“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” ~ James Bryce

   

Happy Independence Day Wherever You Are!   

    

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” ~ José Narosky

With the number of people calling for a second American revolution  increasing, I felt it important to remind everyone of the very real cost of war. I visited several sites to try to get the most accurate information possible.   

Operation Iraqi Freedom

American Deaths (from antiwar.com)
DATE TOTAL IN COMBAT
Since war began (3/19/03) 4409 3491
Since “Mission Accomplished” (5/1/03) (the list) 4270 3382
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03) 3948 3184
Since Handover (6/29/04) 3550 2857
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09) 181 86
 
American Wounded Official Estimated
  31,865 Over 100,000

     

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan):   

It’s a bit harder to find an exact figure for total US casualties in and around Afghanistan (includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan) since 2001. Once source (icasualties.org) listed 1,073 as the total number of US fatalities. The Washington Post lists 1,125 as the total number of US service members who were killed (as of June 27, 2010). Antiwar.com lists the total number of US fatalities as 1,149. But all sources agree that June 2010 was the worst month for US casualties, and 2010 has been the worst year to date in Afghanistan. In 2009, the total number of US casualties was 317; to date in 2010, the number is 203.   

The United States has been in a state of war since 2001. Aside from the financial burden, the emotional toil has been vast. The numbers I listed above do not include civilian casualties, Iraqi or Afghani casualties, coalition casualties, or casualties in the Press.   

“It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.” ~ André Gide, Journals, 13 September 1938

Those who are alluding to and openly calling for a revolution in this country have no idea as to what it is they are condoning: armed resistance that would result in the dissolution of this 234-year-old democracy, increased acts of domestic terrorism, possible military rule, deaths of countless Americans—those are just the most obvious expected results.  Without fail, the people who condone this action cull sections from the  Thomas Jefferson quote about tyranny:   

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”   

Lest you think I am being an alarmist. Here are some verified instances in which people are calling for armed resistance to the government:   

  • A new billboard off Interstate 70 in Missouri provides a short “citizens guide to REVOLUTION of a corrupt government” and issues a call to “PREPARE FOR WAR.” It reads:
    1. Starve the Beast. Keep your money.
    2. Vote out incumbents.
    3. If steps 1 & 2 fail….
  • Bob Basso, a former actor, is making a name for himself by dressing up in period costume and calling for a second America revolution. His videos have gone viral:
  • ResistNet.com posted the following in October 2009: “In 5 months, we will STOP working at our jobs, paying our bills, watching tv, buying things, and otherwise supporting the Empire of the United States (note the flag with gold tassle trim) that is, the bankers, corporations and politicians which have taken over our once free republic. They’ve replaced it with a socialist/fascist, taxing, warring, credit-based, fake-money regime which has taken most of our American freedoms and liberties away. We will gather in Washington indefinitely, to insist our government provide us with real homeland security by: repealing the Federal Reserve Act, regaining control of our monetary policy and economy, returning to non-interventionist foreign policy, and recalling our troops from so many war-ridden places in the world.” That was nine months ago . . .
  • Sharron Angles, republican nominee for Congress (Nevada), has said, “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
  • Speaking to the Reno Gazette in May of this year, Angles said, “The nation is arming. What are they arming for, if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways? That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”
“Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.” ~ John W. Gardner
  • In a March interview, Rep. Michele Bachmann said, “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people—we the people—are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”
  • In Glenn Beck’s War Room broadcast of February 23, Beck and friends discussed a potential future (2014) in which there has been a complete financial meltdown, taxes are near the 95 percent rate, rampant crime has made cities uninhabitable, and civil liberties have been trashed. Says Beck, “Some people will listen to the government, but others—and I’m seeing it already—they know the Constitution. They know the writings of the founders, and they feel that the government, or they will in this scenario, and I think we’re on this road—the government has betrayed the Constitution. And so they will see themselves as people who are standing up for the Constitution . . . This is the scenario that would tear this country apart, and spiral us into something that maybe we have never even seen before, including the civil war.”
  • At a How To Take Back America Conference last September, conservative speaker Kitty Werthmann (right hand to Phyllis don’t-ever-call-me-a-feminist Schlafly) had this to say: “If we had our guns, we would have fought a bloody battle to the last person. So, keep your guns, and buy more guns, and buy ammunition . . . Take back America. Don’t let them take the country into Socialism. And I refer again, Hitler’s party was National Socialism . . . And that’s what we are having here right now, which is bordering on Marxism.”
  • And finally, there are the Oath Keepers, one of the fastest-growing “patriot” organizations on the right. Founded last April the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan are among the well-known names who praise the group, which consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. Members have vowed to disobey “unconstitutional” orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government. In the belief that the government is already turning on its citizens, Oath Keeper members are recruiting military buddies, stashing weapons, running drills, and outlining a plan of action.
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” ~ Aldous Huxley
  


      

You may wonder what this post has to do with the 4th of July, Independence Day. Two things: Many patriot groups plan to use this day to speak about their perceived current state of affairs, one in which President Obama is planning a coup sometime in the future, and we (American citizens) are at risk of losing our civil liberties.   

