Fostering War

Several articles in the 7/1-15/08 TPP are pertinent to the need to rearrange the public attitude about militarism in our country. Melissa Epstein Mills endorses a GI Bill for higher education, Jack Shanahan enumerates extreme waste and lack of an audit in Pentagon finances, Ted Rall (one of my favorite TPP columnists) reminds in his E-word essay, “... that the US is the world’s largest arms merchant ...” Could all of this be if there were little public support of militarism?

Instead of the GI Bill, I would prefer that we do much better by paying for education beyond high school for all qualified students, whether for college, graduate school or for a trade. This would fight militarism by making recruitment more difficult. Free higher education would be expected to increase the overall education level of our country. We should recall that a democratic republic should work best with an educated and informed citizenry. Educated citizens would be more likely to demand more information than that provided by corporate media sycophants, especially mind numbing television. (It might even increase TPP readership). Educated citizens could also be more resistant to the war monger’s con game using fear and patriotic jingoism to emotionally arouse the gullible into support of another ruinous conflict.

The financial mess, including sky high fuel prices, in which the US is currently mired is also partially caused by the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes in The Three Trillion Dollar War. It is my conclusion that, like crime, war does not pay, for the soldiers who fight and the citizens who are taxed to pay for the war. However, it is extremely lucrative for those sociopaths who profit from the killing and destruction. I call them vilelites (vile + elite). These are the industries, euphemistically called defense, which produce the means for hell on earth, the tools of destruction and death, and also the petroleum corporations which are also war profiteers. Just consider the enormous fuel consumption of humvees, tanks, trucks, helicopters and bombers, and the effect they must have on the fuel supply and subsequent price of fuel.

We need to reform the nation with better overall education, a resurrection of the peace movement, and read books instead of being hypnotized by television. We need to have voters who think critically and refute the cheerleaders for war and their jingoism clothed in false patriotism and actively oppose them to promote peace instead. What good is a flag pin on a senator’s lapel if he/she votes to fund more death and destruction and profits for the war monster?

It was obvious to any rational citizen in October 2002 that attacking Iraq was morally wrong and stupid. ... Any senator or representative, remaining in office, who failed to heed the admonitions against war by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and others, yet voted to give up the constitutional authority to declare war, should be rewarded for their defective judgment and treachery by defeat at the polls in November 2008. In October 2002, the House (296-133) and the Senate (77-23) passed the war resolution with public support. History has shown that this was a massive error in judgment with the war majority wrong and the peace minority correct.

Could an acceptance and (unsubstantiated) myth of militarism as an effective way to solve political problems lead to such a misjudgment? The alternative non-violent ways are less publicized and remain for the most part unknown, perhaps even suppressed. Statesman Adlai Stevenson observed, “It is more difficult to make peace than war.” An imbecile understands how to act violently, but fails to anticipate the consequences. It takes a sage to find peaceful solutions to conflict. Let us expose the “imbeciles” and get them out of our positions of power. Benjamin Franklin wrote truth on Sept. 11, 1773, “There never was a good war, or a bad peace.”

Arthur House
Franklin, W.V.


This is in response to Ted Rall’s 7/1-15/08 TPP article “The E-Word.” For a long time I have observed that the United States always has to have an enemy. If we don’t have an enemy we will go out and find one. I wonder why? Could it be that we are by far the worlds largest arms dealer. A large portion of our economy is based on making bombs and bullets. We make extravagant claims about being a peaceful nation. We love peace, we strive for world peace, we crave a peaceful existence. Our political leaders expound that the US is a peaceful nation and we do our level best to maintain and promote peace around the world on the one hand, but vote for armed conflicts and wars whenever possible. Could this be that war is good for our economy and that each and every politician has some sort of war related industry in their district and that needs to flourish?

