Naomi Wolf: Blueprint for Tyranny

Monday, October 22, 2007

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Zedaker says this is a must see, and I agree. In this lecture Wolf lays out the central argument of her new book, The End of America. She explores the blueprint, the ten steps taken by would-be despots to close down open societies, and shows how these techniques -- employed and perfected by Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin -- are being employed in this country right now.

There is a growing awareness, in this country, that we are slip-sliding into tyranny. It is less and less considered a thoroughly outré notion, that there are parallels between what is happening here and what happened in Nazi Germany, as discussed here and here. As Wolf described in her blog on The Huffington Post, people are aware and they are frightened.

I wish people would stop breaking into tears when they talk to me these days.

I am traveling across the country at the moment -- Colorado to California -- speaking to groups of Americans from all walks of life about the assault on liberty and the 10 steps now underway in America to a violently closed society.

The good news is that Americans are already awake: I thought there would be resistance to or disbelief at this message of gathering darkness -- but I am finding crowds of people who don't need me to tell them to worry; they are already scared, already alert to the danger and entirely prepared to hear what the big picture might look like. To my great relief, Americans are smart and brave and they are unflinching in their readiness to hear the worst and take action. And they love their country.

But I can't stand the stories I am hearing. I can't stand to open my email these days. And wherever I go, it seems, at least once a day, someone very strong starts to cry while they are speaking.

It was apparent to me, shortly after 9/11, that I was watching my country slide into a dystopian, positively Orwellian, nightmare. I quickly surmised that Bush was a Hitler wannabe. I was very lonely, but the awareness is dawning for many now. Bottom line, we have to stop thinking of what is happening in this country, in terms of our own history, because there really is no precedent; not the Nixon years, nor even McCarthyism. We need to look at what happened in Italy and Germany as their democratic governments were subverted by the tyranny of Mussolini and Hitler. It is an ugly reflection, but we had better start looking at it now before that looking glass is pressed to the tips of our noses.

The End of America is available in Curmudgette's Reading Room.

Debut: My Left Wing Talk Radio

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's the maiden voyage of Maryscott O'Connor's My Left Wing Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio.

Maryscott O'Connor hosts a show to discuss the godawful mess of a world in which we're living -- and what, if anything, we can do about it. And she'll probably end up talking about blogging -- a lot. Call-in listeners and live bloggers at are essential. This show is designed to be INTERACTIVE; MSOC will respond to livebloggers and callers alike; so JOIN THE PARTY, people.

More details can be found here.

"The Opposite of Rape is Enthusiasm"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

The Rape of Proserpine

When Sara Wilson (not her real name), a 23-year-old woman was raped by a long time college friend, she found little support and a great deal of self doubt. Shortly after moving into her first apartment, Steve her former classmate, dropped in with a bottle of wine and some take out. One bottle of wine turned into two. Later that evening Sara suggested it was time for him to go. She remembers that out of the blue, "Steve was there kissing me. I tried to push him away but he just kept kissing me." Her head felt cloudy and hazy from the wine. Steve started to move her skirt up her leg. "I was telling him to knock it off, it wasn't what I wanted but I was so drunk. I definitely didn't want to have sex with him. We were friends for God's sake!" Sara recalls. But Steve did have sex with Sara that night. She remembers being pushed down on the couch. She remembers his hands on her shoulders. "It was like it was happening but not to me to someone else." The next day Sara awoke alone with her head throbbing to find a note on the kitchen counter from Steve. It read "I had a nice time. I'll call you later — S." Sara didn't know what to think but she knew what she felt — ashamed, betrayed, and embarrassed. Looking back at that morning Sara recalls, "I kept thinking how could this happen? I felt sick to my stomach and violated and I didn't use that word at the time, but looking back that's exactly what it was — a violation."

Late last night, or early this morning, depending on your timezone, thereisnospoon attempted to clarify statements that have earned him the moniker "thereisnorape." While I witnessed the original exchange -- much of which was subsequently deleted due to administrative error -- I have always thought said moniker was overstating his position. He absolutely did not say that rape did not exist. He simply narrowed the definition beyond what many of us particularly those of us who have lived experiences of date rape, would be comfortable with. Sadly, he has done little to diffuse such judgments with his most recent statement, nor, in my opinion, the discussion which followed.

what I said, very specifically (0.00 / 0)

was that women who are intoxicated and conscious and do not specifically say "no" to sex while intoxicated and conscious, should not be able to say later that they were unable to assent to sex because of their intoxication.

