Another FDR Needed

Your endorsement of Obama [“The Good Fight,” 3/1/08 TPP] is commendable, however the last line of the most recent editorial reveals a faith in our so-called “Representative Democracy” which is naïve and misplaced. After the election of November 2006, the Democrats were given a resounding mandate to stop the war and to proceed with prosecution of Bush and his cronies, and we all know that they caved in on every front. Early last year, your cover article noted, correctly, that the “Money Party” dominates, with only a handful of Democrats representing the “People Party.” Telling our representatives to “put some steel in their spine” makes no sense at all. They are already “steeled” to represent Money.

As it happens, there is one, and only one, way around this unfortunate state of affairs. It seems likely that we are in for a recession at best, or another Great Depression, at worst. Those who have studied history know that during the 1930’s Franklin D. Roosevelt, almost single-handedly, did what had to be done to save us from catastrophe.

The word “single-handedly” is the key to solving our current dilemma. It would be one of the great ironies of history if we elected a charismatic, eloquent leader like Obama, and if he then took a cue from both FDR and Bush Jr. and used an “Imperial Presidency” to ramrod through the changes he is now espousing, whether Congress or the Supreme Court like it or not!

Roosevelt used his “Fireside Chats’” to galvanize the American people by saying, in effect, “You and I know what needs to be done. We have to work together to get it done.” If Obama were willing to use the much more effective media now available like Roosevelt used the radio, there is at least a chance that real change might be possible. Waiting for Congress is futile.

Shorey Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.

Screwed Up On Purpose

I enjoy Don Kaul’s columns in the Progressive Populist. But the 3/15/08 column “The Economy: Another Conservative Screwup” didn’t seem quite right to me.

It seems to me that everything is going (as Molly Ivins was fond of saying) “tickety-boo” for the conservatives. I’m not a ‘conspiracy’ guy, but the $3 trillion war and the budget deficit will fulfill Grover Norquist’s quest to “starve the beast” for a long time into the future, and make it nearly impossible to fix Social Security, Medicare and every other social program that our nation needs, including universal health care.

So I don’t see a screwup, I see everything moving in the right direction for the Right. They must be having a really fun time toasting the success of a program that will make anything progressive a fiscal impossibility for longer than I care to contemplate.

What a victory for the bastards.

Keith Severns
Grants Pass, Ore.

Single-Payer is Answer

Your editorial of 3/15/08, “Mandate Single-Payer,” in TPP sums up where the issue of health care is and where it must go. Dr. Steffi Woolhandler co-founder of Physicians for A National Health Program, along with Dr. David Himmelstein, her colleague at Harvard have been in the forefront of single-payer for over 20 years. They have understood from the get-go the failures of the system and how to remedy it. PNHP [pnhp.org] has become a strong voice in the debate on health care reform and provides speakers from their membership nation wide to address organizations on health care issues and single-payer.

As for Obama and Hillary they unfortunately offer gutless and toothless health care plans. How could it be otherwise? Hillary especially has been the recipient of the largest donations from the health care industry in the Democratic Party.

I have alerted [House Judiciary] Chairman John Conyers’ office about your editorial and know he will be delighted. Conyers, D-Mich., works tirelessly on HR 676, aside from his major duties as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Indeed, single-payer will be his legacy and he deserves nothing less. ...

From the bottom up is how it will happen. We see in this presidential campaigning season unprecedented interest and involvement in having our voices heard and in voting. And so in the spirit of having our voices heard and creating change we must all call our representatives in Congress and tell them we will not vote for them if they don’t endorse HR 676. After all, they do work for us. To date the bill has been endorsed by 88 members in the House and the bill is in three committees. One of those committees is Ways and Means, chaired by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., who has endorsed HR 676. Since Ways and Means deals with money and how to finance programs it might be a good idea to contact his office [phone 202-225-4365] to call for his committee to place the bill on the table and discuss it. They would be instrumental in financing the bill once passed.

Pearl Korn
Bronx, N.Y.

