McCain’s Guilty Conscience

Mark Benjamin’s article “What’s on McCain’s Mind?” [6/15/08 TPP] focuses on how McCain’s age, bouts with cancer and experience in Vietnam may have affected his mind. After giving an account of McCain’s stints with cancer, Benjamin devotes most of his attention to how McCain’s imprisonment in North Vietnam may have damaged him psychologically, and he suggests that the serious physical injuries and brutal punishment that McCain endured may have harmed his mind. As an example Benjamin discusses McCain’s “famed outbursts of temper.”

What I find puzzling is that Benjamin seems blissfully unaware that McCain collaborated with the North Vietnamese while he was a POW—a serious violation of the US Military Code of Conduct. Benjamin obviously has not read Ted Rall’s column “Integrity Lite: Puffing Up John McCain” in the 3/1/08 TPP. Rall details McCain’s collaboration. More telling, McCain himself admitted this collaboration in the 5/14/73 issue of US News & World Report. In that article McCain said: “I think it was on the fourth day [after being shot down] that two guards came in. ... One of them pulled back the blanket to show the other guard my injury. I looked at my knee. It was about the size, shape and color of a football. ... When I saw it, I said to the guard, ‘OK, get the officer.’ An officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we came to know very well as ‘The Bug.’ He was a psychotic torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said, ‘O.K., I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.’” And this was not McCain’s only collaboration with the enemy, as Rall notes in his column.

Perhaps, just perhaps, McCain’s collaboration weighs on his mind, and that has a connection to the eruptions of “temper out of all proportion to the provocation” that Robert Timberg, author of John McCain: An American Odyssey, reports about McCain. With regard to the collaboration, Timberg quotes McCain as saying, “It’s something I’ll never get over.” Fortunately for McCain, the mainstream media has passed on his wartime collaboration story, just as it has on many of McCain’s unsavory activities over the years.

George H. Sage
Greeley, Colo.

Get Rid of Cars

After reading TPP’s superficial and short-sighted cover article, “Can We Cut Gas Prices?” (6/1/08), I wonder if it’s time you drop “Progressive” from your journal’s title. Gas in the US is taxed at one of the lowest rates in the world. Decades of cheap gas prices are directly responsible for creating the landscape and lifestyle that define America—big cars, massive sprawl, long commutes to work, spotty public transportation and a wide-scale trucking industry that has largely displaced the local production and consumption of goods. Per capita, we use 3 times more oil than Europeans, and for many Americans there is no viable alternative to driving. Meanwhile, gas in most European countries is currently over $8 a gallon, yet Europeans aren’t feeling the pinch that we are here. Why? Because decades of high gas taxes in Europe have resulted in a society less dependent upon oil and the automobile (not to mention that revenue from the gas tax helps fund health care and education). While helping Americans is certainly important, we need more than a bandage solution to the problem. Let’s begin to reorient our lifestyles to one less dependent upon the car and its attendant culture.

David Harrington
Chicago, Ill.

Respect Hillary

Isn’t it wonderful of you to dismiss Clinton as vice president “out of hand.” It’s like women’s opinions in this country do not matter! ...

As I said before: Even the most liberal champions of humanity and populism stop short of gender when fairness demands the same insight and respects afforded every other class given equal protection by virtue of historic discrimination.

This type of oversight is a consistent theme in cultures and religions across the world. Of course your readers can’t reply in kind to personal attacks on Hillary.

In America, you so-called “fair minded” men know who you are. For American women, who are buying into the negative propaganda about Hillary, or worse “making it,” with ridiculous attacks on her, just remember before you attack one of your own, your reasons should be absolutely unassailable or you will end up looking like an idiot. Arianna Huffington and Ann Coulter are prime examples.

I’m sure the next article you publish will be by A.C., “Miss Ogynist” herself!

Debra Hood
Long Beach Calif.

Single-Payer Now

In response to Frank Schneider [“Single Payer Next Year,” Letters, 6/15/08 TPP), who agreed with me on a need for a single-payer health coverage system but cautioned that it would be defeated by forces opposed to socialized medicine, he therefore suggested to wait until the next president arrives to cut the knot. But won’t the same ideologically opposing forces be there as well to tighten the knot ever more securely?

Let’s face it — everyone accepts that the government-run Medicare and Social Security are life savers for the common good. So why not give a government-run single-payer plan an opportunity to show its benefits and thus help to dispel the phony self serving bogeyman of “socialized medicine.” Obama and the country can’t afford to wait. He can offer and fight for this plan immediately while campaigning as an early way for the public to see his new challenging direction with a positive vision of government responsibility and concern for the common good.

Sid Moss
Elkins Park, Pa.

Star Power

S’cuse me, but I’m an alien visiting your planet for the first time and couldn’t help but notice that your species will probably become extinct within a few hundred years if you don’t quit squabbling over a dwindling supply of fossil fuels and begin immediately to convert your civilization to cheap, safe, non-polluting sources of energy. Doing so will have the added benefit of creating a worldwide demand for billions of new jobs in healthy and profitable industries with almost limitless potential. So, what’s the problem?

Not to sound sarcastic, but when you had the luxury of time, how could you have failed to develop the most obvious source, which is literally in your face every day? You know … YOUR LOCAL STAR! Just a little friendly advice from a concerned neighbor.

See ya later ... maybe.

Ryan Lawlor
Kalispell, Mont.

