"End of America"?

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Fudge
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"End of America"?

Postby Fudge » Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:30 am UTC

Naomi Wolf wrote some new book called "The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot". It highlights "ten steps" used by dictators in the past to rip control away from the populace in even the most democratic of societies. She uses some historical examples, such as Stalin's warning of "sleeper cells" and what-not and uses them to supposedly make parallels with today's government.

Now, I'm not entirely familiar with this writer's background, so I don't know if she's just another pundit with a big mouth or if she has a case (I wouldn't be surprised if this book rips right through Godwin's law). However, with reviews and a title as alarmist as that, it does make me curious.

Is there a valid point or is this just confirmation bias?
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Dark Ragnarok
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Postby Dark Ragnarok » Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:24 am UTC

If anything has a flaw to be exploited, then sure it's possible to make that flaw to collapse it. Live Free or Die Hard presented that idea in a "Fire Sail".

It wasn't a dictatorship but still steps to move the American government in one direction.

I'm willing to bet it's valid in theory but not practical or likely but out to get your 10 bucks. XP.

http://www.xkcd.com/171/

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Postby Gunfingers » Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:44 pm UTC

Dark Ragnarok wrote:If anything has a flaw to be exploited, then sure it's possible to make that flaw to collapse it. Live Free or Die Hard presented that idea in a "Fire Sale".

I hope to God you aren't taking Live Free or Die Hard seriously.


Okay, this is the gist of Mz Wolf's book. Really all you need to know. The point of her book is less that the governing system in the US has security flaws allowing autocrats to take over and more that the Bush administration is trying to take over. If you're one of the people that believes that kind of thing i'm sure you'd enjoy the read.

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Postby Dark Ragnarok » Thu Sep 20, 2007 2:08 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:
Dark Ragnarok wrote:If anything has a flaw to be exploited, then sure it's possible to make that flaw to collapse it. Live Free or Die Hard presented that idea in a "Fire Sale".

I hope to God you aren't taking Live Free or Die Hard seriously.


Okay, this is the gist of Mz Wolf's book. Really all you need to know. The point of her book is less that the governing system in the US has security flaws allowing autocrats to take over and more that the Bush administration is trying to take over. If you're one of the people that believes that kind of thing i'm sure you'd enjoy the read.


Taking over? *laughs*. I couldn't take that seriously. That kind of stuff turns me away from reading honestly. : /. I mean, sure if the Bush Admin was allowed to take over, then why wouldn't it? But the current system wouldn't let that happen. So unless i saw bush in a 3rd term could i see that idea being anywhere near plausible.

Note: I'm not saying the premise of Live Free or Die Hard is convincing me *that* would happen. But i do believe in the idea that, if you had carefully organized a team of people and planned well for years you could really fuck with America. The problem is getting enough of those people, enough that you could even trust.

Regardless, that book wouldn't get my credit for shit unless i saw bush get a 3rd term.

Hm... i just finished reading the link. I may agree with what they point out as to be a problem, but i don't agree with the conclusion they have.

I think in most cases of dictatorship, as history shows us, dictators came into power in a very short amount of time. The article say it's slowly coming into that power. I also think that any supporter of bush isn't really in favor of dictatorship. At least previous dictators had followers who were ok with it.

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Postby Khaba » Thu Sep 20, 2007 3:30 pm UTC

Dark Ragnarok wrote:Taking over? *laughs*. I couldn't take that seriously. That kind of stuff turns me away from reading honestly. : /. I mean, sure if the Bush Admin was allowed to take over, then why wouldn't it? But the current system wouldn't let that happen. So unless i saw bush in a 3rd term could i see that idea being anywhere near plausible.

Why would it have to be Bush in a third term? <dons tinfoil helmet> Big Business/Media/Energy could just pick another puppet for another 2 terms and find people like Rove and Cheney to pull his or her strings for them. </dons tinfoil helmet>

I saw the author on Colbert last night, and while she didn't go through all ten steps, the one's she outlined lined up dead on with what has happened in the US since 9/11.

1) Invoking a serious threat (internal or external). She noted that usually this threat was a real threat.
2) Setting up secret prisons in which torture takes place. (To which Colbert responded, "We didn't do that. We set up secret prisons in Alternative Interrogation Techniques took place." :lol:)
3) Surveillance/wire tapping/reading the (e)mail of citizens.

I think she may have mentioned one or two more, but I don't recall them atm. Anyway, it's not difficult for anyone who pays attention to the news to see that the government is doing some rather alarming things in the name of fighting terrorism. I was listening to some Congressional testimony the other day about warrantless wiretapping: the Justice Dept(?) official was saying it takes 48+ hours (or some large number) of work to prepare the paperwork for a warrant, a statement which contradicted another official who said that the vast majority of that work was required even if a warrant was not being sought. The testimony also referenced their procedures for dropping a tap if they determine that it is two American Citizens talking. This implies that they are listening in on several calls (the witness said there were billions of transactions a day, so they are at least listening in on millions), a lot (most?) of which they have no right to.

