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Welcome to the USSA

by Lupin Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 03:38:41 AM EST

Yesterday, in a post on Kos, I compared George Bush's America to Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union. This is an attempt to find further points of comparison:

Head of state is discredited ga-ga leader with delusions of monarchic grandeur:
USSR: Leonid Brezhnev
USA: George W. Bush

Leader has slutty family:
USSR: Kremlin's orgies
USA: Jenna Bush

Spooky behind the scene politico stuck in the past really pulling strings:
USSR: Alexei Kosygin
USA: Dick Cheney

Corrupt class of wealthy influential people really running the country for its own benefit:
USSR: Nomenklatura
USA: Neocons & beltway

Passive population incapable of rebellion:
USSR: You pretend to pay us and we pretend to work - but we know you're lying to us
USA: You pretend to tell us the truth and we pretend to believe you - but we're working hard

Outrageous State propaganda organ:
USSR: Pravda
USA: Fox

Real news to be found on:
USSR: Samizdats
USA: Blogs

Satellite countries:
USSR: Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland
USA: Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland

Rest of the world is afraid of you:
USSR: check.
USA: check.

Cultural exports are one of the few bright spots:
USSR: Bolshoi
USA: Star Wars (George Lucas')

Space program:
USSR: Soyuz
USA: Star Wars (Pentagon's)

Disastrous military invasion of Muslim country, defeated by rag-tag resistance:
USSR: Afghanistan
USA: Iraq

Show trials:
USSR: Andrei Sakharov
USA: José Padilla

Prison camps:
USSR: Gulag
USA: Guantanamo

Torture:
USSR: Lubianka
USA: Guantanamo

Eating its own:
USSR: Leon Trotski
USA: Valerie Plame

Preferred scapegoats:
USSR: Jews, Gays, Brown-Skinned and Orientals
USA: Muslims, Gays, Brown-Skinned and Orientals

Delusional uber-patriotic activities:
USSR: Red Square military parade
USA: Flag waving hypertrophy

Uber-patriots' blind worship:
USSR: Stalin
USA: Reagan

Quaint founding text no longer relevant:
USSR: Manifesto of the Communist Party
USA: Constitution

Ignores international treaties it signed:
USSR: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
USA: Geneva Convention

Health care system crumbling:
USSR: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9502EED71638F931A15751C1A9669C8B63
USA: SICKO

Comical foreign puppet despised by his own people:
USSR: Fidel Castro
USA: Tony Blair

Most hated enemy:
USSR: Russian intellectuals
USA: French intellectuals

Wannabe reformer to preside over collapse of system:
USSR: Mikhail Gorbachev
USA: Hillary Clinton?

Famous exiles:
USSR: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
USA: Lupin

Well, okay, I cheated with the last one, but you get the drift.

I welcome additions to the list.


Display:
"White elephants" structures doomed to be pulled down:
USSR: Giant statues
USA: Baghdad "embassy"
by Lupin on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:44:42 AM EST
Space program:
USSR: Soyuz
USA: Star Wars (Pentagon's)
I'm sorry, but the Soviet space program actually worked. In fact, we wouldn't have an International Space Station without it.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:50:34 AM EST
Show trials:
USSR: Andrei Sakharov
USA: José Padilla
You're comparing a world-class physicist [more similar to Israel's Mordechai Vanunu in the reason for his imprisonment] with some random guy caught in Bush's gulag? How about replacing Padilla with Wen Ho Lee? Oh, wait, the judge didn't want to play along with that one.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:55:24 AM EST
Oh, and Sakharov was never sent to the gulag - that was Solzhenitsin.

Maybe you would like to compare Sakharov to Chomsky, or something?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:45:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
was sent to monitored residency (not sure what the right term is) in Gorki (now Nijni-Novgorod), then a forbidden city.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 08:04:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
House arrest?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 01:58:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least, the Soviets had some sense of style when picking their targets. Those Bushies are just so pedestrian :>
by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:59:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Preferred scapegoats:
USSR: Jews, Gays, Brown-Skinned and Orientals
USA: Gays, Brown-Skinned and Orientals
You forgot to list "Muslims" in parallel to "Jews".

