Letters to the Editor

(September 24, 2007)


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A Bullshit-free Zone with Commendable Work: Philip Greenspan's Who Are Your Enemies? and Ted Dace's The Experiment Requires That You Continue

To the Editor:

First, let me congratulate you on your publication. Better than CounterPunch and a lot of other crappy west-leaning blogs and newsletters (la go-gauche, celle qui a tout lu Karl Marx... dans l'édition de la Pléïade). I much appreciate reading it, especially for its insight, honesty, and candour... Definitely a bullshit-free zone... I have only begun to read it recently, but I will gladly contribute to it financially, as soon as my own personal Finance Minister gets his act together...

This said, however, I have a few issues with the latest article from Philip Greenspan ("Who Are Your enemies?"), which I would appreciate you forward to him, but not publish.

Again, your work is commendable and I will support it and let my friends (and foes, as you teasingly put it) know about it.

Jean-Sébastien Côté
Vancouver, BC, Canada - September 14, 2007

PS: The article "The Experiment Must Continue" by Ted Dace was simply brilliant. I have sent the link to several of my friends whom I hope will become avid Swans readers.


Call for Massive Anarchy Knowing the Real so-called Enemies: Ted Dace's The Experiment Requires That You Continue and Philip Greenspan's Who Are Your Enemies?

To the Editor,

What a great addition to Swans. Ted Dace's summation and extension of Stanley Milgram's experiment is apropos. Milgram said the most dangerous thing facing modern society is the fragmentation of responsibility, In other words, in both our political and economic hierarchical structures no one is actually guilty of the heinous effects of a decision made by an authority with culpable deniability: why? Everyone just follows orders, works to the rule, fears to question authority, fears alienation and retaliation, while those in power simply respond "I can't recall" when asked about their crimes. To derail the immoral action illustrated by Milgram, individuals must reject an authority that gives illegal orders, yet our system of education indoctrinates docility, reinforces the chain of command in which the individual is only a passive link passing on the will of those with power. Ted Dace calls for anarchy; indeed massive, spontaneous protests may be the only action left to put the fear of the people into our politicians.

Philip Greenspan is also spot on in his critique of "America's" so-called enemies; Iraq and Afghanistan were never a threat to US national security. The real threat to our national security are the power elite and their allies, as Philip rightly points out: they with their profit imperative, now operating on a global scale, seek to minimize input and maximize outputs -- your salary, your health care benefits, your pensions, are all inputs that drive down their outrageous salaries, and the worth of their stock portfolios. There is only one answer to this threat: Workers of the World Unite!


Gerard Donnelly Smith
Vancouver, Washington, USA - September 11, 2007

[ed. While the author is glad to hear of the positive feedback, he doesn't exactly call for anarchy. "Anarchism is a highly ordered state," says Ted Dace. He adds: "It's just that the order arises organically from the people rather than being imposed by the elite."]


Keeping us Under Control: Philip Greenspan's Who Are Your Enemies?

To the Editor:

What you stated it almost exactly what most Australians would say, no one wants war with any of these countries. I certainly don't. I do, however, have strong feelings against al Qaeda for blowing up innocent people (especially in Bali) -- two wrongs do not make a right. I agree that the military-industrial complex, lawyers, BANKS, billion-dollar companies, and politicians are the main thorns in every peace-loving person's side; they impoverish us, lie to us, and terrorise us with fake enemies and fake threats to keep us under control.

Paul Johnston
Maitland, South Australia, Australia - September 10, 2007


Not on Air America, NOT! Charles Marowitz's Send Off The Clowns

To the Editor:

Stephanie Miller has nothing to do with Air America. Not all progressive radio talk show hosts are on AAR. Miller, Ed Schultz, and Bill Press are distributed by Jones Radio. Mike Malloy is on Nova M Radio.

T.J. Sullivan
Rhinebeck, New York, USA - September 11, 2007


To the Editor:

Steph is not on Air America, and never has been. Her show is syndicated by Jones Radio Networks. This is not an inconsequential point. Her show was not "supposed to be the liberal antidote that was going to diminish the rush of Limbaugh's toxicity." That is not her mission. Her show's success is actually quite organic. People in L.A. loved her, so Jones offered the show to a few dozen stations, most of them in real time, to COMPETE with Air America's Lionel -- who is in part supposed to be the liberal antidote that was going to diminish the rush of Limbaugh's toxicity.

I don't know when writers stopped doing research before sounding off...probably about the time the Internet become the vehicle for written dissent.


