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...plus a proactive diatribe on what to do about it (at the end).

This from the end of today's Washington Post article on the newly revealed 9/11 Commission evidence:

Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.

Then there's the much-ballyhooed (in the blogosphere) case of another Washington Post reporter who wrote an article about the 2nd Bush inagural festivities.  The administration assigned minders to follow him around personally, with the express purpose of preventing officials he talked to from giving him their "unvarnished" opinions:

Several reporters covering the balls were surprised to find themselves being monitored by young "escorts," who followed them from hors d'oeuvres table to dance floor and even to the bathroom.

...

As I was dictating from my notes, something flashed across my face and neatly snatched my cell phone from of my hand. I looked up to confront a middle-aged woman, her face afire with rage. "You ignored the rules, and I'm throwing you out!" she barked, snapping my phone shut. "You told that girl you didn't need an escort. That's a lie! You're out of here!"

...

Their real purpose only occurred to me after I had gone home for the night, when I remembered a brief conversation with a woman I was interviewing. During the middle of our otherwise innocuous encounter, she suddenly noticed the presence of my minder. She stopped for a moment, glanced past me, then resumed talking.

No, the minders weren't there to monitor me. They were there to let the guests, my sources on inaugural night, know that any complaint, any unguarded statement, any off-the-reservation political observation, might be noted. But maybe someday they'll be monitoring something more important than an inaugural ball, and the source could be you.

Presumably the others who had minders, as well as reporters before or since who have been subjected to them, haven't mentioned it in the media because their editors don't want to risk losing "access" to the administration.  The papers and TV news shows have minders of their very own.  

Of course, there's the ultimate minder:  Cheney kept a watchful eye on Bush during their 9/11 Commission questioning.  Even presidents need minders.  No one is above the thought police.

The minder mention from today's article was merely an aside in a larger piece.  There must be tons of instances of this that don't get reported (please comment if you have another example).  The whole thing makes me literally sick to my stomach.  This administration takes 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale as a playbooks, rather than as warnings.  

What really scares me are the mindless "law and order" types like the middle-aged woman in the inaguration story.  In doing what they're told (enthusiastically, even) and getting paid, they are the sergeants in the thought police force, keeping us regular Joes in line.  Clearly I'm prejudging this person, but you know the type:  the ones who seem genuinely delighted to present their belongings to airport security screeners, belt and shoes neatly arranged in the plastic tray five minutes in advance.  

Meanwhile, no one has the power to mind the minders.  Bush and Cheney have shrouded government activity in more secrecy than ever before in American history.  Record numbers of documents are classified, many to avoid political damage rather than to protect actual national security; ordinary non-military non-intelligence functions of government take place in secret (see Cheney's energy policy meetings, supported by court ruling [NY Times article]); and even the government's arguments as to why things should be kept secret are themselves secret (see an ACLU press release on Sibel Edmonds).  

They might as well go ahead and put political officers on our submarines, since we're fast becoming the Soviet Union that we once tried to destroy.  It's been said here before:  our democracy is broken and is in dire need of fixing.  

Answers?  Advocate paper ballot voting, stronger sunshine laws, stricter limits on media consolidation, and good public education.  Extol the virtues of individual liberty (limited only by the prevention and amelioration of harm to others), the core concept of liberalism.  Cultivate actual liberal media.  Push scandals like the Rove/Libby/Cheney? outing of Valerie Wilson early and often.  Say the obvious, because the obvious is much maligned these days.  Remind elected officials what the Constitution says.  Make government make sense.  Make your tax dollars work for you, not against you.  Oh, and vote more Democrats into office.  

Originally posted to Simplify on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 03:12 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  First diary (4.00)
    Passive no more.

    Just because we can, that doesn't mean we should.

    by Simplify on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 03:05:57 AM PDT

    •  Good first diary (none)
      The inaugural story was one I'd seen before, but the news about minders at the Commission's hearings is downright Stalinist.

      It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead.

      by Steven D on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:22:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Holy crap! Minders for the 9/11 commission?! (4.00)
      First off: Great first diary!  Thank you.

      Wasn't this the HUGE complaint the US (and others) had about Iraqi government "minders"; and one of the plethora of reasons their statements to UN inspectors were discredited?

