Lyndon sent about 500 marines into the Dominican Republic at first. He said he sent them in to evacuate 2,000 or so Americans who wanted to get out. It made sense to send the marines in for that purpose, but it didn't make sense that that's why Lyndon sent them in.
A couple of days later Lyndon made it pretty clear that the marines had a lot more to do in the Dominican Republic, than just evacuate Americans. He kept upping the number of marines, and, then, he brought the U.S. Army into it, until, at this writing, there are about 14,000 U.S. servicemen in the Dominican Republic, and another 5,000 or so on ships waiting to see if they are needed.
No matter how much Lyndon and his officials try to deny it, it keeps coming through the news dispatches from Santo Domingo that the U.S. forces linked up with the right-wing general, Wessin y Wessin, as soon as they got there, and that they've been fighting on his side against the rebels ever since.
Another thing that is fairly well shown in the news dispatches (if you read enough of them carefully enough) is that the rebels who are supporting the return of the constitutionally elected president, Juan Bosch, were winning the military action until the U.S. troops arrived to give Wessin and his boys a hand.
How do you suppose Lyndon decided that Wessin was the one to support in the Dominican Republic, rather than the followers of Bosch? Well, unless you can get inside Lyndon's head, it's pretty hard to say for sure. But we can do some informed guessing, based on what we know is true.
First of all we have to clear up this business of "communism." For the moment let's say (and the evidence for it is overwhelming) that communism is not some kind of world-wide conspiracy of political devils to take over everything, but, rather, that the only sensible way to look at communism is as a set of basic ideas about how people can run a country so that everybody gets his equal share of what there is to get. If you look at communism from this point of view, you learn that the communists say the first thing to be done is to take the economy out of the hands of private owners. This means, they say, that you can't let individuals like the Rockefellers, the Mellons, etc., own the factories, the banks, the railroads, the electric companies, the mines, the big farms, and so on. They say that we must find a way for the people, through their public officials — their representatives — to own and control these things. Communists say this is the only way you can prevent a few people like the Rockefellers and the Mellons from being very, very rich, and a great many people from being very, very poor.
Now this is not to say that everyone who thinks this way could properly be called a Communist, or that Communists are the only ones who think this way. Remember we are talking here about a set of ideas, more that we are a group of individualls. There are at least four communist parties in the United States and about the only thing they agree upon are the basic ideas set out above. There are also other parties in the U.S. who agree on these basic ideas, but disagree so strongly about other things that they object to being called communist parties.
There are others, who are not communists in any sense, who say that you don;t have to take the rich people's factories and mines and electric companies, and so on, away from them. These non-communists say that you can give everybody a decent living by making it against the law to pay less than a certain amount of money for a day's work, against the law to charge more than a certain amount for goods, against the law to own more than a certain amount of land, and by taxing the wealth in certain ways. These non-communists say you can run a country so that everybody has a decent living, and still permit private individuals to own what we call the economy — the factories, the mines, the electric companies, the banks, the farms, and so on.
Now some of the followers of Juan Bosch, the man the Dominican Republic rebels are trying to put back into the president's office, are communists and some are non-communists. But they all believe that drastic changes have got to be made in the economy of the Domincan Republic before it will be a decent place for all its people to live. That is, they all believe either that privately owned business and farming has to be taken a way from the owners, or that the private owners have to be severely regulated by the government.
The people who own the businesses and the big farms in the Dominican republic, of course, don't want either of these things to happen. They want things to go on as they're always been. They want the wages to stay low and the profits to stay high. So they are backing the right-wing general Wessin y Wessin who guarantees that things will remain the same and that he will keep them that way by using the army and the police to keep the to keep the poor people in line.
Who are the people who own the economy of the Dominican Republic? Some are Domincans, some are Americans and some are from other countries. The only ones we know much about are the Americans. When we look at them we run into some familier notes.
The Aluminum Company of America, which is controlled by the Mellon family of Pittsburg, owns mines in the Dominican Republic from which it gets about 1 million tons of aluminum ore per year.