Now, I understand the need to gather intelligence on terrorists, but my concern here is with the oversight. We can't tell law enforcement, "Go and do what you need to do, we trust you to do it right." We need to have a series of controls that will prevent abuse from occurring, and take corrective and punitive steps when abuse does occur.

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Re: "End of America"?

Postby mosc » Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:50 pm UTC

Fudge wrote:Naomi Wolf wrote some new book called "The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot". It highlights "ten steps" used by dictators in the past to rip control away from the populace in even the most democratic of societies. She uses some historical examples, such as Stalin's warning of "sleeper cells" and what-not and uses them to supposedly make parallels with today's government. Is there a valid point or is this just confirmation bias?


A classic slippery slope logical fallacy. Given enough small steps along the way you can show a logical progression between any state and any other state. Course, every small change is a potential new direction as well. The only real fallacy I'd be worried about here though is obscuring discussion on the actual issues at hand over discussing whither or not we're on the path to who knows what. Make rational choices with the facts at hand and let historians sort out when and if these things were significant I say.
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Postby Economica » Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:31 pm UTC

I'm won't worry about Mr. Bush unless he "suspends elections" in November 2008 and stays on indefinitely for "national security reasons".

As to the book's ten steps:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
2. Create a gulag.
3. Develop a thug caste.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
5. Harass citizens' groups.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
7. Target key individuals.
8. Control the press.
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law

Point one refers to the "threat" of "islamofascist" terrorism--Mr. Bush is most definitely exaggerating there. Point two refers, I presume, to the prison in Guantanamo and the secret prisons in Eastern Europe (if they're so secret, why do we know about them?). Point three possibly refers to the private military organizations like Blackwater, but this is shaky at best. Point four refers to the DHS wiretaps and surveillance, which is a real problem and should not be ignored. Point five has not, to my knowlege, come up in any significant way. Point six does not apply as much here, yet. Point seven hasn't happened yet; tell me when Mr. Bush orders the assassination of Hillary Clinton :). Mr. Bush does not control the press (point eight), but it is true that the media is under the umbrella of a few concentrated corporations. Point nine is disturbing and can be seen by the reactions of some far-right groups, but is not mainstream in any way. Point ten is obviously the most worrying.

Finally, the book does apparently tread all over Godwin's Law. Basically, if Mr. Bush wants to become a dictator, he is running out of time to do it in. I honestly don't think he's quite that manipulative or genuinely evil. He's just incompetent. (Though not incompetent enough to lose two elections...hmm...he must have had good political advisors :) )

In the meantime, we still have over a year until the elections. Wake me up in October 2008...

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Postby Fudge » Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:40 pm UTC

Yeah, if Bush wants to really do all of this stuff, he'd better get cracking.

I'm not sure how this writer became a Rhodes scholar...
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Postby Gunfingers » Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:43 pm UTC

I knew this sounded familiar. Are we sure this was a full book? Not an essay? Because this appears to be the whole theory.

And another article for those of you who feel the 2008 elections will be cancelled.

The comments are almost as fun as the actual articles. Heh. CommonDreams is just a fun site.

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Postby Fudge » Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:50 pm UTC

What is this site? A bunch of conspiracy theorists?

And Amazon tells me that this new piece is 192 pages.
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Solt
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Postby Solt » Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:09 am UTC

Khaba wrote:1) Invoking a serious threat (internal or external). She noted that usually this threat was a real threat.
2) Setting up secret prisons in which torture takes place. (To which Colbert responded, "We didn't do that. We set up secret prisons in Alternative Interrogation Techniques took place." :lol:)
3) Surveillance/wire tapping/reading the (e)mail of citizens.



Historically, #2 applies to the country's own citizens. Our secret prisons are used to torture the citizens of other countries.

Also, #3 does not happen under the so called illegal wiretapping program. FISA stands for, IIRC, "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." Spying on American citizens does happen (and has happened for at least 100 years... ever seen those movies where there are a bunch of guys in a van listening to someone's conversation? yeah, it happens and you already knew it.) but (as far as we know) it doesn't happen without a warrant unless at least one of the targets is a suspected terrorist.

Whoever this person is, she is an idiot.


Edit: Moar:


1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
-Historically, this tends to be a false or weak threat. Take Hitler and the Jews, for example. I think we can all agree that terrorism is a real threat. Also, if someone in America was bent on taking over, why didn't they do it during the Cold War when the threat would actually have justified declaring martial law?


2. Create a gulag.
-According to Wikipedia, a gulag is "the government body responsible for administering prison camps across the former Soviet Union."

