Saturday, February 9, 2008

On Waterboarding or Mafia Bosses, Presidents, and Other Criminal Types

The FBI, working with other law enforcement agencies, rounded up a whole bucket full of Mafioso types the other day, in this country and in Italy. Good for them.

But the job isn't finished. They missed some biggies right here in plain sight. The Associated Press reports that the Mob is tied to many large construction jobs in New York City. That doesn't surprise you If you've watched "The Sopranos" on television or gone to the movies to see "The Godfather." If you've read about Rudy Guiliani's "friends" you're even less surprised.

The biggest bunch of crooks they missed, however, are not Mafioso, but politicos; the politicos that run our government. One of them is our president.

On Feb. 5, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, testified before Congress that the US of A has used the torture tactic of waterboarding on at least three occasions in the recent past.

He went on to say that he banned its use by the CIA in 2006. The Pentagon has banned it, and Robert Mueller, director of the FBI says the FBI doesn't use "coercive tactics." Yeah, right.

But our "Decider" in the White House claims that waterboarding is legal, that it is not "torture," and that it has saved American lives. He also says that he'll use it again if he figures it is necessary to obtain information from the bad guys.

[The Bushites have gotten themselves into a bind here. If waterboarding is considered torture and therefore, illegal, they could be subject to civil and/or criminal charges, and possible international war crimes charges.]

What can we say about this? First of all, my dictionary defines torture as "The infliction of severe pain as a means of punishment or coercion," and/or "Pain or mental anguish." How can Mr. Bush say waterboarding is not torture? And if it is "not torture," why would he want to "not torture" someone to gain information? Why would he say that waterboarding has saved American lives if it was not an instrument of torture used to coerce captives to give up their secrets? Did it make our enemies so happy that they gladly offered up the information we wanted?

A major problem with any kind of torture is that studies have shown it does not work, if its goal is to obtain reliable information. People who are being tortured will say anything they believe their tormentor wants to hear in order to stop the pain and anguish.

Secondly, in spite of what the dismal doofus in the White House says, the great majority of nations and people around the world consider waterboarding an especially terrible form of torture. The U.N.'s Convention Against Torture has outlawed it. Most folks believe it is banned under the U.S. 2006 Military Commissions Act which forbids treating terror suspects in ways that are "cruel, inhuman and degrading."

Waterboarding, which involves creating a sensation of drowning, is not new; it goes back hundreds of years, to the Spanish Inquisition!

The fact that the leadership of my country wants to pretend this is a perfectly legitimate way to obtain information from those they consider enemies, is crushingly sad. We have moved back in time morally to where the Islamic fascists live.

In at least one important respect, we have become our enemy!

Good god, what would Bush do if he wasn't guided by Christian "family values?"

Friday, February 8, 2008

Madness on the Right

Mitt Romney: Gone but not forgotten.

When he left us, he said, while dipping his head cutely to the right, "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Got that? Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, together or single, are "aiding a surrender to terror." Well, thank god Mitt, the moron, is gone - hopefully for good.

The Pope has suggested that there be a "limited application of Islamic law" in Italy. What? Nah, I'm fibbing.

Actually, it was the archbishoprick of Canterbury in England who suggested that such a thing be done in Britain. His notion is to "allow British Muslims to choose to resolve marital and financial disputes under Islamic law, known as Shariah, rather than through British courts."

The archbishoprick's name is Rowan Williams. And no, this is not a joke. And yes, he's a blithering idiot.

Why don't we move to England, start a new religion, set up some laws for believers in our religion and then petition the English government that we be allowed to use our laws to resolve certain problems among us, rather than the English courts?

Is this ecumenism gone mad? Or just plain madness?

Hope you're not worried about Afghanistan. You shouldn't be 'cuz Condoleezza Rice says that everything is hunky-dory over there, and the war is "winnable." (Please note that it's our sons and daughters that are fighting it and not Condi!)

But wait, there's a problem. Rice was in Kabul with a British representative and it seems she speaks with forked tongue.
With one fork she emphasized the "improvements" made in Afghanistan since the U.S. et. al., threw out the Taliban in 2001. I can't determine just what "improvements" she is talking about, however. The Taliban is getting stronger, the role of women is diminishing, schools are under attack, there is a growing demand for establishment of Islamic law, and the poppy farmers are making what's improved? Not much, actually.

