War and Honor

This Memorial Day I honored my loved ones who served and died by blowing the whistle.

My first young husband and I were high-school sweethearts. Frank was salutatorian of his 1941 graduating class and then went into the 96th Infantry Division and participated in the liberation of the Philippines from Japan. On Easter Sunday, 1945, they invaded Okinawa Island where Frank was killed in the last horrible battle of World War II. In the military Frank learned to fight and to kill, to smoke and to drink (because they were issued cigarettes and beer.) He also became a compulsive gambler like his father whose bad habit had forced their family to live in poverty. Frank told me, "If we win this war it will be a miracle because the officers issue such stupid commands."

My husband of 57 years served with the 14th Air Corps Flying Tigers in China/Burma/India. The symptoms of Art's post-traumatic stress were a reflex response to certain sights, sounds and smells that caused him to take cover, wake up fighting and to suddenly vomit. I also had a very clean husband because, like Pontius Pilate, Art was repeatedly washing.

Once he told me about the gang rape of a young Chinese girl. No one reported it to officers because the officers were involved.

How ironic it must be for those soldiers (who live to return) to be honored like heroes when they are overwhelmed with the knowledge that they have committed heinous crimes!

Barb Hauge
Turner, Mont.


Elephant Conspiracies

It's somewhat ironic that this paper would give David Talbot's Brothers about the Kennedy assassination the time of day when they have ignored the current conspiracy theory (i.e. the elephant in the room -- 9/11). Like the Warren Commission, the 9/11 Commission was a fraud from beginning to end. So glad you've given ink and space to a conspiracy theory 40 plus years old; do we have to wait another 40 plus years for 9/11 too?

Kathy Sullivan
Silver City, N.M.


Lunatic Left

I have had it with the reflexive and one-sided antagonism some of your writers on the lunatic left have toward Israel and its attempts to fight terrorism. Norman Solomon's screed in the 6/15/07 issue was the final straw.

To speak of the "hellish conditions of Gaza" in a vacuum that makes no mention of the facts that Israel had unilaterally withdrawn its troops and all its citizens from that area, in the process tearing down (at Arab insistence) all residential buildings that had been built by its settlers but leaving all its agricultural structures intact; that the local Gaza Palestinians immediately trashed the Israeli-built state-of-the-art agricultural greenhouses and pillaged all their plumbing and electrical fixtures, leaving rubble in their place; that not long afterward the local "militants" began to fire rockets across the border into Israel, aimed at killing or maiming Israeli civilians, and that from Day One they have been smuggling tons of weapons and munitions into the Gaza strip via tunnels under its border with Egypt. To think that those weapons and munitions are all, of course, brought in for defensive use only, strains credulity.

The hellish conditions that now prevail in Gaza are the direct result of the uncontrolled terrorism and internecine strife that have flourished there under its post-occupation Palestinian Arab regime. Its people have only themselves to blame for any Israeli responses to the violence and carnage their leaders have engendered and fostered. And the Palestinian educational system persists in the systematic indoctrination of its youth with the foulest antisemitism this side of Der Stuermer. Let's get real for a change, and call a spade a spade!

Joseph B. Russell
New York, N.Y.


Why Neocons Can't Govern

The notion of allowing men who HATE government to RUN government makes about as much sense as hiring a poacher to manage a wildlife preserve.

I'm just surprised they haven't nominated Dr. Kervorkian to serve as "czar" of the Medicare/Medicaid program. Yet.

J.L. Stone
Laceys Spring, Ala.


No Amnesty

I believe, since I am a life-long Democrat, that many, many Democrats are strongly opposed, as I am, to any amnesty for illegal aliens, be they Mexican, Chinese, Middle Eastern or European. If illegals are given anything else but prompt return to their country of origin, then why not amnesty for all other non-violent crimes? Either we HAVE laws or we don't; which is it? When are Democrat senators going to stop collaborating with so-called conservatives who applaud, for financial reasons, the entrance of illegals and the persecution of border patrol agents who are trying to do the work they were hired for?

Democrats are supposed to be on the side of workers, the poor and the middle class of the USA; not obligated to non-citizens who had no hand (presumably) in electing them. When are senators going to uphold the laws of our country and stop telling us what is right? We the people are supposed to tell them, or is that no longer applicable?

And what we are telling them also is, "admit to a mistake, get out of Iraq NOW, stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries; and concentrate on wiping out al Qaeda and other international groups that are a threat to our safety."

Phil Sullivan
Woodstock, N.Y.


Why Immigrants Come

Your editorial, "No Immigration Fix" [6/15/07 TPP] begins by saying "...unless (Congress) addresses the economic gap between the US and Mexico, it will only start the next chapter in the illegal immigration problem."

I urge you and my fellow "progressive populists" to develop a fuller understanding of that problem. The press generally has ignored a fundamental aspect of that problem, one to which I was alerted by an article in TPP many months ago [don't remember exactly when].ÝWe need to reframe our understanding of the "problem" to include the forces that push Mexicans to migrate to the US.