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:56:22 AM EST
Wannabe reformer to preside over collapse of system:
USSR: Mikhail Gorbachev
USA: Hillary Clinton?
Are you calling Clinton a wannabee reformer?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:57:42 AM EST
Wannabe reformer to preside over collapse of system:

The crisis in the US is different, and let's face it, it always boils down to economics: the problem in the US is the crushing debt burden, both public and private, which will require some painful changes; the USSR, on the other hand, was a "developing" country at best, over reliant on the export of natural resources for income given that they had no industries that were competitive outside their sphere of influence.

Somewhat ironically, a crash (collapse of foreign debt financing, fall of the housing and/or derivate/hedge fund market) has the potential to leave the US better off in the long run in a number of ways - the military budget benefits a microscopic number of people at extreme cost to everyone else, and overconsumption contributes to very unhappy lives. The USSR / Russia had no such potential.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 04:02:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have come to the moment, as happens every 6 months or so on ET, where someone brings up this little gem:

http://energybulletin.net/23259.html

Is it a bird?  is it a plane?  Why, no.  It's Dmitry Orlov's "Closing the 'Collapse Gap'"!  Did someone compare the US to the USSR?  Did someone refer to economic collapse?  Never fear.  Orlov is here!    


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 04:27:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I liked that one a lot more, actually.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 04:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I've been meaning to link to Dmitry Orlov since I read this diary in the morning ;-)

Great minds think alike, and all that.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 05:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Castro is a clown despised by his own people?

Maybe the ones in Miami...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:43:59 AM EST
In short: history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 08:22:24 AM EST
Did I miss this one?

Goverment organization devoted specifically to spying on, instilling fear in, and arresting without cause its own citizens:
USSR: OGPU/NKVD/MGB/KGB
USA: Department of Homeland Security

Also, I just want to address the following statement.  I know we're kinda having fun here and perhaps embracing a bit of hyperbole here and there.  But this common misperception is one of the things that gets under my skin...

Passive population incapable of rebellion:
USSR: You pretend to pay us and we pretend to work - but we know you're lying to us.

I think there is this idea that without Calvinist and Capitalist incentives there is no impetus for a work ethic.  And I think that's a bit of outdated propaganda.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 11:16:45 AM EST
Most hated enemy:
USSR: Russian intellectuals
USA: French intellectuals

Now this is sad.

In any reasonable world it would be "USA: American intellectuals"

But oh no.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 12:11:23 PM EST
It's hard to turn the existence of a small handful of noninfluential & completely impotent people into a common enemy so threatening to our way of life, capable of inciting enough fear, that they warrant becoming the object of nationalist propaganda.

As it is, we're more afraid of what they are smoking than what they are writing.  Nobody in America reads anyway...  Except the other intellectuals.  And they don't vote, so who cares.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 12:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, you guys aren't supposed to be recommending this snide comment!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 01:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're not supposed to make comments that aren't supposed to be rated.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 01:07:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think its about "un-rating".

Like Winnie the Pooh's "unBirthday" excuse for being in the honeypot.

I'm also reminded of a mate of mine at Sheffield University who stood in the student elections as the "Apathy Candidate".

He claimed he won by a landslide......but we threw him in the pond anyway.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 01:15:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now there's a political model that could bring real benefits to the entire Western World.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:36:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we apreciate good snide.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a small handful of noninfluential & completely impotent people

That's French intellectuals you're talking about, obviously.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:01:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Americans believe all French are intellectuals.

Now, whether the whole country of France is noninfluential & completely impotent ...  that's a conversation for another day...


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there's more to that meme.

Intellectual = sissy

quick-eating = sissy

therefore all French are intellectuals

QED (in what passes for logic on Faux News)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:44:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DAMN, trying to type fast again.

that should have been

quiche-eating

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:44:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the correct insult is "cheese-eating" ...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:45:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I refer to that founding document of Amurkan culture, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche.

But cheese-eating is probably related, since

Real Men Eat Beef

Cheese != Beef

Cheese-Eaters == Sissies

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and quiche, of course, is about 25-50 percent cheese depending on your recipe.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was quite amazed to find that in most of the supermarkets I went to in LA, there was hardly any American cheese on sale. Almost all of it was foreign, usually french.

