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Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 58,557
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To Noel Willmett from Geo. Orwell: "Whether totalitarianism, leader-worship, are on the up-grade..."
George Orwell’s Letter on Why He Wrote ‘1984’
In 1944, three years before writing and five years before publishing 1984, George Orwell penned a letter detailing the thesis of his great novel. The letter, warning of the rise of totalitarian police states that will ‘say that two and two are five,’ is reprinted from George Orwell: A Life in Letters, edited by Peter Davidson and published today by Liveright.
To Noel Willmett
18 May 1944
10a Mortimer Crescent NW 6
Dear Mr Willmett,
Many thanks for your letter. You ask whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade and instance the fact that they are not apparently growing in this country and the USA.
I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers° of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means. Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system. With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer. Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, ie. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history. He can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it. That, so far as I can see, is the direction in which we are actually moving, though, of course, the process is reversible.
As to the comparative immunity of Britain and the USA. Whatever the pacifists etc. may say, we have not gone totalitarian yet and this is a very hopeful symptom. I believe very deeply, as I explained in my book The Lion and the Unicorn, in the English people and in their capacity to centralise their economy without destroying freedom in doing so. But one must remember that Britain and the USA haven’t been really tried, they haven’t known defeat or severe suffering, and there are some bad symptoms to balance the good ones. To begin with there is the general indifference to the decay of democracy. Do you realise, for instance, that no one in England under 26 now has a vote and that so far as one can see the great mass of people of that age don’t give a damn for this? Secondly there is the fact that the intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side. Indeed the statement that we haven’t a Fascist movement in England largely means that the young, at this moment, look for their fuhrer elsewhere. One can’t be sure that that won’t change, nor can one be sure that the common people won’t think ten years hence as the intellectuals do now. I hope they won’t, I even trust they won’t, but if so it will be at the cost of a struggle. If one simply proclaims that all is for the best and doesn’t point to the sinister symptoms, one is merely helping to bring totalitarianism nearer.
Two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it.
You also ask, if I think the world tendency is towards Fascism, why do I support the war. It is a choice of evils—I fancy nearly every war is that. I know enough of British imperialism not to like it, but I would support it against Nazism or Japanese imperialism, as the lesser evil. Similarly I would support the USSR against Germany because I think the USSR cannot altogether escape its past and retains enough of the original ideas of the Revolution to make it a more hopeful phenomenon than Nazi Germany. I think, and have thought ever since the war began, in 1936 or thereabouts, that our cause is the better, but we have to keep on making it the better, which involves constant criticism.
Posted by bigtree | Mon Aug 12, 2013, 11:18 AM (19 replies)
We all witnessed that large influx of new voters which helped bring the Democratic party back into power in the WH in 2008. . . a large majority of those new voters, African Americans and other minority citizens.
In the next presidential election, whoever we choose to be our nominee, our party will be challenged to get these same voters (and a host of other new voters) to the polls. That challenge means that the level of our commitment to voting rights, access, and fairness will likely determine the question of whether our party's nominees will continue to be upheld and advanced ahead of the republican opposition.
Today is the anniversary of the signing of the original Voting Rights Act.
Consider how the VRA transformed American democracy (from The Nation):
LBJ made clear, in his remarks at the signing of the Act, that the defense and protection of voting rights for black Americans was, ultimately a powerful advance for ALL Americans:
"It is difficult to fight for freedom. But I also know how difficult it can be to bend long years of habit and custom to grant it. There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion. But there is always room for understanding toward those who see the old ways crumbling. And to them today I say simply this: It must come. It is right that it should come. And when it has, you will find that a burden has been lifted from your shoulders, too.
As we work to defend against the latest republican assaults on the continuation of these important voting protections - and work for the enactment of expanded rights and protections for every American - we need to keep the Voting Rights Act at the forefront of our political activity to ensure that the promises made in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were more than just lip service.
We must continue to make certain that those important rights and privileges are backed up by the unfaltering and immediate actions of the federal government to defend and enhance these vital protections of our participation in our democratic process of government and law.
MLK's White House Invitation to Signing of Voting Rights Act
Posted by bigtree | Tue Aug 6, 2013, 11:39 AM (19 replies)
tweeted by, Questlove Jenkins @questlove 2h
George Duke master of his craft has left us folks. not how i wanted to start my tuesday morning....http://bit.ly/15EbWN0 #Rip
Questlove Jenkins @questlove 1h
#GeorgeDuke merits the highest praise. Frank Zappa (beyond genius Genius) loved & respected Duke. that means somethin
kentuckyprophet @kentuckyprophet 1h
@questlove Duke never had intentions of singing lead or playing synth. Zappa asks him to, Duke turns out to be brilliant at both.