      To paraphrase an overused trite comment:
      I guess what's good for the murderous dictator is good for the despotic lying cynical Constitution-abuser.

      (yeah, I know, it doesn't exactly, "roll off the toungue...")

      "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." --Thomas Jefferson

      by frisco on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 09:30:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cooks cover their mistakes (4.00)
    with sauces; architects, with ivy; governments with secret stamps.  The main reason this government hides so much is that it has so much to hide.

    What's the Mayberry word for omerta?

  •  Just so you know it wasn't always like this in DC (4.00)
    It is important to remember that it really wasn't always like this in DC.  Government has actually always had a rather "unvarnished" quality about it.  Various administrations come and go and act however they do, but never in my memory has an administration had the ability to dive so deep into agencies and throughlly corrupt them.

    One reason may be that when Bush came in there was a re-tooling within the agencies of placement of personnel.  Usually the top will change with a given administration, but professionals no matter what their political affiliation will keep their positions and mostly their power-base.  

    BushCo has moved at least three of our friends from their rightful positions in their agencies to peripheral posistions yielding them powerless to object to or subvert ideologically driven initiatives.  Other friends have been forced out all together.  People who are identified as having an allegiance to the flag and not BushCo are disposed of one way or another - thus the fox has free run of the chicken house.

    There are many, many more Richard Clarkes through out the government who have been either forced out or marginalized.

    It wasn't always like this.  Please don't cynically think it was.  It really was not.  BushCo must be stopped.  

    •  Could any of this violate civil service laws? (none)
      Aren't there supposed to be legal limits on this sort of thing?
    •  Thanks, I needed that (4.00)
      I bet a lot of us did.  

      If only more of our candidates would say things like this out loud instead of under their breath, maybe they'd win more elections.  

      A little O/T:  I got a taste of the public side of the culture of fear while living in DC 2002-2004.  Among other things, the double-ring of jersey barriers around the Washington Monument was ludicrous.  

      Just because we can, that doesn't mean we should.

      by Simplify on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 08:24:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As Ray McGovern has been pleading (4.00)
      with all those other Richard Clarkes:

      SPEAK UP before it's too late. Tell what you know.  If it isn't already too late...

      www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

      by chuckvw on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 08:25:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And don't for a minute be scared off... (none)
        ...by what they did to Joe Wilson. (n/t)
        •  These are the times that try mens' souls... (none)

          www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

          by chuckvw on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 12:02:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The thing about the whistle blowing question (none)
            is that the people I know were moved almost immediately - or driven out - so they have no information to share.  They were set as outsiders immediately.  That is what is so insideous about this administration.  Someone else mentioned cronyism in agency life.  

            It is true that the agencies have a life of their own and power bases that are difficult to understand if you are educated in the public sector, but I assure you this sweeoing systematic removal of productive professionals on the basis of ideology is VERY different from anything I've ever seen before.  

            More importantly this trend is impressive enough to catch my parent's attention - they have lived in and worked in DC since 1958.  That is nearly half a century of observation and experience and even they are stunned.

            •  I know this particular historical analogy (none)
              is not always welcomed, but I am minded of the Nazi consolidation of power in the early 30s.  The undertook a process called Gleichschaltung (coordination, making alike) which required people to subscribe to some organ of the party at every level of the state and economy, from Mayor to street cleaner, from bank president to junior clerk.  All public institutions eventually were hollowed out.  I suspected the busheviks would go in this direction after they failed to privatize unionized Federal employees during the first term.

              Your point is well taken, of course.  You can't be a whistleblower if they take away your whistle... But maybe by organizing into groups as many retired (an adjective and/or a verb) diplomats and high-ranking military have done might give so many who have been so ill served a platform from which to protest...

              Many thanks for your disturbing insight into the current state of affairs in DC.

              www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

              by chuckvw on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 08:43:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  To your first point about Germany in the 30's (none)
                Fankly, people who are "upset" by the comparison are being foolish and mis-directing their anger.  

                Job jerrymandering isn't an outrageous injustice, but all of the Bush tactics are when taken as a whole - all of the "fixing the policy"; removing key loyal civil servants; and lying about anything unpopular etc. - taken all together really is outrageous and unjust - it is also remarkably organized in that classic Germanic way.  