Dear god.

I cannot help but notice the total absence of the word "yes" in that statement. It is ideas like this which make necessary campus prohibitions against sex with any intoxicated person. Think of the latitude a fella gives himself by using such criteria as a guide. Well her eyes were open and she didn't actively resist, so... Sadly, for a fair number of men and boys, such passivity is an open invitation.

I contend that fundamental to this confusion is the idea that women "consent" to sex, rather than actively choose it. It is an ingrained notion; this idea that men should always be the pursuers, women the pursued, and that women have a responsibility to actively "opt out." It falls to us to be gatekeepers, responsible not only for our own sexual choices but for those of men who might want to fuck us.

A tip of the hat to the blogger formerly known as nonpartisan who introduced, into that heated discussion, the ideas of Hugo Schwyzer. Here is what that history and gender studies professor says about the word "no" when it comes to consent.

Most boys, for example, get the “no means no” message pretty loud and clear in high school and college workshops. It’s a worthy if basic message, and one well worth repeating over and over again. But as anyone who works around young people and sexuality will tell you, in and of itself a “no means no” reminder is woefully insufficient. Many of the young men and women I work with, for example, talk to me of what I’ve come to call the “stoplight” phenomenon. Traffic signals, of course, have three colors: red for stop, yellow for caution, green for go. Good drivers are taught to stop on “red”, which functions as a “no”. But of course, even at the busiest urban intersections, no light stays red indefinitely. If you wait long enough at a stoplight, every red will become green. And when all we do is teach young men that “no means stop” when it comes to sexual boundaries, we often send them the message that if they just wait long enough (or pester, push, nag, beg, play passive-aggressive games) they’ll get the “green light” they’re so hungry for. Good “sexual boundaries workshops” go beyond the “no means no” message.

That relentless cajoling will be familiar to many women and girls who have dated. I have also encountered a fair number of men who doubt that women enjoy sex enough to actively choose it. Having sex with a woman or girl who has been thusly cajoled tends to reinforce that notion. There comes a time, for many, paricularly young, girls, when they resolve that their resistance is futile, and finally lie back and think of England. Convince enough gals to have sex on those terms, and you will likely deduce that women are far less sexual than men.

Hugo Schwyzer again:

The message that needs to be repeated over and over again is this one: true consent is never tacit, it is never silent. Too many young men become date rapists by confusing silence with a clear, verbal affirmation.

Believe it or not, females do enjoy sex. If the woman you're with does not appear to enjoy sex, you really should consider the following possiblities:

  • She doesn't want to have sex with you, but has consented because you wore her down.
  • She is a rape and/or childhood sexual abuse survivor and has sustained significant damage to her sexuality. (This requires sympathy and patience.)
  • She is asleep.
  • She is dead. (This may sound over the top, but I have been with men who were so self-serving, that I'm quite certain they would not have noticed if I had been dead.)
  • You are terrible in bed and incapable of interpreting meta-communication, so she has resigned herself to just getting it over with.
  • She is too intoxicated to know quite what is going on.

Some but not all of the above are examples of rape. None of them are "good" for her.

Hugo Schwyzer introduced a concept, which has become viral to some extent, and should be spread far and wide.

A dangerous line I sometimes use: “The opposite of rape is not consent. The opposite of rape is enthusiasm”. It’s dangerous because it’s shocking, and of course, it’s dangerous because it twists the purely legal meaning of the term “rape.” But from the standpoint of one who cares desperately about the well-being of young people, my goal in offering workshops like these is not merely to prevent sexual assault that meets the legal standard of a criminal act. My goal is to prevent that, of course, but to also offer shy and uncertain young people tools to prevent them from having bad sex characterized by obligation, confusion, and detached resignation. I always argue that anything short of an authentic, honest, uncoerced, aroused and sober “Hell, yes!” is, in the end, just a “no” in another form.

This is my advice to men who may be still be confused. No matter how homely, or stupid, or assholeish, or loserish you are, there is a gal out there who will genuinely want to fuck you. (Lid for every pot, and all that.) She will not have to be persuaded, begged, convinced, coerced or plied with alcohol. Look for her. And until you find her, keep it in your pants.

