Week of August 25 – September 1

The (Dean) Kids Are Alright
As someone that is in that post-college, early professional population, the Howard Dean campaign reminds me of when I was 18 and entering college at the University of Iowa (“Howard Dean’s Youth Machine”). That was 1992 and “a man from Hope” was giving us a little bit after 12 years of old school, borrow & spend, GOP rule. Howard Dean is going to be the next President of the United States because he’s “given us the Power” to take back our White House and he has a plan to make this a better country.

Brent A. Meyer
Seattle, WA

I think the Democratic party is running scared of Dean and has been running scared of Bush for far too long. Dean stands for something, he speaks directly and honestly, and he was not afraid to take a stand on Iraq. He’ll take a stand on medical care. The DLC’s attempts to castigate him are ridiculous. He is middle of the road, not a strongly left leaning, candidate. The comparison between Dean and McGovern is not apt.

The idea that Dick Gephardt would ever have a chance against Bush is absurd; he always has seemed to be, and always will seem to be, a puerile boy scout. Kerry is nice, perhaps, but way too slick. Kucinich is the best of the bunch, of course, but not electable. Dean is. And when the media try to trash Dean’s abrupt demeanor, they’re not recognizing that to the audience he simply seems direct.

John E. Bellquist
Austin, TX

My first campaign was for Bobby Kennedy in California in 1968. This year I joined up with a great group in Hawaii, many of them young to be sure, but I’m not the oldest among us. I recently mentioned it to my mother, who was way ahead of me, so impressed she had already sent money. It’s not a youth movement, it’s a people movement. Howard Dean excites us, not only because we believe in his views of fairness for everyone, and not lying to the American public to declare war, not to mention our pending financial disaster that marks the current administration. A terrific group in our island state –including myself — are proudly working many volunteer hours to support Howard Dean.

Kathy Harter
Honolulu, HI

I graduated from college almost thirty years ago and I am also very excited by Howard Dean. But, I am also very much afraid that his campaign is doomed. Not because he is unelectable but because of the way elections are now being held. It is my opinion that unless the Democratic candidate, whomever that may be, challenges the new electronic voting systems and forces some sort of transparency in the voting process that next year’s election will be rigged before it takes place. I wish Mother Jones would do a piece on these voting machines and the companies that run them.

John Moody
Studio City, CA

For years we’ve heard and observed that the youth of this country has neglected to get involved with the democratic and electoral process because they claim that they themselves feel “neglected” by the politicians and the system involved in that process. They are now getting involved by the droves, and because they aren’t backing the DLC and, possibly, the DNC, the establishment doesn’t like it. Tough. Would you rather have more voting youths flock to the quickly-becoming-discredited Bushites? They can do a lot worse than backing Howard Dean, and possibly by backing anyone else, they would be doing worse.

Pat Hennigan
Austin, TX

A Global Constabulary?
“Human Rights With Guns?” ( “Goodbye, New World Order: Keep the Global Ideal Alive”) My, my, that’s an inspiring slogan. Isn’t it, in fact, the slogan of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and countless other “humanitarian interventions?” And who will control this army of 10,000-50,000 “international law enforcers”? How hard would it be for, say, some lone superpower to persuade, say, eight members of the Security Council to sign off a punitive raid against some recalcitrant regime who refuses, say, to sign up to what Bush calls “the single sustainable model of national success” – i.e., crony capitalism? What if eight countries band together to seize some nice trove of resources – oil, water, etc. – and concoct plausible-sounding “human rights abuse” cases against the possessor of said trove? Do we really need yet another armed force put at the disposal of human greed and power-lust?

I don’t believe that embracing the principle of militarism – even for “good causes” and “just wars” (and aren’t they all, to those who launch them?) – will advance the human race in any “progressive” direction. “Human Rights with Guns?” That’s just a kinder, gentler version of another winning slogan once bandied about by a group eager to use war to advance its own particular vision of human progress: “If you will not be a German, we will bash your head in.”

Chris Floyd
Oxford, England

Somewhere in the middle of Todd Gitlin’s commentary on internationalism, he invited the Bush administration to “put yourself in their place. What would you think if …” That’s the central problem of the Bush administration, and of many administrations in the past in your country. They are unwilling, if not incapable, of thinking in terms of the other guy’s perspective.

As Gitlin rightly points out, it’s not just the U.S. — France, Britain, and other powerful nations often operate on the same wavelength — but the US is the main target because it has the money and the guns. Canada is pretty good at “other perspective” thinking, not because of any inherent virtue, but because we’ve have to, to get along with the nations we want to trade with, not the least of which is the United States.