My other reason for focusing my post on this idea of a second revolution is that too many people dismiss this kind of talk as “ranting,” or “crazy talk,” or “posturing by right-wing crackpots.” Just remember, the founding fathers, who first began to make noise when England thought to extend its arm to her colonies as a source of revenue, were considered traitors, their actions treasonous. This is the exact comparison that many of the individuals involved in this movement love to bring up when justifying their ilk.   

I, myself, often dismiss people like Bachmann or Palin as being loony and think that no one out there could possibly take either of them seriously. This is a mistake. None of us should ever forget that hate speech and rhetoric, if left unchecked, can blossom into violence. Eugene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post put it this way in a March 2010 column:   

For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary and anger from the far right . . . It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are “crazies on both sides.” This simply is not true  . . . There has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, “constitutionalists,” tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold “Christian” values.   

The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day—and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies—is calibrated not to inform but to incite. Demagogues scream at people that their government is illegitimate, that their country has been “taken away,” that their elected officials are “traitors” and that their freedom is at risk.   

Crazy, paranoid, fringe, or whatever—these people have a right to speak, but they do not speak for me. My own failure to at least acknowledge that the threat is real would be foolish. This movement is real. How much momentum it gains depends upon those of us who look on but do not take sides, hoping that it will dissipate on its own.   

It won’t. At least not while so much hatred, bigotry, racism, and animus continues to pervade those vocal segments of our society, the ones among the gathering storm. Jefferson’s quote can be read in two ways: the perceived call to arms, or the admonishment not to sit idly by in silence while things around you are going to hell.  

More later. Peace.   

Music by Simon and Garfunkel (Concert in Central Park), “American Tune”   

“He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

Cards from The Fuhrer Quartett

   

Part 2:
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy” ~ James Madison

One of the justifications used for calling Obama a tyrant or dictator is that he has signed Executive Orders. As of March 2010, President Obama had signed 43 Executive Orders. Between 2001 and 2002, W. issued 85 executive orders (54 and 31 respectively) compared to Obama’s 56 executive orders issued between 2009 and 2010. Lest anyone think that I am playing loosely with the facts, this information is available to anyone on the Federal Register of the National Archives. Let’s put that in context: 

Total Executive Orders Signed

GW Bush 268
Clinton 363
G. Bush 165
Reagan 380 

Lenin Card in The Fuhrer Quartett

Critics also contend that Obama is a tyrant because he ignores laws, although I’m not sure which laws he is ignoring. An article in boston.com states that as of 2006, Bush “claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution . . . Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws—many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander-in-chief of the military.”  

And let’s not forget all of the signing statements issued by Bush in lieu of presidential vetoes. Signing statements are those documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. Bush repeatedly used signing statements to state that he does not have to obey certain laws because he is commander in chief. 

By the way, that argument being bandied about by tea baggers and the like regarding taxation without representation? Hello? This is a representative government, and there has not been a president in recent memory who has not increased taxes. By the way, that whole tea bagger thing, you know, being a resurrection of the original tea party? “The Tea Party originally was for taxation without representation . . . These people have representation. The majority voted for Obama, and this got a majority vote. To call it a Tea Party movement makes no sense,” contends Patricia Kelley, 75, a social work professor emeritus at the University of Iowa. Kelly said that co-opting a historic event in American history for an Obama backlash is wrongheaded. 

For example, Ronald Reagan, the republican that right-wingers love to mention as the bastion of all things conservative, increased taxes by $132.7 billion between 1982 and 1988. 

“When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.” ~ Plato

And those who compare Obama to King George by saying that our president has acted in the same way as the monarch the founding fathers excoriated? Let’s discuss just a few of these: The revolutionaries claimed that the king “sent out swarms of Officers to harass the people, combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.” Are Obama’s “swarms of officers” the census takers? Of the last three censuses, two were conducted under Republican presidents, and all involved sending census takers throughout the country to gather information. 