Addendum: The thread in question continues and worsens, with a pronouncement from thereisnospoon that... well..

Seems to me, spoon.... (4.50 / 2)

Women who are drunk or stoned should be off limits then...yes?

I mean, if he doesn't want to take the chance of a "post-facto" rape charge, yes?


right--that makes great sense
(1.00 / 1)

Hey guys--never have sex with drunk women--ever! You might get lucky, but they could also accuse you of rape for no other reason than that they were drunk. Oh, and just avoid bars altogether--nobody picks people up at bars, because that would be rape.

Hey women--get drunk! You either bed the guy and like it--or if you don't like it, you can accuse him of rape afterwards! Or both! Nothing to lose!

Do you have any idea how ridiculous it sounds to tell decent men to avoid drunk women for fear that they may rape them inadvertently?

So the idea that a man should ever have to face adverse consequences for bedding a drunk woman is ridiculous. This seems like something of a double standard, considering the resurrected comment of his that touched off this firestorm, all those months ago. (Sadly I have no link to this as it was troll rated out of existence on DKos, resurrected, deleted from MLW and the cache, from which I once resurrected it, is now gone as well.)

actually, i'm saying that (0+ / 5-)

the "victim" doesn't even know if she was victimized here.
She was too fricking drunk--if the eyewitnesses are correct--to even remember.

She left smiling, she arrived battered, and people are REALLY quick here to scream "rape" and blame these "horrible" men.

And quick to lambaste the WSJ writer for suggesting that MAYBE, just MAYBE, if a woman does not want to get taken advantage of, that MAYBE she shouldn't get passed out drunk at a frat party.

And that's insane.

What is the Nexus?

by thereisnospoon on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 02:21:10 PM PDT

So, if a woman gets passed out drunk and leaves her body unprotected, it's "insane" to think that she doesn't bear some responsibility for consequences. But if a man has sex with a drunk woman, the idea that he should face consequences is "ridiculous." Wow.

Derangement and Denial

Monday, October 15, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.


Update: Blog Action Day 2007 has been declared by its organizers an "unprecedented success." They have documented the participation of 20,603 bloggers who blogged on the environment on October 15, 2007.

With that the Blog Action Team appears to have folded its tent and gone home, taking their graphics with them. (Art for this entry has been replaced.) Thanks for reading.

Krugman hits it out of the park once again, with a send-up of conservative dissonance. Faced with the reality of Al Gore's Nobel win, denial rules the right.

On the day after Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize, The Wall Street Journal’s editors couldn’t even bring themselves to mention Mr. Gore’s name. Instead, they devoted their editorial to a long list of people they thought deserved the prize more.

And at National Review Online, Iain Murray suggested that the prize should have been shared with “that well-known peace campaigner Osama bin Laden, who implicitly endorsed Gore’s stance.” You see, bin Laden once said something about climate change — therefore, anyone who talks about climate change is a friend of the terrorists.

And so the slime machine slugs along in its tireless disregard for troublesome facts. Still more merriment was to be found on Fox News Sunday, where Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer came not to praise Gore but to bury him.

Sarcastically calling Gore’s win “deeply moving,” Kristol disparaged Gore and the Nobel prize itself, saying “it’s a prize given by bloviators to a bloviator”:

KRISTOL: Friday, I felt a warm glow thinking that this man got the Nobel Peace Prize for bloviating about global warming. I mean, it’s a prize given by bloviators to a bloviator for nothing. What did he — he was Vice President of the United States for eight years. I missed the Clinton administration’s bold initiatives on global warming and carbon caps. Did they enforce the Kyoto Treaty? I don’t think so. You know, so he gets the Nobel Peace Prize for talking.

Claiming that the Nobel Peace Prize is “the Kentucky Derby of the world left,” Krauthammer was even more shrill than Kristol, saying “Al Gore now joins the ranks of Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism.” He then claimed the award “has nothing to do with peace” and that “it gives it to people whose politics are either anti-American or anti-Bush, and that’s why [Gore] won it.”

