Letters to the Editor

Dems Need Choices

Open letter to the Democratic National Committee: Like you, I would like to see the emergence of the Democratic Party as a strong opposition party and as a party vitally committed to our governing principles. However, I am not going to fill out your "2005 Grassroots Survey of Democratic Leaders." The reason is that you limit the possible answers to your questions in such a way as virtually to prohibit any kind of actual political thinking on the part of your respondents. A good example is question number 3: "Do you support new tax cuts targeted at working families?" You offer only two possible answers: Yes and No. And that is the only question having to do with tax policy in your survey. Why didn't you ask us whether or not we would approve a just tax on the wealthy and the corporations? Are you afraid of offending rich donors to the Democratic Party? Such poverty of thought suggests to me that you people simply are not working in good faith. And so I am glad to answer only your 15th question: "To help make progress on issues like those discussed in this survey, will you join the Democratic National Committee as a contributing member today?" My answer: Not yet, and not on the basis of the evidence presented in this survey.

Wendell Berry
Port Royal, Ky.


Get Over Hillary

The Dems need to get over their love affair with the Clintons. Hillary may win N.Y., CA, and D.C. but she hasn't a snowball's chance of getting enough votes from the rest of the country to win the White House.

More important, we in the middle, working, and poor classes don't need anymore faux Democrats whose allegiance is more to Wall Street than Main Street. We need politicians who might actually work for policies that help rather than harm us, as well as someone who can get us the hell out of Iraq.

[Wayne] O'Leary says Clinton has the female and the black vote sewn up ["Howard and Hillary, 8/1-15/05 TPP]. Well here's one black female whose vote she will NOT get. I am darn tired of Democrats giving lip service to the problems facing their constituents in order to get elected and then returning to Washington (or the state legislature or city council) and voting against our interests.

The Democratic party needs more Howards and less Hillarys. Or else it will continue its descent into irrelevancy.

Beverly Rice
Charlotte, N.C.


Ethanol Can Help

I read with interest Tom Sedor's letter ["Ethanol Despair," 8/1-15/05 TPP]. Well, now, I don't know about these college professors like David Pimentel back East. But out here in the center of the country where we grow lots of corn, we like the idea of producing ethanol fuel.

One reason is that it provides a market. Contrary to what that city boy believes, you can't feed only corn to beef cattle, they need grass too. We are sitting here with corn in our bins that costs more to produce than we get in return. With Diesel fuel at $2.45 a gallon, and machinery parts 88% higher than last year, we need some sort of relief.

We have discovered a company that makes a corn-burning stove. Propane just went up 90 cents, and fuel oil climbing all the time, we have purchased one of these stoves to heat our five-room home. Last winter it burned about a bushel of shelled corn in 24 hours, and kept the house comfortable. There was practically no ash, it was cheaper than propane by far and cleaner than coal or wood. I have an eight year supply out in the corn cribs, and more in the fields.

We are near a drag strip that is nationally sanctioned. Sometimes it gets a little noisy, but I did discover there that they are not racing on gasoline, but ethanol. Visiting with the mechanics and owners I found out that a service station in Fremont, Neb., sells E-85, which is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. The dragsters spike this formula with methanol (wood alcohol), 100-octane aviation fuel, and other things. They closely guard their "formulas" and keep it a secret. I asked them if they could make an ordinary passenger car run on ethanol. They were pretty emphatic in saying yes. The problem is that there would have to be E-85 stations in other cities as well. I'm sure that with the politicians on Washington being oilmen, there would be no hope of that.

Meanwhile, my sister, who has a Toyota Pruis, which is a hybrid car, is consistently getting 48 to 52 mpg. She has been to both coasts several times, and to the Gulf a time or two. She takes the interstate and keeps up with the flow of traffic in the high-speed lane. Toyota keeps advertising their expensive models, and never mentions their hybrid.

I've read somewhere that most of the crude oil we import goes to the plastics industry and only a small part goes into gasoline. If that's the case, then why are we fighting a war to get it? Just cut down on the plastic packages that are bigger and tougher than the product inside.

J. L. Doksansky
Fremont, Neb.


Ethanol Byproducts

Regarding the letter critical of ethanol in the 8/1-15/05 issue, it should be noted that the corn or other crops used in producing ethanol are not lost to the livestock feeding industry. The byproduct of the ethanol plant, the bulk of the grain used to produce ethanol, goes directly to feed livestock. A new ethanol plant is under consideration at Phillipsburg, Kan., and it will require a cattle feedlot for the byproducts as well as an adequate supply of grain and investment funds (farmers and others are putting money into this cooperative venture). Grain farmers will receive a better price for their grain that goes into ethanol production, and the livestock-feeding industry also benefits from a better price for the byproduct from the plant. Consumers will benefit from a cleaner product (by the way ethanol blends are less costly than regular unleaded gasoline at the pumps at many filling stations now). Our farm uses ethanol for fuel in gasoline engines (we also use a soy oil blend with diesel fuel in all diesel engines). These fuels are good for the farmers, good for the environment, and good for the consumers. Every gallon of ethanol used in internal combustion engines reduces dependency on foreign oil by several gallons (it takes several gallons of crude petroleum to produce a gallon of gasoline).

Leo E. Oliva
Woodston, Kan.


