Thursday, June 11, 2009


here was a poem was written by Martin Niemoeller in 1946. It has been varied over the years to apply to different causes … but the original message carries a powerful moral impact;

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I discovered that it appeared in a book written in 1955 by American journalist Milton Meyers -
They Thought They Were Free.

Well this really peaked my curiosity - and being retired, old, and with a lot of time to kill …. the searching continued.

I found two lengthy excerpts to this book, which is still in publication (considering the conditions here in this country today I am surprised that it isn’t being trumpeted on talk shows such as Rush Limbaugh’s or Glenn Beck’s, or Shawn Hannity’s - to mention three.

While I risk stating the obvious to anyone who has read it - here are two major excerpts - one is form the University of Chicago Press’ website …

Meyer’s book ( based on interviews he’d conducted in Germany several years earlier) is more chilling than any Steven King Novel.

Here is the excerpt …

But Then It Was Too Late

“What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

“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 not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

“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.

“You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was ‘expected to’ participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one’s energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time.”

“Those,” I said, “are the words of my friend the baker. ‘One had no time to think. There was so much going on.’”

“Your friend the baker was right,” said my colleague. “The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your ‘little men,’ your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

“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.

“How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. 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? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

“Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller 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 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 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 would 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. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

“But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what?

It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

“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 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 ‘Jewish 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 born 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. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

“You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

“Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

“What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or ‘adjust’ your principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not I, however. Or learn to live the rest of your life with your shame. This last is the nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism: shame. Many Germans became this poor kind of hero, many more, I think, than the world knows or cares to know.”

I said nothing. I thought of nothing to say.

“I can tell you,” my colleague went on, “of a man in Leipzig, a judge. He was not a Nazi, except nominally, but he certainly wasn’t an anti-Nazi. He was just—a judge. In ’42 or ’43, early ’43, I think it was, a Jew was tried before him in a case involving, but only incidentally, relations with an ‘Aryan’ woman. This was ‘race injury,’ something the Party was especially anxious to punish. In the case at bar, however, the judge had the power to convict the man of a ‘nonracial’ offense and send him to an ordinary prison for a very long term, thus saving him from Party ‘processing’ which would have meant concentration camp or, more probably, deportation and death. But the man was innocent of the ‘nonracial’ charge, in the judge’s opinion, and so, as an honorable judge, he acquitted him. Of course, the Party seized the Jew as soon as he left the courtroom.”

“And the judge?”

“Yes, the judge. He could not get the case off his conscience—a case, mind you, in which he had acquitted an innocent man. He thought that he should have convicted him and saved him from the Party, but how could he have convicted an innocent man? The thing preyed on him more and more, and he had to talk about it, first to his family, then to his friends, and then to acquaintances. (That’s how I heard about it.) After the ’44 Putsch they arrested him. After that, I don’t know.”

I said nothing.

“Once the war began,” my colleague continued, “resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was ‘defeatism.’ You assumed that there were lists of those who would be ‘dealt with’ later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here, too. He continually promised a ‘victory orgy’ to ‘take care of’ those who thought that their ‘treasonable attitude’ had escaped notice. And he meant it; that was not just propaganda. And that was enough to put an end to all uncertainty.

“Once the war began, the government could do anything ‘necessary’ to win it; so it was with the ‘final solution of the Jewish problem,’ which the Nazis always talked about but never dared undertake, not even the Nazis, until war and its ‘necessities’ gave them the knowledge that they could get away with it. The people abroad who thought that war against Hitler would help the Jews were wrong. And the people in Germany who, once the war had begun, still thought of complaining, protesting, resisting, were betting on Germany’s losing the war. It was a long bet. Not many made it.”

does any of this sound .. oh, just a tad familiar

I so highly recommend you getting a copy of They Thought They Were Free .. is it readily available at on-line book sellers and I am sure locally at your favorite book store.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It has happened before - it is happening NOW

It was interesting that the poll taken in Texas - can't remember who's poll it was - stated that 75% of Texans did not want to leave the union.

I think the real question to put before people is .. "... and the reason you feel you NEED to be part of the union, IS???"

I don't know that the drive to secede is as important to the individual states as is the need to move to make sure that they are self-sustainable.

By the time any proclamation of "secession" could be officially made ... it would be "shouted into a vacuum." I am finding it more and more difficult to figure out just why people are finding it hard to see that the Federal/Central government is imploding. "Economic recovery" is an illusion - a dangerous one, to those that hold out this dream - that things will "get, all better" - I would ask - "exactly how do you expect to 'recover' from a national debt that is in excess of 11 TRILLION dollars,

Figures on government spending and debt

Total public debt subject to limit April 16 11,125,587
Statutory debt limit 12,104,000
Total public debt outstanding April 16 11,183,899
Operating balance April 16 257,351
Interest fiscal year 2009 thru February 148,762
Interest same period 2008 198,518
Deficit fiscal year 2009 thru February 764,525
Deficit same period 2008 264,541
Receipts fiscal year 2009 thru February 860,877
Receipts same period 2008 967,153
Outlays fiscal year 2009 thru February 1,625,402
Outlays same period 2008 1,231,694
Gold assets in March 11,041
and growing by nearly 4 billion dollars a day.

