<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Dispatches 11/1/14


Come On In, the Water’s Not Boiling Yet

While I appreciate your informed and thoughtful editorial “Don’t Bite Terrorist Bait” [10/1/14 TPP], there was, at the end, no effort to speculate on the most important question: will the USA get drawn (all the way) into war with ISI.

My guess is that ultimately McCain and Chaney will get their wish: it will be, alas, us vs. them in America’s first holy war. Part of the reason for this gloomy forecast is the peace movement’s apparent inability to supply a countervailing force. Here in Charleston W.V., for example, I have written letters to the fairly liberal local newspaper (the Charleston Gazette) but they have not been published. I have also tried to have a pulpit editorial read at the local Unitarian-Universalist church but no time could be found since a rhapsody on the details of the NYC People’s Climate March parade was on the agenda (one wonders if a rapprochement between polluters and ecologists could be found by allowing more pollution in exchange for larger protest spectacles ... but I digress). While there is a vestige of our local Iraq war protest group (“Patriots for Peace”) still extant, it so far has not stirred.

This lack of apparent protest for peace is, I gather from your editorial, not descriptive of what is happening on the other side, where Republicans are loudly beating the war drums. Mr. Obama is, of course, slicker than his predecessor and will not allow a single defining event to galvanize the peace community. You report that [warlike] Republicans are more trusted by Americans to handle foreign policy [!]. The unfortunate direction in which we headed is pretty clear.

But what of Mr. Obama’s solemn pledge to not allow any American “boots on the ground”? Well, your editorial reports that we now have 1,700 “military advisors” in Iraq — how many “boots” does it take to show the emptiness of his pledge? There is almost certainly quite a number of spooks (top secret!) that we don’t know about, and no need, of course, to report numbers of “contractors’ (read: mercenaries).

You say that “Mr. Obama has plenty of feck [is not feckless]. He has enough sense to deny ISIS the reinvasion of Iraq by American troops that the jihadis want.” But one could argue that a “reinvasion” of sorts has already occurred. This 10/1/14 issue of TPP has 40-some articles listed but only one — a short poem — concerns this issue. So, while your fine editorial is the best I’ve seen on this subject and I congratulate your for it, I nevertheless think you may have been snowed. The frog’s water is not yet boiling but it’s well beyond tepid.

John D. Palmer
Charleston W.V.

Strange Allies

Your recent editorial (“Don’t Bite Terrorist Bait”) eloquently articulated America’s history of partnering with sordid groups and individuals in our worldwide destabilizing activities, dirty wars and the ensuing blowback. However, the story of our actions in Afghanistan requires clarification. A popular misconception persists that the Soviet Union “invaded” Afghanistan to quell a popular movement and only then did we respond to help the “defenseless freedom fighters,” as Ronald Reagan called the mujahideen. He even equated them with our Founding Fathers and feted them at the White House!

In fact, it was his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, who signed the first directive for secret aid to the mujahideen on July 3, 1979. The introduction of this advanced American weaponry pushed the Afghan government (you know, the one that was secularizing society, supporting land reform, educating women, etc.) to request support from their Soviet ally.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national security adviser, admitted in an interview with France’s Le Nouvel Observateur on Jan. 15, 1998, that the Carter Administration’s covert aid was designed to produce just such a response and give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam-like quagmire. As hoped, the Soviet Union agreed to assist their Afghan allies and intervened (not invaded — an important distinction) on Dec. 24, 1979 — six months after Carter’s directive! The trap was sprung.

Brzezinski was asked in the same interview with LNO if he regretted his support of Islamic fundamentalism and having given arms and advice to future terrorists. He replied, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?

Some stirred-up Muslims indeed!

Robert McAllister
Lantana, Fla.

Conservatives Rely on Violence

While we are faced with real enemies in the world, the conservatives carry on about things the “liberals” (i.e. anyone not of their conservative opinions) are supposedly conspiring to do to undermine the US. “Conspiracies are everywhere liberals exist,” according to their media. There is no logic to their reasoning. They have no solid proof of anything. All is hints and innuendoes, as if liberals are really some dark, mysterious evil force capable of ending “everything America stands for,” and only tells lies that only conservatives can cleverly, by their supreme insights, see and expose! As if liberals’ opinions weren’t of this country! Basically, “only conservatives (this small group, thereof — and not Democratic) will rule rightly.” While they tell nothing but lies, they lie about how they tell only the truth.

