Insist on Real Campaign Reform

Allow me to address Molly's column ["Put Up or Shut Up Time for Democrats"] in the 4/15/01 issue. First off, it is obvious that Molly [Ivins] has her heart in the right place (hopefully "left" place, as I do) concerning campaign finance reform. However, in my opinion she may have been theoretically "hoodwinked" by the McCain-Feingold forces. By the way, isn't this the Russ Feingold, the same progressive Democrat, who voted to confirm John "I never was a racist" Ashcroft as attorney general?

What McCain-Feingold is, is a veiled attempt to sidetrack the American public with its rhetoric about "soft money," the ruination of our electoral system. Yes, soft money is terrible and divisive to democracy. The problem is that it is all about money -- soft, hard, plastic, paper, bullion or electronic! Money and politics goes together like a bullet to a gun: It kills truth and freedom.

Molly stated "that McCain-Feingold is an imperfect instrument is beyond argument ... the truth is, unless we start cleaning up the soft money in politics, we'll never get anything more done." Unfortunately, Molly, that is like the anti-death penalty person advocating lethal injection vs. gas, thinking the next step would be abolition of the whole process. As we so eloquently would say in Brooklyn, USA: "forgettaboutit!" We who believe that money in politics is a proven corrupting and counter-democratic system, must stand steady and demand public funding of all elections at the very best, and Maine Clean Election laws at the very least. What if they took the McCain-Feingold approach in Maine six years ago? Think about that.

It takes a constitutional amendment to ban all private money from electoral campaigns. ... It's not easy, yet, as Bill Bradley said himself in '97: "Let's see, we have over 25 amendments already. I see no reason why we cannot have one more." The truer compromise obviously would be Maine-type [Clean Election] laws [where candidates receive public funding if they agree to limit fundraising and spending], which are constitutional. Molly, all you'll do by riding this McCain-Feingold bill is backdoor supporting the big money guys who now want the limits increased as a compromise. Stand firm, my dear, and speak from your heart as you usually do. Shout it loud: No money in politics -- let's level the playing field!

Port Orange, Fla.
Email Brooklynphilly@aol.com

Honeymoon is Over

Now that the traditional honeymoon period the American people kindly grant new presidents is over it is time for all patriotic Americans to ask how the Bush Administration will respond to the following:

American corporations lead the world in the production, promotion and sale of weapons of mass destruction and weapons intended to kill one person at a time.

America is the world leader in the prison industry while doing little to prevent the root causes of crime.

America is a country deeply divided by race, and, to a lesser extent, by class, by gender and by generations.

The American government continues to spend countless billions of our tax dollars fighting a "War on Drugs" that causes more problems than it solves.

America leads all industrialized nations in the gap between its highest paid workers and its lowest paid.

About one-third of American children live in poverty or in homes with only a tenuous hold on basic economic security.

Tens of millions of Americans are without health insurance. And all Americans, either directly or indirectly, pay dramatically higher rates for health care then do citizens living in countries with national health care.

Americans use more non-renewable resources per person and engage in more environmentally destructive and environmentally unsustainable behavior than any other people on earth.

America's corporate and economic elite finance and control political careers and political elections and disproportionately control the direction of our "democracy."

Virtually all public policy in America is a reflection of the sentiment: "The business of America is business." The business of America is not health, nor education, nor the well being of children, families, communities and the natural world.

No corporate or political leader has the honesty and courage to suggest that it is possible to deeply love America and the American people and admit that we are facing severe and fundamental problems that left unaddressed will only grow worse.

The American educational system and the media are accomplices in all of the above by engaging in institutional censorship that prevents a thorough and on going examination and understanding of the above realities.

Coalition for Economic Democracy
647 Cleveland Ave S Apt 5
St Paul MN 55116

Making the Sale

Joseph O'Connor's novel, The Salesman successfully makes a tale of the absurd one of believability. His purpose was to show how most people can be led to believe the absurd because "A good salesman can sell anything."

The downed spy plane fiasco and the interview with [condemned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy] McVeigh are examples of the "salesman" truism. So let us begin.

