Question Obama’s Progressivism

All during Bush Jr.’s 8 years in office I was against his policies. I had hope that Obama would bring an end to those policies, but to my horror and great despair, Obama has spent the last 3 years expanding all of Bush’s ugliest policies instead of ending them, as he misled many voters into thinking he would. And every petition I’ve signed to Obama, on every issue that I care deeply about, has been ignored, just like Bush did.

But now, adding insult to injury, most “progressive” media are endorsing Obama for re-election, and I have to ask: Does “progressive” not mean being against Bush’s policies? And if “progressive” means going along with the expansion of Bush’s ugliest policies, then how is being a “progressive” different than being a Bush supporter?

Even though the “progressive” media, willingly concedes that Obama’s record on human rights, democracy, and the earth is already worse than Bush’s, they are always arguing that “no matter how bad Obama is, Romney is worse” and “if we don’t all vote for Obama, Romney will win.” Never mind that “lesser of two evils” elections usually produce the lowest voter turn-outs, which Republicans desperately need to win.

Back in 2008, no one disagreed that Bush’s policies were fatal to human rights, democracy, and the earth. So re-electing Obama means that Bush’s policies will continue expanding.

The question: Is there anything worse than the irretrievable loss of human rights, democracy, and the earth?

We all know the answer: No there is not. With an end result like that being the same for both puppets of the 1%, it becomes painfully clear that Romney is not worse than Obama, and the very last argument for supporting Obama is gone.

The “differences” between Romney and Obama, are nothing but meaningless drivel now. Obama’s indefinite detention law (the National Defense Authorization Act), which allows indefinite detention of US citizens without charge or trial, was recently ruled unconstitutional in a court of law, and Obama is appealing that ruling. In this last month we have left, we need to be asking ourselves, do we really want someone like that selecting justices for the Supreme Court?

It goes without saying that if we vote against Bush’s policies in 2012, like we did in 2008, Jill Stein [the Green candidate] will win by an easy landslide. But it is a bitter irony that most of the “progressive” media’s dismal insistence on Obama being the only “realistic” option, is the only obstacle to removing the 1% rule from the White House.

Had Martin Luther King Jr. adhered to common beliefs about what is “unrealistic” or “impossible,” he never would’ve tried. Maybe someday his dream about judging by content of character will come true. But with “progressive” Obama supporters, like Michael Moore, refusing to see Obama’s character for what it really is, it is obvious that day has not yet come.

Kathleen Murphy
Seattle, Wash.


Truth Hurts

Your editorial, “Hard Truth for the Left” (10/1/12 TPP), jolted me out of my self-righteous slumber! 

I had intended to withhold my vote for the “lesser of two evils” this November because I didn’t want to participate in something evil. After all (I told myself), I want to be a voter – not an accomplice.

How could I have not realized that, by casting my vote for a third party candidate who has no chance of garnering more than a tiny percentage of the electorate, I am in effect contributing to the cause of the “worst of two evils?”

Thank you, Mr. Cullen, for never forgetting that your job is to tell the truth – “not what we wish was the truth.”

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif

Don’t Make Third Parties Spoilers

I take no one to task for voting for Obama vs. Romney. The reality is that one of the two will win and Obama is preferable. However, enough already of the vitriol poured on those of us who will vote third party. The fact is that both Bush II elections were stolen in one form or another. As a computer programmer/analyst I can tell you that instant runoff voting (IRV) in general elections would be child’s play to make happen.

IRV takes away the spoiler effect completely. If it were so important to the Democratic Party to make sure a small fraction of their voters wouldn’t actually vote for the candidate on the ballot that actually best represents their views, wouldn’t it make sense for them to institute IRV so no more “Nader elections” occurred? But not a peep heard about moving in that obvious progressive direction.

To me, it’s “put up or shut up.” Either move your elected officials to make IRV the common practice or don’t complain about those of us who vote as we see fit. Such complaints are bad form in a democracy regardless. As it is, with labor taken for granted, there is no motivation for corporate Democrats to abolish the free-trade agreements. My minimum standards include never voting for a president who endorses drone strikes, wages the drug war, etc. It is absolutely undemocratic to condemn voters such as myself for voting our consciences in the presidential election.

Bernard Dalsey
Whitewater, Wis.


Protest Used to be Patriotic

Looking for something to read yesterday, I picked up a book my husband had for an American literature course in the early 1960s. I came across the enclosed writing by Theodore Roosevelt (“The New Nationalism” reprinted in American Literature: Contemporary Trends Since 1900, published in 1949) that seemed quite pertinent to today, especially for your interests.

Being the same age as Bill Clinton, George Bush II, John Kerry and John McCain, I found it amazing that the presidential candidates that have gained prominence in the last two decades could be so far apart in their philosophies and agendas. But then, I remembered the ’60s more closely: Yes, they were all represented. And those who didn’t “get” the student protests at the time still don’t “get” them, but those same oblivious ones are still oblivious!

Unbelievable. For some reason, protest then was considered “UnAmerican” — when protest — even then — was clearly taught in our schools as part of our heritage! Now it’s been co-opted by the Tea Party, financed by those who our own history points out have been problems for America. Lincoln saw it. T. Roosevelt saw it. Eisenhower saw it. But apparently it has become invisible. Nice trick!

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Island, Maine

Romney Disses Green Energy

Recently the National Wildlife Federation offered both candidates an opportunity to answer the same questions on key conservation issues. In their special report, in the October/November issue of National Wildlife, they listed the unedited responses. While President Obama’s responses often consisted of the same old rhetoric, he at least was considerate enough to take the time to answer every question. On the other hand, Gov. Romney’s campaign advised that it would not respond because it could not provide any answers by the magazine’s deadline. However, the magazine did print unedited previously-published information about his proposed energy and environmental reforms.