The upshot is this: (and this is the second fork) In spite of all these nebulous "improvements," the U.S. is concerned "that the mission of stabilizing this country is in danger of stalling or even deteriorating."

So, according to Condi, the war is winnable and we've made lots of progress, but it looks like everything's falling apart.

We've come a long way in seven years. Not.

About five weeks ago, Congress passed the Open Government Act of 2007. Bush signed it "reluctantly." It would promote open government by making the Office of Government Information Services in the National Archives the final resting place for all government records. It would also facilitate access to government records.

Bush, who operates what is indubitably the most secretive government in American history, had a change in his sneaky little heart and thought he could pull a fast one on the Congress and the rest of us.

I mean, who reads the huge federal budget? No one, usually. It's about a gazillion pages long. But Bush got caught, anyway. Buried in the 1,314 page appendix, someone found an eight-line provision which would abolish the above-named office, transferring its functions to the "very agency that defends other federal agencies wishing to keep government documents shrouded: the Department of Justice." Sheesh!

Just another day at the White House where the fox guards the henhouse.

We've written before about the Bush administration's program to ostensibly fight AIDS in Africa. We mentioned that the $15 billion program is so flawed and misguided that the money might just as well be dropped from a plane flying over the sub-Saharan nations its supposed to help.

You see, it's an AIDS program developed for Christian right-wingers. It has effectively stymied the work of Planned Parenthood in Africa because not a penny of this money can go to organizations which offer abortion counseling, or suggest the use of condoms, or hand out condoms.

Essentially, the money goes to faith-based groups (on the Christian fruitcake fringe) who agree to push for abstinence.
Unfortunately, abstinence is not a popular topic in Africa (or in most countries!).

Democrats want to make some changes this year. The Republicans are crying "foul." John Boehner, Repub House leader and others are wailing that those changes would jeopardize this "successful program to combat AIDS." That's an inside joke among Repubs. It is anything but successful.

Bush wants to add another $15 billion over the next five years. Democrats say that's insufficient and they want $50 billion. Furthermore, the Dems would eliminate the requirement that 1/3 of all prevention spending go to abstinence programs. The Dems would also get rid of the Republican rule that money can go to family planning groups for AIDS work so long as none of it is spent on abortions.

It's hard for me to believe that the United States government has caved in to the Christian right to such an extent that people working in Africa to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs cannot talk about condoms or hand out condoms, even though it has been proven that condoms are the most effective deterrent against the spread of the disease?

Larry Beinhart, writing for Alternet, explains how Mike Huckabee thinks we ought to change the Constitution so that it is in line with the Word of God.

Here's what Huckabee said, in part:
"...I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do, to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than to try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."

Beinhart then refers to an interview Huckabee gave to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Huckabee suggested that the Constitution affirmed the pro-life movement, because, he said, the Declaration of Independence and our "founders made it very clear that all of us are equal" (More on that later). Futhermore, Huckabee explained that "in all of our historical settings" marriage has referred to a man and a woman.

Beinhart writes with wry humor noting that Mr. Huckabee is fundamentally wrong in his assumptions. It's actually much harder to amend the Constitution than the Word of God. "Amending the Word of God is quite easy. Any preacher (like Mr. Huckabee), a Pope, a self-proclaimed new prophet, even a mere pundit, can come along and say, 'This is actually the word of God! Not that old stuff you used to believe.'"

Beinhart is right. It has happened over and over again and continues to happen today. He also points out that Huckabee is not helpful when he says "the Ten Commandments are still the Ten Commandments."

Beinhart notes that there are three different versions of the Ten Commandments and that even the various religious groups can't agree on which is correct.
Furthermore, "The reality is that virtually all contemporary Christian and Jewish groups have amended them. And that any group that tried to enforce them, in the manner called for in the Bible, would be subject to arrest."

But Huckabee is just blowing smoke. His goals as president Include the passing of two Constitutional amendments: one banning abortion, and another defining marriage as "a union between one man and one woman."

Interestingly enough, the Bible (Christian or Jewish) says nothing about either of these issues.

