Weeping, wailing and gnashing our teeth, we've been appalled at the present-Resident's complete lack of any discernible idea or understanding of what it is he's supposed to be doing up there in that nice oval office. (Used to be referred to as The Oval Office.) It seems as if we need to consider some alternative ideas about what to do to prevent a recurrence of the present situation.
First: Democratic Party reform. Democrats nationwide need to take back our party from the corporate sponsors and spinmeisters that hold it hostage and have made it into a "me too" shadow of the Republican Party and stripped it of any pretense of being progressive. Recently, on receipt of the eternal mailings suggesting that I needed to send them money, I sent back to the four major fund-raising arms of the party (couldn't they get together and pool efforts and money to elect Democrats?) a quarter taped to the form, along with a letter suggesting, among other things, that that's all their efforts are worth at the present time. Some wag has remarked that the Democrats couldn't organize a two-car funeral, and I believe it. I've tried. It's like herding cats. Campaign finance reform would help, but to get that we need some truly progressive Democrats. But still ... A new party? What's wrong with reforming the one we have?
Second: Election reform. It's true the mechanics of the process are seriously flawed. Florida has just announced -- ta-dah -- all new voting machines, so it will "never have to be embarrassed again." Well, actually, they have just put a Band-aid on the problem, but at least it's a step in the right direction. The serious flaw in the overall process starts back with the Primary Election for the presidency as it now stands. The party conventions have become nothing but rubber stamps for an already done deal which has been decided by two or three states that have been vying to see who could be the earliest to "nominate the next president of the United States." In the process they have shut out the rest of the country.
What is now needed is a uniform national primary election day for the presidency. It should be held at the earliest on the first Tuesday in June, or better, in September, and made a national holiday, as should the general election day. September would still give the opponents of two, or three, or four parties a full two months to make their respective points, and save a lot of blather, not to mention money. People might even begin to pay attention again.
States righters would likely scream about undue interference in their electoral process, but they seem to be able to adjust to the general election in the fall without undue strain. As for the rest of their elections, if they choose to have them at some other time, fine. But the selection of a candidate for the presidency, a national office, is of national concern, and should be subject to national regulation. For a couple hundred years, we have pointed with pride to our democratic system and have endeavored by force or any other means at hand to make other countries conform to our way of doing things. Anyone who reads foreign news publications knows what a royal ha-ha our recent fiasco got from our global neighbors, friend and foe. It's time to repair our system so that it really works the way we claim it does, and the way we wish it did.
LORENE A. STRANAHAN
Fort Benton, Mont.
Reading the June 2001 issue of Union Jack, a California publication, I was struck by a page 1 item: "Relief, Anger In Tourist Areas as Foot-And-Mouth Wanes." That whole Lake District area [in England] was so heavily polluted in 1957 by a three-day fire at Windscale, the oldest, largest and dirtiest nuclear facility in the United Kingdom, that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout across Britain and into Europe, and was, before Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident on record, releasing nearly a thousand times more radioactivity than the Three Mile Island accident would (though it was not until 1983 that the British public would learn the full implications of the fire).
The peaceful pathways open to visitors and residents alike remained open, and tourists encouraged. Nobody was evacuated. Nobody was told to keep his or her windows closed. No warnings went out to stop residents from eating garden salads, or giving local cows' milk to their infants. The only action that was taken, apparently, was a change of name for the facility. Nobody wanted to hear the word Windscale, so it is now Sellafield, renamed in the 1980s to improve its tarnished image. The facility is located on a scenic strip of coastline bordering the Lake District. No warning has been put out against people eating the fish caught in the waters of the Irish Sea, yet that sea is one of the most radioactively polluted seas in the world, due to the pumping of nuclear facility waste through a pipeline into the Irish Sea since the early '50s.
There is an underwater lake of wastes including one-quarter ton of plutonium not far off the coast, and plutonium levels in the mud of the estuaries near the facility are approximately 27,000 times greater than in other parts of Britain. Local residents have long been concerned about the disappearance of entire species of fish and birds, and mutations in insects and flowers.
In 1983, a local Yorkshire Television documentary: Windscale the Nuclear Laundry drew attention to a shocking rate of leukemia cases and deaths in children living near the plant. In the area around Windscale, the incidence in children under 10 was reported to be 10 times the national average. Of course, any connection between these facts and nuclear discharges was denied by authorities.