                If people don't call this shit out - it will continue - but we can't rely on the victims to do it because they have been systematically crippled by their attackers - whether literally or figuratively - it is our job to defend them in the end - to pay close attention and to say something is wrong no matter how small it may seem at the moment.

                The reason people like us keep going back to fascist history is that the era has so many commonalities with our own.  Our biggest problem now is that the people who remember the rise of fascism best are mostly dead and the others are being ignored.

    •  One of my friends in DC (3.80)
      worked for the Dept of Education in a staff role.  She came in under a Clinton appointee but stayed on when Bush came in, and did a good job for the new Bush-appointed director.  But after a while, an assistant director figured out she was not a Republican and started scheming to get rid of her.  They couldn't fire her, but eventually got her transferred to another department.  The good news is, she actually really likes the new department and they are delighted to have someone with her skills and experience.  But it is as you say, they got rid of her just because she was not a Republican.
      •  By comparison (none)
         When my brother was in the Air Force, my sister in law was a Bush the first appointment to be a convention coordinater. They were quite publically connected to that admin. my brother even worked in Cheney's office. FYI, they both used to be Republicans untill baby Bush rolled into town, they are now Dems. Anyway, when Clinton came into office my sis in law began preparing to leave her post. Clinton not only kept her on, but all the competent people she worked with.
    •  A perfect example-- (4.00)
      The DOJ has a program, called the "Honors Program" to hire freshly minted law school graduates as staff attorneys in its various divisions (civil, criminal, civil rights, antitrust, etc.).

      Prior to the current Bush administration, hiring in that program was strictly qualification driven -- grades, school, law review, moot courts, research assistantships.  You know -- the normal indicia of academic quality.  The result was a rather healthy balance of liberal/conservative positions in the lower level staff positions.

      Along comes the Bush administration, and Ashcroft centralizes hiring of Honors Program attorneys -- his office made the first cut, and then sent only those who made the cut to the various divisions for hiring.

      And what was the criteria for making Ashcroft's cut.  Let's just say having Federalist Society on your resume didn't hurt.  The result is that even the lower level of government positions were being remade into conservative shock troops.

      I understand replacing top level policy makers.  That is proper.  But to totally restructure the hiring process for all staff attorneys based on partisan ideology is not just wrong, it is a perfect example of Simplify's thought police metaphor.

      Think like the administration wants, and you get a plum job.  Have the ACS on your resume, thanks but no thanks.  

    •  I worked for the government (3.50)
      for three years, after being raised by a career DC civil servant. Despite all the Civil Service laws and supposed protections from that stuff, don't kid yourselves. There is rampant cronyism, and the ones in power (the secretaries, I mean) know just how to write up the SF-171 to make the desired candidate's qualifications match up EXACTLY with what (or who) they want. This was going on under the Reagan administration. I doubt it's ceased since then. After getting screwed over twice on Reductions-in-Force, filing a complaint and getting absolutely nowhere, and finally realizing that I belonged to the wrong side, I went into the public sector. I've been a lot happier ever since.
      •  Too bad...it makes so much sense, though. (none)
        Many of the 'good' people don't want to get down in the muck that has become Washington, D.C. I don't blame you; I wouldn't want to be in it, either.

        Bring them home. Now.

        by ilona on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 10:04:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is far more impressive than the Reagan era (none)
        You are in a good position to compare - except that you are in Seattle I take it.  I promise - I remember the Reagan era too - this goes far deeper than you can imagine - this system is not your typical cronyism or the inner-agency pettiness that rises up at each new administration - this stuff comes from the outside - seemingly the White House - which is weird to say the least.  

        We are talking middle managers that were moved quite quickly to the outside by the appointee.  

        You know from your experience how many middle managers there are in the Federal Government across all of the agencies.  All I can think is how did they get the list together so quickly?  I have this mental image of some GOPer sorting about a hundred garbage cans full of jelly beans - funny how that bring me back to Ronnie :)

    •  Wish I could give you a '"16" (none)
      Great comment
  •  Too bad the minders (4.00)
    couldn't keep Plame's identity secret.
    •  Rove doesn't have a minder... (4.00)
      ... is the conclusion you should draw from that. Neither does Cheney or Rummy. Bush is too dumb to let out in public without a script, so he has a minder (i.e., Cheney, staffers, script writers). We should look at older clips of Condi to see if we can find out who her minder is...
      Wow! That was almost tin-foil-hat!

