Letters to the Editor

Back Barack

I did not appreciate your (weak) support of Hillary Clinton in your 2/15/08 issue [“Reagan’s Ruins”], and advising your readers not to put Obama “at the top of the ballot this year.”

While everyone has been focusing on her husband Bill’s denigrating Obama, Hillary has been personally performing some dirty tricks herself, and not getting called on it.

She accused Obama of supporting Reagan’s ideas.

“I don’t think it’s a better idea to privatize Social Security,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a better idea to try to eliminate minimum wage. I don’t think it’s a better idea to undercut health benefits and to give drug companies the right to make billions of dollars by providing prescription drugs to Medicare recipients.”

On winning in Nevada she then announced, “This is how the west was won!” By attempting to trash her opponent?

You write, “... hundreds of millions of ... Americans are at the mercy of [health] insurance compan[ies].” Actually it is Hillary who is supported by those drug and healthcare industries.

Barack Obama does “believe that people are more important than corporations and that government should protect people from corporate wrongdoing and monopolists.”

Obama was not referring to Reagan the president but to Reagan the candidate. Reagan had ridden a phenomenal wave, that of the public’s need to believe in itself again. He had promised a renewed national pride with peace and prosperity. His positive campaign had turned a despondent public around.

Obama is attempting to do the same, to positively reinvigorate America’s perception of itself and its place in the world, and to regain hope for the future.

Eliot J Chandler
Presque Isle, Maine

Fortunate Conscience

Re: Jim Cullen’s “Reagan’s Ruins” editorial (2/15/08 TPP), I do not doubt that either Clinton or Obama would be better than any of the Republican candidates. However, as self-identified progressives (at least most who read TPP), we need to break away from the “lesser of two evils” mindset (FEAR) that dogs nearly every presidential campaign and cast our votes for true change. Being faithful to our beliefs, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to support progressive candidates who will speak and act for us, not merely pander to average Americans during the campaign season, while doing the bidding of wealthy donors and corporations once in office. The system that barred Kucinich from debating and marginalized the only progressive-leaning “mainstream” Democrat (Edwards) is the same one that Clinton and Obama are largely indebted to.

Thinking about the Democratic candidates, I find the following troubling. Neither has discussed certain measures corporate and wealthy America wouldn’t like, such as uncapping the payroll tax threshold or ending billions in wasteful corporate welfare (especially to grossly profitable oil companies) — money with which we could seriously invest in a new green economy that would provide jobs and wean us from the destructive ramifications of procuring foreign oil. Neither has a provision for a badly needed single-payer healthcare plan, only ones that keep the completely unnecessary and overly wasteful medical insurance industry “in the money” while millions of Americans are expected to pay for coverage they obviously cannot afford. Neither has broached the idea of reducing the exorbitant military budget to pay for exigent infrastructure improvements like schools, roads, dams and bridges, which are certainly forms of national security. And neither (ostensibly due to campaigning, though we’re not paying them to campaign, but represent their states) bothered to vote on the corporate-heavy 2007 Farm Bill and stand up for struggling family farmers.

In the grand scheme of things, these are not poor candidates, but even with good intentions on many issues they are constrained by those to whom they’re beholden, and I’m not talking about the American people. I feel fortunate that I get to vote my progressive conscience in the California primary, and it is colored Green.

Alex Clayton
Stanton, Calif.

Going Down the List

I spent two hours this morning sending letters to the Alabama newspapers, supporting Edwards for Super Tuesday’s vote, before I heard he’s stepping out. I quoted The Progressive Populist 2/1/08 lead editorial on Edwards’ plusses. If Hillary gets the Democratic nomination, I predict a President McCain in 2009. In her recent debate exchanges with Obama, she shows she’s prone to going off-issue to peevishly defend herself. For our country’s and the world’s sake, I hope people will pitch in now and support Obama, who at least understands the value of sincere dignity.

Lynn Rudmin Chong
Sanbornton, N.H.

