I have exactly 5 minutes to write this before they come back again.
Some of you have been wondering what happened to the Ministry of Love.
Comrade O’Brien has asked me to relay this message. Predictably, he was captured six months ago and has been unable to communicate with you directly. He says that if you are still interested in distributing the Book, please email him in the place where there is no darkness.
The Ministry of Love will be proud to join in the Impeachment Celebrations occurring across our brave Homeland this weekend.
We will meet in Branford, CT at 1PM on Saturday.
For exact location please contact unpersons/at/gmail/dot/com.
The following is excerpted from Joe Conason’s new book, “It Can Happen Here” (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007).
Can it happen here? Is it happening here already? That depends, as a recent president might have said, on what the meaning of “it” is.
To Sinclair Lewis, who sardonically titled his 1935 dystopian novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” “it” plainly meant an American version of the totalitarian dictatorships that had seized power in Germany and Italy. Married at the time to the pioneering reporter Dorothy Thompson, who had been expelled from Berlin by the Nazis a year earlier and quickly became one of America’s most outspoken critics of fascism, Lewis was acutely aware of the domestic and foreign threats to American freedom. So often did he and Thompson discuss the crisis in Europe and the implications of Europe’s fate for the Depression-wracked United States that, according to his biographer, Mark Schorer, Lewis referred to the entire topic somewhat contemptuously as “it.”
If “it” denotes the police state American-style as imagined and satirized by Lewis, complete with concentration camps, martial law, and mass executions of strikers and other dissidents, then “it” hasn’t happened here and isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
For contemporary Americans, however, “it” could signify our own more gradual and insidious turn toward authoritarian rule. That is why Lewis’s darkly funny but grim fable of an authoritarian coup achieved through a democratic election still resonates today — along with all the eerie parallels between what he imagined then and what we live with now.
For the first time since the resignation of Richard M. Nixon more than three decades ago, Americans have had reason to doubt the future of democracy and the rule of law in our own country. Today we live in a state of tension between the enjoyment of traditional freedoms, including the protections afforded to speech and person by the Bill of Rights, and the disturbing realization that those freedoms have been undermined and may be abrogated at any moment.
Such foreboding, which would have been dismissed as paranoia not so long ago, has been intensified by the unfolding crisis of political legitimacy in the capital. George W. Bush has repeatedly asserted and exercised authority that he does not possess under the Constitution he swore to uphold. He has announced that he intends to continue exercising power according to his claim of a mandate that erases the separation and balancing of power among the branches of government, frees him from any real obligation to obey laws passed by Congress, and permits him to ignore any provisions of the Bill of Rights that may prove inconvenient.
Whether his fellow Americans understand exactly what Bush is doing or not, his six years in office have created intense public anxiety. Much of that anxiety can be attributed to fear of terrorism, which Bush has exacerbated to suit his own purposes — as well as to increasing concern that the world is threatened by global warming, pandemic diseases, economic insecurity, nuclear proliferation, and other perils with which this presidency cannot begin to cope.
As the midterm election showed, more and more Americans realize that something has gone far wrong at the highest levels of government and politics — that Washington’s one-party regime had created a daily spectacle of stunning incompetence and dishonesty. Pollsters have found large majorities of voters worrying that the country is on the wrong track. At this writing, two of every three voters give that answer, and they are not just anxious but furious. Almost half are willing to endorse the censure of the president.
Suspicion and alienation extend beyond the usual disgruntled Democrats to independents and even a significant minority of Republicans. A surprisingly large segment of the electorate is willing to contemplate the possibility of impeaching the president, unappetizing though that prospect should be to anyone who can recall the destructive impeachment of Bush’s predecessor.
The reasons for popular disenchantment with the Republican regime are well known — from the misbegotten, horrifically mismanaged war in Iraqto the heartless mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. In both instances, growing anger over the damage done to the national interest and the loss of life and treasure has been exacerbated by evidence of bad faith — by lies, cronyism, and corruption.