      Many possibilities are open to you - work a little harder.

      by Rainman on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:11:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does anyone know (4.00)
    whether Roberts was on the panel of judges who decided to keep secret Cheney's energy meetings?  I am not sure but would believe that it was the DC Circuit that heard the case.

    Anyone know?

  •  One more example (4.00)
    This is just one more example of the Stalinist roots of the modern conservative movement, a fight fire with fire response born of terror of Stalinism.

    No wonder they are all cowards.  And control freaks.

    No wonder David Horowitz feels at home on the right-wing.

    The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

    by TarheelDem on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 05:46:25 AM PDT

    •  nail on the head, friend (none)
      "No wonder David Horowitz feels at home on the right-wing."

      It's a VERY easy transition from being a Stalinst to a modern Republican.

      All for the One Great Party.

      All for the One Great Leader.

      I've been saying for a while that we should push this parallel.  Put the "Nazi" stuff on ice, and let Godwin's law rule the land.  

      But smack them with "neo-Stalinist" -- always explaining why, of course.  The parallels are obvious, and we shouldn't be shy about making them.

      The Republicans are the neo-Stalinist party.

  •  overzealous minders (just a quip) (4.00)
    Stalin's nuns is what Hungarians used to call them.
    Sexist but appropriate, IMO.

    One way to fight them is serious ridicule or embarrassment. Or beating them at their own game.

    •  How? (4.00)
      How do you beat that game? Put your own "minder" on every minder assigned to you? Or just point at them and laugh, ensuring that you'll be kicked out of whatever event/hearing/press conf. you are attending?

      Many possibilities are open to you - work a little harder.

      by Rainman on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:12:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Make the story about the minders (4.00)
        I tried to cover the young republican's anti-cindy beer-bash, but they assigned me an escort that wasn't willing to do what normal escorts do.  Her job seemed mostly to remind the people I tried to interview that we were being watched....
        •  publicity (4.00)
          my remark was rather about zealots in general.

          About the minder situation I could list a few tips, based solely on my what I saw and heard when growing up in Ceausescu's Romania (and belonging to a rather persecuted minority there):

          -- making the thing as public as you can; they thrive on making people complicit in their silence, so they have to be OUTED;

          -- breaking out in an exaggerated pro-regime rant, so awful that it will make true believers blush;

          -- revealing too private details about yourself, e.g. when followed into the bathroom; if they have the tiniest bit of decency they'll be embarrassed;
          my own real life anecdote: whenever I crossed the border from/to Romania, I made sure all my dirty underwear was the first thing the customs official saw. YUCK!

          -- outing the minder by e.g. including him/her in the conversation, asking for his/her own opinions,
          whom to talk to next, and so on;

           another anecdote: in the late '80's my father was followed by secret police agents wherever he went; one day he approached the guy and asked him if he remembered which day the previous week he (my father) had been out of town, 'cause he forgot; the guy replied in dead earnest: I don't remember, sir, I wasn't on duty then;

          -- if the minder is a shameless brute, these subtle interactions will not work; pulling rank
          or dropping names might.

          What's most important, IMHO, is not to accept such situations in any way, avoid getting used to them, and avoid working out conciliatory methods to "get by".

          Other than that, there are always the lessons of Polish philosopher Adam Michnik.

          •  Co-opting the minders (3.71)
            another anecdote: in the late '80's my father was followed by secret police agents wherever he went; one day he approached the guy and asked him if he remembered which day the previous week he (my father) had been out of town, 'cause he forgot; the guy replied in dead earnest: I don't remember, sir, I wasn't on duty then

            Reporters end up identifying with their sources and spies with their targets. Maybe the thing to do is to be as genuinely friendly as possible to the minders, to capitalize on their ordinary human tendency to identify the people they're trailing.

            Also, I remember reading an article in the Forward  about the daughter of one of the Soviet Union's top censors. The mom censored foreign correspondents' stories thoroughly, for years, but she hated the Soviet regime. One strategy might be to figure out ways to empower decent people lurking inside the totalitarian machine.

