Promises, Promises

One of the reasons I look forward to your publication is that it comes from the center of the country, and represents authentic “progressive” values.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the so-called “Progressives” on both coasts. Consider this: as Thomas Frank has correctly noted in What’s The Matter With Kansas?, Republicans have thus far been successful largely by promising action on socially conservative issues (abortion, gay rights, etc.) even though they have no intention of actually delivering on those promises; those same folks like to say that the Democratic Party is dominated and funded by wealthy “Liberals,” most of whom reside on the two coasts.

What no one seems to be noticing is that those so-called “Liberals” (remember the 2006 Congressional Election?) have also achieved a measure of electoral success by promising things they have no intention of actually delivering. Is there anyone out there besides Dennis Kucinich who has any intention of keeping their promises?

Shorey H. Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.

Who’ll be the Next to Fall?

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Where have we heard that before? Suppose it is true, what then? Would it explain why we are at war almost all the time, because we have a war economy? The Reds used to claim that unregulated capitalism cannot sustain itself without periodic wars to bolster the economy when it slumps, as it is doing now. There must be a better way. Communism flopped. Is capitalism next to flop? It would seem that both systems were incapable of the will to develop a more efficient system. Why is that? Is it because both systems tended to elevate the biggest loudmouths to greater and greater positions of power to the point of reaching the point of absurdity in justifying failing systems?

We often hear that democracy is the worst system there is, except for all of the other systems. Our own founders even said that democracy is the worst system of government possible. That is why they opted for a republic. Now we can see that too could be and is corrupted by lobbyists representing the upper class. Is it high time to go back to the drawing boards and develop a system that works? Like government of the people, for the people and of the people, instead of the corporations?

Jim Reine
International Falls, Minn.

Reverse Population Growth

Joseph Romm says no more nuclear power plants (“Nuclear Bomb,” 7/1-15/08 TPP). Andrew Korfhage says no more coal-fired power plants (“Time for a Coal Moratorium,” ibid.). Others promote electric cars. I note none of them mentions the cost to “plug in” your electric car every night or where the additional power lines and electricity will come from. The same was true with gasoline. No new refineries have been built in 26 years. Meanwhile, since I graduated from high school in 1958, the population of this country has doubled.

I suggest the perfect ecological solution. Instead of giving tax deductions for having children, do the opposite: Eliminate the tax deductions and pay people to have tubal ligations and vasectomies until the population hits 150 million again. Foreign aid, same program. The Chinese are already headed in the right direction. And for those of you who would criticize me, I had my vasectomy years ago and thus have no children to add to this crisis. In addition, the billions saved could provide universal health care and save Social Security. But this will probably not happen until somebody in Los Angeles turns on a water faucet and the result is a drip.

Larry Kane
Philipsburg, Mont.

Torture and Our Values

I highly recommend viewing Amy Goodman’s TV show, Democracy Now!, 7/18/08 for the interview with Jane Mayer about her book, The Dark Side, a detailed factual account of the use of torture of our prisoners at Guantanamo and other sites. In essence, her message provides ample proof that we have used torture, including severe methods, like waterboarding, long in violation of international laws designed to protect human rights and dignity of prisoners. In fact, those who condone torture can be punished as war criminals. No wonder indeed that Att’y Gen. Mukasey and ex-Att’y Gen. Ashcroft have recently denied that we do torture to avoid being labeled as war criminals. Of course, President Bush has also defended himself against authorizing torture. On Sept. 6, 2006, he avoided using torture by redefining the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques as “tough ... safe ... lawful and necessary” methods needed to obtain vital information from dangerous enemy combatants. He continues to deny using torture, in spite of the fact that there is an almost universal agreement that he may be guilty of war crimes in condoning outlawed methods. Even the president must obey the rule of law and world standards for humane treatment of prisoners.

Sid Moss
Elkins Park, Pa.

What Qualifications?

