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Busting Out: Our Readers Thoughts on the Current State of the Union

As always, we are in awe of the quality of the letters we have received from our incredibly caring, morally passionate readers. Alas, the insight and intelligence in your comments is in painful contrast to the double-digit quality of the brights now "illuminating" the White House.

We thought you would be interested to hear that Democrats.com, thanks in very large part to you folk, is making a difference in this battle between the corporate power mongers (lead by Shrubcheney and Co.) and the good guys. We know for a fact that on several occasions, your letters, calls, and dissemination of information has changed the course of events. The exposure of John Stossel, for example, was thanks mostly to reader John Borowski (the Oregon teacher) who alerted us to the case months before the mainstream press story broke, and then by your firestorm of calls and notes to ABC. It was not long after your letter writing campaign about freedom of the press that the press actually started presenting some more balanced coverage. Your refusal to "Get over it" is helping to push more action on the 2000 election. There are many other cases which we will try to pull together into a more coherent list. In addition, we will attempt to keep track of future successes, however small (every driplet and droplet is helping) and give you regular updates on the progress of the "cause." You are making a difference!

Politics in the Oncoming Lane

I've recently been examining some foundational ideas for policy positions that we, as "progressive Democrats," might want to explore. I found, to my surprise and disappointment, that some of the ideas suggested by experienced policy scholars embrace organizations and people who, at best, can be described as firmly Libertarian in orientation. Why are Democrats attempting to use methods and approaches that are used by groups whose basic beliefs and goals are the opposite direction from ours?

We are besieged at this moment by governing bodies which exhibit an open disregard for constitutional procedure, matched by the creation of legislation which disserves the needs of the working population, to say nothing of citizens who are truly impoverished. In addition, an apparent global corporate consolidation, intent on implementing an opaque system of world governance, exclusive of the participation of any but elite organizations whose "innovative free market approaches" coincide with their own, is well under way.

Throughout the world's deliberative bodies, eliminationist outcomes are concealed by "forward-looking" policies, created by think tanks which include many who have little understanding of or regard for genuinely democratic principles. Neo-Darwinist proposals put forward to assist those whose very subsistence has been jeopardized by their misfortune to live in areas in which the Cold War was played out for the last fifty years, are thinly disguised competitions to permit the "entrepreneurially clever" to survive. The flatness and the two-dimensionality of this approach to human life is choking humanity.

So, what do we stand for? What alternatives do we offer as progressive Democrats which will create a framework, economically and governmentally, which will prioritize and safeguard our citizens' rights so they are not subsumed by the "rights" of corporate entities? What are the foundations we base our philosophy of governance on?

One of the theorists whose work was fundamental to the early formulations of our democracy was John Mill. His concept of "deontic" rights should be examined thoughtfully and carefully today. Mill wrote that, though individuals have rights, those rights have inbuilt, structurally essential obligations which automatically accompany those rights. A clear area in which this thinking would be revolutionary is in our current economic relationships. An elected, representative government, guided by laws which "protect the weak" is the only entity capable of enacting the provision of various forms of assistance for the growth, as well as the protection of its citizens.

The promotion of the rights of citizens to a life of dignity and of deeply understood, commonly-shared justice should be a key foundation for any government created by those same citizens! But when corporations as "individuals" delude real individuals into believing that their "right" to become a millionaire supercedes even their own rights to dignity, safety, and a life that can include good conscience, the real individuals hand the power of government to those promising them wealth, at the cost of their humanity.

Our "party" cannot continue to be a "nicer" version of the Republicans and the Libertarians. The true cost to the Neo-Darwinist "winners" has been a huge number of angry, exhausted, and ultimately, potentially dangerous people who have lost any sense of participation in the life of this nation -- economically, politically, and culturally. The "loosers" in this undemocratic struggle have joined bizarre organizations, left politics altogether, or accepted their defeat in a game they weren't informed they were playing, with varying degrees of grace. If the Democrats, and possibly, the democratic form of government, are not to become a "footnote in history" we must re-formulate our platform. And that means that our understanding of "radical equality" must be visible and fundamental -- in our uncompromising economic support to real people's real needs, in our position on the tragic re-polarization of race (which is ALWAYS based on the manufactured fear of scarcity: pitting the classes against each other is an old, old trick), and in the steady insistence that we Democrats believe that we DO have obligations on many levels to other citizens as well as to ourselves -- that it's a PRIVILEGE to be able to honor them.