            And I think that we do have a counterpart to that here. In our system, most people who read and write well are liberal or moderate, simply because having a good education tends to make people reasonably tolerant. The result is that the Republican party machine is probably full of closet moderates and even progressives who are doing things like organizing public opinion polls and writing press releases. The question is how you get those people out of the closet in a useful way.

      •  If everyone defies the minders, (3.66)
        they will not be able to control the situation.  They can't kick everyone out.  The problem is that there are enough weak-willed and/or partisan hacks in the media that are willing to go along with this garbage that you can't trust everyone to challenge the Admin.  Appealing to people's sense of decency and rightness has become a leap of faith.

        Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it. -- Mark Twain

        by GTPinNJ on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:27:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Doublethink... (4.00)
    ...doublethink pure and simple.  That's what's got the middle-aged woman filled with so much zeal.  Of course the thing about doublethink, is that the afflicted never seem to realize how their particular brand resembles others' brands, especially when the others have supposed diametrically opposed political philosophies.

    Ah well, it's the logical conclusion to the path Bushco has set us down.  Our only hope is that Fitz blasts this wide open before some catastrophe occurs that given them excuse to declare Martial law.  (which is NOT tinfoil, btw, Northern Command is currently working on a draft proposal for the Pentagon, as was reported on CNN on Monday)

  •  The major difference between thought police (3.80)
    in the US today and the old East European countries is that here, compliance is bought with money, there it was bought by extortion - "if you speak out, we will send your father back to Siberia".  Both regimes force compliance and punish the exercise of free speech.  This is what we have come to.

    Back in 1986, I visited the showplace of the then-Eastern Bloc system, East Berlin.  It was an eye-opener for me.  Folks were waiting in long lines even to see the cheap goods for sale - and this was their showplace!  It occurred to me then, that those folks were kept in line, literally and figuratively, by the lack of consumer goods, and in the US, we were being "kept in line" by the overwhelming choices artificially hyped by our system.  We were both being controlled by the selling of stuff.

    2 sides of the coin of oppression...

    I donated to ePluribus Media. Support citizen journalism!

    by dksbook on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:31:32 AM PDT

  •  I cannot state here (3.88)
    for fear of prosecution the fate which would befall the "minders" (oxymoron) or anyone else who behaved in such a manner towards me.

    Suffice it to say that their "minding" days would be over.

    These people are pure fascists, folks.  They have no use for democracy, truth, or honor.  They would rather those who stand in the way of their grand designs not exist.  We are the enemy to them.

    Treat them accordingly.  Treat them with the disdain  and venom with which you would treat an avowed Stalinist, Maoist, Islamofascist or Nazi.  They are all the same.

  •  So the GOP joins the proud ranks... (4.00)
    ...of Saddam Hussein, the North Korean government, and tin-plated dictators everywhere, across time:  obsessive about grabbing and keeping power; paranoid about losing it.

    It was ever thus with petty tyrants.  The Roman satitical poet Juvenal asked this question about the tyrants of his own day:

    Quis custodiet custodes ipsos?

    ("Who will watch the watchers themselves?")

  •  This is doubleplusungood!!! (none)
    The Minders have been discovered!!! Now the Commander will have us removed!
  •  it's been headed this way a long time (3.50)
    anyone who's read/listened to noam chomsky will realize this. in fact, his take on national predidential elections is that it's a giant state sponsored scam every four years just to feed the illusion that we have some participation in the military-industrial complex.

    my take is that kerry had to win. dean couldn't. kerry was bush lite. sorry folks. carter was the last "liberal".

    Do it GREEN, know what I mean?

    by SonofFunk on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:53:49 AM PDT

  •  kind of off-topic but (none)
    what ever happened to those faux secret service gop minders who kicked those folks out of the bush social security event because of their bumper stickker?
  •  paper ballot voting (3.75)
    You could almost argue that it's important to American cultural heritage to retain paper ballots.  The concept of equal rights (though it still hasn't been completely realized) is, in part, what this country was founded on.  You could make an argument that paper balloting, while less "convenient" than electronic touch screens with no paper trail, honors the legacy of our nation's founding.

    I voted for Kerry and all I got was this stupid President.

    by grrtigger on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 07:55:50 AM PDT

  •  truly spooky (none)
    Nice work tying this together, and making usable suggestions, too.
  •  Sounds Like Scientology (4.00)
    ...At least that's the most recent case of "minders" in the media.

