Week of February 15 – 22, 2004

Who Runs the Factory?

It is time that we began to distinguish the Intelligence Community from the Propaganda Community (“The Lie Factory“).

There is, I believe, an actual intelligence community: a professional, disciplined, dedicated community which does its job with whatever accuracy and efficiency is possible. Their work is either effective or not, their conclusions correct or not, they either got it or they didn’t. And they are doing their jobs.

What we have had operating inside this administration, not simply allowed or even condoned, but actually created and enforced, is not an intelligence community. It is a Propaganda Ministry.

Let us not confuse the two.

John Gillmore

Tampa, Florida

The [Office of Special Plans] needs to be investigated. It was an important part of the whole fabrication that was used to lead us to war.

Senator Roberts’ investigation is intent on blaming everything on the CIA (it’s called giving cover to the president). The CIA didn’t give evidence that could be used for an invasion. Only by dropping qualifiers and lumping chemical, biological and nuclear under one umbrella could [the administration] be deceitful enough to convince people they were endangered by Saddam.

Bill Cash

Madison, Connecticut

In Charge, Out of Touch

This article (“A Look Inside Cheney’s Bubble“) sums up the attitude of this administrative to a tee. I have often felt that those who question or disagree with this administration on anything are held in the highest contempt, as though we are simplistic ninnies who are incapable of independent thought and analysis. Woe to the non-believer that doth question aloud the motives or logic behind the sacrosanct power of the Bush administration.

Margo McIntire

Harrisonburg, Virginia

The political environment taking shape ahead of November’s election (at least from the liberal perspective) appears finally poised to articulate the growing disconnect between the elite CEO class and the remainder of this great nation’s populace.

These men (Cheney, et al) must see themselves as the standard bearers of the American way, the anointed few capable of continuing the dominance of America’s social and economic principles. I find it astounding that such apparently gifted minds have been so overtaken by ego; they may actually believe that ensuring their own personal success (by any means necessary) is the only answer for U.S. success.

Nathan Rainey

Pleasanton, California

Kudos for Chris Martin

It is so refreshing to hear such a talented musician (“Fair Trade’s Front Man“) speaking intelligently about such an important matter. I am an enormous Coldplay fan — I’ve always been a sucker for guitars and pianos. Combine that with a social conscience and you’ve got a fan for life!

What [Martin] is saying is crucial here: that musicians and artists wield enormous social capital and really CAN help make a difference by spreading the word and waking young people up.

Julie Arcino

San Francisco, California

Week of January 26 – February 1, 2004

Green Economy

I’ve seen too little ink devoted to how home-grown sustainable energy will help our balance of trade vulnerabilities, which is a more serious concern than is given credit (“Free and Green“). Another hidden value of green energy is the revenue stream from the sale of carbon credits. However, we won’t get to play in that market until we agree to an international agreement such as the Kyoto Accord.

Surely, pragmatists of sufficient wisdom and greed will eventually lead us to a greener energy future.

Nick Galaday

Redmond, Washington

I would suggest, following our own successful transpartisan efforts in other social arenas, that the clean energy movement join forces with free market conservatives/libertarians and pro-defense conservatives.

The true conservatives and libertarians, although they might not favor any particular type of energy, definitely do not support corporate welfare. That is one way to get them involved in this issue. Go after the subsidies and the distortions in the markets that they cause. The pro-defense conservatives should support efforts that diminish U.S. reliance on foreign oil which could be a way to get them to join the clean energy effort.

Michael D. Ostrolenk

Washington D.C.

Imperial America

Rome went into decline and fell under the heavy burden of keeping peace in the world (“Baseworld:America’s Military Colonialism“). With all this military spending, we can’t afford to keep our own citizens secure with good schools and good paying jobs for the declining middle class. In addition, federal programs are unfunded, like “No Child Left Behind”. All this president wants to do is give more tax cuts to the rich.

I am not proud of our military strength, although I am proud of our troops. But even the troops are getting short changed, with not enough pay, or protection. And they are being stretched to the limit. Troops who belong in the Guard and Reserves are having their length of duty extended, while their families and their jobs go by the way side. It is not fair to them.

