Democrats Disappoint


Gene Lyons' attempt to show that "Dems Get Their Act Together" [6/1/06 TPP], is worse than pathetic. The Democrats have "had a pretty good couple of years," but only because of Bush failures that were completely unrelated to anything the Democrats have done. He mentions that pundits were puzzled when the Democratic leadership failed to rally around John Murtha when he called for a withdrawal from Iraq, but he explains that Pelosi and company recognized that Murtha was a better spokesman than she; but this fails to explain why the Democrats failed to rally behind this superior spokesman, why some of their leaders like Hillary Clinton and Lieberman are open Bush war supporters, and why some of them are now even egging Bush on in his buildup to a war on Iran. Lyons congratulates the Democrats for having a slight voter edge over Bush even though its leadership has offered no plan, without noting the Clinton-Lieberman faction's positive war support or the possibility that the Democrats might have a much bigger edge with a little guts and decency.

Lyons notes the huge opportunities the Democrats have had with the ongoing massive corruption scandals, but he fails to mention that the Dems have not pursued many of these very aggressively, possibly because some of the charges might hit home, and because some of the worst abusers in the military-industrial complex have been very generous to Dems as well as Republicans. The Dems certainly never picked up on the June 21, 2005 Waxman report on the staggering sums brought into Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority just before the turnover of authority to the Interim government in June 2004 -- $12 billion in currency, much of which simply disappeared. Also interesting is the fact that the Dems didn't even support the Conyers investigation of the problematics of the 2004 election, helping set themselves up for another possible loss by fraud.

Lyons devotes half of his article to summarizing a windy, vacuous, and ultimately reactionary analysis of the Democrats prospects by Michael Tomasky in The American Prospect ("Party in Search of a Nation"). According to Tomasky the Dems are united on "only two things: diversity and rights." What they need, says Tomasky, with Lyons' assent, is to stress patriotism, community, and self-sacrifice, and slough off their genuflection to single-issue groups; they should focus on pursuing the "common interest." Does Tomasky include the Israel lobby as a single-issue group that the Dems have to slough off? You can be sure that isn't what he means. Does he include in single-interest groups Wall Street and other business groups that fund elections, including the contractors for military goods? You can be sure he doesn't mean these.

How do you prove your patriotism and remedy what Lyons calls "the Democrat's other perceived weakness -- national defense"? By supporting calls for more wars abroad in the name of "democracy promotion" (as Tomasky does in a book edited by George Packer, The Fight Is For Democracy)? By not challenging a military budget larger than that of the rest of the world combined? Is support of these the "sacrifices" demanded by the "common interest"?

Doesn't advance of the common interest often result from pursuit of self-interest by disadvantaged groups, rather than self-sacrifice. If support of the civil rights movement and women's suffrage and the buildup of the welfare state were in pursuit of the common interest (as Tomasky admits), why is support of actions that strive to advance diversity, rights and justice not part of the pursuit of the common interest today? I would suggest that they don't suit Tomasky today because in this age of reaction they are rejected by too many of the privileged and brainwashed and that they therefore impede victory for the Democrats. The Democrats have to get aboard the imperialism and injustice bandwagon to get their part of the loot. This is a noble objective indeed.

Edward S. Herman
Penn Valley, Pa.

[Editor's Note: Herman is an economist and media analyst and professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, whose books include Manufacturing Consent, co-authored with Noam Chomsky.]


Wrong Prisoners in Jail

I read with great interest, in the 6/1/06 TPP, the story "After the Deluge; Unkept Promises" by Jim Cullen. Also "Katrina's Legacy" by Anya Kamenet. Recently, I heard on Air America Radio, the Randi Rhodes Program, a story about prisoners in Louisiana, especially New Orleans. You may recall that during the hurricane some prisoners were abandoned, locked in their cells, with the building flooding. No clean water, no food.

There are even more prisoners in New Orleans, jailed for petty offenses such as stealing a loaf of bread or bottled water so that folks abandoned in the city's worst-hit districts for days on end could try to survive until help arrived. If it arrived at all, that is. Most of these prisoners are still in jail, without trial or bail. Law enforcement has blamed the situation on the difficulty of getting public defenders to the area so that those arrested during the hurricane could be adjudicated.

How is it, that people such as Scooter Libby, indicted by the grand jury, in a treason case of outing an undercover CIA operation, are permitted to walk around freely, with a cadre of lawyers at their side? They can even attend fundraisers to pay for the lawyers.

I have to ask, Which of these two accused felons has done more damage to the American people? The person who entered a store during the flood, to find food for their families, or the man responsible for the loss of CIA investigations on nuclear weapons?

Frederick Martello
Allendale, N.J.


War is Iraqet

I reached a milestone last night. Tattoo-covered celebrity welder Jesse James on the David Letterman show said if it were not for our troops over in Iraq fighting for our freedom, those of us who protest Bush and the war would not be allowed to speak out.

This marked the one millionth time I've been told this. It is a lie! Our troops are not in Iraq fighting for my freedom to condemn Bush. As Tom Engelhardt explained in the 3/15/06 TPP, they are there to establish a huge US military presence in the region, to make the area safe for Halliburton and their ilk.

