Dear Salon reader:
During my lifetime, there have been several pivotal moments in American politics when the country had to change, or risk calamity. Among them was the historic battle over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when America's future as a multiracial union was on the line. Then there was the overthrow of Richard Nixon's dangerously imperial reign during the Watergate scandal -- a legal/media/political backlash against paranoid authoritarianism that accomplished nothing less than the rescue of American democracy.
And now we find ourselves at another crucial tipping point. The Bush-Cheney administration has led the country to the brink of an abyss. In the name of national defense, this unelected government has turned the United States into a world outcast and bogged down our fighting forces in a bloody Mideast nightmare. In the name of preserving American freedom, they have set fire to our constitutional protections. In the name of energy security, they have turned over the machinery of government to corporate pillagers. Taking power in Washington on a theme of "compassionate conservatism," the Bush-Cheney regime quickly established itself as the most ideologically extreme administration in U.S. history, and the most corrupt since Warren Harding handed over the nation's resources to his oil cronies.
In a robust democracy, the reckless arrogance and shameless profiteering of the Bush crew would long ago have forced a public reckoning, in the form of congressional investigations, independent probes and relentless media exposure. Unfortunately, our democracy is languishing these days. Every arm of government is in the iron-fisted control of one militant party, the Republicans, so our vaunted checks and balances have all but disappeared. And our media, ever more concentrated in the hands of a few government-friendly corporations, has surrendered its sentry duty as a public watchdog for profit-driven piggery, photo-op patriotism and celebrity/crime pornography.
And yet American democracy refuses to be extinguished. From the electronic populism of MoveOn.org; to the prairie-fire campaigns of Howard Dean and Wes Clark; to the revolt of the CIA rank and file against White House deception; to the progressive backlash that has installed the likes of Al Franken, Michael Moore, Molly Ivins and Joe Conason at the top of the bestseller list -- the counteroffensive against Bush-Cheney is now in full swing. The official channels have been closed to this populist energy, but it refuses to be contained.
For the past three years, Salon has been at the forefront of the effort to spotlight the wretched excesses of the Bush crowd and to demand public accountability. We broke stories on the scrubbing of black voters from Florida's 2000 election rolls; the EPA's coverup of dangerous pollution levels at New York's ground zero; the White House stonewalling of the 9/11 commission; the government and airline industry's failure to protect civilian and military aircraft from shoulder-fired missiles; the Pentagon's contingency plans to reinstate the draft; the grounding of antiwar protesters by federal aviation authorities; the ominously insecure voting machine software that is manufactured by a major Bush campaign contributor -- and more.
With the 2004 presidential election less than a year away, Salon is pumping up its political news coverage. We're adding talented reporters, like our new political correspondent Josh Benson, to the staff. And before the first presidential primaries, we will roll out a comprehensive, constantly updated campaign site that will feature Salon's original news coverage, as well as the latest polls, inside analysis and political dish.
Most important, Salon is devoting substantial new resources to major investigative reporting on the Bush administration, unearthing information of urgent importance to American voters as they deliberate on the future of the country's leadership. The GOP-dominated House and Senate might not be willing to investigate the Bush administration's disastrous decisions, secret deals and coverups. But Salon is -- and with your help, we will.
We can't rely on Big Media to do the job. The vigilant Washington Post of Watergate legend has now turned into a rubber stamp for Bush's catastrophic Iraq policy. The CBS of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Norman Lear has become the "craven broadcasting system," caving to right-wing pressure groups that demanded a politically correct version of Ronald Reagan's presidency. And just when you thought that cable television couldn't stuff another angry white guy into prime time, CNBC just announced it's giving Dennis Miller his own slot.
The Bush-Cheney regime has enjoyed a free ride from the press for too long. It's time to subject the administration to penetrating scrutiny. Sign up for Salon Premium today and unleash Salon's investigative hounds.
If you sign up now at the $35-a-year level, you can also receive annual subscriptions to Wired, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic Adventure.
If you're already a Salon Premium subscriber, please consider giving a gift subscription to a friend or family member (as a subscriber, you save 33 percent -- just be sure you're logged in). Click here.
You can also upgrade your current subscription to include a year's membership in Salon's acclaimed discussion forums at the WELL and Table Talk. Click here.
Finally, if you would like to make a donation to Salon in any amount, you can do so here.
America is at another historic tipping point. If you're concerned about the nation's future, please join us. Help Salon make headlines and make an impact on the presidential campaign. Subscribe to Salon today.
-- David Talbot