Even if the Federal government were to totally stop spending ... period ... a move that would be as equally unrealistic and irresponsible as spending like a drunken sailor, the way it does today. This debt would remain - and even if you could magically “freeze” this debt - the interest on this debt would continue to grow. Remember what we didn’t create out of thin air (it is officially called “monetizing the debt” - just printing money with nothing behind it, we borrowed from other countries AND from people like YOU - it’s called Treasury Bonds)

FORGET, Obama, Bush, Clinton - and on and on - this path was established in the early 1900s and like ANY addiction - each administration (to a small degree) and EVERY Congress (to the largest degree) has put their little stamp on it since. IT IS NOT, nor never really was a partisan thing - perhaps if anything, is the most long lived example of "bi-partisanship" we have ever had in this country.

The truth is that this country is imploding ... one needs to look to history for comparisons - civilizations, nation/states/empires - call them what you will are NOT linear - they are and historically and demonstratively CYCLICAL. I long ago left the Great Depression to current situation model and began looking deeper - at examples that were more encompassing of what is happening now. This analysis takes you beyond the collapse of Soviet Russia, or even Socialist Italy and Nazi Germany - go back and take a really hard look at the Roman Empire - from where it WAS to what caused it to collapse .. the analogies are frightening. This is NOT doom and Gloom, nor is it the 'sky is falling' it is being pragmatic .. when it collapsed, people didn't "vanish" .. they went on - perhaps the REAL question is - when we do go on, and again we will - just how dark do we want our "Dark Ages" to be?
Again, I would argue that Nation/States - Empires, Great Societies - whatever you term them are NOT linear - they are CYCLICAL .. And we have reached the end of OUR cycle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yesterday's Tea Parties and poor excuse for news coverage

As a retired journalist who practiced his craft for nearly 25 years - I was mortified and embarrassed by the shallow and highly biased degree of advocacy journalism that was displayed by the - as Rush Limbaugh has - I now think justifiably, termed them "drive-by" media, wire, and the print media coverage of yesterday's nationwide tea parties.
To even detail the trash that attempted to pass itself off for "news coverage" would elevate it to a level of legitimacy that this bilge doesn't deserve.
After I retired, I taught journalism for nearly 12 years - at one of the universities were I taught, they asked that I stressed "ethics" in reporting - I had always avoided this task - one reason being NONE of my students, IN ALL the years I taught would EVER stoop to the level of reporting and writing I witnessed and have read to this point.
The other reason was that to me "ethics" and practicing of one's profession - and ethics and the conduct of one's life were NEVER inseparable . Finally when pressed to cover that topic in class - rather than waste MY time and their's for the three hour session - I simply told them this regarding the ethical conduct of their profession;
"With regard to ethical conduct of your craft ---- ALWAYS remember this - after you leave here, I know where each of you are going - and I will ALWAYS know where each of you are --- and IF EVER, ANY of you cross that line - I will come right to where you are, and I will reach down your throats and RIP YOUR GUTS OUT!!!!!
I can only say with some degree of satisfaction that - to my knowledge - NONE of my former students were covering the event.
I can remember something said by the great columnist, Jimmy Breslin - There are no "journalists" today - they are nothing more than PR Agents - sitting in their little cubical, waiting for the news to come to them - usually in the form of a press release, which they take and regurgitate into what they pass off as a news story ... They need to get off their "lard" asses and actually go out and cover the news!
What we see and read today in the media, is what we see in Washington with regard to our governance - professions without substance - and what has become most ominous for the fate of our nation, a separation and blatant disregard for the interest of those they purportedly serve. In the case of the elected representatives, the public whom they were elected to represent - or with the news media, the public who they contend that they inform and protect. They (the politicians and media) have become the ruling elite ... and worse, they have come to think of themselves as infallible! This self-bestowed infallibility is nothing more than ARROGANCE. It is this arrogance that potentially bodes, in my opinion, catastrophic consequences for this nation.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

USA Network's Character Project

HIGHLY recommend a website ... USA Network's Character Project.

"Character Project is USA Network's ongoing artistic initiative committed to celebrating America's characters - the interesting, dazzling, and distinctive people, from all walks of life who make this country extraordinary."

11 world-class photographers spent the summer of 2008 traveling America ... photographing the people and places of America. "From Alaska to New York, the subjects they encountered are a stunning example of our country's diversity."

