New York City



New York City

It shows how far the Democratic Party has moved rightward that Howard Dean is seen by Katha Pollitt as a liberal alternative to mainstream Democratic candidates, when he insists that the bloated Pentagon budget is off-limits to cuts and that universal health coverage is unrealistic for our country–and when he talks on Meet the Press of raising the Social Security retirement age and of deploying additional troops to Iraq [“Subject to Debate,” Sept. 1/8].

In the same New York Times profile in which Governor Dean boasted of having been “a triangulator before Clinton,” he made another claim (ignoring Dennis Kucinich and others): “It’s kind of a sad commentary that I’m the most progressive candidate running, out here talking about a balanced budget and a healthcare system run by the private sector.”

Shouldn’t progressives be resisting the rightward drift of the party instead of acquiescing?

JEFF COHEN, communications director
Kucinich for President (www.kucinich.us)

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Katha Pollitt says, “Right now, Dean is the only viable candidate who speaks to the anger, fear and loathing a large number of ordinary citizens feel about the direction Bush has taken the country.” I respectfully disagree with this all-too-common assessment of why Dean is attracting so many supporters. Dean’s real attraction for me is the hope, vision, common sense, honesty, problem-solving abilities, intelligence, real compassion and charisma he offers. Labeling the Dean phenomenon as simply a release of pent-up anger (“venting” in current media terminology) is not only selling Dean short but also his thoughtful and conscientious supporters from across the political spectrum.


Berkeley, Calif.

I thank Katha Pollitt for putting my feelings into words regarding Howard Dean. I am a 37-year-old lifelong Democrat, liberal at times, moderate at times. I would vote for a moldy gym sock against George W. Bush, if that’s what the Democrats put on the ticket. I don’t care whether Dean’s an overt liberal or a secret moderate, all I care is that he’s stood up to Bush and he’s caught the country’s imagination. I’ve tried to get excited about Kerry or Gephardt or Edwards, but let’s face it–they’re boring. Six months ago I never imagined being a Dean supporter, but Dean is the most exciting candidate in the race. He has the best chance of beating George “WMD” Bush, because he’s someone liberals and moderates can get behind.



Washington, DC

Ari Berman’s excellent “Payments for Perle” [Aug. 18/25] brings to light an issue that many of us who report from Washington for overseas broadcasters have long faced. We were one of many who were asked–but declined–to pay Richard Perle for an interview on US policy on Iraq. The issue is unfortunately blurred by the disgraceful behavior of those broadcasters who do accede to requests for payments by officials like Perle. These include the BBC, which–like most British broadcasters–habitually pays Members of Parliament for their opinions; a slew of Japanese broadcasters; and, as Berman reports, CTV of Canada.

Perle is not alone in demanding fees. Several years ago, an oft-quoted pundit with one of Washington’s leading think tanks instituted a demand for payment by foreign broadcasters but continued to offer his services free to US broadcast outlets. Some months later, I received a letter from him inviting me to participate in a survey on the “attitudes of foreign broadcasters based in Washington.” I completed my survey, and popped a bill for my time in the mail. I’m still waiting for a check.

Feature Story News



I thank Robert Alvarez for an excellent piece detailing the history of the Hanford Reservation in Washington State [“The Legacy of Hanford,” Aug. 18/25]. George W. Bush and his Energy Department are currently planning to make Hanford a national radioactive-waste dump. This misguided proposal will require over 70,000 truckloads of deadly waste (each one a potential dirty bomb) to travel thousands of miles on the nation’s highways to Hanford, where that waste will be dumped in unlined trenches, to flow into the Columbia River.

This outrageous plan is being opposed through a citizens’ initiative in the Washington State legislature, with a simple demand. I-297 requires that the Hanford site–the most toxic real estate in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Chernobyl as the most toxic place on Earth–be cleaned up before any more waste can be dumped. I-297 guarantees that the jobs connected to the cleanup will continue, as the cleanup funds are already in the system. I-297 is drawing together a rarely seen coalition of peace and justice groups, environmental activists and faith-based organizations determined to reverse the Administration’s shortsighted actions.

We ask for help from people around the country to help us make the ballot in 2004 and stop the nuclear contamination while we still have time.

Campaign director, I-297


Berkeley, Calif.