But of course, the Foot-And-Mouth epidemic means money, doesn't it? So the Lake District is to be disinfected because people know about it! If the Windscale fire had polluted with rapid deaths, and damaged the food animals that hit the pocket, perhaps a lot of little human lives may have been saved by evacuation -- by import of clean food and milk to the area, and the surrounding areas of Windscale cordoned off for 60,000 years ... what the people do not know will not hurt them -- Huh? Hurry up and open those peaceful lanes and allow the people and their dollars in to share the pollution along with the innocent residents of the area.
With my family, I was living in England in 1957. I am one of 10 children, all of whom have died or are suffering from cancer. I had prophylactic removal of breast tissue some years ago, so I remain reasonably healthy. But angry too, that subjects of the system are subject to what information is doled out to them. My daughter, who also was with me in England is now in advanced metastasized breast cancer in the US.
All the facts in this letter are taken from the book The Woman Who knew Too Much by Gayle Greene, who told the story of Alice Stewart and the secrets of radiation [published by the University of Michigan Press]. I wonder if the book will be published in Britain -- I don't think so, unless the environmentalists learn the facts of Windscale.
I hope you will publish this letter, to broadcast facts which the government has concealed from the people -- and to encourage your readers to buy the book.
Very truly yours,
VERONICA E. SISSONS
Chula Vista, Calif.
All progressive publications are continuously blaming corporations for all the damage. Yes, corporations do damage, but it is us via our "foot-prints." Corporations simply try to meet the demand of six and some billion people.
The United States population is growing by 3 million a year. At this rate of growth we will be 500 million in 50 years and one billion in 100 years. There is a very simple formula for the doubling time: 70 divided by the growth rate. At 1% growth, the doubling time is 70 years, at 2%, it is 35 years.
Each one of us has a "foot-print" of maybe 25 acres. The farmland where our food grows, is our foot-print, whether we own the land or not. Our share of Confined Animal Farm Operations is our foot-print. The lumber that is cut for our housing or paper is our foot-print. The fossil fuels that are extracted, piped and refined and transported, are our foot-print. Any raw materials for anything that we consume, the extraction, manufacturing and transportation, is our foot-print. Our share of roads, parking lots, shopping centers and schools, libraries, etc. is our foot-print.
If the climate change actually happens and the coastal lands disappear, it will get quite cozy for one billion people on the remaining land. Even without a climate change, it will be cozy.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Several of us are currently working, in start-up mode, on putting together an nonprofit organization, the National Coalition for Responsible Representation, to increase support in Congress that has the potential for getting major support from Congress for progressive policies. ... Our organization will look to elect and otherwise promote political candidates (primarily for Congress) and office-holders who support a progressive agenda and who are willing to take the political actions necessary to enact such an agenda. A wide range of organizations and individuals identified with progressive issues will be invited to join as members of the Coalition. The Coalition members would work together to advance core principles through appropriate political action.
So, if you, too, are frustrated with what is happening in Washington, and are angered by the actions of many Democrats as well as Republicans, here is an opportunity to do something about it. ...
If you are interested in working to get the Coalition up and running, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what your background is, what you would particularly like to work on, and how much time you can devote. If you are interested in more detailed information describing the Coalition, please request it, and I will be happy to send it via e-mail. Thanks.
LEONARD M. SALLE
Portola Valley, Calif.
HELP! I live in the heart of Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains, where our local government resembles that of "Hazard County Kentucky, only Boss Hog wears a better suit!" Constellation Energy Group, a subsidiary of Baltimore Gas & Electric wants to build a 750-megawatt natural-gas-fired power plant. The proposed site is located in a geographic bowl, where we already have a thermal inversion and three polluting industries, Masonite, DuPont and Sylvania. Constellation and the [Department of Environmental Protection] have made it clear that they will not consider the existing pollution problem in applying for or (in the case of DEP) granting permits. Our local paper is not only biased but downright hostile toward the opposition, who have warned repeatedly that our area will be transformed into a dead zone. We desperately need help! Please respond!
Bradford County, Penn.
