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The Chinafication of America

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Posted on Oct 6, 2011
AP / Andy Wong

A man flips through magazines on the streets of Beijing.

By Bill Boyarsky

A recent trip to China gave me at least a superficial look at life in a police state and spurred gloomy thoughts about whether we are headed down the same road.

Our histories are different, of course, as are our societies, economies, traditions and governance. What struck me, however, was the way life can go on in a police state when people are much more preoccupied with business success and—for many more—economic survival than with civil liberties. What worried me is that a similar unconcern is gripping the United States. Like the Chinese, we are going about our lives apparently indifferent to a loss of civil liberties under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Law professor Jonathan Turley, writing in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 29, called Obama “a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but for the civil liberties cause in the United States.”

My UC Berkeley alumni group tour of China from Beijing to Shanghai can’t be compared to a serious academic and journalistic examination of this ancient nation, nor to the insights and information collected by visiting artists, business people or those who connect with outnumbered dissidents. Aware of my limitations, I wasn’t planning on writing about the trip. But once there I was struck by the phenomenon of people going about their day-to-day business while living under a government that can arrest and imprison anyone without warning or explanation.

Paul Vallely described the situation in The Independent newspaper in June, writing that “China is thought to have the highest number of political prisoners of any country in the world. ... As China’s economy has burgeoned the Beijing government has grown more confident in cracking down on dissent. Political freedoms have been matched by some loosening of social constraints but by little in the way of lifting the regime’s tight political restrictions. Anyone advocating democratic reform, defending human rights, speaking up for suppressed ethnic minorities, holding religious beliefs not sanctioned by the state or even peacefully expressing their views has been the subject of a more confident and more aggressive repression.”

That was evident when we visited the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium. The guide didn’t mention that Ai Weiwei, the distinguished artist who helped design it, had been imprisoned for 81 days after criticizing the government and the Communist Party. The government is considering legislation that would strengthen police power to hold such dissidents in secret locations without telling their families.

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Suppression was ridiculously evident to us at Tiananmen Square, where the government killed several hundred demonstrators during the 1989 protests. A tourist asked a guide where the tanks had rolled into the square, as the world watched on television. The guide shook his head and gestured that he didn’t want to talk about it.

In the privacy of our tour bus, a Chinese guide whose family was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution talked about how the Communist Party, source of all authority, makes its decisions in an opaque manner and she doesn’t question them. Without such control, she said, there would be chaos. Ethnic minorities would spin away from the central government. Perhaps there would be civil war. She cited what happened to the old Soviet Union, or Egypt and Libya.

Business is the single most important word to describe China, said Dvir Bar-Gal, an Israel-born photojournalist who conducts tours of the old Jewish section of Shanghai. Everything else is unimportant.

Office towers and apartments make up a high-rise skyline in cities that were once towns. The apartments are no more than shells. The new owner must buy fixtures, a toilet, windows, doors, cabinets and flooring from Home Depot, furniture from another store and hire workers to install it all. So many of these apartments are being built that China looks like a bubble ready to burst, with many units that appear vacant. In the cities, the streets are jammed with high-end cars—Audis, Mercedes and other brands, including those of Chinese manufacture. But in alleys behind the high-rises, the poorer residents lack indoor plumbing and use chamber pots.

Thanks to the recession, most of the United States is more focused on survival than prosperity. Recession, war and fear of terrorism have so completely occupied the national attention that little notice is paid to the steady erosion of civil liberties.

Most troubling is the manner in which the Obama administration has enlarged police powers at the expense of people whom law enforcement considers suspects or who, for undisclosed reasons, have attracted the attention of federal, state or local cops.

Journalist David K. Shipler, who analyzed the Obama policies in an Aug. 30 article in The Nation, described how the administration is asking the Supreme Court for authority to install GPS devices on motor vehicles without a warrant or showing probable cause. An appellate court, turning down the request, noted that any curious federal authority could track a person for undisclosed reasons and “deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at a gym, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups. ...”