John McCain’s constant assertion that he has superior military credentials and therefore is highly qualified to be the Commander in Chief is spurious, to say the least. He served in the US Navy and flew bombing missions during the Vietnam War. That is roughly the equivalent of a taxi driver, whose hack is a Chevy, proclaiming himself prepared to assume the helm of General Motors as CEO.

Or could it be that he, as the campaign unfolds, will claim lineage by clinging to his Daddy’s and Grandfather’s coattails, both former US Navy admirals?

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

No Hero

I had no sooner finished reading Thomas Merton’s essay in A Passion for Peace, “The Vietnam War: An Overwhelming Atrocity,” when I came upon Walter Shapiro’s “Only by creating and consistently maintaining a persona more idealistic and more uplifting than (McCain) can Obama beat a courageous former POW ...” (“Life in the Catbird Seat,” 8/15/08 TPP).

What bubble has Shapiro lived in for the past 50 years? His “courageous” McCain squealed like a stuck pig after a couple days and told Uncle Ho all he knew about movements of Navy aircraft. So would most of us under enhanced interrogation techniques. That wouldn’t make us “courageous” any more than dropping napalm canisters on Vietnamese children would before getting shot down. McCain’s only claim to fame is that he helped Ho Chi Minh win the battle for self-determination for the people of Vietnam. In that sense, and only that sense was he courageous.

We really need to start calling things by their right name.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

I get sick and tired of hearing that McCain is a war hero. It is my understanding that he was a prisoner of war and did not do much battle against the enemy before he was shot down.

It’s also my understanding that McCain was a “C” student or less at the Naval Academy. We already know what a “C” student can do to our country. Look at Bush. ...

Another question I have about McCain is: Didn’t he make recordings while a POW against the USA that were used as propaganda against our troops in Vietnam? That shows that he couldn’t take the torture that he now endorses and would dish out. Would he surrender the White House if he was attacked?

David Fullerton
Kent, Wash.

Sen. McCain has never claimed that he should be treated as a ‘war hero’ for being held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Neither has he claimed that, like other prisoners—such as Nelson Mandela or Jawaharlal Nehru—he should be rewarded with the leadership of a country. He knows fully well that his imprisonment was based solely on his military role of a bomber pilot and there was no political or social ideology involved. Yet the senator does not discourage people like Bob Schieffer (CBS) when they hold him to the same standards as jailed political figures of past. Come on now, senator, by not “straight talking” on the matter and remaining silent do you really think that people will not know the difference? Voters know that being imprisoned for carrying out more than 22 bombing mission on defenseless Vietnamese civilians is not the same as being imprisoned for political disagreement. It is not going to pass.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Not Funny

I am a progressive, liberal Democrat, but I found your 8/1/08 cartoon (page 21) lampooning both Cindy McCain’s former drug addiction and her husband’s being crippled as a result of torture entirely gratuitous, in extremely bad taste and downright cruel. Some things are not funny except to sadists. Shame on you.

Martin W. Vorys
Hammond, N.Y.

It Takes All Kinds

I am a progressive, more in the line of Teddy Roosevelt, but I have hope that Barack Obama will move this country in the right direction. To do this, respected progressives everywhere need to rally to the cause to help convince many who could potentially become supporters of the progressive movement.

Enter Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. onto the scene. Jackson has become mostly irrelevant for some time, but after his “open microphone” comments about Obama and blacks, he has become an embarrassment. And after his recent rant against the Second Amendment (“Right-Wing Gun Ruling Endangers Us,” 8/1/08 TPP), he has become dangerous. The Second Amendment is, and has always been, about individual rights. I do not understand why liberals are on the wrong side of history; nor how four Supreme Court justices could get it wrong. Jackson’s views so completely distort the evidence that any remaining respect that I had for him is gone.

The question I have for TPP is: Why would you continue to give Jackson a forum when he drives away those seeking common sense answers who could be moved toward a progressive agenda?