Yes. We clearly have those. I've got nothing on this point.


3. Develop a thug caste.
-...


4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
-Ok yes, this has existed for a long time. It's called the National Security Agency but by far its primary goal is international surveillance. Also to be fair, I know of no dictatorship in the world that seized control through the help of electronic surveillance. In the electronic world, the battleground is quite even.


5. Harass citizens' groups.
-Like the ACLU or the NRA, people who would resist a dictatorship? They also seem like the kind of people who would cry foul (or start stockpiling weapons) if someone started to bully them. Not a peep so it's obviously not happening.


6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
-Never heard of it. And if you haven't heard of it, the threat of men dressed in black coming for you in the middle of the night isn't that effective.


7. Target key individuals.
-Liiike... the opposition? Haven't heard of any Democrats disappearing lately...


8. Control the press.
-The international press too? And over the internet? If they're that good we're fucked anyway, there's no point in sending out a warning.


9. Dissent equals treason
-Then why isn't the author of the book in jail? Or those 9/11 conspiracy guys? Or any of the democrats trying to undermine the war?


10. Suspend the rule of law
-Why am I even wasting my time answering these allegations? Why are there people in the world who can't think for themselves and like to ask other people opinions on things that are clearly bullshit? Isn't the fact that she had to go on the Colbert Report to get publicity telling enough?
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Amicitia
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Postby Amicitia » Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:52 am UTC

No offense, but I can see a definite plus to such a change. Can you imagine the market growth for surveillance and tracking?

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Solt
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Postby Solt » Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:12 am UTC

Amicitia wrote:No offense, but I can see a definite plus to such a change. Can you imagine the market growth for surveillance and tracking?


Considering there would only be one customer? No?
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,

produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a

most annoying habit of splitting in two."

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Postby Amicitia » Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:41 am UTC

Monopsony doesn't necessarily mean horrible pay. Look at weapons research, for example.

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Postby zenten » Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:38 am UTC

Solt wrote:
Historically, #2 applies to the country's own citizens. Our secret prisons are used to torture the citizens of other countries.


With no measures in place to prevent citizens thought of as "non-citizens".

Solt wrote:Also, #3 does not happen under the so called illegal wiretapping program. FISA stands for, IIRC, "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." Spying on American citizens does happen (and has happened for at least 100 years... ever seen those movies where there are a bunch of guys in a van listening to someone's conversation? yeah, it happens and you already knew it.) but (as far as we know) it doesn't happen without a warrant unless at least one of the targets is a suspected terrorist.


See, there you go, just declare someone a terrorist, and you can suspend their rights.

Solt wrote:1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
-Historically, this tends to be a false or weak threat. Take Hitler and the Jews, for example. I think we can all agree that terrorism is a real threat. Also, if someone in America was bent on taking over, why didn't they do it during the Cold War when the threat would actually have justified declaring martial law?


Well, no, we can't all agree. I mean, it's a bit of a threat, but not nearly as big as your government makes it out to be. As to the Cold War argument, the US defined itself on being not totalitarian. That was the main thing they said was wrong with the Soviet Union. Democracy versus Communism and all that.

Solt wrote:2. Create a gulag.
-According to Wikipedia, a gulag is "the government body responsible for administering prison camps across the former Soviet Union."

Yes. We clearly have those. I've got nothing on this point.


You're joking right?

Solt wrote:5. Harass citizens' groups.
-Like the ACLU or the NRA, people who would resist a dictatorship? They also seem like the kind of people who would cry foul (or start stockpiling weapons) if someone started to bully them. Not a peep so it's obviously not happening.


There have been protest groups arrested on terrorism charges. As to the NRA, given that many of its members support the current administration, why would it make sense to target them?

Solt wrote:8. Control the press.
-The international press too? And over the internet? If they're that good we're fucked anyway, there's no point in sending out a warning.


No, the American press. If you haven't noticed, what's being printed in the US tends to be vastly different in regards to US affairs than what is being printed internationally.

Solt wrote:9. Dissent equals treason
-Then why isn't the author of the book in jail? Or those 9/11 conspiracy guys? Or any of the democrats trying to undermine the war?


Because Bush and whatnot hasn't actually done a good job. Which is where I disagree with the ideas here. I think this was tried, and is now failing. That doesn't mean the attempt isn't still dangerous mind you.

Solt wrote:10. Suspend the rule of law
-Why am I even wasting my time answering these allegations? Why are there people in the world who can't think for themselves and like to ask other people opinions on things that are clearly bullshit? Isn't the fact that she had to go on the Colbert Report to get publicity telling enough?


No, that wasn't achieved. Mind you, there have been attempts at this too.

