The signs along Route 73 leading into the little city of Wilmington, Ohio, read "United We Stand -- We install insulation", "God Bless America -- Oil Change $16.95", "We support our troops -- 20% to 40% off". Everywhere one looks American flags are protruding from cars. TV and radio commercials urge us to "keep America Rolling" by buying a car or to thumb our noses at the enemy by taking a trip. The most ubiquitous image, and voice, is that of the president. I've lost count of the number of things he is advertising and the line between commercialism and the Oval Office is becoming fuzzier and fuzzier.
When the president's image isn't on the screen, politicians of both parties are vying for the chance to have their support of the president aired. A comment from Mrs. Clinton, the junior senator from New York, was particularly fascinating. When asked about token opposition to G.W.'s assault on constitutional freedoms, she replied "It is important that we listen to people who do not agree with us." The person most vilified by what she once called a "vast right wing conspiracy" line up with the president that the conspiracy put in office?
Clear Channel (that has a virtual monopoly on your radio dial) is running a "Bush On Demand website" that allows people to hear G.W's words of inspiration 24 hours a day. It is fascinating that the same corporation that spent 24 hours a day trying to destroy Bill Clinton and that fired a talk show host who had the nerve to interview the only Congress person who voted against the resolution that gave George Bush nearly dictatorial powers, has to supplement its 24 hour a day promotion of Mr. Bush with a website?
Anyone still pointing out fact that G.W. occupies the Oval Office by dictate of the Supreme Court, lost the popular vote by about 600,000 and did not, given a full fair count in Florida, win the electoral vote, is now branded as one of "THEM" and no longer part of "US." "We won because we understood how the electoral vote worked and you didn't," said a friend when I tried to point out the facts about the Florida vote. "People too stupid to vote correctly shouldn't have their votes counted," said another when I pointed out that Gore would reportedly have won Florida if the votes of people who realized they had double voted and wrote in Gore to correct their mistake had been counted. When I agreed with someone who said that Gore would have lost if the recount was limited to the precincts he specified they launched into the "That proves that Gore was too stupid to be president" speech that Rush Limbaugh and his right wing clones have implanted in the minds of the masses.
Lets straighten out the confusion over who "WE" are, what is "OURS" and what constitutes "US." We includes people, like me, who think that the 2000 election was a travesty and that George W. Bush holds the Oval Office as the result of a coup. We are not unpatriotic and have just as much right to fly the flag as the "US" that is applauding anything Bush says or does. The public lands that were set aside and protected so that we and our descendants can see remnants of the natural world belong to "US" and it is not unpatriotic to insist that they remain unspoiled. The rights specified in the Constitution are "OURS" and it is not unpatriotic to insist that they not be infringed upon. The air we breath, the water we drink and the land we live on is "OURS" and insisting that they not be poisoned for profit is not unpatriotic. The jobs being moved to third world countries, where virtual slave labor exists, are "OUR" jobs and it isn't unpatriotic to insist that "OUR" tax money not be used to help move them. Elected officials are supposed to represent "US" and it is not unpatriotic to insist that there is true campaign finance reform that would eliminate the need for them to sell out to special interests in order to be elected. The "Public Airwaves" belong to "US" and it is not unpatriotic to insist that the FCC reinstitute fairness rules that would require airing of something besides right wing views, would eliminate control of the airwaves by a few giant corporations, and that would require the RNC to pay for the time used on right-wing talk shows to promote their candidates and positions. The armed forces are "OURS" and it is not unpatriotic to demand that they not be used to kill innocent people or to protect purely corporate interests. It is also not unpatriotic to insist that "OUR" tax money that supports them be used wisely. It is not unpatriotic to point out that the Bush administration's war on terrorism, that "would do more than waste missiles costing millions of dollars blowing up empty tents" has spent billions, been no more successful in bringing bin Laden to justice than the Clinton administration and has probably created thousands more potential terrorists.
People like me are Americans and are standing up for "OUR" and everyone else's constitutional rights. We are trying to preserve the remaining natural areas and the American way of life. Doing so doesn't make us supporters of terrorists, stupid or unpatriotic. We have as much, if not more, right to fly the flag as the so patriots who feel they are fulfilling their duty to "OUR" country by sticking a flag on their car and attacking anyone who has the nerve to disagree with the occupant of the Oval Office. Years from now, when our children and grandchildren ask, "What did you do in the war on terrorism" we will be able to say, "I fought to protect freedom." Hope we won't be saying it while being held in a concentration camp.
Almost every issue of The Progressive Populist has a letter from some Green boasting of his (or her) support of truly progressive policies and complaining about the Democrats who are really Republican Lite. I believe they no longer subscribe to the idea that a Gore presidency would be the same as a Bush presidency, but nevertheless they insist on a course of action that will ensure Republican dominance of the government for the next hundred years.
If they really want to see progressive government in this country, they must find a suitable candidate and enter him (or her!) in the Democratic primary. Knock out the DLC-Republican Lite types and then face the Republican candidate in the general election. That way, and only that way, do we have any chance of stopping the right wing juggernaut. Think about it.
