inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #76 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Fri 22 Dec 06 06:11
    
Now, there's an interesting juxtaposition. What if an updated version
of the Federalist Papers were written today. Who would write them? And
who would write today's Anti-Federalist Papers, for the Bill of Rights,
etc. Establishment vs. bloggers is too easy.(Wasn't Yates involved
with the opposition? Maybe I'm confusing him with someone else…) BTW,
as the EU struggles to get its countries to ratify a Constitution, some
of the same issues are definitely coming up again "across the pond."

But back to the idea of understanding the raw material. Good point.
The challenge is especially great given how many escapist factors
assault people in their daily lives, non-stop celebrity news,
entertainment as the ultimate goal, what have you. That makes achieving
critical mass much harder.

Flipside though, I honestly believe that it all boils down to some
pretty basic factors for most of us: having a life with meaning, being
able to provide for yourself (and family, when applicable), and as you
mentioned "a future worth living."  When larger social and political
issues are framed in those terms, people tend to identify. 
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #77 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Fri 22 Dec 06 09:26
    
The problem being, of course, that those are also the topics by which people
tend to be easily manipulable.  The right has used that to great effect, and
it's the source of stuff like whatever that vile bastard Goode is currently 
spewing, trying to associate Islam with immigration and somehow denigrate
both in the process, all to take a jab at Ellison in a partisan muck-fest.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #78 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Fri 22 Dec 06 13:28
    
Great example, Howard. Ellison can set the record straight all day and
there will still be those who buy Goode's racist lies.

I released an article yesterday about the US nuclear-weapons program
(www.heatherwokusch.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=101). The
opening paragraphs: 
----------
Last week, the watchdog Project on Government Oversight reported that
workers at Pantex, a Texan nuclear-weapons plant, had almost
accidentally detonated a W56 warhead in the spring of 2005. A W56 has
100 times the Hiroshima bomb's yield. 

A similar incident occurred there in 2004 when workers discovered a
crack in a W56 warhead; they ended up patching it together using "the
equivalent of duct tape." BWXT, the Texan plant operator, paid
safety-violation fines totaling less than $125,000 in each case. 

Unfortunately, the sloppiness and lack of oversight demonstrated at
Pantex characterize the running of many US nuclear-weapons facilities.
---------

I was blown away to learn about the Texan "near miss." Stunning
implications, but the mainstream news ignored it. It's that kind of
development the nation needs to be facing, part of Robert’s "realistic
view of the world." But I digress...

Since we're wrapping up on time and the holidays are fast approaching,
I'd love to hear your final frank assessments heading into the new
year. Any causes for political optimism? Special topics you'd like to
see for activist focus in the first few months of the 100th Congress?
Areas you see the US as especially vulnerable in, and suggestions on
how to address them? Activist groups you're especially fond of? Related
New Year’s resolutions? 
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #79 of 91: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Sat 23 Dec 06 11:23
    
"Gridlock" has an optimistic ring to it. The last major bipartisan
action was the Irag invasion. Less activism seems appropriate. Reminds
me of Will Rogers' comment about Calvin Cooledge: "He didn't do
anything ... but that's exactly what we wanted done"

Perhaps the world needs a little respite from American action. 
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #80 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Sat 23 Dec 06 11:42
    
We were justified in action after 9/11 and the Cole.  However, the Bush 
administration managed to make the wrong decision at practically every
opportunity, despite the advice of people like Gen. Shinseki.  As I have
noted elsewhere, to take the global goodwill, support, and backing we
had after 9/11 and end up where we are now takes a really special skill
in screwing things up.  They literally, when presented with opportunities
to actually do the right thing, made the wrong choice nearly every time.

