Cost-Plus War

Regarding the invasion and occupation of Iraq that may end this September, whether or not the incumbent president signs the Iraq accountability bill: After Pearl Harbor, the nation was mobilized. The beloved Franklin D. Roosevelt's first "Fireside Chat" had him correct "sacrifice" to "privilege" to serve our country. Executives served for a dollar a year until Congress could authorize the job they did. The top federal income tax rate was 90% because gold was pegged at $35 an ounce and money had to get to the people doing the work. FDR said, "there will be no millionaires made from this tragedy." Congress criminalized profiteering, price gouging and fraud. American military logistics was not privatized, so the US senator from Missouri, Harry S Truman, could easily contain cost. Our Nazi enemy had a private army, the Waffen-SS, that ran its death camps ...

In 1947, America was as wealthy as it had been in its history because of the money saved by its workers. The GI Bill of Rights gave returning veterans the opportunity to learn to become entrepreneurs and middle class.

In contrast, profiteering, price gouging and fraud were decriminalized before the invasion of Iraq. Almost half of the Americans there are private contractors who get paid $100,000 a year tax-free to do work the military does for $38,000 a year and pay taxes on it.

A private security firm, CACI, runs Iraq's military prisons, not unlike the Nazi Waffen-SS. Private contractors train the Iraqi military, a job special forces used to do. In four years, the private contractors have been able to train 6,000 Iraqi military, per the Randi Rhodes Show.

At Camp Speicher, Iraq, late summer, 2004, an Army brigadier general and the Army's logistics contract manager were informed by Halliburton's "KBR manager responsible for supplying the troops in this camp with food, water and all other services and supplies [that he] had threatened to stop KBR's work at Camp Speicher -- to stop cooking and feeding the troops, to stop supplying the troops outside the base -- unless the Army paid KBR's submitted invoices ... If soldiers or officers tried to pull this same stunt in the old Army, the general would court-martial them and they could be sent to prison." (Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman, Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War [Palgrave Macmillan, 2007], page 1.)

Halliburton's mission was to make money. Its contract had no specific performance clause that would allow the Army to fire it and was written so that the more money it spent, the more money it made,so it had no incentive to end the war. The US Army's mission is to win the war or at least arrive at a treaty with an acceptable level of violence that it could leave Iraq. The US Constitution's provision that appropriations are for two years gives Congress the power to end the war. (Article I, Section 8.)

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.


Undermine Dem Leaders

Re: "Getting US Out of Iraq," Editorial, 4/15/07 TPP: Out of Iraq founder Maxine Waters says the Caucus "released" some group members from voting nay on the spending bill so as not to appear to be undermining Pelosi's leadership.

If Pelosi or any Democratic "leader" isn't working in the best interests of the nation, they need to be undermined. This is the problem. Congress members such as those in the Black and Progressive Caucuses make a little noise about an issue then quietly kowtow to the demands of the party leadership -- a leadership that works for the interests of corporations and the rich, not the average Joe.

If Caucus groups would stand firm for their convictions and put up a good fight, they'd start to win more battles. The Democrats assumed majority in Congress in November but spent months hand wringing over a useless nonbinding resolution when they should have come out swinging for an immediate troop withdrawal. Out of Iraq Caucus members and other anti-war Dems should have mounted the mother of all fights to force their lolly gagging leaders to kowtow to them for a change.

As for MoveOn, it has morphed into an extension of the corporatist wing of the party. I understand that compromise is part of politics, but why must those fighting for the little guy always give in to big brother? Soldiers are being maimed and killed in Iraq for nothing. The Iraqi government won't do s**t as long as it can hide behind US soldiers. Let's save our GIs from needless death and destruction. Anti-war Congress members must stand up to Pelosi and other road blockers for what's right and just.

Beverly Rice
Charlotte, N.C.


Direct Language

Anyone against the war in Iraq needs to consider using much more inspired and passionate rhetoric. The Bush administration has made it very clear that they have no intention of winding down this fraudulent war, and those who oppose it can no longer "walk on egg shells" in the way that they describe this ugly situation.

Public speaking professionals know that there are generally three levels of commitment that they can get from an audience. Opinion, the first stage, is the weakest. This is where someone has a vague idea that they believe in something, but it is easily changed by logic or emotion. Belief, the second state, has more intensity and certainty, and the person has begun to develop some strong feelings and commitments. Conviction, the third stage, is by far the most passionate and determined. This is where people have a solid idea of what they believe, and are willing to stay focused and work hard to see it accomplished.

In order to change the opinion of the average American, anti-war activists need to use a much more fierce and passionate rhetoric. Now, repeat after me: "The war in Iraq is based on lies. We are squandering billions of dollars every month to help boost Halliburton's profits. This war has always been about oil, there never was a direct connection between Iraq and 9/11."

Rick Sheridan
Chico, Calif.


Conservative Nannies

I felt like I was hit straight in the gut reading Mike Hall's "Attack of Wage Eating Monsters Sequel" [5/15/07 TPP]. To say that I am infuriated, incensed, enraged, outraged, irate and horrified doesn't begin to say how mad I am that Missouri legislators are planning on gutting part of the minimum wage law. This law was an absolutely clear mandate from the people of my state.

For goodness sake, the minimum wage was $2.50 an hour FORTY years ago. America is supposed to be the richest country in the world. So why can't we pay a decent age to everyone?