To conclude, as Beinhart points out, Huckabee's history is screwed. He claims the founders of our nation "made it very clear that all of us are equal." We are equal, they believed, because every person has "intrinsic worth in value." Huckabee wants to believe this so he can use it to prop up his "pro-life" views.

Unfortunately for Mr. Huckabee and so many muddled thinkers like him, the founders of our nation did not believe everyone was equal. That's why they arranged that only white males with a certain amount of wealth would be able to vote. "The historical truth," as Beinhart points out, "is exactly the opposite of what Huckabee claims.

What this makes clear is that Huckabee is about as unqualified to be president as anyone could be. That he creates a false history in order to provide a rationale for his religious beliefs is bad enough. The worst of it, though, is that he wants to establish a government based upon his fundamentalist, dominionist, Christian views.

So much for the provision of separation of church and state. That alone should disqualify him.

We can't say he didn't warn us!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Florida - 2008: Welcome to the Dark Ages

In some school districts in the great state of Florida, science teachers are afraid to teach the theory of evolution. The St.Petersburg Times tells of Allyn Sue Baylor, a science teacher at Palm Harbor Middle School in Pinellas County, who refuses to teach evolution even though it is required by the state. Ms. Baylor claims this is true of other science teachers, too. She claims they are afraid of upsetting the parents. "It's scary," said Ms. Baylor, "You can lose your job."

Lose your job for doing your job? Welcome to the Dark Ages in Florida!

What do the parents believe? They believe that the theory of evolution is false because their Bible tells them so. They believe that an imaginary person somewhere up in the sky created everything that exists 6,000 years ago in six days. And these beliefs they call creation "science" and they want that creation "science" taught to children in the public schools.

Many teachers don't want to discuss the problem. The St. Petersburg Times tried to get in touch with over 50 science teachers in the Tampa Bay area to obtain more information. Most did not respond. One teacher from Clay County says there is a "large subset of teachers out there who flat don't teach it [evolution] because they're afraid."

Because Florida has been gigged for its lack of effective standards for teaching science, the State Board of Education has been re-writing the state's science standards. The proposed standards will use the word, "evolution," instead of euphemisms such as "biological changes over time," and will establish specific benchmarks which students will be required to meet.

As might be expected, many believers in Jesus and the young-earth theory are up in arms. It doesn't appear, however, that they will be able to change these new standards. State educational leaders don't want to be faulted for failing to deliver the basic standards upon which all scientific knowledge and research rests.

One gentleman from the Panhandle (a very "conservative" part of the state) is pleading that the standards should not refer to evolution as a "fact" but as a theory. That's all they want, he says, just call evolution a theory.

This poor fellow's ignorance is showing. Like so many young-earth proponents, he seems to think that a scientific "theory" is not true. So by calling evolution a theory, it is less offensive in his mind. In science, however, a theory is true - and can be demonstrated over and over via the scientific method. By calling it a theory, one is only saying that its truth is subject to change if new evidence is discovered that would require a change.

Almost every scientific body of knowledge and every scientific endeavor is based upon and dependent upon the "theory" of evolution. It's "true" because it works!

To cap this off, a law firm (the same one that represented the parents of Terry Schiavo) is threatening to sue if these standards are adopted claiming they violate the Constitutional provision for separation of church and state. Welcome to 1984, where the meaning of words and concepts are turned on their heads!

It isn't the teaching of evolution in public schools that violates the church-state separation provision, it's the teaching of the nonsense called "creation" science, or "young earth" concepts, or the mis-labeled non-theory of Intelligent Design.

You might well wonder, as we head toward the second decade of the 21st century, just what kind of loonies we are growing in Florida? I can't answer that. But I do know that whatever these people are eating, it doesn't contain a hockey puck's worth of common sense.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Follies de Humanite

Uh Oh in St. Augustine

A woman was pulled over by St. Augustine (Fla) police for allegedly running a red light. Inside the car, police found a 24-pack of Busch beer--
strapped in with a seat belt. They also found a 16-month old girl in the rear seat who was not strapped in with a seat belt, although the girl's mother was beside her.

The driver, 46-year old Tina Williams, was arrested and charged with DUI, child abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without a valid license.

This question comes to mind: What chance does that 16-month old baby girl have to live a productive and satisfying life?

And don't you want to see Tina Williams punished?

Who to punish here?

A few days ago, five local teenagers were killed in a car crash.

