Benghazi Inquisitors Blew It

Conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh declared that Congressional Republicans “blew it” when questioning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the tragedy in Benghazi.

That the Embassy was encroached and four Americans killed was tragic, but one had to surmise the real purpose of the hearing was to smear Clinton should she have any ambition for higher office. The good result is those incompetent inquisitors were able to “cut their teeth” in preparation for a long overdue Congressional hearing on the US invasion of Iraq. The first witness could be Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill who was appointed by President George W. Bush and then asked to resign as he did not fit the Bush cabinet mold. In his book, Price of Loyalty, O’NeiIl relates how Bush instructed his staff to find a way to invade Iraq. He relates to a Pentagon document “Foreign suitors for Iraq oil contracts” which outlined plans to split up Iraq fuel sources between the world’s oil companies. After Sept. 11, 2001, Bush found reason to carry out his plan. He could blame the attack on Saddam Hussein and also claim that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction. In order to back his claim, Bush sent weapons inspector David Kay to Iraq. Kay could not even find a janitor who might have worked in a nuclear facility.

As a result of that invasion into the sovereign nation of Iraq, approximately 4,800 US service personnel were killed, 33,000 were wounded and among coalition forces, contractors, academics and journalists there were over 4,000 deaths along with over one million Iraqi civilian deaths. Five million Iraqi homes were destroyed.

During the course of a Sept. 15, 2006, news conference, Bush was asked what Iraq’s involvement was on Sept. 11, 2001. His answer was “nothing.” When questioned why he did not order troops in Pakistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden, he replied, “Pakistan is a sovereign nation,” thus he could not send thousands of troops into Pakistan without an invitation from the government. He was not able to produce such invitation from Saddam Hussein.

Sens. John McCain, Ron Paul, Ron Johnson and other Congress persons who “blew it” in questioning Hillary Clinton would have a chance to redeem their judicial skills. They should not worry that Bush and any co-defendants would leave the country as they would be retained and brought before the World Court. Although there is no statute of limitations on murder, Bush and party would not have to fear indictments. The aforementioned senators could put all blame on the “liberal press.”

Patrick Killeen
Eastpointe, Mich.

Get Progressive TV

I enjoyed and agree with Rob Patterson’s article [“Dems’ Win Little Help for Liberal Talkers,” 1/1-15/13 TPP]. Readers/voters need to push President Obama to continue to pursue a more aggressive progressive agenda. And the shows Rob mentioned help inform, educate and advocate for better policies from the elected officials who represent us and they are not the propaganda network for the GOP (Fox News — unfair, unbalanced lies not news). Mr. Patterson did not mention the Thom Hartmann show on Free Speech TV and radio or Amy Goodman, whose show, Democracy Now! also is on Free Speech TV. Or the Bill Press Show, Stephanie Miller, the Young Turks, the War Room — all great, informative shows on Current TV. Any readers got any ideas on how to keep or get a network to pick up these shows form Current TV or maybe start a progressive network? MSNBC also has a great lineup both day and night, and I miss the best, Keith Olbermann, very much. I really like and support the Thom Hartmann show but it is not broadcast on Verizon, which I have. With help maybe we can get Free Speech TV on Verizon. Email Verizon at forums.verizon.com and tag the question “How do we viewers and prospective customers get the Free Speech network put on Verizon?” Tag the word “Spotlight.” That’s grassroots action and that can help beat Big Money and make our world a better place.

David Thompson
Sarasota, Fla.

Editor’s Note: Viewers can get Free Speech TV on Dish TV, DirecTV and streaming off the Internet at Roku.com as well as at FreeSpeech.org. Current TV, which recently was purchased by Al Jazeera America, is available on Dish Network, DirecTV, Comcast, Verizon FIOS and AT&T U-Verse. Progressive radio shows are available online at radio stations such as chicagosprogressivetalk.com (our personal favorite). If you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or other similar mobile device, you can listen to progressive programs and/or download past programs at “wi-fi hotspots,” such as many coffee shops, public libraries and McDonalds restaurants.

