Framing the Progressives

Many “conservatives” have been falsely implying or stating outright that progressives are “communists” ... 

1. Communists tend to support government ownership of “all property” and “all businesses.” Government owns and runs the economy (i.e. big government and no corporations).

2. Progressives tend to support “free markets” and the idea of corporations, provided that they play by government-enforced rules which are designed to protect the public from fraudulent, abusive, or socially predatory practices (i.e. big government with no too-big-to-fail corporations).

3. Conservatives (in today’s United States) tend to support minimal government (except for our big-corporation “defense industry”) and unrestrained freedom for corporations to do whatever they want (i.e. big corporations with little government).

So it is easy to see why “conservative” organizations find it easy to solicit large financial contributions from the CEOs of large corporations.

Under the “conservative” George W. Bush administration, our nation went from a booming economy with recurring annual budget surpluses to our most disastrous “economic meltdown” since the Great Depression! And our job growth rate went from 20% per decade to 0% per decade! The unrestrained practices of our too-big-to-fail corporations had a lot to do with that! 

Progressives are attempting to pass legislation to help repair the damage that was done and to prevent such things from happening again, but conservatives are doing everything they can to block all such efforts (including blocking health care reform which would save the lives of 3,000 to 4,000 uninsured American men, women, and children per month)! Progressives are not “communists”, they are simply trying to fix these problems!

Christopher C. Currie
Pascoag, R.I.

No Apologies for Obama

After reading the 3/1/10 issue of TPP, I have a few angry comments. The quality in content and writing of the Letters to the Editor was far superior to the usual editorial and columnist apologists for Obama. Shorey Chapman wrote one of the greatest essays ever written. Unfortunately, it reflected the fantasy of Obama rather than the empty vessel appearing daily on television.

The editorial continued the attempt to cling to some semblance of “progressive” actions by a President who utters the CONservative dogma of his corporate-controlled handlers more easily each day. Expanded “war,” nuclear power resurrection, clean-coal generation, deficit anguish, gun rights expansion, ad nauseam, demonstrate, once and for all, the true intent of this CONservative mole elected under a “liberal” banner. The editorial portrayed a few unearned and failed Populist themes of the administration; then, immediately listed all of the historical counters to anything remotely Populist in actual Obama proposals or actions. Every supposed Populist agenda has been immediately negated by deliberate restrictions which guarantee failure in any legislative process. Each failure can, therefore, remove any blame for such by Obama who can claim failure on the “minority” Republicans who are just such bullies.

Like a good bureaucrat, he appoints “study” commissions comprised of old pols who need some more government income to go along with their fat, government pensions for destroying the Constitutional Republic over the past 30 years. Every proposal is set far into the future so he and his cronies can claim the need for another 4 years to “complete” their tasks. In other words, he is a shill elected and designed to maintain the status quo for the Corporate Oligarchy ruling the nation from the private equity/hedge fund boardrooms.

Don Pilcher (“Need Third Party,” Letters, 3/1/10 TPP) is absolutely right in the call for the eradication of the present, corrupt “parties” in favor of a true, patriotic, progressive party committed to saving this Constitutional Republic from implosion.

Richard L. Morgan
Bellingham, Wash.


Don Pilcher’s letter (3/1/10 TPP) just doesn’t get it. When US political journals (Nation, TPP, et al) refer to themselves as “progressive” what they really mean is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Sending an email to TPP asking for a robust progressive populist party is like asking President Obama to work for Medicare for All. It just ain’t gonna happen. These periodicals will support the Democratic Party and deny their support to any emerging third party no matter what. Period. End of report. Wake up, Don Pilcher!

Shelly Wallman
New York, N.Y.

The Money/Power Line

I’m in prison. Maybe that is why I think the way I do, and see the things I see. I want to say it anyway.

The events and “failures” of the past year have led to the current handwringing and noise-making about political strategy. Experts are turning up everywhere, including on your pages. But what if there haven’t been any failures? What if it has all been a sweeping success?