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Postby Gelsamel » Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:22 pm UTC

I've been hearing this stuff for years . Like "10 Features of Fascist Governments" and it would list stuff and compare it to the US government. I saw that like 10 years ago.
"Give up here?"
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Postby Iv » Fri Sep 21, 2007 2:28 pm UTC

Economica wrote:...
the secret prisons in Eastern Europe (if they're so secret, why do we know about them?).
...

First, we don't know where they are located, we only suspect some countries to have make agreements with the CIA. What have been located are planes transporting suspects all across European countries (you have to travel quite a few in order to go to some countries). Hobbyist plane-spotters played a role in this affair.
We know about it and don't dismiss it as a tinfoil theory because there has been a European investigation about this. Torture (and arbitrary detention) is supposed to be forbidden in the E.U. so people responsible could get into some nasty legal troubles.

Amicitia wrote:Monopsony doesn't necessarily mean horrible pay. Look at weapons research, for example.

Well, weapon R&D is a multi-player game, that is not something that is done for the sake of it.

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Postby Solt » Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:11 am UTC

zenten wrote:
Solt wrote:Also, #3 does not happen under the so called illegal wiretapping program. FISA stands for, IIRC, "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." Spying on American citizens does happen (and has happened for at least 100 years... ever seen those movies where there are a bunch of guys in a van listening to someone's conversation? yeah, it happens and you already knew it.) but (as far as we know) it doesn't happen without a warrant unless at least one of the targets is a suspected terrorist.

See, there you go, just declare someone a terrorist, and you can suspend their rights.

Yes, I guess that's possible. I'm not denying it. But there is no evidence of it having happened. Just because the possibility exists, doesn't mean it's happened. There are legitimate reasons for this capability. This happened in the past, too (during the civil war). Was Lincoln trying to become a dictator? No, he needed the ability to arrest US citizens who were suspected Confederate sympathizers, with good reason.
Solt wrote:threat = terrorism

Well, no, we can't all agree. I mean, it's a bit of a threat, but not nearly as big as your government makes it out to be. As to the Cold War argument, the US defined itself on being not totalitarian. That was the main thing they said was wrong with the Soviet Union. Democracy versus Communism and all that.

Actually for the US it's quite a big deal. We've been dealing with terrorism for 30 years, ever since the incident in Iran during the Carter presidency. Iran has held American citizens hostage, American embassies all over the Middle East have been bombed, there have been multiple attacks on US military vessels around the world, and now at least 2 terrorist attacks on the US mainland. Furthermore Israel has been under constant assault by terrorists (and there is widespread popular support for the country) and Islamic extremism has brought America to a standstill at least once (Oil shortage in the 1970s).
Solt wrote:2. Create a gulag.
-According to Wikipedia, a gulag is "the government body responsible for administering prison camps across the former Soviet Union."
Yes. We clearly have those. I've got nothing on this point.

You're joking right?
Yes. That was sarcasm.
Solt wrote:5. Harass citizens' groups.
-Like the ACLU or the NRA, people who would resist a dictatorship? They also seem like the kind of people who would cry foul (or start stockpiling weapons) if someone started to bully them. Not a peep so it's obviously not happening.

There have been protest groups arrested on terrorism charges. As to the NRA, given that many of its members support the current administration, why would it make sense to target them?

It would make sense to target the NRA because they would be the first to oppose a major violation of the constitution (if it was big enough to warrant violence) and an attempt to curtail citizen rights. That's the reason they exist. Also, you are wrong in assuming the NRA supports the current administration. True, the Republicans are friendlier to the NRA than the democrats and Bush has done at least 1 pro-NRA thing (didn't renew the assault weapons ban) but the NRA is full of libertarians that don't appreciate the Patriot Act at all, and thus "oppose" this administration probably more than any Republican administration in history:
http://www.inthesetimes.com/comments.php?id=303_0_2_0_C
Solt wrote:8. Control the press.
-The international press too? And over the internet? If they're that good we're fucked anyway, there's no point in sending out a warning.

No, the American press. If you haven't noticed, what's being printed in the US tends to be vastly different in regards to US affairs than what is being printed internationally.

Yes but if YOU haven't noticed Americans still have free access to this information. The fact that we are talking at all proves it. You could tell me whatever my government isn't telling me but that you know about right here, on this very thread, and no one would stop us.

Even then, I find the claims that American media is lacking in its coverage compared to international media circumstantial at best. I'm going to go ahead and ask for proof of this claim.
Solt wrote:9. Dissent equals treason
-Then why isn't the author of the book in jail? Or those 9/11 conspiracy guys? Or any of the democrats trying to undermine the war?

Because Bush and whatnot hasn't actually done a good job. Which is where I disagree with the ideas here. I think this was tried, and is now failing. That doesn't mean the attempt isn't still dangerous mind you.