Laying aside, for the moment, the hilarity of warmongers like Kristol and Krauthammer discussing what does and doesn't advance peace, I must point out that the issue of global warming, which the Nobel committee has underscored with Gore's award, has a very direct connection to issues of peace and security. Or so the Pentagon learned when it commissioned a risk assessment study... which they promptly buried. Appointed to head that study was Edward W. Marshall, or "Yoda," as he is referred to in Pentagon circles. The findings could only prove embarrassing to an Administration in denial of the reality of global warming.

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

Global warming, a bigger threat than terrorism! Where is our war on greenhouse gases? Krugman explains why the Bush Administration has it's head in the sand -- looking for oil, presumably -- while we are teetering on the brink of a genuine security nightmare.

Today, being a good Republican means believing that taxes should always be cut, never raised. It also means believing that we should bomb and bully foreigners, not negotiate with them.

So if science says that we have a big problem that can’t be solved with tax cuts or bombs — well, the science must be rejected, and the scientists must be slimed.

Frank Rich Gets It

Sunday, October 14, 2007

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What is "it?" The fact that there are real parallels between what is happening in this country and what happened in Nazi Germany and that too many Americans are being Good Germans. Only enablers of fascism could keep turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed by our government. Citing the Andrew Sullivan column discussed here, Rich lays out a laundry list of crimes from torture to the shoddy treatment of our troops to lawless mercenary contractors, and questions American apathy.

I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press — the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration’s case — failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.

As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.

. . .

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

Now, Has She Gone Too Far?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

I think Ann Coulter goes too far every time she opens her mouth. I thought she went too far when she said, of Muslims, that, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." I thought she went too far when she said that you can't be anorexic if you have a boyfriend. I thought she went too far when she advocated revoking women's suffrage. I thought she went too far when... This is tedious. I'll be here all day. Here's a pretty good list.

That Ann Coulter continues to have a career as a political pundit stands as a daily reminder of how much trouble we are in as a country. But this time she may really and truly have gone too far. Not because she advocated turning this country into a theocracy, which alarmingly few people seem concerned about. But, because now she's given the lie to they myth that the Christian right isn't, at heart, anti-Semitic. Sure the ex-girlfriend of Bob Guccioni, Jr., who once said that because she was unmarried there was nothing immoral about sleeping with a different man every night, is an unlikely spokesperson for the family values set, but she has set herself up as one repeatedly. Her horrific performance on CNBC's "The Big Idea," was such an instance, as she regaled her Jewish host, Donny Deutsch, with stories about the wholesomeness of all the "megachurches," where she frequently lectures.

Her aggressive proselytizing of poor Deutsch, and admonition that Jews must be "perfected" by accepting Christ, has touched off a firestorm that may put even Coulter's natural allies on alert. Insulting Jews does nothing to advance a rightwing agenda. Consider the number of Jewish neoconsertives, or what a force AIPAC is to reckon with, for both parties. Let alone Republicans who want to bomb Iran... or, as they put it, "transform the Middle East." (Although, so far, David Horowitz is gaffing off any concern about her remarks.)

Coulter's latest verbal tick underscores one of the dirty little secrets of the Christian Zionist movement; that they are using Jews to bring about the rapture, after which they fully expect them to go to hell.

The issue is spelled out in segment three (above) of recent edition of "Bill Moyer's Journal," when Rabbi Lerner and evangelical Christian Dr. Timothy Weber address the concept of dispensationalism and how disadvantageous it is to Jews who wish to remain Jews, rather than converting to Christianity.

BILL MOYERS: Before we go any further, give me a shorthand definition of dispensationalism.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Dispensationalism is a particular way of reading Bible prophecy which divides the Bible into two stories. There's a story about God's earthly people, Israel. And then a story about God's heavenly people, the Church. And the basic premise of dispensationalism is that all Bible prophecies concerning earthly events applies to the Jews. And all of those events will be fulfilled literally in the End Times. So, Israel must be returned to the land. They must stay in the land. Without Israel in the land, there can be none of the other events prophesied in the Bible. There can be no rise of Anti-Christ. There can be no rebuilding of the Temple. There can be no Battle of Armageddon. And there can be no second coming of Jesus Christ. So everything is riding on the Jews, getting them there and keeping them there in the Holy Land.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: But I think-- but what you have to add in there is that when this is a step in the process that they see towards the end of end times in which the Jews will be cast down into eternal damnation and to the fires of hell. And only those Jews who convert to Christianity will be okay. And everyone -- all the rest of us so they're welcoming us now -- with open arms and saying, "Oh, we love the Jewish people" But they love the Jewish people literally to death because they they want see those of us who stay Jews burn in hell but not-- not right away. They don't imagine it will happen right away. So there's a staged process. And this is the first stage in the process that will eventually lead either to us converting totally to Christianity or burning in hell. So it's not a really great future for the Jews that those theological people have in mind.

