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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:22 AM
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The third wave ...The third way..thoughts
Anyone remember this movie from school?

Sometimes you hear a story that cannot be true.
Sometimes only a nightmare can convince you it is...
'The Wave' by Ron Jones - based on actual events

Steve Conigio had been a sophomore student in my World History class. We ran into each other quite by accident. It's one of those occasions experienced by teachers when they least expect. You're walking down the street, eating at a secluded restaurant, or buying some underwear when all of a sudden an ex-student pops up to say hello. In this case it was Steve running down the street shouting "Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones." In an embarrassed hug we greet. I had to stop for a minute to remember. Who is this young man hugging me? He calls me Mr. Jones. Must be a former student. What's his name? In the split second of my race back in time Steve sensed my questioning and backed up. Then smiled, and slowly raised a hand in a cupped position. My God He's a member of the Third Wave. It's Steve, Steve Conigio. He sat in the second row. He was a sensitive and bright student. Played guitar and enjoyed drama.

Thursday morning Jones walked into his class, now grown to 80 students, and announced 'the real reason for the Third Wave': It wasn't a just a classroom experiment, but a nationwide program 'to find students willing to fight for political change.' Jones said that at noon the next day a presidential candidate would appear on national television and announce the Third Wave program. There would be a special rally in the high-school auditorium to watch the announcement....

Here is a DEM site comprimising DEM integrity with rethuglican fascist "values" Interewsting NAME don'tcha think!
For America to fulfill her unique and historic destiny, we need effective government that defends our country with a strong military and strong alliances, promotes economic growth but does not rely on the market to police itself, provides a floor beneath which no one can fall, and protects our values and freedoms. In short, we need a third way. /

In the book, Kennedy implies that we live in a fascist country and that the Bush White House has learned key lessons from the Nazis.

"While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business," he writes. "My American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as 'a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism.' Sound familiar?"

He quotes Hitler's propaganda chief Herman Goerring: "It is always simply a matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Kennedy then adds: "The White House has clearly grasped the lesson."

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Friday, January 7, 2005
Speaking of moral clarity ...

May all the buddhas and bodhisattvas bless Paul Krugman, and may his moral clarity reach out to the ten directions. Y'all will enjoy today's column. ("Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronym Iokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican.") And when you've finished the Krugman column, read today's column by Bob Herbert.

Americans have tended to view the U.S. as the guardian of the highest ideals of justice and fairness. But that is a belief that's getting more and more difficult to sustain. If the Justice Department can be the fiefdom of John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales, those in search of the highest standards of justice have no choice but to look elsewhere.

It's more fruitful now to look overseas. Last month Britain's highest court ruled that the government could not continue to indefinitely detain foreigners suspected of terrorism without charging or trying them. One of the justices wrote that such detentions "call into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention."

That's a sentiment completely lost on an Alberto Gonzales or George W. Bush.

I didn't follow the hearings yesterday, but by all accounts I've seen it was an exercise in evasion by Gonzales and futility by the Dems. An opinion sampler:

Washington Post:

The message Mr. Gonzales left with senators was unmistakable: As attorney general, he will seek no change in practices that have led to the torture and killing of scores of detainees and to the blackening of U.S. moral authority around the world. Instead, the Bush administration will continue to issue public declarations such as those Mr. Gonzales repeated yesterday -- "that torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration" -- while in practice sanctioning procedures that the International Red Cross and many lawyers inside the government consider to be illegal and improper.

New York Times:

Mr. Gonzales is said to face a sure confirmation. But thanks to the members of the committee, including some Republicans, who met their duty to question Mr. Gonzales aggressively, the hearing served to confirm that Mr. Bush had made the wrong choice when he rewarded Mr. Gonzales for his loyalty. The nation deserves an attorney general who is not the public face for inhumane, illegal and clearly un-American policies.

Tim Grieve, Salon

Democratic Sen. Joe Biden sat quietly, listening to it all. On another day, in another political reality, he might have been watching a presidential nominee self-destruct. The man who would be attorney general was coming off as evasive, as ill-prepared, as unwilling to accept responsibility for anything that happened on his watch as George W. Bush's White House counsel. But when Biden finally had his chance to put a question to Gonzales, he delivered this clear message instead: "You're going to be confirmed."

Jeff Dubner, TAP

Gonzales has said over and over that President George W. Bush never decided to abrogate the Geneva Conventions and, solely on executive prerogative, allow our military to do whatever it likes with suspected al-Qaeda terrorists or Iraqi insurgents. But this administrations belief that it could, without so much as giving notice to Congress and on no greater legal authority than the contrived judgment of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, break any convention on how we conduct a war is shocking and unconstitutional. If the Pentagon did indeed advise that "authority to set aside the laws is 'inherent in the president,'" as The Wall Street Journal reported, then the administration -- our next attorney general included -- apparently believes that there are no "applicable laws" in this country, not for those who work in the executive branch of the government.

