Saturday, May 24, 2003

More thoughts about the Good Doctor, Ugly Parallels, and Fanatics

The Howard Dean momentum continues to grow like a bedload of rambunctious bunnies. Looking on the web, I see more and more BLOGS dedicated to the cause of the Howard Dean campaign, multiplying in rapid succession, one after another. The phenomenon is well-documented in various media, including a semi-recent Newsweek article that discussed how the Dean campaign somehow found themselves with with thousands of volunteers because of this special internet resource. Meetup isn't a really a political group, per se, but an organizational tool for groups of people that like to share their special interests- be gardening, diabetes, witchcraft, music, politics or something entirely. In the Meetup universe, Howard Dean is a virtual rockstar! Almost 26,000 people have volunteered to help Dean with the election, while his closest competition at Meetup, Senator John Kerry has just over 1,200 volunteers. Meanwhile, just under 400 people that have signed up to volunteer for (P)resident George W. Bush's campaign via

Embracing the power of the internet like no other presidential candidate, the Howard Dean campaign is utilizing wireless text, and a new broadband video website titled Howard Dean.TV (or HDTV for short) that will spread the word of the good doctor. While Howard Dean doesn't have the big money support of multi-national corporations that have profited handsomely from the political maneuverings of his opponent, he does have a very motivated grass-roots support team. In the Yahoo Groups, I did a search for forums dedicated to Howard Dean, and I found 203 different groups. While most of these Yahoo Dean groups are regional, there are some very interesting groups- Disabled Voters for Dean, Lawyers for Dean, Pray For Dean, Out For Dean, and a group called "AOHforDean", which is described as "a group is for members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians who support Howard Dean for the Democratic Presidential nomination."

In the past week, I discovered more great articles and interviews that demonstrate why I believe Dr. Howard Dean is the best candidate currently running for president.

At "That Other Blog" there was a great article that discussed how one Libertarian man decided to vote for Howard Dean based on Dean's positions on universal healthcare, the economy, homeland security, national security, reproductive rights, equal protection, and gun control.

Howard Dean and Me: A Libertarian's Confession by Johnny Bardine

GRIST magazine conducted an interview with Howard Dean that focused on his environmental positions.

Rebel with a Cause?
An interview with Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean by Amanda Griscom

William Rivers Pitt, author of "War On Iraq" and "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," conducted an interview with Dean for the Truth Out website, where Howard Dean commented on the war against terrorism:
"I think we're really stuck in Iraq. We're there, we can't leave because if we do there may be a regime that will be more dangerous than Saddam Hussein, particularly if it is a fundamentalist regime. We've taken our eye off the ball because of the President's obsession with Iraq. We need a new oil policy, something other than 'Let's drill in the national parks,' because our oil money is being used to fund terrorism in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria. I might also add that there are these fundamentalist schools set up to teach children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews. That's a real problem for terrorism down the line."

"We need to inspect the 98% of the containers that come into this country and are not inspected. We need to give the states and municipalities the money we promised them to help fight terrorism on the local level. We need to buy the Russian plutonium stocks the President said he was going to buy, and has since appropriated very little money for. These are all things that pose immediate dangers to the United States, and the President has done nothing about them whatsoever."

When asked whether he would repeal parts of the Patriot Act, Dean responded:
"First of all, I would remove the parts of the Patriot Act that are clearly unconstitutional. It can't be constitutional to hold an American citizen without access to a lawyer. Secondly, it can't be constitutional for the FBI to be able to go through your files at the library or the local video store, to see what you've taken out in the last week, without a warrant. The other thing I would do is appoint judges that would uphold the constitution. This President is appointing people from the far-right Federalist Society who have a different view of the constitution than most Americans. I hate to agree with anything Dick Nixon said, but Dick Nixon used to say that he wanted strict constructionists for the bench. This President is appointing right-wing judicial activists. We need strict constructionists that believe in the constitution and will uphold it as written."

An interview with Howard Dean conducted by William Rivers Pitt

Newsweek magazine provided a nice interview with Dean for their online readers:

Finally on the subject of Howard Dean, the doctor himself wrote an excellent essay for The Forward, one of America's oldest Jewish newspapers.

For the Health of Our Nation, Insure All American Children

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Some sixty years after his suicide, Adolph Hitler is still making the news.

In the recent "Matrix Reloaded" motion picture, there's a controversial sequence that is stirring up a bit of controversy. I haven't seen the movie yet, but apparently there's a sequence that equates G.W. Bush with Adolph Hitler in some kind of discussion of evil.

There's nothing new in that analogy- two leaders that "won" their elections without popular vote, rose to power after major acts of terrorism, and used the power of fear to strip away certain civil rights from their citizens. Do a little Google search, and you'll see a ton of articles that discuss how G.W.'s grandfather- Prescott Bush was prosecuted by the American government because of his dealings with the Nazis. Apparently, the U.S. government used the "Trading with the Enemy Act," to seize control of the Union Banking Corporation, which is where Prescott Bush was a director. Or so I've been told.....

Last week, the CBS network presented a rather controversial two-part television movie "Hitler: The Rise of Evil." In an ironic set of events, Ed Gernon, head of the movie and miniseries division of Canadian-based production company Alliance Atlantis which produced this production, was fired because of some comments he made in promoting this film.

In the April 12 TV Guide, the magazine mentioned that "Gernon stated his belief that fear fueled both the Bush administration's adoption of a preemptive-strike policy and the public's acceptance of it." According to the article, "Gernon said a similar fearfulness in a devastated post-World War I Germany was 'absolutely' behind that nation's acceptance of Hitler's extremism."

Ed Gernon came up with a description for this moment in history that summarized what he wanted to convey in this production: "It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole world into war."

Ultimately, in an era where top-selling musicians like the Dixie Chicks are removed from the radio waves because of their comments on the supreme commander-in-chief, the dismissal of Ed Gernon was no surprise.

The Hitler film wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't a "great" movie. The script seemed to be a neutered, politically-correct attempt to explain the history of an universally-hated icon. Robert Carlyle, an actor best known from his role in the film "The Full Monty" starred as the famous Nazi dictator. As talented as an actor as Carlyle is, I had a really hard time imagining him as Adolph Hitler. For me, that English accent just got in the way of the characterization. His mannerisms were just "too proper," and his enunciations "too English" for me to buy into the illusion.

On the other hand, the storyline translated well with this movie, and some of the key elements were quite powerful. It was a wise move to end the film as Hitler came into his own as the leader of the German government, before the various invasions of other countries began. I applaud the producers for producing this ultimately flawed television movie. If this movie inspired any viewer to seriously re-evaluate their past, present or future, then it served it's purpose magnificently.

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Last, but not least, I found a great quote from Arianna Huffington on the subject of fanaticism:
"The defining trait of the fanatic -- be it a Marxist, a fascist, or, gulp, a Wolfowitz -- is the utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief. Bush and his fellow fanatics are the political equivalent of those yogis who can hold their breath and go without air for hours. Such is their mental control, they can go without truth for, well, years. Because, in their minds, they're always right."

A White House Fluent In Language Of Fanatics
by Arianna Huffington

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E.P. Saturday, May 24, 2003