I can tell you this much. If I were the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and a Democrat, and got less than one-third of my millions in campaign money from my home state, and was the leading power in “reforming” how sick people get taken care of, I would not say, “I have to make sure this increases insurance company profits and looks to do at least a little for the sick.”

Instead, I would say, “I want to come up with a bill that can get bipartisan support.” That, of course, insures the same result as saying the above. From the git-go. Liberals and “progressives” might question my strategy, but not my loyalty or noble intentions. Dumb people organize and impact a system that wants to hear them (e.g. the Tea Party Convention and their featured speaker). My folks will just wring their hands, and talk and write. To each other. Big deal.

I’m not attempting to enter the ridiculous Health Care Reform Debate. It is not even named accurately. The problem lies with poor sick people, not comfortable healthy ones. But the principle is exactly the same, it seems to me, on all issues. The stimulus package. A jobs bill. Financial rules and regulations. Energy. Dick Durbin candidly admitted about the Senate, “The bankers own this place.” What is the “strategy” against that?

Molly Ivins said that Populists are born with a gene that enables them to recognize their enemies. Comfortable progressives’ heads instinctively turn right when they intellectualize and rationalize about things that annoy them. And their eyes go to old political science texts for solutions.

From here it looks like real Populists better soon stop playing on the left-right line. They better start doing something about the only line that really matters — the money/power one that runs up and down. And they shouldn’t wait for help from “progressives” who have been inching up that line in the 40 years they’ve been sliding down it.

Steve Kauffman
Graterford, Pa.

No Slack for Obama

What drugs have penetrated Gene Lyons’ mind (“Buffering the Noise Machine,” 2/15/10 TPP)? “Cleaning things up is bound to take time.” It didn’t take Barack H.W. a day to gather together all the Bush financial wizards into his cabinet, and it only took Gene 90% of his article before mentioning the Bush wars which Obama has ramped up with concomitant emptying of the US Treasury. Give it up Gene.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

More Doctors Needed

I agree wholeheartedly with the need for Democrats to create new jobs. Most approaches require congressional action and as we saw with health care that won’t be easy. I think the president could, as commander-in-chief, divert Pentagon funds to a new ROTC program to produce medical doctors. The VA needs doctors desperately. The young high school grads desperately need jobs. If we are successful in extending health care to those that are without we will certainly need more doctors. They would have to agree to serve for a period in public health, the armed service or the VA; in return they would get free tuition, books, and room and board. If they can’t figure how to do this they could inquire of our neighbors the Cubans and find out how they educated enough doctors to offer their services to New Orleans and their Latino neighbors.

Carroll Johnson
Douglassville, TX

Molly and the Supremes

Let us all consider the words of one of our wisest, Molly Ivins, from the Summer of 2006:

“Oligarchy is eating our ass, our dreams, our country, our heritage, our democracy, our justice, and our tax code. Either we figure out how to keep corporate cash out of the political system, or we lose the democracy.”

OK, then, what would Molly want us to do, one person at a time, to counter our time’s political insanity?

I wonder if “speaking out truth” would be somewhere on her list?

One voice at a time saying, “Well, now, maybe there’s another way to look at that ...” or, uh, “And who benefits from ...?” Or that smiling old stopper, “Who says?”

And like Molly would have done, c’mon now, keep it funny and friendly ...

Keith Severns
Grants Pass, Ore.

Offsetting Citizens United

Why would it not be possible and reasonable to pass legislation requiring a corporation to poll all of their members opinions before being allowed to spend money on a campaign? Indeed, should they not have to demonstrate that a majority of their stockholders approve the proposed spending? Seems to me, if I am a stockholder in a corporation, at least my opinion should be required to be secured before the corporation could spend what in essence is my money on a campaign. I realize that if a majority gave their approval than that would enable to corporation to spend the money, but requiring that they secure the opinion of the stockholders and that they demonstrate a majority approve would certainly hobble them. Seems to me this might be one way of mitigating the Supreme Court ruling. I mean, stockholders have to approve a merger. Indeed, requiring this would add transparency as it would require the corporations to disclose ahead of time where they intend to spend the political money.