It's almost as if to say that no real american eats cheese, except on a burger, and so anybody that does must eat french cheese and be halfway towards being an effete pompous surrender monkey who's lost touch with the world of Joe Six-Pack(which in Kerry's case wasn't far from the truth on that campaign)

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 03:19:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually,  I think Americans probably eat a lot of cheese.  In the "American cheese" world there is "American cheese" which is actually "processed cheese food", a flimsy, salty, rubbery thing that's actually great for grilled cheese, except it isn't cheese, and all of the artisanal cheeses.  Most supermarkets will carry some Vermont or Wisconsin cheddar, but you might have to go to a specialty or WF market to get a variety of American artisanal cheeses.  There are a lot of them out there, though.  Very good too.  But it's a market in its infancy.

Every American has Parmesan cheese.  Mind you, it's often domestic.  And common groceries have a decent variety of other non-American cheeses: feta, Irish cheddar, Havarti, mozzarela, Gouda, Edam, chevre, brie, Roquefort, etc. etc.  And now that we are a nation of foodies, you can buy just about anything that meets our pastuerization laws.  And yes, there is an underground market for those cheeses & creams that don't...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 04:01:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the case in two urban areas (LA & SF) in California. Not sure whether this is the case in other parts of the country (except for Vermont & Wisconsin, of course).
by Bernard on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 04:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And yes, there is an underground market for those cheeses & creams that don't...

Cheese fatalities? Samizdat dairy products?

Are most of the customers intellectuals?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:38:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You got me really confused for a moment, I thought the quick-eating people were the Americans.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 05:46:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Extra amusing given that there a lot more intellectuals in the US than France.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 03:45:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you forgot

USSR:  State imposition of ideological filters on scientists' research, publication, and travel
USSA:  check


The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:45:49 PM EST
Contested political elections:
USSR: communist party candidate
USA: republicrat party candidate

The only difference between those in thrall to big business is that the Republicans got too greedy. The Dems usually settle for stealing money from sweetheart public works projects. They also fix local elections, the Repubs have been trying to fix national elections (and doing pretty well at it).

Show me a viable socialist/populist/communist/etc candidate in the US.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 04:38:33 PM EST
Why, Bernie Sanders, of course!

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 05:47:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Show me a viable socialist/populist/communist/etc movement in the US.

(And no, the netroots isn't - it just thinks it is.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:40:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Define 'viable'.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
vi·a·ble      ˈvaɪəbəl [vahy-uh-buhl]

-adjective
1.    capable of living.
2.    Physiology.
a.    physically fitted to live.
b.    (of a fetus) having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus.
3.    Botany. able to live and grow.
4.    vivid; real; stimulating, as to the intellect, imagination, or senses: a period of history that few teachers can make viable for students.
5.    practicable; workable: a viable alternative.
6.    having the ability to grow, expand, develop, etc.: a new and viable country.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:01:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Influential' might be a better word.

qv impeachment, Iraq withdrawal, health care, climate policies, etc.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some mistakes

To name a few:

1. Preferred scapegoats:
USSR: Jews, Gays, Brown-Skinned and Orientals
USA: Muslims, Gays, Brown-Skinned and Orientals

You are talking about Brezhnev's times, right? Early 1960s - 1982? Who on earth do you mean by Brown-Skinned and Orientals? Numerous Indians, Syrians and Vietnamese who were studying in Moscow and Leningrad?  Black people  from Africa (mostly Angola and Mosambik)?Well, I personally would love to watch any person to dare to say anything ...er... politically incorrect about them, our little brothers and sisters from developing world who fights them bloody fat american and western european imperialists. Not sure about imprisonment but surely  such reckless words would ruin any career. If you mean people from the ex-Soviet respublics, say, Georgia or Armenia, well, some kind of unfriendly relationship could've been found in Russian part of the USSR (like regional jealousy in any part of the world)  but mind you, the level of unfriendlyness towards Russian in Georgia or Armenia was  higher.

On the other hand, being probably an atheist, you have missed the true scapegoats - religious people, be they orthodox Christians or Jews or Buddhists or Muslims - on a par with Gays they used to have only two options - either mental hospitals (Now, have you seen a God, any God? No and you claim He(she) exists? Yer mad, totally mad but we'll do our best to treat you) or prisons (for messing with hostile imperialist values and probably being their spy).