Everyone knows — although not everyone necessarily wishes to acknowledge — that the Bush administration misled the American people about the true purposes and likely costs of invading Iraq. It invented a mortal threat to the nation in order to justify illegal aggression. It has repeatedly sought, from the beginning, to exploit the state of war for partisan advantage and presidential image management. It has wasted billions of dollars, and probably tens of billions, on Pentagon contractors with patronage connections to the Republican Party.
Everyone knows, too, that the administration dissembled about the events leading up to the destruction of New Orleans. Its negligence and obliviousness in the wake of the storm were shocking, as was its attempt to conceal its errors. It has yet to explain why a person with few discernible qualifications, other than his status as a crony and business associate of his predecessor, was directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency. By elevating ethically dubious, inexperienced, and ineffectual management the administration compromised a critical agency that had functioned brilliantly during the Clinton administration.
To date, however, we do not know the full dimensions of the scandals behind Iraq and Katrina, because the Republican leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives abdicated the traditional congressional duties of oversight and investigation. It is due to their dereliction that neither the president nor any of his associates have seemed even mildly chastened in the wake of catastrophe. With a single party monopolizing power yet evading responsibility, there was nobody with the constitutional power to hold the White House accountable.
Bolstered by political impunity, especially in a time of war, perhaps any group of politicians would be tempted to abuse power. But this party and these politicians, unchecked by normal democratic constraints, proved to be particularly dangerous. The name for what is wrong with them — the threat embedded within the Bush administration, the Republican congressional leadership, and the current leaders of the Republican Party — is authoritarianism.
The most obvious symptoms can be observed in the regime’s style, which features an almost casual contempt for democratic and lawful norms; an expanding appetite for executive control at the expense of constitutional balances; a reckless impulse to corrupt national institutions with partisan ideology; and an ugly tendency to smear dissent as disloyalty. The most troubling effects are matters of substance, including the suspension of traditional legal rights for certain citizens; the imposition of secrecy and the inhibition of the free flow of information; the extension of domestic spying without legal sanction or warrant; the promotion of torture and other barbaric practices, in defiance of American and international law; and the collusion of government and party with corporate interests and religious fundamentalists.
What worries many Americans even more is that the authoritarians can excuse their excesses as the necessary response to an enemy that every American knows to be real. For the past five years, the Republican leadership has argued that the attacks of September 11, 2001 — and the continuing threat from jihadist groups such as al Qaeda — demand permanent changes in American government, society, and foreign policy. Are those changes essential to preserve our survival — or merely useful for unscrupulous politicians who still hope to achieve permanent domination by their own narrowly ideological party? Not only liberals and leftists, but centrists, libertarians, and conservatives, of every party and no party, have come to distrust the answers given by those in power.
The most salient dissent to be heard in recent years, and especially since Bush’s reelection in 2004, has been voiced not by the liberals and moderates who never trusted the Republican leadership, but by conservatives who once did.
Former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia, who served as one of the managers of the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives, has joined the American Civil Liberties Union he once detested. In the measures taken by the Bush administration and approved by his former colleagues, Barr sees the potential for “a totalitarian type regime.”
Paul Craig Roberts, a longtime contributor to the Wall Street Journal and a former Treasury official under Reagan, perceives the “main components of a police state” in the Bush administration’s declaration of plenary powers to deny fundamental rights to suspected terrorists. Bruce Fein, who served as associate attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, believes that the Bush White House is “a clear and present danger to the rule of law,” and that the president “cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses.” Syndicated columnist George Will accuses the administration of pursuing a “monarchical doctrine” in its assertion of extraordinary war powers.
In the 2006 midterm election, disenchanted conservatives joined with liberals and centrists to deliver a stinging rebuke to the regime by overturning Republican domination in both houses of Congress. For the first time since 1994, Democrats control the Senate and the House of Representatives. But the Democratic majority in the upper chamber is as narrow as possible, depending on the whims of Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, a Republican-leaning Democrat elected on an independent ballot line, who has supported the White House on the occupation of Iraq, abuse of prisoners of war, domestic spying, the suspension of habeas corpus, military tribunals, far-right judicial nominations, and other critical constitutional issues. Nor is Lieberman alone among the Senate Democrats in his supine acquiescence to the abuses of the White House.