Think about it. What if half a million progressives each bought one share of stock in 20 corporations?

Though I think this would best be achieved by legislation, I am not so sure it could not be gained by litigation.

Douglas Mould
Bentson, Kansas

Don’t Give Up

Public Citizen, led by its new president, Robert Weissman, is leading a much-needed campaign to curb corporate power. Alone they can hardly hope to be successful. I beseech TPP to put its editorial power, and such other influence as it may command, behind this effort. I truly believe that if we are to preserve and improve American Democracy, we must nullify, remove the overlordship of corporate power.

There is no place in our Constitution which allows or approves the powers that Big Corporations have assumed. The recent Supreme Court decision, an incredible overturning of established precedent, adds greatly to Big Corporation power and influence. Moving with this pernicious, dangerous trend, the Court has substituted Big Corporation welfare for public welfare.

This letter cannot recount all of Big Corporation misdeeds. They plunder and pollute at will. The thousands of lobbyists in Washington foul the workings of national governance; they do this with the financial support (expenses and salaries) from and at the direction of Big Corporations. The basic tenets of Democracy and the free market have been twisted and cast aside. The hypocrites speak in almost saintly terms of the need for “a level playing field,” while they at the same time have their lobbyists pursuing more subsidies and more special privileges. They cry crocodile tears at the “heavy” corporate tax rate of 35%. Studies show, however, that the effective tax rate, taxes actually paid are on average about 17%. (Some studies suggest 12%!) Many Big Corporations pay much less and some actually manage the tax code to get rebates.

Back in 2007, Yes! magazine ran an entire issue devoted to “Stand Up to Corporate Power.” Some citizens asked: Corporations are creatures of the several states, they operate under charters. When corporations misbehave seriously and damage the public good, do not state legislatures have the responsibility to their citizens to revoke the corporate charters?

Stanley E. Smigel
Rockville, Md.


Greed is a form of sin. When countless companies want products made outside the USA cheaper than inside the USA, this is a form of greed. This is being done today big time.

The CEOs doing this give themselves big salaries. They charge for the returning product the same price or a little less.

This setup is good for the greedy CEO and the people making the product. In this setup a large amount of USA workers are laid off. Some get other jobs, but the most by far are still laid off. It would be hard to find anybody in this country who doesn’t know somebody who is laid off. This is all caused by greedy CEOs who are also antipatriotic.

How to instill some patriotism in these CEOs: Tariffs could be put in place high enough so it would not be profitable to ship work outside the US borders and if any CEO would still ship work out, a new law could be passed to give them a year in jail to give them time to think things over.

(Mr.) Clare J. Crowley
Milwaukee, Wis,

Yes, We Can

Amen to your “Don’t Back Down on Health Reform” editorial (2/15/10 TPP). Both the Senate and House bills have provisions that the GOP wanted. Nine months is the human gestation period. Theodore Roosevelt first proposed universal health care in 1912. Massachusetts has near universal health care since 2006. Seniors have had it in Medicare since 1965. The Hoover administration provided it for veterans. Sí se puede (Yes, we can).

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St Louis, Mo.

See You At Camp

On this day (1/21/10) the following occurred: Air America [progressive radio network] pronounced dead and the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has opened the floodgates and corporations will take over cities, then counties, then states, then parts of the country and the country will not be called the United States of America; it will be called Corporate America and the Congress will be in the hands of corporations. They already own baseball parks, colleges, rock and roll tours and any kind of concerts. They own newspapers and magazines and radio and TV stations. From now on we have to pledge our allegiance to corporate America. Now we can keep on fighting or we can form a third party. I will see you at the internment camp and we can pray together!

S. Einhorn
Tampa, Fla.

From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2010


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