The car was a 500hp BMW, owned by the driver's father. The driver was noted for his love of speed and had several traffic tickets under his belt already at the age of 19. While no one knows exactly what happened, four of his friends got into this speedy BMW with him one morning about 3 a.m.

It appears the purpose of this early morning gambit was car racing, as they drove off the end of the private runway (where John Travolta lives and flies) at 120 miles per hour.

Certainly this is a tragedy: five young lives snuffed out forever. But from all of the eulogies, you'd think these boys were saints. It was said, over and over again that they were loving, kind, courageous, studious, etc.

That may be true. But they were also careless and carefree, and irresponsible, and stupid, and inconsiderate--and they cared so little about the people who loved them that they killed themselves in a foolish, early-morning, daredevil stunt.

If the driver had lived, would you want to see him punished?

So what's wrong with a few tainted drugs?

Older people especially know that most drugs cannot be imported into the United States from Canada. Older people especially know that drugs from Canada cost far less than their counterparts sold in the United States, e.g., a drug might sell in Canada for 50-70% less than that same drug would sell for in the U.S.

Why are drugs not allowed to be imported from Canada to this country? The official reason given by the Bush administration is that Canadian drugs are not subject to the same strict quality control as drugs made in the United States. Drugs from Canada might be tainted and therefore, says the Bush people, we must forbid their importation: the implication being, of course, that Bush & Co. are concerned about the well-being of U.S. citizens.

That is all pretty much B.S. The truth is much uglier. The Bush administration is in bed with the drug companies and does pretty much whatever the drug companies ask. That's because the drug companies are huge contributors to the Republican Party. In addition, the drug companies have large numbers of highly-paid lobbyists running around the halls of Congress making sure our Representatives and Senators know how important it is to stem the flow of illegal, possibly tainted drugs from Canada so that U.S. drug companies can continue to reap humongous profits.

Well, shucks, most of the drugs which would be imported from Canada are made here in the U.S. or by U.S. companies in other countries. So, if these drugs were tainted, then the drugs sold here would also be tainted.

That may not be far from the truth. Ironically, one Canadian company, the Biovail Corporation, manufactures drugs such as diltiazem in the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican drug industry makes about $35 billion worth of drugs every year and most of those drugs end up on the U.S. market.

Oops. Diltiazem is a blood-pressure medicine. One day a worker noticed that some of the capsules were spotted with blue flecks, and the blue flecks matched the paint on the factory doors. Biovail dealt with the problem by covering the carts that carried these drugs.

Question: If Biovail makes drugs in Puerto Rico, does that make it a U.S. Commonwealth company and not a Canadian company?

The Associated Press reviewed 100 pages of FDA reports and found that U.S. drug plants, supposedly watched by U.S. regulators, do not maintain sterile laboratories and have exported tainted pills.

But we knew that. The FDA is headed by Bush cronies. And the Bush administration never lets facts get in the way of it's theology.

Write to the White House and request that we be able to import from Canada the same drugs that we buy here. The only difference is the price.

More Spying by our friends in the White House

According to Peter Swire at Think Progress, the Bush administration has inserted a proposal into the 2009 budget proposal that would make the NSA wiretap program look like child's play.

This proposal "allocates $6 billion for a secretive system that is designed to protect government and private computer systems from attack. According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House proposal 'would likely require the government to install sensors on private, company networks.'"

Swire thinks it is important that the government establish security measures to adequately protect its own computer systems. The government should not, however, install their particular measures on private systems.

That sounds like a smart move. But unlikely under our current leadership.

Final note

In an analysis of Bush's Federal Budget Request for 2009 (a total of $3.1 trillion!), Think Progress has noted that $515 billion will go to the Department of Defense. When adjusted for inflation, this is the largest defense budget since World War II.

The kicker is this: That $515 billion does not include the costs of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan! If those are added into the mix, the actual defense budget will be almost $688 billion!

No wonder we can't afford affordable health care in this country. No wonder we can't afford most of the other things our people desperately need! We're too busy beating up on people for non-existent weapons of mass destruction!

Oh, no, sorry, that's wrong. That was what we were told first. Now we're told that we've sent our army into these countries to ensure democracy. Except that after almost 5 years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no democracy.