Even if the Democrats had won a stronger majority in the Senate, it would be naive to expect that a single election victory could mend the damage inflicted on America’s constitutional fabric during the past six years. While the Bush administration has enjoyed an extraordinary immunity from Congressional oversight until now, the deepest implication of its actions and statements, as explored in the pages that follow, is that neither legislators nor courts can thwart the will of the unitary executive. When Congress challenges that presidential claim, as inevitably it will, then what seems almost certain to follow is not “bipartisanship” but confrontation. The election of 2006 was not an end but another beginning.
The question that we face in the era of terror alerts, religious fundamentalism, and endless warfare is whether we are still the brave nation preserved and rebuilt by the generation of Sinclair Lewis — or whether our courage, and our luck, have finally run out. America is not yet on the verge of fascism, but democracy is again in danger. The striking resemblance between Buzz Windrip [the demagogic villain of Lewis’s novel] and George W. Bush and the similarity of the political forces behind them is more than a literary curiosity. It is a warning on yellowed pages from those to whom we owe everything.
From “It Can Happen Here” by Joe Conason. Copyright (c) 2007 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
We have received 32 books from our friendly comrades in Montana.
They look like this:
This brings our collection total to 128, or 40% of our goal!
Needless to say, we intend to stay the course.
Stay tuned for our next mailing.
Military Commissions Act Protesters Go To Court
1/18/07 From Portland Indymedia
Charges Dismissed for All Protesters in Oct. White House Action against Torture and Military Commissions Act of 2006
Washington, DC, Jan. 17, 2007– U.S. Judge Deborah Robinson dismissed the government’s case against all 16 defendants today charged with “interfering with agency functions.” The 16 had attempted to present a “People’s Signing Statement” opposing the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006 to President Bush at the White House on Oct. 17, 2006. That morning, Bush ceremoniously signed into law the act defendants said legalizes torture for the first time in our nation’s history and broadly denies Habeas Corpus protection — a right guaranteed ever since the Magna Carta of 1215.
At a news conference in front of the US Federal Courthouse Jean Athey, co-coordinator of the Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture, stated, “The Military Commissions Act is an attack on basic American and religious values and the Constitution.” She quoted a line from the Statement of Conscience of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture: “Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear. It degrades everyone involved – policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals.”
“This is the most dangerous law ever passed in the U.S. in my lifetime,” Athey said. “As a patriot and person of faith, it is my obligation to do everything in my power to get this law rescinded. It deeply shames our country.”
Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, another defendant, said, “The Military Commissions Act is an affront to God’s command to love one another, an assault on human rights, and a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. The real crime here is not the nonviolent action of the 16 people who were arrested at the White House for protesting the signing of this act into law by Mr. Bush, but rather the Bush Administration’s policies of prohibiting due process and ordering torture.”
The charge carried a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a fine of an unknown amount, plus court costs.
Organizations sponsoring the October protest and supporting the defendants include: The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture ( http://www.wrrcat.org ), in coordination with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Torture Abolition Survivor Support Coalition, DC Anti-War Network, Witness Against Torture, and PeaceAction Montgomery. Those arrested on October 17, 2006 and whose charges were dismissed on Wednesday January 17, 2007 were:
Herb Ettel, Jean Athey, Susan Crane, Matt Daloisio, Pete Perry, Eve Tetaz, Art Laffin, Malachy Kilbride, Harold Nelson, Tom Feagley, Gary Mummert, Steve Lane, Eleanor Lewis, Nancy Gowan, Bill Streit, Pat Saloman
Pictures at: http://www.jonahhouse.org/WHoct06.htm
We just learned about this: Harvard University Law Students Hold Funeral for U.S. Constitution
We humbly request that you meet us in the room above Charrington’s shop on Saturday, 1300 hours.
Learning to love Big Brother: George W. Bush channels George Orwell
by Daniel Kurtzman
Sunday, July 28, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Here’s a question for constitutional scholars: Can a sitting president be charged with plagiarism?
