Let's Get Practical

I agree with Steven C. Day that progressives, liberals and economic populists must start taking pride in ourselves and in our agenda ["Liberal Pride," 5/15/02 TPP]. Everything we do or say must start with the self-assurance that our agenda is the best for the country. But we must realize that the reason George W. is in Washington (taking our Social Security away if he can) is because we have been too naive and have not built a strong foundation. Yes, we must learn from the Right, and it must be the complete lesson. The Right learned their tactics from KGB/CIA techniques, and maybe we don't want to be that ruthless. Nevertheless, there are some methods we must adopt:

• Collect money. The Right received most of its start-up money from families and individuals like Richard Mellon Scaife, the Coors, the Pews, the Bradleys, the Olins, the DeVries family, etc. We will have a much more difficult time raising money to create liberal foundations.

• Form many more think-tanks, front organizations, etc.

• Find out how the Right cultivates reporters --agents of influence --to give them coverage and favorable spin.

• Gather liberals together to form a strategy for fighting right-wing propaganda.

• Start to take back some of the radio. The radio has become a political bonanza for the Right. Elections are won and lost through this medium.

• Form liberal equivalent law organizations to the Federalist Society and such activist organizations such the Landmark Legal Foundation. President Clinton almost was put out of office because of a "coup" staged by members of the Federalist Society, and Federal Society members dominated the Supreme Court that gave the presidency to George W. The ACLU often takes on unpopular positions. We need legal foundations that fight for causes that are popular and help out the average Americans and minorities.

We also must not let the Right tar and feather us with untruths. We are not tax-and-spend people. Most of government expenses came from fighting the Cold War. We were not really for the terribly flawed Welfare system. Liberals have always been for giving people the dignity of work. We found ourselves defending Welfare against the onslaught of the Right, and that position helped make us unpopular. We weren't in control of the country since the end of World War II. A coalition of real conservatives, right-wing politicians and moderates made most of the decisions. So we still don't have health care for everyone, and education is poorly financed. If we had spent only the fraction of money on educational research that we have done on military research, we would have the finest educational system in the world.

It takes more than pride if we want to become a dominant force in this country. Just having Nader run for president and thus turning the country over to the likes of George W. Bush --so he can give most of this country to his rich friends --isn't the way to go. Let's be idealistic but at the same time take the practical steps to fight the evil or misled forces on the Right.

Linda Woodbury
University Park, Ill.

D's: Start Being Liberal

Thanks for publishing Steven C. Day's thought-provoking piece, "Liberal Pride: Can the Left Wing Learn From the Right?" [5/15/02 TPP]. Day speculates on various reasons why capital-D Democrats shun the liberal label. An interesting question. But of greater concern to me is not why Democrats stopped calling themselves liberal, but why they stopped being liberal. The party that connived with Republicans to "end welfare as we know it," that is nearly as corporation-friendly as the GOP, that supports the death penalty, and that ardently supports the so-called war on drugs, which has filled our jails with non-violent offenders and earned us the dubious distinction of having incarcerated a larger percentage of our population than any other country, bar none, is not liberal by any stretch of semantics.

Even with its man in the White House, the Clinton-Gore-Lieberman wing of the party did hardly anything for its most faithful constituencies: Afro-Americans, organized labor, and environmentalists, for example. Out of power now, the New Democrats cannot even seem to muster an effective opposition to the reactionary Bush 11 regime. If you can't effectively oppose a gargantuan tax cut of which 38% would go to the richest 1% of the population, what on earth could you oppose effectively? Day is certainly right when he says that America "needs a loyal opposition that actually opposes."

Many who write to you are still flogging the dead horse of Nader's alleged responsibility for Gore's defeat, and hence, Bush's election. Gore proved abundantly capable of defeating himself, and he did (with help from the Supreme Court, of course). Despite the advantages of incumbency and a still-robust economy, Gore managed to lose to the most underqualified candidate in memory. (My memory extends as far back as Hoover, who, compared with Bush, was definitely overqualified.) ...

Nader is sometimes said to have stolen votes from Gore. This is backasswords. Comparing polls early in the campaign with the eventual result, it is clear that a million or more pro-Nader voters switched to Gore. Were they won over by Gore's electrifying campaign style? Not likely. These were anti-Bush votes. Without them, Gore would not have won the popular vote nationwide, much less the electoral vote. Nader haters who blame him for Gore's ignominious defeat are irrational. Nobody but Gore beat Gore.


Hugh Nash
Weed, Calif.

Get People to Vote

Enough already! How many letters to the editor do I have to read that blame Ralph Nader and those who supported him for electing George W. Bush president?

If we want to blame someone, why don't we blame those people who are really responsible?

Who are they?

Well, we can start with all those who voted for Bush who had no business voting for him. ... All those who should have voted for Nader, who would really represent their interests, but because they didn't think for themselves they got their marching orders from Limbaugh, Liddy, Gallagher, Savage and all the other right-wing hacks on the radio, not to mention their counterparts in print and on TV.

And we shouldn't forget those 100 million or so who didn't even bother to vote. I know, we have heard all the reasons for them not voting over and over again. The one reason that is used so often that could not be used in the last election was that there was no difference between the candidates, so why bother. That may have been mostly true if you thought the choice was between Bush and Gore, but Nader/LaDuke on the ballot gave us a clear choice.

Let's face it: If citizens educated themselves and did their civic duty we would not even be having this debate. What we would have is government that represented and worked for all of us.