The administration has given agents more authority to rummage through home trash, to delay advising terrorism suspects of their rights and to engage in targeted killings, even targeting American citizens, such as Anwar al-Awlaki, the suspected al-Qaida leader.

And Obama’s Justice Department has moved to weaken oversight by the news media, most notably in the case of James Risen, a New York Times reporter. The government wants him to testify at a criminal trial about who leaked information in a story involving the Central Intelligence Agency.

Each one of these actions strips away protections against law enforcement abuses, giving government the tools to make this a police state. By keeping your head down and nose clean, it’s possible to live under such conditions, as they do in China. But is that really living?


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By Auto Parts, May 9, 2012 at 1:55 am Link to this comment

Due to the economic meltdown, most parts of the world are now preoccupied with economic survival and people struggle from day to day to make ends meet, and the richer ones struggle to maintain their position in society, and hence, ideals are thrown out for practicality, which is really quite a sad sight.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 11, 2011 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

One of the outstanding features of Ozark Michael is his lack of candor along with his steadfast support of the Conservative Republican. (Though I wonder which ones since his beloved party has been hijacked by the extremists in the Tea Party forcing their disasterous ideas on the leadership.) Do you like the Tea Party Ozark Michael? If so tell us what you like or don’t like about them if you please?

But bad mouthing him and cursing him and wanting him dead isn’t only unethical, it bolsters his rhetoric against us. So stop playing into his hands will ya? Stop helping him out.

You never did answer us about the movement of our wealth into so few hands. Do you like it? Did you profit from it? Did you lose from it? Do you think it is good for the country to lose the Middle Class? I wait to see if you dare to answer any one of these questions with directness and candor.

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By OzarkMichael, October 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

drbhelthi said

I am not talking about “snipers.”
My bunker mentality ?
Tomorrow is only one day.
I laugh at the death of no one, assassinated by the GHWBushSr entourage.

ooooh. Not a sniper? What else is there? Lets imagine the dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap…

Concrete shoes.
Cyanide.
TNT,(done dirt cheap)
Neck Ties.
Contracts.
HIGH VOLTAGE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUuHa9h0TGw

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By OzarkMichael, October 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

Hollywood Russ said: “I don’t consider you a fellow-citizen. I consider you an enemy.”

I am the former whether you like it or not. I am the latter because you cannot tolerate the former. That is your Leftist problem in a nutshell.

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By OzarkMichael, October 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Being peaceful isn’t enough for them. The elites are scared because that is the one thing they are afraid of concerning us. The only thing.

Use it then. Just call it what it is instead of putting a figleaf on it. Dont bang a drum and that “this is what democracy looks like.” It is intimidation. It is a type of force.

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By Hollywood Russ, October 10, 2011 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

Ozark Michael-

Why don’t you flush yourself down the toilette. I’ve seen you around this
neighborhood before and you are nothing but a boorish, self-important fascist.
I didn’t flush anything down the toilette when I gave my opinion. I simply gave
my opinion. Like so many uber-rightwingers, you rely on character
assassination rather than facts to push your agenda. I’ve never met you. I don’t
want to meet you. I don’t consider you a fellow-citizen. I consider you an
enemy. If you want to take my quotes out of context go ahead. I said that I did
not want to participate in the comedy of errors that is America’s political system
where one needs money for proper healthcare, housing and all the other basic
necessities of life. You may be sitting on a pile of cash. Good for you. But don’t
take my quotes and then use them out of context. Go vote. Vote a million
times. I don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut what you do.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Sounds good Ozark Michael though the hypocrisy on the Conservative side concerning democracy and its practice here is for all the world to see. And I too shall continue to point out where the false Liberals and Conservatives take from us and give to themselves and their allies because it needs to end. Partisanship seems to work for the oligarchs against our own interests.