You have no proof of any of this. The only thing you are basing it off of is the possibility. If you're so sure they tried and failed, what stopped them?

Solt wrote:10. Suspend the rule of law

No, that wasn't achieved. Mind you, there have been attempts at this too.


The only "proof" you could present of this would take us back to the first point.
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,

produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a

most annoying habit of splitting in two."

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Postby Khonsu » Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:38 am UTC

Instead of nitpicking about a text you haven't read yet about an author some of you haven't investigated, how about just voting in 2008 without partisanship and making sure someone we couldn't possibly make these half-thought-out "fascist" jabs about (which has gone on for...oh...a while...at least the last 30 years) gets elected? Bush is a very poor leader, I didn't vote for him, and he lept beyond my poor expectations from the get-go, but he's no fascist. The US is not fascist--there are some splinter fascist/neo-nazi/hate groups out there, of course, but I don't know how much of D.C. is covertly or overtly involved. I doubt they are. However, things are going on without the full story, as hindsight is always 20/20. In about 20 years, we'll know what has happened all this time and why. Until then, just keep voting for what you think is best for everyone, not what's best for you, and mostly the US will be just fine.

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Postby Amicitia » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:05 am UTC

I trust my Federal Reserve, thank you very much.

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Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:16 am UTC

Khonsu wrote: Until then, just keep voting for what you think is best for everyone, not what's best for you, and mostly the US will be just fine.

I don't understand that sentence.

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Postby Amicitia » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:26 am UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
Khonsu wrote: Until then, just keep voting for what you think is best for everyone, not what's best for you, and mostly the US will be just fine.

I don't understand that sentence.

People are better off when they consider themselves--to a good extent.

[edit] Forgot to evidence claims.
It's rather ridiculous to "think for everyone" since one can only trust their judgment to apply consistently to themselves. I don't know what's best for everyone, but I know what's best for me--better than anyone else, at least.

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Postby Khonsu » Sat Sep 22, 2007 7:48 am UTC

I meant "vote in ways that will ensure the safety and freedom of all Americans, not just your demographic." Specifically, I'm imagining people that vote based on their personal moral code instead of ensuring the rights of all people, even if those rights might include protection of things they disagree with, like performing certain consentual, sexual behavior, viewing and creating certain "mature" media content, and making inflammatory yet non-violent protest (even forms of hate speech), et al. If you can do it without hurting someone irreparably, I don't give a shit. Have a ball! It's your right.

Despite how disgusting I find them, the Klan isn't violent and works with local police, and so I disagree, but I don't have the right to outlaw their right to assemble. They have every right.

I may not like the way a lot of conservative women view sex, but I understand their point of view, and if they want to start a movement about that prudery, but I don't have the right to force them to see things my way (they're getting enough of that from their fathers and husbands *ahem*). That's not my right.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” - Noam Chomsky

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Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:07 pm UTC

Amicitia wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
Khonsu wrote: Until then, just keep voting for what you think is best for everyone, not what's best for you, and mostly the US will be just fine.

I don't understand that sentence.

People are better off when they consider themselves--to a good extent.

[edit] Forgot to evidence claims.
It's rather ridiculous to "think for everyone" since one can only trust their judgment to apply consistently to themselves. I don't know what's best for everyone, but I know what's best for me--better than anyone else, at least.

Thank you, Ted, that was the joke.

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Postby Aetre » Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:30 pm UTC

The list forgets one crucial thing:

Nationalize (or, make "public") the entire economy, or as many economic sectors as possible.

In and of itself, that doesn't lead to a dictatorship, but it's just as important a step as controlling the press, I'd think.

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Postby Solt » Sat Sep 22, 2007 9:35 pm UTC

Amicitia wrote:It's rather ridiculous to "think for everyone" since one can only trust their judgment to apply consistently to themselves. I don't know what's best for everyone, but I know what's best for me--better than anyone else, at least.


True, but the goal of nation building isn't to find out what's best for everyone. It is to give everyone the best possible chance of living any life they want to live. "The pursuit of happiness," if you will. That way, they decide.
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produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

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Postby Malice » Sat Sep 22, 2007 11:04 pm UTC

Aetre wrote:The list forgets one crucial thing:

Nationalize (or, make "public") the entire economy, or as many economic sectors as possible.

In and of itself, that doesn't lead to a dictatorship, but it's just as important a step as controlling the press, I'd think.


Not necessarily, er, necessary, though. If the corporations are in cahoots with the government backwards (Cheney and Halliburton) and forwards (lobbyists) and sideways (relaxation of safety laws and consumer rights, massive subsidies) and frontways and squareways and any other ways you can think of, it's not really necessary for the companies to be officially government controlled.

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Postby Aetre » Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:35 pm UTC

Well, it's necessary for a dictatorship. What you're speaking of would be more of a corporate aristocracy scenario--which is still bad, but not quite the same.

