Thursday, November 01, 2007

October 24-October 31, 2007

Octomber 29, 2007

Pursue Them
Pursue Them to The Grave

Those us of a certain age have been here and done this before. And many of us wonder how we could possibly allowed ourselves to be sucked into it again. And then it dawned on me this weekend -- the one critical thing we did not learn from our disastrous Vietnam experience. It's not what we did, but what we failed to do. And that one thing is the reason for nearly everything that's gone so terribly wrong in Iraq and our so-called "war on terror."

Got your pen? Because we can't afford to ever for this again. Okay, here it is:

Accountability -- personal, civil, criminal and international accountability.

We forced just that on Nazi government, officials, military and collaborators after WW II. And we insisted on it for the Khmer Rouge butchers of Cambodia. We even imposed it on the leaders we deposed in Iraq who are, one by one, being tried and hung for the crimes they committed against Shiites in Iraq.

But nothing even close to that happened to the men who trumped up and executed the war in Vietnam. The only accountability they've faced has been easily dismissed rhetorical scoldings. Instead of facing their accusers in a court of law they were allowed to go on with their lives as if the blood of thousands wasn't virtually dripping from their hands.

Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and other's in the Johnson and Nixon administrations actually went on to advise other presidents and continue to live the good life unmolested -- un-prosecuted.

It's a fact of history that undoubtedly gave considerable aid and comfort to officials of the current administration. Great comfort must have been provided by the sight of Henry Kissinger popping in and out of the Bush White House and McNamara appearing on panels with academic and other former government officials. Those two men alone are responsible for the deaths of more civilians than Saddam Hussein's entire bloody career. Yet nearly 40 after their crime spree, they walk free, respected, included, wealthy.

Which is, I believe, precisely why the current bunch in power didn't give a second thought to creating their own Gulf of Tonkin lies to justify attacking Iraq -- (remember those non-existent stockpiles of WMD?) And it's the reason why they've lost no sleep over violating the legal rights of detainees, kidnapping people around the world and even embracing torture.

After all, it had all been done during the Vietnam War -- no one got busted -- so what's the sweat?

I would suggest -- and strongly so -- that the core reason our soldiers are now bogged down in Iraq, 35-years years after the last US soldier died for our "mistake" in Vietnam, is because no one was ever held legally accountable for the crimes committed during that illegal and immoral war.

Henry Kissinger, the key architect of Nixon's Vietnam strategy, has never been forced to raise his hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- then forced to do so. He and others involved have instead been allowed to go their merry ways. They've been allowed to hide behind "national security," and incriminating documents that, to this day, remain "classified." (See also Chris Hitchens: "The Trial of Henry Kissinger")

None of that would have gotten past the panel of judges in Nuremberg 60-years ago. Nazi government officials and their collaborators in the business community had accountability forced on them. They had to confront and try to justify their own words, their own orders, their own crimes.

Which may well be why we've not seen a repeat of that kind of behavior by European governments since. The last thing politicians or military leaders want is to risk is forced accountability... something that could lead to prison, poverty or even a stretched neck. (Though I am forced to admit that some ex-officials of the former Yugoslavia required -- and are getting -- a refresher course now at the Hague. But even that makes my point because, there at least, forced accountability is what's being served up to those who so richly deserve it.)

Finally the end of our latest war of choice, the one in Iraq, is slowly limping into sight. It will end, and when it does, let's see if we can get the post-war part of this sorry saga right this time. By which I mean that the men and women who created and carried out this murderous mess must pay personally.

We must, insure that this never happens again. And the only way to insure that is to let the next generation of leaders -- and all that follow -- know for certain they are not above the law -- not above the law of this land, not above the Geneva Conventions and not above the reach of their victims.

If you want your grandkids dying in the next Vietnam or Iraq then do nothing and they will. Let Bush administration officials leave office on January 21, 2009 to pursue normal lives and we will assure another Vietnam, and another Iraq, and another, and another...