Candidates Mum on Global Warming

Carl Pope’s article on the environment, “2007 Was Green; Make 2008 Greener’ (2/1/08 TPP) struck a note of optimism, especially with the presidential election coming up. But this reminds me of the fact that TV journalists are not asking the candidates questions about global warming or even about the environment, and this is not cause for optimism.

The League of Conservation Voters discovered that out of 2,484 questions Wolf Blitzer, Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, George Stephanopoulos and Chris Wallace asked the presidential candidates in 2007, only three contained the words “global warming” or “climate change,” and only a handful mentioned the environment at all. In 2008 those five are continuing the omission.

We are not getting a feel for what the candidates think of global warming, how much they know about the subject, and how earnestly they’ll pursue solutions.

It is incredible that the five above-mentioned, along with many other TV reporters, are ignoring the most monumental issue of all — and few seem to be calling them on it.

Loretta Van Coppenolle
San Antonio, Texas

Federal Lands Overgrazed

In the article by Mary Flitner entitled “Ranching still has a place on public lands,” [2/1/08 TPP], the author is a rancher who runs cattle on the Bighorn National Forest. The government’s answer to any grazing problem on public land is, as she says, “fewer cattle, fewer days on national forest land.” She adds, “This can make it hard for a rancher to make a living.” But she doesn’t say anything about the damage livestock grazing has done to the public lands which has been an unmitigated environmental disaster over the rangelands of the entire west for more than 100 years. I spent a year working on the Bighorn Forest. I remember a remark one of the Forest Service officials made. He said the Bighorn was the most uniformly overgrazed Forest he had ever seen. That was 50 years ago, but from what I have seen on all of the other forests I have worked on since, I doubt if much has improved on the Bighorn.

Leasing public lands for grazing is the cheapest forage any stock grower can get. The grazing fee to keep a cow and a calf on national forest ranges for a month is $1.35. To lease private unirrigated pasture for an animal month (cow-calf) costs an average of $11.90. The federal grazing program operates at a deficit of $123 million annually. Some estimates are higher. To cover costs of grazing on public lands, grazing fees would have to be $7.64 per animal month on BLM land, and $12.26 on national forest. That still wouldn’t address all the damage grazing is doing to the public lands. It is undoubtedly true if the government hiked up the grazing fee to cover costs, a lot of ranchers would go out of business, likely Ms. Flitner too.

Less than 3% of the beef we eat is dependent upon grazing on public lands, but the damage livestock do on national forest and BLM land far outweighs any of its benefits. During the 59 years I have worked upon and lived among the public lands of the Rocky Mountain region I have seen how the land, forest and range has been damaged by livestock grazing which includes destruction of wetlands, loss of riparian vegetation that stabilizes stream banks, conversion of native vegetation to invasive non-native species, introduction of noxious weeds, destruction of desert soil crusts that stabilize the soil leading to wind erosion, and destruction of tree seedlings, especially aspen.

Philip S. Miller
Retired, US Forest Service
Telluride, Colo.

Untold Story

Was Israel’s involvement in the stealing of US nuke secrets deliberately left out of the “Dispatch” entitled “Whistleblower: US Nuke Secrets For Sale” when Turkey and Pakistan were mentioned though Israel’s involvement was far more reprehensible, especially since the Israel spies were members of the “American Israel Public Affairs Committee,” the largest foreign lobbyist and most powerful lobbyist group in Washington?

I would be very disappointed to learn that The Progressive Populist was a tool of Israel.

Alton Eliason
Northford, Conn.

Editor Notes: Dispatches generally are summaries of news in the public prints and other sources. Our three-paragraph summary of the 1/6/08 report of the Times of London mainly concerned claims that corrupt US government officials allowed Turkey to steal nuclear weapons secrets and deal them to other states, including Pakistan, whose intelligence service is known to deal with al Qaeda. In the 15th paragraph the Times notes an FBI investigation into links between Turks and Pakistani, Israeli and US targets. The Times report does not mention the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), two of whose lobbyists (later discharged) were charged with receiving government secrets from a US Defense Department analyst, who pleaded guilty in 2006 and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for giving classified information to the lobbyists and an Israeli diplomat, according to the Associated Press.

