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Good and Bad News for the Bush Administration at the Domestic Front

A firm victory and a tough questioning for President Bush were mirrored by the two front-page articles of the New York Times on May 11th: The good news for the administration: With a 54-44 vote, the Senate has approved a 2-year extension for Mr. Bush's tax cuts until 2010. "The tax bill, which President Bush is expected to sign as quickly as possible, could set the stage for budgetary heartburn in the years ahead," comments the author, Edmund L. Andrews:
Renewing all those tax cuts again in 2010 would cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year, posing excruciating budget choices for the next president as the nation's baby boomers become eligible for billions of dollars in Medicare and Social Security benefits. (…) A permanent solution, most experts say, would require an overhaul of the tax code, but neither Mr. Bush nor Congressional leaders want to touch the issue this year. The overwhelming share of the tax cuts the Senate voted to extend will flow to the wealthiest taxpayers. People earning $1 million a year would save about $42,700, and reap about 22 percent of the total tax cut, according to the Tax Policy Center, a research group in Washington. People earning $40,000 to $50,000 a year would save about $47 and receive less than 1 percent of the benefits.
But while the GOP rejoiced about this Senate decision, President Bush came under pressure over a new media report on alleged phone surveillance of American citizens at home: 
The president sought to defuse a tempest on Capitol Hill over an article in USA Today reporting that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth had turned over tens of millions of customer phone records to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (...) The N.S.A. had created an enormous database of all calls made by customers of the three phone companies in an effort to compile a log of "every call ever made" within this country. The report said one large phone company, Qwest, had refused to cooperate with the N.S.A. because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.
The report, the NYT continues, "has rekindled the controversy about domestic spying." As indeed it did: both weekly newsmagazines, Time and Newsweek took up the issue on their front page. And according to the latest MSN poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA's surveillance program "goes too far in invading people’s privacy," while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.

Endnote from Joerg: Germany has its own spying scandal. According to Deutsche Welle, a confidential parliamentary report said that the German Intelligence Service BND had
spied on far more journalists working for German publications than was previously known and had recruited reporters to spy on their colleagues in order to get to the source of damaging articles. The BND's activities reportedly dated from the early 1980s until as recently as last year. (...) Some of Germany's most prestigious news organizations including the weekly Der Spiegel have admitted in the wake of the affair that some of their staff worked for the BND and provided information on colleagues from other publications as recently as last year. (...) Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a former federal justice minister and member of the opposition free-market liberal FDP likened the affair to the methods of the Stasi, the secret police of former Communist East Germany.


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Harry on :

Already back in 2002, after the Ermächtigungsgesetz for Adolph Bush, the so-called "Patriot Act", several Fullies pointed out that the Bush Junta is turning the United States into a fascist police state. Major opposition against such strong wording was the result of this well justified claim. Now it turned out that Bush signed 750 laws with the extension and under the condition, that he might violate them if he, the great Führer, deems to do so. Finally, after the torture scandal of Abu Ghureib and after the NSA spying internationally as well as domestically, people seem to realize what kind of Führer they elected twice into office: Here are the first few lines of the article: Police State USA - Part One By Amy Worthington March 9, 2006 Big Brother's Most Cool Tool Senate Minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calls this Congress the "most corrupt" in history.(1) U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) often uses the term "police state" to describe our national state of affairs. George Bush is making the most expansive claims to unbridled power since America's War for Independence, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).(2) Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who proved Bush/Cheney lied to launch us into war with Iraq, says "fascist forces have seized control of the levers of power."(3) Americans are being told that their Republic has become a fascist police state-they just need ears to hear. In a fascist police state, the dictator secures his power with support from private corporations which are given special privileges and thus benefit from doing business with dictators. Continuously bribed by 28,000 corporate lobbyists (4) in D.C., Congress is doing its part to build a fascist system in America. During President Bush's recent State of the Union speech, these tainted legislators perpetually rose to their feet to applaud the spewing of what a New York Times editorial called "misleading analogies, propaganda slogans and false choices."(5) Their bootlicking recalls a by-gone Soviet era when endless rows of robotic Central Party members applauded the likes of Stalin to ensure their next breath of oxygen. IMPEACH BUSH! IMPEACH CHENEY! IMPEACH RUMSFELD! IMPEACH WOLFOWITZ! IMPEACH RICE! INTO PRISON WITH THEM!

