Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some stray thoughts on Vorwärts! Vorwärts! (The song of the Hitler Youth)

While I have the work I did on the subject a couple of days ago still in mind: I see that British critics of the HJ (Hitler Jugend; Hitler Youth) during the war described it as "education for death". And there have been academic articles that identify Fascism/Nazism as a death cult too. And if you look at the last line of the first verse of Vorwärts! Vorwärts! (below) you can see why. HJ members were encouraged to give up their lives for Hitler if need be.

But is it really fair to condemn that? Consider two other well-known statements: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Is Christianity a death cult? Early Christians certain did often lay down their lives for their faith.

And what about: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"? (Originally said by Pericles and recycled by JFK in his first inaugural). Was JFK inaugurating a death cult?

Neither quote is an exact analogue of what the HJ asked of its members but throughout history it has normally been seen as heroism to give up one's life for others and I personally see the sadly misled young members of the HJ as walking in that tradition. The only pity is that their dedication was so badly abused.

They in fact thought that they were fighting for Freiheit und Brot (freedom and bread). We forget in our age of affluence that an abundance of food for all is a quite recent achievement. Hunger was just around the corner for most people throughout history. And Hitler did promise to banish that danger via his policy of Lebensraum. And hunger is an urgent need so fighting for "bread" was a much more important goal in the time of the HJ than it is today. Hence its prominence in their song.

But perhaps the most interesting bit in Vorwärts! Vorwärts! is that the HJ also thought they were fighting for "freedom". Freedom from what? Basically, freedom from Jewish oppressors, I think. It was a fantasy of course but one that was widely believed at the time. The prominence of Jews in all walks of life in prewar Germany certainly helped foster that illusion.

And the flag of the HJ heralded "the new time". I can remember the days in the 50's, 60s and even 70s when "new" was a Leftist catchword. The "new" theatre or the "new" school would be understood by politically aware people as being on the far Left. So, as far Leftists, the Nazis presented themselves that way too. That tyranny and collectivism are as old as the hills was somehow ignored. But for a long time people did think -- or hope -- that Fascism and Communism were something new, improved and positive. I think it was the obviously sclerotic state of the old Soviet union that eventually caused the Left to abandon their propaganda about being "new". Though I suppose that "hopey change" is just a variation on it.
Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran. Our flag flutters before us
In die Zukunft ziehen wir Mann für Mann We trek into the future as man for man
Wir marschieren für Hitler We march for Hitler
Durch Nacht und durch Not Through night and hardship
Mit der Fahne der Jugend With the flag of youth
Für Freiheit und Brot. For freedom and bread
Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran, Our flag flutters before us
Uns're Fahne ist die neue Zeit. Our flag is the new time
Und die Fahne führt uns in die Ewigkeit! And the flag leads us into eternity
Ja die Fahne ist mehr als der Tod! Yes the flag is more to us than death


Systems of government


Iraq's new birth of freedom

RONALD REAGAN liked to say that there was no limit to what a man could accomplish if he didn't mind who gets the credit. The transformation of Iraq from a hellish tyranny into a functioning democracy will be recorded as a signal accomplishment of George W. Bush's presidency, and he probably doesn't mind in the least that the Obama administration would like to take the credit.

This week's parliamentary elections in Iraq brought 12 million voters to the polls -- a remarkable 62 percent turnout, notwithstanding a vicious wave of Election Day bombings that killed 38 people and destroyed several buildings in Baghdad.

"Iraqis are not afraid of bombs anymore," a middle-aged voter named Maliq Bedawi told a New York Times reporter as they stood amid the rubble of a Baghdad apartment building destroyed by a Katyusha rocket. If anything, the jihadists' violence succeeded only in intensifying the refusal of ordinary Iraqis to be intimidated. "Everyone went" to vote, Bedawi said. "Even people who didn't want to vote before, they went after this rocket."

Iraqis have paid a steep price for their burgeoning young democracy: Tens of thousands of lives were wiped out in the horrific insurgency that followed the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Perhaps that awful butcher's bill explains the fervor with which Iraqis have embraced democratic self-governance. In Sunday's elections, 6,200 candidates representing 86 political parties contended to fill 325 seats in parliament. (Would that our own congressional elections were so competitive.) Such democratic passion would be impressive anywhere. To see it flourish in one of the world's most dangerous and undemocratic neighborhood is downright heroic.

