Ranchers Have Troubles

Really! You could have done much better than publishing Paul Larmer’s non-informative diatribe on the Bundy Affair in Oregon — “Modern Sagebrush Rebels Recycle Old Western Fantasies” [2/1/16 TPP]. I don’t disagree that the Bundys and their friends are engaged in an unproductive rebellion, even to the point of a fatality, but all rural residents in the US understand the roots of their anger. Instead of dismissing this incident and the people involved it might be more useful to attempt to understand why rural Americans harbor this anger towards any and everything that might be even remotely considered supported by the environmental movement.

This gulf between those who profess to protect the environment and those who actually own, work and live from the land should be of enough concern to try to understand. To begin with an environmentalist approaches the environment from an abstract outside point of reference. A farmer or rancher looks at the environment as a very specific place to which he/she has a very personal responsibility and relationship. You would think that the environmental movement would welcome partnering with farmers and ranchers in order to reach their conservation and preservation goals. Instead, farmers and ranchers, more often are inconvenient obstacles to be plowed under in order to achieve the vision of a primeval environment replete with every known beast of prey and predation.

I noticed that the leaders of environmental organizations nearly dislocated their shoulders patting themselves on the back for a job well done in opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Nebraska landowners who objected to having their land condemned for the personal profit of a foreign corporation had something to do with blocking the construction of that pipeline, but that seems to be forgotten at the victory party.

The Progressive Populist usually does a good job illuminating the complexity in most issues. The existence of the gulf between environmental advocates and rural American deserve better than this particular article. Why every single rural county in the United States votes Republican, should be worthy of some consideration. As for the Bundys, their grievances may or may not have a legal basis. We do not know because the coverage has focused on the sensational, pandering to prejudice with little attempt to clarify the reality.

Gilles Stockton
Grass Range, Mont.

Beware DINOs

Re: “Beware Delusional Dems,” by Reba Shimansky [2/15/16 TPP], Bill and Hillary can wear all the “D” buttons they wish, but politicians that craft and then push North American Free Trade Agreement/Trans-Pacific Partnership on a disapproving public, value the advice of [Paul] Volcker, [Lawrence] Summers, [Robert] Rubin and [Gary] Gensler, and seem to be friends of every large corporation in sight are de facto Republicans.

The fact that Sanders has constantly criticized many of these “Democratic Leadership Council” third-way phonies and is despised by many of these same DINOs [Democrats in Name Only] speaks very well for him, not badly.

Nixon and Reagan may have disguised their fanaticism more skillfully, but both were ideologues that won easily.

The phrase “Hillary Clinton is as liberal as most Americans will vote for” is precisely the sort of mindset that the right-wing dominated mainstream media would love to instill in the voting public. The corporate media is terrified of a president that would actually do as the public wants, as it would start a precipitate decline in the corporate/Republican influence.

I am one of the millions of “hidden liberals” that would absolutely come out to vote again, something many of us gave up on after getting stabbed in the back repeatedly by the DLC snivelers while the Republicans were stabbing us in the front.

After witnessing the contempt and bigotry heaped on Obama for every day of seven years, and how everything he tried was met with outright sabotage, do you really believe that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be met with the same repugnant behavior? Isn’t 24 years of “Arkansas Project” type behavior enough to prove that?

If we’re going to get zero cooperation from the other side, we may as well have a genuine progressive n the White House, and not a pseudo-Democrat.

Brian Hetzel
Buffalo, N.Y.

Quick Fix to TPP Free Trade Controversy

Suppose TransCanada wins its $15 billion “free trade” damages suit against the US for “arbitrary” failure to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Wouldn’t this suggest that it would have been more practical and less expensive to have submitted the pipeline question to the foreign “free trade” panel, in the first place?

For similar reasons we could refer difficult questions such as truth-in-labelling of food products, minimum wages, labor rights, equal pay for equal work, health regulations and environmental protection, thus sparing the US Congress and White House having to spend time, effort and money on controversial legislative questions. What could be more practical and economic? But would it be legal?

The legal purist would probably argue we should “move to amend” the US Constitution to remove existing language from Articles I, II and VI suggesting that only Congress can adopt or repeal US national laws. In this way, we could openly and legally delegate our national sovereignty upwards to a small, foreign-based “free trade” panel, “judged” by three rotating corporate lawyers.

This way we could go ahead and ratify the TPP “free trade” agreement, and thereafter leave difficult decision-making to our more “meritorious” global corporate elites. Should “We the People” go along with this approach? Something tells me this will cost us a lot more than $ 15 billion.

Anthony Piel
Stuart, Fla.