These are not your grandfather’s Republicans. These are the Southerners who became Republicans after the Civil Rights Act under President Johnson. To continue their agenda, all they had to do was join the Republican Party! And then they worked to take it over nationally. Business and Southern Baptists: Politics and Religion. And if God is a Southern Baptist, it’s amazing He should worry about winning votes in order to have His way! Conservatives say “Extremism in the cause of liberty is no vice,” to justify their extremism. Isn’t that just another way of saying, “The end justifies the means”? And isn’t that not true? Because that would justify all kinds of crimes and cruelties — as we have seen constantly going on, here and abroad.

Why are conservative “solutions” usually just plain mean? Yet they claim to have a loving God. One wishes conservatives defined loving and then asked themselves: “Really?” And why is it the conservative believes every religion in the news today goes in for violence to spread its “opinions”? Really? Loving? How many “liberal groups” are making the news these days by their violence?

Is it too much to ask of our citizens that they think about what they’re hearing and/or reading and not just “believe”? What’s any education for, if not that?

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Feds Should Stop Marijuana Prohibition

In America marijuana is illegal in most states. In many cases when law enforcement officers arrest a person who is using marijuana, that person is sent to a jail. Sending a person to jail for using marijuana is absurd. Marijuana is no more addictive or dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Our federal government should enact legislation that makes marijuana legal in all states. If our congressmen and senators are aware of the failure of the prohibition of alcohol in America, they are more likely to pass legislation making marijuana legal.

Dan Carmichael, Jr.
Ironwood, Mich.

Shoot Holes in Gun Stats

A letter published in the 9/15/14 TPP stated that “in 2013 the Centers for Disease Control reported annual defensive firearms use to protect life as occurring between 500,000 and 3,000,000 times per year.” The CDC is careful to point out that these estimates are based on respondent self-reports on national surveys, in which no effort is made to actually validate the self reported defensive use. These self reports are extremely biased and are thus meaningless. Virtually everyone who uses a firearm in an altercation with someone else claims the use was defensive. George Zimmermann claimed self-defense, as did the man who pumped 10 shots into a car full of black teenagers who were playing loud music, as did the retired police officer who killed the young father who was brandishing a box of popcorn in a movie theater, as did the Ferguson police officer who gunned down the unarmed Michael Brown. I could go on and on. Gang members who engage in shoot-outs claim they do so in self-defense. I have never heard of anyone admitting to the offensive use of a firearm. How many offensive uses are reported on surveys? Surely, some of those reported defensive uses were in reaction to an offensive use of a gun. Where are these offensive users in the surveys? How many of the purported defensive uses were really offensive uses? How many of the alleged defensive uses were really figments of the respondent’s imagination? Based on national surveys, millions of Americans have been abducted by aliens and millions have seen Jesus in the last week. Self-reports of personal experiences are notoriously unreliable, and this is particularly true of something as emotionally charged and controversial as gun use.

Robert Blake
Columbia, Mo.

Editor’s Note: See Dispatches on page 5 for a report on recent FBI statistics that private gunslingers confronting “bad guys with guns” in mass shootings is almost nonexistent.

Bring Back Treasury Greenbacks

In  Mark Anderson’s 10/1/14 TPP column, “Send Money to Main Street, Not Wall Street,” he writes that the Foreign Affairs article advocating “Central Banks Should Give Money Directly to the People” should “be seen for the intriguing but half-baked proposal it really is.” Anderson quotes the Council on Foreign Relations authors who write that the global economy is suffering from insufficient spending and that Central Banks and the Fed, “by lowering interest rates and pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system, have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts while inequality gets worse.”

Spending is buying and selling so money must be made available. The CFR authors repeat the facetious proposal that helicopters drop cash onto the streets. Fed helicopters have already dropped vast quantities of cash on Wall Street but none on our Main Streets!

Anderson notes that US money is loaned into existence by banks led by the Fed creating a US money supply of interest-earning debt. To increase it more loans are made and more interest is paid to banks.

Anderson criticizes the CFR authors for not mentioning the alternative to giving away debt created money. The US Treasury can reclaim its Constitutional authority to create debt free money and then spend it to fund congressional appropriations. No money need be given away. Federal Reserve Notes are replaced with United States Notes, now debt-free legal tender. No more national debt! Federal taxing power would be used to manage the debt-free money supply for full employment and minimum inflation.

President Lincoln’s created debt-free “green backs” to fund the US Civil War.  This monetary system was successfully used by several colonies prior to our War for Independence. Ben Franklin not only promoted the system he also printed the money!

Robert W. Zimmerer
Beaverton, Ore.

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2014


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