Of such heroism, a new Iraq is being fashioned -- the Iraq Bush foretold in an address to the National Endowment for Democracy in November 2003, when he declared that "Iraqi democracy will succeed" and predicted that "the establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution." Six years later -- six years in which Iraq was convulsed by the bloody agony of sectarian terror, and in which 4,000 US military personnel were killed -- that prophecy is coming to pass.

"Something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq," acknowledges Newsweek in a recent issue. "And . . . it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East." On the magazine's cover are the words "Victory At Last," and a photograph of Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, where in May 2003 he appeared before a backdrop reading "Mission Accomplished" to proclaim that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

In 2006 and 2007, few Americans expected to ever see such a magazine cover. Over and over they were told that the war in Iraq was lost, that there was no military solution to the carnage there, and that invading Iraq had been the biggest mistake in US history. Bush's decision in January 2007 to change strategy and "surge" an additional 20,000 additional troops into Iraq was scathingly denounced. Such a "fantasy-based escalation of the war," wrote The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, "could only make sense in some parallel universe where pigs fly and fish commute on bicycles." Senator John Kerry called the surge "a senseless decision." Barack Obama, gearing up to run for president, warned that doubling down in Iraq was not "going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

But the critics were wrong. The surge turned the war around, giving Iraq a new lease on life. Where Saddam once ruled a ghastly "republic of fear," Iraqis live today in democratic freedom and relative peace, dispelling daily the canard that democracy and Arab culture cannot co-exist.

Of course there are no permanent guarantees, and it remains to be seen whether Iraq's nascent democracy can sustain itself. For now, though, the news is very good. So good that even Vice President Joe Biden -- who a few years ago was calling for Iraq to be partitioned, and who blasted Bush's surge as "a tragic mistake" and "not a solution" -- now takes credit for Iraq's rebirth. "I am very optimistic about Iraq," Biden recently told CNN's Larry King. "I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration."

Somewhere, Ronald Reagan must be chuckling.



Obama's corrupt Justice Dept. not getting a free ride

Give credit for honorable persistence to Northern Virginia's veteran Republican congressman, Frank Wolf, and to Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith. For good reason, they refuse to let the Justice Department bury questions about a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.

The case involves two Black Panthers who stood outside a Philadelphia polling place in November 2008 while wearing paramilitary garb and using racial epithets, while one of them brandished a nightstick. The Obama Justice Department dropped three out of four charges in the case last May after the cases, in effect, had already been won.

At every turn, the Justice Department has stonewalled the two lawmakers and others wanting an explanation for the dismissal. Since September, the department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) supposedly has been conducting an investigation into why the charges were dropped. To outside observers, that "investigation" has seemed lethargic at best. Meanwhile, OPR chief Mary Patrice Brown reportedly is on the verge of an Obama nomination for a federal judgeship, for which she is being vetted by some of the same people who presumably would be questioned in the Black Panther probe.

OPR also came under fire two weeks ago when the department's senior career officer, David Margolis, overruled the office and criticized its shoddy work on its review of the conduct of two George W. Bush-era lawyers who wrote memos on enhanced interrogation of suspected terrorists.

In light of OPR's own apparent or potential politicization, Mr. Wolf asked the Justice Department's inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, to conduct his own inquiry into the mishandling of the Black Panther case. In early February, Mr. Fine declined, saying such an investigation is out of the scope of his responsibilities - although, he added, he had long told Congress that such questions should indeed be within his purview.

Enter Mr. Wolf again, this time joined by Mr. Smith. On March 2, they sent another letter to Mr. Fine, urging the IG to reconsider because of "the host of troubling questions about whether the Department's political appointees abused their power in this case for political purposes." They listed at least five major questions they think the IG, not OPR, can best answer, including "whether White House officials attempted for partisan political purposes to influence the [Black Panther] case [and] whether senior Department management officials and political appointees actually colluded for these purposes with White House officials to derail the [Black Panther] case or cases against minority defendants in general." They wrote that those "larger issues in this affair, whether for the pursuit of impartial justice, the pursuit of criminal justice for government officials or the credibility of the Department, lie within your jurisdiction, not OPR's."