So do you think that the multitude showing their dislike for their homes and jobs gambled away by Wall Street is okay? Or are they wrong on this since it isn’t really political for there are many Conservatives who have lost their jobs and homes too for the same reasons?

Isn’t this what we should be doing so that the very rich won’t getaway with transferring our wealth to them to continue? Or do you side with them as well? Just curious. I think we can be on the same side here. Maybe?

As usual the police are mostly on the oligarch’s side not our own. Being peaceful isn’t enough for them. The elites are scared because that is the one thing they are afraid of concerning us. The only thing.

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By OzarkMichael, October 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

The people banded together and voted for national health as a gift to each other. Then I thought, “America is supposed to be a democracy. Why don’t we have national healthcare?” The answer: America is not a democracy.

Thus the opinion and votes of more than of half the American people gets flushed down the toilet by a Leftist. Simply because we disagree with the wisdom of the Left.

Against this disregard for my opinion, my ideas, and my vote, I have been and always will be pointing out the hypocrisy of the Left claiming to be ‘democratic’.

Furthermore, for the sake of all the people who have their opinion and their idealism cast aside by the Leftists for the sake of ‘the people’, I swear to redouble my political activism this year.

And i am not the only one.

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By Hollywood Russ, October 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

I was watching Michael Moore’s movie Sicko the other night and I had to turn it off
because I became so depressed and angry. They were interviewing a British
historian who said that the source of the NHS (National Health System) was
DEMOCRACY. The people banded together and voted for national health as a gift
to each other. Then I thought, “America is supposed to be a democracy. Why don’t
we have national healthcare?” The answer: America is not a democracy. It is an
oligarchy. We are ruled over by a small number of corporate masters. Our votes
are a joke. I don’t think I want to participate in the comedy of American “freedom.”
Now that I can be assassinated by the President, well, I guess I’d do better to just
keep my head down and mouth shut. I was born in France which has the NUMBER
ONE healthcare system in the world; that is, it HAD the #1 spot. I’m sure that when
Sarkozy is done with it, Switzerland, Germany or Canada will have the #1 spot.
God Bless America. It needs all the help it can get!

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By Justin Weleski, October 10, 2011 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

@ Robes

Your assertion that education levels improved during the Mao era is patently
absurd.  Do you know what students did to teachers during the cultural
revolution?  They physically abused them and screamed at them.  Every day. 
In the middle of class.  It was part of Mao’s efforts to punish the “elites” who
had oppressed the average Chinese citizen.  Not only that, but education was
looked down upon in many parts of China.  My future mother-in-law, for
example, had to hide the fact that she studied English and engineering
textbooks every night [after her day on the communal farm] because she could
be punished by the authorities and shunned by her peers if anyone found out.

Not surprisingly, once Mao died and China began to relax its draconian, anti-
education policies, the college entrance exam scores for Chinese students
were absolutely dismal.  My future mother-in-law managed to receive one of
the highest entrance exam scores in the region despite the fact that she
missed well over half the questions on the test.  Many students missed just
about every single question.  This, of course, overlapped with the great
famines of that era and the concerted effort to “beat down” the elites.

Honestly, I see where you are coming from.  About three years ago, I would
have likely made the same arguments and cited the same studies.  But the
reality on the ground in China (as described to me by dozens of people who
lived through that period, and even by some who personally met and fought
alongside Mao) made me change my point of view.  Although the official
Chinese rehtoric claims that Mao paved the way for China’s later development,
many people in China feel that the Mao era was an enormous disaster and was
a “lost” period for their country.

Furthermore, I’m one of the last folks who would ever argue that we should
simply “leave it to the elites” to solve our problems and govern us.  But we
have to deal with reality; “power to the people” is not inherently preferable to
power held by a small clique.  When the new folks in power (Mao and his
clique, for example) implement disastrous policies that lead to the starvation
deaths of millions of people and a widespread regression in educational and
technological standards, there isn’t always much redeeming value to be found.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

With Obama playing on the same team as the Bushes we can see by what he does, not what he says. When it comes to the Military-Industrial Complex he is on their team. The generals have a big say in our gov’t and some of them are White Christian Nationalists.

