Daily Kumquat: A Necessary Response to the Leesburg Daily Commercial

[Editor’s Note, 05/21/15: This is the original statement of this website’s purpose. The site’s focus has obviously broadened since its early days, but we leave this page intact to help explain¬† our “fossil record.”]

Statement of Purpose

The Daily Kumquat is a necessary response to the relentless right-wing propaganda disseminated by the Leesburg Daily Commercial. This Florida newspaper, serving Lake and Sumter Counties, is aimed ostensibly at a middle-class readership but effectively subjugates the interests of ordinary Americans to the lies and mythology of the corporate elite that is destroying the United States from within.

While the Daily Commercial may attempt to claim “plausible deniability” by including a few token columns from “liberal” commentators and allowing the expression of some dissent through reader letters, the overall rightward thrust of the newspaper is painfully obvious. Extreme right-wing commentators are given far more exposure (a regrettable tendency that became particularly pronounced around the time of the 2010 congressional midterm elections, when the fate of the disastrous Bush tax cuts was at stake). The paper’s in-house editorials, which the industrious editors only manage to produce a few days a week, are blatantly hostile to the welfare of the readers it purports to represent. And, of particular concern to this blog, the Daily Commercial‘s peculiar relationship with Russ Sloan, formerly employed at Lake-Sumter State College but with a background in the GOP’s very own alternate reality, the Chamber of Commerce, provides a weekly outlet for the promulgation of outrageously deceptive plutocratic propaganda.

As thinking Americans with formal training in the social sciences, we have expressed our opinions to the Daily Commercial through numerous letters to the editor. These missives accomplished very little, other than forging a few connections locally with like-minded individuals. Letters are a hopelessly inadequate response to the problem of media misinformation. For one thing, they are limited in length. For another, the editors can (and do) edit them for content, often excising the most potent sequences of words or fortuitously inserting grammatical or spelling mistakes which redound negatively to the credibility of the author. Letters are frequently held for such long periods that, by the time they are finally published, the readership has completely forgotten what the original issue was. The sheer volume of damaging distortions printed by the Daily Commercial requires a frequency of response that far exceeds the twice-monthly limit by which letter authors are supposedly constrained. And, most fundamentally, it is long past time for the tenor of political discourse in our area to be wrested away from the smug certitudes of the GOP. All of these considerations militate in favor of an online blog, though we cannot guarantee that it will be a true “daily.”

Site Philosophy

The battle for our future, which has recently started to warm up in unexpected ways on American soil (but which has been white hot in other parts of the globe for decades), is but one part of a larger war of ideas. The key concerns animating this website are listed below. Some of these concepts will be shocking to regular readers of the Daily Commercial.

Reclamation of the meaning of American patriotism and citizenship from an arrogant right-wing that has been allowed by a passive citizenry and a corporate media to distort these terms beyond all recognition in order to advance its own selfish interests. In particular, the right’s nauseating hypocrisy in claiming the mantle of the framers while subverting their principles must be exposed and extirpated from our national dialog.

Accurate identification of responsibility for the causes of our economic travails. The increasingly radical Republican Party likes to lecture the poor about taking responsibility for their own lives, yet turns a remarkably blind eye to the systemic fraud of the corporate elite, for whom accountability has become a distant memory.

Communication to the electorate that both political parties are equally in thrall to the corporate oligarchy that is destroying America. The false choice with which we are presented is between one party which is overtly pro-corporate and one which is covertly pro-corporate, paying lip service to the interests of the people in public fora while undermining them behind closed doors. Many Democratic readers of the Daily Commercial fail to understand the extent to which their party has sold them out, particularly in regard to financial deregulation. Ironically, those readers of the Daily Commercial who rail against the Democratic Party are not entirely wrong; unfortunately, most of them do not understand why.

Repeal of one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s worst decision of the modern era, Citizens United v. F.E.C. 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), which granted wholly unwarranted and frighteningly dangerous new rights of political speech to corporations. Concurrently, we must also take note of the hypocrisy of the right, which raises no objections to judicial activism when the Court strikes down legislation or prior decisions that are incompatible with its agenda.

Recognition of, and opposition to, American imperialism in foreign and defense policy. The United States has assumed the role of global policeman at immense expense to the national treasury and our long-term security. Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings against the military-industrial complex continue to be ignored even at a time of great fiscal strain. The nation as a whole seems utterly incapable of perceiving American actions from anything other than a simple-minded, jingoistic viewpoint, and therefore fails to acknowledge the legitimate grievances of other countries hurt by America.

Respect for intellectual honesty and the scientific method. The right’s denial of global-warming science and its general attempt to replace scientific inquiry with religious superstitions and ignorance represent a horrifying enslavement of the human mind and a return to the Dark Ages.

A firm commitment to secularism and the separation of church of state. The founders of this nation were not religious fundamentalists; they were deists and scholars of the enlightenment. Their wisdom must not be overturned by zealots of far inferior character and intellect.

Advancement of the urgent need to elevate environmentalism to a central human concern. It is no coincidence that the right bends over backwards to characterize environmentalism as anti-capitalist and un-American. Our children and our planet deserve better.

Many of these issues are interrelated, and this site’s criticism of the commentators featured in the Daily Commercial will identify their hostility along several of these fronts concurrently. As a clearer picture of the corporate oligarchy’s agenda emerges – helped enormously by the astonishingly articulate young protesters of the Occupy Movement – more and more ordinary Americans will come to understand how their interests and their futures are being jeopardized by a narrow, selfish ideology that cares only about short-term profit maximization for an overweening elite. A day of reckoning is approaching, and an opportunity for a better future lies ahead – if we all come together and lift ourselves out of the ideological graves into which we have been consigned.