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Duty to Warn: Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters

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  • What Can Happen if We the People Let Down our Guard and Vote for Our Future Oppressors
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  • Excerpts, without comment, from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45”
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

"What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or was so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

No One had Time to Think. There was so Much Going on

"The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was, above all, diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things, and we never had. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about. We were decent people—and the fascists kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and ‘national enemies’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly. How is this to be done even by extraordinary men?

Niemoller’s Lesson: Act Before it’s too Late

"Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were the greater offenders, not because we knew better but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late."

"…one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to go out of your way to make trouble; you are not in the habit of doing that.

"Outside, in the streets, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. In France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, but you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent. It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

Suddenly Living in a World of Hate and Fear

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves. When everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system that rules without responsibility.

”You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

All That was Required of us was That we did Nothing

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, but no one stood. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

"Once the war began resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was ‘defeatism.’ You assumed that there were lists of those who would be ‘dealt with’ later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here, too. He continually promised a ‘victory orgy’ to ‘take care of’ those who thought that their ‘treasonable attitude’ had escaped notice.

"Once the war began, the government could do ‘anything necessary’ to win it; so it was with the ‘final solution of the Jewish problem,’ which the Nazis always talked about but never dared undertake until war and its ‘necessities’ gave them the knowledge that they could get away with it.”

Related:

Duty to Warn: Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

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  • Who should freedom-loving people vote for?
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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The Truth About Civil Servants

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  • The shiftless paperpusher fattened on your tax dollars doesn’t really exist.
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  • By the Numbers, Public Workers Defy Anti-Government Stereotypes
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Michelle Chen, In These Times

Want to get a disgruntled worker really mad? Just point to his arch enemy: the civil servant. You know, the shiftless paper-pusher fattened on our tax dollars.

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This might sound harsh to those of us who still think the government has some useful functions. But bashing the government and its workers has become a favorite pastime for conservatives like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has argued that public employees enjoy undeservedly lavish compensation while their private-sector counterparts grapple with shrinking paychecks. Why should struggling families’ tax dollars finance the bloated wages of bureaucrats?

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Related:

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By the Numbers, Public Workers Defy Anti-Government Stereotypes, Michelle Chen, Common Dreams
Reactionary politics have perverted the concept of "shared sacrifice" into a standoff between the public and private economic realms. But drawing this artificial divide keeps workers from finding common ground in challenging corporate power from the bottom up.

U.S. Midterms: Political Freak Show

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I'm you, dear readers. Well, actually, I'm not. But I'm also not a witch, so at least I've got that going for me.

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Cliff Schecter, Huffington Post

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The above is of course a reference to Delaware's favourite Wiccan of Wilmington, Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, who began her most recent television advertisement by assuring viewers that she, indeed, is "not a witch." In past political years this might have been considered a bit low-brow, to actually have to assure the voting public you didn't spend most days at dusk swooping over the heads of the Lollipop Guild.

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The bar has been raised among this year's crop of weirdos and wackadoos seeking higher office in America. If you don't have the Second Amendment tattooed on your buttocks or actually think you're The Walrus, don't even try and claim to be among the craziest third of aspiring politicos on the current American landscape.

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Summary | Barack Obama, Change We Can Believe In: Week of October 17

4 New Items including:

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  • Lessons of the Obama Debacle
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  • Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama 'Reprehensible'
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Walt Handelsman

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Lessons of the Obama Debacle, Walden Bello, Foreign Policy in Focus

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  • The failure of progressives (is) to translate their vision and values into a program that is convincing and connects with the people trapped in the terrible existential conditions created by the global financial crisis.
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  • Our side has been derailed (but) ... we can fight back to political relevance.
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White House to Lift Ban on Deep-Water Drilling,  Peter Baker, New York Times | NY
Obusha surrenders again

White House squelched release of BP oil spill estimates, Renee Schoof and Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers

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  • The staff paper does not assign any motive to the administration’s moves but says the underestimating of flow rates “undermined public confidence in the federal government’s response” by creating the impression the government was either incompetent or untrustworthy. The paper said that the loss of trust “fuels public fears.”
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  • BP and Administration: Lies, Deceit, and Coverup in the Gulf
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  • Experts question BP's take on Gulf oil spill
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Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama 'Reprehensible', Associated Press/Huffington Post
Asked whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good journalism" and would like to work again.

Shadowy players in a new class war

The country doesn't need this class war, and it is irrational in any case. Practically no one, least of all Obama, is questioning the basics of the market system or proposing anything more than somewhat tighter economic regulations -- after the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression -- and rather modest tax increases on the wealthy.

E.J. Dionne Jr., Syndicate Columnist, Washington Post | DC

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

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Pat Oliphant

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The 2010 election is turning into a class war. The wealthy and the powerful started it.

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This is a strange development. President Obama, after all, has been working overtime to save capitalism. Wall Street is doing just fine, and the rich are getting richer again. The financial reform bill passed by Congress was moderate, not radical.

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Nonetheless, corporations and affluent individuals are pouring tens of millions of dollars into attack ads aimed almost exclusively at Democrats. One of the biggest political players, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accepts money from foreign sources.