Or are the “swarms of officers” referring to the right’s protest against the term czar, as in energy czar, education czar, car czar (what?)? To clarify, czar is a media term referring to an appointed official who is in charge of a particular policy; I believe the term was first used during Reagan’s administration: drug czar. The first president to use czars? Well, that would be FDR (some say Andrew Jackson), who had 19 individuals in appointed positions. By the way, W. had the most, with 47 appointees, 31 of whom were referred to as czars, which is why critics are correct in saying that Obama has more czars (35) but fewer appointees (39). 

Hitler Card in The Fuhrer Quartett

“Combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution”: Is this a reference to the 2nd amendment? According to one conservative, “At the heart of gun control in the United States are Democratic tyranny and the Democratic oppression of black people . . . The Democrats on the Progressive Left will continue to pursue our disarmament.  Only unarmed men and women can be made the slaves of tyrants.” Um, okay, but as far as I know, that amendment hasn’t been repealed. 

“Pretended legislation”: is that healthcare reform? Let me ask you this: Is this country based on majority rule? Did reform pass with a majority? Or is the reference to Obama’s planned suit over Arizona’s immigration law? The way in which our Constitution is drawn, federal statutes prevail over state statutes (e.g., 14th amendment). I’m pretty sure that President Obama wasn’t around when this was decided. 

“Logic:  The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention Godwin’s law: i.e., the ultimate reduction of a commentary thread results in someone being called a Nazi. And there is the predecessor to Godwin’s Law, the “reductio ad Hitlerum,” identified in 1953 by neocon philosopher Leo Strauss, by which any person or argument could be demolished by even the most tenuous association with Hitler. All of this, of course, relates directly to the growing trend to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler, you know Tea Baggers, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin. The list is long and growing.

No, using the Hitler card to denigrate a politician is by no means a new tactic; it is, however, an offensive tactic.  Ron Rosenbaum, in an article for Slate, said this:

“Calling Obama a tyrant, a communist, or a fascist is deeply offensive to all the real victims of tyranny, the real victims of communism and fascism. The tens of millions murdered. It trivializes such suffering inexcusably for the T.P.ers to claim that they are suffering from similar oppression because they might have their taxes raised or be subject to demonic ‘federal regulation.’

Listen up, T.P.ers: The Nazis were not Socialists. The Socialists were not Nazis. They were blood enemies. In fact, the Socialists fought the Nazis, while conservatives and nationalists stood by and thought Hitler would be their pawn. Hitler, need it be said, was not a Socialist. He hated the Socialists. Had thousands of them murdered as soon as he came to power.”

Rosenbaum’s article uses Nikita Khruschev’s “Secret Speech” of 1956 as the basis of his argument against the tea baggers debasement of “language with their false use of words, contesting that tea baggers should read the speech if they really want to know about tyranny. He states that

They’ve [tea baggers] made a graven image of alien evil out of him. Obama: communist, Muslim, Kenyan, Manchurian candidate, fascist, socialist, capable of all varieties of political malevolence. A supervillain, with superpowers. Who requires super lies to combat.

It’s time to take on these superliars and stop them from spreading their poisonous ignorance.

“Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

I found the following analysis particularly relevant in the current climate that freely compares Obama to Hitler and this administration to Nazi Germany: 

When you get right down to it, our sitting President and Adolf  Hitler are pretty much the same person, except Obama hasn’t suspended democratic elections, implemented a policy of cultural nationalism, embarked on a massive expansion of the armed forces, created a class system based on ethnicity, assumed control of the national media, staged an attack on the legislative branch, implemented a eugenics policy or invaded a sovereign nation. 

He is black, though. If you hate Barack Obama’s politics and you’re also a racist, the election of our first black President is doubly galling. You know what else is galling? The fact that Adolf Hitler—generally agreed to be the worst human being of the modern era—was a racist, too. 

By relentlessly connecting Barack Obama with Hitler, the right gets to associate Nazism with socialized medicine, charismatic leadership and big government, instead of corporatism and fantasies of empire

I think the following quote that I found on a forum actually comes closest to defining why so many people are afraid of Barack Obama: “He dares to act just like every other President, while not being 100% white. That’s enough to make him a tyrant in the eyes of the extreme haters.” 

Quit hiding your racism behind your declarations that your freedoms are being subsumed by a socialist agenda. Quit painting Hitler mustaches on Obama’s visage. Hitler was not a socialist; he was a fascist. They are not the same thing. Fascism organizes under a corporate perspective. Fascism has a basic disdain for human rights, is inherently racist and sexist, disdains intellectuals, promotes rampant nationalism, and uses fear to control the masses. 

Here endeth the lesson. 

More later. Peace.

Music by Jann Arden, “Looks Like Rain”