Get Your Grassroots Up

Your editorial of 3/15/08 mentioned “absence of grassroots pressure.” We can do something about that.

If millions of us who aren’t big campaign donors or paid lobbyists want a policy change; if, as you say, two-thirds of us want universal health insurance paid through taxes, do we have the motivation, and the means, to take policy initiatives?

Concerning motivation, we have 47 million with no health insurance and millions more underinsured who have “full benefits” but with a $500 deductible they can’t pay. Nobody knows how many millions there are.

We have employers paying an average $12,000 per year for a family of 4 for group health insurance, adding this cost to the prices of goods and services, pricing themselves out of world markets.

We have insured employees paying an average $3,000 per year as their share of the cost, and watching their pay raises (if any) get wiped out by relentless group health premium increases.

Concerning means, if millions would benefit from government-sponsored single-payer universal health insurance legislation (HR 676), why not offer them the chance to direct-lobby their lawmakers to enact it? We can post a proposal on the Web, discuss it on television, take a poll, and if two-thirds agree on it, two-thirds can lobby for it with millions of standardized, coordinated e-mails to their lawmakers. Details about how we could use our abundant resources are on the Web at thirdmillenniumagenda.us.

Steve Claflin
Belleville, N.J.

McCain No Maverick

With Bush’s public approval rating down to 19% in February—the lowest in US history, lower than Carter’s or Nixon’s worst—it is clear that Americans want a change. The aftermath of the neoconservatives’ rush to needless war with Iraq has brought the prestige of the US to a dangerous low and caused oil and other prices to skyrocket. Most Americans feel less secure, the job market is dismal, and the housing and financial markets are in free fall.

Yet presidential candidate John McCain stands foursquare behind Bush and his war, predicting “victory” in the Middle East and a long-term US military presence there. Given his arrogance, his unflagging fondness for military intervention, and his well-known penchant for flying off the handle and hurling insults, the thought of him answering that 3 a.m. emergency call to the White House sends chills down one’s spine.

The media focus on the battle between Clinton and Obama, but the differences between those two candidates are small compared to either’s distance from McCain. Either Democrat would offer some hope of returning diplomacy to the forefront of US foreign policy, stopping uncontrolled war spending, and solving the problems of most concern to Americans: inadequate health care, crumbling schools, job loss, unaffordable housing, global warming, and more.

McCain is no “maverick”—far from it. He is a hard-core Bush loyalist who, if he wins, promises to keep us on the exact same disastrous road that Bush has been dragging us down for years. Either Democrat would be a far better choice.

Gene Clifford
Blairstown, N.J.

Air America Needs Diversity

Don’t give too many kudos to the Air America crew [“The Good Fight,” 3/1/08 TPP]. Air America gets an A for keeping listeners informed on right-wing evil doings but a C on coverage of the left. There is a line the hosts won’t cross in terms of criticizing or reporting unflattering details of Democratic politicians.

Mike Papantonio goes farthest in calling out wayward Dems but even he tiptoes around some subjects. Give Sam Seder credit for having the guts to be critical of the Israeli lobby. The other hosts are mostly mute on this matter as well as other foreign policy issues such as the whole story of US involvement (meddling) in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Air America runs 24/7—plenty of time to have viewpoints and analysis from diverse voices on the left. Other than a few exceptions, the network is the flip side of Limbaugh—cheerleading for “its team” and pooh-poohing the other side. For a supposedly liberal/progressive talk station, Air America offered scant coverage and support for Kucinich or Gravel. John Edwards was given short shrift as well despite a platform centering on the problems of poverty and corporate greed—two issues discussed frequently on Air America.

As expected, Ralph Nader is ignored and despised by Air America even though his stand on issues mirrors that of many of the network’s hosts and a great many voters, regardless of party affiliation. Alex Cockburn and Nader can get columns in TPP but can’t make in onto any Air America show’s pundit Rolodex—nor can any other contributor to Cockburn’s Counterpunch website. Why? Where is the diversity of minority viewpoints? Journalists from Black Agenda Report and CBC [Congresssional Black Caucus] Monitor have been on the scene since the ’60s but somehow have escaped notice of Air America honchos — even though they work in New York City. So much for diversity of viewpoints.

