What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 14, 2006

It sounds better in the original German

Sometimes it's better when you can't really blog for a day or two because you're able to see a bigger story from a lot of items that you may have blogged on separately.

So what's the bigger picture this week?

As the world goes to hell in a handbasket, I've come across some articles that help to show why.

First up, a 50 year academic study in which the data shows that conservatives are much more likely to follow authoritarian leaders. Former Nixon counsel John Dean discussed it with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann:
OLBERMANN: There is an extraordinary amount of academic work that you quote in the book. A lot of it is very unsettling. It deals with psychological principles that are frightening and may have faced other nations at other times. In German and Italy in the 30's, come into mind in particular. But, how does it apply now? To what degree should it scare us and to what degree is it something that might be forestalled?

DEAN: To me, it was something of an epiphany to run into this information. First, I'd never read about it before. I sort of worked my way into it until I found it. It's not generally known out there, what's going on. I think, from the best we can tell, these people -- the followers -- a few of them will change their ways when the realize that they are doing -- not even aware of what they are doing. The leaders, those inclined to dominate, they're not going to change for a second. They're going to be what they are. So, by and large, the reason I write about this is, I think we need to understand it. We need to realize that when you take a certain step of vote a certain way, heading in a certain direction, where this can end up. So, it's sort of a cautionary note. It's a warning as to where this can go. Other countries have gone there.
They go on to discuss how having a designated enemy and relentless fear mongering aids leaders in keeping their authoritarian postion -- drawing in those in the Mushy Middle along with the True Belivers. And how many True Belivers are there in this country?
DEAN: The lead researcher in this field told me, he said, "I look at the numbers of the United States and I see about 23% of the population who are pure right-wing authoritarian followers." They're not going to change. They're going to march over the cliff. The best thing to deal with them -- and they're growing, and they have a tremendous influence on Republican politics -- The best defense is understanding them, to realize what they are doing, how they're doing it and how they operate. Then it can be kept in perspective and they can be seen for what they are.
The above study explains why, while both ends of the political spectrum sometimes call each other "Kool-Aid Drinkers" (as in the followers of Jim Jones), this epithet better describes the Right than the Left. Add in the high crossover of those on the Far Right and those who subscribe to fundamentalist religions (which have a very unforgiving black & white view of the world) and you have the sort of people who are unwilling to have inconsequential things like facts and reality conflict with their belief in their ideology and their leaders.

The next news item that really caught my eye this week was a Justice Department lawyer telling the Senate Judiciary Committee the following:
‘The President Is Always Right’
The exchange went like this:
LEAHY: I don’t think the President was talking about the nuances of the law of war paradigm, he was saying this was going to tell him that he could keep Guantanamo open or not, after it said he could.

BRADBURY: Well, it’s not —

LEAHY: Was the President right or was he wrong?

BRABURY: It’s under the law of war –

LEAHY: Was the President right or was he wrong?

BRADBURY: The President is always right.
As one commenter at Think Progress said:
Well, there it is, folks. The Doctrine of the Unitary Executive, or, in other words, ‘The King can do no wrong’.
And, that's the really scary part. This is just not a snarky answer said with a smirk to a US Senator, this has been Bush's answer to every challenge he's had to his authority. Furthermore, he's surrounded himself with people like Alito and Gonzales who believe the same. Those in the Administration (and the Pentagon) with opposing views have found themselves being shown the door.

As was pointed out at Shakespeare's Sister:

Anyone ever see this propaganda poster from Germany in the thirties? It simply says, in big bold letters:

"Der F├╝hrer hat immer recht."

It means, "The Leader is always right."

I'll look for a photo link—I saw it at a holocaust exhibit in a German museum several years ago. It's considered one of the basic principles of the political philosophy of the Third Reich.

No, I'm not calling the President "Hitler." But I am saying that when you have a quarter of the public who crave the most authoritarian of leaders; and when this segment of the public has a disproportionate influence on all leaders (the pull of the Religious Right/Extreme Right); and when you have leaders in the top echelons who have authoritarian personalities; and you have a media who, overall, have rolled over to these leaders and one segment who operates as the house organ of these leaders; and you throw in wars and rumors of war; you have a most disastrous mix. Or to repeat John Dean:
"It's a warning as to where this can go. Other countries have gone there."
I remember just days after 9/11, the subject of torture came up. I couldn't believe that rationalizations for torture were being discussed in the media. It wasn't a huge discussion, but it came up -- especially on places like FOX News. It was like they couldn't wait (or perhaps more ominously, they already knew and were helping to prepare the way).

