Fight The Monsters

I received my first copy of The Progressive Populist last week, just after Media One informed me they were halting delivery of the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News to Eureka, Utah, because we weren’t profitable. What more do you need to know about Corporate Controlled Media (CCM). It’s bottom-line journalism at its finest.

There’s more too. For the previous five weeks, I had tried to get the Trib to cover HR 1955 [Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007], going so far as to send copies of online articles, website addresses and a copy of John Nichols’ TPP piece on this teething document of our Fourth Reich. They, of course, refused. Coverage of this conflicts with the Freedom From Information doctrine of CCM. This is one of many failed attempts at informing and organizing. The truth will set you free only when the truth itself is set free.

Since I alone have failed, I now ask for recruits to action concerning some important issues.

I would ask that TPP readers send copies of online and independent press articles ignored by your local, city and statewide CCM papers and media. Give a gift subscription of TPP to editors and staff. Send them some of your back issues instead of recycling them. Tell them “This is what real news looks like” and ask them why this isn’t reported. Organize opinion-page letter campaigns about ignored issues. Flooding their editorial staff with thousands of letters may force them to publish uncomfortable facts.

You’ve all seen those coffee cans with a photo and sad story pasted to them sitting on checkout counters. Some of you or those you know may be begging for assistance right now using the “Coffee Can Health Care Plan.” Organize! Send a coffee can “policy” to your state and federal “representatives” and Secretary of Health Mike Leavitt. Maybe when they are neck deep in these personal tragedies, they might start listening to us and not the well moneyed insurance companies. Support Dennis Kucinich’s health care bill HR 676. Make your local papers report on it.

C. Paul Ames
Eureka, Utah

Shock & Awe at 5

The five-year anniversary of Operation “Shock & Awe” is coming up soon and it is time to list who is saying “thank you America” for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. We can safely eliminate from the list the family and friends of over 225,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed so far, along with millions who had to leave their ancestral homes. Back at the home front, a similar elimination from the list can be done by including the family of nearly 4,000 US soldiers who have died in this war and over 20,000 who have been seriously injured. However on the brighter side, the list of those who are saying “thank you, Mr. Bush” includes almost the entire country of Iran for getting rid of their arch-enemy Saddam. Israel is happy as this war has removed Saddam, the financier of the Palestinian suicide bombers. We must also include companies like Halliburton who were awarded no-bid contracts, industries involved with manufacturing war-equipments like Raytheon and finally those firms like Blackwater who specialize in “protection business.” The “thank you” list wins and Bush should cherish this and make it a part of his legacy.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Exclusive Debate

The Nevada debate in which MSNBC arbitrarily switched criteria to exclude Dennis Kucinich demonstrated the deep corruption of our election system, in which what the voters get to hear about prospective candidates is increasingly controlled by corporations that have strong financial interest in silencing some ideas.

Congress could address this problem by a simple appropriation to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and clear, broad criteria for inclusion so that presidential debates with many candidates would be presented on PBS and NPR. They could fund the appropriation with a tax on broadcast licensees, recognizing that these licensees owe the nation a return for the privilege of using our airwaves.

I wonder whether the Congress cares enough about the republic to do this.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore, Md.

Empty Promises

As the dog and pony show of the preliminaries unfolds, it is becoming exceedingly clear that the candidates have assumed the role of Santa Claus, promising change from the status quo which they themselves, their organizations and backers are part of.

They advocate the end of lobbying, more tax cuts, immediate withdrawal from Iraq, fossil fuel independence, universal health care, the end of poverty, massive job creation, the end of illegal immigration, etc etc — ad nauseam.

As for me, I intend to cast my vote for a candidate with more realistic aspirations, such as changing the weather and repealing the law of gravity.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Fantasy Progressive

You champion John Edwards in your editorial and rightly so. Of the three media-manufactured frontrunners, Edwards is the only one making working-class issues the core of his campaign. Rather than uttering the word “change” ad nauseum, he’s been actually offering specific plans since he started campaigning. Since you urge readers to support him, why is Obama on the cover of the paper? Edwards needs all the publicity he can get given the media and his own party’s nonstop efforts to marginalize and sabotage him.

And please, get over this fantasy of Obama being a progressive and Hillary a moderate progressive. Old-fashioned journalistic fact-checking/muckraking will find both candidates’ records and rhetoric on foreign and domestic policy to be almost identical — status quo policies of hawkish imperialism abroad and an economic agenda at home which favors corporations over working stiffs everytime.

You write Obama is an appealing candidate. Yes, he is to young voters weaned on slick TV and Internet marketing, professional and intellectual liberals who see a chance to be politically correct and get a Democrat into the White House, and, blacks who are too easily placated just to have a black face in charge — even though said black face has said little of substance to address issues that concern them.

More telling is that Obama is also appealing to corporations and their media stooges. His list of Wall Street contributors rivals Hillary’s and the Republicans. His DLC membership (like Clinton) should dispel any notions that progressive and populist ideas will be given more than lip service and band aid approaches in an Obama administration. Believe me, if Obama was a true progressive, he wouldn’t receive the rock star press coverage and corporate backing he now gets.

Beverly Rice
Charlotte, N.C.

Youth Should Step Up

“Our youth are our greatest asset” ... “The future is in the hands of our young” ... This mantra is invoked at graduation ceremonies, any number of dedications, memorials and civic anniversaries. It is only brought up in elections when a candidate has reason to believe that his or her success depends on getting out the newest voters. Unfortunately, the record so far shows that all efforts to get those in their 20s and 30s to actually show up and vote have mostly failed.

That generation carries the signs and banners, they wear the T-shirts, they attend the rock band and celebrity fund raisers; then on election day they stay home.