On the subject of alternative energy Gov. Romney has previously stated that “History shows that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced technology. However, we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches. That is a recipe for both time and money wasted on projects that do not bring us dividends. The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example.”

Well, Gov. Romney better not tell that to conservative voting ranchers in West Texas, Kansas, Oregon and elsewhere who have been able to save their farms and ranches from bankruptcy, in the face of climate-change-caused drought, by installing wind machines on their land. Recently it was announced the nation’s largest wind farm would soon go into operation in north central Oregon with a capability of powering 235,000 homes — the timing could not be any better.

Also why are utilities installing large solar farms in the Mojave Desert and elsewhere in the desert Southwest if they are not profitable or needed for the future? With global warming, the water available to power hydroelectric dams, throughout the Northwest and the world, will decrease and it will be either alternative energy or dirty coal. Also coal-fired plants require massive amounts of cooling water and water to make steam which is depleting our aquifers.

The Republican’s “Trickle Down Theory” reminds me of the definition of insanity — “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

John McAnulty
Portland, Ore.


One More Nail in Coffin

Thanks for publishing the letter from M. Warner (“Cartoon Revolution,” 10/1/12 TPP), and for continuing to publish Ted Rall’s column. I have been advocating a Jubilee Year for several years now. ... Since debt forgiveness is a pipe dream, default is a useful option. Actually, the main reason I will not vote for Obama is that our only hope is that the Republicans run us over a cliff, because otherwise whoever seems to be in charge, the bondholders will always be in charge. The whole world is choking on public and private debt, but turning debt into toilet paper is never on the table. Thomas Carlyle, in The History of the French Revolution (published more than 150 years ago) said it best:

“Are we breaking down, then, into the black horrors of National Bankruptcy? Great is Bankruptcy, the bottomless gulf into which all falsehoods, public and private, do sink, disappearing ... For Nature is true and not a lie. No lie you can speak or act but it will come, like a bill drawn on Nature’s reality, and be presented there for payment, with the answer: no effects. Pity only that it had so long a circulation, that the original forger were so seldom he who bore the final smart of it. Lies, and the burden they bring, are passed on; shifted from back to back, and from rank to rank, and so land ultimately on the dumb lowest rank, who with spade and mattock, with  sore heart and empty wallet, come daily in contact with reality, and can pass the cheat no further ...

“Honor to Bankruptcy, ever righteous on the great scale, though in detail it is so cruel.  No falsehood, did it rise heaven high and cover the world, but Bankruptcy. one day, will sweep it down and make us free of it.

“The lowest rank ... who can pass the cheat no further.” Now that is inspired writing, wouldn’t you say?

Again, I say, the job of Progressives in this context is to prepare for the Bankruptcy, and have an agenda ready when we have to rewrite the Constitution.

Shorey H. Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.


Mitt’s a Citizen — And So Are You!

I was surprised that Clee Ames’s letter in the 10/1/12 TPP [“Mitt Legally Unfit”] prompted no editorial clarification, as I believe it contained a couple of misconceptions. First, regarding the late George Romney’s citizenship: to the best of my recollection, a child of a US citizen is a citizen at birth regardless of where he or she is born, without any need for subsequent naturalization or any disqualification from the presidency. I think that point was determined by statute, but the Constitution expressly grants Congress the power to determine a uniform rule of naturalization, which presumably includes determining who is exempt from it.

Second, the Constitution does not regulate campaign finance, so one can only break the law in that department, not violate the Constitution. Sadly, since Citizens United it is all too easy to act outrageously in fundraising without breaking the law. Foreigners cannot contribute to campaigns, but they can to PACs. There is reportedly a lot of Saudi oil money going to groups like the US Chamber of Commerce which then fund pro-Romney PAC ads. Evidently Romney thought Israel and the UK would be another likely source of such money; as long as it went to a PAC and not his campaign, he was probably technically acting legally, even while offending anyone with a sense of civic decency.

I for one have been finding the flow of money very hard to follow, and the ads essentially worthless and untrustworthy. Once again I would like to refer everybody to Project Vote Smart (votesmart.org), which for decades had provided free factual information about candidates and incumbents. Naturally if you can afford to help with a small donation they don’t turn it down, but the information you need is available in any case. Forget pay to play, you’re a citizen!

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore, Md.


Romney’s Tax Returns

It is odd that the media gives no attention to the the policy issue presented by Gov. Romney’s income tax returns, focusing instead only on the content of the returns. Mr. Romney and his wife, in a joint return, deliberately avoided taking the full benefit of deductions in order to raise their 2011 effective tax rate to 14.1%.

I am a retiree whose 2011 gross income consisted of pension payments, Social Security retirement benefits and income generated by my life savings, including capital gains resulting from the systematic sale of investments necessary to maintain a desired level of retirement income. Counting all income from all sources, including tax exempt income, my gross income for 2011 was a tiny fraction of the Romneys, yet I paid federal income taxes equal to 15.99% of my gross compared to the 14.1% paid by the Romneys.

While many people assume we have a progressive income tax system, the foregoing facts prove that is not the case. Nor do we have a flat tax system (for which some advocate). Rather, we have the opposite of a progressive system under which the higher income brackets pay a lower overall rate of income tax than the lower brackets. That is the policy issue identified by the Romneys’ 2011 tax return. That is an issue that should be exhaustively debated in the present presidential campaign so that an informed electorate can decide which income tax system we should have.

James Van Vliet
Oswego, Ill.

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2012



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