I SO recommend this site -

Listen in particular to the words of the Photographer David Eustace


OUTRAGEOUS - the big wall street bonuses!! But why are there bonuses paid out in the first place? Wall Street and big business greed? Our propensity to reward non performance? - wait we already have that in a Congress that rewards itself each year with automatic pay raises ... hmm, I wonder --- as Jeffrey D. Korzenik wrote last month, at;
"Our politicians have sharply criticized Wall Street's bonus culture. President Obama has referred to the latest round of industry bonuses as "shameful;" Sen. Dodd has demanded their return and Paul Volcker pointed to this compensation system as a contributory factor in our current crisis.
What hasn't been discussed is the way misguided regulation fostered these pay arrangements in the first place."
cut and paste the link below for a very revealing piece.

Friday, March 27, 2009

At youtube there is a video of the Congresswoman questioning the Treasury Sec. and the Fed. Chairman about the constitutionality of granting or the executive branch grabbing these expanded powers

My comment to this was that it is frightening (their response or lack of, actually) - I received this "comment" in return..
"You're right, Bachman is scary."
to me, this needed a response - so I wrote;
"So, she was wrong to ask that question? And - though was not part of your comment, rather from someone else, the Constitution DOES NOT give the Congress broad powers ...
Joesph Story - Supreme Court Justice in the early 1800's rendered this opinion;
"The plain import of the clause is, that congress shall have all the incidental and instrumental powers, necessary and proper to carry into execution all the express powers. It neither enlarges any power specifically granted; nor is it a grant of any new power to congress. But it is merely a declaration for the removal of all uncertainty, that the means of carrying into execution those, otherwise granted, are included in the grant. Whenever, therefore, a question arises concerning the constitutionality of a particular power, the first question is, whether the power be expressed in the constitution. If it be, the question is decided. If it be not expressed, the next inquiry must be, whether it is properly an incident to an express power, and necessary to its execution. If it be, then it may be exercised by congress. If not, congress cannot exercise it."
Opinions rendered by other Supreme Court justices since hold the same opinion. So, I think that the question was well put.
It amazes me the lack of knowledge Americans have concerning what is really in the Constitution. But more dangerous, no matter which political party - members of Congress (both houses) have little understanding of a document that they took oath to defend and uphold.
What also rails me is the unrelenting call for "term limits" - personally I think it is a good idea .. However, This MUST be initiated by Constitutional amendment - Reformers during the early 1990s used the initiative and referendum to put congressional term limits on the ballot in 23 states. Voters in every one of these states approved the congressional term limits by an average electoral margin of two to one. HOWEVER, in May of 1995, in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, The United States Supreme Court ruled that states cannot impose term limits upon their federal Representatives or Senators.
This has been tried in Congress - but each time, it failed to garner the sufficient number of votes to move this to a proposed constitutional amendment.
In fact it was the Democrats who were in control of both houses of Congress in the 1940's who were able to muster the required 2/3s majority necessary to put forward an amendment that ultimately set a limit on the number of consecutive terms that a President may serve.
SO - personally, I don't look at what is happening in the context of Liberal or Conservative - nor do I in the context of Democrat or Republican ... I am seeing activities and actions in Washington that indicate that the Central Government has become not only detached from their constituency - but more, has become arrogant about it. It has, in a very real sense, granted themselves the status of "Ruling Elite: THAT is a danger to ALL Americans.
We need representatives of principles, values, and conscience ... NO MATTER WHAT THEIR PARTY AFFILIATION OR THEIR POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY ... where to serve in office is NOT a career path, rather a desire to serve their country.
I personally knew one man who, I think, was very much like that -- He was a liberal Democratic Senator from Minnesota, the late Paul Wellstone - Paul and I were close friends for many, many years, and although we NEVER saw eye to eye on political philosophy, when I resided in Minnesota, I voted for him ... because he was a man of principle. And I admit, I miss him.
I am pleased to say that this dialog continued, This was his/her response - “I appreciate you taking the time to explain your thoughts on the Legislative process and the obligations of our elected officials. Undoubtedly, we all would like our elected representatives to act consistently within their own conscience and follow the intent of the Constitution. However, Michelle Bachman's departure from "normal" politics rebukes coherent governance and erodes the discourse of public policy.”
To which, I thought this necessary..
"'normal' politics - is what got us into this situation to begin with - and this dates back decades and is perhaps the one truly "bi-partisan" thing they have done.
"coherent governance"and "discourse of public policy" - sorry, I don't think we have known this in our lifetime ... I was a journalist for nearly 25 years and have been retired for 14 ... I visit DC often, and still know most of these legislators quite well - which perhaps is a bit telling right there, as most were in office when I was practicing my craft and now nearly 14 years later - they're still there! To a person, they are ALL decent people - but to a person, they are all out of touch with reality.
I am convinced that there is a booth somewhere just before one enters the "beltway" where legislators are required to stop and check their brain - only to able to collect it when they return home after they either loose an election or retire.
The late Congressman Tip O'Neill once told me that a legislator has LONG passed his or her time to hold the office when they think that the government and the country can't run without them.”