And it is not 20/20 hindsight here that makes that evident; they had many
very smart people telling them this at the time.  They just wouldn't
listen, as the truth conflicted with their plans.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #81 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Sat 23 Dec 06 13:00
    
I'm not sure, Howard. It's been said before but this administration is
anything but incompetent. In six short years it has managed to start
two big wars, centralize power within the executive branch, dash all
hopes of social support during/after the Katrina scandal ("drowned big
government in a bathtub"), effect an incredible number of rollbacks re.
basic regulatory protections, slash women's rights, and even cut taxes
during wartime. That's not incompetence as much as a very effective
restructuring of US society – the main question being how much farther
this can go. 

Back in 2004, Dr. Lawrence Britt wrote an article entitled American
Fascism. It was widely circulated at the time; here's an abbreviated
version of what he found were the 14-defining characteristics of
fascist regimes:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism 
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights 
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause  
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism 
6. Controlled Mass Media 
7. Obsession with National Security 
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined 
9. Corporate Power is Protected 
10. Labor Power is Suppressed 
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts 
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment 
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption 
14. Fraudulent Elections 

Shocking to see how far we have degenerated into fascism, at least
according to this model, during the Bush years. Makes gridlock look
good...
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #82 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Tue 26 Dec 06 10:06
    

From an external perspective, would you say that general opinion in Europe
is that the US is headed towards becoming a fascist state?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #83 of 91: Cogito? (robertflink) Tue 26 Dec 06 15:34
    
Fascism was and is always present and everywhere. The mistake is to
associate it with any particular movement and/or any particular leader.
It is as much a part of human nature are kindness and generosity. The
strategic error is to think that we are above or beyond all that. 

There is nothing in the list of 14 items that is not present in all
countries in sufficient quantity to bring about fascist systems given
the right spark. This is one of the reasons why limited government,
separation of powers, checks an balances, individual rights, etc.,
etc,. are so important to preserve even when they appear to be
impediments to more "enlghtened" government.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #84 of 91: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Tue 26 Dec 06 16:15
    
"It is as much a part of human nature are kindness and generosity."

Nobody likes to admit that, but it's true.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #85 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 27 Dec 06 01:19
    
Agreed, that elements of fascism are present in many governments and
even in many relationships! My point is the extent to which the
administration has made something of a sport of pushing us further down
that path. The potential burst of the domestic housing bubble and
other economic troubles this year are also worrying, given that
historically, full-on fascism is often preceded by a strong economic
downturn.

Howard, I'd say people in Europe generally are more concerned about
the chaos in Iraq and possibility that the US will attack Iran. There
is also the perception that Russia's Putin is playing Bush for a patsy
and that could have longterm power-balance implications on this side of
the pond.

But I don't want to be too much of a bummer... As Robert noted,
'separation of powers, checks and balances, individual rights, etc.'
will help greatly and the 100th might just bring back some of what we
lost. We'll see. So in the spirit of 'kindness and generosity' here's a
toast to a progressive-political turn in 2007!
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #86 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 27 Dec 06 05:02
    
Oops, typed too fast. I meant to say "the 110th might just bring back
some of what we lost." Now, about that toast -
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #87 of 91: Hal Royaltey (hal) Thu 28 Dec 06 15:35
    
Our two weeks with Heather and Howard have flown by in a rush
of fascinating conversation overlaying the holiday season.

Thanks to both of you for a great windup to a politically 
tumultuous year.

Even though this interview is officially over Heather, Howard, 
Well members, and those reading from outside the Well are welcome 
to continue talking as we head into the New Year and a new,
Democratically controlled Congress.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #88 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Thu 28 Dec 06 15:38
    
Thanks Hal!  And let me join in thanking our guest, Heather Wokusch.
It's been a great discussion.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #89 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Fri 29 Dec 06 04:21
    
Howard, thanks for the invitation and for hosting, and Hal, thanks for
organizing everything so efficiently. It's been a pleasure to visit
Inkwell!
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #90 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Fri 29 Dec 06 11:16
    
My pleasure.  Now use that well login to go explore places like the politics 
conference!  :)
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #91 of 91: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 2 Jan 07 10:19
    
What a good read.  Thanks again.
  



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