Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · A bear trap for...
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A bear trap for homegrown terrorists

Robert Downes - August 24th, 2009
Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 8/24/09
A Bear Trap for Homegrown Terrorists

When Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Alfred E. Murrah Building in April, 1995, Americans were rattled and outraged by photos of 168 deaths, including children killed in a nearby daycare. But the Oklahoma City Bombing was nowhere near the bee’s nest kicked up by the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001.
That’s because America has always had a tolerance for paramilitary types, white supremacists, skinheads and political extremists dating back to the raiders of Bloody Kansas in the 1850s and the Ku Klux Klan. We’ve tossed Arab farmers into Guantanamo Prison for eight years without trial on the mere suspicion of being terrorists, yet there is no Gitmo for our own home-grown terrorists.
In contrast to the Muslims, America’s domestic terrorists are largely considered to be colorful characters playing soldier, whose stockpiling of weapons and talk of bringing down the government is not only tolerated like a post-Kindergarten version of ‘show and tell,’ but even tacitly encouraged and egged on by the Rush Limbaugh Jrs. of talk radio or the Glenn Becks of Fox News.
So when one of these guys shoots a doctor in church, as was the case with George Tiller in May; or kills a guard at the Holocaust Museum, as was the fate of museum guard Stephen Johns in June, it makes the news for a couple of days and then people move on until the next school massacre, or whatever.
Currently, the militia movement is on the rise again, largely because we have a black, liberal president in the White House. As columnist Frank Rich noted in the New York Times, we have the same climate of right-wing paranoia in America today as we did in the early ‘60s when the John Birch Society and other extremists went bananas over the Catholic liberal John F. Kennedy in office.
Today, bogus stories of ‘Death Panels’ circulate among gullible people who are looking for more drama in their dreary lives; back in the early ‘60s, it was fear of fluoridation as part of a grand plot of world domination hatched by communists. And remember all those fears the militiamen of the ‘90s had of FEMA concentration camps, or having microchips implanted in their butts by the Clinton Administration? Same crowd, different story line.
It would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that the threat of another OK City Bombing looms, or another Lee Harvey Oswald.
But some things have changed significantly since the OK City Bombing, particularly in the realm of law enforcement.
One important thing to remember today -- both for paramilitary types and the general public -- is that what broke the militia movement of the 1990s wasn’t apathy by its members or media attention. It was America’s tough conspiracy laws.
Conspiracy laws are used to break up organized criminal enterprises and can be used for anything from wildlife poachers, to tax resisters, to the Chicago 7 trial of left-wing radicals in 1969. Under the law, a conspiracy is any act or agreement by two or more people to commit a crime that will further the conspiracy.
These laws were tailor-made for busting terrorists, including the homegrown variety.
As a member of the 51st Missouri Militia told me in a 1996 interview in Kansas City, the militia movement of that time quickly learned that under the law, if you hear about your buddies planning to blow up a building or assassinate a public official, you are guilty of conspiracy and will face the same homicide charges even if you don’t participate. Unless you rat out your friends, that is, and become a witness against them in some sort of plea bargain.
“We don’t allow any criminal activity in our militia and we’re strictly forbidden to make bombs or convert weapons to automatic fire,” he said at the time. He mentioned a Kansas militia group that disbanded because a member felt compelled to alert the FBI to talk of a bomb plot in order to save his own skin.
Conspiracy extends to felony murder outside of politically-motivated acts. As the current issue of Newsweek notes, Brandon Hein of Calfornia has spent the past 14 years in prison on a life sentence because at the age of 18, he happened to be a drunken bystander when one of his friends stabbed another teenager to death during a marijuana deal that went wrong. “According to the felony-murder rule, all participants in a felony can be held equally culpable, including those who did no harm, possessed no weapon, and didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” Newsweek reports.
So today, playing soldier in a militia or skinhead group comes with significant risks. Even if your friends are just ‘kidding’ about -- oh -- attacking Fort Mead, or shooting up synagogues, you may face life in prison for just hearing those words and not reporting them. At least, that’s the case for the losers who plotted those two incidents and were busted by the FBI.
Then too, law enforcement is a lot more sophisticated today than in 1995 when few of us had ever heard of an ammonium nitrate/fuel oil bomb.
After the OK City Bombing and the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, many police departments across the country began receiving training in anti-terrorism and hostage measures. This training accelerated after 9/11, with organizations such as Blackwater instructing thousands of officers at its camp in South Carolina.
And give the Bush Administration credit: they also broke down the communication barriers between various law enforcement agencies to allow for the sharing of information on terrorist groups. And who knows what sort of surveillance is going on under the PATRIOT Act?
Then there’s new surveillance on bank records, money laundering, the ingredients for fertilizer bombs, and Internet web sites... You could write a book on this subject, but in short, it’s a lot riskier being a member of a violent paramilitary group today than it was in 1995.
Fears of the rising tide of extremism make for good talking points on the Rachel Maddow Show or for the fundraising efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center (which keeps track of these groups), but in the wake of 9/11, loose talk about mass murder and mayhem by any organized gang is on par with sticking your foot in a loaded bear trap.
But of course, that’s just what one expects from the soldiers of lunacy.

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