Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: A Letter From The Black Quill: Additional Thoughts On Why Bush And Cheney Ought To Be Impeached
Loading...

Click for a full report.

Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Letter From The Black Quill: Additional Thoughts On Why Bush And Cheney Ought To Be Impeached











A Letter From The Black Quill: Additional Thoughts On Why Bush And Cheney Ought To Be Impeached And The Congress Held Accountable For Dereliction Of Duty: Misfeasance, Nonfeasance, Malfeasance In Office Equals Congressional Malpractice: Matters of Principle and A helping of America’s Violent Apple Pie!








But First Some Thoughts others have had:

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. -Samuel Adams-

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles on sleeping men. -Voltaire-

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots. - Barbara Ehrenreich-

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will. –Frederick Douglass-

I have named the destroyers of nations: comfort, plenty, and security - out of which grow a bored and slothful cynicism, in which rebellion against the world as it is, and myself as I am, are submerged in listless self-satisfaction. - John Steinbeck-

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. -Oscar Wilde-

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. - Robert M. Hutchins-

We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King, Jr.-

When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. - Dorothy Thompson-

Edward R. Murrow:
We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

Rabbi Sherwin Wine:
There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity, hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.

The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against unjust coercion and irrational conformity.

This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies

Historically we are little more than dust, our time a mere blink of a strobe in the grand scheme of things, a fleeting moment to examined, evaluated and judged by archeologists and historians ages hence in the continued pursuit of truth not always discernable in the crucible of the present.

In “hopeful assumption” that we will have left them voluminous, almost verbose records, that will not have been consumed in some great catastrophic conflagration authored by man’s ignorance and greed, they will sift through our questions and answers, events glorious and disastrous and place us in the continuum of man’s exploits on this planet.

Their task will be no easier than historians of the past or of this day. The task will be different. They will not so much have to dig through the fallen ruins of man’s edifices as to sift through the deluge of words and records to determine the truth. Again, that perspective is premised on the optimistic hope and assumption that man as a whole is not suicidal and will succumb to the inferno of a nuclear holocaust leaving only the fragmentation of ash.

Not so long ago, within our blink, Americans walked on the moon while the world watched in admiration. Today, Americans are trudging with guns through streets of carnage in Baghdad, while the world hangs its head in shame at what we have become.

Not so long ago, American moral leadership inspired the world. Other nations respected us, even our enemies. We were looked up to because we were worthy of it. We were a compassionate and generous nation, a nation that cared for its poor and honored its laws and believed in the American Dream.

But for seven years, we have been trapped in a nightmare. Our government puts human beings in cages. Our government tortures prisoners. Our government spies on us. Our government wages war for oil. Politicians have dragged America into the gutter. But we don't have to stay there.

Across this country on September 15, we can show these politicians and pundits and complicit media hacks that their lies about Iraq are no longer going to be tolerated. We can join together with other Americans, in our streets and parks and neighborhoods, in Washington D.C., in New York City, in San Francisco, in Chicago and Denver and Philadelphia and Boston. We have to tell America the truth about Bush's monstrous war for oil. Congress won't. But we will. Someone has to.

We don’t want to admit that citizen default is responsible for the success of the Bush administration's fear-mongering. Yes, we have allowed Bush and company to anesthetize us with fear. And by remaining under the ether of irrational anxiety we are abandoning our responsibility, the oath we take as citizens when we pledge allegiance to our flag – the symbol of our Constitution. If as citizens we allow the Bill of Rights to be vitiated and eviscerated we are complicit in the treasonous acts of our government.

Edward R. Murrow said it best: “No one man can enslave an entire nation unless we are all accomplices.” And damn it, ladies and gentlemen we are guilty as hell! We let our young men and women go off to Iraq and fight and die is a wrongful cause, and we talk and we squawk, but we do not act and move as citizen soldiers to topple this regime, and that is what must be done.

As the old Pogo comic strip said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Walter Lippman swung a good hammer and hit the nail on the head when he warned: that “the false ideal of democracy…can only lead to disillusionment and to meddlesome tyranny limiting individual freedom.”

We are where we are at this moment in time because we have accepted the concept that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We have not done our jobs. We have been politically proper polite cowards, and that is a fact!

America is a herd of blank drones drifting vacantly through the shopping malls of America, going about business as usual while denying the existence of pervasive and threatening evils.

I freely acknowledge that when people get to the street, it's almost always not the first option. That happens when we see the system not working. Are we there yet fellow Americans? What in the hell are we waiting for? Are we a bunch of political alcoholics waiting to hit the bottom, the bottom being the first time the administration declares martial law anywhere for any reason? And twelve steps up from there will be a helluva climb, a helluva price!

If so many people are fed up with the war, why is everyone so silent? Is this the way it usually feels in the heartlands of great empires until the barbarians actually do come knocking at the gates?

“All governments fall, eventually,” Nelson said. “The symptom is when those we elect begin to feel that they are superior to the people they represent. George Washington stated “How soon we forget history. Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” He got that one right!

“Hopefully, this government will wake up and recognize that, as a servant of the people, it is obligated to obey our Constitution, and when it does not; what does The Declaration Of Independence proscribe as a remedy?

We are in the midst of a political crisis that goes right to the heart of our constitutional government. Yet, without a depression or civil war on the horizon, we have been slow to respond to this threat to the future of our democracy. We can’t seem to embrace the idea that we have to be citizen soldiers, freedom fighters!

The Founding Fathers made interpreting the Constitution easy. Gouverneur Morris, the delegate tasked with polishing its prose, preferred clear expression. Where the framers wished to be specific, he made the document transparent. Where they preferred to be vague, he produced felicitous phrases like the famous "necessary and proper clause." Where they utterly failed to anticipate a development like the emergence of political parties, there was an amendment process that could separate the elections of president and vice president, as did the 12th.