Questlove Jenkins @questlove 1h
#GeorgeDuke (keys) Alphonso Johnson (Bass), John Scofield (guitar), Billy Cobham (drums) Montreux 1976
Posted by bigtree | Tue Aug 6, 2013, 08:51 AM (4 replies)
From July 31 to August 8, President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are visiting Clinton Foundation projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa. Follow their journey Facebook, on https://twitter.com/ClintonFdn and on http://instagram.com/clintonfoundation.
23 hours ago
Yesterday, President Bill Clinton visited Barclays Clinton Global Initiative commitment, Banking on Change, in Ukonga Ward, Tanzania where he met with community members who have benefited from the program. President Clinton also met with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, where they discussed the Clinton Foundation's work with the government of Tanzania, and increasing opportunity for local farmers through the Foundation's programs.
Today, President Clinton and Chelsea will travel to Zanzibar and learn how the Clinton Health Access Initiative is increasing awareness for malaria testing and visit with Zapha+. #Africa2013
Read more: http://wjcf.co/16lu9vc
Clinton Foundation shared Clinton Foundation's photo.
On August 3, 2013, President Clinton visits with Zainabu Rashid, the owner of a local beauty salon in Tanzania, and sees how she has been able to expand her business through Barclays CGI Banking on Change commitment. Banking on Change promotes savings-led community finance; community members work together in self-governing groups to save regularly and access small loans from a group fund.
Photo credit: Max Orenstein / Clinton Foundation
On August 3, 2013, President Clinton walks with community members who participate in Barclays CGI Commitment Banking on Change to see how they've benefitted through the program. The project is a microfinance partnership between Barclays and two charities, Plan UK and CARE International UK, that uses a community-led savings model to help people in underserved regions of the world manage their money, access loans, start or expand small businesses, and develop innovative banking products.
Chelsea Clinton shares her thoughts on our blog about her visit with Community Health Assistants yesterday in Zambia. http://wjcf.co/1b2fGXY #Africa2013
President Clinton and Chelsea learn Climate Smart Agriculture farming techniques today while visiting our Anchor Farm Project in Malawi. #Africa2013
The Clinton Foundation runs the Anchor Farm Project in Malawi, which operates five commercial farms that partners with 21,000 neighboring smallholder farmers, providing them with access to quality inputs for maize and soy production as well as training and market access.
President Bill Clinton reflects on Africa's progress since his first visit to the continent in 1998 and shares stories of how our work is improving lives today. #Africa2013
Read the story: http://wjcf.co/12GAUL9
How One Community Health Assistant Impacts A Village
Today while in Zambia, President Clinton and Chelsea met Benny Siinyisa, a Community Health Assistant, who is one of two people providing care for a rural community of 6,000 people. Clinton Health Access Initiative Human Resources for Health Program Manager Emily Heneghan Kasoma shares with us what it is like for Benny and other Community Health Assistants to provide care to some of the most rural communities in Zambia.
read more: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/clinton-foundation-blog.html/2013/08/02/how-one-community-health-assistant-impacts-a-village/
President Bill Clinton and Malawian President Joyce Banda greet people outside of Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi on August 1, 2013. President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and President Banda toured the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) clinic at the hospital, which is providing HIV testing and treatment including Point-of-Care Testing and Early Infant Diagnosis and Treatment.
Following a tour of the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton meet with expert clients on August 1, 2013. Expert clients are HIV-positive patients who use their experiences to teach others in their community who are recently-diagnosed with HIV how to care for themselves and for their children. Through the Clinton Health Access Initiative's Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program, these expert clients' children are HIV-negative.
President Clinton and Chelsea visit the Manyemunyemu Clinic, a health post for Community Health Assistants, in Sialwiindi, Zambia on August 2, 2013. The Health Post is a key part of Zambia’s National Community Health Assistant Strategy, in which all of the country’s existing and planned new health posts will be staffed by Community Health Assistants. Over the next five years, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, with financial assistance from DFID, will support the training of approximately 3,000 Community Health Assistants, totaling about 60% of the total government target of 5,000.
Photo credit: Barbara Kinney / Clinton Foundation
Yesterday in Zambia, President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton visited a health clinic in the Sialwiindi village with Community Health Assistants, who are trained through the Clinton Health Access Initiative and bring health care to some of the most remote communities in Zambia. Later, President Clinton and the delegation visited the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a Clinton Global Initiative commitment maker that is providing hearing-impaired children with hearing aids. Today, President Clinton and Chelsea will be in Tanzania visiting a CGI commitment.