So let's quit blaming those who voted for the Nader/LaDuke ticket, which was clearly the best choice for the country.

What we need to concentrate on is figuring out how to educate and motivate the millions of our fellow citizens who for one reason or another won't step up to the plate.

Thanks to The Progressive Populist for putting together your paper! You are certainly helping to educate and motivate the citizens of this country.


Jeffrey A. Swanson
Newman Lake, Wash.

Aim Higher

Geneen Marie Haugen's essay "Yellowstone's war on tourism" in the 5/1/02 issue has to set a new record for finding ridiculous things to whine about regarding our government. Rangers asking skiers where they plan to travel in a wilderness area doesn't strike me as unreasonable given that Ms. Haugen would no doubt expect those same rangers to drop everything and come rushing in to rescue her in an emergency.

Anyone who believes National Park Service rangers have nothing better to do with their time than harass tourists should visit the NPS Morning Report web site at www.nps.gov/morningreport/index.htm. Tourists do some remarkably stupid things, from hiking into the desert with inadequate water to skiing into geothermal areas unintentionally. Then, when they've gotten in trouble because they didn't bother to talk with a ranger first or they decided they could ignore the rules because they were "local," they yell for help, taking it for granted that a search and rescue team will come. ...

Instead of picking on the NPS employees at the bottom of the hierarchy, Ms. Haugen's energies would be much more usefully employed if she went after the top: the current secretary of the Interior and her boss, the president-select.

Raymond C. Mannikko
L'Anse, Mich.
Email rmannikk@up.net

Ethanol Not the Answer

RE: David Morris' article, "Energy Security Means Tilling Not Drilling," [5/15/02 TPP]: Unfortunately, there is no energy security in tilling, either. Ethanol production from corn is a net energy loss. Every time we produce a gallon of ethanol from corn, we must use more energy than that in the gallon to plant, harvest, process and distribute the gallon of ethanol. This fact is shown by research reported in the Renewable Fuels Association's (read Ethanol Association's) own newsletter, in the summer issue, 1996. Unfortunately, the multi-billion dollar federal ethanol program primarily benefits ADM, and is maintained by ADM's lobbying of Congress.

Ethanol has one valid use in cars and trucks. At low concentrations, ethanol help gasoline to bum more cleanly. In this use, it causes a net energy gain, and makes economic sense. This is the use planned in California, now that MTBE is to be fazed out due to groundwater pollution.

In California, we do not need to import ethanol from the Midwest, as we can make ethanol from California sugar beets, helping an agricultural industry that has been hard hit by low world sugar prices.

As Mr. Morris says toward the end of his article, the real energy independence will come when we produce hydrogen the "forever fuel" here in America, on a scale to meet our needs. We can do this with renewable energy any time we have the political will to make it happen.

Thomas S. Dickerman
Daly City, Calif.

Squeezing Vets on Prescriptions

As a veteran I felt appalled this Memorial Day as I listened to President Bush's words of gratitude for those who gave their lives at Normandy Beach, and all other wars.

Most vets that I know won't complain about injustices laid on them by their government, so I feel the need to voice an injustice by our Republican administration.

Earlier this year, the administration through the president's cabinet, the Veterans Administration, increased the co-payment of prescription drugs for vets [with service-connected disabilities] by 275%! This should give active duty personnel, and others in our society, some idea of how much our present government cares about those who serve, and the many who made and will make the ultimate sacrifice.

Many vets (such as I) can afford to pay the increase, but many vets who have families and extended families who need prescription drugs and are not covered by the VA or other type of medical insurance will cut back on their own prescriptions rather than see their loved ones go without. So what are you folks going to do come November elections?

Bob Brown
Middletown, Calif.

Market Economy No Answer

In "Divine Right of Capital," [6/1/02 TPP], Marjorie Kelly states that "we can move to a true market economy." The USA already has a "true market economy." Our market economy now has many free unregulated "monopoly markets" (one supplier) and free unregulated "oligopoly markets" (several large firms functioning together as a monopoly.)

For example, Ken Lay, CEO of Enron, has a PhD in economics and is a great enthusiast for the unregulated "true market economy." However, Ken and his Commodities and Energy Trading Desk were not happy with regulated "competitive markets." With the help of economics professors Sen. Phil Graham and Rep. Dick Armey and others, they changed many regulated competitive energy markets and regulated monopoly markets into unregulated oligopoly and monopoly markets.

John Baer
(retired economics professor)
Annapolis Md.
Email drjohnbaer@hotmail.com

Don't Encourage Democrats

Your 6/15/02 editorial ["Status quo needs help"] is certainly a mired mess of advice for the upcoming fall elections. While you note that the Green Party takes a "principled position," you immediately suggest that voters abandon their principles and vote for Democrats lest their votes spoil the Democrats' chances. Then in the very next paragraph you tell us that "at least a half dozen Senate D's at any time are a threat to join the R's to pass bad old bills." So let me get this straight --you want us to put even more confused Dems in there to jump ship when we need them most?

In case you haven't guessed, I voted for Nader in the last two presidential elections. This last time around, I've read lots of the letters and editorials from the finger pointers who accuse Independents and Greens of throwing the race to Bush. Let's place the blame for Bush's election where it truly belongs --it was all of the people who voted for Gore who threw the race that should have elected Nader!

Troy Juzeler
Bentonville, Ark.
Email fulluvit@juno.com

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