The South Porto Rico Sugar Corp., whose board of directors interlocks with the Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank and with Corn Products, Inc. (makers of Karo and other corn syrup products — the Dominican Republic produces a great deal of corn and that is one of their biggest exports to the U.S.), America's 59th largest corporation, owns, along with other things, 300,000 acres of sugar cane land in the Dominican Republic. Sugar is the Dominican Republic's chief product. (Ellsworth Bunker, Lyndon's Ambassador to the Organization of American States, who explained how benevolent the U.S. feels toward the Dominican Republic, and how the U.S. really doesn't mean any harm to anyone' there, is a director of the National Sugar Refining Corp., 331st largest company in the U.S.)
The United Fruit Co., which has for years been famous for owning governments of South and Central American countries and for mercilessly exploiting the people and the production of these countries, owns 2,300 acres of banana cultivation in the Dominican Republic. United Fruit also owns other properties there, with respect to which it has "entered into a contract with the Dominican Government for construction of railroad lines and port facilities which will allow development of properties." (Moody's Industrial Manual — 1962 — written before the current rebellion)
The United fruit Co. is interlocked with the First National Bank of Boston, America's 17th largest bank (which is controlled by a coaltion of new York and New England Bankers) and with other of the county's largest banks, power companies, and industrial firms. One of the United Fruits directors is also a director of Merck & Co. whose former president is Lyndon's Secretary of Commerce.
The telephone system of the Dominican Republic is owned by a United States company which we've been unable to identify. The country is dependent upon the use of oil for the production of electric power, which means that it is ultimately dependent upon the oil companies for its power (which again involves the Rockefellers).
If Lyndon had sent the troops into the Dominican Republic to help the rebels restore the legal president, Juan Bosch, to his office, he would have been going against the interests and the wishes of these Americans who control, not only the Dominican economy but also (with others of their kind) the American economy.
We've always charged in these pages that Lyndon is the servant of the owners of America. We think the actions of the United States troops in the Dominican Republic support this charge. Do you think so?
And here's another question to ponder: Would anyone else, who happened to be the American president at such a time, be able to do anything but what Lyndon has done except, that is, if he was willing to accept defeat or impeachment at the hands of the owners of the American economy?
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There's another thing about the Dominican Republic, which has not been mentioned in the news reports we've seen, but which will bear remembering. The Encyclopedia of the Nations says that 68% of the Dominican populaiton is black or near-black (the Encyclopedia calls it "mulatto"). Senator Ellender, the Louisiana racist, says that 90% of the Dominicans are black or near-black (he calls it "mixed blood). Whichever figures you accept, you know that most of the Dominica poor folks are, in American terms, just plain black.
The rebel forces, according to the news dispatches, are composed of mostly of civilians who have been given guns and ammunition by the Bosch forces to fight for his return.
Now what color do you suppose most of those civilians are — and does this remind you of another "rescue operation" Lyndon conducted on another continent last year?
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The New York Times carried an interesting story last week on the way FBI and the Justice Department, Lyndon's Law, as it were, protect informers and witnesses. The story was written by Cabell Phillips who, as a reporter, is usually pretty reliable.
Phillips was talking about the KKK informer, Gary Rowe, who is presently giving testimony on the killers of Mrs. Liuzzo.
[See Murder and Character Assasination of Viola Liuzzo for background.]
Phillips says that "buried out of sight in each annual budget of the Department of Justice is a confidential fund of a few thousand dollars available to the Attorney General with which to shield such persons from the revenge of their enemies." Phillips goes on to say that the Justice Department sometimes moves such people from where they have been to some distant place, and provides the money for a home for setting them up in business.
"In extreme cases", says Phillips, "the Government will provide physical protection for them through the local police or U.S. Marshalls for a number of years until the dangers of dicovery and reprisal have passed." Phillips mentioned one case in which an informer in a rackets prosecution was sent to Central America and a new job and a new life were established for him there at U.S. Government expense.
Contrast this treatment of some witnesses for the U.S. Government, with the consistent refusal of the FBI and the Justice Department to provide protection for other persons involved in civil rights cases.