Let’s face it, folks, war is good for business and as much as we say we don’t want wars they are all good for our economy because we can shovel the lion’s share of our tax dollars into the Pentagon which, in turn, can give extremely lucrative contracts to the multitude of military providers, or, as I call them collectively, the “bombs and bullets” industries.

A peaceful existence doesn’t sell tanks, bombers, fighter planes, submarines, uniforms and mess kits or the thousands of other items an active military runs on. Money that could be spent on roads, bridges, disaster relief, health care, poverty relief and the many, many other needs we have gets gobbled up by the Pentagon.

We are shipping freight train loads of $100 bills to Iraq every month so that the “bombs and bullets” industries can keep producing and the military contractors can keep gouging the tax payer. To insert some neo-con thinking here, “By God war is good for the bottom line and that’s what really counts.” So the reality is, Mr. Rall, that whatever the costs, we need enemies. The war mongers like Limbaugh and O’Reilly and their ilk continually claim that enemies will attack and take us over and we need to fight forever, but do you ever hear one of them volunteer to do anything? They just sit on their fat butts and rake in their yearly millions and let the lesser riffraff do the dirty, dangerous work. That’s the American way.

Tens of thousands of military and civilian casualties are just necessary collateral damage to these people who don’t care a whit who’s husband or son gets killed as long as they can make their millions from bloated contracts. Lets all be on the lookout for another enemy to attack. We need ’em. President Eisenhower was right when he warned the country about letting the military/industrial complex get too powerful.

Robert Reed
Bay City, Mich.

What Tax Rebates Don’t Do

I just realized that by telling my affluent friends how I was going to spend my $600 tax rebate, I was inadvertently revealing that my income is far less than theirs. The rebate starts diminishing when an individual’s 2007 income reaches $75,000, and a person with an income of $87,000 or more gets no rebate at all. (For couples, the rebate starts diminishing after an income of $150,000.)

By issuing these rebates to stimulate the economy, our leaders also revealed something. The people whose wealth has grown so phenomenally in recent years are not able to sustain prosperity without the rest of us. They need the rest of us, not just to teach their kids or fight their wars. They need us to spend money.

We less privileged types need something too. We need an infrastructure kept in good repair. We need solid bridges and levees, dependable electric grids, adequate public transportation, decent schools and a clean environment. These are necessities that we have always expected our government, and our tax dollars, to provide.

When elevators stall and the lights go out in New York City, for example, it is clear that societal needs are not being adequately met. Instead of giving rebates to stimulate the economy, I would have been pleased to see the federal government itself initiate one or two of the projects that private enterprise is not tackling, thereby creating jobs and also stimulating the economy, as in the days of FDR.

Even when tax credits are offered to encourage new development, our current government agencies sometimes slow things down. For example, the Bureau of Land Management recently placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public lands, holding back companies that want to lease public land, build solar plants there and subsequently sell the energy to utilities. The BLM says it must first study the environmental impact of these plants. Solar advocates agree that environmental assessments are important, but does that justify a freeze while the usual, inevitably long and politically-motivated delays occur? And while other companies drill for oil and gas?

In short, tax rebates will not give us what we really need, even if they do temporarily boost the economy. We the people will not get solid improvements within our borders as long as lavish military expenditures consume most of our tax money, or as long as the cronies of big corporations are running the government.

It’s high time for us to clean house.

Helen N. Hanna
Sacramento, Calif.

Separate Church and State

During the last decade we have witnessed the right-wing political campaigns avidly courting various megachurch leaders and their congregations. Fundamentalist Christian groups compose a huge voting bloc, which is all of one mesmerized mind-set, and being so, is the easiest to manipulate and exploit. During the last two election campaigns we saw this fully in action, along with the tragic results we see today. Millions of well-meaning people helped to usher in a very dangerous fascist administration.

Apparently, the 2008 Republican candidate was also trying his smarmy kissing-up to John Hagee and Rod Parsley and backing off when it was revealed that their “preaching” is quite similar to the rantings of Rev. Wright! Both McCain and Obama have recently taken their turn in the media shark tank because of absurd and dubious religious connections, which only served to detract from their political message. What other proof is there that matters of church and state should be completely separated once and for all?

