May 15 2008 show notes

Topics, guests, upcoming events, quotes, links to articles, audio clips, books & bumper music.

Thursday 15 May '08 show

  • The Best of the rest of the News...
  • Clip:
    "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
    President Bush Addresses Members of the Knesset, May 15, 2008.
  • Article: Keep your enemies closer, By Melvyn P. Leffler, LA Times, April 6, 2008. "In public Reagan reviled them, but in private he sought to talk to our foes."
    "What did Reagan say to Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko? He told each of them that, notwithstanding the differences between the United States and the U.S.S.R., there was much to talk about. Common problems could be discussed across the ideological chasm. The 'fact that neither of us likes the other,' he said in a January 1984 speech, 'is no reason to refuse to talk. Living in this nuclear age makes it imperative that we do talk'."
  • Article: Bush warns of Iraq disaster, Mike Allen, Politico, May 13, 2008. "President Bush warned in an interview Tuesday that the Democratic presidential candidates' plans to withdraw abruptly from Iraq could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States" and would "embolden" terrorists.
  • Clip: Montage of Bush's "Be afraid" phrases in an RNC speech.
  • Book: The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder, Mark Crispin Miller. Bush is articulate when talking about fear, hatred.
  • Senator John Edwards is endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president.
  • Clip:
    "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
    First Inaugural Address March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Bumper Music: Richard Cory, Simon & Garfunkel.
  • Article: Obama says Bush falsely accuses him of appeasement, Liz Sidoti, AP, May 15, 2008.
    "It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in the statement his aides distributed. "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."
  • Bumper Music: Season Of The Witch, Donovan.
  • Article: They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer. Thom Hartmann's "Independent Thinker" Book of the Month Review, November 7, 2005.

    Mayer opens the book by noting that he was prepared to hate the Nazis he would meet. But, he wrote, he discovered they were just as human as the rest of us:

    I liked them. I couldn't help it. Again and again, as I sat or walked with one or another of my ten [Nazi] friends, I was overcome by the same sensation that had got in the way of my newspaper reporting in Chicago years before [in the 1930s]. I liked Al Capone. I liked the way he treated his mother. He treated her better than I treated mine.

    He writes about how if he were to die tonight, at least he could look back on some good he had done. But his Nazi friends would never be able to die in peace, knowing the evil they had participated in, if even by acts of omission, could never be wiped clean. And he dreaded that Americans would ever feel the same for the acts we may one day commit as a nation.

    Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany - not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler. It was what most Germans wanted - or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

    I came home a little bit afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under combined pressure of reality and illusion. I felt - and feel - that it was not German Man that I met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.

    If I - and my countrymen - ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm.

    One of his closing chapters, "Peoria Uber Alles," is so poignant and prescient that were Mayer still alive today I doubt he could read it out loud without his voice breaking. It's the story of how what happened in Germany could just as easily happen in Peoria, Illinois, particularly if the city were to become isolationistic and suffered some sort of natural or man-made disaster or attack that threw its people into the warm but deadly embrace of authoritarianism.

    The [Peorian] individual surrenders his individuality without a murmur, without, indeed, a second thought - and not just his individual hobbies and tastes, but his individual occupation, his individual family concerns, his individual needs. The primordial community, the tribe, re-emerges, it's first function the preservation of all its members. Every normal personality of the day becomes an 'authoritarian personality.' A few recalcitrants have to be disciplined (vigorously, under the circumstances) for neglect or betrayal of their duty. A few groups have to be watched or, if necessary, taken in hand - the antisocial elements, the liberty-howlers, the agitators among the poor, and the criminal gangs. For the rest of the citizens - 95 percent or so of the population - duty is now the central fact of life. They obey, at first awkwardly, but, surprisingly soon, spontaneously.

    Among Mayer's stories are some of the most telling aspects of how the Nazis came to take over Germany (and much of Europe). I first quoted them a year ago in a Common Dreams article linked from BuzzFlash titled The Myth of National Victimhood. I noted that Mayer told how one of his friends said:

    What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, 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 so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security....

    As a friend of Mayer's noted, and Mayer recorded in his book:

    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 (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ...

    To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it - please try to believe me - unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, 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, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, 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.