If we don't start to consistently demonstrate that we both understand and know how to act on the truly human "morality" that's intrinsic to the idea of democracy, and defend citizens' rights over corporate "rights," then we'd better start building some other party. It is unsuitable for us to attempt to follow the precepts of millionaires telling us how to "trickle up" to claim control of our government and of the economic forces which are debasing it. Their story's something for the Ponzi scheme crowd, and they travel on the opposite side of the highway... There's a reason there's a divider between lanes.

Kate Carroll

Despair in Washington State

My country is dead. We have no President and we have no government. Our government used to be one that was elected through our own unique process to represent the voice of the people as to their choice of candidate. To believe that we have an elected President is to have plunged into total denial.

The Supreme Court stopped the manual recount of votes and the voting process was tampered with by the GOP in Florida. All this was coordinated and funded by big business and the GOP to steal the election from the American People. AND, what has been done about it? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing.

Last December, there was talk (mostly by the press - GOP mouthpiece) the "stability" of our country. I would rather have had a lot of instability to preserve our democracy (yes, it is a democracy). Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died to preserve it. Our country was founded by brave souls gave the ultimate to create it. AND people are afraid of a little "instability". I think that is sick and it is a spit in the face of those who came before us. What we need is a little instability, especially if that is the price to reclaim our freedom.

As far as I am concerned, the White House is occupied by an enemy force and our country is now a dictatorship and the citizens are now prisoners of the corporate dollar. Al Gore is my President. Regardless of what he says about it. I would join the army of Americans that would oppose Bush and his "government" and die to recapture a free America. Sound radical? Not as radical as what the Republicans and Bush have pulled off. In fact, it pales in comparison.

Tom Ulcak
Bothell, WA

The Mainstream Media Continues to "Follow the Money," Not Conscience

(This reader sent a copy of the following letter to Wolf Blizter of CNN's "Late Edition"

Dear Wolf:

I understand from an Internet political discussion group that I belong to that your topic tonight is "if the media is so biased, why are you watching"? I don't know if this is really your topic, because I don't watch TV news any more. I don't watch TV news anymore because of its appalling conservative bias. I get all my news from the Internet - - from the BBC, the Guardian, Truthout.com, Consortiumnews.com, Democrats.com, Americanpolitics.com, Buzzflash.com and other sites that focus on important, complex issues - - sites that would never talk down to their readers by asking "If I can't do my job, why are you dumb enough to hang around?".

When I went to your website to post this, I noticed your eulogy entitled "From Watergate to Chandra Levy: The Legacy of the Washington Post's Katherine Graham". If you had used this same phrase to explain why I and millions of Americans tune you out on a nightly basis, you couldn't have picked a better headline. Try chewing on this for a while - - this weekend, the New York Times published investigative articles about the Bush campaign getting fraudulent absentee ballots counted in Florida, the fact that the Bush campaign's recount "war room" was located in Katherine Harris' office and Congressman Steve Buyer's (R-IN) criminal use of his office to enlist servicemen to slander Vice President Gore's patriotism. Also this weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported that after Jeb Bush recused himself, 95 calls were made from his office to his brother's campaign - - but Governor Bush "doesn't remember" what those calls were about.

These articles appeared on the same weekend. They were published by "reputable" sources, not "Internet rags". And you, along with the rest of the mainstream media, have been unable to connect those little dots and wonder if maybe something fishy happened down in Florida during the 2000 election... if maybe something down right unconstitutional happened.

What's worse is that these aren't even the biggest, most flagrant dots you've overlooked. The media has refused to put these dots together as well: the bogus felon purge overseen by Katherine Harris that removed thousands of presumed Gore voters from Florida's voter roles, the thousands of "overvotes" that Florida's canvassing boards illegally refused to inspect for valid votes on election day, and the mob of GOP Congressional aides and former GOP Congressional aides that the Bush campaign flew down to Florida so they could assault a Democrats.

And to top it off, the Bush campaign refuses to explain how it spent its recount fund.

