I know, I know, too much US politics

Most of my readership (all 12 readers) are in Asia, and I know they come here for brilliant commentary and deep insights, especially on China. I apologize for being so engrossed (a nice way of saying “obsessed”) with US politics lately. And with Michael Moore’s new movie. I’ll try to get back to a more balanced menu of topics, but I have to admit, right now I feel America is at war — with itself. And I feel if we (the smart people) don’t take this country back from them (the not-so-smart people), our great country will inevitably slide further backwards as the Bill of Rights is whittled away and blatant, unashamed lying forever replaces productive political discourse.

I am obsessed with censorship in China, so I have to be equally obsessed with what I see as similar patterns in America. No, not necessarily government imposed censorship — but an eerie post-911 pressure to not speak out, to be silent on that which only a few years ago would have created a national outcry.

I’m not putting up this post to argue any specific point, just to explain why this blog has taken such a turn lately, which some may say (and have said) is off course. It may be a somewhat different course than before, but I don’t think it’s “off” — just focused on a different part of the world for now. I promise, Asia isn’t going anywhere. As long as part of me is still there (in other words, forever), this blog will have an Asia slant. Sometimes, like now, as our elections approach, that slant may just be a little less obvious.

The Discussion: 13 Comments

Don’t you have some housecleaning to do?!?

June 28, 2004 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

Multitasking.

June 28, 2004 @ 6:20 pm | Comment

Richard, no other place to put this as Conrad won’t let me use his blog for intelligent comment, albeit, critical of him. So I am talking to you about your comment on his blog about Hitler references.

In political ads perhaps it is unfair, unwise and the candidate that uses such references will regret it. Nevertheless, in the other world of fair comment, I think it is appropriate and necessary for public opinion to make the comparisons between the State of affairs of the US with Bush at the helm and Nazi Germany with Hitler as a means for thwarting tendencies toward government (a/k/a the Bush cabal) control, secrecy, autocratic actions and the untouchability of the head of government (like Bush tries to bootstrap his persona above all but god by claiming god speaks to him).

The possible parallel with Nazi Germany is that Hitler was appointed more or less legally as Chancellor of Germany then acted to control everything in sight to turn Germany into a military machine to obtain the German purpose of gaining “lebgensraum” and the material to make Germany the greatest nation on earth as the 3rd Reich. All the while any opposition was surpressed through the control of the media and killing or imprisioning the dissenters. If vigilance and communicating the results of that vigilance is not done in the US because of the desire to be nice or be above the fray, we in America will suffer the actions of the mendacious, the evil and the bullies, in which I put the Bush crowd. The facist tendency is there, on the record, out of the mouths and actions of the cabal. Should the campaigns use it, I cannot honestly say, but the public should make it a public issue, if only to get BushCo see where they are headed.

June 28, 2004 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

Remember the article by the woman attending the CCTV program on Chinese media said that 99% of all censorship there is self-censorship. The CCP doesn’t have to throw everybody (or even that many people) in to jail to make their point. It’s the judicious use of pressure to make it uncomfortable to speak out is the path of self-censorship.

Sometimes it is good to remind folks that a big fat mouth yelling (or doing a polemical documentary) can cut through that atmosphere of self-censorship and get others talking again.

June 28, 2004 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

Pete

Fair idea there, but you simply can’t use the image of Hitler as a tool, nomater what the simularities are.

If you were to display an image of Hitler in a political campaign in France or Germany you could land yourself a few months of jail time.

The topic is so sensitive in Europe that a German company couldn’t put a waxwork of Hitler on display in an exibit.

I visited Europe and studied their history in some depth and I think you would get a European style reaction to this if you compaired Jessey Jackson or Martin Luther JR to Yasa Arafat, because “they’re both fighting for the liberation of their people”. It’s not a fair comparision and it’s not a laughing matter.

The FCC or another regulator should make the people who designed this advert do comunity work in a Polish getto museam until they see why you can’t make these comparision.