However easy to interpret, sustaining a consensus around any particular interpretation of the Constitution has proven more difficult. Our Supreme Court justices have never failed to fill up their docket.

Against this background of successive and contending interpretations of the Constitution, it's important to distinguish between differences of opinion and a crisis.

The differences arise over how to apply the Constitution in specific cases. When a development threatens the heart of our Constitution, a crisis looms. And it does so now with a president who explicitly and consistently works to extend his power in a way that upsets the balance of authority among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government.

Like some wasting diseases, this constitutional crisis began years ago with WW I and the Great Depression and accelerated with the Cold War.

The communist threat at the end of World War II, part of it real and part of it self-generated, wrought substantial changes in our balance-of-power, checks and balances constitutional system. Authority shifted to the executive branch.

Much of this shift came from an outright grant of power by successive Congresses unwilling to assume responsibility for conducting a novel kind of warfare that was not concentrated on the open battlefield but in the back alleys of the world. Given the way they operate it should have been right up their ally, but then again there are only a handful that are not of mediocre intellectual stature, and that groups talks only to itself and leads the rest!

Declaring massive support for the South Korean government to be a "police action," President Harry Truman in 1950 sought congressional authorization to make war only obliquely under the aegis of the United Nations, not a formal declaration as required by the U.S. Constitution.

This set a pattern that would be followed by successive presidents for the next half century. Truman further warned the Soviet Union not to meddle in Greece and Turkey through a policy that came to be known as the Truman Doctrine.

The National Security Act of 1947 established a National Security Council, along with a permanent Department of Defense and United States Air Force, that quickly came to rival the Department of State for presidential attention and policy initiative.

That Act also created a Central Intelligence Agency whose activities soon spread to destabilization, and sometimes overthrow, of unfriendly governments or those seen to be too friendly to the Politburo in Moscow.

Truman's decision to use atomic weapons in Japan, and his brisk, authoritative manner, caused few to want to challenge him where the communist threat was concerned.

Conservatives, newly minted as anti-communists, found it difficult to question his increasing use of covert operations to counter Soviet initiatives or the emergence of the United States as the world's stabilizing force.

The Cold War badly battered American traditions. We fought police actions, proxy wars, and covert operations, using euphemisms to cover up our failure to follow the Constitution.

The secret operations and lesser-of-two evils alliances of these years made a mockery of an earlier Wilsonian tradition of "open covenants, openly arrived at.", and Kissinger made sausage of it, and it wasn’t Kosher!

The stark choice presented between a world of democratic governments and totalitarian communist regimes smoothed the path away from earlier American practices. Cold War diplomacy was anomalous, but an anomaly that lasts half a century can become the norm.

When President Richard Nixon's covertly subverted checks and balances 30 years ago during the Vietnam War, Congress passed laws making clear that presidents were not to engage in unconstitutional behavior in the interest of "national security."

Then Congress was reacting to violation of Fourth Amendment protections against searches and seizures without judicial warrants establishing "probable cause," attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, and surveillance of American citizens.

During the Cold War, intelligence became a marshal's baton. Those who had access to it, particularly the president, held a trump card over those who did not.

The theme of "if you only knew what I knew you wouldn't question my decisions" helped a succession of Cold War president keep Congressional inquiries at bay.

It has resonated most blatantly in the George W. Bush administration. "We know secrets having to do with national security that we cannot divulge even to Congress, let alone the American people," has been their message. Access to intelligence, real or imagined, became the justification for unilateral presidential action.

Bush's prosecution of the Iraq war has included similar abuses. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, providing Constitutional means to carry out surveillance, and the Intelligence Identification Protection Act, protecting the identity of undercover intelligence agents, have both been violated by an administration seeking to "restore the power of the presidency," even those powers have been explicitly prohibited by acts of Congress.

The issue of presidential power in wartime has plagued the American republic throughout its history. Once past the founding era principle of "no foreign entanglements," various administrations have tried to use conflict, whether genuine or not, to consolidate and concentrate power in the executive branch. Characterizing the fight against terror as a war has accelerated this pernicious development.

Terror is a method not an ideology or tangible enemy, but declaring "war" on it has enabled the Bush administration to justify unlimited detention of "enemy combatants" (a unique, self-invented category meant to avoid both the criminal justice system and international conventions). So too has the "war on terror" permitted surreptitious domestic wiretaps and surveillance, in violation of U.S. law and in circumvention of established judicial warrant procedures. Its exigencies have been called in to defend unilateral, preemptive invasions of sovereign states.

During the first post-Cold War decade of the 90s, power had become a bit more balanced between the Article One legislature and the Article Two executive. Not everyone liked this course correction.

There is little question that Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, veterans of the Ford administration, came into office determined to reverse this trend and consolidate the executive authority that they perceived to have been eroded during Nixon's travail after the Watergate break-in. The Neocon prescription was filled in New York!

There was little in January 2001 that could provide a fulcrum to lever an expansion of presidential powers. Then came 9.11. Al Qaeda provided the opportunity to carry out the long awaited project of restoring a dominant executive branch. War is always a convenient excuse to do that. Instead of overtly and directly announcing their intensions, the executive "restorationists" carried out their project largely in secret.

No speeches were given, no mandate articulated. Senior Bush administration officials simply went about their business of making the presidency primus inter pares despite the importance in the Constitution of maintaining a balance.

The creation of a constitutional crisis became virtually inevitable once this program was in gear.

Though the systematic effort to place ideologically motivated judges in federal district courts, courts of appeals, and Supreme Court positions was largely read as motivated by a social agenda centered on reversal of Roe v. Wade, there is now reason to believe that this effort was even more motivated by a realization that extra-constitutional concentration of power in the executive would, sooner or later, required judicial scrutiny and approval.

The Bush administration has built on the Cold War foundations of an imperial president, accelerating the rate of the power shift and openly defending the unlimited nature of the president's power in time of war.