The only way to make sure that is not the future we hand to our kids and grandkids is for you and I and the international community to dedicate ourselves to the notion that January 21, 2009 is not the end of anything, but just the beginning. To pledge we will pursue civil and criminal justice against the men and women directly and personally responsible for the crimes committed in Iraq -- and right here at home.

And if that means pursuing them to their graves, as the citizens of Chile have done to General Pinochet, well -- bring it on.

This just in from France
Home of "Freedom Fries."

Rumsfeld Flees France Fearing Arrest

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France today fearing arrest over charges of “ordering and authorizing” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.

US embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

According to activists in France, who greeted Rumsfeld shouting “murderer” and “war criminal” at the breakfast meeting venue, US embassy officials remained tight-lipped about the former defense secretary’s whereabouts citing “security reasons”.

Anti-torture protesters in France believe that the defense secretary fled over the open border to Germany, where a war crimes case against Rumsfeld was dismissed by a federal court. But activist point out that under the Schengen agreement that ended border checkpoints across a large part of the European Union, French law enforcement agents are allowed to cross the border into Germany in pursuit of a fleeing fugitive.

“Rumsfeld must be feeling how Saddam Hussein felt when US forces were hunting him down,” activist Tanguy Richard said. “He may never end up being hanged like his old friend, but he must learn that in the civilized world, war crime doesn’t pay.”

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) filed the complaint on Thursday after learning that Rumsfeld was scheduled to visit Paris.

NOW! That's what I'm talkin' about!

October 24, 2007

America desperately needs a skunkworks

Skunkworks Definition: A skunkworks is a group of people who, in order to achieve unusual results, work on a project in a way that is outside the usual rules. A skunkworks is often a small team that assumes or is given responsibility for developing something in a short time with minimal management constraints. Typically, a skunkworks has a small number of members in order to reduce communications overhead. A skunkworks is sometimes used to spearhead a product design that thereafter will be developed according to the usual process. A skunkworks project may be secret. (Source)

Size, of course, is relative to the size of the organization that discovers it needs people thinking outside the box. The Manhattan Project, for example, was a skunkworks.

At the same time the Manhattan Project Skunkworks was formed Lockheed created its own skunkworks (circa 1943) when the US discovered it was no longer the leading force in fighter aircraft design. The Germans, they learned, were well along developing the first jet fighter. The Lockheed skunkworks came up with America's first jet fighter, the P-80, just 143 days after the skunkworks was formed.

The magic of a skunkworks is that it breaks great minds free from calcified, rule-bound, special interest -afflected, group-think crippled organizations. And if ever there was an organization that fits that description today, it's the USA itself.

Democrats, Republicans, Independents of various stripes have proven themselves either impotent, corrupt or just plain stupid when it comes to dealing with the very real dangers facing the US, the world and the very planet we live on. Viewed from a safe distance Congress and Executive Branch appear to be about as relevant or useful as the United Nations – lots of talk, lots of posturing, lots of bullshit, very little real solutions. The entire governing mechanism seems to have become stuck in what a computer programmer would recognize as an endless loop. It just keeps repeating itself, day in, day out, year in year out, party in, party out. And hitting "reset" every two or four years only seems to boot us all right back into that loop again.

Meanwhile the problems we hired politicians to fix just keep getting worse. Unless someone comes up with new solutions to these old problems one of these days one of those problems --- loose nukes, global warming, dwindling fresh water supplies, etc, etc, -- is going to get us all killed.

So, why not a national skunkworks? Here's my suggestion.