Foolish GMO Regulations

Being a reform school dropout, I’d never presume to argue the pros and cons of GMOs with retired biologist Dianne Leonard [“OK with GMO,” 1/1-15/13 TPP Letters], but if a gene is removed from a fish, why is it not a fish gene?

If Monsanto diddles with a food plant so that it can be sprayed with Round-Up and not die (and now that Round-Up isn’t working so well anymore, and Monsanto is moving up to an ingredient of Dioxin), can one not say that those plants are indeed different from traditional crops, especially organic ones that never see pesticides?

Is Europe’s pro-active position against GMOs foolish and ignorant, or is the US’s refusal to wait for long-term studies to decide the harm or the efficiency of same ignorant and foolish?

And finally, isn’t GMOs short for genetically modified organisms?

Peggy Corbin
Bend, Ore.

All Hail Hal

How many Mark Twains and Jonathan Swifts are we permitted in a generation? Maybe only one: his name is Hal Crowther. Thank whatever powers that sent him — even if he is another WHITE MALE — to set us straight on matters of Peace and Justice. Other White Males have spoken out, but none that I know of weaves and punches out words that sparkle and cut like his diamonds of truth.

Please, Hal, never lose your diamond pen. My sanity depends on it. And you have saved All White Males from being shipped off the Gingrich’s promised colony on the moon.

Jane Longdon
Murrysville, Pa.

Dismay at Story Placement

Getting my first copy of The Progressive Populist, after allowing my subscription to lapse, I was deeply dismayed. Joan Walsh’s tepid, almost cloying front-page appraisal of President Obama was a betrayal of progressive populist thinking. Her “rose-colored” optimism and innocent apologies for Obama would have been better suited to the mealy-mouthed New York Times. As I read on through the pages, it dawned on me that the Populist was engaging in the very same tactic used by the NYT — censorship by placement! Most of the more critically left opinion, like Ted Rall, Ralph Nader, Amy Goodman and Norman Solomon were buried on pages 19, 22 and 20 (below the fold). Have you looked at your masthead lately? It says: “Progressive Populist” not “The Moderate Times!” Norman Solomon’s no-holds-barred critique of Obama’s pitiful performance vis à vis the poor, drone attacks, murder, kowtowing to Wall Street (Treasury Secretary nominee Jacob Lew), and the scourging of civil liberties, should have been your cover piece. Martin Luther King famously said in his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” that moderates were a greater impediment to social change than the KKK or the White Citizens Councils because they muddy the waters. Your “moderate” editorial policies are just such an impediment. Solomon’s excerpted quote from Howard Zinn is right on: “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not fall meekly behind them.”

Al Salzman
Fairfield, Vt.

Editor’s Note: Don’t read too much into page placement for columns. Every issue, we have more columns than we can fit in the paper. We try to get in as many as we can — usually including several that challenge President Obama and Democratic Party orthodoxy. Of course, you may wonder how author X made the cut, but we’re trying to appeal to progressive and populist readers, some of whom may be farther to the left or right than you are. But there is no bad page in The Progressive Populist. The only page you don’t want your favorite writer to end up on is 25 (what’s known in the trade as “overset”).

Thumbs Up

Three thumbs up for your 2/1/13 edition. First, for the return appearance of Donald Kaul, who was sorely missed on page 23 for the weeks he did not contribute; even on a part-time basis, I am happy to see him back. Second, for the featured front-page piece by Hal Crowther, who appears to be incapable of writing a bad one; his insights are always true and on the mark.

Third, and most importantly, for “We Don’t Have the Right to Care,” by Ted Rall, about the shameful disconnect between President Obama’s words concerning the Newtown, Conn., schoolchildren who were cut down by yet another in an endless string of deranged loners, and the reality of the president’s drone warfare policy and the innocent Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni, etc. etc. children who continue to be cut down as collateral damage. Mr. Rall’s column should be required reading for every American — those who are concerned and those who ought to be.