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Postby Amicitia » Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:01 pm UTC

Precisely, it's necessary for a command economy.

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Postby fjafjan » Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:46 pm UTC

I thought Fascism is more or less viewed as the Goverment becoming a corporation/merging with the big corporations, so while you might call that nationalizing I don't think it would be accurate.
And fascism is a dictatorship, be it pinochet or Franko or Mussolini
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Astraciel » Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:57 pm UTC

I don`t think a perceived downfall is entirely the result of certain laws that have various undemocratic aspects. Every democracy goes through unstable phases. During World War II there was about as much propaganda in the US as everywhere else. The dropping of the a-bomb (the only one ever) on a civillian target was unquestionably a crime against humanity. BUT the basic values of democracy still endured in the US and were a couple of decades later even capable of overcoming the political remnants of slavery (segregation). The reason is quite simply that people believed in democracy. That was not the case in the Weimarer Republik in Germany - the reason why it failed.
I think the contemporary sinister view of America all around the globe and partially even in the US is not so much the result of a couple of laws, but of a crisis of identity. A country that cosidered itself to be the defender of freedom and human rights is almost universally loathed (by varying decrees). One has to wonder now if the American people will be able to restore their own image or not. And only one thing is certain: Having a huge military that - let`s face it - is at least anachronistic in a time of nuclear weapons and terrorism isn`t going to solve any problems.

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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Garm » Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:49 pm UTC

I'm saddened by what I see here. All of you people who are defending the president's wire-tapping program ought to be ashamed of yourselves. It's manifestly unconstitutional. If you believe otherwise then perhaps you'd better go re-examine the constitution and the old saw about how we shouldn't worry about being spyed upon unless we have something to hide smacks of Orwellian 'right speech'. It's awful.

Bush doesn't really need to become a dictator in the classical sense. He just needs to continue to expand the powers of the executive branch and to bully congress into vetting everything he says in order to assume a dictatorial air. Also concentrating power in one person would be counter-productive. It's the larger conservative establishment that allows Bush to flaunt the rule of law as he does. With that in mind, here is my take on Naomi Wolf's ten steps. And no, I haven't read the book.


1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.

The threat of "Islamofacism" is our external enemy. On a lesser scale the demonization of liberalism and the decay of our society's 'moral fabric' (whatever the hell that means) is the spectre of an internal enemy. "Oh noes! Here come the abortionists to rip the fetus from your womb. Run! Run for the hills!"

The idea of "Islamofacism" is totally flawed and shows a deep misunderstanding of what Islam is and what it isn't. How many sects of Islam are there? Anyone? Anyone at all? No Google.

The vicious rhetoric that taints our current political dialogue certainly didn't start with the left. Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are only a few of the people who make their living peddeling bitter, sometimes false, invective aimed at their political opponents (and sometimes even their allies).

2. Create a gulag.

By Gulag, Wolf obviously doesn't mean that we start deporting people to Siberia, she means that we create some sort of labor camp system. Here in America we have an overloaded prison system. People are being stuck in our jails for the stupidest of things. The Three Strikes policies are a total failure. We're imprisoning people for life for having stolen 3 things with a total value of less than $20. Meanwhile we verbally admonish people who steal their employee's pensions. The consequence is that we have a staggering number of our citizens in prison. As of 2006, 7 Million Americans are in prison, on probation or on parole. 7 million! That's ~2.333% of our total population (we have ~25% of the worlds prison population, tell me that's not rediculous). Sure, it's not exactly a gulag but it's not a bad start.

3. Develop a thug caste.

There really isn't a Thug Caste in America and there really won't be. There is, however, a strong anti-intellectual movement that exists currently. Our functional literacy rate is pretty piss poor in comparison to other rich nations. Bill Moyers reported that ~50% of American's had not read a book in the last year. Look at the media's portrayal of political candidates as "East Coast Intellectual's". It's as though the word intellectual has become a smear, something to be avoided. Petr Beckmann (author of "History of Pi") has some interesting ideas about thugs and anti-intellectualism.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system.

The NSA and the wire-tapping of American citizens that flies in the face of FISA is completely unconstitutional and totally against the law.

5. Harass citizens' groups.

There's no need for Bush to do this. Look at the withering criticism that MoveOn has come under after running the General Petreaus advertisement in the NYT. The Beltway media see anything like that as a threat to their existance and roundly condemn it. All Bush has to do is issue some sort of snide statement of rebuke and the media does the rest.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.

Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib aside, we deported a Canadian citizen to Syria on hearsay evidence and he gets tortured there. 'nuff said.