Something terribly new and interesting happened yesterday in my little, small-town post office. Typically, conversation is one reason for going to the post office. Our postmaster has had the job 23 years and was born here, is middle-aged with children of just marrying age. He is likable and interested in people and ideas. He is often baited about retirement options and always recites, "I have no problem with my job, but I'll happily retire when it's time!" He is a loyal postal employee. Yesterday I walked in on a conversation between him and a slightly older townsman. The townsman had brought up the notion that the postal system could be privatized.
"No way!" said Doug, and "They can't do it." He said, "No one is going to deliver mail in Groton (honeycomb of few houses and many long back roads) for 34-cents a first-class piece of mail." He said it very firmly. The other guy said, "It'll just be slower. Look at Canada."
I said, "It's what the FTAA is all about. Privatized mail delivery is on its way, just as water-for-profit rather than as a municipal service is on its way. If people don't like their new privatized mail service, it won't matter. What will matter is if the business is making its profit. A whole different mind-set ..."
"Nope," said Doug firmly. He couldn't see it. "They can't do it."
"The agreement is going through; it's underway," I said.
"People won't stand for it," he said.
"Then get busy and write to Charlie Bass and Judd Gregg and Bob Smith!" I said. "Tell them you don't want to see public services become profit-taking and privately owned!"
The other man shook his head and said, "Well, it won't bother me. I'll be gone."
"Come on," I said, "It's a time when you have to think about others and not just yourself. How do you want things to be? We have to come down hard against the FTAA, that agreement being done up in Quebec City a few weeks ago. See ya," I said, and left.
Even a casual student of American history may know that while our Oval Office perhaps has housed several criminals only one was caught. The Republicans did not want the 20th century to pass away with the only caught criminal being Republican Nixon so they decided to make a match by making the Arkansas Bad Boy a caught criminal. They succeeded in squandering an awful lot of tax dollars.
The brains of the nation have designated FDR as the No. 2 all time best president of the US. The Republicans did not want the 20th century to pass out with only one great president and him being a Democrat. The Republicans have learned one very important lesson and that is if you keep saying something over and over again, if you keep on repeating it, then eventually the public will believe it because they have heard it so many times. So the Republicans decided to make themselves a great president.
Dwight Eisenhower was raised in a stern Kansas family with a very strong sense of right and wrong. So it was no surprise that when he was in the Oval he stood for rectitude and fiscal responsibility. The Republicans always bring a coterie of criminals to Washington but soon as Ike found out about it he summarily fired all of them.
Ronald Reagan's father was an Irishman who couldn't make a living so they were frequently on welfare and he would usually drink up half of their welfare check, making it extremely difficult for his wife to raise those two boys. Incidentally Ronald's brother couldn't act so he more or less took their father's place as the town drunk. With Roosevelt's welfare keeping Ron from starving as a boy he naturally was a big Democrat. He was very instrumental in helping Harry Truman disappoint the Republicans in 1948 and he headed the Democrats for Eisenhower in 1952. He didn't become a Republican until the mid-'50s when his welfare wasn't much and GE bought him out. With his background it should not have been surprising that he stood for depravity and fiscal irresponsibility when he was in the Oval.
When General Ike was whipping the Huns in Europe Reagan was making enlistment videos (why an enlistment video when the government was drafting everybody in sight?) for the army in Hollywood. Certainly we can understand the Republicans desire to make a good Republican president to counterbalance the great Roosevelt but why pick the wrong guy?
It seems the states hit hardest by Tropical Storm Allison voted for W and are solid GOP (God's Own Party) supporters. Why would God punish them after they installed His choice for president? Especially after W & Co. pushed through the Sacred Tax Cut!
CHRIS LANE GRAY
During World War II, I served the US Army and my country for five long years, three of those years overseas in what some of you might blithely say "harm's way." I did not sacrifice those years to defend the present system of bought-and-paid-for elections and bought-and-paid-for candidates. On behalf of my comrades, many of whom gave their lives for democracy and the freedoms we enjoy, and my friends and relatives, I urge you to wholeheartedly support the House version of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, because it represents the America for which we have sacrificed so much.
Representatives who do not understand this -- who think our democracy is theirs to sell -- deserve no respect from the American people.