Years and many decisions later, President Bush and his most trusted advisors have pushed the expansion of presidential power so far that we now confront a constitutional crisis.

President Bush has given Commander-in-chief Bush unlimited wartime authority.

Relying upon legal opinions from Attorney General Albert Gonzales, then working in the White House, and John Yoo, in the Justice Department, Bush has insisted that there can be no limits to the power of the commander-in-chief in time of war.

More recently the president has claimed that laws relating to domestic spying and the torture of detainees do not apply to him.

President Bush's interpretation of his war powers has produced a hellish conundrum, for no peace treaty can possibly bring an end to the fight against terror.

There will always be some rogue terrorist. The emergency powers of the president during this "war" can now extend indefinitely, at the pleasure of the president and at great threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed us under the Constitution.

The entire scheme has required not just a president intent on accumulating and consolidating executive power, but a compliant Congress, and a judiciary willing to ratify this systematic march toward a quasi-authoritarian structure as well.

Arguably, there is no precedent for this dangerous project in American history. Upon its outcome rests the future of our republic, and we are still trying to make nice as reasonable law abiding folk who believe in peaceable assembly that has no news value and threatens no one’s reelection.

Nor has it only been in foreign affairs that President Bush has usurped the authority of Congress. Using an innovation from Ronald Reagan's presidency called "presidential signing statements," he has flouted his constitutional duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," as stated in Article 2, Section 2.

Rather than veto legislation and thereby give Congress a chance to override his veto, he has elected to announce that he does not intend to execute the law, in effect putting the president above the law.

The Boston Globe has found more than 750 "presidential signing statements" expressing the president's intention not to execute the law before him. Many of these laws have specifically addressed President Bush's expansion of powers as part of the "war on terror," a notorious example being his rejection of the law against the use of torture after failing to stop its passage through Congress.

This policy seems not to be terribly troubling to a complacent Congress, but it is one that massively unhinges the Constitution.

All of these novelties could be written into the Constitution through the amendment process, but of course that would trigger the debate we're not having.

There are other ways to change the Constitution while avoiding the laborious amendment process. One is to silently ignore a provision, a course of action which takes the collusion of those in office. A spectacular example involves the Constitution's investment of the power to declare war to Congress.

Despite the many hostilities the United States has engaged in over the past 60 years, Congress has not declared war since December 8th, 1941, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress for such a declaration following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution is quite explicit in giving Congress, not the President, the power to declare war. No ambiguity here of the original intent. Nor should the Constitution be selectively respected.

So accustomed have Americans become to the president's assuming this authority that in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, during the spring of 2002, Alberto Gonzales, then presidential counsel, advised the president that he need not consult Congress.

When the president decided to do so any way, it was not to ask it to declare war, but rather to authorize the use of force, leaving him to decide when or if.

A distinction without a difference? Hardly.

The drafters of the Constitution gave this power to declare war to Congress because its members were the closest in contact with their constituents who would fight and pay for any war. Representatives of those who would bear the brunt of war would make the awful choice of resorting to violence. The Founders also sought to balance the power of the commander-in-chief against that of Congress, to avoid a dangerous concentration of power in the presidency.

To make matters worse, , after President Bush announced that he would consult Congress, as though it were a matter of his choice, not a constitutional imperative, he told crowds gathered in Indiana and Kentucky that he did not expect a Congressional debate to change his position.

Later the president indicated his impatience with any prolonged congressional deliberations about his intentions. Yet it is exactly this function of hearing from experts, canvassing opinions, and expressing constituents' concerns that distinguishes Congress from the presidency.

Few in Congress complained publicly about this abrogation of the power to declare war, set forth in art. 1, sect. 8, but over 1,400 American historians complained in a petition presented to a delegation of representatives. The petition noted that "Congress has not asserted its authority to declare war for over half a century, leaving the president solely in control of war powers to the detriment of our democracy and in clear violation of the Constitution.

And we’re going to “talk” about how to hold these people accountable, when I firmly believe it is time to ACT to hold them accountable!

" To merely authorize the use of force, as Congress eventually did, is to avoid responsibility and leave the ominous decision to go to war with an officer who benefits from the extension of powers war brings.

The trouble with the course of action President Bush has taken is that it directly contradicts both the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution.

The Founding Fathers, who always come to mind when the Constitution is in danger, anticipated the possibility of power grabs.

Writing in the Federalist Papers, James Madison defined tyranny as the concentration of powers in one branch of the government, going on to point out that "the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others."

Warming to his subject, Madison continued, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition;" the interest of the office holders must "be connected with the constitutional rights of the place."

Recognizing that he was making an appeal to interest over ideals, Madison concluded that it "may be a reflection of human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government." "But what," he asked, "is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?

If men were angels, no government would be necessary; If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

What James Madison would have thought of a latter-day president who held himself above the law, treated Congress as a nuisance, subjected American citizens to state intrusion, and manipulated intelligence, meant to protect the people as a whole, is difficult to fathom.

But it is most certainly the kind of presidency he was concerned to curb.

Madison's solution to the concentration of powers that he believed led to tyranny relied upon either Congress or the Supreme Court to check the overreaching from a president. In our present crisis, Congress has been supine in the face of the president's steady assertion of unconstitutional, unlimited power, and the Supreme Court has yet to decide on cases affecting detainees and executive surveillance of Americans' telephone calls and email messages.

If Madison's reliance on the ambition of other office holders has failed us, we need to look elsewhere. Can what Thomas Jefferson called the "common sense and good judgment of the American people" help us now?

In the past, they have been a critical last resort when our leaders endangered the constitutional checks and balances that have made us the world's oldest democracy. But first the public must wake up to this constitutional crisis.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll results vividly show a population incredibly dissatisfied with their nation’s political system. In other countries in other times such a depressing level of confidence in government would send a signal to those running the government that a major upheaval is imminent.