Read our Day 2 recap: http://wjcf.co/14qoW9z
President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton participate in helping the Community Health Assistant give a baby a check-up at the Manyemunyemu health post in Sialwiindi, Zambia on August 2, 2013. The Manyemunyemu health post is a newly built but unfinished structure, where health services have been provided for the past year. The population this health facility serves is over 3,000 people. The two-room health post provides maternal and child health services, administration of vaccines, treatment for non-severe malaria, respiratory infections, & diarrhea, as well as a range of other basic health services to the community.
Photo credit: Barbara Kinney / Clinton Foundation
President Bill Clinton visits Victoria Falls at sunset. #Africa2013
more photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.412935458827901.1073741830.389051904549590&type=1&l=dd2239fae2
Posted by bigtree | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 11:13 AM (63 replies)
from Ron Fullwood (bigtree), 7/29/2007:
Bush's FISA Duck and Cover
Just like the Torture Bill pardoned his tortures, Bush want(ed) FISA law changed to cover his illegal spying
The recent Sixth Circuit court dismissed an ACLU wiretapping suit on the bizarre, Kafkaesque grounds that the organization couldn't sue because they couldn't prove they had been harmed. Even though the records which could answer the question remain classified, the court ruled that a “reasonable expectation” their organization's name would be found in the domestic warrantless surveillance program's target lists didn't give them enough 'standing' to claim injury and advance their lawsuit.
It's not just the ACLU who has reason to believe their communications were intercepted by the NSA. The intelligence agency was running a 'data-mining' program under the authorization of a presidential order signed by Bush in 2002. For three years, without informing Congress, Bush and the NSA had been monitoring telephone calls and e-mail messages of thousands of United States citizens without warrants.
The sixth Circuit's ruling, while stifling ACLU attempts to crack the domestic spying program open for inspection, did not get as far as deciding the issue of whether the program had actually violated the FISA Act; or ruled on it's constitutionality under the First and Fourth Amendments. The reason Bush is so eager to have Congress pass a series of accommodations to the Justice Dept's questionable exercise of the surveillance law is to preempt any other legal challenge which might force them to end the practice.
More important to the Bush administration is to have Congress join them in codifying their warrantless spying by merely agreeing to modify it; instead of pressing forward with their determination that Bush actually broke the law they already had in place. In his radio address today, Bush complains that the FISA law he ignored for the three years he was sneaking around it, is "out of date," despite his neglect in saying anything at all to Congress in that period about 'updating' it.
He preferred, instead, to hide his actions from Congress and the American people; even today with his continued refusal to provide the public (or Congress) with the knowledge of which of our citizens' private communications was subject to NSA intercepts.
Bush's sudden interest in pressing Congress to pass his FISA revisions "before they leave town," has to also be seen as an attempted insulation of his embattled Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. Repeatedly forced into perjurious contradictions as he's defended Bush's surveillance programs before congressional committees, Congress is demanding Gonzales explain his previous testimony that his late-night dash with the FBI chief into Ashcroft's intensive care ward in 2004 had nothing to do with the data mining operation. Democrats are especially interested in FBI Director Mueller's testimony this week, in which he clearly contradicted Gonzales, saying that the conversation at Ashcroft's bedside was, in fact, all about the "much discussed" surveillance program.
Bush quoted Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, in his address, as he complained of being "significantly burdened" because Congress hasn't given his agency the absolution he demands from the legal restraints FISA provides that he's already ignored. While giving lip-service to 'civil liberties' and 'privacy' interests, one of the provisions Bush mentioned would change the law to allow them to "work more efficiently with private-sector entities like communications providers" -- much like the administration did when they secretly conspired with nation's telecommunications giants to get them to the point where they could manipulate the transmissions so that their intercepts would be technically legal.
Today's report in the NYT, quoting 'current and former officials' who witnessed a near mutiny over the data-mining program in it's inception, suggests a spying effort which was even larger than previously disclosed. Despite the vain, transparent attempt by the paper to provide Gonzales cover by suggesting the existence of some other program Mueller could have been referring to -- parsing the difference between 'eavesdropping' and 'data-mining' -- there should be no question that the entire effort by the administration was to subvert the requirements of the FISA, especially the warrants.
On July 26, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy sent a letter to Gonzales giving him a chance to avoid perjuring himself further, giving him an August 3 deadline to change his tune. But it looks like the WH is intent on standing their ground on their convoluted explanation that Mueller couldn't have contradicted Gonzales because, in doing so, he would have to reveal national security secrets; so desperate to avoid having their their tacky, despicable attempt to steamroll the sedated Ashcroft devolve into a full-blown perjury investigation that they were willing to (partially) reveal yet another one of their illegally operated, domestic spying schemes.
It just makes sense that, before we even consider allowing this administration (or any other) to unravel the protections provided under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act , that we demand and ensure -- through the courts as well as in the legislature -- that there is enough of an incentive to comply by tightening review and enforcement provisions. At the very least, we should continue to demand that this administration be held accountable in court for the FISA laws (and others) they've already admitted breaking.