As President Bush wages his war against terrorism and moves to create a huge homeland security apparatus, he appears to be borrowing heavily, if not ripping off ideas outright, from George Orwell. The work in question is “1984, ” the prophetic novel about a government that controls the masses by spreading propaganda, cracking down on subversive thought and altering history to suit its needs. It was intended to be read as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism — not a how-to manual.
Granted, we’re a long way from resembling the kind of authoritarian state Orwell depicted, but some of the similarities are starting to get a bit eerie.
In “1984,” the state remained perpetually at war against a vague and ever-changing enemy. The war took place largely in the abstract, but it served as a convenient vehicle to fuel hatred, nurture fear and justify the regime’s autocratic practices.
Bush’s war against terrorism has become almost as amorphous. Although we are told the president’s resolve is steady and the mission clear, we seem to know less and less about the enemy we are fighting. What began as a war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda quickly morphed into a war against Afghanistan, followed by dire warnings about an “Axis of Evil,” the targeting of terrorists in some 50 to 60 countries, and now the beginnings of a major campaign against Iraq. Exactly what will constitute success in this war remains unclear, but the one thing the Bush administration has made certain is that the war will continue “indefinitely.”
MINISTRY OF TRUTH
Serving as the propaganda arm of the ruling party in “1984,” the Ministry of Truth not only spread lies to suit its strategic goals, but constantly rewrote and falsified history. It is a practice that has become increasingly commonplace in the Bush White House, where presidential transcripts are routinely sanitized to remove the president’s gaffes, accounts of intelligence warnings prior to Sept. 11 get spottier with each retelling, and the facts surrounding Bush’s past financial dealings are subject to continual revision.
The Bush administration has been surprisingly up front about its intentions of propagating falsehoods. In February, for example, the Pentagon announced a plan to create an Office of Strategic Influence to provide false news and information abroad to help manipulate public opinion and further its military objectives. Following a public outcry, the Pentagon said it would close the office — news that would have sounded more convincing had it not come from a place that just announced it was planning to spread misinformation.
An omnipresent and all-powerful leader, Big Brother commanded the total, unquestioning support of the people. He was both adored and feared, and no one dared speak out against him, lest they be met by the wrath of the state.
President Bush may not be as menacing a figure, but he has hardly concealed his desire for greater powers. Never mind that he has mentioned — on no fewer than three occasions — how much easier things would be if he were dictator. By abandoning many of the checks and balances established in the Constitution to keep any one branch of government from becoming too powerful, Bush has already achieved the greatest expansion of executive powers since Nixon. His approval ratings remain remarkably high, and his minions have worked hard to cultivate an image of infallibility. Nowhere was that more apparent than during a recent commencement address Bush gave at Ohio State, where students were threatened with arrest and expulsion if they protested the speech. They were ordered to give him a “thunderous ovation,” and they did.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
The ever-watchful eye of Big Brother kept constant tabs on the citizens of Orwell’s totalitarian state, using two-way telescreens to monitor people’s every move while simultaneously broadcasting party propaganda.
While that technology may not have arrived yet, public video surveillance has become all the rage in law enforcement, with cameras being deployed everywhere from sporting events to public beaches. The Bush administration has also announced plans to recruit millions of Americans to form a corps of citizen spies who will serve as “extra eyes and ears for law enforcement,” reporting any suspicious activity as part of a program dubbed Operation TIPS —
Terrorism Information and Prevention System.
And thanks to the hastily passed USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department has sweeping new powers to monitor phone conversations, Internet usage, business transactions and library reading records. Best of all, law enforcement need not be burdened any longer with such inconveniences as probable cause.
Charged with eradicating dissent and ferreting out resistance, the ever- present Thought Police described in “1984” carefully monitored all unorthodox or potentially subversive thoughts. The Bush administration is not prosecuting thought crime yet, but members have been quick to question the patriotism of anyone who dares criticize their handling of the war on terrorism or homeland defense. Take, for example, the way Attorney General John Ashcroft answered critics of his anti-terrorism measures, saying that opponents of the administration “only aid terrorists” and “give ammunition to America’s enemies. ”
Even more ominous was the stern warning White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer sent to Americans after Bill Maher, host of the now defunct “Politically Incorrect,” called past U.S. military actions “cowardly.” Said Fleischer, “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.”