Depending on religious traditions of blind faith in fantasies and ignoring the reality phenomenon of progressive mental and spiritual growth is like identifying the ocean merely by its foam and ignoring the tremendous depths that hold fascinating mysteries revealed as time and discovery allows. ...

Helen McKinney
Sapphire, N.C.

Write-In Indictments

Amen to the letter [6/15/08 TPP] by Percy Pascoe of Cuba, Mo., on the subject of the future indictments of war crimes to be served one day on President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

I fervently hope and pray that someone will start the campaign for write-ins from the citizenry via the Internet for their indictments.

Thank you for your excellent newspaper.

Richard S. Andujar
Franklin Square, N.Y.

Get On Board with Nader

Rumor is, no one in Ralph’s hometown of Winsted, Conn., is all that excited about his run for president. Again. Totally false rumor. We like Ralph Nader and wish you professional Progressives would endorse him and start delivering the government we all need and want! ...

We’ve lost our identities, begun to realize that maybe monopolies are not friendly animals to most of us, that oil does pollute, that democracy—not practiced in China by the way—is a good thing we should try re-establishing in America again. Question is: how? With Obama? With McCain? I think not.

It’s time to get Ralph Nader on the ballot. Time to trust him, and ourselves again. Insist he, and OUR issues, get in the debates this time. It’s time to end that war in Iraq. To stop supporting flip-floppers. Time to insist that Congress begin now, BEFORE the election, passing universal health care, affordable energy options, ending unlimited Pentagon spending and guaranteeing affordable heat for all Americans THIS WINTER, with an economic package that makes sense for all Americans rather than false trade to prop up undemocratic states, PAC Pals and reactionary corporations.

It’s time TPP took a deep breath, endorsed Ralph Nader as the only true progressive in the race—the best leader who will not fudge on his promises to “deliver” for all Americans, for our democracy. Now.

Alan DiCara
Winsted, Conn.

Obama’s the Man

A basis upon which to start the measure of a person is where they have come from, how far they have been able to travel, and how competently they have moved along the way.

The remarkable life of Barack Obama is the story of a man who comes from a family of little means, accomplished everything he has ever set out to do, and excelled at everything he has done. 

This is in marked contrast to the man that Republicans have sold into the White House; George W. Bush never excelled at anything.

Sam Osborne
West Branch, Iowa

Where Are Progressive Talkers?

Regarding George Ross McComb’s “Radio Needs Diversity” letter [6/15/08 TPP]: Radio also needs the Fairness Doctrine restored. A popular radio talk show is The Randi Rhodes Show and Democrats carried every state her show was aired in 2006. She is no longer on the air in St. Louis, Mo. Her show used to air from 3 to 6 p.m. Central time, but now I can only get to her website for one hour a day at the St. Louis Public Library ...

The AM radio station that used to carry The Randi Rhodes Show is not listed in the telephone book, so I could not easily complain. I will remember to support Democrats in the next election, though.

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.

Editor Notes: Randi Rhodes is carried on 28 stations—none near St. Louis—as well as satellite radio stations XM and Sirius and online at www.novamradio.com, but she has an audience estimated at 1.5 million listeners, according to Talkers magazine. Other progressive talkers, such as Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Stephanie Miller also attract impressive ratings but have trouble expanding their list of affiliated stations beyond the approximately 50 Air America-affiliated stations while it seems every town has multiple right-wing talkers on the radio.

Couple Stiffs

Am I alone in this, or has someone else come to the same conclusion?

When witnessing the team of John McCain and Joe Lieberman in action, one cannot avoid the conclusion they must have escaped from Madame Tussauds’ House of Wax, specifically from the “impostor” section as a pretender to the American Throne along with his court jester.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2008

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