So what can be done to help ensure that we don't go where "other countries have gone?"

First, we must recognize that there is a good 25 to 30% of the country that those of us who value our freedoms will never capture.

These are the "baby eating numbers" (so called because they are so partisan that their leaders could eat a baby and they'd still find a way to defend them).

We will never reach them and we shouldn't waste any time trying.

We have to go for those in the Mushy Middle.

These are people who want strong leaders, but won't go over a cliff for them. These are people who you can reason with. And, who will listen to you if you present a strong compelling message.

But, in a time when are leaders are only too happy to both lie and scare the crap out of us to get what they want, we will get nowhere by being lapdogs or apologists.

The middle and the independents already know something isn't right. While they may not pay attention to every latest outrage by this administration, the poll numbers reflect their disapproval. Bush's poll numbers barely go higher than his "baby eating numbers." It's been this way for month after month. And, the numbers for Congressional Republicans are even worse.

Now is not the time for weakness or vacillation on the part of Democrats.

Now is the time to shout:

"Had enough?"

And, to offer them a real alternative

The majority of the public knows that Bush has been a disaster on nearly everything: Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, gasoline prices, health care, education, and the pocketbooks and wages of the average American.

They are ready for a change and we must give it to them.

Happy Bastille Day


Philip Shropshire said...

Yeah, I'm sure Sen. Bob Casey will get right on that, right after he criminalizes women for having abortions. Love our choices here...I wish the Green Party had money.

A book that you might like is Erich Fromm's "Escape from Freedom". Short version: There's something about most people that predisposes them to fascism...here's an excerpt:

Psychology of Nazism
The success of the Nazi's in gaining adherents and eventual control of a powerful and intellectually stimulating nation is one of the remarkable twists of history. Nazism replaced the Weimar Republic, one of the most democratic and freedom inspiring governments of the western world. The virulent nationalism, militaristic spirit and call to patriotism of the Nazi regime serve as a reminder that totalitarian philosophies can gain control of a democratic nation. "It seems that nothing is more difficult for the average man to bear than the feeling of not being identified with a larger group. However much a German citizen may be opposed to the principles of Nazism, if he has to choose between being alone and feeling that he belongs to Germany, most persons will choose the latter."

Freedom and Democracy
American democracy has freed its citizens from many external restraints; sexual, economic, social. religious, etc. Democracy has given them opportunities to expand their lives and express themselves in many areas. Has it given the citizens true individualism or only an illusion of individuality?

"We are proud that we are not subject to any external authority, that we are free to express our thoughts and feelings, and we take it for granted that this freedom almost automatically guarantees our individuality. The right to express our thoughts , however, means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own; freedom from external authority is a lasting gain only if the inner psychological conditions are such that we are able to establish our own individuality."

Original thinking, spontaneity, emotional expression, and deep feelings are often subdued in American life and replaced by making 'truth' relative, "a matter of taste." Thoughts and feelings are internalized, placed within from the outside, leading to the necessity to conform and to an eventual loss of identity.

"By conforming with the expectations of others, by not being different, these doubts about one's own identity are silenced and a certain security is gained. However, the price is high. Giving up spontaneity and individuality thwarts life...positive freedom consists in the spontaneous activity of the total, integrated personality."

Escape from Freedom

Anonymous said...

Maria, you don't know dick. All of your rambling basically equals the following in a nutshell: You are comparing conservatives to Nazis.

You are one seriously screwed up human being.

I hate to break the news to you, but the term "kool-aid drinker" originated from the right describing the left's obsession with the insane beliefs they subscribe to. Once again, I have to explain it to you and you and your associates on here:

"This term is often used by media personalities, such as the Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, to describe individuals with unrelenting political views of one extreme or the other, generally targeting views that oppose their own."

When you start comparing those on the right to Nazis, you have lost the debate. A Nazi is a diabolical monster who believes in racial genocide. Don't sit there and degrade the word by using it confusedly as you regularly do.

Why don't you grow up, Maria. Really. You look like such an ass when you rant on about things you clearly don't know anything about.

Maria said...

I will try to say it real s - l - o - w - l - y for you (though I know it won't make one damn bit of difference, but try to follow along anyway):

The German people weren't all monsters, were they?

They had elections and a representative government, no?

Yet, for the most part, they let a monster take control.

Many countries don't even have meaningful elections or representative governments and they are even more prone to being ruled by dictators, despots and "monsters."

There is only one way to truly avoid that fate.

And statements like ‘The President Is Always Right’ isn't it.

