Off yer butts

RE: “US Elections Need International Observers


Sorry, I don’t buy the international-observer angle regarding the US electoral process. I spent four months in Peru during the election mess there earlier in the year and to compare our elections with Peru and Yugoslavia is borderline silly and can’t be taken seriously. While I am voting for Nader and am very upset at the way third-party candidates are cast aside, I don’t think we need international observers to help with the problem. What we do need are people in this country who will get up off their butts and work for real change in campaign laws. We are the ones who can fix this problem. If we try to pass the responsibility off to someone else, things will only get further complicated and bogged down. We are the ones with a responsibility to monitor our own governance.

Kyle Burk


Oh, stop whining

RE: “Poisoned Legacy


You could see this issue coming a mile away. The museums are condemned for possessing Indian artifacts, and now they’re condemned for preserving them. There is little doubt that if these artifacts had not been kept safe in museums that they would have rotted, been eaten by insects and rodents, been sold, or in some other way been made totally unavailable to the Indians. I’m sure that somehow the museums will be forced to pay to decontaminate the artifacts, further eroding their already meager budgets.

At some point you have to say to the Indians, “You got your law, you got your stuff back, now go home and stop whining.”

Michael Wach
Ithaca, N.Y.


It’s not politics — it’s war

RE: “MoJo Wire Poll


Do I think there is much difference between the Democrats and the Republicans? Hell, no!

Do I want to see the Greens gain a viable presence in federal government? Hell, yes!

Am I voting for Nader? Hell, no!!!

To all of the 45-plus percent of MoJo Wire readers who are voting for Nader I have this to say: Wake up! You’re like a bunch of Christian fundamentalists! It’s like you’re placing all your faith in some lefty Bible and choosing to ignore reality. Here’s reality:

  • Nader is not going to get 5 percent this year.
  • If Gore loses by a percentage margin equal to the Green vote, the Democrats will be pushed more to the right in order to capture the much-larger numbers of moderate voters.
  • The federal money that the Greens would get with a 5 percent vote would not help as much as continued grassroots momentum.
  • The grassroots momentum that the Greens are enjoying this year will be diminished if we have to get back to defending Congress from Republican plunders.
  • A Democratic party that is pandering to the right and bashing the left will suck worse than a Democratic party that is enjoying an unprecedented dominance over the next eight years.

I’m voting for Gore because as a Green, I see this as war. And any war (or business, or game, for that matter) requires strategy. Stabilizing national politics in the middle for eight more years is a better strategy for the Greens than allowing power to slide back to the right.

Jeffrey Sparx


We like free speech and money

RE: “Shell Ads on the MoJo Wire


To allow a company of whose activities Mother Jones has been critical the opportunity to advertise in the magazine and online and then to announce that you are doing so because of some sense of fair play and a wish not to censor, is self-serving at best.

Far better to simply say, “Hey, we need the money.”

William Limbacher
Omaha, Neb.


Sparring readers

RE: “Barring Democracy


I read the letter by Mr. Jaskowiak (see “It’s whose fault?” below) and was not surprised at the conclusions he reached. But he, like many others, neglect an important fact. And that is in our society most minorities are considered de facto lawbreakers.

Today a majority of felony convictions are drug-related, and the percentage of those convictions that are minorities are substantially higher on a per capita basis — on the order of six to eight times. Do you want me to believe there are six to eight times more drugs in these “high crime” areas.

I went to Penn State, and I saw all the same drugs that people are getting arrested for in major cities, but there the dealers were mainly white and yet the minorities were the ones the police continually watched.

This connection between the so-called War on Drugs and disenfranchisement of a generation of minorities cannot be understated. So yes, it does appear the Repubicans are using the felony convictions to stay in power.

Krishna Reddy


I’ll do it

RE: “US Elections Need International Observers


As the United States is so keen to see “democracy” flourish across the globe, it seems only fair that its own electoral system be subjected to international scrutiny. After all, surely the “home of the free” would be eager to show the rest of the world exactly how a democratic election is run.

As an Australian, I can’t quite comprehend the subtleties of your president being elected with less that 50 percent of the vote. Doesn’t this mean the democratic silent majority do not want any president?

And this business about “a vote for Nader being a vote for Bush.” Does this mean minority voters have no direct say in where their second preference goes?

With these puzzling questions in mind, I am in a position to offer my services to act as an international election observer for MoJo. Just say the word.

Bruce Murray
Castlemaine, Australia


My sentiments exactly

RE: “US Elections Need International Observers


Thanks for the article — well said! You have expressed my sentiments perfectly. This whole process is a miscarriage of justice.

I travel abroad periodically, and over the past 15 years I have seen those in foreign countries shake their heads at us and ask us to get our own house in order before trying to tell them what to do. Keep up the good press.

Bob Charette


It’s whose fault?

RE: “Barring Democracy


You have got to be kidding. The Republicans are using the laws regarding voting rights and felony convictions to stay in power?! These are Jim Crow laws?! The fundamental problem with your position is the belief that conservatives are somehow to blame for the shocking crime statistics.

