen, Leo Igwe of Nigeria, I worried about because he was a Humanist activist fighting Christian and Muslim fanatics in Nigeria. Leo has been beaten, arrested, and generally attacked over the years I knew him, so I learned to check in with him from time to time. Margaret always seemed so alive and almost immortal, so I stopped worrying if I didn't hear from her.

    So it didn't even register that I had lost touch with her. I guess it doesn't matter, since she seems to have been alert and emailing up to the day before her death, so it isn't like I missed that she was dying. But somehow I wish I had caught on SOME time between now and last August. But I didn't and so today I found out. It hit me like a punch in the stomach.

    This is the last article Margaret shared with me in the very last email I got from her back in May: http://www.alternet.org/story/151101/how_our_government_has_merged_with_corporations

    But previous to that she had particularly thanked me for the intro I did to a December 2010 issue of the Progressive Democrat. She just commented on how much she liked it. This was the intro she liked:

    Last week this headline was overlooked by too many people:

    Auto Industry Bailout Saved 1.4 Million Jobs

    Remember, Republicans OPPOSED this! Democrats passed the Auto Industry Bailout over Republican objections and THANK GOD they did because that saved 1.4 million American jobs. Now we need a Green Energy Stimulus, because that could CREATE a large number of American jobs, but of course Republicans tend to oppose ANYTHING that creates American jobs and instead support policies that help foreign oil companies, offshore banks and multi-nationals who outsource American jobs...

    We must never let the voters forget this fact.

    Democracy for America recently reminded me, in our of their fundraising letters, of a VERY important fact for all Democrats to keep in mind:

    Looking at Congressional races in 2010, 96% of the Progressive Caucus won re-election while only 47% of the Blue Dogs won.

    I happen to like some Blue Dogs, but the basic fact is that as a caucus they have made the dismal mistake of becoming too much like Republicans and when Democrats start to look too much like Republicans they eventually lose. Democrats win by clearly differentiating themselves from Republicans. Which leads me to another reminder...

    For those who have read this newsletter for some time you know that I have often plugged a book that in some ways should be required reading for ANY Democrat: Drew Westen's "The Political Brain." Simply put the book analyzes how people vote and why, and shows how Democrats too often campaign in away that does not appeal to most voters even when most voters agree with the Democrats more on issues. Republicans, even though they usually take unpopular stands that hurt middle class and working class Americans, can often win the voters over because they campaign in a way that works better at getting votes. Drew Westen then outlines how Democrats can better appeal to voters while still being true to their values. For any Democrat who wants to win, read this book...now more than ever. And pass the book on to any Democrat you know of running for office or working on a campaign.

    We're going to miss this guy:



    Alan Grayson was one of the VERY few Congressional Representatives who really was completely up front, honest and told it like it is. He didn't hide the truth even when it made him unpopular. As I recall Harry Truman was admired for the same quality, even though it hurt him politically. I am proud that it is usually Democrats who are willing to put truth before popularity. Popularity comes and goes. But the truth is far more valuable. We need more people like Alan Grayson in Congress!


    To me this was a run of the mill, off the cuff intro to my usual newsletter of facts, links and organizations to get involved with. In retrospect it was the last time my writing inspired her. That means something to me.

    But looking back through our correspondence, I want to share a key email from 2007:

    Article published Aug 29, 2007

    We are all in this world together

    Dear Editor:

    Thank you for the editorial in the Aug. 22 issue, and also for the two thought_provoking letters you printed. Perhaps it is because the weather has been very hot and I spend time indoors reading, finding news online, and watching C_Span, but it seems to me that we are all more sensitive to a wider world with many troubles. Bridges fall. Hurricanes wreak havoc. Drought or floods destroy. And there’s war.

    So I’m glad you take pen to paper, so to speak, to point out that reporters track the making and selling of weapons. This is not what we think of when we proclaim that a person should have the right to bear arms.

    And through it all, we are talking about America in Iraq. I personally was adamantly against a pre_emptive strike into Iraq. I watched and listened as I heard how many months it would take to get the gear all in place for the invasion. What I wondered about was how difficult it would be to get the stuff back out. Of course, some would be used up. But how about explosives? Might they not be used for destructive reasons? The editorial, based on an AP report, gives numbers which make me think that guns multiply faster than rabbits.

    It’s our country, and all of us in it need to think of ways to put an end to the folly. Would impeachment help? Should we just ride it out and then let the Democrats take the heat if they win the next election? So many questions.