But not here in the USA. Why?

First, here are the highlights of the poll that surveyed 1,008 adults from June 8-11, with a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points. A whopping 68 percent think the country is on the wrong track. Just 19 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction - the lowest number on that question in nearly 15 years. And most of those with the positive view are probably in the Upper Class. Bush’s approval rating is at just 29 percent, his lowest mark ever in the survey. Only 62 percent of Republicans approve, versus 32 percent who disapprove. Take Republicans out of the picture and a fifth or less of Americans have a positive view of Bush. Even worse, only 23 percent approve of the job that Congress is doing.

So much for that wonderful new Democratic control of Congress.

Bipartisan incompetence is alive and well. On the economic front, nearly twice as many people think the U.S. is more hurt than helped by the global economy (48 to 25 percent). Globalization does not spread wealth; it channels it to the wealthy, making billionaires out of millionaires. I have long asserted that Americans live in a delusional democracy with delusional prosperity and these and loads of other data support this view.

There is an obscenely wealthy and politically powerful Upper Class that is literally raping the nation.

Meanwhile, the huge Lower Class continues to lose economic ground while their elected representatives sell them out to benefit the Upper Class. Yet no rational person thinks that a large fraction of the population is ready to rise up in revolt against the evil status quo political-economic system that so clearly is not serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

Why not?

For a nation that was built on a REVOLT against oppressive governance by the British, something has been lost from our political DNA.

We apparently no longer have the gene for political rebellion.

It has been bred out of most of us. And those of us that urge a Second American Revolution are seen as fringe, nutty subversives.

Part of the genius of our contemporary ruling class elites is that they have engineering a state of political and economic oppression that paradoxically is still embraced by the Lower Class.

The rational way to understand this is that ordinary, oppressed Americans are in a deep psychological state of self-delusion.

Despite all the empirical, objective evidence of a failed government, they fail to see rebellion opportunities.

Many still believe they live in the world’s best democracy.

But across all elections considerably less than half the citizens even bother to vote anymore.

Yet, as the new NBC/Journal poll results show, people are cognitively aware of just how awful the political-economic system is.

Yet they are not feeling enough pain to seriously consider rebellion. And it is visceral pain that must drive people to the daring act of rebellion.

Why is there insufficient pain for revolution?

I fully understand the words that follow are as relevant an observation of human nature today as they were the day that the delegates of The Second Continental Congress enshrined them in our heritage with their votes to adopt The Declaration Of Independence.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

How much more are we expected to accept before we act upon those words?

This is a deadly serious issue. What is historically unique about America is that even the most oppressed and unfairly treated people are distracted by affordable materialism, entertainment, sports, gambling, and myriad other aspects of our frivolous, self-absorbed culture.

Even failed school and health care systems do not drive people, paying enormous sums to fill up their SUVs, to rebellion.

So, Americans are aware of their oppression, but the power elites have successfully drugged them with a plethora of pleasure-producing distractions sufficient to keep them under control.

We are free to bitch, but too weak to revolt. The Internet has provided a release valve for some pent up anger and frustration. But it too has mostly become another source of distraction, rather than an effective tool for rebellion.

Though these new poll statistics make news, those in control of the political-economic system are not afraid that the population is on the verge of retaking their constitutionally guaranteed sovereign power and take back their nation.

Thousands of people like me keep writing, keep communicating, keep trying to make the system and our institutions respond in every acceptable way, but those in power just find new, ingenious ways to keep the population distracted – if not through pleasure, then certainly through fear of terrorism. Growing economic insecurity also contributes to self-paralysis, as do never-ending political lies.

What a degenerate perverted system we have at the moment.

Even as the population has growing awareness of the dire condition of their nation, the move by the politically powerful on the right and left continues to seek a new immigration law that will solidify the selling out of America.

Business interests want more of those fleeing Mexico and other nations to keep wages low. Instead of Mexicans rising up in rebellion against their oppressive government and economic system they escape to the USA.

But Americans have no such viable escape solution,though global warming will certainly make Canada increasingly attractive.

So what do Americans have – other than a terribly bleak future? Where is hope in our dismal demented world?

In a bizarre twist of history that further illustrates just how impotent Americans have become, virtually all citizens are either unaware of or unreceptive to the ultimate escape route that the Framers of our Constitution gave us. They anticipated that Americans could become quite dissatisfied with the federal government.

They feared that the political system could become incredibly corrupted by moneyed interests. They were right.

So here we sit over 200 years after our nation was created unwilling to use what is explicitly given to us in Article V of the Constitution – the option to have a convention outside the control of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court to make proposals for constitutional amendments.

Do we really believe in the rule of law?

If so, then we should understand that the supreme law of the land – what is in our Constitution – is the ultimate way to obtain the deep political and government reforms to restore true democracy and economic fairness to our society.

Make no mistake: an Article V convention has been stubbornly opposed by virtually all groups with political and economic power.

This is most evidenced by the blatant refusal of Congress to obey the Constitution and give us an Article V convention, even though the single explicit requirement for a convention has been met.

This fact alone should tell rational people that they are being screwed and oppressed. The rule of law is trumped by the rule of delusion. Our lawmakers are lawbreakers. Go learn more about the effort to get an Article V convention at http://www.foavc.org/ and become a member, particpate. It is at least a legal and peaceful avenue you can explore. Do not keep witnessing the unraveling of American society, voting for lesser evil candidates, and believing the propaganda that putting different Democrats or Republicans in office will actually improve things for most of us.

Choose peaceful rebellion by using what our Constitution gives us while that option is still available. Fight self-delusion.

"Increasingly, Americans are a people without history, with only memory, which means a people poorly prepared for what is inevitable about life -- tragedy, sadness, moral ambiguity -- and therefore a people reluctant to engage difficult ethical issues."