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By drbhelthi, October 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

However, if I am alive tomorrow I will have the last laugh… at your bunker
mentality.  Ozark Michael

I am not talking about “snipers.”
My bunker mentality ?
Tomorrow is only one day.
I laugh at the death of no one, assassinated by the GHWBushSr entourage.

It would be nice if you comprehended what you write.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Since it was only rhetoric used by the despots, not what either Marx or Engles spoke about or supported it would be strange indeed to “own up to it” as you say. Please don’t push your own fantasies of political-history onto us okay? Thanx.

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By OzarkMichael, October 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,

Since Marxist rhetoric and action in China and Russia led to these disasters, the results are all yours. Do not push your Leftist messes across the table. Be a man and own up to it.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Notice the ease in which former Communist China is become more Fascist? Easing though the “communism” shich was a sham like it was in Russia. Just a variation of totalitarianism wearing the clothes but not the essence of what Marx & Engels spoke about. The people are still subjects to a clique of rulers and their party only now with the cutthroat kind of Capitalism being practiced there. It is already now dismantling what general protections the locals had. Now a few are getting very rich and the rest are falling into dirt poor starving kinds of poverty. No safety net there. Just like what the Koch brothers and others like them want here. (Their father worked for Stalin and made their fortune.) Tyranny by any other name.

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By OzarkMichael, October 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

drbhelthi said: “You would be wise to become aware of the assassination pattern of the GHWBushSr. entourage.  You are somewhat safer if you are a member of his family.  Somewhat.”

No thanks, i will take my chances. Its a beautiful day out. If his snipers find me and I am not alive tomorrow you will have the last laugh.

However, if I am alive tomorrow I will have the last laugh… at your bunker mentality.

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By jamie1950, October 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

I think we need to get American designed items such as the entire
computer industry to make their products here in the USA. They are posting
mega profits and it’s all from (SLAVE LABOR) but try to get the CEO”S and
the board of directors to do this what incentive other then tax incentive to
move manufacturing back to the USA. Impose high tax rates on items made
for American companies. I beg the question that goes back to the
stockholders when is enough, enough?
Remember all you Christian republicans Greed is a SIN.
And for Gods sake stop shopping at Wall Mart!

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By Jimnp72, October 8, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Is that a photo of Obama with his head in his hands?
It should be-for shame on this man who promised hope and change and then let corporate Amerika delete our rights and our life savings; he who continues the neo-nazi policies of bush and cheney.
I wish Russ Feingold would run.

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By drbhelthi, October 8, 2011 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

“What link can we click on to reveal your source of propaganda?”  OzarkMichael

Propaganda ?
Under other circumstances, I would suggest that you look up the meaning of propaganda.

A significant amount of the valid information I offer, for internet consumption, comes from former employees of the GHWBushSr entourage.  Other significant amounts come from investigators of the WWII, continued NAZI activities in the USA.  Which, tends to reveal, and place in perspective, the entities who oversee your blogger activities.

You would be wise to become aware of the assassination pattern of the GHWBushSr. entourage.  You are somewhat safer if you are a member of his family.  Somewhat.

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By OzarkMichael, October 8, 2011 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

The info at the following links reveals the origin and continuing source of the propaganda used against Americans - and the western world -  since 1947. 

What link can we click on to reveal your source of propaganda?

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By drbhelthi, October 8, 2011 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

Wonder who the Minister of Propaganda was for George Bush?  Christian96

The leech, Condoleeza Rice was only a puppet, who performed well, for a while.
Colonel John Stockwell describes GHWBushSr as, the “nice man” who sent cards of condolence to remaining family members of persons whom he had had assassinated.