Take, California, Oregon and Washington state and cut them loose for 25-years. I am not suggesting secession from the Union – just a time out. Give those 3 states a 25-year leave of absence from the Union. During that time the feds would get out of the way and while this Skunkworks comes up with fresh solutions to the most serious, potentially deadly and intractable problems facing the nation and the world today:
  • How can a nation provide adequate healthcare to all its citizens, blending the strengths of the private sector with the stability and democratic mechanism of government, and do so without bankrupting both.
  • How can we fuel a 21st century economy and modern lifestyle without relying on 19th and 20th century, non-renewable and planet-threatening fossil fuels?
  • How can we quickly reduce human-produced greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining a sustainable modern standard of living and without bankrupting private sector enterprise?
  • How do we balance the imperatives of mass population shifts (immigration) with the immutable realities of finite resources, private and governmental services, agriculture, jobs and living space?
  • How can we develop fair, sustainable trade with other nations without encouraging environmental devastation in developing nations and exploiting their workers while devastating job opportunities here at home?
  • Explore way we can either revitalize or replace the current two-party political establishment. which now functions only to sustain itself, increasingly at the expense of the nation itself.
  • Explore how a nation can reasonable secure itself and protect it's citizen, and while enhancing and expanding individual freedom rather than persistently rolling those freedoms back.
I'm sure you could add to that "to-do"list, but those I listed will be tough enough. That's why I set the time at 25-years. It's going to take a lot of tinkering with the innards of government, industry, education, medicine and transportation. And each one of those areas are jealously guarded by "Revolutionary Guards of The Status Quo" who are as crazy, devious and stubborn as any Ayatollahs you'll ever meet.

I understand that cutting three western states loose for a quarter century is more than “outside the box.” It's more like “outta your mind!?” But think about it. There's something in this idea for everyone.

For example, conservatives get all misty-eyed when they discuss “choice” in education. They've argue, often persuasively, that the public school system needs a healthy dose of competition from private and charter schools. And they argue that taxpayer money should be used to create that competition by giving parents vouchers to pay for it.

Why? Because, conservatives explain, the entire national education system is held captive by special interests; teacher unions, schoolbook publishers, school district administrators and outmoded teaching methods. And, that the only way to change that is to let parents use federal money to pay for outside that box charter and private schools – schools that would be freed of the entrenched educational bureaucracy, allowed to make their own rules, try new teaching techniques. In other words, Skunkworks schools.

Look, whether you are a conservative or a liberal, you and I both know that our government has ceased to function. Worse than that, it has ceased to function for so long now that its forgotten how to. When it tries to function it either makes things worse or the solutions they impose to fix one problem creates an even bigger mess somewhere else.

So, if we need “choice” in education, why not in government too? Why not a national skunkworks made up of an entire region -- the West coast?

When things are run by an entrenched, self-sustaining bureaucracy there really is only one way to break free, and that's to break free. After all, how can people think outside the box when they are not allowed outside that box?

Even old-line communists understand that. When the leaders of Communist China saw the writing on the all for communism they created enterprise zones – economic and social skunkworks. Those pioneering regions smoothed a transition that could have otherwise turned very ugly, easing China's transition from commie to capitalist. And it worked pretty good. Today they're kicking our capitalist asses.

By turning loose the three western states, California, Oregon and Washington, we would create a 21st century Manhattan Project on a massive scale. Within the borders of these states are all the resources -- financial, agricultural, industrial, political, industrial and intellectual -- required to survive and thrive on their own.

Since this is my idea I claim naming rights. I hereby christen this national skunkworks, “Pacifica.”

While the devil in such things is always in the details, I think we can agree on a few fundamental skunkwork rules:

  • With very few exceptions the federal government would have no say whatsoever about what happens in Pacifica.
  • No federal taxes would be paid by Pacifica residents,
  • No federal money would flow from Washington to finance Pacifica's operations or infrastructure.
  • Residents of the three states would continue paying their usual state taxes but the federal tax would be replaced by a tax to fund Pacifica's skunk works activities. (The only money Pacifica would send to the IRS would be payment for direct services negotiated and contracted by Pacifica with the feds.)
  • Pacifica would pay Washington an annual fee to cover Pacifica's share of national defense.
How would Pacifica be governed? What role governors and state legislatures play? Would the Pacifica skunkworks need an over all “board of directors” comprised of representatives from industry, banking, government, healthcare and citizen-members representing the interests of environmental, youth, the aged and workers, etc? How would such board members be selected/elected? How would we keep the corrupting influence of big money from perverting the whole process? All good questions that would each require the right answer.