The Editors of the Atlantic Review on :

Although we appreciate open discussions on our blog, we do not consider your choice of words appropriate. In fact, most bloggers would have deleted your comment. No newspaper editor would print such a letter to the editor. That's not cowardice as you said earlier, but it is just not correct and appropriate. We prefer thoughtful comments with arguments that give a different perspective. Name-calling is not helpful at all. You likened Pres. Bush to Hitler. Yesterday, a reader likened Chancellor Merkel to Hitler and we told him off: [url][/url] We don't want to go down this road. This is not the level of discourse we would like to have on this blog. Please make thoughtful arguments and refrain from adhominem attacks. Otherwise we will have to censor your comments. Name calling does not advance your point of view anyway. To the contrary. So far, our readers have been great and we have hardly ever censored someone. You write: "several Fullies pointed out that the Bush Junta is turning the United States into a fascist police state." You and perhaps two or three others did. Most Fulbrighters criticized or ignored you.

Harry on :

Yeah, you're gonna censor me. Great. Censorship through ignorance. Seen that in the US myself during my years there. That's exactly what they have been doing for years. Feed Joe Sixpack and Jane Doe with useless infotainment, create FOX etc., and keep him too lazy to research the REAL news. Not quite as dumb as the Stalinist and Communist dictators, who tried to keep information away from people, therefore making it much hotter than before. The US mainstream media tried the same thing with Stephen Colbert's Bush roasting at the press reception, ignoring it, but check it out: the video has been #1 on GOOGLE VIDEO ever since. Can't keep the truth from the people forever: Regarding your remark: "You and perhaps two or three others did. Most Fulbrighters criticized or ignored you." Shame on the Fulbrighters who keep ignoring the fascist way of turning democracy into dictatorship. Wehret den Anfängen! In school, the leftist and Green dudes used to say: if we had lived back in the thirties, we would all have fought against the regime. Where is your voice NOW? Just dull and mainstreamed bozos is all that remains. Truth will prevail in the long run, censorship or not.

Godwin's Law on :

Godwin's Law is, in Internet culture, an adage originated in 1990 by Mike Godwin that states: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. This adage was formulated because many people compare anyone and anything they mildly dislike with Hitler. There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made the thread in which the comment was posted is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

Harry on :