While I believe Jim Hightower is the most courageous journalist of our time, I must disagree with something he said in his article, "Go Away, Bill" [2/1/02 TPP]. He mentions Bill Clinton's shortcomings, which are severe, but when he adds "the workaday majority has no one standing up for them," I find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with Jim Hightower.
Congressman Ted Strickland (D) of Ohio's 6th Congressional District is standing up for the workaday majority every second of every minute of every day. The Republicans control the State Legislature in Ohio, and they hate him so much they have tried to redistrict him out of office. No matter, we will win. If you read this, Jim, why don't you spend a day or two on the campaign trail with Ted this summer. He could use the publicity because he is in a fight for his political life.
Cherry Grove, Ohio
As faithful readers of The Progressive Populist are aware, several of our respected columnists have bemoaned the consequences -- such as the almost constant threat of US involvement in violent conflicts -- of our dependence on foreign oil. (Even Osama bin Laden has cited the presence of the US military in Saudi Arabia -- surely not to prop up a repressive regime -- as one of the major reasons for terroristic assaults against the United States.)
What to do? Surely, one imperative is to curtail our gluttonous appetite for Mid-Eastern petroleum. To help suppress that craving a few of us have produced a sticker, for bumpers or other surfaces, that lets SUVers and their ilk know that "DRIVING A GAS-GUZZLER IS UNPATRIOTIC." Anyone wishing to display such a sticker can receive one FREE by sending a SASE to: Stickers-20, 4509 Interlake Ave. N., #115, Seattle, WA 98103
Editor's Reply: We appreciate the sentiment, but a bumper sticker like that might get you run off the road in some areas.
"The attorney general is out of control" writes Ralph Nader in your 1/1-15/02 issue, adding "Ashcroft should step aside and allow the president to select a law enforcement official who believes in upholding the rule of law under the Constitution of our country." A reasonable recommendation that I shall convey to my senators.
It's also useful to keep in mind the context provided by Noam Chomsky in an interview in the January 2002 Z Magazine. Chomsky cites a study of "post-Cold War deterrence" by Clinton's Strategic Command. The study advises that "it hurts to portray ourselves as fully rational and cool-headed. That the US may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be part of the national persona we project." It is "beneficial" if "some elements may appear to be 'out of control'."
Ashcroft is part of a government that believes that "undermining international law and maintaining ëcredibility' go hand in hand".
Listening to some "war" rhetoric about civilian casualties and civil rights the other day sparked me to reflect on another kind of casualty -- grammar.
The undefined nature of the "war on terrorism" is what makes this war so appealing to the people supporting it for their own nefarious reasons. Only they can say when it has been "won" and who the "enemy" is at any given moment as the targets, agendas, and corporate stock of the supporters change over time.
Another grammatical aspect is that the entire dialogue used by the perpetrators can be spoken in "...", which usually means that the accepted definition of the words or phrases enclosed in the "..." is intended to be ironic. But since spoken language and sound waves don't carry "..." the dull-witted and naive among the listeners take the language at face value.
As an example, when I hear a news commentator refer to the occupants of the White House or the Naval Observatory Residence as "President" Bush or "Vice-president" Cheney, I never hear the "...". Being the radical progressive that I am, I have to mentally insert the "..." in order to get the "real" meaning of the phrase as opposed to the "intended" meaning.
Another example would be the phrase "war on terrorism" in which I insert "support of jingoism" or "making the world safe for corporate oil profits" (with apologies to Woodrow Wilson).
All in all, "..." is a pretty nifty use of "sheep's clothing".
Oklahoma City, Okla.
How many elected officials in the Senate and House receive the Populist? I would be happy to buy a subscription for an active Democrat (Republicans are probably a lost cause), if I knew who to send one to. Perhaps a subscription campaign could be started so that all of us who are frustrated as to what to do with all this information could at least pass on the "news" that is not in the regular media. I re-cycle all my issues to friends who I think might be interested and have even found a coffee shop that wants back issues. I have no political representation in the state where I live so if there is some way of influencing other elected officials elsewhere I would like to do so.
Let me know what you think and/or print this as a letter to editor so that others might do the same. Also send me the name of a representative that would possibly read the Populist so that I can subscribe for them. Thank You.
Editor's Reply: At least two members of Congress currently subscribe to The Progressive Populist but it certainly would be a good thing for more of them to get our Journal from the Heartland. Send us a check for $20 and we'll send the paper to your favorite lawmaker (or the one you think is most in need of good populist talking points). If they already subscribe we'll add a year to their sentence. And state legislators and other elected officials could use The Progressive Populist as well. Call 1-800-205-7067 or email email@example.com for more information.
The recent decision to lift controls on power plant emissions sends a clear signal to America.
We are willing to kill our children for money. We are willing to expose America to deadly toxins for money. We are willing to send our youth to war to preserve our money and to die for money so we can have more money.
Pompano Beach, Fla.
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