And neither is apologists like you who believe in the ideology behind that statement as long as the leader is from your side.

I don't believe that Bush is comparable to Hitler.

I'll say it again:


But his power grab and the Right's mad rush to assist him in that is what can pave the way for a real monster.


[I know, I know, Philip. He never will.]

Anonymous said...

That's because he is a kool-aid drinkig baby eater!

Shawn said...

Are we talking about baby-eating in the "Fat Bastard" manner or in the "Soylent Green" manner? Details count, y'know.

Maria said...

"Fat Bastard" -- definitely!

C'mon, can't you just picture Ann Coulter all over the media saying Clinton did it first (and besides, the baby was obviously a terrorist and, hey, we haven't had any attacks on US soil since 9/11, have we)? And then she's publish a cookbook...

Anonymous said...

If that is the case, then why the post in the first place? Answer that one, frau kann sich nicht irren wissen es der ganze liberale

Maria said...

If what is the case? That Bush is not Hitler? Do you actualy read things or just look at the pictures?

bryanscott said...

I'm a first timer. After reading the comments on both sides I'm guessing you're all fairly young (<37y/o), probably have not "served your country" (giving blood at your local hospital does not count) and your fairly self serving (it's all about you, not others), you may/may not have a degree. You are protected by the U.S. constitution, yet, you excercise your rights to the extreme to benefit no one but yourself, you have too many rights. Grow up, get to work, help your neighbor (do you know your neighbor?), visit other countries so you know how good you have it because others want it.

Shawn said...

Ann Coulter would not now and would not ever have anything to do with the publishing of a cookbook. I mean, Ann Coulter, food, together? Puh-lease!

Maria said...


It's a cookbook of baby recipes -- not dishes for babies but dishes where baby's are the main ingredient.


Maria said...


As you've said that we have "too many rights" I'd like to know which ones you'd like to give away?

Anonymous said...

Bryanscott, give it up. Maria is too self righteous and too perfect. She does no wrong.

In fact, she poops out gold and donates them to her local Democratic organization.

Maria said...


Simple question. Bryanscott said we have "too many rights."

Do you agree?

If so, which ones do you want to give away?

Still waiting for anyone who thinks we have "too many rights" to answer that.

Shawn said...

Actually, when it comes to the whole topic of "too many rights" I had many thoughts.

I had many thoughts about my rebutall to this but then I realised that as a human being, I am free, and any attempt to work backwards from that comes from coercion or constent. But, ultimately, I am, as are we all, totally free.

So, as to "too many rights" I can only say:


Jesus is a liberal said...

Well put Shawn!
Maria this by far has been one of the most enjoyable posts on your blog. I laughed and cried all at the same time. John Dean's discussion of this with Olbermann was eye opening. It gave me new perspective on the people who still have 'W 04' bumper stickers al over their cars. I saw a lady at a Cogo's last night with 'W' shit all over her bumper and instead of getting angry I laughed and thought 'look a member of the baby eating numbers'. Instead of trying to change her mind and then getting angry when she spewed her usual Republican crap - I actually thanked the lady for keeping them on to let everyone know that she's a jerk and laughed out loud!
I had no lingering anger when I drove away! I was actually finding humor in seeing 'Rapture Republicans'!
This has been liberating. To anyone who blindly follows these pocket-lining thieves of America in saying 'too many rights':
I reply with FUCK YOU as well.

Anonymous said...

"It gave me new perspective on the people who still have 'W 04' bumper stickers al over their cars. I saw a lady at a Cogo's last night with 'W' shit all over her bumper and instead of getting angry I laughed and thought 'look a member of the baby eating numbers'."

Allow me to translate, What JIAL really said is this:

I still get all pissed off when I see a GWB04 bumper sticker on my car and it reminds me of the fact that my political party continues to lose elections because we are all a bunch of losers who cannot see past our own socialist agendas which include those that do not believe that freedom and liberties are the solution to the human condition.

Hey JIAL, I am willing to place all bets that you still have a John Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on your car, even though you LOST. Now...that IS funny. bwahahahaha!

Maria said...

First, they get all pissy because a study demonstrates that they are pure right-wing authoritarian followers.

Then, they say we have too many rights.

Then when quizzed, they can't answer which rights.

Guess their leaders haven't told them yet.

It's *almost* funny.

tina harris said...

Earlier today, rather, yesterday, I found the lyrics in French and English and an MP3 of the Marseillaise, all of this triggered by B 12 Partners and a UTube of the 14 of July.

Every time I hear it I cry.
Not because the French defeated Brazil, just because it's so powerful.