June 29, 2004 @ 2:10 am | Comment

Think your site is bad take a look at mine!
Albeit we differ on our politics but that just makes it more fun.
FWIW, I finally updated the blogroll and added your site.

June 29, 2004 @ 3:01 am | Comment

Richard you don’t need to apologise. It’s your site. People will keep coming back regardless.

June 29, 2004 @ 3:08 am | Comment

“this blog will have an Asia slant”

Oh dear.

June 29, 2004 @ 7:27 am | Comment

Thanks Simon; it’s just that I actually got an email complaining I don’t write enough about China any more.

Guy, thanks for the blogroll, and for visiting!

Pete and Tom and ACB: I believe there are some bizarre parallels between what’s going on under Bush and the rise of the Nazis, though nowhere near as extreme (yet). 9/11 was a real crisis of the greatest magnitude, while the Reichstag fire was mainly a staged event blown out of all proportion. But the effect of each was similar: to give the government unprecedented freedoms to arrest and detain whomever they so choose, and to make the Reich completely unaccountable. It was the catalysing event, and Kristallnacht and, finally, the war and the death camps, were right around the corner. I can’t see America ever reaching such extremes thanks to our rule of law, which just yesterday put a firm check on Bush-Ashcroft’s inclination to arrest and detain US citizens indefinitely and without counsel. But the parallels are there and the analogy is not unfair based on historical factors.

Here’s the big problem: Once you start calling your ememy “Hitler” and “Nazi,” you take on the tone of an alarmist. It doesn’t sit well with people, and it provides powerful ammunition to your opposition. Gore did everyone a disservice with his “brownshirt” metaphor even if he had a valid point. It is now fodder for Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. Hannity shouts (literally) at his audience, “How is this affecting our boys on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, hearing the former vice president call their president a brownshirt?” Hannity is full of shit, but he makes a persuasive case that Gore is being irresponsible. In other words, if I felt it would give us a tactical advantage, if I felt it would help us win and Bush lose, I would be all for using the very strongest language, including the Nazi comparison. But we are in a battle to win people over, and harsh language like that will only turn them off, just as when John O’Reilly compares Michael Moore to Goebbels. It is counter-productive and I want us all to be practical. We need to jam the airwaves and the blogosphere with our messages, and these messages have to resonate with clarity, truth and sincerity. Calling the opponent a Nazi only makes us look immature, extreme and overly strident. Move-on did more to damage its credibility with that Nazi ad than anything else, and it will probably never recover. Everytime their name comes up, Hannity shouts, “They’re the group that compares Bush to Hitler!” So their credibility is diminished. Let’s not repeat that mistake, and let’s use words and images that convince rather than inflame and turn our audience against us.

June 29, 2004 @ 9:50 am | Comment

this blog will have an Asia slant

Yeah, I guess I could have chosen my words a bit more carefully.

June 29, 2004 @ 9:51 am | Comment

As if it needed repeating for the ten-billionth time: but that infamous Move On ad was submitted by a reader, as part of a contest sponsored by them — and the Hitler ad was subsequently repudiated by Move On. To say, as the Republicans do, that Move On is somehow “responsible” for the ad is absurd.

June 29, 2004 @ 10:32 am | Comment

I know, Vaara — but it appeared on their Web site and that alone allowed Sean Hannity forever after to repeat his lie that Moveon compared Bush to Hitler. This is just what I am talking about — comparisons to Nazis are political dynamite, and when you are dealing with unscrupulous, lying scumbag Nazis like Hannity (and in this case the comparison is justified), we’re only playing into their hands when we make ourselves vulnerable by using the “N” or the “H” word.

And I am joking about Hannity being a Nazi. A scumbag, yes. Nazi? I’d rather not say.

June 29, 2004 @ 10:51 am | Comment

Well then, all someone has to do is post some kiddie pr0n to a conservative message board. Which will enable the media — or whichever portion thereof isn’t controlled by the right-wing √©lite — to claim that the GOP is the party of child rapists.

All’s fair etc.

June 29, 2004 @ 11:00 am | Comment

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