Hey, Gang! Let’s Kill Hitler!


So the Doctor will be back…

Indeed. Well, we don’t expect Hitler to take this lying down.

Speaking of things Whoey, back on Sunday I recorded a conversation with the chaps at Sci Fi Surplus. They tell me the podcast will be up in the next day or so. Do check it out! Tell ‘em the Badger sent you! Or not. Nothing special will happen either way.

Book Review – In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin


It has been observed that for evil to win all that needs happen is for good men to do nothing. That was what the United States government did, at least officially, for much of the lead-up to World War II. Too often chances to speak out and try to stop the madness that was engulfing Germany were ignored. Too frequently the atrocities were overlooked. Too many times our response to the crisis over there was nothing, nothing, nothing…

But there were exceptions. George Messersmith, who worked at the Berlin embassy, was one of those who tried, often in vain, to bring about some change in the US policies, though he was often ignored as having too vivid of an imagination. So, too, were various Jewish groups in the USA, though they were often ignored for being Jewish. And, eventually, so did William Dodd, the United States ambassador to Germany, though he was ignored because, frankly, too many people didn’t want to believe any of what was happening in Berlin.

Before reading this book, I had a slightly better than average knowledge of the history of World War II and what lead up to it. But even for me there were things to learn. I’d never heard of Dodd or Messersmith. Never heard of Rudolph Diels, or Ernst Hanfstaengl. I knew, at least a bit, about the Night of Long Knives and some what lead up to it, including Ernst Rohm’s penchant for pretty young men, but I didn’t really grasp much of what was going on that lead up to it.

Now, thanks to Erik Larson’s latest work, I know these people and I have a much, much improved understanding of what was going on in Germany from 1933 to 1938. Larson gives you a great “on the ground” view of what was really happening, what people thought was happening, what everyone said was happening and why the differences between these things matter. You really get a feel for how Berlin functioned, or didn’t function, during this time period.

Larson’s previous work, Thunderstruck, where he tried too hard to link the stories of Dr Crippen and Marconi, didn’t really work for me, which was a disappointment, since The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America remains one of my favorite books. I’m happy to say this book is at least as good and engaging as Devil in the White City. This is an excellent, well-written, suspenseful book. Even though I did know the fates of some of the people involved, Larson’s writing was still engaging enough to keep me interested, and to occasionally make me wonder if my memory of their lives was wrong (it wasn’t).

Anyone with even a casual interest in the events leading up to the war will find this an invaluable read. It’s easily the best book I’ve read this year, and likely to stay that way. A truly wonderful read!

How to Lose an Argument


It’s easy. Just invoke Hitler by saying “Heil Hitler!” to a Jew!

Thankfully he gave her the what-for. For those of you who do not know, this sort of Hitler-invoking is what’s known as Godwin’s Law.

Also in other health care debate news, here’s Barney Frank giving a very stupid woman a well-earned takedown.

Always nice to see a Democrat grow a pair. If we’d engaged like this from the outset we might not be in the situation we’re in now.

A quick tip to the people against the plans to reform health care. Don’t compare the President to a Nazi! There is no greater way to get people to ignore your message than by doing that. It doesn’t help your cause, it doesn’t get your real message across and it makes you look like a fucking idiot.

The people who say this point to imaginary things they think are in the four or five health care bills and compare them to Nazi policies in the 1930′s. Sarah Palin was only a couple steps away from this by talking about “death panels”. These people make arguments that basically boil down to, “Well, you know who else was in favor of national health care? HITLER!” To which I can say, “You know who else breathed oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide? HITLER!”

Oh, and before anyone starts saying, “Well, the Democrats compared Bush to Hitler!”, let me state that, yes, some idiots did. It didn’t generally make the news, but it happened. It was wrong then, too. It’s always wrong. The only person who should ever be compared to Hitler is Hitler himself, and what a fuckbag he was.

One last side note: I would’ve loved to see the lady in the first vid try that on a concentration camp survivor. That could’ve been really entertaining!

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead


The BBC website has an article today about how Spanish dictator Franco, who is, in fact, still dead, had only one testicle. They even go out of the way to mention that Hitler had the same problem.