I would argue that it was a dynamic form of skunkworks that created the late, great US of A in the first place. Of course, they didn't call it a skunkworks. It was called “the Wild West.” But it functioned exactly in the way a skunkworks is intended to function. The entrenched federal forces exercised only the most tenuous control over what settlers west of the Mississippi were up to. Instead settlers experimented with what I call “wild cat innovation.” They made plenty of mistakes but, since their lives often depended on finding sustainable solutions, they eventually did, and those "proofs of concept" working solutions were later institutionalized.

Once the Union was complete and railroads and telegraph installed, the Wild West Skunkworks was shut down. One could argue that it was at that moment the seeds of stagnation began to germinate.

I only propose such a radical (and unlikely) proposition because I am at loss to come up with anything short of that. I've exhausted my last gram of faith or hope that the current two-party farce will -- or even can any longer -- function for the common good.

October 12, 2007

Ich bin ein Berliner
(That goes for you too.)

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
-- Justice William O. Douglas

I was born the very day World War II ended. My fellow postwar “Baby Boomers” grew up on old black and white documentaries of that war and the events leading up to it. But those films never really answered the most important question, a question that has nagged me, and I suspect most of my generation

How did Germany and the German people become the Mrs. O'Leary's cow of an entire continent? How could a culture, re-formed during the Renaissance, create a horror like Auschwitz?

How does something that extraordinary happen? It's a question that has not only burdened American Baby Boomers, but three generations of postwar Germans as well. But for them it's much more than just a historical curiosity. For postwar Germans it's also been a nagging sense of collective guilt – guilt about events they had nothing to do with, but guilt nonetheless. It's a guilt built on the realization that their parents and grand parents either participated in, supported and/or enabled what happened over half a century ago -- or, at the very least, did nothing to prevent or stop it.

Of course the fascist rulers of the Third Reich ruled with a heavy hand. So it's not hard to understand why so many Germans simply laid low rather than oppose the regime.

“Nazi terror from above and the demise of the rule of law started just a few days after Hitler's assumption of power in January 1933. The penalties of opposition became higher and higher. In the first nine months alone, at least 100,000 people, most of them leftist Germans, were thrown into hastily erected concentration camps. Others ended up in ordinary prisons and many died. Countless more were roughed up by rampaging brownshirts in broad daylight or taken into police custody on trumped-up political charges. By 1936, a brutal police state had penetrated virtually all spheres of life.” ( New York Times books.)

While the rules have tightened here since 9/11, we've not experienced anything near that scale. Speaking out is remains a survivable exercise.

Which begs the question; what will be our excuse? How will we explain the things we've allowed this administration to get away with -- the torture, the “renditions,” the secret prisons, the warrant-less wiretapping, the lies we and our media allowed to stand? What are we going to tell our grand children when they ask us what the hell we were thinking, feeling and doing while all that was afoot?

I understand it's against the rules of polite society to recklessly throw the “f” word around by comparing anything that's happening today to the kind of atrocities that occurred under Hitler. It''s even worse to compare any contemporary American political/religious/social leader to Hitler.

So I won't. I won't go that far, because it hasn't gone that far – yet.

What I have been doing though is cracking history books and trying to suss out an answer to that original question – the one that wonders how well-educated, forward-looking modern pre-war Germans could so quickly devolve intp the most evil nation on the planet.

I don't ask you to accept that there are any genuine corollaries between the events that led to Germany's decent into fascism and what's been going on in America over the last few years. I only ask that you consider the events back then and the events we are living through now. I think you will agree that, at the very least there are spooky similarities – and , at the very worst, there are striking similarities.

Either way, there are valuable lessons to be learned, mistakes to be avoided and, maybe, just maybe, warnings worth heeding.

