Stop Whining, Win Elections

After seeing all of that pomp and exaggerated exuberance displayed by the neo-conservative officialdom before and after the State of the Union speech, it simply added on to my already extensive disgust at the REAL state of affairs in this heavily burdened, severely endangered nation.

The obtuse, hard-headed, gross methods of the fascist Republican regime are sick enough, but when there are serious Democrats claiming that the whole Democratic Party is too tame and weak to defend our constitutional rights and counter the corruptions and dangerous ideas that fuel the present administration, it gets my goat even more.

When I see people like you fighting and scrapping for our liberty and civil rights, it is really great! There are so many legislators, activist groups, city councils, progressive publications, many hundreds of well-written books, all defending the ideals and methods of our progressive Democratic Party.

When the whiners and complainers claim that the Democratic Party has no guts or practical SOLUTIONS for any of the nation's problems, it makes me furious! The Republican pundits have picked up on this fictitious weakness and made it the main part of their automatic response mantra. I've read about and observed legions of lawmakers, authors, journalists and local officials who have presented tremendously practical, sane solutions for returning to the economic progress and stability that many citizens are so desperately longing for. The corporate-owned media, for the most part, is not inclined to reveal the inner strength of the Democratic Party or its political force among enlightened grass roots action groups, so it is easy for very busy people to miss out on a lot of vital information about such activities.

Some say that progressives should copy some of the neo-con methods! Do they suggest that Democrats should lie and cheat? Do they suggest that we all act like Jesus freaks? Wiretap our opponents? Screw with the elections? Support illegal wars? Allow torture chambers to exist? Let lobby groups run wild? Bankrupt the treasury? I don't think so, for we can see now that methods like that are cracking the seams of the Bush-Cheney regime and it cannot last much longer, short of a complete metamorphosis into a police-state dictatorship. The "federalists" have again set up Alien and Sedition Acts in the guise of the PATRIOT Act and Homeland Security, which can so easily be used against dissenters and critics of the regime. It didn't work in the 18th century, and it won't work now.

I know the strength and influence that the progressive Democratic Party has today. It was largely due to the dedication and honest hard work of people like the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, Howard Dean, Amy Goodman, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Al Franken and too many others to crowd into this paragraph. They've had a lot of criticism aimed at them, but they all know what they stand for and they go for it. I sincerely appreciate the work YOU do every day to bring back the stability, progress and real democracy that this country has in the past been so well known for. Combating the turmoil and corruption that we see today goes far beyond mere political polarity, it is a struggle for honorably represented people power and peaceful co-existence throughout the world.

Helen McKinney
Sapphire, N.C.


Progressive Agenda

In anguished letters to the editor, and angry op-ed columns, one theme recurs these days: the absence of a clear progressive agenda. A consensus is growing that the Democratic Party must either jettison the so-called "Centrists" or lose its natural constituency. Thus far, none of the potential presidential candidates offers any hope in this regard.

Any such agenda must start with a clear understanding that there will never again be enough good jobs. Globalization and its stepchild, outsourcing, as well as automation and the Internet, are all here to stay. Focusing on jobs is a backward-looking activity, antithetical to progressivism. Our primary issue in the 21st century must be economic justice. 

The unregulated free market will always yield economic injustice. Beginning in 1980 with the Reagan/Thatcher devolution, tax-cuts for the rich, deregulation and the systematic shredding of the social safety net have unleashed the forces of Social Darwinism with a vengeance. Economic terror makes bin Laden and his ilk look like no more than a minor nuisance. Our current political/economic situation is a moral outrage. Progressives need to take the high ground and start demanding the restoration of reasonable economic security. Extensive re-regulation and a return to a progressive tax structure would be a fine start.

Shorey Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.


Keep Corporations Honest

Regarding Wayne O'Leary's "Amoral Corporations are the Real Scandal [3/1/06 TPP], the late Peter F. Drucker's Management says: "What managers need to be accepted as legitimate authority is a principle of morality. They need to ground their authority in a moral commitment which, at the same time, expresses the purpose and character of organizations ... And the fact that capitalism has become the less acceptable the more it succeeded ... has been the basic weakness of modern society and modern economy." [Page 809.]

"This, by the way, is why the rhetoric of 'profit maximization' and 'profit motive' are not only antisocial. They are immoral ... It is the purpose of organization and, therefore, the grounds of management authority: to make human strength productive. Organization is the means through which man as an individual and a member of a community finds both contribution and achievement." [Page 810.]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: "Within democratic nations the chief concern of the people is to prevent the continuation or rise of autocratic institutions that beget slavery at home and aggression abroad. Within our borders, as in the world at large, popular opinion is at war with ... power seeke[rs] ... Shall we say to the men and women who live in conditions of squalor in country and city, 'The health and the happiness of you and your children are no concern of ours?' Shall we expose our population once more by the repeal of laws to protect them against the loss of their honest investments and against the manipulations of dishonest speculators?" (P.J. O'Brien, Forward with Roosevelt, page 173)

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St Louis, Mo.


Ballot Access

This is in regard to your editorial of 2/15/06 ["'Reform' Needs Clean Elections"] regarding so-called campaign finance reform. The bigger problem is ballot access. As someone who has spent many years working with poor and homeless people, I do not want my money financing campaigns for anyone who is more in favor of corporations than working people. This includes Democrats as well as Republicans. The way the system is now, it is next to impossible for anyone remotely progressive to achieve ballot access, especially in the Midwest. And if ballot status were achieved, would those who are controlling the money give any to progressives? Any money coming from public financing will still be going to corporate friendly politicians and there would be little, if any, benefit to poor and working people. I've noticed that since the Bush administration, the Democrats have suddenly become the left wing in the country. This is only because the Republicans have gone so far to the right. They make establishment liberals appear to be radicals.