    Yes, one day people are saying bag searches are fine, the slippery slope is a myth. Then the next day they take a dismissive view to the pre-ordained shooting several times in the head of an innocent man in London. We must crush violations of free thought and liberites where we see them when we first see them, because they are like cockroaches, multiplying in the dark.

    Step outside of two-dimensional politics.

    by NewDirection on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 08:02:37 AM PDT

  •  IN 2008 (none)
    We will find out, conclusively, whether Presidential elections are rigged.

    If they are, lock your doors, because the shit is going to hit the fan.

  •  It's this kind of thing (3.75)
    that I am shocked Americans will tolerate.  I mean, the "normal" ones in Nebraska and Colorado who drive big cars and watch a lot of sports on TV and believe Cheerleading is a lifelong goal and accomplishment......... it's this disrespect for freedom of speech, the fake news, the fake political rallies, the little box that fed Bush the answers during the debates... how can even "normal" Americans tolerate this kind of fascism.  It's straight out of Stallinist Russia, for Chry-eye!  
  •  Just skimmed the article (4.00)
    Before I came here and that is very scary. As a thinking American, I am concerned--rightfully, I believe.  The most pathetic thing is that the GOP minions will unthinkingly say something like, "If you have nothing to hide, they shouldn't bother you."
  •  The power of fear (4.00)
    This kind of shit is scary, but you know what? It has a huge constituency. Increasingly, I'm convinced that the political divide is not so much one of ideology but between Hobbesian fraidy-cats, convinced that the forces of anarchy will strangle them in their bed if they don't pay sufficient homage to a strong leader, and the rest of us. Conservatives, put simply, are chickenshits. For all their talk about realism and adultness, they're all just scared little children looking for the stern daddy figure they never had. They're terrified, not so much of terror but of the messiness and capriciousness of life. That's what makes them retreat to their tidy exurban hamlets, dress themselves up in the vestments of piousness and cry that they're besieged by the world. In their crazy little minds, they are.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

    by Septic Tank on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 08:37:25 AM PDT

    •  Fealty under fear (none)
      I read recently of a pro-war Republican saying "He's our president and he knows stuff we don't know."

      They want, no, they need to keep the populace frightened and uneducated. Anyone notice the funding for civic education programs in Bush's budget? All zeroed out.

    •  Small boxes (none)
      I have reached the same conclusion recently.  I suspect fear seals off minds into small boxes.  They need extreme structure to function.   I suspect there are large numbers of people who need authoritarism-someone to tell them what to do and ensure that no one does more than they.
      •  Small boxes (none)
        The religious right's fundamentalistic views on religion...'leave your brain at the door we will interpret God's message for you' reinforces the small mindedness of the right.  Their concept of everything being black or white also speaks to their need for extreme structure...thus the Stepford Wife attitude.

        MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: IRAQ IS BROKEN

        by martik on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 10:47:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well Said, Tank (4.00)

      I become more convinced everyday that the way to take back our country is for each of us to make the conscious, adult choice to stand up and say, I AM NOT AFRAID!.

      I don't mean macho posturing-- let the Rs have that field-- I mean grabbing ahold of the courage of our convictions that a free, diverse, and equal America is the only acceptable choice and acting like it in our daily lives. By pulling in our stomachs to avoid getting squeezed when the facist parade marches by, we only make ourselves and our America smaller. FUCK THAT!

      The Right's chest-thumping and boot-stamping-on-a-human-face-forever tactics are only distractions from, and over-compensations for, their basic cowardace. It all bullshit. Love, equality, compassion, peace, consideration-- these require real courage. We must remmber this, and keep reminding one another when we falter.

      Remember, too: the more a person walls themselves in to "protect" themselves from something they are afraid of, the longer the fear goes unchallenged and the more fearful they become. Security is an addiction and every bar on every window in every gated community across the nation is a monument to how far the Right as been able to drive us deeper into the fear/security habit.

      We can break the cycle and lead America back to its senses-- not by emulating the Right's paper-tiger "tough on X" cowardace, nor by generating new "values-friendly" policy documents-- but by showing real strength and living the freedoms that are our birthright as Americans and human beings.