In August 2002, when President George Bush began to drum up a war fever in America with a view to toppling Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein, alleged to be the possessor of weapons of mass destruction. Bush did so without providing the evidence, the costs, the "why now" explanation, or long-term implications of such a war.

And by October 2002, The United States Congress not only granted the president a virtual declaration of war for an historically unprecedented "pre-emptive war," but did so without raising any questions about the whys, the evidence, the costs, or long term implications for the nation -- and for the world -- of such an unprovoked invasion.

Only a democratic society accustomed to war -- and predisposed to the use of war and violence -- would accept war so quickly, without asking any questions or demanding any answers from its leaders about the war. Does this not tell you what we have become as a nation?

And only the opposition of the French, Germans, Russians, and Chinese finally forced some Americans to raise questions about what was actually being planned. This, coupled with the anti-war demonstrations on February 15th, 2003 by millions of people in 350 cities around the globe, delayed President Bush from actually launching this war against Iraq by mid-February 2003.

Nothing, however, seemed to stop the bush administration's drive for war.

Nor did the failure of American diplomatic efforts to get authorization from the United Nations' security council seem to bother the members of the congress, virtually all of whom remained silent or in support of war.

The incessant polls showed that a majority of the American population continued to support a preemptive war even as -- or perhaps because of -- increasingly angry objections were voiced by important long term allies and antiwar demonstrators all over the world.

Yes sir, by God, no one was going to tell the USA that we could not invade any piss ant third world power we chose to. No one was going to tell this beacon of democracy and purveyor of freedom that we could not have our way with any nation on Earth, for whatever reason!

We became willing accomplices to murder, genocide and a fiction of a “Holy War” against terrorism. But we are too big, too strong, to admit we were wrong. We are after all excluded from being held accountable by anyone in the world. We are the USA! We can bring the wrath of American violence down upon anyone anywhere at any time, for any reason, real of imagined of cause.

The reality untaught in American schools and textbooks is that war -- whether on a large or small scale -- and domestic violence have been pervasive in American life and culture from this country's earliest days almost 400 years ago.

Violence, in varying forms, according to the leading historian of the subject, Richard Maxwell Brown, "has accompanied virtually every stage and aspect of our national experience," and is "part of our unacknowledged (underground) value structure."

Indeed, "repeated episodes of violence going far back into our colonial past, have imprinted upon our citizens a propensity to violence."

Thus, America demonstrated a national predilection for war and domestic violence long before the 9/11 attacks, but its leaders and intellectuals through most of the last century cultivated the national self-image, a myth, of America as a moral, "peace-loving" nation which the American population seems unquestioningly to have embraced.

Despite the national, peace-loving self-image, American patriotism has usually been expressed in military and even militaristic terms.

No less than seven presidents owed their election chiefly to their military careers (George Washington, 1789, Andrew Jackson,1828, William Henry Harrison, 1840, Zachary Taylor,1848, Ulysses S. Grant,1868, Theodore Roosevelt,1898, and Dwight David Eisenhower, 1952) while others, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, for example, capitalized upon their military records to become presidents, and countless others at both federal and state levels made a great deal of their war or military records.

Starting with President Woodrow Wilson early in the 20th century, national leaders began to use moralistic rhetoric when they took the nation to war.

They assured Americans that the nation's singular mission in the world required the nation to go to war, but that when it went to war, America only did what was morally right. Do you remember some history teacher reciting with pride of voice the phrases: “The war to make the world safe for democracy!”, and “The war to end all wars!”

War is not now, nor has it ever been romantic. Only on film is war heroic and romantic. And if folks had paying attention in those history classes they should have recalled words worth the remembering as they sprouted in our soil and from our own experience as a nation torn asunder!

"Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all hell!"-General William T. Sherman,

"I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the woundedwho cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell." From "On Killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Secretary of State John Hay, in 1898, lauded the Spanish-American War as a "splendid little war."

Commentators have touted World War II as the good war and those who fought in it, "The Best American Generation," and President George Bush, as he was about to launch a War against Iraq on January 29, 1991, asserted: "We are Americans; we have a unique responsibility to do the hard work of freedom. And when we do, freedom works."

This is not to suggest that all American wars have been fought for base motives, cloaked by self-serving moralistic rhetoric, but rather that Americans have little genuine understanding of the major role played by war throughout the American experience.

Historians, however, are well aware that war taught Americans how to fight, helped unite the diverse American population, and helped stimulate the national economy, among other significant things. But this is not the message that they have presented to the American people, concerned perhaps they might undermine Americans' self-image.

Just how frequent war has been, and how central wars have been to the evolution of the United States, only becomes clear when you start to make a list.

American wars begin with the first Indian attack in 1622 in Jamestown, Virginia, followed by the Pequot War in New England in 1635-36, and King Philips' War, in 1675-76, which resulted in the destruction of almost half the towns in Massachusetts. Other wars and skirmishes with Native American Indians would follow until 1900.

There were four major imperial wars between 1689 and 1763 involving England and its North American colonies and the French (and their Native American Indian allies), Spanish, and Dutch empires.

During roughly the same years, 1641 to 1759, there were 18 settler outbreaks, five rising to the level of major insurrections (such as Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia, 1676-1677, Leisler's Rebellion in New York, 1689-1692, and Coode's Rebellion in Maryland, 1689-1692), and 40 riots.

Americans gained their independence from England and boundaries out to the Mississippi River, as a consequence of the Revolutionary War.

The second war against England, 1812-1815, reinforced our independence, while 40 wars with the Native American Indians between the 1622 and 1900 resulted in millions upon millions of acres of land being added to the national domain.

In 1848, the entire southwest, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Utah and Wyoming, was obtained through war with Mexico. The Civil War between 1861 and 1865 was simply the bloodiest war in American history.