If these goons get away with this attack, what's to stop them from going ahead and gutting the entire minimum wage law? Just like with the Concealed Gun Act and the Stem Cell Act, Missouri Nanny State politicians are getting above themselves with an arrogant assurance that they know better than the voters what's best for the state.

It's a travesty of democracy when legislators take it upon themselves to override the will of the people. We Missourians need to stop them from their overreaching power grab. It's time we Missourians started to hold our elected officials accountable.

Missouri legislators might want to remember that the people they think are too stupid and incompetent to understand what they are voting for are the same people who put them into office.

Barbara Lee
Lees Summit, Mo.



The person who will become president of the United States in 2008 needs to attempt to do many things that will improve life for the American people. In my opinion there are two matters that are most important. They are described as follows.

1. End the war with Iraq. This war has killed over 3,000 of our troops and maimed many others. We do not know how many Iraqis have been killed, but it is a huge number. Probably well over 50,000. The war is so costly that American domestic programs are being reduced or eliminated.

2. Provide the American people with a universal health care program that will give all Americans health care at little or no cost to them. As it stands now our health care system is, per capita, the most costly in the world. Universal health care would be far less costly than our present system. Furthermore, since over 40 million Americans have no health insurance, many of the uninsured are not getting health care, and our health care statistics are terrible compared to most nations that provide universal health care. For example, life expectancy: US 77.7 years, Canada 80.1 years. In the US, for every 1,000 births 6.5 children die. In Canada this figure is 4.8. We are the only advanced industrial nation that does not provide universal health care for our people.

If we end the war in Iraq and get universal health care, life will improve greatly for Americans.

Dan Carmichael
Ironwood, Mich.


Respect Iraq

President Bush has just vetoed the first legislation that would have required the US to begin withdrawing military troops from Iraq. It framed a new policy of support for political and economic solutions to the occupation.

What will be accomplished if Congress now just votes more money for the same failed Iraq policy? Rather than bringing a solution to the violence, isn't the US military presence in Iraq a big part of the problem in their civil war? Hasn't the time come to make definite plans to withdraw from Iraq, require diplomatic negotiations with Iraq's neighbors and fund reconstruction efforts?

As our Tuesday evening Peace Links speaker (a lifelong medical missionary in several war-torn countries) answered a question about Iran, "I have yet to meet a person with whom I could not communicate if I listened to him/her and treated that person with respect."

I believe it is time that our Congress focuses on a political solution, not the same failed military strategy. Our and Iraqi citizens are dying daily. The president has dug our country into a deep hole in Iraq. Congress should not give him a bigger shovel to continue digging but build a ladder to start climbing out."

Olive Wilson
Primghar, Iowa


Dim View of Biofuels

Replacing a mere 10% of the gasoline and diesel oil the US consumes each year with ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybeans would require a whopping 78% of our crop land! Impossible! That includes the 35% of crop land presently growing all of our corn and soybeans used for food, feedstock, export and some ethanol. Many of the 22 other essential crops would be squeezed out and food prices would skyrocket!

The math is tricky and if Washington has done it they're keeping it a secret, thinking, "let's not spoil it for the 300-plus ethanol and biodiesel plants already built or planned -- they make wonderful profits from the generous subsidies, tax credits/incentives and other fed/state perks."

The total US crude oil consumption is 20,030,000 barrels PER DAY (0.9-mile diameter lake 6.5 ft deep), two-thirds of it imported. The US, with 5% of the world's population, consumes 24% of the world's output! This easy-to-extract oil runs out in 40 years! US's gasoline (refined from crude oil) consumption is 140 billion gallons per year; diesel oil 38 billion gallons per year.

The total farm land in the US is 1,470,000 square miles (51% of the 48 contiguous states); our total crop land is 680,000 sq. miles (46% of farm land); pasture land is 620,000 sq. miles (42% of farm land); 12% of farm land is buildings, roads, ponds and woods. Info sources: 2006 World Almanac, p. 121, 123, 426, 475; www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/us.htm.

The 2004 corn crop, 11.8 billion bushels, requiring 17.5% of crop land, was used for feedstock, food and exports; 1.5 billion bushels was converted to ethanol. The 2004 soybean crop was 3.1 billion bushels using 17.8% of crop land.

Fred Mathews
Beloit, Wis.


Stop Animal Testing

I guess like millions of other Americans, I didn't want to know of the needless cruel testing and torture of countless innocent animals. But I do know -- and I will not buy any products ever again from companies conducting these atrocities and will tell everyone I know and anyone I can reach to do the same! Because I do know!

Most of this testing and torture of animals in the manner is needless. There are more and more good alternatives. Large corporations do what is faster, easier and do not care in the least who or what they hurt and destroy. We have seen this over and over. The cigarette companies, the chemical industry, the pharmaceuticals, etc. The despicable treatment of animals, such as rabbits, in the food and fur chains, and patenting animals as "compositions of matter" and then subjecting countless animals to blindness, cancer, nerve gas, etc. is more of the same.

Why are corporations and universities getting away with this cruel murder and much worse? In most part, because the public doesn't see it. Go online at PETAtv.com to access video of this animal concentration camp and to learn what you can do to help. You can also contact the American Anti-Vivisection Society, 800-SAY-AAVS.

Please get the lists of companies that refuse to stop these cruel practices and boycott their products. It will save millions of innocent animals countless hours of pain and horror.

It is not OK but it is not your pain. If you love animals, it is your pain, too.

Larry Kassirer
Lancaster, N.Y.

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2007

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