Keep Elections Local

I have been reading your paper for several years now. It's a refreshing change from the corporate daily main stream press. I've enjoyed the articles for political and campaign finance reform. But the reform proposals don't appear to address some of the ugliest parts of today's campaign problems. For example some PACs draw money from across the country, then dump it in regional elections. They way outspend the local opposition. This has been done to both referendums and candidates for public office. Another issue is our candidates have been taken over by marketing. Any sleaze ball can look good on TV with a little makeup, a flag waving in the background, with a rich voice mouthing platitudes over a background of patriotic music. Candidates don't interact with the people anymore because if they say the wrong thing or make the wrong impression it could cost them the election. Even public debates have become farcical because the candidates control the questions, the issues, and attendance.

Campaign finance reform restrictions should include who can donate money and to which particular election. I suspect the intentions anybody who raises money for candidates that they cannot vote for. Why should I, a Nebraska resident, worry about who New York residents elect to the Senate? It's none of my damn business! The same is true vice versa. The only thing I should care about is the fairness and honesty of other jurisdictions' electoral process. So for that reason I feel elections should draw campaign funds only from the district where the election is taking place. National and state wide elections can draw from national and state wide sources. As to the so-called "money is free speech issue," if an outsider feels a particular candidate would be so much better than any other candidate, let that person travel to the jurisdiction in question and volunteer in that candidate‚s campaign.

Finally our country needs a nation-wide system of political fairs or Chautauquas to be held at the county level where candidates for public office in the general election would be required to attend. Obviously the States must require their counties to coordinate their events so candidates whose electoral district covers more than one county can attend as many as possible. These Chautauquas must be structured neutral public forums where the candidates and the public can interact freely for extended periods of time. People and the press should be free to ask tough questions unfettered by the candidates fears. All candidates should have equal access to each other and the public, subject only to restrictions needed for public safety. No advantage should be given to an incumbent over a challenger nor to the major parties over a third parties or independents. Furthermore an open public forum like this would also provide opportunities for candidates of local public offices such as school boards, public power districts, water districts, county attorneys and other offices to interact and inform the voting public of their campaigns and issues as well.


Ned Harrison
Omaha, Neb.

Don't Wave the Flag

In the 10/1/02 TPP Jim Hightower wrote that we should wave the flag these days. I disagree. It's not that I have anything against the flag, it's just that too many stupid people are waving it. It seems to me that waving it everywhere actually cheapens it. I don't own a flag. I believe that being a good citizen means speaking out for the truth, and trying to make this a better world to live in. Any idiot can wave the flag.

Humans love to worship symbols, icons and flags. The flag is an inanimate object, a symbol and is powerless to bring peace and justice. It can't bring back the dead or undo the destruction of 9/11/01, nor ease the suffering of the survivors. The flag is used to seek revenge, to invade other countries and bomb innocent people.

I believe we are citizens of the planet. George William Curtis wrote: "A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle." In 1911 Emma Goldman wrote that "Patriotism is a menace to liberty." Too many people wrap themselves in the flag to do their dirty work.

I'd like to propose a new pledge of allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to Mother Nature of the planet Earth. One planet, united under natural law, with health and happiness for all."

In this country we treat the flag better than we do people, animals and the Earth. The flag isn't supposed to touch the ground or be flown after dark or flown if tattered, dirty or worn out. It doesn't seem to matter that people, the animals, and Earth is tattered, dirty or worn out. We live in such a hypocritical country that it is criminal.

Eddie Filer
Naples, Fla.
Email eddiefiler@earthlink.net

12 Steps for Politics

TPP is in need of a 12-step program to help it resist its compulsive inclinations to bash Ralph Nader and the Green Party. Through its editorials and columnists (many, not all), it has repeated and repeated yet again its mantra that the GP hurts the Democrats by having the nerve to run candidates against them. Therefore, I must ask, why do you think "Dispatches" on p. 23 of the 10/1/02 issue, reported on a "rift" in the Green Party, with some activists suggesting that Nader might not be the right candidate for 2004. Why did TPP rush up to Nader and ask him about these disgruntled activists? Is TPP simply trying to cover the news or might they be trying to do the devil's work and cause problems for the GP and Ralph Nader? Shame on TPP! Your time would be better spent reporting on the Democrats' blind support for Bush's criminal Iraq policy.

Shelly Wallman|
New York City
Email swallman@igc.org

Editor Replies: We thought we were being responsible journalists by asking Nader what he thought of his Green Party critics. We weren't bashing him or the Green Party. We don't think the Green Party is above criticism any more than the Democrats are above criticism.

Huffington's True Colors

Arianna Huffington's article on the coming of the populist revolution [9/15/02 TPP] was interesting up to a point. She attacked Democrats Terry McAuliffe and John Corzine but nowhere in the article was there any Republicans mentioned. Why didn't she attack two of the greediest execs of them all, Bush and Cheney. You can tell where Arianna's allegiance still lies.

