On Conyers and impeachment

I appreciated the article on John Conyers and impeachment (“A tribute and the way forward” by Joelle Fishman PWW 8/11-17). I have heard Conyers at public meetings explain that we could tie up the entire Congress with impeachment proceedings, which would then let all the other issues that have to be dealt with — minimum wage, surveillance, no-bid contracts, Justice Department firings, etc. etc. etc. — all be dropped and the nation become entangled in who knew what, when, and lied. That’s pretty much been revealed and will be more clearly in the future.

Some in the peace movement are frustrated at the lack of any action to end this illegal, awful war, and want quick solutions. Conyers, from his perspective, knows what is possible and what can be achieved at this point with this Congress. Diverting attention to impeachment at this stage of the game might actually serve the Republican interests in the next election.

April Smith
Royal Oak MI

It’s good to see Congressman John Conyers defended from some misguided friends but in seeking to link Conyers with the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate, your author does a disservice to the Congressman and sheds little light on what is really going on.

“Not having the votes” has never stopped Conyers from introducing legislation or doing what he felt was right. It did not stop him from introducing the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday bill or HR 676, his single-payer, health care legislation, to name just two. What is different now is that Nancy Pelosi before the November 2006 election said on several occasions that if the Democrats won control of the House they would not pursue the impeachment of Bush. Conyers (and the public) “don’t have the votes” to impeach because Pelosi and Harry Reid, who just got rolled by the Bush White House on wiretapping legislation, don’t want to go there.

Asking Conyers to take on impeachment when the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate are against it is like asking Muhammad Ali to fight with one hand standing on one leg. If Conyers did undertake to have the Judiciary Committee begin to consider impeachment he would be removed as committee chair.

Cindy Sheehan’s announcement that she intends to run against Pelosi is evidence that some of Conyers’ misguided friends have begun to realize where the real problem lies and will reveal just how dependent Pelosi is on Republican votes.

Walter Tillow
Louisville KY

Bonds still accountable

Your editorial about Barry Bonds was almost on the money (PWW 8/11-17). I agree that Commissioner Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball owners have created the profit-driven conditions that demand the long ball from baseball players. And certainly racism is a factor in the difference in how critics treat Bonds compared to any of the other likely doped-up sluggers of recent years (such as Jason Giambi or Mark McGuire). It should also be noted that Bonds faced greater scrutiny because of the significance of the all-time home run record.

But just because he was treated unfairly does not give him the retroactive rights to have played unfairly. We cannot give Bonds (or any other player) a free pass for taking an unfair advantage if it turns out — as most people presume, given his burst in home run production in his late 30s, when most players’ performances begin to decline — that he is actually guilty of steroid use.

From a Marxist perspective, if a worker produces more surplus value than other workers by using questionable means — say, by tightening bolts only halfway, or by working more quickly but with less precision on an assembly line — he or she is undermining solid performance of his or her co-workers and reducing the use-value for the product at hand.

Setting aside all of the racism and disparate treatment directed at Bonds, I think there is a deeper reason that many fans outside of San Francisco are disenchanted and boo him when he comes to town: the end result just feels cheap and we feel cheated.

Sure, the league and the owners are the ones cracking the whip and demanding that the players sacrifice quality for quantity. But — for the love of the game — that does not mean that players have to comply with the demand, especially if they have an organized voice.

If we truly want our competition to be authentic, our victories earned in hard-won battle and our achievements and our records real, then baseball fans, sportswriters and the vast majority of baseball players (who do not use steroids) share the responsibility for holding the league, team owners and the small circle of cheating players accountable.

And that is beginning to happen now, though unfortunately as you pointed out most of the venom is misdirected at Bonds, instead of at the men behind the curtain.

Chas Walker
Providence RI

Never forget

The Iowa state government has agreed to pay $925,000 to people who were involved in what was called the “Monster Study.” In 1939, the University of Iowa abused orphans just to try to make them stutter. Many people don’t know, or have forgotten, that our government and private institutions have performed human experiments on Americans. Many different groups — children, prisoners, pregnant women, soldiers, mental patients, comatose patients, etc. have suffered for science, profit, or to win the Cold War.

The U.S. government still has files on human experiments performed by the Japanese on prisoners during World War II that, for some reason, they haven’t released. They should declassify this information, and investigate and release all information on past human experimentation by our government, American schools, hospitals and corporations. We must never forget the people who lost their minds, health, and sometimes their lives because of this.

Chuck Mann
Greensboro NC