Rather than talking about the disproportionate number of convicted felons in minority communities and casting the situation as a grand conspiracy on the part of conservatives, use arguments that are positive. Felony convictions are, on a per capita basis, higher in minority communities because there are more felonies committed, on a per capita basis, by minorities. That is a statement of fact, not conspiracy. You should try to convince the readers that voting rights should be returned to those who complete their sentence, including any parole time, simply because they have completed their sentences.

Kenneth R. Jaskowiak



If you don’t want to lose your right to vote, there’s one simple solution. As Jim Carrey, in his role as an attorney unable to lie for a day in “Liar Liar,”told his wayward client when asked how to get out of a legal jam: “Stop breaking the law, asshole!”

Dawn Shull
Cypress, Texas


Next time, just stay home

RE: “The Baku Blues


If I were among those 24 poor misguided Americans who were led by Ted Rall on his tour of “the Stans”, I’d ask for my money back.

Rall obviously came to Azerbaijan with a preconceived notion of what he was going to write. He exaggerates the dilapidation of the capital city, dismisses the uniqueness of Baku’s Maiden’s Tower and, I’ll bet my last manat (that’s the currency here, Mr. Rall, or didn’t you notice?) he never, ever saw a medical waste bag floating in the water.

I came to Azerbaijan two years ago as a freelance journalist. I am now the country director for an American NGO in Baku that creates television news programming and promotes freedom of the media. I know firsthand the difficulties here and I don’t deny that there are problems in the government. I deal with them every day.

But to paint such a bleak picture of this country is inexcusable, and to say that the Azeri oil rush is over shows just how much of a cub reporter Mr. Rall really is. To imply that Kazakhstan is going to be the only winner in the Caspian oil game is wrong. That’s like saying that Richard Branson is poor. I suppose he is … compared to Bill Gates.

First of all, Azerbaijan does have oil, most of it untapped. Secondly, Mr. Rall’s article fails to address the issue of how Caspian oil will be moved to market. That requires a pipeline, and Azerbaijan is in a prime position to become the spigot for such a main export route.

Mr. Rall’s article amounts to nothing more than a witch hunt. I hope his 24 guests — and MoJo Wire readers — didn’t follow him to the public burning.

John Boit


Shelling it out

RE: “Shell Ads on the MoJo Wire


Does the word hypocrisy mean anything to MoJo? Does the word boycott mean anything to MoJo?

Advertising has nothing whatsoever to do with the notion or concept of free expression. Nothing about advertising could ever be construed as free expression. How many readers are going to misconstrue your liberal intentions?

I think you have to think a lot more about the relationship between advertising and the freedom of thought and expression. Freedom of expression, which is bought and (I’m sure) well paid for, compromises your position regardless of how liberalized you think it is. Shell probably needs your endorsement more than you need theirs.

Sally Waddingham


Harry come home

RE: “US Elections Need International Observers


Everything you say is true, but you overlook one essential party — the Libertarian Party. Clearly you disagree with that party’s viewpoint, but you are acting just as the Demolicans by eliminating that party.

The Libertarian Party has more currently elected officials in office than all the other third parties combined; it is the only third party on all 50 states ballots; it has more than 2,000 active candidates in this year’s elections; the Libertarian Party is also eligible for federal matching funds (though it refuses to take them). Why limit your legitimate complaint to just two parties who have been the beneficiaries of media coverage?

Ron J. Carr


Our ‘To Do’ list is endless

RE: “Barring Democracy


I read your article with great interest. People of goodwill have a lot of work to do to turn our country into what it was meant to be but never became: A government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Right now, it is a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich — with the rich getting richer and the poor getting prison.

I hope the people are aware of the stakes involved in the upcoming election. If George W. Bush is elected, this country will take a move to the right unprecedented in modern times. We must all work to see that does not happen and then keep working until we have achieved a democratic society in the US.

Charles McGhee
Chicago Heights, Ill.


Vote third party on the 7th

RE: “US Elections Need International Observers


I agree wholeheartedly with your observations on the US election process. I believe the US is purposely excluding presidential candidates who would offer the citizens real solutions from military overspending to a living wage to the health care crisis. The Commission on Presidential Debates doesn’t want candidates like Ralph Nader to speak to the American people because he is a man of honor and integrity. The commission’s candidates would be exposed for the fools they are. The people of the US should take action to eliminate the unfair commission, demand fair media coverage for all candidates and vote for a third-party candidate on Nov. 7.

Brenda Kay Blanton


Hey, buddy, can you spare a brain?

RE: “Barring Democracy


That is a strange argument to make. To cry about losing and blaming it on the fact that felons can’t vote — now that is a stretch. Who’s to say they would vote anyway? Not being able to vote is a consequence they chose, we didn’t. If you violate someone’s rights or violate the laws of the land, you lose your right to have any say in our political system. I think that is a great idea because the people I don’t want running this country are the ones unable to follow the laws of the land. As with most arguments of this nature, yours is totally intellectually bankrupt.

Chad Baron


Even more important than politics?

RE: “MoJo Wire Poll


I find the fact that of the choices available, the most important and potential beneficiary of the peace process was left out, that being the world.

I am a little disappointed that an open-minded magazine such as yours would be so narrow minded as to disregard the fact that not all involvement in the world affairs is necessarily related to the upcoming election. Call me naive, but I’d like to think there is a enough honesty and integrity left in the world today that sometimes the preservation of life is more important than politics.

Stephanie Mutti