(Remember when the Republicans took Al Gore apart for his "no controlling authority" remark? Iokiyar.)

Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:

It defies comment.

Update: Here's another comment, from Dick Meyer at CBS News:

When John Ashcroft was up for confirmation as attorney general, the Democrat on the job, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., cautioned that the Constitutional role for the Senate was to advise and consent not advise and rubber stamp. Four years later comes the nomination of Alberto Gonzales and the cowed Democrats are poised for a policy of "advise, snarl, bombast and then rubber stamp."
I am shocked (not shocked, shocked but sincerely shocked) that Gonzales will get a single Democratic vote, much a relatively less easy confirmation. And I would have expected that some Republicans -- the ones who profess deep belief in the American mission of fostering Arab democracy, the ones who have renounced Secretary Rumsfeld, like McCain, Hagel, Lugar would be struggling with their votes, too. But no.

Isn't this something like what happened to the Roman Senate during the Empire?
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8:22 am | link

Thursday, January 6, 2005
At Least They Talked

A small group of Democrats transformed the traditionally routine ritual of certifying presidential election results into a tart partisan protest today, forcing both the House and Senate to debate Election Day voting problems in Ohio, the state that gave President Bush the crucial electoral votes needed for his re-election.

With both houses under Republican control, the move, only the second of its kind since 1877, did not threaten Bush's victory over Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Indeed, some Democrats opposed it and the White House spokesman likened it to a pursuit of "conspiracy theories."

But its rarity underscored a lingering sensitivity to election irregularities like those that overshadowed the 2000 election. Democrats complained this time that Ohio election officials, headed by a Republican who led the Bush campaign in the state, had provided too few voting machines in some Democratic precincts and allowed other irregularities.

The challenge also demonstrated a readiness among some Democrats, even with the party's diminished presence in the new Congress, to draw a line against a Republican Party that appears determined to make maximum use of its reinforced majority.

If you find a list of names of Senators who spoke up, as well as any Democrats who OPPOSED speaking up, let me know.

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5:54 pm | link

Moral Clarity

Rightie pundits laud George W. Bush for his "moral clarity." This fellow says that the President acts on, and is guided by, "emanating principles." Discussing the "appeal of moral clarity," Gary Andres writes in the Washington Times that "while media elites scoffed at Mr. Bush's frequent references to his faith, values voters saw him as man pursuing a moral code despite being ridiculed by those who considered his worldview simplistic. Yet for many, his simplicity was an oasis in an ethical desert." The Other Limbaugh says, "President Bush has many attributes that suit him for his current role as the nation's wartime president, but none is serving him better than his deep-seated sense of moral clarity."

Today the Senate began confirmation hearings on Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. The White House yesterday refused to release additional documents relating to Gonzales's role in prison torture (do these documents include the excutive order authorizing torture?). But the would-be AG promises to abide by the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties if confirmed.

Maureen Dowd observed, "You know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore."

Fact is, for many years Alberto Gonzales has played a key role in Bush's moral clarity. You can learn all about it in this Salon article by Alan Berlow, titled "The Facilitator." You will learn, for example, that Gonzales helped Bush achieve moral clarity about executions by withholding information in favor of the condemned.

And as for clarity in policy, there's nothing like demanding to be told only good news. Please note these paragraphs from The Nelson Report:

There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear bad news.

Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq...building democracy. That's all he wants to hear about, we have been told. So in are the latest totals on school openings, and out are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that it will just get worse.

Our sources are firm in that they conclude this good news only directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.

When speaking of those "emanating principles" that guide Bush, the President's admirers assume those principles come from God. But the evidence suggests they come from Bush's own massive ego, and he's surrounded himself with enablers who give him moral rationalizations for doing whatever he wants.

The fact is, real-world moral questions tend to defy solution by "emanating principles." Anyone who has agnonized over a Do Not Resuscitate order for a terminally ill parent must recognize this. And what "emanating principle" guides you if you learn the fetus you bear in your womb is anencephalic? Or has Tay-Sachs? What "principle" declares it "moral" to deny an adolescent girl, or a rape victim, an abortion?

The "moral clarity" crowd tends to achieve "clarity" by refusing to look at all facets of a painful situation. For example, women seeking abortions are demonized as selfish creatures wishing to avoid "inconvenience." Real problems in real women's lives* are not worthy of consideration. Unwanted pregnancy resulting from rape? Hardly ever happens.** Don't worry about it.

(*According to Alan Guttmacher, "On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner." **According to the Republican Majority for Choice, pregnancies resulting from rape exceed 25,000 a year in the United States.)

See how much easier it is to achieve clarity if you refuse to look at the parts of a problem that make it difficult?