Germany And Then
Here and Now
Use events to restrict legal rights, like Habeas Corpus:
On the night of February 27, 1933 the Reichstag building was set on fire. The unnerved public was told the fire had been a signal meant to initiate a communist revolution. The Nazis found the event to be of immeasurable value in getting rid of potential insurgents. The event was quickly followed by the Reichstag Fire Decree, rescinding habeas corpus and other civil liberties. (1)
Adminstration Questions Habeas Corpus

In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American. (2)
Use events to expand executive branch powers new powers:
Just 30 days after fire destroyed the Reichstag, German legislators were convinced to pass the Enabling Act of 1933. It passed with 444 votes, to the 94 of the remaining Social Democrats. The act gave the government (and thus effectively the Nazi Party) legislative powers and also authorized it to deviate from the provisions of the constitution. With these powers, Hitler removed the remaining opposition and turned the Weimar Republic into the "Third Reich". (3)
After 9/11 US passes Patriot Act:
Just 45 days after the September 11 attacks, with virtually no debate, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. There are significant flaws in the Patriot Act, flaws that threaten your fundamental freedoms by giving the government the power to access to your medical records, tax records, information about the books you buy or borrow without probable cause, and the power to break into your home and conduct secret searches without telling you for weeks, months, or indefinitely. (4)
Consolidate federal power:

Further consolidation of power was achieved on 30 January 1934, with the Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reichs (Act to rebuild the Reich). The act changed the highly decentralized federal Germany of the Weimar era into a centralized state. It disbanded state parliaments, transferring sovereign rights of the states to the Reich central government and put the state administrations under the control of the Reich administration. (5)

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency. (6)
Reduce the influence of the national military by creating an independent force.
The German army had traditionally been separated from the government and somewhat of an entity of its own. The Nazi paramilitary SA expected top positions in the new power structure and wanted the regime to follow through its promise of enacting socialist legislation for Aryan Germans. Wanting to preserve good relations with the army and the major industries who were weary of more political violence erupting from the SA, on the night of 30 June 1934, Hitler initiated the violent Night of the Long Knives, a purge of the leadership ranks of Röhm's SA as well as socialist-leaning Nazis (Strasserists), and other political enemies, carried out by another, more elitist, Nazi organization, the SS. (7)

Privitization of US military operations

Blackwater USA is a private military company. It has alternatively been referred to as a security contractor or a mercenary organization by numerous reports in the international media. Blackwater is based in the U.S. state of North Carolina, where it operates a tactical training facility that it claims is the world's largest. The company trains more than 40,000 people a year, from all the military services and a variety of other agencies. The company markets itself as being "The most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world." (8)
Replace regional civil law enforcement with a nationalized police force.
The inception of the Gestapo, police acting outside of any civil authority, highlighted the Nazis' intention to use powerful, coercive means to directly control German society. Soon, an army estimated to be of about 100,000 spies and informants operated throughout Germany, reporting to Nazi officials the activities of any critics or dissenters. Most ordinary Germans, happy with the improving economy and better standard of living, remained obedient and quiet, but many political opponents, especially communists and Marxist or international socialists, were reported by omnipresent eavesdropping spies and put in prison camps where many were tortured and killed. It is estimated that tens of thousands of political victims died or disappeared in the first few years of Nazi rule. (9)
Authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
"All authorities and functions of the Department of Homeland Security to administer and enforce the immigration laws are vested in the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Secretary of Homeland Security may, in the Secretary's discretion, delegate any such authority or function to any official, officer, or employee of the Department of Homeland Security, including delegation through successive redelegation, or to any employee of the United States to the extent authorized by law. Such delegation may be made by regulation, directive, memorandum, or other means as deemed appropriate by the Secretary in the exercise of the Secretary's discretion. A delegation of authority or function may in the Secretary's discretion be published in the Federal Register, but such publication is not required." (10)
Make militarism pay.
Nazi rationale invested heavily in the militarist belief that great nations grow from military power and maintained order, which in turn grow "naturally" from "rational, civilized cultures". The Nazi Party appealed to German nationalists and national pride. ... Many companies dealt with the Third Reich. Volkswagen was a Nazi project. Opel employed Jewish slave labour to run their industrial plants. Additionally, Daimler-Benz used prisoners of war as slaves to run their industrial plants. Other companies that dealt with the Third Reich—many of which claim not to have known the truth of what the Nazis were doing —were: BMW,[55] Krupp (made gas chambers), Bayer (as a small part of the enormous IG Farben chemistry monopoly), and Hugo Boss (designed the SS uniforms, admitted to this in 1997). (11)
Defense Contractor CEO Pay Up 200 Percent Since 9/11
The ratio between CEO and worker pay across the market climbs to 431 : 1, up from 301 : 1 last year, according to a new CEO pay study from United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies. The report, which surveys 367 leading US corporations, focuses particularly on 34 of the top 100 defense contractors in 2004 with 10 percent or more of their revenues from defense contracts. It finds "a trend towards individual war profiteering by CEOs," with CEO pay at these companies rising 200 percent from 2001 to 2004. Stepping back to look at across-the-board comparisons, the ratio of average total compensation for all 367 CEOs ($11.8 million) to average production worker pay ($27,460) is 431-to-1 in 2004, up from 301-to-1 in 2003. (12)
Prosecute gays and stress "traditional family values."