Okee-dokee. Let’s have a bit of a reality check here. First, zero points to the BBC for even running this story. It’s not really relevant to anything happening now.

Second, surprise, Hitler had both testicles, and likely Franco did, too. From what we know of Hitler’s sexuality, he was a normally put-together man with all his parts, though he apparently didn’t have much interest in sex.

Third, who cares? This isn’t news in any way, shape or form. This is like telling us all about how Catherine the Great died when the horse fell on her.

As a recent article in Slate points out, we need to believe stories like this about Hitler cause it means he was somehow “different” from the rest of us, and it gives us an easy, “Oh, well, there you go,” explanation for his behavior. We don’t want to believe he was just a regular human with some really, really evil ideals.

This sort of historical voyeurism is really kind of weird and doesn’t accomplish much. It certainly isn’t news. Shame on the BBC for reporting it at all, and double-shame to them for continuing to spread the story about Hitler.

A Piece of Our Times


So the other day, George II made some comments saying there are those who wanted to negotiate with “terrorists and radicals” basically wanted to engage in “appeasement”. Naturally, he made these comments in Jerusalem and might as well have said we were wanting to kotow to Hitler (and, indeed, he made mention of Hitler by name, which at least one blogger has said means our President is now a practitioner of Godwin’s Law).

Now, I wonder. This is an election year. Who do you think, perhaps, the President might’ve had in mind when he made those remarks? McCain, possibly? Could be. Condoleeza Rice? I mean, she is the SecState, and her job is one of engaging in diplomacy, though she seems unaware of this sometimes.

But I wonder, though, if he might’ve had someone else in mind?

Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Obama by name, and White House officials said he was not taking aim at the senator, though they were aware the speech might be interpreted that way. New York Times, 5-16-2008

What?! Really?! People might’ve thought he meant… Obama?! No, say it isn’t so! I mean, how could you possibly dervive that from Bush’s remarks? At least one commentator on CNN (forgive me, but I don’t remember her name. She’s the black apologist they’ve been sending out more and more lately now that Obama is the likely nominee), seemed amazed the Democrats would think this, and made some remarks along the lines of “methinks they doth protest too much”.

Of course, it’s a no-win for us, right? I mean, if we’d stayed silent on this issue, the GOP could’ve sat back smugly and said to themselves, “Ah-ha! So that is what they have in mind!” But by responding, they can appear all wounded, and wonder why the media is so eager to paint them as a villain. After all, Bush never said Obama’s name during the speech! Again from the Times article:

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said, in a speech otherwise devoted to spotlighting Israel’s friendship with the United States.

“We have an obligation,” he continued, “to call this what it is: the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

For those who don’t know, “appeasement” generally refers to efforts by the Allies, most notably UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, to stave off a massive war in Europe by giving Hitler what he wanted in return for, as Chamberlain famously said, “peace in our times”. This didn’t work, though arguably it did buy the Allies some time to prepare for the oncoming war. Which they won.

But there is a difference between talking with ones enemies and appeasing them. Through the Cold War, administrations both Democractic and Republican engaged in talks with people like Nikita Kruschev and other Soviet leaders, as well as several other more odious people. Simply talking with your enemies, learning what they want and their point of view, is not a bad thing. As Obama said the other day:

I constantly reject this notion that any hint of strategies involving diplomacy are somehow soft or indicate surrender or means that you are not going to crack down on terrorism.

Exactly. Talk is not surrender. Talk is not appeasement. Talk is… talk. Diplomacy. There’s nothing wrong with it, despite what Bush and company might think.

Gah!


Somehow I’ve ended up with two Nazi-related posts today!

Memo to anyone planning to run for public office in the United States of America or, indeed, any civilized nation anywhere on this planet ever:

DO NOT APPEAR AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR ADOLF “FREAKY PANTS” HITLER!

Someone out there has failed to get this very simple message.

Those Wacky Austrians!


Apparently many Austrians are under the impression that the ongoing Austrian incest case is the worst crime ever in all of Austrian history.

Really?

I mean, it’s pretty bad and stuff, but… really?

My memories of Austrian history are, admitedly, foggy, but I’m pretty sure I can think of at least one Austrian who was far worse than this ass-clown and did far worse things.

But maybe I’m remembering wrong.

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