William Greider’s “Victory at McDonald’s” [August 18/25] is a sad commentary on how thoroughly the food industry has been able to shape the general perception of what constitutes food–and, just as important, what constitutes “reform” of the food industry. Greider celebrates the decision by McDonald’s to compel its meat suppliers to phase out growth-promoting antibiotics as “a progressive political breakthrough,” despite feeling “a little awkward” about doing so. Perhaps he should have listened to that pang of conscience before declaring victory.

Greider rightly calls attention to the slim, but real, public-health and environmental benefits that may result from the McDonald’s directive. But he ignores the underlying motivation: to help the company set and control the terms of the food-industry-reform agenda. Stripped of corporate spin, the McDonald’s stance on antibiotics is little more than a savvy marketing effort to placate civic-action groups while allowing the firm to sell as much of its unhealthy, ecologically destructive food as possible.

McDonald’s has been working to bathe itself in a warm green light for years, and in response to mounting criticism of its products and practices, it is ratcheting up its greenwashing PR. Greider and the “buy green” activists’ time would be better spent developing strategies for restructuring the food system.


Machipongo, Va.

McDonald’s is banning only one antibiotic used in chicken-growth promotion. The ban permits other uses of antibiotics in their chickens. Since the antibiotics used for growth-promotion are typically the same or similar to those used for disease control, it is doubtful what effect, if any, the McDonald’s policy will have. With or without antibiotics, the poultry industry can manipulate weight gain artificially by, for example, deactivating the protein that prevents birds’ muscles from overdeveloping, or by disrupting normal gut processes so that birds that are full feel empty and continue eating. The trade literature is full of test reports on alternatives to antimicrobial growth-promoters in animal food production.

It is a pipe dream that birds and other animals can be healthily and humanely raised for mass consumption. Moreover, the genetic engineering of these animals is well under way in laboratories around the world. People’s consciences and health would be better served by eating vegetarian meals.

United Poultry Concerns


Milton, Mass.

Andrew Boyd’s “The Web Rewires the Movement” [Aug. 4/11] excellently surveyed progressive political organizing in cyberspace but overlooked the rising star of shopping online for peace and justice. Two websites, ShopForChange.com and HEARTof.com, turn online shopping into a source of funds for peace and justice activism. Both sites link to well-known online stores. Click on the Barnes & Noble link at either website, for example, and you cybertrip over to the regular BN.com site. Make a purchase, and ShopForChange or HEARTof.com earns a referral fee, from which they donate to peace and justice groups.

ShopForChange houses nine stores, to 275 stores at HEARTof.com. ShopForChange donates from 3 to 5 percent of purchase prices and averages about 4.3 percent, while HEARTof.com donates from 0.5 percent on some computer purchases, up to 40 percent on some magazine purchases and averages more than 6.4 percent. The sites allow shoppers different levels of control over which peace and justice groups receive contributions, with HEARTof.com allowing its shoppers more control.




Peter Schrag quotes a California Congressional staffer as saying my office has difficulty meeting with the Bush Administration [“Getting the Blues,” Aug. 4/11]. Had he bothered to call my office, I would have explained that not only is that statement totally false but the Bush Administration knows that what’s good for California is good for the country. The statement by the anonymous source that “they’re not going to do a damn thing for us” is flat-out wrong.

The economic growth package signed by the President earlier this year was aimed at creating jobs and spurring growth across America. More than 10 million California taxpayers will benefit from this latest round of tax relief. California has received over $700 million to date in the war on terror for first responders, critical infrastructure protection, biological health and technology improvements. Earlier this year, the Interior Department respected California’s decision to prohibit offshore oil drilling in coastal waters by supporting the current moratorium on new leasing offshore. And in my Congressional district alone, the federal government has provided $55 million to date to clean contaminants from groundwater. The facts about President Bush and California simply belie Schrag’s one-sided piece.

Chair, California Republican delegation


Burlington, Vt.

Eric Alterman writes in his August 4/11 “Stop the Presses” column: “ix-nay on the evidence-nay.” Are we supposed to trust columnists–not to mention editors–who can’t write correct pig Latin? O-nay ay-way!


Ight-ray. E-way ould-shay ave-hay aid-say, “ix-nay on the evidence-hay (or -way).” –E-they Editors-hay

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