      We can lead this country out from the fog of terror, but only by being the ones that walk out into the light, hold hands with the ones we love and whisper, "we are not afraid".

      As long as the prerequisite for that shining Paradise is ignorance, bigotry, and hate... I say the Hell with it. --Inherit the Wind

      by kingubu on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 10:38:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  straight to my heart, kingubu (none)
        beautifully, beautifully said.  Thank you.

        Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

        by station wagon on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 11:03:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  beautiful (none)
        "I become more convinced everyday that the way to take back our country is for each of us to make the conscious, adult choice to stand up and say, I AM NOT AFRAID!"

        Very inspriting, thank you.  And exactly right.

        They try to rule through fear.  When we no longer have any fear, they're through.

    •  FDR v. GWB (none)
      What was true for FDR in the darkest days of the Second World War was true on 9/11: We had only to fear fear itself.
      The hijackers could kill a couple thousand of us and bring down a couple grand buildings, but hundreds of millions of us remained, and more importantly, so did our institutions -- our Constitution and the democracy it enthrones.
      But OBL knew his man. He chose as his weapon not planes or bombs, but the fear of a people easily manipulated and the will of their weakminded rulers to manipulate them. In our fear, we've let them rip the Constitution to shreds. We've let our democracy slide into the sea. And still, four years later, as we groggily shake our heads and wonder at the destruction around us, there's Dubya hollering: "Fear! Fire! Foes! Flee! Run for the hills! Smoking guns! Mushroom clouds! Bad, bad men! Don't get smart with me or ask any questions, and daddy just might protect you!"
      I wonder, when all is said and done, whether any of those scared Americans (closely related to Good Germans) will be able to take an honest assessment of what's just happened. Probably, they'll just blame the bloggers and the nonexistant protestors.

      "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

      by Septic Tank on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 11:16:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A comment as bookmark... (none)
      ... for your incredible observation.

      Your statements have the ring of truth for me, what else would trump other issues that are seemingly in most people's self-interest.

      Fear is the mind killer...

  •  Oh the hypocricy (3.80)
    This was exactly the Bushco administrations complaint about Iraq when the UN WMD teams were over there interviewing scientists et al about potential WMD and Sadaam's gov't insisted on having minders present for every interview.  
  •  I object! (none)
    I find, in the context of an analysis of Bush administration soviet-style paranoia, the use of the words "Thought" and "Minders" to be far to gracious.

    I think the word "Thoughtless" and the phrase "Mindless Chaperones" would be more pleasing.

  •  Good afternoon, comrades! (4.00)
    Great diary.

    They might as well go ahead and put political officers on our submarines, since we're fast becoming the Soviet Union that we once tried to destroy.

    Great minds think alike: Jesse at Pandagon has come to a very similar conclusion this morning.

  •  Be very careful! (4.00)
    Somebody in the basement below the White House is transcribing every word we write here -- and as soon as they can find an English translator for Bush, we're in big trouble.
  •  Comment on the obvious... (4.00)
    Excellent first diary! I hope you write a lot more diaries, BTW.

    Your last 2 paras sum it up for me. Totally. Especially this quote:

    Say the obvious, because the obvious is much maligned these days.  Remind elected officials what the Constitution says.

    I think, in part, "the obvious is much maligned these days," b/c it is also the truth, and truth, in any form, is lethal, absolutely lethal, to those who want, and are trying desperately, to turn our country into a fascist regime.

    JM5CW...

    I Support the Separation of Church and Hate...
    Rev Denise Michel
    revdenisemichel@yahoo.com

    by rev denise michel on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 09:58:49 AM PDT

  •  Wow, wonderful job on your diary.... (none)
    I spent most summers from '72 - '84 in Soviet-ruled Hungary, visiting with relatives (my parents immigrated from there following my Dad's taking part in the Revolution of '56). Spending 3 months out of the year over there, I was able to see up-close what it was like to live in a society dominated by party-line propaganda. How refreshing it always was to arrive back in America back then.

    I am completely alarmed whenever I turn on the TV today or pick up a newspaper. It feels just like watching the 'news' in Hungary under Communism did, just like reading Budapest's daily 'newspaper' -- with a few notable cultural differences.

    Thank you for posting solutions/answers. I hope we'll be able to implement them.