Stay Home, Ralph

Ralph Nader is now considering another run for president. My message to him is: Please, please, please DON’T!

As a member of several labor unions, I know just how much of a difference if there is a Democrat in the White House (everything from family medical leave, higher minimum wages, etc.).

Practically any credible historian will tell you that Nader tipped the 2000 election to George W. Bush. He spent most of the campaign attacking Gore much more ferociously, and even spent the last week campaigning in Florida, knowing that this is where the election would be decided.

There were at least three states where Nader skimmed off more votes than Gore lost by. In the 2004 race it is widely rumored that Nader even let the Republicans pay for some of his campaign commercials. After the 2000 election, Nader admitted that Gore would have been a much better president.

Nader should protect his own legacy rather than try to be the spoiler again. All of the wonderful consumer protection and environmental accomplishments will probably be largely forgotten as result of the 2000 fiasco. Nader’s voice is certainly welcome, but he needs to be much more practical and realistic so we don’t end up with four to eight more years with a disastrous Republican president.

Rick Sheridan
Chico, Calif.

Editor’s Note: A 5-4 vote of the US Supreme Court tipped the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

Reality Check

In your 2/15/08 issue Joan Retsinas has written a most useful column-”Vampire Health Myths” in which she skewers five current myths. I would like to skewer another myth — the deeply held ideology by this administration that the economy works best without governmental regulations and service interventions; in effect, that government programs are the problem and privatization of programs the solution. But looking at the myth of the administration around health costs, we see that the administration opposes government health insurance, like a single-payer plan, which is cheaper and clearly more efficient than a private health insurance plan, which provides similar services, but costs 12% more in subsidies. Let’s replace harmful and costly myths around health care with a reality check.

Sidney Moss
Elkins Park, Pa.

Offense Taken

I was offended by the letter to the editor [“Fantasy Progressive”] written by Beverly Rice and featured in the 2/15/08 TPP. Her extremely valid points (Edwards has been ignored by the media, neither Obama nor Clinton is a true populist) are overshadowed by comments that are ill-informed ... She writes that “Professional and intellectual liberals” back Obama because they wish to be politically correct. If so, these intellectual liberals must be the dumbest intellectuals on Earth. More troubling is the comment that Obama’s African-American constituency consists of “blacks who are too easily placated just to have a black face in charge — even though said black face has said little of substance to address issues that concern them.” This is the kind of talk I expect to hear from Limbaugh, Coulter et al. I do not expect it to appear in TPP. We should also remember that six Supreme Court Justices are 68 years or older. Four, including Ginsburg, Kennedy, Scalia and Stevens, are over 70. It is vitally important that a Democrat, true populist or not, be elected. If not, we will see Roe overturned in short order ... next up, Miranda.

Charles Cullen
Atlanta, Ga.

Keep Your ‘Great’ Water

The article about the Great Lakes states hoarding their water [“How to solve America’s water problems,” 2/15/08 TPP] was very interesting. I thought that Cleveland did not want to supply water to Akron. Other states can hoard their supplies such as coal from West Virginia and Wyoming, uranium from Utah or petroleum from Alaska. It would be better if the Great Lakes states sold their water at a good price. Maybe Buffalo could recover to where they were in 1890.

Howard McPherson
Moab, Utah

Congress, Do Nothing, End War

Re: John Nichols’ “Profile Rises on Talk of Impeachment” column [2/1/08 TPP], about US Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.: The US Constitution, Art. I, Section 8, reads in part: “The Congress shall have the power ... To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years (emphasis mine). All Congress needed to bring our GIs home from Iraq is to refuse to appropriate money to keep them there. ...

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St Louis, Mo.

From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2008

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