Richard Peterson

Pittsboro, North Carolina

Week of January 19 – 25, 2004

30 Second Knock-Out

I think Howard Dean is proving that everyone who opposes George W. Bush needs to join together and go for broke (“Angry, and on Message“). Just like the Right has its Limbaughs and Savages and Coulters, the left needs to pound away on the middle with it’s anti-Bush, anti-war, and anti-establishment messages. We cannot afford to be weak in our delivery right now. The right wing via the Ken Starrs of the world almost brought down Bill Clinton. Look what happened to Gray Davis in California. As unpleasant as it is, “going for the throat” seems to be effective. We need to provide a clear choice in November: Left vs. Right, and let the pieces fall where they may. In the meantime we cannot afford to be hesitant or mealy-mouthed when delivering our message or we may appear as if we lack our own convictions. We need ads that attack. You can bet the opposition will not be backing down any time soon. I liked the provocative ads more than the subtle entries for these reasons.

Felicia Catoline-Rink

Cortland, Ohio

I don’t understand the concern about trying to avoid “negativity” when criticizing the Bush regime. There is plenty that that regime has done and is trying to do that justifies much outrage (apparently so-called negativity) on the part of anyone who cares about human rights, environmental concerns (so life can continue on planet Earth), ethics, etc.

From all the concerns about negativity, one would think that right-wingers have a monopoly on it. I don’t notice that they particularly try to avoid it.

Barbara Kidney

Pine Bush, New York

Although one purpose of the Bush in 30 seconds ad campaign is to sway voters’ opinion of Bush, another fine and profound purpose is to give us common-folk an opportunity to voice our frustration. Many feel enraged by his actions as president and feel powerless to voice our frustrations in a way that will bring about any real change.

Elasha Fain

Golden, Colorado

I think it’s important to remember that this will be only one of many, many ads people will see about Bush over the course of this election year. If the target audience of MoveOn’s winner tonight is merely the here-to-now disenfranchised base of Democrats and it serves to fire them up well, then it will have served at least one very important purpose. I hope MoveOn can find the wherewithal to air a number of the ads this Spring, because as your article suggests, they each have a different message and could appeal to different segments of the public.

But to me, the real value and potential of the MoveOn competition was to generate some really great ideas for the candidates and their creative teams, for development later in the election process. I was able to vote on about 100 of the ads, and while many of them lacked the polish or well-honed execution of the finalists, there were many strong concepts and interesting approaches put forth, even when the production quality was amateurish.

My other fervent hope is that both the DNC and particularly the seemingly out-of-touch DLC will take note of what “we the people” are saying and thinking. Watching all 1500 ads should be “required viewing” for them. Maybe it will help them get a clue.

Kate Dwyer

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

A Real Patriot

Thank goodness for people like Trina Magi (“ Defender of the Free Word “)! The Patriot Act is poison, simply one tool in the Bush administration’s campaign to ensure that citizens constantly live in fear. Scared people do not reason coolly, and reason is the enemy of the Bush crowd: any reasonable assessment of their performance is utterly damning.

It does not matter to Karl Rove whom we fear more — Osama and Ashcroft can both be played to great emotional effect. So while the voters are looking over one shoulder at imagined threats, real ones (electronic vote theft, mega-deficits, record unemployment, pre-emptive war, corporate crime, environmental disaster etc etc) quietly slip over the other shoulder. All truly patriotic Americans stand against the Patriot Act and behind you, Trina. Thanks again to you, and to Mother Jones for helping publicize your efforts.

Richard Greenslade

Milan, Italy

There is a supposition in this country that knowledge leads to action. That’s not necessarily the case. Learning how to pick locks does not make you a burglar. Knowing how to make crack cocaine does not make you a drug peddler. This is the basis of such free-knowledge websites as www.howstuffworks.com and those who love learning for the sake of learning are ever in jeopardy of falling afoul of the stagnant and incurious mainstream.

Ernest Devore

Columbia, South Carolina

Tracing the Beef

Country of Origin Labeling would enable scientific tracebacks, which not only would benefit the domestic beef industry, but would also protect consumers as well as allowing the consumers to make intelligent choices (“ Where’s the Beef “).