America's overseas empire began with the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection (1898-1902) by which the U.S. gained control of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Then, there were World Wars I and II, the Korean Police Action (1949 - 1952), and the longest -- and most expensive war -- in American history, the Vietnam War between 1959 and 1975.

Meanwhile, between 1789 and 1945, there were at least 200 presidentially directed military actions all over the globe.

Among other places, these military actions involved the shelling of Indochina in 1849 and the U.S. military occupation of virtually every Caribbean and Central-American country between 1904 and 1934.

Indeed, in his effort to justify U.S. military intervention in Cuba against Fidel Castro, on September 17, 1962, Secretary of State Dean Rusk presented a list to a U.S. Senate Hearing of all of these 200 plus "precedents" (now called "low intensity conflicts") from 1789 to 1960.

During the Cold War between 1945 and 1989, the U.S. waged war, directly or through surrogates, openly and covertly, from military bases all over the world.

After the Cold War ended in 1989, other important military actions have been undertaken, such as the Gulf War (January and February 1991 in Iraq), in the former Yugoslavia (in 1999), and the 2001 war against the Taliban government and international terrorists in Afghanistan and the Philippines in 2003.

To this roster, we must add the 2003 war against Iraq, to be followed, perhaps, by one with North Korea, which has lately brandished its nuclear weapons and missiles.

American historians have avidly studied war, especially the Civil War and World War II, but their focus has almost always been on war causation, battles, generalship, battlefield tactics and strategy, and so on.

Overlooked, for the most part, are the general and specific effects of war upon American cultural life; the possible connections between war and civilian violence is still largely unexplored territory.

Has war directly or indirectly encouraged an American predisposition toward aggressiveness and the use of violence or was it the reverse?

This question has never been satisfactorily investigated by American historians or other scholars. Yet, the overwhelming majority of historians have always known that America was -- and is -- a violent country.

But they have said very little about it, depriving the population of a realistic understanding about this important aspect of their national culture.

This omission is most clearly observable in U.S. history textbooks used in high schools, colleges and universities, on the one hand, and popular histories derived from these texts, on the other, which have never devoted serious attention to the topic of the violence in America, let alone sought to explain it.

Consequently, there seems little genuine understanding about the centrality of violence in American life and history.

The overwhelming majority of American historians have not studied, written about, or discussed America's "high violence" environment, not because of a lack of hard information or knowledge about the frequent and widespread use of violence, but because of an unwillingness to confront the reality that violence and American culture are inextricably intertwined.

Many prominent historians recognized this years ago.
In the introduction to his 1970 collection of primary documents, "American Violence: A Documentary History," two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Richard Hofstadter wrote: "What is impressive to one who begins to learn about American violence is its extraordinary frequency, its sheer commonplaceness in our history, its persistence into very recent and contemporary times, and its rather abrupt contrast with our pretensions to singular national virtue."

Indeed, Hofstadter wrote the "legacy" of the violent 1960s would be a commitment by historians systematically to study American violence.

But most American historians have studiously avoided the topic or somehow clouded the issue.

In 1993, in his magisterial study, "The History of Crime and Punishment in America," for example, Stanford University Historian Lawrence Friedman devoted a chapter to the many forms of American violence.

Then, in a very revealing chapter conclusion, Friedman wrote: "American violence must come from somewhere deep in the American personality ... [it] cannot be accidental; nor can it be genetic.

The specific facts of American life made it what it is ... crime has been perhaps a part of the price of liberty ... [but] American violence is still a historical puzzle."

Precisely what is it that historians are unwilling to discuss? Basically, there are three forms of American violence: mob violence, interpersonal violence, and war.

What is the extent of mob violence?

Indiana University Historian Paul Gilje, in his 1997 book, "Rioting in America," stated there were at least 4,000 riots between the early 1600s and 1992. Gilje asserted that "without an understanding of the impact of rioting we cannot fully comprehend the history of the American people."

This is a position that director Martin Scorsese just made his own in the film, "Gangs of New York," which focuses on the July 1863 Draft Act Riots in New York City as the historical pivot around which America's urban experience revolved. However, occasional gory movie depictions of violent riots, or Civil War battles, as in "Gods and Generals," provide little real understanding of a nation's history.

M.I.T. Historian Robert Fogelson, in his 1971 book, "Violence as Protest: a Study of Riots and Ghettos," concluded that "for three and a half centuries Americans have resorted to violence in order to reach goals otherwise unattainable ... indeed, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the native white majority has rioted in some way and at some time against every minority group in America and yet Americans regard rioting not only as illegitimate but, even more significant, as aberrant."

Part of the fascination with group violence is the spectacle of mob rampages. But for historians there is more; group violence is viewed as a "response" to changing economic, political, social, cultural, demographic or religious conditions.

Thus, however violent the episodes were, historians could see larger "reasons" for these group behaviors; somehow, these actions reflected a "cause."

(This might be likened to the way many American historians still view the southern secession movement and Civil War.

Seeking to maintain their institution of human slavery, southerners started the bloodiest war in American history which almost destroyed the union.

But because they claimed to be fighting for their "freedom," historians have treated their action as a legitimate cause, whereas in other nations such action is ordinarily viewed as treason). The Revolutionary War was an act of treason…the act of over throwing a legitimately established ruling authority of Great Britain, and you can rest assured that had we lost that war or revered forefathers would have ended their lives not as the leaders of a new nation, but at the end of a rope!

Now, to the nitty-gritty: How many victims did riots and collective violence claim over the 400-year American historical experience?

This can never accurately be known, considering it includes official and unofficial violence against Native American Indians, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asians and untold riots, vigilante actions and lynchings, among other things.

But a conservative guesstimate of, perhaps, about 2,000,000 deaths and serious injuries between 1607 and 2001 (or about 5,063 each and every year for 395 years) seems a reasonable -- and quite conservative -- number for analytical purposes, until more precise statistics are available.

