Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

‘God’s angry man’ told us so

Published Marin Independent Journal, October 26, 1994


‘God’s angry man’ told us so

Since IT’S NEARING election time, I wandered to Ross Perot’s  Autumn ’94 “Let’s get ’em!” Marin Civic Center rally. Then I went to a Kathleen Brown meeting, where they scrutinize for spies as they manufacture and hand out yard signs. I went because I once did some political stuff.

Whether I worked for brother Jerry Brown or in­troduced George McGovern to a crowd of 15,000, my political work taught me that awe and adulation ain’t deserved for most who play the game. There’s only one political guy I look back on and always up to.

Leading jazz bands was his love. Selling used cars was one of his jobs.

When his car dealership owner went to jail, Ed Koupal threw such a giant “Jail Sale” that Sacramento’s dealers forced Ford to squelch his “marketedly incorrect” but hugely successful gambit. When Reagan cut state budgets by closing homes for the infirm, Ed mounted a recall that stunted Ron’s early presidential aspirations.

When Ed gagged on L.A.’s smog, he formed People’s Lobby, revived the dormant initiative process for grass roots organizations and, with a $9,000 budget, put the Clean Environment Initiative on the 1972 ballot. When big money nuked our efforts to lower the lead content in gasoline, reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions in diesel fuel, ban DDT and stop construction of nuclear reactors, Ed taught us to get even by leading the 1974 Political Reform Initiative to a 70 percent victory.

Common Cause and Jerry Brown joined that crusade. Back then, candidate Jerry didn’t sound like Edwin Koupal.   Today, minus  Ed’s pork-chop sideburns, humor, fun and commanding presence, Jerry often echoes him: “Only Nader deserves to stay in Washington.”

To Ed, political icons weren’t good enough. Once, Ed chewed into Nader: “If you wanna get something done, don’t waste time trying to reform the system or begging politicians to do it right.

‘Write your own damn laws. Recall the bums and put the really_ _ _ _ _ _ ones in jail.”

Nader said, “Show me.” Ed organized Western Bloc, a coalition of 15 initiative states to stop nuclear reactor construction.

Western Bloc instituted the National Initiative, Referendum and Recall (NIR&R) as the 27th (then) amendment to the Constitution. It picked up 55 co­sponsors and support from Jack Kemp and Recall Ronnie. Unfortunately, columnist Tom Wicker was prophetic: “No one need worry, however, about Congress taking plenty of time to study these particular reforms, striking as they do at Congressional power.”

When Ed Koupal, “one of God’s angry men” left for heaven in 1976, most of the 50 “long-haired, crazy and radical People’s Lobby mules” took refuge from a political scene that had lost the only guy they knew deserved awe and adulation. Today, the direct democracy tools he wanted constitutionalized still seem needed.

Some politicians skirt the need, saying, “The initiative process is too complicated for regular folk! A National IR&R would be ghastly!”

“Too complicated” for the regular folks who employ highly paid politicians? If our employees can’t “KISS” (keep it simple, stupid), maybe we ought to add a jazz man’s song score that will at least make them dance.

California’s initiatives are judicially limited to one subject and are generally from two to 20 pages. “Keeping it simple, stupid” is easier in initiatives than in those 1,500-plus-page Congressional omnibus pork bills. Few legislators read those bills. Knowing only generalities, they vote as their specially interested parties dictate.

Democracy ain’t a box of chocolates. Today’s world is harder to chew and digest. So if you’re growling a lot, consider exercising the National Initiative and abiding by the People’s Lobby adage, “Final responsibility rests with the people, therefore never is final authority delegated.”

Dwayne Hunn, a resident of Mill Valley, is working on a book about the National IR&R and will be teaching at the University o[ San Francisco. People’s Lobby‘s mailing address is 5075 Charmian Dr., Santo Rosa 95409.

We must plant the seeds of peace

 Tuesday, Sept. 3, 1985, Marin Independent Journal


 We must plant the seeds of peace

 Dwayne Hunn

 PEACE CORPS                            

 FOR MORE THAN A DECADE the deserts have spread over once-produc­tive African lands. Now African famines are the harvests being reaped. In our Latin American back yard inflation soars, insurrections take innocent lives, governments tumble and communist regimes spring up or become more likely.

Our answer? Politically, the out-of-power party blames the in-power party for not implementing a long-range plan to combat such tragedies and evils. What I propose is a program for which both parties can take credit – the Democrats for initiating it and the Republicans for expanding it. Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator of this decade, could assure his place on the list of great presidents by a simple bold but peaceful move.

In the early 1960s, Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps first director, said:

“If the Pentagon’s map is more urgent, the Peace Corps is, perhaps, in the long run the most important…What happens in India, Africa, and South America – whether the nations where the Peace Corps works succeed or not – may well determine the balance of peace.”

In 1966 America spent $114 million to send 15,556 Peace Corps volunteers into service, the most dollars ever committed to volunteers.

At the time, Sen. Jacob Javits proposed a Peace Army of a million young men. Labor leaders advocated a service corps of 100,000. The Peace Corps first deputy director, Warren Wiggins, called for a corps of 30,000 to 100,000.
In 1984 America spent approximately $108.5 million and sent approximately 5,200 volunteers into service.
What happened? Had the world’s plight improved so much that we could cut the Peace Corps by two-thirds? Were the hearts and minds of enough Third World people swayed to see the economic and social benefits of the democratic way? Had communist-inspired tur­moil and revolt diminished? Did we find a better way to let the world know who we Americans were than by exporting our skills, courage and heart through the Peace Corps?
From 1965 to 1974, we assigned 2,582,304 soldiers with a budget of $138.1 billion to defoliate, mutilate and whore over the countryside of Vietnam. The cost for these services was $53,480 per soldier. In that same period we sent 108,579 Peace Corps volunteers with a budget of $956 million to teach, build and inspire over the world. The cost was $8,809 per volunteer.
If America had used the Southeast Asian war budget to send volunteers into the world, America could have sent more than 15 million people out to plant crops, ideas and ideals. Which choice do you think would have most benefited our long-term national security de­sires? Our economy? The global village’s needs?
Former California Congressman John Bur­ton in his last Washington Report to his constituents wrote in 1981:

“When I was first elected to Congress eight and one-half years ago, some of the issues facing us were the war in Vietnam, the escalating arms race… Now as I leave Congress, the issues are American involvement in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America, which might become the next Viet­nam, the nuclear arms race typified by the MXmissile…”

What America needs today is leadership that will put 100,000-plus volunteers into the field of economic development:

  • Challenging communist economic ideas with practical programs.
  • Helping Africa reclaim its desert and grow food.
  • Pitting the character of the working volunteer against the slogans of radicals and terrorists attempting to antagonize the masses.
  • Establishing the economic and education­al infrastructure of developing countries.

    Then we need leadership that challenges the Russians to do the same. President Reagan is

the only leader that could do this today.

In 1963 President John Kennedy said: “In some small village, volunteers will lay a seed which will bring a rich harvest for us all in later days.”

He was right. It happened. But the crop comes from small gardens. We should be tilling fields upon fields. The time is late. We need to lay more seeds.

Dwayne Hunn of Mill Valley sewed in the Peace Corps in India from 1966-68 and speaks to groups about the importance of the Peace Corps.