    To me, we must recognize that we are in this together. Let’s get real and waste no time in trying to shove the blame on someone else. Let’s think of positive solutions and expect our leaders to carry them out.

    So I hope you will continue to lay out facts. During these past six years it seems that the media has given us few solid facts and a lot of opinions. And I hope if you do give us the hard truth that no one will shoot the messenger.

    Yours truly,

    Margaret Bassett


    That was one of her letters she was proud of and sent me to circulate, and I DID circulate it.

    Here is an email she sent me on immigration and a global perspective:

    As a school girl, I spent summer Sunday afternoons in our empty schoolhouse, wondering what the pastel countries around the old globe were like. And I would pick a country and study what I could find in the World Book. All the while, I thought that the change of colors did not mean a big wall. More confusing still was whether various colors of people were expected to stay in their designated nations. Perhaps I came to this quandary because I saw real life evidence contradicting the lines. We all were from other states. Homesteading in our part of Wyoming happened after World War I. Our neighbors were from other states–Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, mostly. I reasoned our parents pioneered because they were looking for a better place to live.

    In high school, I learned enough history to understand how religious freedom and better working conditions brought people across the oceans. They were largely the working poor and willing to become scullery maids and ditch diggers until they learned English and studied the Constitution. Then they could become citizens. Except—Orientals were discouraged and could work on railroads, but could not bring their families or gain citizenship.

    In college, I learned the details of the 1924 immigration law. It was necessary to make a change because women had become voters in the US. They could become citizens of another country by marrying an alien, but they would have to give up their American citizenship. As a matter of fact, it was generally believed that all persons lost their citizenship of another country when they were naturalized. One way for men (women were still not in the military) to gain citizenship was to join the army and serve honorably. There were a lot of "ifs" in common lore about US citizenship.

    After college and WWII, rules changed quickly to allow for those who sought relief from being displaced from earlier homes. They were generally referred to as DP’s, displaced persons. Prelude to that was the arrival of refugees during the war, if lucky enough to reach the other side of the Atlantic. My personal experience included weekends at Scattergood, the Quaker settlement at West Branch, Iowa which is the home of Herbert Hoover. Some of us students would spend time helping the Friends who were orienting recent arrivals of Jewish families. And there went my ditch digger analogy! Many of the men were doctors or professors. To polish their English was what they craved mostly, for they saw language as necessary to regain their former positions. It seemed incomprehensible to some that they would have to take refresher courses and pass new examinations to become licensed when they were well-established in their professions.

    The Cold War brought other refugees, usually referred to as dissidents. And then the tide turned when Cubans and Haitians and later Central Americans claimed refugee status. By that time we had to recall what we had learned in high school history. The Monroe Doctrine had clearly emphasized that the Americas were for the Americans. During WWII, under the Good Neighbor Policy, those south of the border were courted for the contributions they could make in fighting totalitarianism. It became more than just semantics when my Latin American friends reminded me that it was incorrect to refer to citizens of the United States of America as Americans. They were Americans, too.

    Fast forward to the demonstrations of the past few months. The rhetoric was heavy during the 2004 presidential campaign, but by 2006 there was action in the streets. I guess our country had a Latino problem.

    Latino has become a term to describe someone who lives in the Western Hemisphere in some place other than Canada and the United States. So those who speak Spanish, Portuguese and French have an inclusive adjective. It tells nothing about country of origin. The term Hispanic narrows citizenship to those nations where Spanish is the official language. And still there is little that the words tell about a group of people who live in America and want to come to the United States.

    The question of political importance at this time is how does the United States respond to a surge of population which comes from other countries, whether by legal or illegal means. They chance to make a living in our country better than in theirs, or else they wouldn’t uproot themselves from a culture they like. Their religion is universal. They may differ on who the next Pope should be, but they recognize that the Pope has a commanding presence in all parts of the world.

    But, oh, us Gringos! We don’t understand that for centuries we have sent in the Marines to do what James Monroe, Teddy Roosevelt, and others declared to be in the interest of ourselves. After all, we stole a good part of our territory from the Mexicans.

    And then there are the folks in places like Tennessee. Without Tennesseans perhaps the Panama Canal would not have been built, because that is where much of the labor came from. In that regard, I have an interesting story from my days of studying Constitutional Law in Iowa. One of my fellow students had a father from Tennessee and a mother from Panama. He was born in Panama, but not in the Zone. Did he have US citizenship? Should they have taken him to the Consulate when he was 21? (Never heard the end of the story, because by then 1945 had come and things were changing.)

