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.
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.
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 Roberts "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 Years resolutions?
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.
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.
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...
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?
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.
"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.
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!
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 -
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.
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.
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!
Howard Berkey (howard) Fri 29 Dec 06 11:16
My pleasure. Now use that well login to go explore places like the politics conference! :)
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 2 Jan 07 10:19
What a good read. Thanks again.
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