Vern Weber
Lafayette, Calif.

Victory Started in Garden

In Ronnie Cummins’ article (“Food, climate, energy crisis: panic to organic,” 8/1/08 TPP) mainly about food sources, local growers and organic agriculture, he mentions “community Liberty Gardens” that raised fruits and vegetables during World War II. I do not recall that name, but the backyard vegetable gardens we grew during that time were called “Victory Gardens.” In fact, vegetable seeds were sold for pennies a packet in the elementary school I attended. In addition, war stamps (in 10¢ and 25¢ denominations, which could be accumulated in booklets amounting to $18.75 earning a $25 war bond) were also sold in school. World War II, while fought overseas, affected the homeland far more than subsequent wars. There were shortages of food (hence need for Victory Gardens), petroleum-based fuels, rubber tires and metallic objects. Food and fuels were rationed. (The ration coupons for food were printed red for meat and green for vegetables). New automobiles, appliances and metal toys were unavailable “for the duration” of the war. There were air-raid drills, with blackouts enforced by air-raid wardens who patrolled the neighborhood, although I do not recall that we were ever told how any enemy bombers would be able to cross the oceans and reach any of the 48 states.

Unlike World War II, all the later wars fought by the US were undeclared and had no homeland hardships. I wonder if these useless and destructive wars could have been started and maintained as long as they did if hardships were again endured here at home?

Looking back, I see a pattern with a movement away from federal social programs and into a priority of militarism along with the widening gap between rich and poor (needed to supply cannon fodder). This evolution is seen just after World War II when the secretary of war was euphemistically renamed secretary of defense. The war mongers of the “military industrial complex” continue to spread an atmosphere of fear (think 9/11-9/11-9/11 TERRORISTS!) to paralyze the critical thinking of susceptible individuals in order to sell the evil of militarism (kill and destroy, not cooperate and negotiate) to the American non thinking public as normal.

We need to reverse this indoctrination and revitalize the peace movement by spreading the message that war and militarism are a dead end and act to implement peace while blocking more war.

Arthur House
Franklin, W.V.

Why Doesn’t Iran Like Us?

Ted Rall’s article, “The E-word” (7/1-15/08 TPP) talks about Michael Ledeen of National Review and his inability to understand Iran. All he needs is to put himself in their position to understand their standpoint. The trouble started much before the last 27 years. It started when Dr. Mossadegh, their elected leader, was removed from office by the CIA (in 1953). We then installed a king (Reza Shah) to run Iran. (How could we favor a king when we ourselves rebelled against England’s George III? But that is another story). It is recorded that our man, “The Shah,” ruled very harshly but we stood by him. When finally the people of Iran mustered up the courage to overthrow him we sympathized with Shah and gave him permission to stay in the US and refused the extradition request by Iran who wanted to have a public trial. When Saddam Hussein launched an unprovoked attack on Iran we did not censure him but assisted him instead by sending arms and battlefield intelligence. It is a festering situation and urgently needs to be addressed. Sen. McCain has already shown his unwillingness to talk with and or soothe Iran’s justified anger but I wonder if Sen. Obama has the diplomatic skills to win Iran over?

M. Askarian
New York, N.Y.

People’s Reality Show

OK, everyone, let’s have a trial—a people’s trial for the Shrub and Big Dick. Is it legal? We have the power and Congress doesn’t want to and since Justice is for All, let us have a people’s trial and let them be charged accordingly.

Now that would be a reality show!

S. Einhorn
North Babylon, N.Y.


My question to you is this: Could President Bush make himself unqualified dictator in the event of a national disaster? Yes. Could war with Iran form the basis of a national crisis? Yes. What would prevent such a calamity is my question. Huh? I wish I knew.

David Tyler
Lafayette, La.

Editor Notes: There is no constitutional provision for a dictator, but it might take a congressional resolution to prevent him from assuming such powers.

From The Progressive Populist, Sept. 1, 2008

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