The info at the following links reveals the origin and continuing source of the propaganda used against Americans - and the western world -  since 1947.  The Goebbels initiative was accelerated when GHWBushSr became secretive CEO of the CIA, about 1960.  Bush Sr. denied his CIA role, until a letter from him to J. Edgar Hoover, a few days after the murder of JFK,Sr. (1963), was revealed by the F.B.I. 

http://www.wn.com/JOHN_AND_THE_CIA

http://www.proliberty.com/observer/20070405.htm

http://www.whale.to/b/tatum.pdf

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By bigchin, October 8, 2011 at 12:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Substitute Israel for China and you get a bigger picture:  the Israelification of America…

a far more pernicious development that has been going on for a much longer period of time.

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By christian96, October 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

Since today, Oct. 8th, is Yom Kippur I thought I would
post a comment by Dr. Joseph Goebbels.  Wonder who the Minister of Propaganda was for George Bush?  Also wonder who the Minister of Propaganda is for
Communist China?

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,
people will eventually come to believe it.  The lie
can be maintained only for such time as the State
can shield the people from the political, economic
and/or military consequences of the lie.  It thus
becomes vitally important for the State to use all
of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is
the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension,
the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Minister of Propaganda
Nazi Germany

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By Peter Knopfler, October 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

I HAVE ALWAYS SAID THIS; IT IS COMMUNIST CHINA BUT
EVERYONE DROPS THE FIRST PART COMMUNIST CHINA GET IT:
SOFT POWER SO YOU DO NOT FEEL BAD BUYING COMMUNIST
SHIT! TRY VERY HARD CORPORATE SLAVES OF AMERICA
CHANGE LANGUAGE MAKE IT REALITY COMMU/NIST CHINA NOT
JUST CHINA COMMUNISTS GET IT STRAIGHT!
CAPITALISM DOES NOT NEED DEMOCRACY CAPITALISM COULD
BE YOUR ROAD TO SLAVERY COMMUNIST CHINA GENERAL
ELECTRIC IN COMMUNIST CHINA OVER 100 YEARS HELPED MAO
MONITOR AND KILL 60 million people and now in the
WHITE HOUSE WITH KANSAS (WHITE MOTHER) DEAR OBAMA
HALF AND HALF: YOU FOLKS ONLY SEE BLACK HALF; I SEE
WHITE CIA HALF! OBAMA CORPORATE SLAVE! SHAME ON BLACK
FOLKS FOR NOT KNOWING KING`s NEW STATUE MADE BY
COMMUNIST CHINA 911 BLDINGS 249 TONSS OF COMMUNIST
GLASS STEEL BY GERMANT; AMERICA NATION OF SLAVES
UNIFORMS OR SUITS HA HA!

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By Robespierre115, October 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment

@Justin Weleski, yes, let’s just trust in “educate” elites (sigh). France came out well from the Revolution, and like it or not, the major studies done on China show that during the Maoist period, even during the notorious famine in the 1950s, education and health levels improved to levels which actually declined during the restoration of capitalism in the 1980s. That’s not to say the Maoist period was a beautiful utopia, but it’s better to fight and struggle instead of timidly saying “but we’re uneducated peasants.” In California I’ve had more intelligent discussions about politics with ignorant migrants from Mexico than with UCLA PHD candidates.

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By Mike Strong, October 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Years ago, growing up, when we knew that we were good and they were bad, we pictured repressive societies as places of near total grey, with heads constantly bowed and in constant and very obvious fear. Yet, in truth, they had a life with enough cultural richness that at a quick glance you might not see much difference between them and us.

That is why now, that we have our collective heads buried deep down in the police-state barrel we don’t yet get it. We think we will see big roundups and imprisonments of people, downtown concentration camps and so on. That it will look like movie-scripted repression.

This is how we become trapped. How we stay too long until we can’t get out. It is how so many died in Germany. They still thought life was possible. In an echo from the first scene in “The Matrix” they were already dead, and so too for us.