Christopher M. Alfe
Baltimore, Maryland, USA - September 10, 2007

Charles Marowitz responds:

According to my count, the Stephanie Miller Show is heard on forty-eight stations nationwide. I catch her on Progressive Radio in Los Angeles. If I erred in placing her on Air America, I apologize for the misattribution. But what has that got to do with the thrust of my criticism?

Given "Steph's" non-stop assaults on right-wing celebrities from the president on downward, it is rather specious for Mr. Alfe to argue that political debunkery is "not her mission" and she is not "supposed to be 'the liberal antidote' to people like Rush Limbaugh." If she is not a would-be political satirist, what other raison d'être has she? My point was she does this gauchely and without comic effect. If the best you can come up with in defending "Steph" is that she is "actually quite organic," you might as well throw in the towel altogether. She is about as "organic" as the organic-labels you find plastered on toxic foods in the supermarket.

As for Mr. Alfe's parting shot against the medium, it is generally acknowledged that the blogosphere has gained a reputation for going where major newspapers fear to tread; so it sounds hollow to berate the Internet for conveying dissent on issues generally ignored by the mass media. It is the Internet that has helped engender the critical atmosphere that permits "Steph" to do her stuff on radio.


Marijuana-fueled Cars: Jan Baughman's The Politics And Propaganda Of Ethanol

Dear Editor,

Perhaps a better title for Jan Baughman's article, September 10, 2007, "The Politics And Propaganda Of Ethanol," would be "The Corny Politics And Propaganda Of Ethanol." Ever since Chávez and Castro declared this past spring that employing corn and cane, which they declared as "food" crops, for fuel was "immoral," ethanol has been under attack. Baughman suggests, "grassroots," even going so far as to employ the non-profit globalists Greenpeace (which provokes my thoughts to 1997, when they left their spent oil from the Rainbow Warrior on the LA Harbor docks after they blocked Hyperion Water treatment plant's "crap pipe," costing the taxpayers over $3 billion for a new treatment plant, that still leaves wind-blown syringes on El Porto beach, as how clean they really are NOT) ironically (perhaps?), Baughman omits the grassiest grass of all roots, INDUSTRIAL HEMP. I capped industrial hemp because it makes toes curl and causes panic attacks the way screaming "FIRE! in a theatre" does, for those who would agree with Baughman. Why?

I believe INDUSTRIAL HEMP is "left out" of the ethanol argument because of Medical Marijuana and the capital PROFITS by those who like to think of themselves, against profiteering, and not really making money, but "saving the world" one registered patient at a time, as the ones who are on the front line against INDUSTRIAL HEMP, being it's too "seedy" for them, and thus, omitted from the case FOR ethanol. "SAVE THE WAR, BAN THE HEMP," might be a good bumper sticker for those who have decided ethanol is bad because of corn and never mention INDUSTRIAL HEMP as an alternative. But to be fair, I'd like to ask, why did Baughman omit INDUSTIAL HEMP as a crop for ethanol? Why is the focus always corn, as if that's the ONLY crop that has the ability to be ethanol?

Jeanette Doney
Fort Bragg, California, USA - September 10, 2007


Ethanol Law? Jan Baughman's The Politics And Propaganda Of Ethanol

To the Editor,

I would like to suggest that the EUA promulgate a law based on the following:

Every American ethanol producer would be allowed to import the same amount of his production from the external market without taxes, as long as the participation of renewable fuel will increase, it could be twice as is now. The profit of this operation would enable the producer to enlarge the farmed area, since the other part of the investment would be covered by the profits of the imported ethanol. Thus, the net present value of the ethanol producers would be very higher.

The effects of a law like this in the domestic market will be of great importance:

- Creation of new employment positions, reducing the present unemployment taxes.

- The petroleum price would fall, leading to lower inflation rates and lower interest rates.

- With lower inflation, even the sub prime mortgage financial crisis could be benefited.

- The refining capacity for oil is limited and for the time being would not needed to be increased.

But the effects of a law like this would not be restricted to the domestic market, giving place also to worldwide favorable consequences like:

- Reduction of the greenhouse effect, positive for the USA image.

- Developing countries would also be benefited by the creation of more employment positions.

- Worldwide reduction of the petroleum prices, leading to a decrease of the oil producers' power and profits.

- Reduction of terrorism acts, since there would be less financial resources to sponsor them.