The media have largely ignored the question of why Mexicans migrate. According to a report released a few years ago by Oxfam International (reported in the New York Times, 8/27/03): "The more than $10 billion that American taxpayers give corn farmers every year in agricultural subsidies has helped destroy the livelihoods of millions of small Mexican farmers." According to the report, "There is a direct link between governmental agricultural policies in the US and rural misery in Mexico." Also, according to the Times' report, "... the price of Mexican corn has fallen more than 70% after NAFTA took effect [in 1994], severely reducing the incomes of the 15 million Mexicans who depend on corn for their livelihood."

Reports of the amount Mexican immigrants send back to their families suggests to me that their migration has been caused by US actions. By severely reducing the incomes of 15 million Mexicans, we have been a major cause of our "immigration" problem -- and, yet, that is not generally recognized by people in the US, in part because our media do not inform us about thisÝway of understanding the problem.

William Gellermann
New York, N.Y.


Crossed Tracks

What is the status of our passenger trains operated by Amtrak on the nation's freight rail system?

I travelled long distance routes across our continent three times in the last few months and some patterns emerged: The rolling stock is showing its age, the rails are the most decrepit, the procedures sometimes arcane; however, the workers perform the best in the transportation industries (air, commuter rail, bus, and taxi) in my experience.

The large city stations are elegant designs which respect the needs of passengers and supply cleanliness and comfort for all -- not just for the privileged. Train nuts abound and share conversation and discovery. All agree that rail travel is a passing grace.

After each trip of up to three days and nights traveling various paths across our nation of backyards and isolated nature, I conclude that the passenger trains have become another degraded service system in our war-weakened country.

James Wuertele
St. Johnsbury, Vt.


Arms Trade

The US is the worlds biggest arms merchant, selling to any and all who have the gold. We cause more death and misery on this planet, than any other nation. But that must be all right, since this is a capitalistic society, and getting rich, and richer is its main goal.

President Eisenhower, in his farewell address, I believe, warned us as a nation, against the growing power of the military-Industrial corporations. A bit late now. While multitudes of people all over the world suffer the effects of our weapon sales, the corporate owners enjoy their yachts, palatial homes, and worldly pleasures. But it must really be all right, for isn't the real meaning of capitalism, "society, where the more fortunate, take advantage of the less fortunate, with impunity "?

One example showing that the military-Industrial corporate owners have no conscience is the manufacture of these so-called "bomblets", furnished to Israel, and scattered by the millions in Lebanon. They have very little military value, but have caused horrifying misery, and suffering to innocent civilians, especially children. These damnable things were also used in Southeast Asia, by the US, where they continue causing casualties long after the war.

But that's all right; the wealth and happiness of our military-corporate owners increases daily.

Lamar Wray
Eupora, Miss.



In my 6/15/07 article, "Learn from HillaryCare's Flaws," I incorrectly characterized Germany as having a "single-payer" healthcare system.

Actually, Germany has a multi-payer system where all German citizens are covered from a variety of tightly-regulated insurance funds. But the German system provides coverage to every citizen (at a time when 47 million Americans are uninsured); prohibits US-style loopholes in coverage for pre-existing conditions  that hollow out meaningful coverage; and accomplishes all this with per-person spending that is less than half of the US level. Generally, then, Germany has a health systemÝfar more akin to single-payer nations like Canada, France, and Taiwan than the US system, which is thoroughly dominated by its dollar-driven nature and the central role of private insurers.

However, the German system is plagued by two problems familiar to Americans: a shortage of nursing staff and a surplus of paperwork. Germany's administrative costs are the highest in Europe as a the result of the bureaucracy flowing from reliance on multiple payers.

Roger Bybee
Milwaukee, Wis.


Executive Order

Is there any truth to the rumor that George Bush (our president) has signed an executive order (on May 9) putting the president of this country in charge of all domestic law enforcement in case of any national emergency? ...

I could see the guy doing something like this now that there's an impeachment movement to remove Cheney. I know you're all busy with putting together the good and often hard news you do regularly deliver, but if the report is true, people should know.

C.C. Halitsky
South Orange, N.J.

Editor's Note: Bush on 5/9 did sign National Security Policy Directive 51, which establishes "a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations" in case of a "catastrophic emergency." Presidents since Truman have issued plans for national security measures in the event of a catastrophe, but Bush has claimed responsibility for running the government to the White House and it re-defines "catastrophe" as any incident that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy or government functions. A Congressional Research Service study in 2006 noted that the 1974 National Emergency Act gives the president authority, but Congress reserved the power to "modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority." "NSPD-51 appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of National Continuity Coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position," conservative columnist Jerome Corsi noted. "Translated into layman's terms, when the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over."



As a composer who specializes in music therapy, I believe that music is so important for people's well-being. So much so that I once came up with a saying: After genocide, the worst crime against humanity is "musicide!" To me, there is something frightening about what has become of our society's music, especially with its imposing presence almost everywhere in our lives -- in businesses, on the air, and in our public places -- and with people's docile, unquestioning acceptance of it, their willingness to march in lockstep to the dictates of this powerful and imposing industry. There is something here that smacks of fascism! I'd be interested in knowing what some of your readers would have to say about these observations of mine.

Bruce Lloyd Kates
Los Angeles, Calif.
Email: brucelloydkates@earthlink.net


From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2007

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