Speaking of moral clarity -- self-annointed morals guru William Bennet wrote a book called Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism. Based on the pages available for browsing on Amazon (Chapter 1: The Morality of Anger) the book amounts to an elaborate rationalization of why the invasion of Iraq was "moral." But then a fellow who pisses away $8 million in casinos but remains in denial over his own compulsive gambling can rationalize anything. It's clarity born of delusion, but it's clarity.

On the other hand, Sydney Blumenthal writes in today's Guardian (also in Salon) that Bush policy in Indonesia is neither clear nor moral.

The coastline of south Asia has been radically altered, but the political landscape in Washington remains familiar. Behind the stentorian rhetoric about the battle between good and evil lies the neoconservative struggle to remove human rights sanctions against the Indonesian military, which is waging a vicious war against the popular separatist movement on Banda Aceh, the province hardest hit by the tsunami.

The war between the Indonesian military and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has raged for more than two decades. A ceasefire negotiated in 2002, with the involvement of former general Anthony Zinni as US representative, was brutally broken by the military in May 2003. The Indonesian military is a virtual state within a state and is unaccountable for its human rights violations and criminal activities. After its war of ethnic cleansing against East Timor concluded with independence following diplomatic intervention, the military was determined not to lose Banda Aceh.

In its war there, the military has mimicked the language of the war on terrorism and the Iraq war, calling its operation "shock and awe", targeting the population as terrorist supporters, and expelling all international observers, including the UN, from the region. Human Rights Watch documented extensive torture and abuse.

Bush administration policy has been conflicted, confused and negligent. The leading neoconservative at the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence, has tried to overthrow US restrictions on aid to, and relations with, the Indonesian military. The neoconservative thrust is undeterred by the military's obstruction of the FBI investigation into the murder of two US businessmen in 2002, killings that appear to implicate the military. When the state department issued a human rights report on Indonesia's abysmal record, its spokesman replied: "The US government does not have the moral authority to assess or act as a judge of other countries, including Indonesia, on human rights, especially after the abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."

On his tour of Banda Aceh, Powell made no determined effort to restore the cease-fire. Meanwhile, GAM reports that the Indonesia military is using the catastrophe to launch a new offensive. "The Indonesians get the message when you have no high-level condemnation of what they're doing," Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch told me. A renewed effort by Wolfowitz against sanctions is expected soon.

In the name of the war on terrorism, neoconservatives attempt to bolster the repressive military, which flings the Bush administration's sins back in its face. In the "march of freedom", human rights are cast aside. The absence of moral clarity is matched by the absence of strategic clarity.

If Bush policy is guided by moral clarity, how can the Bush Administration condone genocide? Where's the "clarity" in that? Exactly which "emanating principles" are involved?

Update: File Andrea Yates in the messy moral questions column. Her conviction has been overturned. Unfortunately, the prosecuting attorney wants to retry.

I wrote in 2003 why I thought the conviction was a travesty. In a compassionate world, she and her family would not have been put through a trial at all. It should have been obvious even to a Texan that the woman did what she did because she was massively psychotic.

Texas law would have allowed a judge to order her to be hospitalized, not to be released without another court order. Probably that would be for the rest of her life. I understand she is still so sick she only occasionallly realizes her children are dead.

The only thing to be gained by a trial would be publicity for the prosecutor. And in these days of "moral clarity" a second jury is unlikely to be any more enlightened than the first one was.

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10:28 am | link

Wednesday, January 5, 2005
Basic Things

The Democratic Leadership Council and another group of centrist Dems, the Third Way, say they will oppose Bush's Social Security "restructuring" scheme. I guess they haven't entirely forgotten they are Democrats.

Do you remember the Four Freedoms? When I was growing up (long, long ago), the Four Freedoms were considered as important as the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence. The Norman Rockwell illustrations of them were icons of Americanism, like the Lincoln Memorial or the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

Do most Americans still remember what the Four Freedoms were? And do we, as a people, still believe in them?

Roosevelt enumerated the Four Freedoms in his 1941 State of the Union Address. They were:

1. Freedom of Speech
2. Freedom of Worship
3. Freedom from Want
4. Freedom from Fear

Just for fun, let's toss those to the critters on Free Republic and watch them get ripped apart. (Freedom from want? Isn't that socialism?)

From the same speech, note this paragraph:

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

I'm happy the DLC and others in the Democratic Party want to save Social Security. If they'd rededicate themselves to Roosevelt's "basic things," I think I'd be even happier.

In the day-to-day world, our life consists of dealing with neighbors, friends, family, students, co-workers, salesmen, bills, and whatever leisure time comes our way. We (hopefully) don't tend to dehumanize people we casually interact with... (again, ideally) we tend to be able to view them as human beings with human motives, responding to a world full of messes that contain a mixture of joy and sorrow, tragedy and hope, fear and coping. Most of us gravitate to certain values that help us to deal with these messes, values that give us some comfort or signify our principles. These in turn may represent our better motives or a vision of a better world.

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