Make Some Noise

Because of all our justifiable weeping and wailing about the state of the corporate media, it seems as if at least some of our politicians are starting to listen. One such is Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), who recently introduced a bill that would massively reregulate the media. His Media Ownership Reform Act of 2005 would fix, in his words, "a broken media system in the United States in which only a select group of individuals get to determine what information Americans can receive via television, newspapers, radio and other media."

His bill would invalidate all of the FCC's shameful rewrite of its own media ownership rules and reinstate newspaper/broadcaster cross-ownership and local TV-ownership rules scrapped in the rewrite; restore the Fairness Doctrine; lower the cap on TV station ownership from 39% of the country back to 25%; reduce the number of radio and TV stations a company can own; and increase the public-interest obligations on all broadcasters.

We cannot afford to be, in the words of Neil Postman, "Amused to Death" anymore, and as long as the corporate media is free to narcotize us, all of our shouts merely blow back in our faces. What we need, more than ever, is media pluralism. And we all know it!

I urge all of you to GET BEHIND THIS BILL. Make some noise. Alert MoveOn.Org. Call on your Congressperson to become a co-sponsor. Write letters to your local newspaper. Do something, for God's sake!

Allen Levy
Orange, Calif.


Grandparents Unite!

America has a priceless resource of enormous potential that has remained hidden, unused and wasted for to many generations.

Any society that refuses to use and benefit from this precious resource is a society that will fail to reach its greatest potential in all endeavors that it may undertake.

This resource is the wisdom, common sense and self discipline that all grandparents have gained during a life time of living.

Generations ago two or three generations lived together and the older generation passed its knowledge, wisdom and common sense to each new generation and that society was greatly benefited from this passing on of life's precious lessons about each cultures rich and diverse past.

These spiritual connections with a persons past are gone now and all nations suffer because of this spiritual disconnect with the values that gave all lives meaning and depth.

America could regain her soul by tapping into that rich and wonderful resource by asking her Grandparents to become involved in politics since never in our history have we needed their sense of ethics, common sense, principles and patriotic ideals more than we do now.

America needs to create a powerful, healing force in this nation by electing to political office in our federal, state, county, city and local governments the grandparents of this country.

We need to form in every community in America a special political non partisan organization called; Grandparents United Against the Destruction of their Grandchildren's Future.

Connie Frankowiak
Julian, Calif.


How Far Up?

Rather than following Rall's telling comparison of Rove to bin Laden ["Rove worse than Osama," 8/1-15/05 TPP], I would like to second his question: "How far up the White House food chain does the rot of treason go?" He suggests that "Dick Cheney and possibly Bush himself" may have played a significant part in the leak, presumably to retaliate against Ambassador Wilson for accusing President Bush of using false and discredited information in his State of the Union address about Iraq's attempt to buy uranium to create weapons of mass destruction to use against us. New disclosures in the Washington Post, Newsweek and the New York Times raise issues that strongly suggest Rove may not have acted alone but with others in the White House staff, including President Bush and Cheney, to intentionally leak a secret classified memo to retaliate against Wilson for the political purpose of discrediting him

Because this issue has such serious implications -- the purposeful disclosure of a covert CIA operative would be an act of treason -- it would be necessary, I believe, to have Congressional hearings open to the public, at which time Rove and others in the White House, including President Bush (by himself), VP Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, even Colin Powell and Ari Fleischer, would testify under oath. We know that all of the above were on a plane to Africa in 2003 where they learned about the secret classified memo about Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson.

A congressional hearing where Congress and the public would hear testimony under oath from Rove et al. would be an excellent way to get at the truth behind this infamous situation.

Sid Moss
Elkins Park, Pa


CAFTA Repercussions

Well, they've finally done it! By two whole votes, that abomination called CAFTA has passed the House. Bad enough that anyone voted for it, knowing what NAFTA has done to the economy (but you know the rationale: "The medicine is killing the patient; increase the dose!") The worst part of the "Agreement" is Chapter 6, which will make the "Codex Alimentarius" the law of the land, will close health food stores, and make supplements all but impossible to get, since levels above the RDA will be defined as "prescription drugs!" ... The point is that any real progressive opposed the "Agreement," and by passing it, the E$tabli$hment has delivered itself bound into our hands. Hammer on the "Supplements" issue and elect Progressives!

Edward G. Robles
Franklin, N.C.


Editor's Note: We have as much concern about CAFTA as anyone (see our editorial on page 2), but widely-disseminated alarms about the Codex Alimentarius apparently are unfounded. The National Nutritional Foods Association, which keeps an eye on the fine print for the dietary supplement makers, notes that CAFTA does not threaten food supplements. Section 102 of CAFTA states that "no provision in CAFTA that is inconsistent with US law will have effect" or "limit any authority" of existing US law, which in this case is the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). The 1997 Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA), which serves as the framework for how the US will "harmonize" its food and drug laws with international trade agreements, contains an explicit exemption for dietary supplements. Nothing in Section 6 of CAFTA requires the US to change its laws, but indicates that participants in the agreement "affirm their existing rights and obligations with respect to each other." Codex guidelines on vitamin and mineral food supplements do not independently bind the US and would not affect US law concerning food supplements. As stated in a Congressional Service Report, "Codex guidelines are not binding on any nation, unless the guidelines are incorporated into the laws of that nation."

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