So, here's the situation: the US is spending just under $3 billion per week to cram democracy down the throats of Iraqis and Afghans, the majority of which have not an iota of interest in following the basic tenets of democracy.

Evidently, in the fantasy world of the Bushites, $3 billion a week down the toilet to try to achieve an impossible goal doesn't matter.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Road to Fascism

Don Hazen has written a brief review of Naomi Wolf's latest book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, as well as a summary of a question and answer session he conducted with Ms. Wolf.

Hazen explains that Wolf started out by delving deeply into the years that led to the institution of fascist regimes, such as the ones headed by Mussolini and Hitler. "And the patterns that she found in those, and others all over the world, made her hair stand on end. In 'The End of America,' she lays out the 10 steps that dictators (or aspiring dictators) take in order to shut down an open society. 'Each of those ten steps is now under way in the United States today.'" Thus, warns Wolf, if we desire to remain an open society, "we must pay attention and we must fight to protect democracy."

Unfortunately, nowhere in this review are the "ten steps" spelled out in a numeric or cohesive pattern. That does not negate the value of what Ms. Wolf has to say via Mr. Hagen, however. What follows are references to what those ten steps include.

First of all, fascists want to compromise any system of democratic elections. Ms. Wolf is concerned that the 2008 presidential election will be neither "transparent" nor "accountable." She suggests that as the election nears we will see an increase in violence which will scare people and make them less likely to vote for change.

And violence, of course, provides the pretext necessary for the authorities to crack down. Ms. Wolf mentions the 2007 Defense Authorization Act, "which makes it much easier for the president to declare martial law." She asks, "Why do you need to make martial law easier?"

History shows that the road to fascism is marked by hyped threats, exaggerated or "spun" intelligence, and sometimes faked documents, all of which strike fear into the hearts of the people to the extent they willingly give up their rights in order to remain safe. From the beginning, even before 9/11, these are precisely the things that have characterized the reign of the Bush administration: hyped threats, exaggerated or "spun" intelligence, and faked documents.

Wolf goes on to say that "Americans have this very wrong idea about what a closed society looks like." For example: "Many despots make it a point to try to hold ... elections, but they're corrupted elections. Corrupted elections take place all over the world in closed societies. Ninety-nine percent of Austrians voted yes for the annexation by Germany, because the SA were standing outside the voting booths, intimidating the voters and people counting the vote. So you can mess with the process."

We experienced this with a vengeance in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

A movement toward fascism also tries to eliminate the opposition. In our own country, the Bush administration has refused to turn over emails that relate to the attorney general scandal. It is likely that these emails will reveal administration plans to purge all of the non-Bush approved attorneys immediately, "overnight." This is exactly what Goebbels did in Germany in April of 1933: "He fired everyone, focusing on lawyers and judges who were not a supporter of the regime."

Additionally, for several years now, the Bush justice department has tried to reduce the number of eligible voters that might vote Democratic. This is another fascist tactic that does violence to democracy.

In this same vein, Ms. Wolf mentions the law passed last fall that expanded the definition of terrorists to encompass people who fight for animal rights. More and more people are being redefined as potential threats. This represents a "classic tactic in ... a fascist expansion."

Ms. Wolf has much more to say, but here are the most pertinent points:

1. The same things are happening today, again and again, that have happened historically in the rise of fascist societies. Those who would facilitate such a society "use the same approach all the world over because it works. This is what they do.

"Now we've just seen it in Burma. It is like clock work: monks in the street ... and because I know the blueprint, how long before they start curtailing free assembly, shooting monks, and cutting off that communication?" [It happened two days later.]

2. Fascism is defined in several different ways, but Wolf's definition is up front: Fascism arises "When the state uses violence against the individual to oppose democratic society."

3. This leads from number 2. It is not impossible nor unlikely for a modern constitutional democracy to be closed down illegally by people duly elected. "Most Americans don't remember. Mussolini, a National Socialist, came to power entirely legally. And they used the law to shut down the law. That's what I call a fascist shift." Hitler, too was duly elected by the people and led Germany into fascism in much the same way.

4. Many Americans are in denial. "It can't happen here." Ms. Wolf points out the same idea was popular in Germany during the rise of Hitler. When she read journals and memoirs from German citizens, she found these kinds of things: "This can't last ... we surely will come to our senses," "they can't gain ground in the next election ... you know, we're a civilized country"; "this is ridiculous, they're a bunch of thugs; no one takes them seriously."