At least 753,000 Native American Indians were the intended victims of warfare and genocide between 1622 and 1900 in what is now the United States of America, according to one scholar. The number for African-Americans might equal or exceed the estimate for the Indians, 750,000.

The total number of deaths for all other forms of collective violence seems well under 20,000. The greatest American riot, the New York City Draft Act riots of July 1863, resulted in between 105 and 150 deaths, while the major 1960s riots (Watts, Los Angeles, Newark, N.J., and Detroit, Mich., accounted for a total of 103 deaths, and the 1992 Los Angeles riot claimed 60 lives.

The estimate of deaths from the 326 vigilante episodes is between 750 and 1,000. Approximately 5,000 individuals were known to have been lynched between 1882 and 1968, and about 2,000 more killed in labor-management violence.

Horrendous as this sounds -- and it is horrendous -- this 2,000,000 figure pales when compared to the major form of American violence which historians have routinely ignored until very recently.

Historians of violence have largely ignored individual interpersonal violence, which, in sharp contrast to group violence, is very frequent, sometimes very personal -- and far deadlier than group violence.

In 1997, two distinguished legal scholars, Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, compared crime rates in the G-7 countries (Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States) between the 1960s and 1990s in their book, "Crime Is Not The Problem: Lethal Violence In America Is." Bluntly, they stated their conclusion:

"What is striking about the quantity of lethal violence in the United States is that it is a third-world phenomenon occurring in a first-world nation." We maintain capital punishment where it has been banished in those lesser third world nations we consider as part of our Imperial play ground.

Instances of personal violence include but are not limited to barroom brawls, quarrels between acquaintances, business associates, lovers or sexual rivals, family members, or during the commission of a robbery, mugging, or other crime.

How does the carnage in this category contrast with the 2,000,000 victims of group violence between 1607 and 2001?

During the 20th century alone, well over 10 million Americans were victims of violent crimes -- and 10 percent of them -- or 1,089,616 -- were murdered between 1900 and 1997. The "total" number of "officially reported" homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies and rapes between 1937 and 1970 was 9,816,646, but these were undercounts!

Every year during the 20th century at least 10 percent of the crimes committed have been violent crimes -- homicides, aggravated assaults, forcible rapes and robberies. Between 1900 and 1997, there were 1,089,616 homicides. How were they murdered? 375,350 by firearms and the rest were due to other means, including beating, strangling, stabbing and cutting, drowning, poisoning, burning and axing.

Between 1900 and 1971, 596,984 Americans were murdered. Between 1971 and 1997, there were another 592,616 killed in similar ways.

More Americans were killed by other Americans during the 20th century than died in the Spanish-American war (11,000 "deaths in service"), World War I (116,000 "deaths in service"), World War II (406,000 "deaths in service"), the Korean police action (55,000 "deaths in service"), and the Vietnam War (109,000 "deaths in service") combined. ("Deaths in Service" statistics are greater than combat deaths and were used here to make the contrast between war and civilian interpersonal violence rates even clearer.)

So, what accounts for the American ability to overlook collective violence, interpersonal violence, and war, and now our acceptance of Genocide as an acceptable part of the human condition?

The explanation lies, first, with historians' abdication of responsibility systematically to deal with the issue of violence in America ... and, second, with the American population's refusal directly to confront any very ugly reality -- which came first I do not know. This is what historians refer to as " mutual causation."

There are, of course, several factors that have enabled Americans to overlook their violent past.

Many of these were actually defined by Richard Hofstadter in his 1970 introduction to "American Violence: A Documentary History." First, Americans have been told by historians that they are a "latter-day chosen people" with a providential exemption from the woes that plagued all other human societies. Oh, there it is again!

Historians of the 1950s had not denied that America's past was replete with violence; they just preferred during the Cold War to emphasize a more positive vision of America. Historians refer to this as the "myth of innocence" or the "myth of the new world Eden."

In an open, free, democratic society, graced with abundance of natural resources, and without the residue of repressive European institutions, virtually any white person who worked hard had the opportunity to achieve the "American Dream" of material success and respectability.

Violence, especially political violence when it erupted, was dismissed out of hand as somehow "un-American," an unfortunate by-product of temporary racial, ethnic, religious and industrial conflicts.

Second, American violence had not been a major issue for federal, state or local officials because it was rarely directed against them; it was rarely revolutionary violence. Rather, American violence has almost always been citizen-against-citizen, white against black, white against Indian, Protestant against Catholic or Mormon, Catholic against Protestant, white against Asian or Hispanic.

The lack of a violent revolutionary tradition in America is the principal reason why Americans have never been disarmed, while in every European nation the reverse is true. It is also a function of weaponry chosen by those in street revolt.

Thus far the guns have been in the hands of those representing the state.

The people have more typically filled their empty wine bottles and beer bottle with mixtures of lighter fluid, paint stripper, gasoline or kerosene, added liquid soap, plugged it with a Tampax and tape for a home grown version of a Napalm filled Molotov Cocktail, relied: on flares, lengths of pipe, baseball bats, picket sign standards, bricks, stones, bottles, broken pavement and sidewalk concrete,(any handy trash).

Occassionally a stick of dynamite has been know to be thrown; throwing usually means throwing tear gas canisters back at the blue line. Knives and ice picks are never too far from the ready and burning vehicles provide cover, rally and diversion while cutting fire hoses and destroying fire hydrants and every plate glass window shattered provides new on scene weaponry.

Our revolts are more reminiscent of peasant revolts; you know the pitch fork, shovel, hoe, rake, sickle and Scythe variety. It’s the “Man” who kills with bullets!

So, for the most part, Americans, laymen and historians alike, have been able to practice what some historians have termed "selective" recollection or "historical amnesia" about the violence in their past and present.