    In this conversation, Mayer's friend suggests that he wasn't making an excuse for not resisting the rise of the fascists, but simply pointing out an undisputable reality. This, he suggests, is how fascism will always take over a nation.

    "Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) 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."

    "Yes," I said.

    "You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. 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 the 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 to talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? - Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

    "Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. 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, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, 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. ...

    "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 the 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.

    "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 'Jew swine,' collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in - your nation, your people - is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. 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 which rules without responsibility even to God." ...

    Mayer's friend pointed out the terrible challenge faced then by average Germans, and today by peoples across the world, as governments are taken over by authoritarian, corporatist -- fascist -- regimes.

    "How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men?" Mayer's friend asked rhetorically. And, without the benefit of a previous and recent and well-remembered fascistic regime to refer to, he had to candidly answer: "Frankly, I do not know."

    This was the great problem that Mayer's Nazis and so many in their day faced.

    As Mayer's Nazi friend noted, "I do not see, even now [how we could have stopped it]. 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 and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men?"

  • Tom Ridge said the White House had him raise the threat level although it was not justified. Patriot Act, Protect America Act, Military Commissions Act. Bush, OK to spy, anthrax, 9/11, Military Commissions Act, posse Comitatus, private mercenaries (brown shirts) in New Orleans, Habeas Corpus.
  • Thom:
    The Nazis were invoked today by George W Bush. I've avoided comparisons between Bush and the Nazis because it has always seemed to me somewhat hyperbolic. And in many ways it is. I don't see, you know, 6 million Jews being gassed or anybody else being gassed in the United States by this administration. But the direction, the spirit, the form, the techniques, they are all there now.
  • People around Niagara county, New York dying of cancer because of experiments with nukes. They are said not to be filling in potholes for fear of releasing radioactive materials.
  • Quote:
    "By means of the Liberal Press, the Liberals spread the colossal falsehood about ‘American Militarism’ throughout the world and tried to inculpate America by every possible means, while at the same time the Democratic Party refused to assent to the measures that were necessary for the adequate training of our national defense forces. The appalling crime thus committed by these people ought to have been obvious to everybody who foresaw that in case of war the whole nation would have to be called to arms and that, because of the mean huckstering of these noble ‘representatives of the people’, as they called themselves, millions of Americans would have to face enemies ill-equipped and insufficiently trained."
    Mein Kampf second edition, Joe McPherson, a former producer of Thom's radio program. Spoof of Mein Kampf with "Liberal" replacing "Jew".
  • Video: Mr. President, the war isn’t about you — or golf, Keith Olbermann, May 14, 2008.
  • Guest: Jeffrey Feldman, Frame Shop. His new book, "Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy". "Since 9/11, America has been contaminated by the violence of right-wing language, in the speeches of Republican politicians and the rantings of the talking heads on Fox News and on conservative talk radio. Jeffrey Feldman’s insightful and important book cuts through the violence, and shows how we can restore the democratic ideals that America was founded upon.”", The title is based on an Orwell essay. violent language since 9/11. Right wing pundits, books all have the same ideas reaching millions. In Spain and Italy, originally it was outsiders like Stalin who were vilified, then they turned on dissenters. Violent language cuts off debate and could lead to violence. No real Democrats on Chris Matthews. He also wrote "Framing the Debate: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (And Win Elections)". He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. Keith Olbermann is a lone voice in the wilderness, great rant last night.
  • Upcoming Event: May 16, Darien, Chicago, Il. 7pm. Talk and book signing at Frugal Muse bookstore.
  • Upcoming Event: May 17, Chicago, Il. Chicago Green Festival. He'll be at the WCPT booth from 11am - 1pm and speaks to the crowd at 1pm. He'll sign his new book directly after.
  • Video: When Democracy Failed, Thom.
  • The first hour of the show will be put on the site as a video. There are lots of videos up at with more to be uploaded, and more at goleft.tvwhere there's a Thom Hartmann channel. There are also transcripts of some segments - click on "transcripts" in the upper right hand corner on Thom's home page.
  • Article: The Myth of National Victimhood - All Wrapped and Delivered for Christmas.
  • screwed unequal protection we the people
  • Book: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood.
  • Bumper Music: We Can't Make It Here Any More, James McMurtry.
  • Bumper Music: Crazy, Gnarls Barkley.
  • Article: Hillary Vows to Fight on for Edwards’ Endorsement. Andy Borowitz.
  • Clip: "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal". Richard Nixon.
  • Book: The German Dictatorship, Karl Dietrich Bracher.
  • Book: "The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot", Naomi Wolf.
  • Bumper Music: Our Country, Jim Mellancamp.
  • Sponsor segment: Guest: Tom Mikesell, All American Mortgage Corporation.
  • Book: Savage symphony;: A personal record of the third reich, Eva Lips. A diary from before Kristallnacht. The USA is not burning books, but Valerie Plame's book was half redacted.
  • Secretary of Defense Gates said we need to engage Iran. Today, Bush said anybody who does is an appeaser. McCain and Lieberman agreed.
  • Guest: Douglas Farah,co-author of "Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible".
    "While there’s no shortage of books on international terrorism, drug cartels and genocide, the international weapons trade has received less attention. Journalists Farah and Braun center their absorbing exposé of this source of global misery on its most successful practitioner, the Russian dealer Victor Bout. Throughout the Cold War, they show, the Kremlin supplied arms to oppressive regimes and insurgent groups, keeping close tabs on customers; after the U.S.S.R. collapsed, the floodgates opened in the 1990s. With weapons factories starved for customers, Soviet-era air transports lying idle and rusting, and dictators, warlords and insurgents throughout the world clamoring for arms, entrepreneurs and organized criminals saw fortunes to be made. The authors paint a depressing picture of an avalanche of war-making material pouring into poor, violence-wracked nations despite well-publicized U.N. embargoes. America denounces this trade, but turns a blind eye if recipients proclaim they are fighting terrorism, they say."

