Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy – but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
Read the entire thing for an explanation of the 10 steps:
1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2 Create a gulag
3 Develop a thug caste
4 Set up an internal surveillance system
5 Harass citizens’ groups
6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7 Target key individuals
8 Control the press
9 Dissent equals treason
10 Suspend the rule of law
Bill and Georgia Thomas reported they were elated Monday when they met in the Oval Office with President George W. Bush to present him with a Purple Heart.
“We were just absolutely bowled over. Without reservation, it was one of the highlights of our life. He was such a gracious host,” Thomas said. “It was just an incredible, incredible experience.”
The couple was able to meet with President Bush for about 20 minutes to present him with one of three Purple Hearts that Bill Thomas received during his service in Vietnam.
“He said he didn’t feel like he had earned it,” Thomas said, noting the president looked thinner in person than on television.
The Thomases also were able to meet Barney, the president’s Scottish terrier, and tour the White House Rose Garden.
Thomas said he and his wife came up with the unprecedented idea to present the president with the Purple Heart over breakfast one morning a few months ago as they discussed the verbal attacks, both foreign and domestic, the commander in chief has withstood during his time in office.
“We feel like emotional wounds and scars are as hard to carry as physical wounds,” Thomas said.
Well, while we’re at it, why not give him the Noble fucking Peace Prize? Amazing, isn’t it, that there are people out there who think this failure of a President is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
And you know what? It’s actually impossible to give anybody the Purple Heart right now:
The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded-
The ultimate in Bizarro-world Bush Era weirdness: the President accepting the gift of a military honor from a veteran that can only be awarded in the name of the President.
I really wonder what future generations are going to say looking back on these eight years.
On the upside, getting a medal in this administration is usually the signal that you are about to lose your job.
So, as a counterpoint, I present you this.
No, wait, that won’t do. It deserves to be quoted in full:
I’m having the worst damn week of my whole damn life so I’m going to write this while I’m pissed off enough to do it right.
I am SICK of all this bullshit people are writing about the Iraq war. I am abso-fucking-lutely sick to death of it. What the fuck do most of you know about it? You watch it on TV and read the commentaries in the newspaper or Newsweek or whatever god damn yuppie news rag you subscribe to and think you’re all such fucking experts that you can scream at each other like five year old about whether you’re right or not. Let me tell you something: unless you’ve been there, you don’t know a god damn thing about it. It you haven’t been shot at in that fucking hell hole, SHUT THE FUCK UP!
How do I dare say this to you moronic war supporters who are “Supporting our Troops” and waving the flag and all that happy horse shit? I’ll tell you why. I’m a Marine and I served my tour in Iraq. My husband, also a Marine, served several. I left the service six months ago because I got pregnant while he was home on leave and three days ago I get a visit from two men in uniform who hand me a letter and tell me my husband died in that fucking festering sand-pit. He should have been home a month ago but they extended his tour and now he’s coming home in a box.
You fuckers and that god-damn lying sack of shit they call a president are the reason my husband will never see his baby and my kid will never meet his dad.
And you know what the most fucked up thing about this Iraq shit is? They don’t want us there. They’re not happy we came and they want us out NOW. We fucked up their lives even worse than they already were and they’re pissed off. We didn’t help them and we’re not helping them now. That’s what our soldiers are dying for.
Oh while I’m good and worked up, the government doesn’t even have the decency to help out the soldiers whos lives they ruined. If you really believe the military and the government had no idea the veterans’ hospitals were so fucked up, you are a god-damn retard. They don’t care about us. We’re disposable. We’re numbers on a page and they’d rather forget we exist so they don’t have to be reminded about the families and lives they ruined while they’re sipping their cocktails at another fund raiser dinner. If they were really concerned about supporting the troops, they’d bring them home so their families wouldn’t have to cry at a graveside and explain to their children why mommy or daddy isn’t coming home. Because you can’t explain it. We’re not fighting for our country, we’re not fighting for the good of Iraq’s people, we’re fighting for Bush’s personal agenda. Patriotism my ass. You know what? My dad served in Vietnam and NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
So I’m pissed. I’m beyond pissed. And I’m going to go to my husband funeral and recieve that flag and hang it up on the wall for my baby to see when he’s older. But I’m not going to tell him that his father died for the stupidty of the American government. I’m going to tell him that his father was a hero and the best man I ever met and that he loved his country enough to die for it, because that’s all true and nothing will be solved by telling my son that his father was sent to die by people who didn’t care about him at all.
Fuck you, war supporters, George W. Bush, and all the god damn mother fuckers who made the war possible. I hope you burn in hell.
A few years ago, an obesity researcher at the University of Washington named Adam Drewnowski ventured into the supermarket to solve a mystery. He wanted to figure out why it is that the most reliable predictor of obesity in America today is a person’s wealth. For most of history, after all, the poor have typically suffered from a shortage of calories, not a surfeit. So how is it that today the people with the least amount of money to spend on food are the ones most likely to be overweight?
For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root. Like most processed foods, the Twinkie is basically a clever arrangement of carbohydrates and fats teased out of corn, soybeans and wheat — three of the five commodity crops that the farm bill supports, to the tune of some $25 billion a year.
That’s because the current farm bill helps commodity farmers by cutting them a check based on how many bushels they can grow, rather than, say, by supporting prices and limiting production, as farm bills once did. The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce. A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.
Aussie TV show The Chaser performed an experiment to see what happens if you try to video the the Sydney Harbor Bridge and a nuclear reactor that produces medical isotopes. If you do it dressed like an Arab, you get intercepted by security within three minutes.
If you do it dressed like an American, you get instructions on getting inside the nuclear facility. As Bruce Schneier notes, “Moral for terrorists: dress like an American.”
Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him?
~ Pierre Troubetzkoy