Thus, though the situation continues to deteriorate, people meekly continue to go on with their lives, denying the reality, believing and hoping that democracy will take care of them. But it won't and that's what makes this so serious. If we fail to understand we have to fight for democracy, democracy will not survive.

5. Because we don't understand our need to fight for democracy, we have become vulnerable to the Bush administration's fear-mongering. Day after day, year after year, Bush or his henchmen/henchwomen have cried that the "terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming," which has left many people unable to discern what is the reality of their lives.

Ms. Wolf puts it this way: "We have been willing to trade our key freedoms for a promised state of security in spite of our living conditions of overwhelming stability, security, affluence and social order."

Part of this she blames on 9/11. Because we have not experienced wars at home, that kind of direct violence, 9/11 was extremely traumatic, indeed it was so traumatic that millions of Americans willingly traded in their "heritage in exchange for a manipulated false sense of security."

Furthermore, "Our leaders have been busy creating footage and sound bites that can be petrifying, and as a result, some of us live in a state of existential fear."

6. Too many Americans have almost no knowledge of our government or how it works. They don't even know what the Bill of Rights is, much less what it entails. Ms. Wolf mentions that we can no longer ignore our "home-grown ignorance. We now have two generations of young people who don't know about civics. A study came out that showed that even Harvard freshmen really don't understand how our government works."

7. Because so many people live in ignorance, our leaders are able to expand their powers and privileges exponentially. Right now, in the United States of America, a so-called democracy, "they can come at you, anyone, and claim you're an enemy combatant. They rendered people in Italy ... they can render people all over the world. And they can put people like Jose Padilla in solitary confinement for three years, literally drive sane healthy people insane.

"If the president can say, Well, 'Don is an enemy combatant,' there is nothing you can do. It's like 'Tag, you're it!' To that extent we can not be innocent. (My emphasis)

8. The end of democracy comes not with a bang, but a whimper. And here's how it works. First, the arrests. "If tomorrow you read in the New York Times or the Washington Post that New York Times editor Bill Keller has been arrested, the staff will all be scared, others will get scared. ... people don't understand that that's how democracy closes down.

That's where we are at today:

The process for exercising martial law is in place.

At this very moment, the NSA is reading your phone conversations if you use AT&T or Verizon. Even scarier is that this began before 9/11! Ray McGovern describes how the "Rocky Mountain News and court documents and testimony in a case involving Qwest Communications strongly suggest that [in February 2001] ... the Bush administration instructed NSA to suborn AT&T, Verizon and Qwest to spy illegally on you, me and other Americans.

"Bear in mind this had nothing to do with terrorism, which did not really appear on the new administration's radar screen until a week before 9/11, despite the pleading of Clinton aides that the issue deserved extremely high priority."

McGovern goes on to note that the following Democrats were briefed on this spy program: Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, Bob Graham, and Jay Rockefeller. One cannot help but wonder why they made no public comment, no public clamor about this concrete step toward fascism.

While the New York Times informed us two years ago that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on American citizens without warrants as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, the NYT knew this before the 2004 election but submitted to White House requests to suppress what was another brick on the road to fascism.

In January, 2008, Congress acquiesced again to Bush's continued illegal eavesdropping on American citizens. Does the word, "spineless," come to mind?

McGovern tells of one Sebastian Haffner who was a young lawyer in Berlin during the 1930's and kept a journal of the Nazi takeover. Following the burning of the German parliament building (the Reichstag) in February of 1933, Haffner mentioned that "none of his acquaintances 'saw anything out of the ordinary in the fact that, from then on, one's telephone would be tapped, one's letters opened and one's desk might be broken into.'"

Haffner watched as the other political parties, who were in the majority, yielded to the Nazis, who were in the minority. He called it "an infinitely dishonorable and cowardly spectacle ... They went along with everything: the terror, the persecution of Jews."

The road to fascism is paved with timidity and fear and intimidation, all of which abound in the United States today, promoted by the Bush administration. McGovern refers to a quote by one of our founding fathers, James Madison, which is especially relevant at this point in our history:

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. ... The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."