Is She Fucking Kidding?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

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Jenna Bush has her father's talent for treating people like idiots. Her answers in a Q & A in Time show her to be an expert in insulting people's intelligence, which she apparently intends to do professionally as a teacher and writer.

Of course she's not in Iraq, silly citizen. That's not a "practical question." No, the chicken-hawk doesn't fall far from the nest. And, um... how can a question be practical or impractical?

I think my skills are better suited for teaching and representing the U.S. in Latin America through UNICEF.

Oh, where to begin...

As a teacher, the most important thing is that all kids get a quality education.

Huh? I think what you're going for, Jenna, is more along the lines of "As a teacher, I think the most important...[bla, bla, bla]"

There are millions of kids that aren't in school.

Oh dear. No, Jenna. "There are millions of kids who aren't in school."

I think it's very sweet that you want to educate little brown children in the third world, but I think it would be a good idea if you put the beer down and learned some grammar.

So, let's see... She thinks the idea of serving in the war of her generation -- a war she believes in -- is absurd. She's pursuing career goals for which she is completely unqualified... Yeah, she's Dubya's daughter, all right.

Southern Trees Bear a Strange Fruit

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And so do the halls of Columbia University, apparently. Well, fortunately no bodies; just threats. What year is it? I keep loosing track because we seem to be going back in time.

Students and faculty at Columbia University expressed outrage over the discovery of a hangman's noose dangling from the door of a black female professor at its Teachers College, prompting the school to call a town hall meeting to discuss the matter.

"This is an assault on African Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one of us," President Bollinger said in a statement. "I know I speak on behalf of every member of our communities in condemning this horrible action."

Madonna Constantine, a professor of psychology and education, was the target of the alleged hate crime. On Wednesday, she addressed reporters, saying, "Hanging a noose on my door reeks of cowardice on so many levels. I want the perpetrator to know I will not be silenced."

As the recent occurrences in Jena indicate, there are still people in this country who don't like the idea of black folks getting too uppity. And to drive the point home, these atavistic morons are brandishing grizzly reminders of what just what can happen when they do. Nooses seem to be coming back into vogue, even in the New York area.

Nooses _ reviled as symbols of lynchings in the Old South _ have been showing up in other incidents around the country lately. Last year in Jena, La., three white students hung nooses from a big oak tree outside the high school, inflaming racial tensions. Other nooses have cropped up at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the Hempstead Police Department locker room.

The U.S. Justice Department and Nassau County district attorney created a joint task force to investigate the noose found in Hempstead two weeks ago. No arrests have been made.

The Columbia investigation also follows the arrest Sunday of a white woman on hate crime charges alleging she hung a noose over a tree limb and threatened a black family living next door in Queens. The two incidents were "the first noose cases in recent memory" in the city, Osgood said.

"I hope it's not a growing thing," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "I think the noose thing is despicable and disgraceful. I don't know whether it was a hate crime or a very sick joke, but we take every one of these very seriously, and our hate crimes unit is investigating."

Anyone who thinks threatening a black person with a noose is a "joke" needs a history lesson. It is not a symbol that can be taken lightly. Whether it's kids who think they're being funny or Senator "Macaca" Allen decorating his ficus tree, this shit has to stop.

Bush v. Congress: Armenian Genocide

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

As discussed here and here, there is still ongoing debate over whether or not the mass slaughter of Armenians at the hands of the Young Turks qualifies as a "genocide." A symbolic piece of legislation, pressed by Speaker Pelosi and approved by committee to go to the full Congress, hours ago, would acknowledge the Armenian genocide. This, over President Bush's objections, as he moves aggressively to sideline it.