Lewis Allen, and countless others, might as well be alive and happy today if Lyndon's policy of protection were not so selective. We wonder how Lyndon would explain the difference between protecting Gary Rowe, who sat there in a car and let Mrs. Liuzzo be killed, and protecting Lewis Allen, who was an innocent witness to the killing of Herbert Lee.
Would we be guilty of racism if we suggested that the difference might be that both the victim and the witness in the Liuzzo killing were white, and that both in the other case were black?
To coin a phrase, Lyndon — If that be racism, make the most of it.
We wrote at some length last week about Congressman Wright Patman's fight against the big bankers, and his attempt to amend the Bank Holding Company Act to remove the exemption enjoyed by Financial General Corp.
Patman charged this week that a loan company called the Federal Services Finance Corp. is connected with the Financial General Corp., and, further, that Federal Services is guilty of all kinds of loanshark abuses of U.S. servicemen. Patman said Federal Services is guilty of using "premeditated deceit" in dealing with people, mostly members of the armed forces, to whom it loans money.
Georger Olmsted, said there is no connection between Financial General and Federal Services, and he thought it was a shame "that Mr. Patman, who occupies a responsible position, can be irresponsible with the facts."
Clayton Norris, who is president of Federal Services, said his company has no connection with Financial General "either directly, or indirectly, or through any interlocking directorates."
The record indicates that Patman was right about the premeditated deceit, at least with respect to Mr. Norris. Willard Holbrook, Jr., Chairman of the Federal Services, is a director of the United Service Life Insurance Co., which owns stock in Financial General. Arleigh Burke, former admiral in the U.S. Navy, is a director of Federal Services and a director of First National Bank of Washington, in which Financial General, through subsidaries, owns about 15% of the outstanding stock. Cylde Eddleman, a retire general, is a director of both Federal Services and First National of Washington. If these aren't "interlocking directorates" what are they?
There's one thing Norris said, that we don't doubt in the least. He remarked that "the business practices of Federal Services have always been consistent with the highest standards of the industry." It's been our experience that the highest standard of the loan business is that you can do anything you're big enough to do in order to squeeze money out of people who have to borrow in order to live.
Federal Services, incidentally, was formed to lend money to U.S. Servicemen. No less than four of its directors are retired generals or admirals. Thinking of those gold-backed, smartly uniformed military heroes as common, ordinary loan sharks kind of takes some of their glamour away, doesn't it. Maybe that's why General Olmsted got so excited when Patman linked him up to the loan shark business.
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Speaking of soft deals for generals, Lyndon's Air Force Medical Corps has recommended that General Curtis LeMay, who just retired on Febuary 1, be given 60% disability rating. This would mean that $9,876 of LeMay's $16,464 retirement pay [equal to $120,300 in 2012] would be exempt from income tax.
LeMay is 58 years old. Until he retired, he prided himself on making regular flights at the controls of the big Air Force multiple-jet planes. Anyone flying those planes is required to be in top physical condition, and the Air Force says that LeMay "Was physically qualified to perform the duties of a pilot."
This looks like a case of Lyndon paying off an old crony with tax exempt income of nearly $10,000 a year, while he (Lyndon) professes to be so concerned about the poor people in whose name he's fighting the "war on poverty".
The taxes Lyndon in excusing Lemay from would make up about 1/3 of what a family of four needs for a decent year's living. We wonder how many of the nation's poor families could have a decent living on the tax money the rest of the generals are being excused from.
* * *
That brings to mind another angle on the poverty war. Lyndon's direcotr of Poverty, Sargent Shriver, who is wealthy in his own right, married to one of the even wealthier Kennedy girls, and gets a $30,000 a year salary for his poverty work [equal to $219,000 in 2012], has decided that a family of four which has income sufficient to spend more than 23 cents per meal for each person [equal to $1.68 in 2012], is "not poor."
We wonder how many 23-cent meals Sargent and his wife Eunice have eaten recently.
Or, for that matter, how many 23-cent meals Lyndon has fed his pet hound.
But then, that's the way it goes, isn't it Lyndon? Whether it's poverty, or the Dominicans, or the Vietnamese you're fighting "a rich man's war is a poor man's fight."
May 6, 1965
Copyright © Jack Minnis, 1965