Enabling Catastrophe

Hal Crowther’s long-awaited epic lament over our “cultural death” didn’t disappoint (“Red Alert”, TPP, 2/1/16). In this age of desperate individualistic excesses, “selfies”, and Facebook, Crowther asks, “Why can’t (self-absorbed) Americans see themselves more clearly?”

Seeing clearly offers little immunity from this culture’s cradle-to-grave propaganda message, “This is a Land of Plenty for the Deserving.” Our national motto: “Get Yours,” not only manufactures anxiety and frustration that inspires impulsive consumption, it instills equally irrational expectations for immediate gratification from progressive change, and is a major impediment to it.

For example, enduring social movements begin with decades of “tough love” at the dinner table, break-room and classroom, yet, when was the last time you risked explaining to a relative, friend, workmate, or student, the consequences of consuming toxic products made by children; or buying a rental property amid chronic (rigged) shortages in affordable housing; or burning the equivalent of one-year’s fuel, (consumed by an average US commuter), in just two day’s travel to “see” Italy, (while the planet melts like a popsicle)? Each of these issues has metastasized to the equivalent of 19th Century family-feuds over Suffrage or slavery; but unlike our great-grandparents, too many Americans are pushing the reset-button on each other’s conscience, the result of life-long conditioning to believe that personal comfort is paramount. According to Jules Henry, (“Culture Against Man”), “It’s the most effective social control since the Nazi Youth Movement”. It isn’t positive, constructive, or considerate to be a silent enabler for self-destructive behavior and the catastrophic consequences unfolding.

Thoreau observed, “Those who make it known the kind of behavior and leadership they can respect have taken the first step in achieving it”.

I agree with Crowther that “the common people” face derision from timeless snobbery; people routinely characterized as “loony electoral revelers” by this nation’s media, ever-so-careful to ignore the 70% of eligible voters, (the majority) who always abstain. Historically, the common people coalesce to achieve great social advances, (and terrible setbacks). Too many unions, democrats and progressives continue to dismiss them at our nation’s peril while Bernie Sanders is propelled by their growing support.

So, let “Uncle Bob”, your community rag and representatives know the importance, joy and responsibility in living, agitating, and legislating for a low-impact, green economy that builds sustainability for most people and most life on this planet. It begins in our home and community. Or, we can continue to invite both nature and war to bat-last.

George Clark
Eureka, Calif.

Won’t Settle for Clinton

Gene Lyons (“Rainbow Stew,” 2/15/16 TPP) makes a valid point (in a rather snide column). Bernie Sanders may well get McGoverned.

The lesson drawn, falsely, from McGovern’s landslide defeat [in 1972] is that Democrats must never stray too far left. McGovern, however, was thoroughly mainstream: a sitting senator from the Heartland, and decorated WWII vet. McGovern’s sin was to win nomination relying on primary delegates rather than party bosses. (Backroom pols, even Democrats, resent democracy.) The party machine withdrew its machinery. McGovern campaigned with scant media attention and fractured union support. Bernie Sanders can expect a sequel from a largely DLC DNC hoping to suppress populism another forty years.

Spite is a double-edged sword this election. I will not be voting Clinton, on the basis of Bill’s Reagan-Lite administration and the Obama “Hope & Change” bait-and-switch. Hillary has factored this into her election calculus, but has to be dismayed by the swelling numbers of Bernie votes she might have to write off. …

Gene Lyons, working the “electability” canard to the hilt, warns darkly of Michael Bloomberg entering the field. Lyons insists that Bernie’s “despairing portrait of contemporary American life doesn’t square with most people’s experience.”

Barack Obama’s administration, rife with Clinton-Sachs econ hacks, free traders and total bastard capitalists, “reformed” the bubble economy by re-inflating it. We are poised at the brink of another recession—perhaps depression. … We will select, with equal odds, from a sorta-Socialist (I am one; Bernie ain’t) who at least is unafraid of the word, and two billionaires who might yet tread FDR’s unlikely path to populism.

These leaders offer, at least, the potential for change in contrast to Hillary’s old-guard appeal. Clintonomics is Reaganomics with a cynical veneer of “feeling your pain.” Gene Lyons dismisses voters serious about social justice as “antique New Deal”ers and hippy-dippy advocates of “Bubble Up and rainbow stew” (crediting Merle Haggard’s song). Not so. We are rolling the dice on hopeful change over proven, if comfortable, failure. (And who the hell is Gene Lyons? The voice of the landed gentry?)

M. Warner
Minneapolis, Minn.


In “The Billionaires’ Utopia” by Mike Kuhlenbeck [2/15/16 TPP], due to an editing error the number of H.L. Hunt’s children was misstated. He had 15 children by three wives, including two wives at the same time.

From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2016


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