Harrop’s Republican

Re: “A Perfect Calm for McCain,” by Froma Harrop [6/1/08 TPP]: Though it has been obvious by Ms. Harrop’s column these past weeks that she supports Hillary, I think her most recent article portrays her preference for even McCain over Obama. I guess she swallowed her heroine’s story about McCain having more experience. Like Indiana voters, she is probably part of the “more than half” of Clinton backers there who say they will not support Obama in the general election. Indeed, she sounds almost gleeful in anticipation of McCain’s “sharpening his knives” against Obama. This is what Hillary’s scorched-earth campaign has caused in the Democratic Party: division. With Democrat defectors like Harrop and continued adoration of Republicans by our right-wing mainstream media, we can count on four more years of Bush policy (only worse) under McCain.

Kendra Jo Dudley
Rochester, Minn.

9/11 Research Needed

I am writing in support of letter writer Paul Ames’ request [“Almost, Not Quite,” 5/1/08 TPP] that the progressive media provide a platform for 9/11 researchers. These researchers have more than conspiracy theories to offer. Let them present their facts findings and questions the government can’t or won’t answer, for public debate and/or repudiation.

Noam Chomsky stated in reference to the Vietnam War: “There are some topics in this country that are not open to discussion.” We need to move beyond this mindset and seek the truth. The truth can indeed be shocking when a person realizes the improbability of two jetliners rendering three steel structured buildings into dust heaps.

C. Mohr
Whitefish, Mont.

Hard Not to be Pessimist

Once again the Democrats are poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We always seem to have good candidates. Why, then do we-or they- manage to do our best to keep them from getting elected? Why can’t we all get along, and get along with the job of picking our spear-carrier.?

This year we have an embarrassment of riches — two well-qualified people, each of whom has his or her strengths and weaknesses, and each of whom seems hell-bent on destroying the other, no matter what the ultimate outcome. Well, I guess it takes a strong ego to do the job, but why can’t someone convince them to toss a coin and decide this before it gets lethal?

Instead they started wa-a-a-a-y too soon to campaign, not realizing that they would run out of substantive issues to discuss long before the party’s preference was decided. As a result they are now engaged in ripping at one another like a pair of piranhas, so that by the time of the general election there will be nothing left but a pile of bones which McCain will step nicely over on his way to the White House.

We all know, as they should, that every negative they uncover will be grist for the Republicans’ mill, one more weapon to use against them. In view of Willie Horton, Swift boat, and other such tactics, why make it easy for them. At least make them work for It. Will we ever learn, or are we destined to live under George’s dictatorship forever because we haven’t the wit to stop it?

Lorene A. Stranahan
Fort Benton, Mont.

Real Threat to Democracy

To heck with the “Real ID” argument, which is “merely” a ploy to enslave the entire population. Right now a “gentleman” named [Mark “Thor”] Hearne is leading a ‘movement’ to disenfranchise millions of citizens under the false rubric of ‘potential voter fraud.’ (And the not-so-Supreme Court has already upheld the criminal action in one state (Indiana). It is the totally unconstitutional demand that any potential voter be able to show a government issued “Photo ID” at the polls before being allowed to vote. Since no government issues such documents for free, this amounts to a Poll Tax, (already declared unconstitutional, but unrecognized as such by the Supreme Court in the Indiana decision) which is intended to, and WILL, disenfranchise anyone who does not have a driver’s license, which includes many American Indians, Latino citizens (as well as the undocumented), poor people in general, blacks, Amish, and nuns! Of course, the mainstream media are taking no notice of this totally unAmerican effort, and the alternative press has not noticed it yet. If people want their votes to be even allowed, not just counted, they’d better holler before it is everlastingly too late!

Edward G. Robles
Franklin, N.C.

Democracy Begins At Home

To get an idea of how much our emperor cares about democracy, look at what happened to such in Haiti not so long ago. President Aristide was banished first to the Central African Republic, then he was given refuge in Jamaica, which lasted until Secretary of State Rice threatened that government to oust him immediately or “face the consequences”.

All of this because Artistide was being “undemocratic,” even though he was elected and re-elected there by a 94% majority. So much for democracy in Haiti.

How about a little democracy right here in our own country? Or is it too late already?

Jim Reine
International Falls, Minn.

Restore Constitution

Ralph Nader still speaks to the notion of responsible government while the corporate three talk nonsense. “Barry” Obama speaks of holding Bush to account but says less on how. Duh? How about restoring constitutional government. That might give superdude something to chew on. ...

It’s a free country to some of us. We can vote like we want.

David Tyler
Lafayette, La.

Swimming in Energy

There is an unlimited source of energy and it won’t be considered as long as oil adherents control development. That source is the oceans of water from which hydrogen can be derived. Just imagine the tremendous business if hydrogen powered our cars and all other units now using oil. Plus the elimination of smog and other elements now threatening our planet. Maybe our next president will empower a “Manhattan Project” like the one that produced the atom bomb and nuclear use.

Everett L. Williams
Ingram, Texas

America’s Cruel Justice

The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population. We are the only country in the industrialized western world that still uses the death penalty. Even Russia has abolished the death penalty.

If we want our country to be considered a true democracy we need to change our criminal justice system. Greatly reduce the number of people sent to prison. Drastically reduce the length of time criminals spend in prison. Eliminate the death penalty.

Our government should immediately begin introducing legislation that would provide us with a criminal justice system that is appropriate for a democratic nation.

Dan R. Carmichael Jr.
Ironwood, Mich.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2008

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