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Burmese Days


The world is justly incensed against the monstrous government of poor ruined Burma for choosing to keep the world out -- for trying to keep the world and its own people in darkness and ignorance -- rather than allowing light to flood in and information to flood out with shipments of crucial humanitarian relief after the almost unimaginable catastrophe of Cyclone Nargis.

This is what dictators do. During a terrible famine, the Tsar of Russia issued an edict forbidding the use of the word "famine." Dictators don't give a damn what the world thinks, but they care very much about what their own people think. They know it is unacceptably dangerous to look bad to -- and be openly criticized by -- the people they rule. They know that if they can keep their people in the dark and stifle all criticism, they will never get their heads cut off, no matter how much they deserve it.

Now, let's see: as I recall, our current Lord Protector has the right to do anything he chooses in order to keep us safe. That's the claim made in confirmation hearings by the man who now serves as his Attorney General, "the people's lawyer." It is also, evidently, and somewhat surprisingly, the opinion of those Republicans and Vichy Democrats who heard him make that claim and still voted to confirm such a nakedly fascist tool.

So - is there anything our little Cromwell and his cronies have done or said, anything they have hidden or forbidden, in order to disguise their malignancy and stifle criticism, not from the world, of course ("Who cares what the world thinks?" Gauleiter Limbaugh snarled the other day, fomenting brownshirt violence in advance for the Democratic convention in Denver), but from us? Is there anything they all regularly hide or forbid or lie about or stifle in order not to be criticized by the people over whom they . . . protect?

I'm sure you can think of a few things. Here's one of the most disgusting: how in the world can these monsters - our monsters - forbid photographs of the coffins coming home from their giddy criminal folly in Iraq? Think of a few more: add to my list. How - in our democracy, which not so long ago was a beacon to the world - can they get away with suspending habeas corpus? How did little Lord Smirk get away with assuring us that he knew had to get a court order to wiretap Americans even as his apparatchiks were wiretapping Americans without court orders? Did they replace any federal attorneys for political reasons? Has everyone responsible for torturing and humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib been charged, tried, and punished?

In the absence of an Opposition Party, as McCain lies and stumbles and promises more of the same, as Clinton panders, slanders, and rejoices in how successfully she appeals to the frightened, bitter, and least educated voters, I have no heart to go on with my list.

Physicians, while you are healing Burma you might think about healing yourselves.