Keep up the good work!

J.F. Dacey
Lowell, Mass.

Faces of Socialism

While a sizeable portion of the world, including parts of Europe, is still reeling from the fallout of our Wall Street generated global financial crisis, a group of countries has actually managed, without much fanfare, to emerge relatively unscathed from the enormous economic upheaval. 

According to a recent global Gallup-Healthways poll, these places — Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Holland — have also been found to contain the happiest, most contented citizens in the world, with a high living standard to match.

This raises the obvious question: What could these folks possibly have in common? A shared Baltic/North Sea location? Northern European fresh air? Odin/Thor, the Flying Dutchman, or some other historical myth?

Actually, none of the above, but instead a shared system of governance, deeply steeped in democratic Socialism, which by the way, also happens to be a significant component of the political multi-party systems of all our friends, trading partners and NATO allies, who continually find themselves vilified, when it serves our government/corporate interests.

Unfortunately, the term Socialism was usurped and bastardized during the past century, by such polar opposites as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis).

Needless to say that both these versions have proven to be absolute failures, and bear responsibility for a level of bloodshed the world had never experienced before, nor should ever have to face again.

It might be hard to fathom, but citizens of the aforementioned democratic socialist countries actually display great appreciation for their government, which is designed to function as a referee, by balancing the interests of its citizens, workers and unions with those of the business/corporate sector, by providing a conduit for the infusion of the people’s needs into the veins of a basic capitalist profit driven system.

Heavily taxed on all sides, especially the top, albeit practiced with civility, absent deep rooted resentment or rancor, and generally viewed as a symbiotic system which focuses on the common good, continued stability, and shared blessings at all levels of society.

Maybe it is time for acknowledgment by some of our more informed, thoughtful individuals, as a way of mitigating the ongoing practice of outright condemnation of a political system these folks happen to hold in high esteem.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Save the Post Office

Saw in the Fort Worth paper recently the Post Office Department had lost more than a billion dollars last year. Now they say they must stop Saturday mail delivery. I’m not sure how this action is supposed to result in finding the lost money. The terminology “lost” implies it fell off a truck, got covered up with a newspaper on a desk somewhere, someone dropped it down the wrong slot.

Now, if they mean that it cost a billion more to operate the department than was taken in by the sale of stamps then I see that as something entirely different. Let us apply the same yard stick to the Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, National Weather Service. How much do you suppose those guys lost last year? Now, as I see it, those departments contribute to the well being of the Republic, as does the Post Office. The Founding Fathers thought so,too. I suspect there are some folks waiting to take over the operation of the P.O. as a private business. “We can make money after we cut, cut, cut services, raise, raise, raise prices, eliminate jobs.” I can visualize this: a guy with a pickup truck hauls the mail in to Tuscarora, Nev. It is not his full-time job; he only goes when he has a full load; maybe a half dozen times a year. Deer Droppings, Wyo., loses its P.O. altogether. Citizens there drive 80 miles to Casper to get their mail, warned there is a $25 surcharge if not retrieved within 24 hours.

But, what do I know? I thought some Wall Street bankers should go to jail. Why are we still in Afghanistan?

Don H. Baker

Editor’s Note: The US Postal Service is an independent agency created from the former Post Office Department in 1970. It does not rely on tax revenue but operates under restrictions imposed by Congress. (See “Save the Postal Service,” Editorial, 3/1/13 TPP)


In the 2/15/13 TPP, Bob Burnett wrote that “The Simpson-Bowles Commission argued that by increasing revenues to 20% of GDP we would achieve a balanced budget and stabilize the national debt.” As a reader noted, the Commission did not agree on a course of action, but the co-chairs, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, submitted their own recommendations.

In the same issue, Tina Dupuy wrote that the five million reported members of the Ku Klux Klan amounted to nearly 15% of the population in 1925. In fact, the Census Bureau reported a population of 105.7 million in 1920 and 122.8 million in 1930; so five million Klan members would be less than 5% of the population.

From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2013



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