7. Target key individuals.

Again, Bush doesn't have to target key individuals. Not only are the Dems completely ineffectual but why does our media spend time writing about things like John Edwards hair? Seriously. The dialogue in this country is so horribly claustrophobic. Anyone who speaks out against established media doctrine is hounded into submission or marginalized.

8. Control the press.

The press controls itself now. I remember in the 2004 campaign when Kerry (who ran the worst race ever btw) would talk about something like the Iraq war with intelligence, subtley and nuance and the press would say something like "Kerry thinks Iraq needs more kittens!". Bush would say "Well I really haven't fucked anything up today" and the press would return "Bush firm on excellent policy". It's a dangerous double standard and it's really put us up shit creek.

9. Dissent equals treason

There are so many examples of this that it's amazing we allow some of these 'reporters' on the air let alone tolerating them to live. I'll just point to this latest Limbaugh flap where he's bashing decorated Iraq War vets about their patriotism because they choose to speak out about the conflict.

10. Suspend the rule of law

Well this basically already happened when our congress decided to pass the Military Comissions Act. No Habeas Corpus really means no constitutional protections. For those of you 'right thinkers' who say that the powers that are guaranteed by the MCA won't be used against American citizens, what assurance do we have? And without the power to force a court hearing how can we seek redress against false imprisonment? There's no way to invoke constitutional protections without Habeas Corpus. So... we're screwed.

Now... I haven't read the book so I can't agree or disagree with whatever conclusion she draws. It seems that perhaps she's making the case for Bush being a dictator. I don't really agree with that. Is he the worst president ever? Yes. Has he done serious damage to our governmental system? Beyond a doubt. Has he broken a bunch of laws and mired us in an intractable conflict that we're going to be paying a price for in the years to come? Absolutely. Does this make him dictator? No. He's just a giant asshole and a complete failure.
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Gunfingers » Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:21 pm UTC

So i'm curious, at what point in the next 13 months is he going to declare himself president for life?

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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Malice » Fri Oct 05, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

None. Frankly, he hasn't the stones.
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby mosc » Fri Oct 05, 2007 3:43 pm UTC

Malice wrote:None. Frankly, he hasn't the stones.

and there's enough republican presidential hopefuls where is own party wouldn't have the votes to prevent impeachment.
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Vaniver » Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:06 pm UTC

The dropping of the a-bomb (the only one ever) on a civillian target was unquestionably a crime against humanity.
I think you mean two, not one, and it was not a crime against humanity- it resulted in less civilian deaths than an invasion would have.

The idea of "Islamofacism" is totally flawed and shows a deep misunderstanding of what Islam is and what it isn't. How many sects of Islam are there? Anyone? Anyone at all?
There are two primary ones (Sunnism and Shiism), who disagree over who was Muhammed's successor (with the modern-day result of having different canons), and a number of minor ones (only Sufism comes to mind).

Sure, it's not exactly a gulag but it's not a bad start.
No, it's a hideously bad start. Less than 1% of the population of the US is in prison (while a bit over 2% are in prison, on probation, or on parole). Look up what percent of the USSR's population was in the gulag. Around 10% of the gulag population died each year; how prevalent are deaths in the US system?

And, the point of the gulag was to enforce political solidarity. You were in the party, in Stalin's faction, or you went to the gulag. How is the US prison system anything like that?

There really isn't a Thug Caste in America and there really won't be. There is, however, a strong anti-intellectual movement that exists currently.
If she's wrong, she's wrong. Anti-intellectualism and a thug caste are very, very different.

There's no need for Bush to do this. Look at the withering criticism that MoveOn has come under after running the General Petreaus advertisement in the NYT. The Beltway media see anything like that as a threat to their existance and roundly condemn it. All Bush has to do is issue some sort of snide statement of rebuke and the media does the rest.
I'm sorry, but Bush can't be both the man who doesn't read newspapers and the man who catches the media on their slip-ups at the same time.

And, what makes you think that the criticism of MoveOn or the NYT is somehow unwarranted? They did something that was clearly illegal, and got called on it. How is this harassment?

Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib aside, we deported a Canadian citizen to Syria on hearsay evidence and he gets tortured there. 'nuff said.
The torture that goes on is certainly shameful and counterproductive, but as pointed out by others, it is nowhere near the level needed to inspire the fear in the populace. Torturing external enemies is not far removed from internal enemies, and so many Americans are wary; but there's not reason to believe that it has moved to a police state yet.

Not only are the Dems completely ineffectual but why does our media spend time writing about things like John Edwards hair?
First, the ineffectuality of the Democrats has little to do with the Republicans and much to do with the Democrats. As for the media, consumers get what they ask and pay for.