What was it "Deep Throat" supposedly said that helped connect the dots of Watergate - - "follow the money"? Instead of following the money, what are you wasting the public bandwidth on tonight, Wolf?

Color none of us shocked - - you're breathlessly reporting the eight-billionth Chandra Levy story. What's your breaking scoop, Wolf? That there's a sock missing from her apartment? And that you heard that Congressman Condit - - gasp! - - has MORE THAN ONE sock in his sock drawer?

This is why millions of Americans tune you out, Wolf. A gang of corporate thugs from Texas pistol whip our basic civil rights - - they spit on the Constitution while robbing us blind - - and not only do you ignore the story, you ignore it in favor of milking a human tragedy, destroying the life and career of a man who has not been charged with any crime. (Does the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" ring any bells here, Wolf? How about "high tech lynching"?)

From Watergate to Chandra Levy: the downward spiral of the mainstream media from investigative journalism to tabloid info-tainment is now complete.

I'm glad to see I'm not missing a damn thing by keeping my TV off.

Janet Hessert
North Hollywood, CA

No One Will Get Over the Corporate Takeover of America

What the "Bush Camp" did in Florida during Election 2000 is something I will never get over. Not because the Bush operatives "won" a "victory" for their candidate, but because of the ruthless means and tactics they used to do so. To this day I will never get over their relentless court appeals, nor the decisions made by courts to stop hand recounts. I will never be able to accept the Secretary of State Harris's initial decision not to allow the recounts requested by the various counties in an election "too close to call" from the outset, which forced the problem into the courts in the first place.

I will never forget the changing tone of the TV network news' coverage, which immediately changed from the televising of "on the scene" reports originally exposing the upset, frantic and distressed voters who were articulating the problems they encountered - to the media's sudden focus on "analysis and punditising" over the legal process and the lawyers, "predictions" on moves and outcomes and presenting the situation to the public, minimizing it, as though this were now a "spectator sport". Then the media ultimately changing the tone to a negative bias against Gore through an underlying "message" the HE was "dragging" the nation through unneccessary "pain", and pushing the question "Will Gore concede?", rather than perhaps the question "Will Bush ever allow the recount to continue?".

Focus upon the disenfranchised voters and voting "irregularities" were eliminated by the network news after day one. Soundbytes from James Baker - "The votes have been counted, recounted and recounted again" - were played over and over again, while others' reports on actual corruption in some localities was avoided. The tally of the popular and electoral vote was taken off screen the day after the election, and only later did Dan Rather report a statistic on how few Americans even realized that Gore led the vote count.

Ultimatey I'll never get over the "Bush Camp" running to the U.S. Supreme Court, which immediately responded on a Saturday and ordered the counting to stop, then literally waited until the 10th, 11th hour to hand out the divided 5-4 decision to "conclude" the "election" for George Bush." I will never get over the "rabid bullyishness" of the Bush operatives in Florida. I will never get over the images of the Inaugural Parade that looked like an old Soviet military procession. I'll never get over the visions on tv of the "takeover" of the Whitehouse with the ugly images of the Bush Camp inside the door hustling bossily about like an "invasion eruption" in their lusted-after position and transition of power. I will never get over these anxiety-filled memories and images.

I will never be able to get over the daily occurrence of all the shocking actions being made by the Bush Administration in its continuous, ongoing stream of radical corporate, not public, self interest policy goals, which feel like a "coup" over our democracy and age old democratic processes.

In place now is a setting for massive corporate abuse of power and even obstruction of justice. No, I will never get over it. When the final blocks are down and our nation finds itself trapped within, I'm not sure the nation itself will be able to get over it.

What we are finding now basically are the wealthiest top percent of the top one percent attempting to define our "public policy", which is proving daily to be policy designed for their corporate self interests. Yes, if President Bush WERE a dictator it WOULD be alot easier for him (them), as he himself stated shortly after taking office. The dangers also being created by the corporate media's intentional repression of the most serious newsworthy issues concerning this administration may prove to be eventual public chaos when an isolated and ignorant public begins to perceive the damage of this administration.

Truthfulness, transparency and dialogue are crucial for a peaceful democracy. It now seems that Corporate America within its Corporate Administration in our nation's White House do not like or appreciate democracy. I cannot get over it.

Laura A. Laitala