UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

letter circulating on internet/A call to Massachusetts Citizens on the Eve of Global Warming:

A call to Massachusetts Citizens on the Eve of Global Warming: Please Forward

Okay, let me get this straight: now we are supposed to vote for Shannon O’Finneran, uh, O’Brien, even though she is Let-Them-Eat-Cake Tom Finneran’s best buddy, because at least she is not Mitt Romney, Evil Republican. This guy Mitt (what the hell kind of name is that? Mitt. Already I don’t like him) is a caricature of someone meant to evoke in anyone with an alternative lifestyle images of the clean-cut, blockheaded jock crowd that made their high school years miserable. Wait, that’s it! This is a replay of everything we thought we had gratefully left behind: jocks versus dweebs versus metalheads versus hippies. Shannon O’Finneran is the dweeb, with about as much vision and passion as a pocket calculator, but we’ll vote for her even if we don’t like her, because jocks we like even less. Mitt even has an airhead blond cheerleader of a wife who says she didn’t know what it was when she signed one of the most obnoxious petitions in state history, DOMA. Is it democracy yet?

Furthermore, under no circumstances are we to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, because a vote for Jill is a vote for Mitt. And we don’t want a replay of 2000, now do we? No way!

Not even if the players in the production don’t match. Romney is pro-choice, and is endorsed by gay Republican activists. It is Democrats who are waging a very Republican-like war against the will of the people on Clean Elections, and it is Republicans who are defending it. Both sides manage to get their heads together, though, when it comes to screwing the poor and the middle-class. Us.

Were you relieved when Finneran and company solved the budget crisis this year, after lots of nail-biting and hand-wringing in the media? Guess what? You got soaked. Betting the hicks won’t know the difference between an income tax hike and a reduction in the personal exemption, your personal exemption got slashed by $1100 for single filers, $2200 for joint. Taxes on cigarettes went up, even though none of it will go to smoking prevention programs like it’s supposed to. And that’s just the beginning. Whose ox didn’t get gored? Big stockholders for Raytheon, Fidelity, and other Big Money interests, and I don’t mean you with your puny IRA or 401k investments. I mean the Big Boys. Even normally conservative Associated Press marveled that Finneran’s plan will: “hike taxes for seniors, students and single parents, but spare defense contractors, mutual fund companies and corporate researchers.”

Just who are the Republicans here?

Now is as good a time as any to go back to the national scene, to 2000. Like my beloved brother-in-law says about family arguments, “if you’re gonna get it out, get it ALL out.” I don’t know about you, but I love my civil liberties, and John Ashcroft is about the scariest blockhead of a Christian Fundamentalist to come down the pike in a long time. Who do we thank for him? Ralph Nader? Guess again. During Ashcroft’s confirmation, Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle told George Bush “he need not worry” about it, meaning he need not worry about any nasty filibusters, WHICH THE REPUBLICANS DIDN’T HAVE THE VOTES TO OVER-RIDE! Democrat Chris Dodd was just as helpful, and voted for Ashcroft, saying he was against “the growing predilection to treat nominations as ideological battlefields.” Wish someone had told that to Newt Gingrich, when he single-handedly sank Clinton’s cabinet nominations (remember Lani Guinier, Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, and Dr. Jocelyn Elders?) And that’s when the Dems had a 57-42 majority, and Gingrich wasn’t even in the Senate. Other Democrats who voted for Ashcroft: Russ Feingold, Robert Byrd, and others you may know.

How accommodating of the Democrats to give us Ashcroft, when pro-choice, gay, and civil rights activists were screaming against it, saying he had already given every indication of being a Hermann Goering protege.

Then there’s the big one: global warming. Gore: for action. Bush: against action. Simple, right? And Nader with egg on his face. So here’s one for you, Tony Karon in Time Magazine: “Gore’s negotiating team at the 1998 Kyoto talks managed to haggle the Europeans down from requiring a 15 percent reduction from 1990 emission levels to 5 percent…After all, Al Gore wasn’t about to become the candidate urging Americans to trade in their SUVs…” Five percent reductions? National Geographic News, of venerated old National Geographic Magazine, reports that “a 60 TO 70 PERCENT REDUCTION in greenhouse gas emissions is needed…” (italics mine) WAKE UP, PEOPLE! IT’S THE FUTURE OF THE PLANET WE ARE TALKING ABOUT!

Not widely reported, Gore’s betrayal, but then this is the same media that keeps people like Nader and Jill Stein out of debates.

Drilling in the Arctic Refuge? Sorry, you’re going to hate this, but Clinton/Gore were begged by environmentalists, including Jimmy Carter, to declare the ANWR a national monument. That would have put it well out of Bush’s reach. Clinton said it wouldn’t provide that much protection, so he didn’t sign it. Jimmy Carter said it would have (New York Times, 12/29/2000.) BETWEEN JIMMY CARTER AND BILL CLINTON, WHO DO YOU BELIEVE? Why in the world would Clinton not sign something so clearly good for the environment? Suppose, just suppose, that the two parties are not really two parties after all, but two factions influenced by the corporations which contribute big bucks to them both, and manipulate them, and us. (Manipulation in politics? I am shocked, shocked..!) They say to Bill: “Pretend to guard the bank, but leave the back door open when you leave. We need to show there’s a difference between you two, so we can tar Nader later.” Arctic Refuge was the bank. And monument status was the back door.