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Exclusive: Chamber Receives At Least $885,000 From Over 80 Foreign Companies In Disclosed Donations Alone

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  • The Chamber and the media largely ignored ThinkProgress’ revelation about the Chamber’s direct foreign fundraising to its 501(c)(6) used for attack ads.
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  • Chamber of Commerce Accused of Tax Fraud
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  • Stop the US Chamber of Commerce
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Think Progress

Last week (Oct 3-9), ThinkProgress published an exclusive story about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s foreign fundraising operation. We noted the Chamber raises money from foreign-owned businesses for its 501(c)(6) entity, the same account that finances its unprecedented $75 million dollar partisan attack ad campaign. While the Chamber is notoriously secretive, the thrust of our story involved the disclosure of fundraising documents U.S. Chamber staffers had been distributing to solicit foreign (even state-owned) companies to donate directly to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6).

We documented three different ways the Chamber fundraises from foreign corporations: (1) An internal fundraising program called “Business Councils” used to solicit direct, largely foreign contributions to the Chamber, (2) Direct contributions from foreign multinationals like BP, Siemens, and Shell Oil, and (3) From the Chamber’s network of AmCham affiliates, which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and and foreign companies.

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Related:

Chamber of Commerce Accused of Tax Fraud, Joshua Holland,  AlterNet<>

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  • A watchdog group charges the CoC violated U.S. tax laws by funneling $18 million from its charitable, non-profit arm into lobbying.
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  • How the Chamber of Commerce Allegedly Laundered Millions in Charity Dollars to Beat Back Financial Reform and Reelect Republicans
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  • Stop The US Chamber of Commerce
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Stop The US Chamber of Commerce, The Velvet Revolution

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We have had enough and it is time to Stop The Chamber. Therefore, we demand the following:
•    Fire Tom Donohue.
•    Drop Corporate Support for the Chamber.
•    Launch A Criminal Investigation Against The Chamber For Fraud, False Tax Filings And Campaign Finance Violations.
•    Ask Congress To Investigate The Chamber.
•    Reorganize The Chamber.
•    Speak Out Against The Chamber. 


The Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Tom Donohue, has gone from a well respected trade organization to an extremist political organization dedicated to corrupting American democracy by elevating the profits of big corporations over the well being of the citizens they serve.

The most recent example of this corrupt behavior is the Chamber's announcement that it is spending more than $100 million to defeat initiatives to protect the environment and provide affordable health care to everyone.

Click here to Send A Letter Asking Congress To Investigate The Chamber.

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Senate report: Mismanaged U.S. contractor money aids enemy in Afghanistan

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  • The Senate investigation documents a failure to properly vet, train and supervise Afghan security subcontractors, hired by U.S. and other international firms under multimillion-dollar military contracts, afailure has cost American lives, undermined the U.S. mission and the Afghan government, and "helped play into the hands of the enemy," said Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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  • How the US Funds the Taliban
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  • The Best Allies Money Can Buy
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  • What You Didn't Know About The Afghan War
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Karen DeYoung, Washington Post | DC

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Ken Mitchell

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The U.S. military has only minimal knowledge of - and exercises virtually no control over - the thousands of Afghans it indirectly pays to guard its installations, including "warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery" and to the Taliban, Senate investigators said in a blistering report released Thursday (Oct 7).

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The bipartisan report, compiled after a year-long investigation, notes that the military has recently launched its own investigations of the situation and has taken some steps to address it. In one of the most significant steps, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has issued new contractor guidelines.

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How the US Funds the Taliban, Aram Roston, The Nation
In 'grotesque carnival,' contractors pay insurgents to protect supply lines.

The Best Allies Money Can Buy, Thomas L. Friedman,  New York Times | NY

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  • I prefer our public services to be provided as much as possible by public servants motivated by, and schooled in, the common good and simple patriotism — not profits or private ambitions.
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  • No precise number for contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan
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What You Didn't Know About The Afghan War, Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Gary Kohls
This is a video in support of  Matthew Hoh, ex-Marine and diplomat who resigned in protest over fraudulent war
"One of the most powerful and concise antiwar videos I've seen: It needs wide distribution." -- Antiwar Activist Gary Kohls

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Incumbent John Kline's (R-MN) lips are sealed

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With so little attention on his race, he clearly feels safe ignoring his challenger.

Nick Coleman, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

Too bad Shelley Madore doesn't dabble in witchcraft. Then maybe she'd get noticed.

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Sadly, the feisty Democrat running for Minnesota's Second District congressional seat is no Christine O'Donnell, the telegenic Tea Party succubus from Delaware whose campaign for the Senate has mesmerized the media. (O'Donnell now has a TV ad in which she denies being a witch, but, as David Letterman pointed out, isn't that what you'd expect a witch to say?) Madore merely has tried to run a serious campaign on the issues. Naturally, then, she has received virtually no attention in her run against hardheaded conservative John Kline, the Republican incumbent.

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This is unfortunate for the Second District, which includes southern suburbs of the Twin Cities and extends almost to Rochester and Mankato. But it shows that, although we live in an era of nonstop political spin, fundamental weaknesses remain in the ways in which we pay attention to -- or ignore -- the issues of the day.

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