Victor J. Molinski
Madison, N.J.
Email victormolinski@msn.com

Editor Replies: Huffington did not name Bush and Cheney in that article, but she has skewered them in other columns. She probably indicated where her allegiance lies when, referring to the GOP in the 9/15/02 article, she "confess[es] to a hope-over-experience fantasy that John McCain will finally abandon his dollar-rich but morally bankrupt party and mount an Independent steed."

We Need Oppositionists

Re: 9/1/02 letter fro Mr. Colligan ("Please Screen Conspiracy Theorists") about Cooper's 9/1/02 letter ("Unanswered Questions")about [Lyndon] LaRouche and [Anton] Chaitkin [coauthor of a biography of George W. Bush with ties to LaRouche], at least they are not afraid to ask questions and to be loyal oppositionists.

To just accept government warhawks and TV and GOP right-wing "useful idiots" and fellow travellers' diatribe and propaganda is [to be] an irresponsible American.

I want to see some photographs of the damage our bombs did to Iraq and Afghanistan civilians! I want to see the man holding his baby's head (that was all he could find of his family) after his home was blasted by our bombs. Do we as proud and patriotic Americans and (let we forget how Christian we are and full of family values) feel no responsibility? And where are those mothers and fathers who send their sons to fly our planes to drop those huge bombs? Never considering the damage they do far below them as they fly away? Until we all realize our own elected officials, our tax dollars and our silence and blind faith will be held accountable just like Hitler and the German people were after World War II by the Nuremberg Tribunals. No one is innocent. We all know what we are doing now. Ignorance will not take us off the hook.

Trying to hide by censoring the news and our own minds won't be excusable when crimes against humanity trials are held -- and they will be held.

Jeanette Smith
Salt Lake City, Utah

Decimal Howler

Re: Calamity Howler's "Scorched Earth" [9/15/02 TPP], I believe you are off by a factor of ten. One billion seconds is a little less than 32 years [not two years after the New England colonies were established in the New World]. One billion seconds ago wasn't Nixon in his first term? The other comparisons seem correct. And your main idea is correct!

David Patterson
Ooltewah, Tenn.
email dgpatterson@aaahawk.com

Dangerous Thoughts

As a result of the suicidal attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, we are said to be in a war. But this war is troubling to me for at least three reasons:

1. Why were we attacked? To say we were attacked by evil people who wish to deprive us of our freedom is an unsatisfactory answer. Such an answer is simplistic, even to a child.

2. What kind of war is appropriate or possible against such a nebulous enemy as the supporters of the 9/11 attackers? Are there limits on what we should or shouldn't do? How much further curtailment of our freedom should we bear? How much more of our national treasure should be sacrificed? There must be many needs going unmet as a result of the diversion of resources.

3. How do we know when the war is over? When the Bush administration, or its successor, tells us it's over? What politician will do that as long as there is a political advantage in keeping the war hysteria going?

Thoughts provoked by this last question lead me to strong opposition to attacking Iraq. If we are to launch military attacks upon every country, or ill-defined group, that we (or our leaders -- is that the same?) think to be dangerous and in need of new leadership, then we are going to be on a permanent war footing -- like the Vikings, except that they returned from raids with loot. After Iraq, would Cuba be next? Then Iran and North Korea? Is there danger we would get carried away and attack the most dangerous brutal dictatorship in the world -- China? I think not, but wouldn't we be opening ourselves to the charge that we were were a bunch of "despicable cowards," afraid to pick on somebody our own size?

And am I going to be placed on a list of dangerous people to be watched because I have expressed such thoughts?


Thomas C. McCloyd
Bowie, Md.

Pentagon, Corporate Crooks: Get a Real Job

Welfare had been 2% of the federal budget. Minor monetary fraud was discovered. Solution: Our kindly solons and Clinton decided that these unfortunates should all find real jobs at minimum wage -- so welfare was abolished.

Billions of our tax dollars are mysteriously missing, unaccounted for, from the Pentagon and the Dept. of Offense. Solution: Abolish the Pentagon and the Dept. of Offense. Let them all find real jobs at minimum wage.

Billions, perhaps trillions, of our monies, jobs, retirements have disappeared in the massive on-going fraud by corporations and Wall Street. Solution: Abolish corporate charters and Wall Street. Let them all find real jobs at minimum wage.

Thank you,

Alice Keiser Greth,
retired librarian, science teacher
Bend, Ore.

Vote Smart

There is an organization that gives free, full, unbiased information of great importance to voters ... Project Vote Smart. It is a national library of factual information on over 10,000 elected officials and candidates from local to presidential. Telephone 1-888-868-3762 or use the website ... www.vote-smart.org. Enlightening, crucial, essential, free.


Claire E. Simpson
Santa Fe, N.M.

Our Language Evolves

As a novelist, I continue to be amazed at the rapidity with which expressions in English evolve. "Pre-emptive strike" is an example. Gosh! It was only a few years ago, December of 1941 to be exact, when folks called those things a "sneak attack".


Jim Phelips
Pueblo, Colo.

No Vote of Confidence

A good demonstration of Americans' political ignorance and apathy is the continued support of Bush.

Frederick C. Sage
Boulder, Colo.


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