For years I had been led to believe that our spy satellites had made spy planes obsolete, especially after the Russians made a liar out of Ike. Even one of CNN's generals told us license plates could be read by our (highly expensive) spy satellites.

Suddenly, today spy planes (also, extremely expensive) are absolutely necessary so we can see "what the Chinese are up to." This brings up two questions. First, why can't the satellites (which keep track of license plates) keep an eye on the Chinese? And secondly, what are we going to do about what the Chinese are up to when we find out?

Now would be the time for our appointed president to explain it to us, except the corporate-owned news people aren't allowed to ask obvious questions. So instead the incident became a tool of nationalism: no apology, the heroic crew, national honor, international waters, fighter plane escorts, and finally, how to resolve this to the benefit of corporations building sweatshop factories in China. And truly, most of us bought this corporate-inspired alternative. No questions asked.

A good salesman can sell anything.

An editorial in my local paper commented on the McVeigh interview as an illustration of his "... depraved indifference for human life" and how he "... refers to the 19 children killed in a coldly impersonal way as 'collateral damage'." Indisputable opinion of the newspaper but incomplete.

For example, the term "collateral damage" is that used by a CNN general to excuse the random lobbying of missiles into Baghdad that hit, among other civilian buildings, a children's wing of a hospital. All this in response to a false rumor of a planned assassination of past president Bush.

No surprise, the general's explanation, although it paralleled McVeigh's explanation, was acceptable to the vast majority of Americans.

A good salesman can sell anything.

Guffin Bay NY

Think Outside the Box

I realize many of your readers are Green supporters of Ralph Nader and environmentalists of many levels. I join them as well, however, I feel we must be as aware of extreme and radical environmentalism, as much as extreme and radical corporate abuse and greed. This has not been addressed in past issues.

For example, most people use wood products in several forms. It makes no difference where in the world this wood comes from -- its harvest and processing is still of environmental concern. However, to shut down and cordon off all access and use of forests is not the solution to environmental abuse. The Clinton "roadless initiative" is not beneficial in much of the West.

Trees, like all plants have a life span. At a certain point they become mature and then begin to die from age or disease. Trees can also be like weeds and grow too thickly and thus all become subject to disease or stunted growth, rendering them useless. Proper thinning and removal of dead and diseased timber prevents forest fires. Smaller scale operations in our National Forests could go a long way toward creating a healthier forest and a healthier rural economy. In contrast, fires may destroy much useable timber, many jobs and limit recreational activities. Meanwhile, fires cost a great deal to "control" and emit tons of pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect. "Controlled bums" work best in a thinned forest to begin with -- having too much undergrowth and deadfall increases the fuel load too much to control.

Why not begin to approach our own forests with more care and wisdom? We can influence the concern for the environment while utilizing the resources. If we can begin to think "outside the opposing boxes" and develop model extractive, yet sensible timber use, then we can better influence forest conservation throughout the world. The same is true for our approach to agriculture, mining and fishing industries. Greed and the "bottom line" has dominated and led to the destruction of our environment, while environmental litigation is costing jobs yet not solving problems. The very people who live, work and care about our resources and environment are being eliminated from utilizing their skills and knowledge 'in these basic industries. A middle ground of pragmatic resource use linked with environmental concern could counteract extremism in the corporate world. The first step would be to reduce the scale of operations, coupled with local control to explore new approaches to our resource use.

McCall, Idaho

What Do You Think the R's Are After?

Most people in Texas are Republican. [Editor's Note: Not really, but most Texas voters seem to be supporting Republicans lately.] The Republicans are conservative. The goals of the Conservatives are to preserve established traditions, oppose change and support the status quo. The motto of the conservatives is whatever was good enough for grandpap is good enough for us.

In 1912 Teddy Roosevelt founded the Bull Moose Progressive Party. The Progressives believe in making progress -- advancing to something better -- always improving things. A Progressive is a person who favors progress or reform. The opposite of the Conservative. While Progressives have never won a national election, if the Republicans had always been fully in charge then we would have continued to prohibit women from voting and we would still have the 60-hour work week (the Progressives' first two main causes).