    Bout began in his mid 20s. He simply flew planes and weapons out of Russia when it broke up, stoked up lower grade wars. He was arrested last month in Thailand after a sting, and is awaiting extradition to the USA for trial; the Russians are challenging. Enron exemption. Checks and balances. Little of what he did was illegal. Breaking a UN arms embargo gets you a slapped wrist. Sudan, Chinese weapons. Chinese entrepreneurs are filling the vacuum. They are all AK47s made in different countries. They will trade for commodities as well as cash. War is shifting to non-state actors. KBR, Dyncorps are relying on state funding, but others like the diamond trade, FARC.

  • Bumper Music: Keep Holding On, Avril Lavigne.
  • Goosalini had 5 goslings, but now he has a total of 14 of various sizes, but one of his appears to have gone.
  • Article: Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans, September 05, 2005.
  • Bumper Music: I'm taking my country back, Tony Stampley, Honky Tonkers for Truth (lyrics) (mp3).
  • Taking my country back segment: Guest: Rick Noriega running for Senate in Texas. Master's Degree in Public Administration from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he was an editor of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. Army veteran. Lieutenant Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard. He served in Afghanistan. Teacher. Texas State Senate staffer. Two terms in the Texas House of Representatives.
  • Article: California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban.
  • Bumper Music: Last DJ, The, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
  • Contest. Before the last segment of the show, go to and post a comment in response to today's "On the Program" entry. The winner gets a signed copy of screwed.
    The winner was mathboy for:
    So I expect that McCain will refuse to debate the Democratic candidate for President, since "talking to your enemy is appeasement."
  • Book: "Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth", Kenneth Keniston.
  • Article: "How community mental health stamped out the riots (1968–78)", Kenneth Keniston.
  • Speech:
    "By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom... free trade... A reduction in the corporate tax rate from the second highest in the world to one on par with our trading partners... New free trade agreements have been ratified and led to substantial increases in both exports and imports."
    McCain on His Hopes for His First Term, Ohio, May 15, 2008.
  • Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News. Bush speech at the Knesset. Obama came right after him on it. Rice and Gates have both called for direct contact with Iran. Is Bush calling them appeasers? Biden called it BS. Politics should end at the water's edge. Gas prices in Ohio are almost 4 dollars. McCain was in there, gave a speech of his vision reminiscent of a Kenneth Keniston piece. No idea of how to get there from here. California gay marriage ruling, opponents now are aiming for a referendum.

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