The Nazis opposed women's emancipation and opposed the feminist movement, claiming that it was Jewish-led and was bad for both women and men. The Nazi regime advocated a patriarchial society in which German women would recognize the "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home." (13) The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. (15)
Congress passes Defense of Marriage Act/Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) does two things. First, it provides that no State shall be required to give effect to a law of any other
State with respect to a same-sex "marriage." Second, it defines the words "marriage" and "spouse" for purposes of Federal law. (14)
"What I fail to understand is exactly how the military would be expected to house openly-admitted homosexuals, in an environment where we force people to room together, without seriously violating the sexual privacy rights of the heterosexual majority, or causing major problems with morale." (16)

Eliminate labor unions to reduce labor costs

The Nazis abolished trade unions, collective bargaining and the right to strike. An organization called the “Labor Front” replaced the old trade unions, but it was an instrument of the Nazi party and did not represent workers. According to the law that created it, “Its task is to see that every individual should be able… to perform the maximum of work.” Workers would indeed greatly boost their productivity under Nazi rule but they also became exploited. Between 1932 and 1936, workers wages fell, from 20.4 to 19.5 cents an hour for skilled labor, and from 16.1 to 13 cents an hour for unskilled labor. (17)
The New Face of Unionbusting
Last December the Labor Department's top official in California made the most expensive and dangerous call of his life. Richard Sawyer thought he was just enforcing wage and hour laws, and protecting workers' rights. That is, after all, the Labor Department's mandate. Instead, the price for his call was his job.Republican politicians are seeking to ban one of the labor movement's most effective campaign strategies - Justice for Janitors. Sawyer's predicament highlights the evolving nature of unionbusting. What has traditionally been a business dominated by consultants, guards and lawfirms, conducting dirty campaigns to beat unions in strikes and NLRB elections, has taken on a much wider scope. (18)
Increase the money supply, ease credit -- go into deficit -- borrow like crazy
The German government expanded the money supply through massive deficit spending. However at the same time the government imposed a 4.5% interest rate ceiling, creating a massive shortage in borrowable funds. This was resolved by setting up a series of dummy companies that would pay for goods with bonds. While it was promised that these bonds could eventually be exchanged for real money, the repayment was put off until after the collapse of the Reich. These complicated manoeuvres also helped conceal armament expenditures. (19)
Increase the money supply, ease credit, cut taxes, go into deficit -- borrow like crazy.

The U.S. budget deficit is financed by borrowing. China's investment in U.S. government debt (bonds) has more than tripled in the past five years, from $71 billion in 2000 to $242 billion in 2005.
Under pressure to pay for hurricane recovery, the war in Iraq, a costly transportation bill, tax cuts, and a new prescription drug program, Congress and the president have been unwilling to raise taxes or make deep spending cuts. The only alternative is to borrow. (20)
No unions, imported labor, slave labor keep wages low.

While the strict state intervention into the economy, and the massive rearmament policy, led to full employment during the 1930s, real wages in Germany dropped by roughly 25% between 1933 and 1938. In addition, more than ten million people were put into forced (slave) labor, further depressing wages. (21)
Weakened unions, cheap labor from Mexico keep wages low.
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity has risen steadily over the same period. (22)
Share the booty with helpful elite.

What may have looked like utter confusion -- within the German government -- was in fact a cunningly orchestrated program, one that was able to mobilize such groups as Germany's elites, who were not simply delirious with religious hope and hatred. Other more specialized works have shown that the amount of nepotism and cold-blooded corruption under the Third Reich was just incredible.

(V.R. Berghahn is the Seth Low professor of history and the director of the Institute for the Study of Europe at Columbia University.)
Share the booty with helpful companies
The payback from these lobbying efforts can be enormous. Between 1998 and 2004, the 41 defense contractors that paid fees to PMA collectively won $266 billion in contracts from the Pentagon, according to CRP. That amounts to almost 30% of the dollar value of all contracts awarded by the Department of Defense. Moreover, of this amount, $167 billion — nearly two out of three dollars — was received from contracts that were awarded without "full and open" competition. In fact, PMA clients account for 47% of all such non-competitive contracts — contracts in which the government negotiates with a single contractor (23)
Deny atrocities

The first Holocaust deniers were the Nazis themselves. Historians have documented evidence that Heinrich Himmler instructed his camp commandants to destroy records, crematoria and other signs of mass extermination, as Germany's defeat became imminent and the Nazi leaders realized they would most likely be captured and brought to trial. Following the end of World War II, many of the former leaders of the SS left Germany and began using their propaganda skills to defend their actions (or, their critics contended, to rewrite history). Denial materials began to appear shortly after the war.[24)

"This Governement Does Not Torture People."
(George W. Bush)

There is a growing consensus that the harrowing images of Abu Ghraib did great trauma to our national psyche - and was one of the steepest falls from grace in our nation's history. Like everyone else, I had seen the images that came out of Abu Ghraib and was shocked and saddened by them. And like so many others, I wondered how could people, particularly Americans, treat others so inhumanely? I initially set out to do a documentary about why ordinary people commit extraordinary acts of evil. Were the people who committed these acts psychopaths? Or were they the sweet kids next door behaving badly in times of war? (25)

Of course the enemy of all the above is truth. No people can be led willingly into a fascist nightmare if truth prevails. Which is why it was among the first casualties in Germany.

First a definition: The Big Lie:

"The Big Lie is a propaganda technique in which the lie is so complex that the public will either dismiss it as impossible or choose not to believe it out of willful ignorance. It was defined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf as a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously". (Wikipedia)


“To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed.” George Orwell on “The Big Lie” method of governance.

But who better to define the Big Lie than one of it's most successful practitioners, Hitler's very own Karl Rove – Joesph Goebbels:

“Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it....The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the (fascist) State."

And so it came to pass -- then and there and here and now. Which is why I say, Ich bin ein Berliner. I – we – have begun down the same road. On September 12, 2001 we stood where the German people did on February 28, 1933, the morning after the Reichstag building was destroyed. They were lied to by their leaders and allowed the fear of enemies – real and imagined -- seen and unseen -- to replace common sense and reason. They allowed those lies to supplant curiousity, suspicion and the search for truth. They allowed false patriotism to mask the genuine motivations. And thus they shared the guilt for the horrors that followed.

I now understand how it happened, though that understanding has not -- and cannot -- led to forgiveness. Some things are simply, and literally, unforgivable.

And I better understand how we got where we are today.

I also understand that history is unlikely to forgive us either.