Letters to the Editor in Washington Post

[The Washington Post just published a great letter to the editor (also below, in italics), just below a letter to the editor from John Podesta and the Center for American Progress rebutting the editorial mentioned (and linked to) below.

The publication of an editorial by the Washington Post with a line like this speaks volumes about how effective the ultra-right has been at defining the terms of the game… somewhere in a Washington area smoke filled room, the right has decided to go on the offensive, and make attacking Mr. Soros and Peter Lewis the issue of the day.

Thus, editorials this (“Mr. Soros’s Millions” in the WP) which fail to place Mr. Soros’ actions in any context, and news articles (LAT, “Democrats Line Up Their Own Billionaire Firepower”) which, even as they mention the Heritage model that the Center for American Progress aims to emulate, fail to mention the overwhelmingly larger amounts poured in to the ultra-right over the last thirty years by a much broader cast of characters (most of it “laundered” through tax-exempt foundations [great tax dodge]), and paint progressives as hypocrites for accepting money from these folks.]

I was dumbfounded by this sentence in the Nov. 22 editorial “Mr. Soros’s Millions”:

“For Democrats thrilled with the Soros millions, imagine conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife opening his bank account on behalf of Mr. Bush.”

Although his money did not go to advocate defeating a particular candidate, Mr. Scaife has given $700 million to conservative organizations over more than four decades. He has been one of the main funders of the Heritage Foundation and many other conservative “think tanks” such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Contemporary Studies. In 1994 he set up a fund to investigate whether Clinton official Vince Foster was murdered, and he funded the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

Besides Mr. Scaife, let’s not forget about other right-wing billionaires such as Howard Ahmanson, who has spent millions promoting religious-right candidates and funding many conservative groups.

There is plenty of reason to worry about money in politics, but why single out Mr. Soros without pointing out the rich funders on the right too?



[The other point I wish to make, and I’ll be brief, in deference to Dave’s sensibilities: Podesta, Lewis, Soros, MoveOn.org… they represent a moderate to liberal, Clintonian style politics. What used to be the center of American politics (before the right pulled things so far out of balance). While I appreciate what they’re doing, they’re by no means attempting to shift American politics to the degree that their ultra-right-wing opponents aimed at, thirty years ago. These groups represent baby-steps in an attempt to move things back into balance… not that I’m unhappy to have them test the waters and take the point on this, mind you.

You’d have to go to the left of the Greens (who represent what used to be the liberal/left wing of the Democratic Party) to the Peace and Freedom Party in California (who are seeking to nominate Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier for President/VP), before you find anyone near as radical as Scaife, the Koch brothers, and the Coors family, et. al. … you sure as hell don’t see Mr. Soros, et. al pouring millions into the pockets of these folks, people whose goal is to upend the system as it now exists (just as was the goal of the Heritage Foundation, et. al. and still is). When I see seven figure donations pouring in from an assortment of multi-millionaires and the foundations they control to organizations like The Green Insititute, well, then I’ll think that maybe the campaign to create balance is beginning to get some traction.

We’re living in a skewed media environment, where the American Enterprise Institute is a non-ideological mainstream institution, and Richard Perle can get away with attacking the “new liberal institutions” (where the hell does the plural come from) as “political”, and “not scholars” (as if what the Heritage Foundation produces is scholarship).

I sincerely hope that Podesta, et. al., at the very least, begin to force some “honesty in labeling” upon the American media. That would be a good first step.]

Thomas Leavitt