Anyone who believes that the Democratic Party will do anything to help the poor, well, I have two bridges I'd like to sell them. Once is in San Francisco and the other is in Brooklyn. I promise to use the proceeds to back only true progressive candidates, should they manage to get on the ballot.

Edward Huddell
Omaha, Neb.

Editor replies: It generally is not that difficult to get on a Democratic or Republican primary ballot, although ballot access requirements vary according to states and some require a high number of petition signatures or excessive filing fees (see ballot-access.org for details). The real problem is getting on the general election ballot as an independent or alternative-party candidate. Likewise, candidates who favor corporations over working people are more likely to get corporate contributions and less likely to need public financing.


Send Chicken Hawks to War

Many "bravos," kudos and kind thoughts to Ted Rall in his delightful "Don't Trust Soldiers Under 30" column that I just smiled delightedly thru when I read it [2/1/06 TPP].

Rall's conclusions are simply beyond dispute. As an 18-year-old in 1952 who, like the young man Rall described it in his column, wished to "travel the world," I too walked right into the US Army's then-Korean War Meatgrinder. I was lucky to escape with light wounds and only three years in uniform as I learned fast the lessons of mindless conditioning to reduce the youngster's sensitivity and turn him into an unquestioning robot. I was very fortunate to have near me some older, drafted soldiers with college experience who helped influence my departure when my term was up. But the officers in my post-war unit realized that this (then) 21-year-old was a good "fish" to re-up! I was offered everything from an offer to take the test for an appointment to West Point to bonus money. Luckily, after three years, I had seen and heard enough of conformity, disinformation and. the Army's manipulation of youthful ignorance. I had sat through too many McCarthyite anti-Communist propaganda sessions that were thinly disguised as "Information & Education" sessions. Yeah, Sure.

I would go Ted Rall even one better than his suggestion of a minimal age of 30 for military service: I would require that the ranks of the infantry be filled with "over 50" aged congressmen like Rick Santorum, James Gerlach, my own representatives in Congress who never served, Then we'd "lick 'em good."

Norman K. Smith
Exton, Pa.


Guns Don't Kill People

Paolo Bacigalupi's column in the 3/15/06 TPP brings back happy memories. When I was a grammar school student in the early 1930s, in a rural (two-teacher) school of which my father was the principal and teacher of grades 5-8, all the boys, and quite a few of the girls, brought our guns to school, depending on what was in season, intending to get in an hour or two of hunting after school (for some of the kids, SUPPER depended on whatever they shot! It was after all, the depths of the Depression. My Dad's salary was a munificent $1,100 per year!) I personally had access to my dad's .22 Savage, a second-hand .30/.40 Krag that I traded for, and my uncle George's .30-06 Winchester. During deer season, I borrowed my Uncle Fred's GI-issue .45 automatic "for bear." (Never saw a bear, so never got to use it.) I also owned a .410 Remington pump that was my very own, purchased out of money I made driving team for a neighboring farmer during haying. (At a magnificent $3 a day and "found," a man's wage in those days.) The point is, that of all those heavily armed kids, no-one ever got shot! There were no "accidents." We were all, from age 10 upwards, carefully trained in gun safety. ("Know what you're shooting at, and don't miss! Ammunition is expensive!") Guns were always loaded and safed, and whether we were after squirrel, rabbit, dove, deer, or &emdash; gawdelpus &emdash; QUAIL, we knew what the hell we were shooting at, and acted accordingly. For a vice president of the United States not to know what he was shooting at seems to me to be, if not unforgivable, at least stupid. But can you IMAGINE a grammar school nowadays with 20 to 30 guns carefully racked on the back wall near the stove? My, how times have changed!

Edward G. Robles
Franklin, N.Y.


Tell 'Em, Molly

I'd like to make it clear to those who run the Democratic Party that I totally agree with Molly Ivins ["Not backing Hillary," 2/15/06 TPP]. I don't want Hillary or anyone else sponsored by the DLC. And I'm sick and tired of receiving all the lame surveys from various members of Congress asking me what I think of this and that. If they really care about what the people want, they need only listen to what the people are saying. To borrow again from Molly, can't they even read the damn polls?

Actually, I think they are fully aware of the people's wishes, but altogether too often vote otherwise, and it's high time they start representing the folks who elected them in-stead of looking out for the big money. We need Democrats who refuse to cave in to the Republican bullies; a real opposition party. Republicans win because they march in lock-step. Democrats are all over the place. I say stand up for what is right and just. I'd rather lose doing the right thing than win by turning to the right to cover my butt.

There are fine leaders among the Democrats. Follow them; support them. I could go for a Feingold-Murtha ticket or how about Feingold-Boxer. But first, we the people need to send Progressives, Liberals and Democrats who will do our bidding to the Congress in November. Time to clean up the stinking mess in Washington!

Thomas Stumbaugh
Camino, Calif.


Keep Snail Mail Coming

Regarding Dave Zweifel's column, "Unplugged Media" [2/15/06 TPP], I couldn't agree more, and then some. My monthly newsletters from the various organizations I belong to arrive by "snail mail." Most members get theirs by "email," which they often inadvertently toss out along with the too-numerous other "emails" the receive. Then the complain about not having gotten their newsletters.

Computers &emdash; a "necessary evil."

Newspapers &emdash; very necessary and not evil.

Blanche Alpert
Sun City West, Ariz.

From The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2006

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