In 1932 we elected a Democrat as President and in 1935 he introduced social security which in its original form included medicare. The Republicans were violently opposed to both social security and medicare. At that time a lot of Democrats were liberals. A liberal is generous, tolerant, broad-minded and favors progress and reform. A conservative believes that two plus two equals 4.000 while a liberal believes that the sum of the two twos gives a value somewhere between three and a half and four and a half. The liberals are at once the nation's best people and the people that the conservatives love to hate.

The only way that FDR could get social security passed was to agree to delete the medicare part. So social security was passed in 1935 and medicare in 1965. Since Republicans are so fully in charge now the only thing that is incongruous is why they are not trying to repeal these two programs that they fought so much. When they were so much against social security and medicare when they were introduced and now they do not say a word about repealing their favorite hates, what is one to think? Certainly we know that if the Republicans had always been fully in charge like they are now then we would not have social security and medicare.

Yours truly,

Waco, Texas

People's Summit

I think Leo Loewenthal {"Stop Moaning -- Stand Up," Letters, 5/15/01 PP] is right on when he suggests a people's summit or another continental congress. This is one of the first ideas I've heard seriously suggesting doing something about what is happening.

We are being mesmerized into thinking it's too late. The goal after a coup d'etat is not to spend time justifying anything, but simply to emphasize that it is a fait acompli to be accepted as fact. We are being told even by liberals, that there is nothing we can do until 2004. Of course, if we wait till then, there will be even less we can do.

Les Aaron, writing for the Citizens for a Legitimate Government (www.legitgove.org/shrub_anon.html) suggests forming Shrub Anonymous groups. (There is an organization for every kind of trauma, disorder, you name it.) He proposed Shrub Anonymous "for all of us who don't sleep any more, who start foaming at the mouth when we hear his name, who are tied to their computers trying to salvage something from this travesty. We belong together. We need each other and we deserve our own form of organization to treat what's bothering us."

Actually this may be one of the most effective ways to establish a movement -- "set up chapters around the country where we can talk to other people who understand what we are going through, who understand about the injustices ..." and the legalities and the strategies necessary for an effective organization. "... and with it all, it will be a launching pad for new ideas that come out rubbing issues together among those of like mind."

There is an article, "Coup 2K," written by John Dee using the expertise of Edward Luttwak regarding the practical handbook information necessary to carry off a successful coup d'etat. which should be studied. Without this knowledge most of us would be sitting ducks.

The next thing is LETS DO IT!

Kearney, Neb.

Double Standards on Ads

Reading Corporate Focus/Russell Mokhiber & Robert Weissman, "Double Standards on Ads" [5/1/01 PP, p l6], we see that the Seattle Times has most regrettably seen fit to censor an advertisement proffered by Forest Ethics seemingly because the ad names names of corporations of questionable character and ethics. Given that this report is factual, and I think it is, I'm left to question the character and ethics of the management of the Seattle Times.

Not censorship; more free speech is the answer.

Wimberley, Texas

Not Conservative

It's time we stopped using the word "conservative" to describe George II and his wrecking crew.

What they are is reactionaries.

They aren't conserving anything; they are reacting to every forward step America has made since the days of the robber barons, and are turning back the clock with indecent haste.

Deadwood OR

P.S.: Anybody want to make book on where that spy plane really was? The line between international air space and Chinese air space isn't printed up there in the sky.

Faith-Based Initiative

(Open letter to the White House Office of Faith-Based Charities)

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Our rapidly expanding Church of the Evangelical 45 has developed a forceful and effective Gun-Based Charities Program founded on the teachings of St. Luger that there is more charity at the end of a gun than in a collection plate. One of our later prophets, Samuel Colt, was known for his Peacemaker work in the Old West. The impact of his work is still felt today as is the persuasive influence of St. Gatling.

The federal funds which you can shell out to us will enable us to expand the agenda of our Gun-Based Charities Program in accordance with the persuasive principles not only of St. Luger but also Saints Browning, Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, and Gatling. With the money you send, and with the warm embrace of our arms, we will be able to give new meaning to "revenue enhancement." Please make your check out to: The Church of the Evangelical 45.

Bless you.

JIM BOREN, Presiding Bishop
Church of the Evangelical 45
Tahlequah, Okla.


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