Printed letters, September 8, 2013

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George Seely’s letter in Wednesday’s Sentinel (“John Justman’s column presented rational view”) epitomizes how blatant hypocrisy and outright falsehoods pass for “rational economic opinion” among local “conservatives”.

Justman’s insipid column (“Free-market policies aid county, not green energy subsidies”, Sep. 1) propounded the purported benefits of the “free market” (but heavily subsidized) oil & gas industry—citing the Grand Valley Transportation Authority’s conversion to natural-gas-fueled buses as an example.  Of course, that widely-acclaimed transition to greener energy was accomplished only with federal “green energy subsidies”.

Justman’s ideological tunnel-vision was also revealed in Wednesday’s Sentinel (“School Board moving forward with solar subscription”), which describes a cooperative public-private initiative to save School District 51 perhaps $1 million over 20 years by building a solar “garden” on publicly-owned land leased to a private enterprise.  Of course, that “green energy” project is also made possible by green “energy credits” (i.e., “subsidies”).

Also, as Tim Pipe opines in Wedneday’s letters (“U.S. should have adopted alternative fuels in the 80’s”), Justman dubiously compared the sunny Grand Valley and the windy West to northern Europe.  And—as Bob Weiffenbach observes in Sunday’s response (“John Justman column perpetuates sense of victimhood on West Slope”. Sep. 8 – his column was replete with “mistakes and inaccurate data”, falsely portraying our lagging local economy as the “victim” – rather than the beneficiary – of governmental support.

Meanwhile, both Weiffenbach and (previously) Doug Hovde exposed Justman’s self-serving hypocrisy—observing that he’s applied for and received some $190,000 to $200,000 in federal farm subsidies since 1995.

Thus, not only is Justman religiously devoted to a mythical “free-market”, he personally benefits from a corrupt give-away program that – according to recent GAO reports—pays (and fails to recoup) subsidies to deceased farmers and inadequately audits income-eligibility.  Likewise, our pseudo-“conservative” Congressman Scott Tipton voted to pay farm subsidies to his cronies on the House Agriculture Committee!

Contrary to Larry Kontz’s letter, the U.S. is not “perched on the precipice of making a disastrous decision to pursue military intervention into a country that is in the middle of a religious and sectarian civil war”.  That is what irresponsible “hawks” have been urging since the Syrian uprising began.

President Obama made a principled decision to timely warn the Assad regime against using chemical weapons on Syrian civilians – impliedly promising to enforce the 1925 protocol to the Geneva Conventions (which does not expressly prohibit Syria’s use of “asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gasses” in civil conflict within its borders) and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (which does).

While Syria is not a signatory to that Convention, it is nevertheless legally bound by it – because Syria signed the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (prohibiting indiscriminate killing of non-combatants) and because both Conventions are now deemed “customary international law”—binding on non-signatories.

While the internationally-drawn “red line” was allegedly crossed repeatedly before the August 21 artillery dispersal, the world knows that the credibility of its widely-accepted norms is at stake.  Therefore, Kontz “stretches all credibility” by decrying actions not yet taken, disparaging the “moral high ground” President Obama’s warning occupies, and cavalierly dismissing the history-proven consequences of allowing “evil to triumph”.

Moreover, there is nothing inconsistent about demonstrating “humanitarian compassion” by funding refugee relief and/or by diplomatically promoting settlement negotiations in Geneva – while concurrently holding Assad accountable for violating international law. 

Thus, President Obama is being properly prudent, not “dithering” – because it remains premature to “attack Syria” before U.N. inspectors finalize their report, before Congress authorizes the use of force, and/or before the U.N. or the Arab League conveys legal legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the credible threat of retaliation allows world public opinion to reverse itself overnight should Assad employ sarin gas again.

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