    I’ve lived in Tennessee since 1977 and I never hear about how Tennesseans helped make the Panama Canal. We do celebrate how Sam Houston, who once taught school a few miles from here, fought in Texas. He was Tennessee governor and is a big name in history.

    But I’m hearing a lot about "those," "them people" or "Latinos." Folks who have lived here all their lives, worked hard, and enjoyed some success will speak about "the ones coming in" as though there is a threat. Largely it has to do with language. Why don’t they speak English? And why do they rent an apartment and then bring a whole bunch of others to live there too? It’s classic concern for "there goes the neighborhood." But the language makes a starting point for a debate over educating their children, providing welfare, and more classic gripes that have confronted other new groups of immigrants.

    For my part, I don’t worry about the language. In my young, innocent college days I was pretty good in Spanish, even to translating El Cid, not that it helps me anymore than it does others who complain about not understanding. I do have a slight ability to detect country of origin according to accent. But dialect! Those people who espeak Espanish can’t understand each other at times.

    So now we have to talk about a delicate issue. Is there animosity between Hispanics and African-Americans. In Chicago there were many Puerto Ricans when I lived there, and no love lost between them and blacks. After a couple of friendly attempts, I backed off from the explanation that Borrenquenos are US citizens, too. There was the reaction I have come to recognize as "hair standing on the back of neck." At some point in discussing generally how all people have good points and some a few strange ones, there comes a superstitious fear. And that will be what will accompany many voters to the booth this fall. I feel truly baffled about what politicians should and can do to make firm commitments on their position. We may decide that there was an ironic e1oquence in the Senate’s vain attempt.

    But all of this has been a digression from my first paragraph. Where my heart was in the 30's is where my moral values take me in this century. However, I long ago gave up on believing that nations solve real problems of people who decide to breach borders. Actually, it can be said that nationalism is itself the problem. At this time, the Bush administration is looking at the enemy as having no borders. Why not? We have journalists without borders. Doctors without borders. Why not banditos without borders? Manuel Noriega and Osama bin Laden are both enemies of our Nation.

    I get a little facetious about Nafta. Consider: now the textile industry moves its operation to Honduras; natives can no longer make a living in those factories so they go to Mexico; Mexicans are having a harder time of finding work so they cross the Rio Grande; and the "illegals" work for peanuts and make the Anglos mad for ruining the wages on their old jobs. And the irony is politicians talk about Nafta as needing a tune-up to see that labor is paid a decent wage and enjoys healthy working conditions. Duh!


    I also want to post an email she sent me in Dec. 2005 that is interesting to review given what has happened since:

    Your newsletter this week was, in Christian-speak, almost an epiphany. It reminded me of how much I took Al Gore's book to heart before the 2000 campaign. To be good stewards, the three ingredients of living are sometimes referred to as giving of time, talent and treasure. When you think of it, there isn't enough money in the world to heal an injured planet. Some can get jollies by taking their excesses to the recycle bin. But really all we have is ourselves in whatever form. And for a lot of us these days it starts at the keyboard. As long as we don't buy everything on the pop-ups.

    There is a stealth issue, which most don't care to address. Rampant consumerism is what is messing up the nation. Any time one-third of GDP is considered to come from production and twice that much from consumers, we are headed for a meltdown. Yet, should we all start living within our means while saving some for our old age (Money can be described as congealed energy.), it's not just WalMart's stock which will plummet. If Bernanke refuses to print money for spendthrifts, those with the least of it are hurt the most. Before they beatify Greenspan I hope I can say that he did us no favor by making a red hot housing market. My observation is that Boomers, those who worry most about their entitlements, were conned by low interest rates. They cashed in 401k money to put in real estate. From my perspective their peers are the wheelers and dealers in politics and finance. I hope someone learns how to make a soft landing. And, for those who are raising young families, they've got a lot to think about before they answer all the Christmas ads with their plastic.

    Well, that's my Scrooge message of the day. Keep up the good work!


    You can see she was a bright, thoughtful woman!