What would it take to turn America into the kind of society that Orwell warned about, a society that envisions war as peace, freedom as slavery and ignorance as strength? Would it happen overnight, or would it involve a gradual erosion of freedoms with the people’s consent?
Because we are a nation at war — as we are constantly reminded — most Americans say they are willing to sacrifice many of our freedoms in return for the promise of greater security. We have been asked to put our blind faith in government and most of us have done so with patriotic fervor. But when the government abuses that trust and begins to stamp out the freedom of dissent that is the hallmark of a democratic society, can there be any turning back?
So powerful was the state’s control over people’s minds in “1984” that, eventually, everyone came to love Big Brother. Perhaps in time we all will, too.
Daniel Kurtzman is a San Francisco writer and former Washington political correspondent.
Our brave comrades have thwarted the underground resistance to send the Ministry of Love a total of 57 copies of 1984. This is a glorious victory for Miniluv!
While we are still gathering books to reach our final goal of 315, we have become aware that many of the Inner Party Members who voted for torture did not survive the Great November Purge, and are soon to be vaporized. Therefore, we will be sending copies to these unpersons sooner than expected.
We are currently consulting with the Ministry of Truth to prepare a “total information awareness” campaign to promote this mailing. Any help that our comrades can provide is greatly appreciated.
Comrades at Unamerican and Students for an Orwellian Society have agreed to sign on as co-sponsors to this project. Details to follow.
We have reached 10% of our goal number. Books are coming in from brave comrades all across our homeland.
The following Inner Party Members are spoken for:
Bachus of Alabama
Calvert of California
Lieberman, Johnson, Simmons, and Shays of Connecticut
Brownback of Kansas
Gregg and Sununu of New Hampshire
Brown, Voinovich and DeWine of Ohio
Fitzpatrick, Specter and Santorum of Pennsylvania
J. Davis, T. Davis, Warner, and Allen of Virginia
To sponsor your own Member with a book donation, enclose a note with your shipment.
Keep spreading the word.
The Ministry of Love announces its fourth-quarter plan to gather 315 separate copies of George Orwell’s landmark novel 1984, from proles and party comrades alike, all across our brave homeland.
Once collected, all 315 copies will be mailed separately to each Member of Congress who voted YEA on the Military Commissions Act (a.k.a. The Torture Bill) on September 28th and 29th, in the sixth year of our glorious leader’s regime. These shipments will occur with great fanfare, and hopefully, a television news crew on hand to capture the momentous occasion for inclusion in the Ministry of Truth’s ever-growing archives.
In case you’ve forgotten, our glorious leader’s regime has gifted us with the following remarkably Orwellian achievements:
* spying on ordinary citizens without their knowledge
* paid propaganda masquerading as news reports
* removal by Thought Police of ungoodthinkers (protesters) from all Party rallies and celebrations featuring our glorious leader
* community members encouraged to report “suspicious activities” of neighbors and co-workers
* the promise of an endless war
(for a more comprehensive list, go to studentsfororwell.org)
Now, through the farsightedness of these distinguished 315 Inner Party Members, House and Senate, we can add sanctioned torture and indefinite detainment of suspects to that noteworthy list.
To recognize those who have brought us one step closer to the utopian world envisioned by Orwell, Miniluv will enclose a handwritten note with each copy of 1984, thanking each 315 Inner Party Member individually for their achievement.
Send new and used copies of 1984 to the following address:
Ministry of Love
Guilford, CT 06437
If buying books online, have them shipped directly to Miniluv.
If you would like your donation earmarked for a particular Inner Party Member, please note that with your shipment.
Goodthinkers always use media mail rates for shipping books.
Cash donations for postage to the Inner Party Members are doubleplushelpful.
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH