Monday, April 21, 2008

High time for change

This Sunday, 10,000 people gathered on the University of Boulder campus for the annual 4/20 Pot Smoke-Out. At 4:20 p.m., thousands of participants lit pipes, bongs and joints to celebrate the magical properties of marijuana and get a righteous Rocky Mountain high. In years' past, when the crowds were smaller, the Boulder police tried various strong-arm methods to dissuade attendance, include hosing people and posting photos of smokers online. Despite the Draconian methods, the event has grown dramatically.

What was most interesting to me was what didn’t happen at this gathering of mostly college-age students. No one was arrested. No fights. No vandalism. The police did not issue a single citation.

Now, just imagine if this was the 4/20 Jack Daniels Drink-Out, and there were 10,000 people knocking down shots of bourbon.

It’s really time to rethink this country’s drug laws.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is America Becoming a Fascist Society?

I took this from a letter over on Common Dreams. I've seen it before, but I think it's a very relevant mirror for us to hold up and look at ourselves. Too many of the 14 characteristics are uncomfortably familiar. The point made by many others, but that bears repeating, is that fascism does not descend on a country or a people from on high with claps of thunder and jack-booted armies goose stepping through the streets. It infests the body politic slowly, quietly, until you wake up one morning and the disease has spread too far and the prognosis is a prolonged, painful death. Is it too late for us?

Fourteen Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism
By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Source Free

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

McCain confuses Sunnis, Shi’ites and Shriners

Presidential hopeful John McCain seemed once again confused about who the enemy is in Iraq. At a speech before the National Association of Really Old People (NAROP) in Cleveland, McCain made the claim that the surge had put the Shriners on the run.

“Make no mistake,” said McCain, “our brave men and women in uniform are defeating the insurgent Shriners sponsored by El Boom Shacka Lacka. Even with extensive support from Iran, those moped-driving maniacs are being rounded up and disarmed. I’ll tell you quite honestly, ladies and gentlemen, I always suspected this group was a front for something more ominous, with their fez’s and Imperial Potentates. Now, they’re going to need those precious hospitals of theirs for the wounded.”

In the question and answer period following the talk, McCain was asked by a self-proclaimed Shriner what proof he had that Shriners were involved in military actions in Iraq.

“Go back to your temple and sit on your fez,” shouted an emotional McCain. “Oh you talk a good game, but you’re just another Iraqi sect trying to tear down a fledgling democracy and create chaos. Parades every day, that’s what you want. And you want everyone to wear crazy clothes. Well we’re not going to stand for it. You’ve failed and we’ve won.”

McCain then attempted to run after the questioner before being bogged down in a sea of wheelchairs.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Can Bush Keep Surge Up?

Washington, D.C. - At a news conference today, President Bush reiterated his determination to continue the surge despite escalating violence in Iraq.

“We will not withdraw until this operation reaches a climax,” Bush told reporters. “We will keep pushing and pushing the enemy as hard as we can.”

In answer to critics who say the surge is softening, Bush was clear. “Our commitment remains firm and hard. Sure, it’s a lot of work. No one said it would be easy, but once we finish off the terrorists, tension will be released and the Iraqi people will be able to breath a heavy sigh of relief.”

A reporter wondered if he was satisfied with the Iraq government’s response to the surge. “They have been very excited by it and stimulated to respond appropriately. They believe as I believe that success is coming.”

President Bush bristled at a suggestion that our troops did not have adequate protection in that messy region. “Our brave soldiers are well protected and I know for a fact that they only shoot when absolutely necessary, but when the time comes, they will fire their weapons without hesitation.”

The news conference was called to an abrupt end and the president was seen walking unsteadily back into the White House. The White House physician later told reporters that the president had suffered from a pulled groin muscle.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cheney gives unprecedented tour of “Veep Cave”

Two weeks ago, Vice President Dick Chaney gave Washington Times reporter Bob Cobb an exclusive, first ever tour of the VP’s secure residence where he stays between speeches and appearances on talk shows. The location is obviously top secret, and Cobb had to endure hours wearing a blindfold and earplugs before reaching his destination.

Once the blindfold was removed, Cobb stood in the main room of what he described as, “Batman’s wet dream.” Cheney began his tour with some background on the cavernous structure.

Cheney – Amazing, isn’t it? This is the main room. There is 200 feet of rock between the ceiling and the planet’s surface. Air purifiers are located in hidden mine shafts guarded 24-hours a day. There’s a massive tunnel system, and I can travel from here to just about anywhere in the U.S. underground.

Cobb – How often has the president been here?

Cheney – He doesn’t know where it is, and I prefer it that way.

Cobb – I imagine you could live through just about anything down here.

Cheney – What do you mean by that? Did someone say something to you about nuclear war? Give me names.

Cobb – Please calm down, sir. No one said anything about nuclear war. Except you.

Cheney – Don’t get cute. Over there is a fully equipped cardiology unit I extracted from an East Coast hospital. The staff can be a bit grumpy about missing family and such, but goddamn it, this is national security. One has to question their priorities. And that hallway there leads to my small game park.

Cobb – Oh. Is that in order to save certain species should a disaster happen?

Cheney – No. It’s to shoot rabbits and squirrels and stray cats. I can’t go 48 hours without killing something. Would you like to stay for dinner?

Cobb – Uh, where do you sleep?

Cheney – Sleep?

Cobb – How about a kitchen? Do you have one of those?

Cheney – Over there is the doorway to a five-star restaurant I named “The Last Supper Club.” Clever. Huh? Jacket and tie required.

Cobb – And what’s through that hallway?

Cheney – My state-of-the-art torture chamber and gym. Kills two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Cobb – Well, Mr. Vice President, this has been fascinating, but I am on deadline. Can we head back to the surface now?

Cheney – I’m sorry, Mr. Cobb, but that won’t be possible. You’ll have to send your story from here.

Cobb – What? When can I leave?

Cheney – Uh, never. You’ve seen what no other man on earth has seen and lived to tell about, so I’m afraid you’ll have to stay here now. Or be shot. Come on, the special tonight is rabbit stew. Killed it myself. Mmmmm.