I guess mentioning the name Hitler still is a taboo in Germany. I think here it is really justified because we are talking fascism and police state issues. It is not that simple that just mentioning the name Hitler means being without arguments. Just the opposite: it is time that the US mainstream media wakes up and starts to force impeachment of Bush! Back in the 60s, an affair such as the BND spying on journalists would have caused an outrage such as the SPIEGEL Affäre caused back then. Now... just plain silence. And back in the 70s, journalists discovered Watergate, and it cost Nixon his presidency. Bush is worse than Nixon, and what happens? Nothing. Does the media really pursue his wrongdoings? Naaah. Even the previous German minister of Justice, Hertha Däubler-Gmelin, compared Bush with Hitler. Please take a look at the following article that compares the enabling act of 1933 to the Patriot Act: 1) How the Patriot Act Compares to Hitler's Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) On March 23, 1933, the newly elected members of the Reichstag met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler's "Ermächtigungsgesetz". The "Enabling Act" was officially called the 'Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.' Opponents to the bill argued that if it was passed, it would end democracy in Germany and establish a legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. To soften resistance to the passing of the Enabling Act, the Nazis secretly caused confusion in order to create an atmosphere in which the law seem necessary to restore order. On February 27, 1933, Nazis burned the Reichstag building, and a seat of the German government, causing frenzy and outrage. They successfully blamed the fire on the Communists, and claimed it marked the beginning of a widespread terrorism and unrest threatening the safety of the German "Homeland." On the day of the vote, Nazi storm troopers gathered around the opera house chanting, "Full powers - or else! We want the bill - or fire and murder!" The Nazis used the opportunity to arrest 4,000 communists. Not only did the Nazis use the incident as a propaganda against communists but they also arrested additional 40,000 members of the opposition. Consequently, the Nazis had achieved their objective of eliminating democracy and ensuring their majority in the parliament. After the fire on February 28, 1933, president Hindenburg and Hitler invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which permitted the suspension of civil liberties during national emergencies. Some examples of this Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State abrogated the following constitutional protections: Freedom of the press, free expression of opinion, individual property rights, right of assembly and association, right to privacy of postal and electronic communications, states´ rights of self-government, and protection against unlawful searches and seizures. Before the vote, Hitler made a speech to the Reichstag in which he pledged to use restraint. He also promised to end unemployment and promote multilateral peace with France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. In order to accomplish all this, Hitler said, he first needed the Enabling Act. Since this act would alter the German constitution, a two-thirds majority was necessary. Hitler needed 31 non-Nazi votes to pass it. The Center Party provided these votes after Hitler made a false promise to them. Four hundred and forty votes were registered for the Enabling Act, while a mere 84 votes were opposed – the social Democrats. In glory the Nazi Party stood to their feet and sang the Nazi anthem, the Hörst Wessel song. The German Democratic party had finally been eliminated, and Hitler’s dream for Nazi command became closer to reality. The Enabling Act granted Hitler the power he craved and could use without objection from the Reichstag. Shortly after the passing of The Enabling Act all other political parties were dissolved. Trade unions were liquidated and opposition clergy were arrested. The Nazi party had, as Hitler said, become the state. By August 1934, Hitler became commander-in-chief of the armed forces. This was in addition to being President and Führer of the German Reich, to whom every individual in the armed forces pledged unconditional obedience. The Reichstag was no longer a place for debate, but rather a cheering squad in favor of whatever Hitler might say. 2) A 21st Century Comparison of The Enabling Act and The Patriot Act Last September, German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin pointed out that George Bush is using Iraq to distract the American public from his failed domestic policies. She capped her statement by reminding her audience: "That's a popular method. Even Hitler did that." What was lost in the reactions to Ms. Daeubler-Gmelin's comments was that she wasn't comparing Bush to the Hitler of the late 1930s and early 1940s; but to the Hitler of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Most Americans have forgotten that Hitler came to power legally. He and the Nazi Party were elected democratically in a time of great national turmoil and crisis. They themselves had done much to cause the turmoil, of course, but that's what makes the Bush comparison so compelling. Similar to the Bush administration, the Nazis were funded and ultimately ushered into power by wealthy industrialists looking for government favors in the form of tax breaks, big subsidies, and laws to weaken the rights of workers. When the Reichstag (Germany's Parliament building) was set ablaze in 1933 (probably by Nazis), the Nazis framed their political rivals for it. In the general panic that followed, the German Parliament was purged of all left-wing representatives who might be soft on communists and foreigners, and the few who remained then VOTED to grant Chancellor Hitler dictatorial powers. A long, hideous nightmare had begun. History teaches us that it is shockingly easy to separate reasonable and intelligent people from their rights. A legally elected leader and party can easily manipulate national events to whip up fear, crucify scapegoats, gag dissenters, and convince the masses that their liberties must be suspended (temporarily, of course) in the name of restoring order. Consider the following two statements, and see if you can identify the authors. Statement Number One: "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." Statement Number Two: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve." The first statement is a quote from Hitler's right hand man, Hermann Goering, explaining at his war crimes trial how easily he and his fellow Nazis hijacked Germany's democratic government. The second statement is a quote from Bush's right hand man, John Ashcroft, defending the Patriot Act and explaining why dissent will no longer be tolerated in the age of terrorism. If that doesn't send chills down your spine, nothing will. When the shooting started at Lexington Green in 1775, those calling themselves patriots were the men and women who refused to yield their rights to an increasingly oppressive government. Today, according to John Ashcroft and his Patriot Act of 2001, a patriot is someone who kneels down in fear, and hands over his or her rights to the government in the name of fighting terrorism. Isn't the hypocrisy of this all too obvious? The Bush administration wants us to fight in Afghanistan, to fight in Iraq, and to fight wherever terrorists may be hiding. And what, pray tell, are we fighting for? Well, according to the White House, we're fighting for freedom. Yet freedom is exactly what the White House is demanding that we now SURRENDER in the name of fighting terrorism. So what's really going on? Well, it's all a lie, of course. The Bush administration isn't any more interested in protecting our freedom from terrorists than Hitler was in protecting Germans from communists, Jews, and all the other groups he scapegoated. The Bush administration is fighting only to protect itself and its corporate sponsors. It hides behind a veil of national security and behind non-stop war headlines of its own creation. And behind that smokescreen, Bush, Inc. is pursuing Hitler’s old agenda from the 1920s and 1930s: serving the interests of the corporate industrialists who brought it to power. There is a name for governments that serve the interests of Big Business at the expense of their own citizens: fascist. Here's a short list of the rights we've already surrendered since the September 11 attacks. Most of these abuses are from a single piece of legislation called the Patriot Act of 2001, which was rushed through Congress with no debate in the aftermath of the attacks. Many of the Congressmen who voted for it later admitted that they hadn't even read it at the time.

Tom on :

Why is there always a link from the current US administration to Hitler? There are still people alive you suffered under the regime in the 1930s and they can tell you all about it, if you are willing to ask. Then you would find out that there are still huge differences and a comparison should not be made. But that would mean having to listen to those people and maybe changing one's opinion....

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