President Bush and two top cabinet members urged lawmakers today to reject a resolution describing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians early in the last century as genocide — a highly sensitive issue at a time of rising tensions with Turkey over northern Iraq.

“We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915,” Mr. Bush said in a brief statement from the White House. “But this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to relations with a key ally in NATO and to the war on terror.”

. . .

Adding to the tensions are the recent Turkish preparations for a possible invasion of northern Iraq in an effort to stop lethal incursions by armed Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

. . .

When the resolution seemed likely to reach a vote last spring, Ms. Rice and Mr. Gates joined in a strongly worded letter to Ms. Pelosi warning against passage. They repeated their arguments Wednesday.

“The passage of this resolution at this time would be very problematic for everything we are trying to do in the Middle East,” Ms. Rice said.

Yes, acknowledging that Armenians were subject to a genocide would make President Bush's job even harder and we all know that being President is hard work. But one must truly wonder where all that "moral clarity" he's so famous for goes when it's inconvenient. Over this, he wants to be a diplomat?!

So, was what happened to the Armenians a genocide? According to the late Raphael Lemkin, who created the word "genocide," and spent his life pressing for international law forbidding it, it most definitely was.

The Crime With No Name

“I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians; and after[wards] the Armenians got a very rough deal at the Versailles Conference because their criminals were guilty of genocide and were not punished. ”

-- Raphael Lemkin

Andrew Sullivan Notices Nazi Parallel

Monday, October 08, 2007

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"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

-- President George W. Bush

"The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan."

-- Adolf Hitler in "Mein Kampf"

It's ever so politically incorrect to compare anyone at all to the Nazis, even when the similarity is obvious, but maybe Andrew Sullivan can get away with it. He is a conservative, after all, if not a neoconservative. As Glenn Greenwald has explained, if right-wingers do it, it's all good.

In a column entitled "Bush’s torturers follow where the Nazis led," Sullivan catalogs his unfolding horror as he learned that the Bush Administration did, indeed, authorize torture. Hurts to learn that you've been a good German and enabled atrocities, doesn't it.

I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn’t believe America would ever do those things. I’d also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

. . .

They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called “coercive interrogation”, subsequently amended to “enhanced interrogation”. These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn’t support “torture”. We were through the looking glass.

. . .

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Verschärfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.

. . .

The Nazis even argued that “the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

I think Sully has a rather idealized image of America's past, but at least he's awakened to its present. We are now a country that worships at the altar of Jack Bauer and venerates idiocy as long as it looks really bad-ass.

"It's better to be strong and wrong than weak and right."

-- Bill Clinton

Obama Bitch Slaps Jingoism

Friday, October 05, 2007

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Patriotic Greetings

Sure, it's political theater, but I give Senator Obama major props for taking off his flag pin and taking, well, something of a stand for civic responsibility over empty symbolism.

"The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism."

On Thursday, his campaign issued a statement: "We all revere the flag, but Senator Obama believes that being a patriot is about more than a symbol. It's about fighting for our veterans when they get home and speaking honestly with the American people about this disastrous war."

Ironically, Bill Moyers said much the same thing when put his flag pin on. But being Bill Moyers, he said it much better.

I put the flag in my lapel tonight. First time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans. Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart's affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother's picture on my lapel to prove her son's love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

So what's this flag doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo - the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. And during the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's Little Red Book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread.

But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They're in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war.

So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don't have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash). I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government. And it reminds me that it's not un-American to think that war -- except in self-defense -- is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomatic skill. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.

What do you think?

Ongoing Horror in Burma

Thursday, October 04, 2007

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Even as the blogosphere coalesces its coverage of the ongoing Burma (Myanmar) human rights disaster, the country itself is enforcing an internet crackdown, determined to lower world consciousness of its abuses.

It was about as simple and uncomplicated as shooting demonstrators in the streets. Embarrassed by smuggled video and photographs that showed their people rising up against them, the generals who run Myanmar simply switched off the Internet.

Until Friday television screens and newspapers abroad were flooded with scenes of tens of thousands of red-robed monks in the streets and of chaos and violence as the junta stamped out the biggest popular uprising there in two decades.

But then the images, text messages and postings stopped, shut down by generals who belatedly grasped the power of the Internet to jeopardize their crackdown.