    Here is another fascinating email she sent me in 2005 while we were, over many months, still getting to know eachother:

    David: There’s more heat than light coming out of Washington these days, and I tune in c-spans and PBS and wonder where we’re headed. Then I log on to my favorite back fence sites and that doesn’t help much either. Jim Lehrer tonight featured a piece asking editors from other part of the country how their readers saw the filibuster question, to which they mostly replied only the activists cared and it hadn’t touched most of the folks. "Grassroots" came into my head and I wondered about the term. The Nashville paper (not the Tennessean) said "folks" just hadn’t got interested in it yet. And then there’s little old me!

    I’m a walking time warp. When my father homesteaded in Northeastern Wyoming in 1918 he was in his mid-thirties. My mother, whom he met out there was younger, but she too was 18 when WWI ended. My three siblings and I were all born before the stock market crash. When FDR declared a bank holiday I already knew about how some people in other states had lost their farms when the banks went out of business. By the time I was through high school, many of my men teachers had left for the service to get a better commission. Times were tough on the farms still. I worked my way through college for five years at the University of Iowa and got out just as VJ Day came. In Washington on my first real job, I saw government workers re-align their assignments because all returning veterans were given extra points when they applied for jobs. After that, I spent a maturing period in the City, with a year’s timeout in Copenhagen. I met my husband in 1952 when I took a trip out West for the summer. The sour taste of Joe McCarthy’s capers shoved me away from a future in international education. But I could always work. I was a good typist, and the first thing I learned in college was to be a good waitress. My husband and I followed resort restaurants in the beginning and then moved to Chicago in 1955 where we made a stake through 1977. Then we bought a fixer-upper in Maryville, TN. We had no company pensions, and I was too young for SS and Medicare for what seemed like a long time. We made it on the proceeds of a few investments and his Social Security check. I would be in deep trouble today except that in the 90's I was able to get ahead of the curve on inflation. It nearly flattened us during the 80's when double digit increases came for material to re-model the house. Now, I manage to pay fair market rent in the elder housing where I moved six years ago. I’ve been widowed 12 years (today, as a matter of fact) and could have moved easily, but I like it here. No family in the State but lots of friends.

    When I took up gardening and canning and making our everyday clothes again, just as we had done in Wyoming, I didn’t feel out of place. My neighbors were just like the people I grew up around. Many of them were a few years older than I and I learned the way to live on Social Security and to fight the Medicare rules. After my husband died, and there were new younger families with children, I became involved in the lives of the young. It was not easy for working class families in the 90s. I could supplement their scarce time by giving what I hope would be enrichment. The children had things, but little else in my view. I cancelled all but basic cable and ordered edutainment CD’s after my sister gifted me with a computer. It is what I consider to be my way of paying back for 21 years of Social Security checks.

    I lived in early life what can best be described as 19th Century. After formal schooling and some jobs I jumped to the 20th. I was just about ready to believe I was ready for Bill Clinton’s bridge to the 21st, when all of a sudden it feels like I’m somewhere after WWII. I mean everyone is hellbent on acquiring whatever has just been invented. Now, with credit cards, they don’t have to wait for payday. Many in the child-nurturing period are so busy trying to keep body and soul together that they don’t remember what they learned about the three branches of government. Some are anxious to get to the welfare office for supplemental help, as others are too proud to even let their neighbors know when they need food. It’s always been that way. I’m just talking about our county, which is surely not one of the poorest in the State.

    Through all these years I have only been able to become a little educated because of my husband, who grew up in San Francisco. Orphaned at 9, he knew the ways of city living and, in good paperboy fashion, was also well aware of the ways of the world. It took him a long time to realize that the depression was hard for us country people too. Actually, he didn’t really understand until we moved down here. Oh, yes, he fell out of love with the Republican party and read Howard Fast’s novels during that time. When he reached maturity he moved to LA and worked in a defense factory during WWII, the same kind of work he followed in Chicago. I became a bookkeeper there and changed over to computer programming in 1966. The greatest job I’ve ever had was teaching high school graduates to program or operate computers. The students were many of them directly from housing projects on student loans and grants. I can’t say enough for LBJ’s Great Society. It made some real changes. The problem was it was not carefully monitored. Of course, there are excesses and Clinton was right to help rein it in. I have a hunch that Bush shoots for FDR’s programs because if he mentions LBJ’s he’d lose his so-called base. John Edwards wants to talk disadvantaged, and he may just be making some traction with his poverty group. I could make a case for myself as well. But no one can outdo Johnson’s upbringing.