Beverly Rice
Charlotte, N.C.

Blame Nader

“The Good Fight” editorial [3/1/08 TPP] included a note on the entry of Nader into the presidential race. While you regretted that his candidacy would divert progressive resources from more productive purposes and accomplish little, you really let him off the hook. He may be some kind of a goat but he’s not a scapegoat. He did hand the election to George Bush in the 2000 election. ...

If Nader was really interested in making it possible for third parties to survive in the US, he would put his talents to changing the electoral system from a winner-take-all to a proportional representative system, a much-needed reform. Instead he goes on another ego-trip that does not serve the progressive movement.

The upshot is a president responsible for the unnecessary deaths of thousands of US service men and women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, wasting resources that could have been used in re-building Afghanistan and neutralizing al Qaeda.

Don Pilcher
Bellingham, Wash.

Don’t Sweat Primaries

John Nichols substituted flawed conventional thinking for his usually astute political analysis when he charged that Clinton attacks on Obama will lead to a GOP win [“Wrong Clinton Strategy Could Mean GOP Win,” 4/1/08 TPP]. There is no evidence that sharply contested primaries undermine the candidacy of the winner.

Nichols had to reach all the way back to 1972 to try to prove his point, citing Humphrey’s campaign against McGovern. Does he really believe that Tricky Dick wouldn’t have been able to attack McGovern without Humphrey having led the way?

Did Bush undermine Reagan by attacking his voodoo economics? On the contrary, Reagan was sufficiently politically adept to put Bush on his ticket.

Vigorous primaries create voter interest. The candidate who survives usually emerges stronger than he would have been going unscathed into the general election bloodbath.

Bob Weissman
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Still Hate Sports

“Why Hate Sports?” by Rob Patterson [4/1/08 TPP]. What’s to like? People beating and pounding on each other, doing each other physical harm for “fame” and “glory.”

Once and for all, would the male of the species think about this: A being that was once a part of oneself, which you raised and nurtured at much expenditure of physical, emotional and financial expense, goes out into the world to be brutalized by another of your species, maybe even killed, and you’re supposed to sit there and think, “Whee, what fun!” Not only that, but having such feelings of revulsion and horror at brutality is a put-down called “being like a girl.” Ooh. Not that!

You want sense? Make sense of man’s next “sport”: the organized, planned murder called war that we’re supposed to accept as just a “part of man’s nature.”

And don’t get me started about “Christians” who consider war as Christian.

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Great Lakes: Come & Get It

In reply to Mr. McPherson’s letter [“Keep Your ‘Great’ Water”] in the 3/1/08 TPP, suggesting we in the Great Lakes states sell our Great Lakes water, I assume he meant to the dry Southwest, I offer the following comments. At what price does selling Great Lakes water become more acceptable and useful than leaving it in place? Water levels are now at an extremely low level due to lower than normal precipitation levels in the watershed basin over the past few years. Would a 20-foot-diameter pipeline to the Southwest solve anyone’s problems? I doubt it. It would just encourage wasteful use by increasing the region’s population and expanded irrigation of alfalfa fields for cattle feed. Great Lakes water is most useful to us kept where it’s at as a recreational, commercial, ecological and private resource while the coal, oil and uranium Mr. McPherson mentions has no value unless it’s removed and sold.

People who live in or move to arid or semi-arid regions must adapt to minimum water consumption practices, as I’m sure many of them have, and not waste their most precious resource on fountains and reflecting pools at luxury gambling casinos, home swimming pools and residential lawns and golf courses.

This is a most contentious issue in the Great Lakes region since we do not want to deplete our most precious resource so others can live the “good life” in the warm and sunny Southwest or anywhere else. If you want our water, move to the “cold and wet” Great Lakes region.

Robert G. Reed
Bay City, Mich.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2008

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