- According to the AMA's submission to the Biofuels Taskforce, there are three components of present vehicle emissions that have been shown to damage human health:

the particulates (particularly PM 2.5);

the aromatic component (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and

the gaseous irritants such as ozone (O3) and nitrous oxide (NO2).

- Giving the renewable fuel the same treatment in terms of taxes as for the Oil will show to the world the USA's concern for the environment.


Gilberto Jamardo
Votorantim Metais Limitada
São Paulo, Brazil - September 15, 2007


Oil-soaked Turban? Jan Baughman's The Politics And Propaganda Of Ethanol

To the Editor,

1.  No one cares that you had a bad experience with EAA. Your version of a personal dispute is not remotely additive to the story.

2.  It is a fact that we produced more corn, extra corn, than we used extra for extra ethanol this year. Therefore your conclusion that ethanol tipped some supply/demand trigger is wrong. Maybe you should look at the price charts of ALL commodities and realize the rise in corn was not limited to corn. It is called general inflation caused by transport costs among other things. We are in the midst of general inflation due to our reliance on ever more expensive oil and the wars we fight to maintain a strategic presence in the Middle East. That is just the way it is.

3.  No one care that corporations are donating to a green cause. It isn't a big conspiracy. They are bragging about it.

4.  Land costs went up a little? SO WHAT.

Now. Why don't you tell the rest of us WHO funds you to bash ethanol and wear that oil-soaked turban around all day?


Ian Koch
Columbus, Ohio, USA - September 11, 2007

Jan Baughman responds:

Mr. Koch may wish to review the New York Times Editorial of September 19, 2007, "The High Costs of Ethanol." If he considers that paper too "liberal," he may want to peruse the May 29 report of the World Bank that examines the pressures posed by corn-based biofuels on the prices of food stuff as well as Gilles d'Aymery's Deceitful Solutions To America's Energy Dependence. If he is still unconvinced, perhaps could he consult the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2007-2016 (PDF) or read a short summary of it, "Growing bio-fuel demand underpinning higher agriculture prices" on the OCDE Web site. I am not bashing ethanol, what we are simply saying is that it's a trap -- see The Biofuels Trap, by Robin Mittenthal (CounterPunch, August 31, 2007). As to our funders, I think we are pretty transparent, and as for my "personal dispute," it was used to illustrate Ethanol Across America's lack of transparency. Ohio, eh?


Land Speculation behind the American Revolution: Philip Greenspan's The Founding Fathers' Fraud

To the Editor:

Reading Philip Greenspan's article on the three F's ("The Founding Fathers' Fraud") reminded me of an article in my Shaw collection. The article was written by Archibald Henderson, lifetime professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina, erstwhile regional historian, and three-time biographer of George Bernard Shaw (1911, 1932, and 1956). It appeared in a southern scholarly journal some years ago. (I will supply details for anyone interested.)

It seems that George Washington and his friends had been land-speculating in the western regions of Virginia. But standing in their way was the British crown, which, in its desire to keep their Indian friends as good allies, forbade any such tactics on the part of the colonials. It was the necessity of getting London out of the way of the land speculators' expansionist ambitions that formed the ultimate driving motive of Washington and his cronies to support the independence of the colonies. Henderson quotes plenty of 18th-century sources and documents to outline his case. Sounds right to me.

Thanks for publicizing our Grieg project. When we go to the University of North Carolina to conclude it next month I will be immersing myself in Henderson memorabilia.


Isidor Saslav
Overton, Texas, USA - September 17, 2007


Intrigue in a Dollar Bill: Robert Wrubel's The Good Shepherd (January 2007)

To the Editor:

The dollar bill exchange: Before Wilson's son's fiancée is killed he and Ulysses meet. Wilson comments with a NO to the deal. But then Damon hands the guy a dollar bill to purchase a gift. Was this a secret communication devise, similar to the one at the beginning of the movie? Was Wilson in essence giving his approval to taking the girl out!?

We've been debating the issue. What's your take?

Greg King
Helena, Montana, USA - September 16, 2007

Bob Wrubel responds:

Greg, I don't remember the details of the scene you're talking about, but I do remember distinctly feeling that Wilson consented or acceded to the need to eliminate his daughter-in-law. The dollar bill signal sounds plausible, the way you describe it.

Remember, Wilson's main motivation -- the logical structure of the drama -- was the wish to redeem his father's memory, who had failed in some earlier test of loyalty. Wilson's opposite failure, of loyalty to the point of amorality, is symbolized by his grey, stooped posture as he walks down the empty agency corridors at the end.


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Published September 24, 2007
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