    What brought this on? It was when I wrote you about the Earth Day celebration in the Smokies and you replied that tourism is not a good economic base. Or something about like that. And I remembered that you said you were a city kid. Then I thought about the way the media learned to morph the map in red and blue. Sure enough, those states adjacent to water are bluer. Actually, they are wealthier because of global trade. The nation mimics the old tradition of town and country, meaning the people at the county seats ran the banks and sold the merchandise and elected the officials. Those in the country produced the goods (originally mostly food, but later industrial supplies) and climbed up the social ladder by sending the children to school and getting them jobs in town. Culturally, the rural folks knew they were superior because their kids worked hard and didn’t dance or gamble–or so the story goes. But those they called city slickers knew they had better homes and nicer clothes and could travel more. I recently read several of Sinclair Lewis’ novels, which are older than me. Whenever I re-read Elmer Gantry I realize how little things change.

    So here I sit, still a country bumpkin worrying over whether Section 8 housing will be cut even more, and how the children should learn to like to learn, and whether there will be any channel on TV that the tired, hard-working, underpaid parents will watch besides Fox. In my spare time I check out MSNBC’s articles about why Wal-Mart stock is down and the predictions aren’t rosy. That gets me to thinking about the many hours I’ve pounded away on the Wal-Mart predicament. Is it possible people in Peoria, or wherever, are going to have to listen to what happens in Washington? Best regards, Margaret


    Now here is the first email I have a record of, though I know we must have connected before. It is from November 2004, so it was one of the first interactions we had. Again, much insight and background from someone who has been around for some time:

    The first tells about previous progressive movements which supplied candidates. I realize that Vermont has an existing party, and there is some movement around Madison, Wisconsin.

    The second is something with which I have little experience. It catches my eye because the working poor (hard-working poor) are certainly the forgotten man and woman as far as I can see.

    In the Teddy Roosevelt age, an economic shift to heavy industry created robber barons, and thus a need to come back to a sense of fairness. In the second phase, labor was becoming organized. World War I created more jobs, but more discontent with working conditions. To avoid the revolutionary trends in Europe, especially Russia, a more benign form of organization came about here through unions.

    The curious part of the aborted movement in 1948 with Henry Wallace produced the same kind of Bolshevik scare, but I believe that unanswered civil rights questions were what drove the scare to a frenzy. My experience at that time was that to be associated with rights for colored people put one in the same cubby hole as with communist and fellow-traveler groups.

    About the only advantage of being old is that one can see three waves, described by Toffler. The first, agrarian, required decent shipping facilities for livestock and crops as well as reasonable prices for farm implements. (I grew up on a homestead in Northeastern Wyoming, where we battled dust storms and the depression.) The second wave was the industrial age where a combination of machine and men mass produced a never-ending supply of labor saving devices. From the end of World War II to the advent of cybernetics, more and better planes, locomotives, trucks, etc. shortened distances and made goods accessible to more people. Workers were lured into corporate loyalty with the promise of retirement benefits and medical insurance. Not until the 70's did the price of company affiliation begin to backfire for both sides. We talked about the rust belt. Lifelong union members began to question the Democratic party and Reagan welcomed them to his shining hill. The third wave, incubated during World War II, became all important as soon as computers advanced past tubes to transistors to the current microchips. (I started programming computers in 1966 and worked on three generations of IBM equipment within the spate of a few years. The Olivetti ten-key adding machine I pounded 8 hours a day had over 50 precision springs in it. My husband worked in a plant making such parts. We escaped job crises only because we retired to East Tennessee from Chicago after 22 years.)

    By the last quarter of the 20th Century, the global village concept was real. And thus we come to what will have to be dealt with before a progressive movement can flourish again. Just as in the past, when Americans could not ignore people of the ghettoes and slums forever, so now no nationality can ignore the cry of other nationals for a share of the earth’s treasure. I recommend reading Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber’s The World Challenge (Simon & Schuster 1981) which tells about the Near East’s rising up to assert that technology as the price we pay for oil and other basic materials. And it’s not just oil (OPEC) but other raw materials, and it’s not just the Near East but many underdeveloped nations.

