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Web Letter

The grassroots effort in "hiring" Barack Obama to be our president was largely successful. Now we shift from "campaign" mode to "governing" mode, and the grassroots has become dormant. The grassroots have fallen into the "four-year cyclical trap" that we have been in for so long. We "hire" our president to go do our dirty work, and then wash our hands of "dirty politics" for another four years whereby we decide once again if we are going to "re-hire" him or not. We do nothing in the interim. Obama's agenda cannot succeed without an active grassroots participating and framing the debate. One man can not turn an oceanliner in stormy seas by himself. Americans must be engaged at all levels of our democracy in order for us to move forward. Blaming the "government" for all of our ills is so easy, but so old school. After all, we are the government and we are the ones we have been waiting for. Its all too easy to lay back and say "it's not an election year--I still have time." This attitude will be the death of the progressive agenda.

Andrew J. Di Liddo Jr.

Grantsville, MD

Jun 8 2009 - 9:03am

Web Letter

What President Obama does not want to do is rock the boat. Unfortunately, the boat needs to be rocked, almost tipped upside down, to right the course taken while Bush/Cheney ruled.

Re-read Obama's Audacity of Hope. He hems this way and that way. Especially note his chapter on foreign policy or in general his comments about free markets and capitalism.

Intelligent, yes. Caring, yes. Willing to rock the boat, no. Some people call this pragmatic, and maybe even he thinks this is the practical way to operate. He doesn't seem to understand there is another way, which is to use the media and his popularity and charm to push for the changes that are necessary. Now, how he could not see that the whole run-up to the Iraq War was anything less than a media blitz is just beyond me. Charming or not, Bush's agenda got done.

I believe in the free market, but right now there is no such thing left. Oligarchies rule. Companies should exist for people, not the other way around.

Contrast Obama with FDR.... no comparison.

So, yes, he is looking more and more like all the old bosses, but that is why, as this article points out, we need to really push him. The pragmatic part of Obama knows that we are not quite thrilled wih his policies, we progressives. He needs us, just as we need him. We need to push him, so that he can do the right things. Without us, the final product will be useless. No teeth, no bite.

Anne Furtado

Lowell, MA

Jun 3 2009 - 7:44pm

Web Letter

On even the most basic issues, like getting ending federal regulations that regulate labor, H-1B visas, for example, Obama has not even said one word. Even with record unemployment amoung engineers and programmers Obama hasn't ended a federal program to bring foreign workers into the US. Even as Microsoft has its largest layoff, Obama favors federal regulations to maniulate labor markets and drive down wages for US workers.

Obama also followed through with the TARP program, giving hundreds of billions to failed banks and billionaires who created huge failures. Let's go over that again. Obama is in favor of regulations that keep workers' wages suppressed, but he also gives hundreds of billions to executives who completely failed.

If The Nation is still supporting Obama after this, then you are just as bad as the followers of Bush.

Obama is just talk. Good talk. But his policies are fundamentally Bush's policies.

Michael Ashby

Seattle, Wa

May 31 2009 - 2:04am

Web Letter

We do need change. We need to significantly reduce the spending of the federal government. What Obama has offered is not change but an acceleration of ideas (government programs) that have not produced positive social or financial results for those who are most in need and for our nation. What we are getting is simply more of the same. This isn't change. It is politics as usual.

Tom Lewellen

Scottsdale, AZ

May 30 2009 - 10:19am

Web Letter

I have been sending messages to the Obama Administration two to three times a week. I want a single-payer health system, the Bush administration held accountable for war crimes, a major economic change away from Wall Street to Main Street, and how badly the auto companies have been handled vis-à-vis Wall Street.

Danny Showalter

Dolores, CO

May 29 2009 - 5:06pm

Web Letter

Every thing in this article is well stated and true beyond argument or debate, but isn't likely to gain the light of day because the message is owned by those entrenched interests that have gained power over the messenger and the message.

They control the "big Lie" and have the United States Supreme Court to thank for their ability to manipulate reality, thanks to Buckley v. Valeo.

The recent vote in the Senate about monies to close Guantánamo is a clear marker of the extent that our country has sunk into the abyss of corruption. The truth is that if they hold public trials of those poor sobs, we will, in fact, hear some of the horrible truth about our representatives of both parties. I just didn't realize the extent of the corruption. There seems to be a large umbilical cord between Wall Street and Washington.