Only when the administration contains people who are capable of understanding there are other perspectives will there be a glimmer of hope of avoiding war through negotiation. The current administration gives little evidence that there are other points of view outside of Texas.

Ken Emmond
Mexico City

Fish Versus Farmers
Bruce Barcott’s article on the Klamath Basin (“What’s a River For?” May/June 2003) accurately represents the pain that hundreds of Oregon farmers endured in 2001 when the federal government withheld irrigation water from the Klamath to protect three endangered species of fish. However, the article creates the impression that the Klamath Project — which diverts water for agricultural use in only 2 percent of the river’s basin — is somehow responsible for environmental problems throughout the 10.5-million-acre watershed. In fact, farmers are striving to protect the environment. In the last year alone, irrigators provided 60,000 acre-feet of water for endangered species, and the Klamath Irrigation District helped complete a state-of-the-art fish screen that will prevent the destruction of 1 million endangered suckers each year.

Barcott disregards the most obvious dynamic in our community: Local irrigators are trying to fend off a coordinated attack by environmental activists, who love to refer to the Klamath Basin as the “Everglades of the West.” In my view, the only commonality between the Basin and the Everglades is that residents in both areas are up to their asses in alligators.

Dan Keppen
Klamath Water Users Association
Klamath Falls, Oregon

Barcott’s article is extremely well written and comprehensive — but it places the welfare of fish over the welfare of humans. The Bush administration’s decision to reopen the Klamath headgates gave farmers a rare victory over wildlife. The move was a real blow to those, like Mother Jones, who wish man to be subservient to nature. What’s really at stake here is a hidden agenda known as “sustainable development” that seeks to eliminate private property and establish an all-powerful central government run by faceless bureaucrats and environmental groups. You may not care about the 1,400 farmers in the Klamath Basin — but when your favorite freedoms are infringed upon, who will be left to come to your aid?

Jay H. Lehr
Chicago, Illinois

Fueling Debate
Barry Lynn’s article (“ Hydrogen’s Dirty Secret,” May/June 2003) assumes that if we let the oil companies develop the market for hydrogen cars, they will always control it. But there’s another possibility: The public could ultimately benefit from all the corporate money being spent to make hydrogen cars a reality. If the fossil-fuel companies are willing to create a new market for hydrogen, why not cheer? The infrastructure can then be used just as effectively by environmentally responsible producers of hydrogen fuel as by the dirty ones. So let the big guys do all the work — Bush may not know what he’s starting.

Rachel Stubblefield
Oakland, California

Your article misses the point. Fossil fuels are being used to produce hydrogen for a simple reason: Their low cost and immediate availability allow us to concentrate on the unsolved issues of how to effectively distribute hydrogen and use it for propulsion. Once these challenges are solved, we can then produce hydrogen fuel from any source, whether renewable or not.

James MacCurdy
Los Angeles, California

The real question that Lynn should be asking is not whether the Bush administration should support research to develop hydrogen from fossil fuels rather than wind or solar power, but whether the government should even be trying to select America’s future fuel. The government has a less than stellar record in picking technological winners and losers. If, in the early 20th century, the government had decided to subsidize research into the best transportation fuel for Americans in the year 2002, it might have embarked on a costly but misguided effort to develop new grass that would boost horses’ energy and cut their waste. Whether hydrogen cars will be the transportation of the future should be determined by consumers in the marketplace, not by government planners.

H. Sterling Burnett
Dallas, Texas

Read the Label
Regarding your story on the marketing of ephedra to teenagers (“ Teen Herbicide,” May/June 2003), God forbid anyone should read the very explicit warnings on such dietary supplements and take personal responsibility for what they ingest.

I’m a college freshman, and my ephedra bottle reads “Warning! Not intended for use by anyone under the age of 18 … Exceeding recommended dose will not improve results and may cause serious adverse health effects. Discontinue use and call a health care professional immediately if you experience rapid heartbeat, dizziness, severe headache … ” The list goes on.

Aaron Cohen
Davis, California

Moved by MoveOn
I’m amazed by your profile of Internet organizer Eli Pariser (“ Virtual Peacenik,” May/June 2003). I’ve been getting MoveOn.org updates weekly for some time now, and I’d visualized Eli as a grizzled veteran of the ’60s anti-war, save-the-earth days. In other words, someone about my age. Eli’s youth is good news. It means this movement not only has a past — it has a future.

Bob Young
Grand Rapids, Michigan