Please! All you young men and women risking death, stop falling for the old lie. Read the book Cindy Sheehan has been recommending, War is a Racket [1935, reprinted by Feral House 2003], by Marine Corps Brigadier Gen. Smedley Butler.

For a long time Butler himself had fallen for the big lie. He'd believed he'd been leading men to fight for freedom, but he finally saw he had only been leading them to help the corporations keep a steady supply of cheap labor.

No doubt our troops who ousted Mossadegh from Iran in 1953 had been told they were fighting for freedom when they put the Shah on the throne.

Larry Surber
Stoneville, N.C.


Immigrants Need Help

While Congress debates a comprehensive national immigration bill, policy and behavioral changes are occurring at the state and local level which are having a devastating effect on undocumented immigrants.

In Georgia, the state's Department of Children and Family Services is charged with approving emergency Medicaid cases as long as the treating physician can stipulate that the patient's health is in serious jeopardy. However, once claims reach the state Medicaid office, due to a recent policy change, physicians are not being reimbursed if the patient is undocumented and their illness, such as cancer or kidney failure requiring dialysis, is not considered an emergency by the Medicaid office. I fear that many doctors in the state may refuse to treat undocumented patients.

Advocates for immigrant dairy laborers in Vermont tell me of constant police roadblocks at the border with New York to stop Hispanic-looking drivers in an attempt to facilitate deportations of undocumented individuals.

I have been an advocate for migrant farmworkers for 17 years and this has been an extremely difficult year for legal and undocumented migrant farmworkers. My foundation, Harvest of Hope, which distributes emergency and educational financial aid to migrant farmworkers and families, regardless of status, is receiving an increasing number of requests for assistance due to state and local policy changes.

A bill to allow many undocumented individuals to adjust their status to legal is a step in the right direction. However, if implemented, it will still take years for these people to finally claim citizenship. In the meantime, undocumented workers will still be denied most federal and state aid, be subject to low wages and exploitation, and be dependent on the few private organizations, churches or individuals for help. I am afraid that it won't be enough.

Philip Kellerman, President
Harvest of Hope Foundation
Gainesville, Fla.



Last week I was shocked to learn that Barbaro, a 3-year-old thoroughbred who had been expected to win the Preakness, had been injured. Thanks to regular bulletins on radio and TV, as well as interviews with experts and diagrams showing the extent of injuries and how the surgeons repaired his shattered leg, I was well-informed about his progress. I sincerely hope he will recover.

As I reflected on why so much attention was being given to this horse, I wondered if there were not more important stories that could use that media attention. Why do we not hear bulletins every hour about the wounds suffered daily in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why do we not see diagrams showing the anatomy of each human whose body has been torn by the war we started, with their plans of treatment and their odds of recovery?

Here's my challenge to the media: Treat your fellow human beings of every nationality with the same concern you have shown to one very special horse. Give us the details of each injury. Take us home with men and women who return in flag-draped caskets. Take us to hospitals and show us the heroic efforts of dedicated medical personnel to reconstruct shattered bodies, including full details of each injury and treatment. Take us to psychiatric wards so we can see the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Perpetrator Induced Trauma Syndrome. Show us those who took their own lives; explore what might have led to that tragic result. Show us those who are unable to get treatment. Find the homeless veterans who are cast off by their government after outliving their usefulness.

If you can do this for Barbaro, do it for each precious individual whose life has been shattered -&endash; and do it soon. Every day that you wait, more lives are lost and more are injured. If you do your job, the United States will finally wake up and save our country and the world.

Linda W. Swanson
Warrenton, Va.


Demand Honest Vote Count

Jonathan Simon, in "Need Honest Vote Counters" [5/1/06 TPP] is right on. American voters need to mobilize to ensure a return to impartial monitoring by citizens committed to fair elections, rather than by employees of the vendors of electronic voting machines as now often occurs.

For suggestions on how citizens can regain control of election monitoring see the website blackboxvoting.org. Black Box Voting is an organization of true American patriots, including computer programmers and lawyers, and led by journalist Bev Harris, whose members have devoted many, many hours investigating the reliability of electronic voting machines and the actions of many election officials. They have accumulated much evidence that these machines have been deliberately designed to allow voting results to by manipulated by unauthorized persons. They have presented their findings to state and local election officials and to the mainstream media with limited results, so far.

The devoted people of Black Box Voting need the help of as many as possible to wake up the populace as to what is being done to our democracy, before it is too late. They also need our financial support to continue this very important work.

Karl Kopecky
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


No Leader

Where did Americans get the idea that George W. Bush has ever been a strong leader? There is no evidence of such in his personal history, unless you view his lackluster trek through the Texas statehouse as exhibiting such. Even there, he arrived to a healthy fiscal surplus and departed leaving a black hole of indebtedness.

His resume prior to government is replete with a string of business failures using other people's money, a record which has followed him to the White House. Despite his Ivy League education which included a Yale history major and a Harvard MBA, neither subject appears to have any significant influence in his thinking or actions.

In place of effective leadership, the highest tier of government has been functioning on a teeter totter of ill-defined right-wing ideology. The sad results are there for all to see.

William D. Cox
Marina, Calif.


Ode to International Corporations

All mergers soon will be in sway,

so quickly do they meld today;

a feudal life, we serfs the core,

entire earth our company store!

S. Minanel
Woodland Hills, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1, 2006

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