James L. Pinette

Caribou, ME

May 29 2009 - 3:17pm

Web Letter

If you believe this administration's efforts can be called change over what occurred in the last several administration, all I have to say is "what planet are you from?" This looks like more of the same to me. Especially on energy! There is global warming, and we are going to solve it with a tax (trillions of dollars) and the net result is a variance of only .2 of a degree after a hundred years.

This is government as usual. Promise a lot and produce little of no result.

I was hoping for an Obama that believed in change, but this is not it.

Tom Lewellen

Scottsdale, AZ

May 29 2009 - 2:01pm

Web Letter

Republicans just don't get climate change/global warming and they never will. They think it's some kind of gay communist plot to take over the country. Hannity and friends are ready and willing to frame the debate around global climate change because they know they can rally the Republicans against any bill called "climate change."

What Democrats must do is reframe the debate around the many issues where both Republicans and Democrats agree.

Republicans think first about their money and second about defense so they can protect their money.

I live in a red county, and every Republican I talk to is very doubtful that global warming exists but just as sure that we do need to get out of the Middle East--first, to become energy independent, and second, to stop giving money to countries that sponsor international terrorism.

Democrats need to focus on the high cost of importing and burning oil, starting with drilling costs, the costs of transporting the oil over the ocean, the costs of cleaning up oil spills, the costs of trucking the oil to and from refineries, the healthcare costs incurred from people inhaling the fumes of truck and car exhaust, the costs of wars fought over oil. But most of all there is the damage done to the economy when gas prices go from $2 per gallon to $ 5 per gallon.

Next, Democrats should focus on how much easier, safer, and simpler renewable energy is. Sunlight is delivered directly to your doorstep and rooftop every day for free. There is no drilling, no ocean transport, no refineries, no trucks, no wars to be fought, and you don't have to pay OPEC or anyone else for sunshine. The price will never go up because it's free to begin with. Therefore there is no threat of some Arab sheik or some American oil company jacking up the price of sunshine and ruining our economy.

By going renewable you are not giving money to countries that hate us and sponsor international terrorism. Renewable energy burns nothing and so it pollutes nothing and healthcare costs will go down.

Drilling for oil and mining coal is dangerous business and people are killed in mining disasters all the time.

And once again think about how much safer the country will be if we could stop dealing with countries in the Middle East once and for all.

A green economy has a long list of advantages and climate change is just one of many. If you want to win the argument with a Republican talk about the many other reasons to go green and put climate change last on the list.

Gary Amstutz

Lake Isabella, CA

May 28 2009 - 11:08pm

Web Letter

Like many progressives, I have been disappointed at the results being delivered by many of the Democratic officeholders we worked so hard to get elected. So what to do?

Here's one thing. The elected Democratic establishment from the president and vice president on down is lined up solidly behind Arlen Specter's bid for re-election as a Democrat. Representative Sestak is exploring a primary challenge to Specter. Progressives should send a message by contributing whatever they can to a Sestak Senate primary campaign.

If small contributions from concerned, perhaps disappointed, progressives arm Sestak with a financial war chest to put Specter on the run, what does that say to our elected Democrats? Take progressives for granted at your own electoral risk. And it would make the point in a timely way, before watered-down legislation, which will only serve to push urgently needed reforms far into the future, is enacted into law.

We can have all the demonstrations one can imagine, and they are helpful to our causes. Nothing, however, registers with these politicians more than money. If progressives from around the country shower whatever they can afford on a campaign that challenges the position of our elected leaders, then we will not be playfully dismissed for much longer. We can demonstrate that we will not blindly follow those we elect when they fail to deliver for us.

The politician who to date has benefited most from small-time contributions from progressives now works in the White House. Certainly he would not like to see those resources directed elsewhere in 2012. I am sure the president and vice president would understand the significance of the progressive netroots contributing to a real Democrat, a candidate running in oppposition to the man they have endorsed.

Now, I don't live in PA, and the only things I know about Mr. Sestak are that he is a Democratic Congressman and former admiral. However, I don't care at all for Mr. Specter's spineless and opportunistic politics. Because our sometimes misguided elected leaders support Specter, this would be a good way to remind them who helped put them in office and to whom they should be delivering on policy matters.

You want single-payer? End to torture and misguided state-secrets arguments, indefinite detentions? You want to stop continuation of the Bush Big Bank Bailouts? Here's a constructive way to send a message in the only language, unfortunately, our elected politicians all seem to readily comprehend. And the downside? Sestak wins (Toomey has no chance against any Democrat) and we get a real Democrat representing Pennsylvania in the US Senate.

Bob Tallman

Crestwood, KY

May 28 2009 - 2:48pm