The press controls itself now. I remember in the 2004 campaign when Kerry (who ran the worst race ever btw) would talk about something like the Iraq war with intelligence, subtley and nuance and the press would say something like "Kerry thinks Iraq needs more kittens!". Bush would say "Well I really haven't fucked anything up today" and the press would return "Bush firm on excellent policy". It's a dangerous double standard and it's really put us up shit creek.
So... the press is conservatively biased? That's news to me.

There are so many examples of this that it's amazing we allow some of these 'reporters' on the air let alone tolerating them to live. I'll just point to this latest Limbaugh flap where he's bashing decorated Iraq War vets about their patriotism because they choose to speak out about the conflict.
So, because Rush Limbaugh disapproves of someone, that's enough for us to consider their treatment treason?

This highlights nicely the problem comparisons like Wolf's have. It is only the people who have no experience with the horrors of fascism who can call our current state fascism. It's like saying that the warmth of the sun on a hot day is like being burned alive. No, it really isn't.
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Garm » Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:35 pm UTC

I'm sorry, but Bush can't be both the man who doesn't read newspapers and the man who catches the media on their slip-ups at the same time.

And, what makes you think that the criticism of MoveOn or the NYT is somehow unwarranted? They did something that was clearly illegal, and got called on it. How is this harassment?


What I'm saying is that Bush gets told that someone said something and then if it's politically expediant he issues some sort of statement condemning whatever they did.

What exactly did MoveOn and NYT do that is so illegal? A full page ad calling out Petraeus for being a shill for the White House? How exactly is that illegal? I thought congress will make no law abridging the free speech of a citizens and that a free and independant press is important to the health of a nation and all that jazz.


The torture that goes on is certainly shameful and counterproductive, but as pointed out by others, it is nowhere near the level needed to inspire the fear in the populace. Torturing external enemies is not far removed from internal enemies, and so many Americans are wary; but there's not reason to believe that it has moved to a police state yet.


So it's okay that the guy got tortured cuz he Canadian, eh? I'll keep that in mind.

So... the press is conservatively biased? That's news to me.


That's a whole new thread but yes, the myth of the liberal media is one of the biggest and most successful lies in recent memory.

So, because Rush Limbaugh disapproves of someone, that's enough for us to consider their treatment treason?


Tip of the iceberg so to speak. Media commentators have equated dissent against the Iraq war with treason for some time now. I can pull out a bunch of sources if you want me to. It's all just a double standard. The media roundly condemns anyone drawing parallels between Bush and Facism, then turns around and calls moveon a bunch of nazis without batting an eyelash. Apparently we're throwing rationality out the window.
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Vaniver » Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:45 am UTC

What exactly did MoveOn and NYT do that is so illegal? A full page ad calling out Petraeus for being a shill for the White House? How exactly is that illegal? I thought congress will make no law abridging the free speech of a citizens and that a free and independant press is important to the health of a nation and all that jazz.
When it comes to discussing current events, basic research is a requirement, not an option.

So it's okay that the guy got tortured cuz he Canadian, eh? I'll keep that in mind.
No, it's not. No torture is ok. The point is that, for the arbitrary detention and release to qualify as a component of fascism (at home), it needs to be happening in such a way that it affects the lives of culture of the domestic population. They aren't terror tactics if no one is afraid.

That's a whole new thread but yes, the myth of the liberal media is one of the biggest and most successful lies in recent memory.
I'm sorry, but when the facts are on its side it's not called a lie. Obviously, not every media outlet is biased to the left, but most of the major ones are.

Tip of the iceberg so to speak.
Generally, extremists are not the tip of the iceberg- they're the tip of the bell curve. Until the courts start punishing it as treason, it's not being treated as though it were treason.

The media roundly condemns anyone drawing parallels between Bush and Facism, then turns around and calls moveon a bunch of nazis without batting an eyelash.
What media do you personally read? Your selection may not be representative of the entirety.
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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Gunfingers » Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:52 am UTC

Garm wrote:What exactly did MoveOn and NYT do that is so illegal? A full page ad calling out Petraeus for being a shill for the White House? How exactly is that illegal? I thought congress will make no law abridging the free speech of a citizens and that a free and independant press is important to the health of a nation and all that jazz.


The only thing that comes to mind is libel. That doesn't work if Gen. Patreus is considered a public figure. Really all it came down to was they took out ads making very personal attacks on Gen. Patreus and President bush issued a statement saying "You guys are assholes, leave him alone."

Garm wrote:I can pull out a bunch of sources if you want me to.


Please do.

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Re: "End of America"?

Postby TheStranger » Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:07 pm UTC

There are so many examples of this that it's amazing we allow some of these 'reporters' on the air let alone tolerating them to live. I'll just point to this latest Limbaugh flap where he's bashing decorated Iraq War vets about their patriotism because they choose to speak out about the conflict.


Really? Considering that RL was talking about this case where a man claimed to be a soldier during an anti-war protest. Which seems like something worth criticizing.
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