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By Alan Lunn, October 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

I resonate with this. I’m uneasy about some things,
like the Tea Partiers I talk to. Bill Maher and
Olbermann did a little skit where this Republican was
in a bubble and couldn’t hear them. It’s this sort of
malleable mindset that is way too robotic. And it can
be filled with rubbish. So recently, as I watched a
documentary on the rise of the Third Reich, I saw
parallels with the German people coming under this
hypnosis.

This prompted me to re-read a book I hadn’t looked at
for decades, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which,
while written about the Soviet system, has this eerie
parallel to any totalitarian system. The book
wonderfully characterized this evolution of the farm
from a revolution to a dictatorship. The
transformation happens without the animals realizing
what is happening to them.

Princeton professor emeritus of politics, Sheldon
Wolin, in his book “Democracy, Inc.” (2008) called
our system “managed democracy” and “inverted
totalitarianism” and explored these ideas
wonderfully. What we saw during the last few decades
was a transformation that we hardly noticed until the
economic meltdown. Suddenly, the whole thing is
baldly obvious. Those classic totalitarian systems of
Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, were obvious. Ours was not
so obvious. We still felt like we were participating
in a democracy as forces beyond us all were usurping
our government, primarily through money. Now we face
a stark reality: we’ve been bamboozled.

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By drbhelthi, October 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

“But once there I was struck by the phenomenon of people going about their day-to-day business while living under a government that can arrest and imprison anyone without warning or explanation.”  Boyarsky

HELLO !
This has happened furtively to Americans since Jr. Bush and the Patriot Act.  It began to happen to Americans openly, after the 2008 US Presidential election, worse since the Obama passage of the extended Patriot Act, 2010. 

Currently, policemen decide independently, occasionally, to shoot a pedestrian without cause.  SWAT teams attack farmers who sell fresh, whole milk.  Long-standing American businesses, such as the Gibson Musical Instrument Company, are being attacked by Federal SWAT teams, who confiscate goods, materials, computers and cash-on-hand, without cause or probable cause being explained, and without explanation of rights.

The Department of Justice secretively, illegally sells hundreds of automatic weapons to middle-men, who are directed to pass them to Mexican drug lords, who use them to murder honest Lawmen in Mexico and the USA.  The DOJ chief refuses to cooperate with congressional investigation, which would have placed him under arrest only ten years ago.

Maybe Boyarsky should update his written composition.

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By EmileZ, October 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

I thought it was a great article and it actually reflects or deflects or whatever on our “free” society in a way that might be uncomfortable for most Americans.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

China illustrates that Capitalism has nothing to do with personal freedoms. Never did, it was just a slogan the Libertarians tell us all the time. Billionaires like the Koch brothers would love to have a place like an authoritarian country to operate in. They want that here where the elites and their businesses will be free from restraint while the rest of are under the steel toed boot on our necks to keep us in line. Pure heaven for them.

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By Justin Weleski, October 7, 2011 at 4:29 am Link to this comment

Modern China exists in the wake of the undeniably disastrous Cultural
Revolution.  From top to bottom, the Cultural Revolution was a disaster for the
country (and I’ve talked to numerous folks inside the country who privately say
the exact same thing).  But what’s important to note is that the modern CCP has
sharply diverged from Mao’s absurd policies.  In many ways, the modern CCP
resembles the pre-Mao government more than it does Mao’s government.

Looked at in this light, it almost seems like China’s authoritarian policies have
as much to do with defending the country from another disastrous “people’s
revolution” [which was an unmitigated disaster just a few decades ago] as they
do with power for the sake of power.

A revolution by the general public can be a murky affair.  The idealist inside of
us tends to favor “power to the people,” but let’s be honest, handing the keys to
the country to a swarm of ignorant peasants is not always the ticket to utopia.

