Progressive Writers Bloc

Passing the Baton


By David Chandler

Gil Franco approached me recently and asked if I would be interested in taking over the "Left in America" column. He has been writing the column since the mid 1990's and is ready to move on to other things. I was interested. I have plenty I would like to write about, but with a full-time job and other long-term projects underway, I was not in a position to commit to weekly deadlines.

Instead, I talked with a few like-minded friends and we have decided to undertake this project as a group effort. We have decided to call our group the "Progressive Writers' Bloc". (Actually, working together we hope to avoid writers' block!) We intend to critique each other's articles before submitting them, so we expect to turn in a quality product. We have even put up a web site where we will be posting all of our articles, supplemented with links to background information. It's a bare bones site at the moment, but even now it has a list of sources of online news and commentary that would definitely enrich your reading. Bookmark it at

One of the reasons I want to do this column is because the quality of news available in the "mainstream media" has plummeted in the last few decades. The media has been bought up and consolidated into the hands of a tiny group of corporate owners. Some (like Fox) have an overt right-wing agenda. The others merely have a corporate agenda. Their readership (or listenership) is their product. Their advertisers are their true market. In order to serve compliant consumers to their advertisers they avoid issues and opinions they judge to be unpopular. There are other sources of news available, but you have to know where to find them. We will be bringing alternative sources to your attention.

The media fail to provide critical counterbalance to the government because they are afraid of appearing unpatriotic. No matter that true patriotism demands a vigilant press…that is too subtle for many of their readers, so they don't risk it. What we hear instead is the official spin from every channel on the dial, when we hear actual news at all. More often than not we get the most lurid infotainment available…in six-month blocks. Who needs translators for the code words O.J., Princes Di, Monica, or Elian? We are about to witness another such media frenzy centering on Michael Jackson, while the real news goes unreported.

There is real danger in not knowing what is going on in the world. We all want to see the US as a fair and just country, but to many outside our borders we are seen as the biggest bully on the block. We know our government caters to the interests of big corporations, who also happen to be big political donors. Domestically, this equates to enhancing the obscene profits of top corporate executives at the expense of workers. In foreign policy this means supporting tyrannical governments in the name of cheap labor and political "stability" regardless of how brutal these governments are to their own people. (We were Saddam's biggest backer through the worst of his misdeeds. We only turned on him when he got in our way.) We have the biggest slice of the world's pie and we intend to keep it, at everyone else's expense. Hence terrorism! The reason we are being transformed into a police state is not because terrorism is inevitable, but because as long as we conduct business as usual terrorism is inevitable, and we intend to continue business as usual.

We hope to provide a column that will stimulate your thinking and raise your consciousness. Follow the links in the online version of this article at


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