Since the USDA has shown that scientific tracebacks of live animals is possible, and that the agency voluntarily agreed to participate in such traceback, now is the time for the agency to aggressively pursue policies which mandate tracebacks to the source of pathogen-laced finished product, such as e.coli-contaminated ground beef.

John Munsell

Miles City, MT

Deconstructing GITMO

The Supreme Court must make a determination as to what branch of the law will handle the disposition of all detainees (“ Waiting for Gitmo“). If the Court determines there is not a “fit” — that no domestic or international governing body of law has jurisdiction over the prisoners of war, then a new legal division must be formed for the specific purpose of ensuring fair treatment and timely disposition of all cases — detainment without recourse is morally and legally unconstitutional.

Rebecca Maximovich

West Hills, California

This is one of the most egregious abuses of prisoners that I have ever heard of the US engaging in. We are acting more and more like the folks that we are allegedly fighting against. How can we be the beacon of human rights for the world, when our government is abusing these poor humans like this!

It’s wrong and we should wake up to the fact that most of the rest of the world sees us as being Human Rights Abusers, not protectors.

Cliff Shoemake

Marion, Kentucky

These people are terrorists who have sworn allegiance to an organization bent on the destruction of the United States.

After having lived in Gimto for almost 5 years as a U.S. sailor, I could think of dozens of other places where these “detainees” could spend the rest of their natural born days in a lot less comfort. Antarctica or Siberia comes to mind. “Three huts and a cot” is a lot better than some of their brethren have. I feel no sorrow or pity for these people.

Mike Meyer

Cincinnati, Ohio

GITMO has become a global embarrassment, an arrogant jingoistic and insidious rejection of basic human rights, and another symbol of the administration’s righteous mantra of “we know what’s best” for us non-sentient Americans.

Bush and his cabal, with the assistance of a backbone-less Congress, are destroying our constitutional rights, questioning our patriotism, and smirking in contentment as the muted masses seek only the next smallest cell phone and the next largest SUV. Is GITMO what we’re all looking at after next year’s election?

The chill in the air is not just the cold front outside my window…

Frank J. Saccone, Jr.

Macedon, New York

Week of January 12 – 18, 2004

Greed and Government

Unfortunately the folks who most need to read this kind of expose are the very least likely to care about reading it (“ All in the Family “). The people who know the real Bushes are already against them. Bush supporters simply don’t care about Bush integrity or morals. They’re seeing the emperor’s clothes more clearly than ever because the emperor keeps them rich while providing social conscience “cover” with his compassionate conservative mantle.

Chris Burbank

Meriden, Connecticut

I’m 76 years old and have been an avid follower of government and politics most of my life and I have never been so frightened for the future of our country. The greed in the Bush family and hence in the people chosen to work with them in government is appalling! I was always optimistic about the possible future for my children. I wish I could feel the same optimism for the future of my grandchildren but I don’t. I hope a statesman comes forth in the coming election to correct some of these things.

Patricia Wickerham

Grandville, Michigan

Beef — it’s not for dinner

Country of origin labeling is a good idea for consumers and is something that should be instituted, but I don’t think it would have prevented the situation that the US beef industry finds itself in today (“ Where’s the Beef From? “).

Just as important as where the meat comes from — maybe even more important — is the question of where the feed comes from. Contaminated feed has been the main source of BSE infection in previous outbreaks overseas, and it’s the suspected source in this case. Indeed, it may well turn out to be that even though the cow was born and initially raised in Canada and was likely infected there, the feed that infected the cow may have come from the USA.

The feed supplier in Edmonton, Alberta, which apparently provided at least some, if not all, of the feed the infected cow ate got much of it’s “protein additive” ( ie, rendered cattle meat ) from the US. And since 1997 when feeding regulations were put in force in both Canada and the US officials in both countries have publicly noted that compliance with the bans has been much more of a problem in the US than in Canada. So while the US is patting itself on the back for being BSE free based on the origin of the cow, nobody really knows if this is true at this point in time and there are still a lot of questions to answer about what actually happened and who ultimately bears responsibility.

In the meantime, while this is being sorted out, I’m going to stock up on tofu and soy bean burgers and start eating more of that wild Alaskan salmon.