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By Robespierre115, October 7, 2011 at 2:13 am Link to this comment

China destroys the old myth that capitalism and democracy go hand and in hand.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment

Just an opinion: The ruling elites of all countries look with envy at the controlled, state capitalism that flourishes in China and they want the same thing. Who wouldn’t? Absolute control over the masses and a free (but ultimately under party control) capitalist economy where the ruling elites are awash in money and privilege. Most of the high leaders live in a special, walled compound in Beijing and live lives of tremendous luxury. They control everything and have little to fear. And yet, fear they do. How else does one explain their over the top reaction to Ai Weiwei? I’ve often believed one could tell the legitimacy of a government by their reactions to any challenges. China (and now the US as well) reacts with massive force to even the most minor of irritations. That means they know they are illegitimate and maintain power only through the threat of force. But, given the ‘success’ of the Chinese model, expect more governments around the world to seek to emulate them.

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By JMD, October 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

Bill Boyarsky,  10/06/2011
    “You are either with us or against us.One
government = one people.“This was the civil command -
a declaration,a warning to us and the world,while
undermining our civil liberties. 
    Then,the U.N. Inspectors were abruptly removed
from Iraq - this was the action needed to weaken our
foundation - the Constitution.
    Our Declaration of Independence then became the
Declaration of Dependence,through the North American
Union.The Patriot Act was used to cull its
members,divide us as a Nation,and is the signatory to
the North American Union - now a bloc.
    History is allowed to repeat itself:Genghis
Khan,- the (Universal Ruler) and Germany tried
hegemony,too no avail.We are no different,maybe even
cut from the same cloth.We the people are in the
“Allegory of the Cave” and are now being forced to
face reality.What a nightmare! 
    “In the year 2525,if man is still alive.”
      Thanking you for this opportunity to comment
      James M. de Laurier
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By LostHills, October 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

It’s a great essay. Our country is at a tipping point. It’s time to put your weight on
the side you want to win.

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By pabelmont, October 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

“The government is considering legislation that would strengthen police power to hold such dissidents in secret locations without telling their families.”

The USA is considering legislation to allow the arrest and indefinite detention without trial of ANY PERSON (including Americans on American soil) for suspected terrorism.

Whose suspicion (of terrorism)? What proof? What due process?  What legal process of any kind?  One would wish to call this attack on civil liberties UN-AMERICAN, but today it is becoming a norm.

At least jail is a form of housing, I suppose. (LOL)

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By Choking Victim, October 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Day by day, China and the United States are becoming
more and more similar: China is becoming more
capitalist and expansionary while the United States is
becoming more oppressive towards its citizens. As a
Chinese-American, I fear the day when people like me
will not be accepted in either country. I only hope
that these democratic movements around the world will
eventually bring a true sense of solidarity among
people around the world.

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By gerard, October 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

Apples and oranges.  It is almost impossible to address articles like this in brief comments.  One point is obvious:  China is a huge conglomeration of tribes and factions more or less forcibly united for centuries by authoritarian rule. Civil liberty is a new and foreign idea, although one with a powerful appeal and (probably) an inevitable future development (if we are to judge from history). 
  One important thing the article points up, though it’s not spelled out, is the relative importance of the United States (and Europe) maintaining their Constitutional liberties—not only for their own sake but for the sake of the rest of the world, so their experiences can serve for instruction. 
  A large part of the change of attitude from admiration to criticism of the U.S. is the terrible undermining of our Constitution that took place under Bush/Cheney—an erosion of rights that still has not been shored up and retained by legal guarantees.  In fact, the slippage is still persisting, and clearly evident in recent court decisions
  The U.S. is far less admired for its freedoms than it once was. (Contrary to Bush’s famous statement, “they” did not “hate us for our freedom.”  They admired us for it—until our policies turned oppressive, then violent).
  Evidence points in the direction of eventual liberation everywhere, but the struggle will be difficult and time-consuming everywhere.  Democratic governments, it appears, are not built in a day—and must be constantly maintained—but it would appear from “inner space” that that’s just about the only game in town—that, and getting everybody fed, housed and clothed, and educated!
  (I’d like to be around for the party,—but it’s out of the question1)

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