2. Satellite countries:
USSR: Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland
USA: Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland

Sorry, we had more, including a half of Germany.

3. Most hated enemy:
USSR: Russian intellectuals
USA: French intellectuals

There was a lot of intellectuals who did well in the USSR, especially among those who worked with nukes and space programms. Sakharov, Solzhenitsin were an exception, not the rule. And, of course, good education itself was valued then and, thankfully, is valued now much higher than, say in the UK (never been to the USA so can't compare :-) ).

  1. Health system. Your article refers to the later time, 1990s. What would you want after the state collapse? In Soviet times our dentistry was a total and absolute crap, the rest... hmm... at least people from all over the USSR used to  be sent to the Moscow and Leningrad hospitals free of charge if they suffered from, say, cancer.

  2. What Trotsky has to do with 1960-1980s? He was murdered many years ago, after all.

  3. GULAG as the system imprisoning or killingthe  millions of innocent people didn't exist  already in  Brezhnev's times.

If you mean that the USA may well lose its world leadership and become a little more modest regional power on a par with 4-5 others, I would agree. One doesn't exactly need to be compared with evil Russkie [tm] to lose. Empires come and go all the time
by lana on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 05:43:26 PM EST
Now, let's not be so damn nuanced. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:22:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean really. What's a million deaths? A statistic!

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and here's another exhibit

   The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against Gregory Jenkins, a former high-level White House staffer who enacted a policy that unlawfully excluded individuals perceived to be critical of the administration from public events where President Bush was present. The policy is laid out in an October 2002 "Presidential Advance Manual" obtained by the ACLU.

    The ACLU filed today's lawsuit, Rank v. Jenkins, after obtaining a heavily redacted version of the Presidential Advance Manual from the Justice Department. This manual is the Bush administration's guide for planning presidential events around the country, and it repeatedly instructs organizers about "the best method for preventing demonstrators," "deterring potential protestors from attending events," "designat[ing] a protest area . . . preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route," and the like.

    The lawsuit names as plaintiffs Jeff and Nicole Rank, who were arrested at a Fourth of July presidential appearance at the West Virginia State Capitol because they were wearing T-shirts critical of the president, and Alex Young and Leslie Weise, Denver residents who were thrown out of a town hall meeting with President Bush because they had an anti-war bumper sticker on their car.

When they say "heavily redacted," they are not kidding. The "Presidential Advance Manual" is 103 pages long. Other than the title page and the table of contents, there are precisely six pages which have not been completely redacted.

But those six pages are enough to enrage anyone who strongly believes in the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. The ACLU helpfully provides a PDF version of this document on their website. The title page bears the warning: "It is a violation of Federal law to duplicate or reproduce this manual without permission. It is not to be photocopied or released to anyone outside the Executive Office of the President, White House Military Office or United States Secret Service," and is further stamped: "SENSITIVE -- DO NOT COPY." I am assuming that since it already exists in the public domain that it is not illegal to quote it here. [I hope.]

The first interesting tidbit comes from page 32, under the heading: Section V. Crowd Raising and Ticket Distribution.

The Lead Advance will assign a member of the Advance Team or trusted volunteer to help raise the crowd and to organize a ticket distribution system. Proper ticket distribution is vital to creating a well-balanced crowd and deterring potential protestors from attending events.

Wow. That last sentence is so Orwellian it makes your head spin. I don't think I've ever seen such a naked display of doublethink in any official government document in my entire life. The White House wants to create a "well-balanced crowd" by "deterring potential protestors." Think about that for a minute. It only makes sense in the English language if you define "well-balanced crowd" as "a crowd composed entirely of people who believe what we believe."

it's the italicised bit (my emph) above that gets to me.  doncha just long to know what was in the other pages?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 09:40:05 PM EST
Prison camps:
USSR: Gulag
USA: Guantanamo

Torture:
USSR: Lubianka
USA: Guantanamo

Sorry if you can not tell the difference between Gulags and Guantanamo...

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 07:00:42 PM EST
Yes and confirmation comes from my boss, a Russian who says he has now lived in two socialist countries!
by Lasthorseman on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 07:23:31 PM EST


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