    Bring them home. Now.

    by ilona on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 10:21:32 AM PDT

  •  I'm sure the next step (none)
    will be "minders" in your children's classrooms.  Ya' know, to make sure that evil science stuff doesn't get taken too seriously.

    You can't claim supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

    by Magnus Greel on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 10:52:07 AM PDT

    •  in my daughter's 6th grade science class (none)
      last year, a fellow student would strenuously object when the teacher presented anything having to do with evolution.  The kids can be minders, too.  She probably went home for dinner and spoke proudly about hijacking the lesson.

      Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

      by station wagon on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 11:11:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Auggh (none)
        Having flashes of the movie "Equilibrium" when the little boy is reciting the rules of the country and the father is afraid that the kid will report on him for not taking his meds.

        AAUUGGHHHH!!!

        "Babble, Babble, Bitch, Bitch, Rebel, Rebel,Party, Party, sex, sex, sex and don't forget the violence...." Marilyn Manson " www.cafepress.com/katsideas

        by Chaoslillith on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 11:39:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Two points of (nerdy) information. (none)
    1. This is an incorrect use of the term 'thought police' as it was originally used by Orwell in 1984. Ingsoc recognized that crime is the product of a certain mode of thinking, and so the Thought Police sought out people committing 'thought crime,' which is engaging in the kind of thinking that led to crime. It is highly unlikely that Bush or even a WaPo reporter are committing thought crime. O'Reilly, on the other hand, is advocating a form of thought police by saying judges who protect the rights of the accused are aiding the terrorists, as he is associating a way of thought (inalienable rights, those wacky founding fathers) with the creation of crime.

    2. it is incorrect to call our current leaders Stalinist, as Stalinism is characterized by state ownership of the economy. The GOP (and even the Democrats) are more correctly called fascist, as they combine the authoritarian government policies with a government run by the economy, rather than a state run economy.
  •  Excellent (none)
    and terrifying.  I've often thought that if these neocon fascists get their way, all of us posting here will be going to Siberia.

    That, as you point out, is why we MUST post.  MUST speak out.

    They don't have the same power when you are REALLY not afraid of them.

    "Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by hopesprings on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 11:38:13 AM PDT

  •  thought police or just controlling the message? (none)
    Hate crimes are the thought police - literally being punished for what you were thinking. And hate crimes are a contribution of liberals.  

    What this sounds like to me is just more of the same; a well oiled PR machine with very strict adherence to staying on-point at all times.  Controlling the message is what has made the right wing machine so effective - frame the issues, and repeat the talking ponts, ad naseum, without straying from them.  The average voters (a.k.a. morons) respond well to repetition, just like pavlov's dog. The left doesn't seem to repeat the same talking points word for word on every possible outlet, therefore feuling the perception out there that the left has no ideas of it's own.

    The revolution will not be televised

    by Uranus Hz on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 11:59:24 AM PDT

  •  Drumroll (none)
    I am proud to link to DovBear's comment on this topic. This is the first time I have linked to DB in any forums other than C&J.

    "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?" (Hillel was a liberal)

    by 4jkb4ia on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 12:11:45 PM PDT

  •  Unfortunately...... (none)
    I am pessimistic that demcocracy can actually be revived without a serious crisis, such as a depression. This is because all of the levers of power are in the hands of what I will call neo-fascists. This includes:
    1. Wealth
    2. Media
    3. Congress
    4. Federal and state courts
    5. Military
    6. Executive branch
    7. Militant religio-fascists
    8. Police agencies - federal and local
    9. Intelligence agencies
    10.Assorted right wing brown shirts

    In addition the American people to a great degree are somnabulent or working too hard and do not have the time or desire to do anything about this.

    Those without much knowledge of how close the US came to becoming a fascist republic should re-read US history re the turn of the last century and the great post on this site re the attempted coup against Roosevelt. However, even with this there were institutions in place to prevent a total collapse. Would also suggest the White Rose Society website for some more detail.

    The institutions are so corrupted today that these protections do not exist. At no point in American history have so many forces been aligned at once against democracy, except possibly in the South during the period from the 1880's to the 1940's.

    Note that I am not particularly left wing and would consider myself a radical moderate. Definitely am not a hard core left winger, but am definitely anti-fascist.

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