This point is important. At some level, there needs to be some independent authority, untainted by political entanglements, who can investigate allegations of improper political entanglements. The congressmen note that Mr. Fine and OPR conducted simultaneous and complementary investigations into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration when some of the same considerations applied.

One way or another, the truth will get out. It doesn't take Inspector Clouseau to figure out that if the Justice Department has the image of springing Panthers from the penalty box, it looks mighty suspicious.




Stimulus Dollars Buy Buses for Greyhound in Missouri: "I’m thinking about taking a ride on the commercial bus line soon. Why? Because, as a taxpayer, I’m paying for it. I came across this news after reading a release on the White House web site that listed the Missouri Department of Transportation as the recipient of $4.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a., “stimulus”) funds for use in “construction of two facilities and purchase of two intercity vehicles.”... The MoDOT spokesperson confirmed that, in order to meet the federal mandate that 15 percent of ARRA funds provided to states be spent on intercity bus transportation, the State of Missouri will use $945,210 of federal taxpayer monies to reimburse Greyhound Bus Lines for the addition of two new buses to the company’s fleet. In other words, Greyhound is getting a federal subsidy and the Show-Me State is acting as a laundromat of sorts."

Tolerating the intolerable: "What is a democracy without fair elections? Not a democracy, wouldn't you say? So why does America, the granddaddy of democracies, tolerate election systems that aren't free of fraud? OK, how rare is it? Can anyone put a number on it and tell us how much voter fraud is happening? Is voter fraud so rare in America that it can't affect an election? In a contest not finalized until nearly 8 months after Election Day, Democrat Al Franken won Minnesota's 2008 race for U.S. Senate by 312 votes. Out of the 2.9 million votes cast, that's a winning margin of just over .01%, or .0001075 of the total. Those 312 "votes" gave Democrats a filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate majority, allowing them to enact legislation that could forever change America. With so much being decided by such a small margin, shouldn't we be more concerned about fraud, regardless of whether it's committed by voters or vote counters? Vote counters weighed heavily in the Coleman-Franken election. Matthew Vadum alleges: "The election was stolen at the precinct level, during the recount, and during the post-election litigation."

Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: "A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups. The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin — 51 percent to 41 percent — Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama's presidency. The Democratic Party also plummeted on national security. A May survey by the pollsters found that the public saw the Democratic and Republican parties as equally able to handle national security (41 percent trusted Democrats more and 43 percent trusted Republicans more). On conducting the war on terrorism, the two parties were tied at 41 percent. But the latest poll shows a massive gap, with Democrats trailing by 17 points, 33 percent to 50 percent, on which party likely voters think would do a better job on national security."

Obama and the l-word: "Here’s how predictable the president’s slippery relationship with the truth has become: Hours before the State of the Union address, Washington Examiner reporter Timothy P. Carney posted a ‘pre-emptive fact check’ that, among other things, prebutted any presidential claim to have ’stopped the revolving door between government and corporate lobbying.’ As it happened, that night Barack Obama made an even bolder (read: less truthful) claim: that ‘we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.’ In fact, more than 40 former lobbyists work in the administration, including such policy makers as Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn (who was lobbying for Raytheon as recently as 2008), Office of the First Lady Director of Policy and Projects Jocelyn Frye (National Partnership for Women and Families), White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz (National Council of La Raza), and Treasury Secretary Chief of Staff Mark Patterson (Goldman Sachs).”

The taxing-the-rich delusion: "Those who like to propose novel taxes usually propose that they should be levied on rich people and corporations, and one of their standard assumptions is that rich people and corporations will actually pay them. In their hypothetical world the banker or businessman says, ‘Oh dear. There’s a new tax. Darn it, I’m just going to have to be poorer.’ The same banker or businessman then hands over the cash to government and accepts the loss stoically. In the real world, of course, they work out ways of avoiding the tax if possible, or of making sure that someone else pays it if not.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Robert said...

That video should be required viewing in history classes.