The fact is, when you do a side-by-side comparison of the environmental records of the Republicans and the Democrats, they are not really all that different. What’s different is the way their records are played-up in the media. When Clinton granted a fuel efficiency exemption for SUVs, which led to an explosion in their numbers, it was buried in the back pages. But when Bush lowers anti-pollution requirements for coal-fired plants, as he recently did, the media squeals like a stuck pig. George Bush keeps doing things that are villainous almost to the point of bad comedy. Don’t you ever wonder why?

It’s to reinforce a point: “this is what you get for flirting with Nader. Do you need any more proof?” True, three percent nationally isn’t much, but he polled double that in states as different as Massachusetts, Montana, Maine, and Hawaii, even hitting ten percent in Alaska. And that’s excluding him from debates, and with the national press ignoring him. Any mob boss knows, these small rebellions must be nipped in the bud. ‘Dese things get out of hand real fast. Boy, they hate that.

So we give those chumps, the voters, the good cop – bad cop routine. One guy is kind of scary, but the other guy is REAL scary, so you’d better deal with the first one because you don’t WANT the other. It’s intended to do exactly what it has been doing: scare people away from a third, progressive party. Because, we are told, that brings the REAL scary cop into the room. Jill Stein recently said, “we are asked to choose between the people who will keep things the way they are (bad) and the ones who will make it worse.” Hmm.

Dear friends and fellow citizens, hear me out. We like our televisions and our DVDs, our sports bars, our beer and our pot (could there be something wrong with laws that make forty percent percent of the population technically criminal?) We can’t be blamed if we believe we can’t do a thing about the way things are; after all, if Finneran-O’Brien can take the considered will of 2/3 of the voters, Clean Elections, and shred it like so much confetti in the wind, they can do just about anything, right? (No, Shannon is not a Clean Elections candidate. Of the Democrats, only Warren Tolman was.)

But now and then it’s time to make a well-considered, carefully calculated break. The way a mustang will quickly note that for once there are no riders on the far side of an opening in the chute, and bolt. And the herd with him. There comes a time to think for ourselves.

Let’s look at downsides and upsides. If we vote for Jill Stein, will Mitt Romney win? Maybe. Maybe not. But will the impact of a Stein stampede more than offset the distaste of having a Republican governor who happens to look like Neidermeyer in Animal House? But who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights? I believe so.

It is no coincidence that all successful Republican gubernatorial candidates pay homage to pro-choice and gay rights in Massachusetts. There is no way to win if you are anything else. The numbers just aren’t there. Republican governors William Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Jane Swift were all strongly pro-choice. And any changes in these laws must come from the state legislature (it’s not as if the governor nominates justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.) The fact is, the biggest threat to pro-choice and gay rights here comes from conservative Democrats, like Finneran’s appointment of avowed homophobe John Rogers, Democrat of Norwood, to the career-making Ways and Means chairmanship. These guys are no more real Democrats than Romney is a real Republican.

What about the upside of a big Stein vote? For one thing, it would put wind and solar power back into play, after being stalled by major party inattention. There is, off the coast of Nantucket, a windfarm proposal on the drawing board which makes so much economic sense that it is backed by the utilities industry. In other words, the technology’s time has come. All it needs is the slightest nudge to become reality, and Jill’s clean energy message, backed by votes, could provide that nudge. Massachusetts would lead. That’s a pretty good return on your vote. Make no mistake: a 32% vote for Stein would send shock waves not only through Beacon Hill, but across the nation.

Jill’s platform would also send the messege to Romney-Finneran-O’Brien: stop soaking the poor and middle-class whenever you need to find a few billion bucks to keep the hand-outs coming to your rich friends, or risk being swept out of office like so many dust bunnies before a broom. Carry out the clear will of the people on campaign finance reform, stop treating us like chumps. Next, to the media, stop playing us, trying to drive us down a chute. We want ALL the information, to hear from ALL the candidates, and never mind who you think is viable. Or you’ll get a backlash against your own boys. And stop the good cop – bad cop routine. We’re onto you.

Let’s try a war analogy, since this is a kind of war, a war, in the end, for the future of the planet. In this state, the enemy’s right flank is pinned down, thanks to a demographic which will not allow this to be anything but a pro-choice, pro-gay rights state, and it’s time for the rush up the middle which they least expect. Men will be lost, but the cost of doing nothing is even greater.

What is the cost of doing nothing? The cost of playing along with good cop – bad cop? Only that your children and grandchildren, if you have any, will never forgive you for not trying to stop global warming. You will never get the medical care you need when you are old, and you will never live to collect a dime of social security because it will all have gone to Star Wars.

There’s a hole in the chute, an historic opportunity to bust loose, because this is Massachusetts. Will we take it? Let’s use the power of the Internet. They can stop good candidates from being heard in debates, but they can’t stop you from sending this to your friends. Yet.


Pedro Paine

“We can have a government that creates prosperity for all in a sustainable, renewable energy economy…”

–Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party Candidate for Governor,

visit www.massgreens.org

[email protected]

this letter at www.angelfire.com/ma4/pedropaine/index.html