So eyewitness reports may be slowing to a trickle. But what reports are forthcoming are not encouraging. The junta appears to have the upper hand, as of now, as thousands flee capture. The latest from the Christian Science Monitor profiles monks who managed to make it to the Thai border. It provides some background into what led up to the action taken up by the monks and its relative effectiveness within the country.

...The three monks agree that there was little debate about whether to join the protest. "There was no disharmony," Tha La says.

He and another monk say that they planned to return when it is safe, and vow to continue to push for reform through peaceful methods. He says the clergy will continue to shun the regime by refusing to accept alms. "If the soldiers give us food or medicine now, we won't accept them."

The brutal treatment of the revered Buddhist clergy, who infuriated the regime by refusing to accept alms, has stunned many Burmese, who ask how ordinary soldiers could beat, tear-gas, and shoot unarmed monks.

That has fed speculation by exiled Burmese activists of dissent in ranks over the crackdown amid reports by pro-democracy news services of unit commanders refusing to fire on crowds. A man who claimed to be an Army major told reporters in Thailand this week that he had defected and was seeking asylum in Norway because he refused to participate in the killings of monks.

"The military has insulted one of the most respected institutions in the country. So there is a crisis inside the Army over why they had to shoot Buddhist monks and use this brutality," says Zaw Oo, an exiled Burmese analyst and university lecturer in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Such is the power of peaceful resistance, leveraging the conscience of the soldiers and populace. But it is not for the faint of heart, and only time will tell how effective it against the training and indoctrination of that country's military. The effect on the hearts and minds of people around the world of images that escaped the country last week, have been enormous. Please take time to put those feelings towards some sort of action. And don't forget to blog Burma today.

Just a handful of the great blog posts today:

Burma, Some Basics

Who Stands to Gain From Burma's Subjection?

Kossacks are failing Democracy: BURMA

Calling on Chevron and Condi Rice

Action Steps:

Stand With Burma Petition

Human Rights First Petition

Stand With the People of Burma Petition

Amnesty International Letter to President Bush

Appeal to the UN Security Council

Alan Greenspan: The Madness Continues

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

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From David Sirota a bizarre statement from Alan Greenspan made during his appearance on "Democracy Now." The whole back and forth with Greenspan and Naomi Klein is worth a listen. The money quote selected by Sirota comes in the context of his attack on "populist politics," when Klein puts it to Greenspan that perhaps he might have fostered the rising populist movement. She points out that when he first started with the Reagan administration, chief executives were making 43 times more than their workers; a disparity that had risen to over 400 times at the time of his retirement. His response, in addition to dragging out the education canard, blames a lack of skilled labor in this country. His solution? Open the borders and get some skilled workers in here.

"We ought to be opening up our borders to skilled labor from all parts of the world because if we were to do that we would increase the supply of skilled workers that our schools have been unable to create and as a consequence of that we would lower the average wage of skills and reduce the degree of income inequality in this country."

Follow the logic here. The solution to the wage gap between workers and CEOs is to LOWER the wages of workers?!! My brain just short circuited.

Harry lied to you, Norman. Everything Harry says is a lie. Remember that, Norman: Everything he says is a lie.

Mudd: Now I want you to listen to me very carefully, Norman: I… am… lying.

Norman: You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie, then you are telling the truth, but you cannot tell the truth because you always lie... illogical! Illogical! Please explain! You are human; only humans can explain! Illogical!

Also worth a chuckle is his explanation of the housing bubble. Remember when we had no bubble? Only a little "froth."

Blogging Burma

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A day of blogging for Burma has been declared for Oct 4th.

In the meanwhile, if you're having trouble putting the ongoing events in Burma (Myanmar) in context, there's an excellent overview from Rippen Kitten on Pff. A lot of background on what led up to this horrible slaughter and persecution of the country's Buddhist monks.

About 4,000 monks have been rounded up in the past week as the military government has tried to stamp out pro-democracy protests.

They are being held at a disused race course and a technical college.

Sources from a government-sponsored militia said they would soon be moved away from Rangoon.

The monks have been disrobed and shackled, the sources told BBC radio's Burmese service. There are reports that the monks are refusing to eat.

The country has seen almost two weeks of sustained popular unrest, in the most serious challenge to the military leadership for more than two decades.