    Another author who has influenced me is Lester Thurow, an economist who in 1995 wrote a book on the future of capitalism. He outlined what he considered the main changes over the ensuing twenty-five years. Changes in demography (mature countries have a high percentage of mature citizens) and communication and transportation (commerce can cross national boundaries to grow wheat in Siberia as well as North Dakota) affect voters in real time. Globalization, which is here to stay, can be criticized but there is no way to stop it. Countries can help their nationals to adjust, but recognizing how to corral unbridled world commerce takes more than tweaking the safety net. With world wide business comes the need for world wide rules governing it. On a line stretched from competition to cooperation regarding this challenge, there must be very astute negotiation. The WTO and the IMF are acting from a position of weakness, which allows laissez faire to flourish.

    How a new facet of progressivism can come about is problematic. It espouses a mixture of innovation and conservatism. If the rest of the world wants to have goods, services and opportunities equal to what we Americans have learned to cherish, it goes without saying that super-consumerism should be nobody’s first goal.

    Under the surface I think citizens in this country realize the truth of sharing or fighting. Wars only use more of the precious resources. The twin realities of Iraq and economic well-being were debated in this campaign as though it were an either/or proposition. George W. Bush's assertion that both must be achieved–his recognition that people having a stake in their future will not have time to fight each other--has validity. That’s all well and good, but he’s trying to convince the Iraqis his war is different. Imperialism is the ultimate outcome from the way he goes about it. If we take a look at the article in The Nation, we can see that fighting each other is a recipe for decline of leadership. http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1124-10.htm

    With a long history of solving problems in the USA by going to a place farther away, it’s not surprising that Bush would like to get to the Moon and Mars.

    If you and I pursue this line of reasoning, I believe we must organize small groups of individuals, preferably online, who will help to shape the real issues for 2008. My summer was spent with a yahoogroup who answered the media when members perceived that it was giving false information. With a mixture of professional backgrounds and serious interaction we, and others doing similar work, probably did have some impact on the outcome of the election. Because Kerry lost, we have not known how to proceed. I suspect this group is not the only one which is essentially inactive but still so committed that it is trying to find a new approach to carry on.

    Finally, I suggest the article in the Nation about Paul Wellstone. Possibly his legacy has something to help us in progressing toward new insights.

    http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020527&s=nichols


    I will end with the obituary from her beloved OpEdNews:

    The following obituary was provided to Opednews by Dr. Annabel Agee to be shared with Margaret's beloved online community:

    Margaret Ems Bassett

    02/14/1922 -- 8/21/2011
    "Margaret Ems Bassett, age 89, quietly passed away at her residence in Maryville, TN, on Sunday, August 21, 2011. Born in Gillette, WY, on February 14, 1922, the eldest of four, Ms. Bassett is preceded in death by husband William John Bassett, parents James Edwin and Fanchon Rosenstiel Ems, sister Norma Agnes Ems Cotter, and brother Robert, and niece Roberta Ems Salley. She is survived by her brother Morris Ems, niece Janeth Cotter Hernandez, niece Connie Cotter Rasmussen, niece Colleen Ems Morrison.

    Ms. Bassett graduated from Campbell County High School in Gillette, WY (1940), received a BA degree in political science from State University of Iowa (1944), studied as a graduate student until August 1945, worked in international education until 1950, spent a year in Denmark, took numerous computer science classes, and completed an MS degree from Roosevelt University (1975). Ms. Bassett worked in Chicago from 1955 to 1977, at which time she and her husband retired to Tennessee.

    Her lifelong interest in political philosophy was reflected by her active role as editor for almost five years on OpEdNews (OEN), an online platform for which she wrote 68 articles and posted almost 4000 comments. Also to her credit, the content she generated for OEN was viewed over 700,000 times. Margaret's most recent OEN activity was logged on the Friday evening before her passing on Sunday. In her own biographical statement for OEN profile, she noted that her early introduction to computers (1966) has served her well in keeping up with "the requirements for modern communication." She said that she hoped to find "some good coming off her keyboard into the lives of those who come after her."

    She will be missed by many of the residents of Maryville Towers, a senior housing facility where she has resided since selling her home in 1999. Many of her neighbors and friends will remember Margaret as the long-time organizer/leader of the Reminiscing Writers Group at Maryville Towers."


    I would like to remember this wonderful woman. I think a fitting tribute would be a contribution to Wellstone Action or Progressive Majority. I know these were groups we both discussed and admired a lot, though I think more because they were my favorites. I am not sure what she would say was her favorite tribute, but I know these would be good enough in an imperfect world she knew and loved so well. Please join me in donated to these groups in Margaret Bassett's name.

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