Relying on 'Reasonable' Beliefs of Bush and Hayden (bigtree article)
The reasonable test. Reasonableness. That's the threshold test Bush and his lawyer Gonzales use to determine whether to spy on Americans. 'Reasonableness' is also the standard that Bush's nominee for the CIA, Gen. Hayden, has used to defend the warrant-less wiretapping and data-mining of U.S. citizens, in blatant disregard for the FISA law set in place by Sen. Kennedy and others in response to unwarranted surveillance in the '60's and the '70's.
Posted by bigtree | Mon Jul 29, 2013, 03:19 PM (6 replies)
. . . Marian Anderson, MLK . . . not to mention the myriads of other protests, marches, and rallies in my lifetime that I participated in on those grounds.
Then there's Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address etched majestically on the wall adjacent to that towering statue of Abe. Reading those words; standing there, you can actually guage the depths of our nation's tumultuous history and revel in the changes which our democracy has brought about since those immortal words were spoken.
This is just a shame . . .
tweeted by, Stephanie Cutter @stefcutter 5m
This is so unbelievably sad and disgusting. Wash Post: Lincoln Memorial shuts down after vandals splash paint on it. http://wapo.st/14gc6Dm
Posted by bigtree | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 03:03 PM (3 replies)
. . . here's one that hit me right between the eyes (from a really nice guy, at that).
. . . I dunno, maybe that response to me isn't as interesting as I think, but, the thing is, DU, I'm just a dedicated Democrat who will advocate as forcefully and as diligently as I am able for our Democratic candidates in these elections. It should have been obvious, but most folks couldn't see beyond the advocacy of their own candidate in that primary to imagine that I might, eventually, support theirs.
I'm just a fellow who stocks shelves at night, not a political operative, by any means. I 'belong' to DU, and I 'belong' to the Democratic Party. Outside of that, I'm just a working class slob living paycheck to paycheck. I make some strident defenses of our Democrats, no doubt, but, I've never felt I've done any big harm in posting here. All of the talk about how relevant DU can be ignores the fact that the bulk of our discussions; most of our venomous back and forth; doesn't usually amount to spit outside of this board. It has mattered, to me, though.
Hillary Clinton was my third choice in that campaign, I believe, followed by Barack Obama, when he got the nomination.
I hope we can keep sight of the fact that, while we may well disagree on issues and candidates here, most of us will continue to be strong advocates for our Democratic party and principles long after the votes are cast and the choice is made by the electorate.
Yes, I read more than a few of my own insults and accusations and I've found more than a few that were directed toward folks who I consider strong allies on this board today. There needn't have been a divide with some of my fellow DUers, on my part, if I'd kept that eventuality in mind during the heat of the campaign.
I'm looking forward to the congressional midterms with excitement and enthusiasm for the fight to regain the House and retain the Senate. I'm also mindful that the next presidential election is already being prepared for by folks who intend to make a serious run. I hope we can continue to find ways to elevate the issues and concerns that are important to us - and, to eventually unify in these upcoming elections; for the good our party - and for the good of the nation.
And, . . . that should just about do it. ('by the word' )
Posted by bigtree | Thu Jul 11, 2013, 10:32 AM (3 replies)
tweeted by, Doug Mills @dougmillsnyt 1h
Obama makes some moves with Aviwe Mtongana, aka Katmeister, a rapper at the Desmond Tutu HIV Youth Centre #Katmeister pic.twitter.com/0G6fogvUlN
Retweeted by Team Barack Obama
Posted by bigtree | Sun Jun 30, 2013, 03:37 PM (6 replies)
BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking 2m
President Obama says "we are all more free" in reaction to historic US ruling on gay marriage http://bbc.in/11NxErt
The Caucus @thecaucus 4m
President Obama's statement on the #SCOTUS gay marriage rulings http://nyti.ms/17Cumiw
Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka
President @BarackObama's statement on the #SCOTUS ruling #DOMA unconstitutional.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Jun 26, 2013, 11:59 AM (1 replies)
BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking 5h
Nato-led troops hand over full control of combat operations in #Afghanistan to Afghan forces http://bbc.in/18UybA6
BuzzFeed News @BuzzFeedNews 5h
BREAKING: Afghan president says his armed forces now taking the lead for security around the country, @AP reports
The Associated Press @AP 5h
BREAKING: Afghan president says his armed forces now taking the lead for security around the country.
. . . the symbolic impact is profound. For the first time since the departure of Soviet forces in 1989 and the years of civil war that followed, security across the whole of Afghanistan is now the responsibility of forces led by the Afghan government.
Posted by bigtree | Tue Jun 18, 2013, 08:02 AM (5 replies)