Steve Baker

HCMC/Saigon, Vietnam

Week of January 5 – 11, 2004

The View From Inside

I just finished reading “ Jails for Jesus” by Samantha Shapiro, and I had
to sit down and write to you. I am truly disgusted by the InnerChange Freedom Initiative. Like many
other Christian-based programs, it doesn’t get prisoners to take responsibility for their
actions. Instead, it labels bad behavior as “sin,” tells the prisoners to pray and God will “cure”
them through a “miracle.”

I have been incarcerated in the Bible Belt of North Carolina for almost 11 years and have seen
many prison ministries come and go. They enter a prison like a whirlwind, offering trinkets of mints
and handkerchiefs while their tracts flutter through the air like autumn leaves. They tell prisoners
that all they must do to be free from all their problems is accept Jesus; then they leave with
instructions to “read your Bible and everything will be okay.”

What prisoners need are educational programs that will help them compete in the job market and
programs that teach them to take responsibility for themselves and their actions.

I always tell people on the outside that eventually most people in prison will be released. Who
would you rather have living in your neighborhood — the prisoner waiting for his miracle
cure or the one who has been trained in accountability and empathy for others?

Joseph Urbaniak

Harnett Correctional Institution

Lillington, North Carolina

The Media Trap

Your recent article (“ Little Big Man“) dismissing Dennis Kucinich
as “unelectable” was premature. He has a fine record in gaining support from Reagan Democrats,
union members, progressives, environmentalists, and anti-war citizens. As the wheels come off
Bush’s wagon, there is no other candidate as principled and truthful as Kucinich to pick up disaffected
independents. Many voters see the superiority of his vision and principles — they just have
to shed their media-induced fear about “electability” in order to vote for him.

Edward Mainland

Novato, California

Charles Bowden’s portrait of Dennis Kucinich gives us some interesting details but neglects
the most salient fact about him: If enough Americans find out what he stands for, he could be a great
president. Bowden repeats the conventional wisdom as if it’s all carved in stone: “Of course, no
vegan can be elected president…. No one can be elected president who has been battered enough
by life to be qualified to be president.”

I hope we get to read another Bowden article on Kucinich in 2005, describing how the “little big
man” who couldn’t be president actually won the election.

Will Fudeman

Ithaca, New York

Coming Clean

The Pentagon’s drive to weaken the country’s environmental laws, described in “ Toxic
Immunity
” is one more clear example of the Bush administration’s manipulation
of the 9/11 attacks to serve its agenda. But the Defense Department’s environmental posture is
more complex.

In the 1990s, the U.S. military accelerated its cleanup programs and offered affected communities
unprecedented roles in oversight. It instituted model programs in pollution prevention.
And it continued extensive programs to conserve the natural habitat on its lands and waterways.

Yet the military also sought to leave other contamination in place. It refused to acknowledge
that unexploded ordnance is a hazardous waste. It failed to seek the funds necessary to pay off its
environmental liabilities in a reasonable amount of time.

While resisting the proposed legislation to exempt the military from cleanup requirements,
environmental advocates must challenge the Department of Defense to work with us to resolve
tensions between environmental protection and “readiness activities.”

Lenny Siegal

Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight

Mountain View, California

It’s the Prozac

I suffered through eight months of clinical depression and can say, with confidence, that
antidepressants do work (“ Is It Prozac? Or Placebo?“). Yes, they are overprescribed,
and many of their recipients could improve with behavior modification. Yes, pharmaceutical companies
hype the drugs, causing the results of both placebo and drug to improve over time. And yes, trials
are aimed at getting approval.

However, Gary Greenberg missed a few important points. First, the therapeutic value of being
with mental-health professionals (at the trials) can’t be overstated. The improvement noticed
in both study groups reflects the dualism of treating depression, i.e., therapy plus medicine.
Second, people in these trials have admitted, by showing up, that they have a problem. This crucial
step to overcoming depression means both groups are bound to show improvement.

So, do the drugs work as advertised? Sure, I am a living example. Do pharmaceuticals have a long
way to go? You bet. And do thousands of people underestimate their own powers for healing? Again,
an emphatic yes.

Michael Hays

Hatfield, Pennsylvania

CORRECTION

The November/December review of Supersonic Guitars in 3-D by Los Straitjackets showed
the wrong album cover. We apologize for the error.