But now we find ourselves in a situation where the future of the country and even the world may actually depend on having the youngest and brightest of the new voters taking their responsibility seriously. The young should be the most aware of the fact that their parents and grandparents have bungled the job entirely; witness the disastrous reign of George Bush/Dick Cheney and the rash of corrupt politicians stealing both money and opportunity. The young are less likely to be swayed by irrelevant appeals such as how connected to God a candidate claims to be. The young are more conversant with the latest technology and the Internet and more able to see the dangers of dirty election tactics used by many conservatives. The ease with which pictures can be faked and altered; how scurrilous lies can be made to appear as authentic source material. 

If we get a new president, able and willing to dismantle the Bush/Cheney war machine it will be because the younger voters not only cheered and demonstrated at the election rallies, but went on to show up at the polls and kick the scoundrels out. Maybe the bonus for the young will be to avoid becoming cannon-fodder in the future.

Lyle Davidson
San Diego, Calif.

Dismay at Democrats

This is to express my growing feeling of dismay, almost a sense of betrayal at the road Democrats are going down. The party as a whole appears to have a death wish, a wish that the candidates seem to be buying into wholeheartedly. A short time ago the pundits were taking the next election as a given for the Democrats, and a feeling of euphoria seemed to encompass the party. “The presidency is ours for the taking,” the feeling seemed to be. But what has happened on the way to the election?

1. The party antagonized Florida and Michigan voters on the basis of “principle.” Principle is important, of course, but at the expense of alienating whole groups of voters? Surely cooler heads could have arrived at a solution. 2. The candidates are carving each other up in a most personal and destructive, even vindictive fashion, providing republicans with all the ammunition they need in the general election. 3. In the midst of personal attacks there is an almost total absence of issues. (Edwards is the best in this regard) The emptiness of the “debates,” which admittedly is the result of the formats and the quality — or lack thereof — of the moderators. The economy, health care, growing gap between the rich and the rest of us, national debt, loss of productive capacity in the US. (We have gone from being a producing nation to being a consuming nation.); the Iraq fiasco; education; NAFTA, and what it has done to both Mexico and the US, etc. are getting little attention. 4. A leading candidate raising the name of Reagan as being something of a model as an instrument of change! 5. Race raising its ugly head.

As a footnote, I think Bill Clinton has been corrosive factor in the whole process. (Remember who gave us NAFTA.)

Burt Newbry
Mesa, Ariz.

Prep School Put-Down

Connie Brown’s letter [“Lay Off Preps,” 2/1/08 TPP] regarding my “Prep Schools and America’s Ruling Class” essay (1/1-15/08 TPP) completely and conveniently evades the main thrust of my piece which concerns the connection between prep schools and the powerful individuals and institutions which rule (not just govern) our country. Allowing a moderate number of minority students thru the prep school Golden Gates (possibly a good thing in itself) is not going to make much difference in the extreme influence and dominance of the upper class upon America. Though one could regard Brown’s insistence that prep schools are becoming more financially accessible as a step towards a more egalitarian society, this accessibility could just as readily be viewed as a co-opting strategem by the upper class or its hired intermediaries, mainly window-dressing (she mentions Milton Academy’s minority student population as 32%, but offers no evidence whether this percentage is the rule or the exception in top-drawer prep schools, thus suggesting the latter). ... In any case, instead of having prep schools, even ones that allow a moderate number of minorities to enter these over-privileged schools, America would be better off and certainly more democratic without the “elite” schools and the sizable private monies those schools absorb restored to our under-financed and neglected public-school systems.

Donald Gutierrez
Albuquerque, N.M.

Note Franti

In response to Rob Patterson’s “Political Music Happens” [1/1-15/08 TPP], he failed to mention Michael Franti and Spearhead. Michael Franti is a leader in social and political music now for over a decade. His combination of hip hop, fusion, rock, and reggae is revered by both young and old. His annual “Power to the Peaceful” festival in San Francisco is testimony of his message. Not only does he have powerful videos, including one everyone should see, “Bomb the World to Pieces”, he also has a documentary called, “I Know I’m Not Alone”, in which he travels to war-torn Iraq and the Gaza strip. The last time I saw him in concert he was doing a benefit for Dennis Kucinich, the only progressive choice of presidential candidates. You can go to spearheadvibrations.com to tune it.

Michael and Trish Hernandez
Los Olivos, Calif.

Rob Patterson responds: Franti did not have a major 2007 release. (The column also makes no claims to being comprehensive, best I may try.) I believe I mentioned Yell Fire! in my 2006 wrap-up and am well aware of Franti and his fervent political commitment. Thanks to your reminder, I will pay special attention to his activities in 2008.

Our National Debt

Few people know and others don’t seem to care that when President Bush took office in January 2001 the debt was $5.7 trillion but because Bush throws our money around like confetti, he raised our debt to $9.3 trillion. It is expected that before he leaves office, he will raise the debt to over $10 trillion.

If anyone thinks we can pay back $10 trillion plus more debt from cost of Social Security, Medicare and costs of Bush’s illegal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan without living in extreme poverty, they should take an IQ Test but their score should be kept secret to avoid embarrassment. Our Bought Politicians who helped get us into this mess will remain wealthy while we are forced to live on a bare existence.

We currently owe:

$586 billion To Japan,

$400 billion To China,

$244 billion To Britain,

$123 billion To oil exporting countries.

We borrow money for interest payments. Last year cost $430 billion.

A day of reckoning is going to come and when it does bankruptcies will become so numerous, we will wonder why and how we were so silent and gullible that led us to live in a life of poverty.

Carl Greeley
Barefoot Bay, Fla.

From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2008

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