Since the 1960s, historians' works, cumulatively, have demonstrated a causal connection between American culture and the American predisposition to use violence. We might now be experiencing yet another by-product of this national penchant for violence -- a willingness to engage in a major war without asking very many hard questions. It's the American Way.

I have said it before the level of our technology, the level of our civilization be as it may; is not a measure of our civility. Violence is as American as our cliché Apple Pie. We are not far removed from our frontier imprint. The last fabled gunman of the frontier died at his desk at The New York Times in 1910. His gun was found in his desk drawer.

But it is time again to remind everyone of the slippery slope of Fascism upon which this nation has been embarked for some time. It is not even a slope any longer; it is now the steep downward side of the roller coaster.

The end of the ride is in sight!

The rise of fascism in America: it will all seem so normal.

Fascism in America won’t come with jackboots, book burnings, mass rallies, and fevered harangues, nor will it come with black helicopters or tanks on the street. It won’t come like a storm—but as a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: Everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality will have taken its place.

But it will all seem “normal”.

All the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns—plenty of bread and circuses.

It will all seem “normal”.

But “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small and privileged group who rule for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

But it will all seem ““normal””.

The change in America is taking place as I write, and Sinclair Lewis prophetically said” “That when Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

And when it happens, somehow; it will all seem “normal”.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among the elite, and a degree of debate will be permitted; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized—usually by “the people” themselves.

Deprived of historical knowledge by a thoroughly impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, left ignorant of current events by a corporate media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

It will all seem “normal”.

The rulers will act in secret, for reasons of “national security,” and the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, state murder of “enemies” selected by the leader, undeclared wars, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security structures” targeted at the populace. In time, this will be seen as ““normal”,” as the chill of autumn feels “normal” when summer is gone.

It will all seem “normal”.

Fascism is a political ideology and mass movement that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.[1] Many different characteristics are attributed to fascism by different scholars, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, authoritarianism, militarism, corporatism, statism, collectivism[2], anti-liberalism, and anti-communism.

There are numerous debates between scholars regarding the nature of fascism, and the kinds of political movements and governments that may be called fascist. For further elaboration, please see definitions of fascism and fascism and ideology.

The term fascism was first used by Benito Mussolini, and it comes from the Italian word fascio, which means "union" or "league", and from the Latin word fasces (fascis, in singular), which means rods bundled around an axe. The fasces was an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of magistrates, and the symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is very difficult to break.

Since the end of World War II, there has been considerable stigma associated with fascism, and few political groups in the past 60 years have dared to openly identify themselves as fascist.

Unlike other ideologies, fascism never generated a large body of dogma or political theory, and, most importantly, there have been no significant political texts written from a fascist point of view since 1945. Thus, nearly all works on the topic of fascist ideology have been written by non-fascist and anti-fascist authors, and it is often difficult to determine the fascist position on many important issues.

The word "fascist" is often used pejoratively, a label used by people of all political views to draw criticism upon an opposing viewpoint. This has spilled over into debates concerning the ideological nature of fascism, with adherents of some ideologies trying to draw parallels between fascism and their own ideological opponents.

Many diverse regimes have identified themselves as fascist, and many regimes have been labelled as fascist even though they did not self-identify as such. Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have engaged in long and furious debates concerning the exact nature of fascism and its core tenets. Since the 1990s, there has been a growing move toward some rough consensus reflected in the work of Stanley Payne, Roger Eatwell, Roger Griffin, and Robert O. Paxton.

Mussolini defined fascism as being a right-wing collectivistic ideology in opposition to socialism, liberalism, democracy and individualism. He wrote in The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism:

Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity.... The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value.... Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number.... We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century.

If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State. (a version of the text is here).

Since Mussolini, however, there have been many conflicting definitions of the term "fascism." Former Columbia University Professor Robert O. Paxton has written that:

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."[4]

Paxton further defines fascism's essence as:1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions;

2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits;

3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts;

4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint;

5. fear of foreign `contamination."[5]

Fascism is associated by many scholars with one or more of the following characteristics: a very high degree of nationalism, economic corporatism, a powerful, dictatorial leader who portrays the nation, state or collective as superior to the individuals or groups composing it.

Stanley Payne's Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including the creation of an authoritarian state; a regulated, state-integrated economic sector; fascist symbolism; anti-liberalism; anti-communism; anti-conservatism.[6] Semiotician Umberto Eco also attempts to identify characteristics of fascism in his popular essay Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.[7] More recently, an emphasis has been placed upon the aspect of populist fascist rhetoric that argues for a "re-birth" of a conflated nation and ethnic people.[8]

Most scholars hold that fascism as a social movement employs elements from the political left, but many conclude that fascism eventually allies with the political right, especially after attaining state power. For example, Nazism began as a socio-political movement that promoted a radical form of National Socialism, but altered its character once Adolf Hitler was handed state power in Germany. Some scholars and political commentators argue that fascism is a form of socialistSoviet Union.[9]

The evolution of Fascism in a Democracy is the most insidious of political transitions, assembling many components from divergent intellectual, pop culture sources and fringe organizations that have fanatic devotees. Even in the face of warning, the words of the courier most often go without heed, and in fact, are frequently attacked as the ranting of lunatic alarmists; the evolutionary/transitional process, both by design of the usurpers and the climate of gradual acceptance isolates the messenger until it is too late. Everything seems rational; everything seems “normal”. Just look inside the following and tell me: Is this your idea of “normal”? From such sources is the stew being

Neo-Fascism

Neo-Nazism

Neo-fascism and religion

Christian Identity

Creativity Movement

Ku Klux Klan

National Alliance

Nouvelle Droite

American Nazi Party

Alain de Benoist

William Luther Pierce

George Lincoln Rockwell

International Third Position

National anarchism

National Bolshevism

And the Top Neocon Think Tanks

Project for the New American Century (PNAC)Established in 1997 by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, PNAC's goal is "to promote American global leadership." Creating a blueprint for the US' current role in the world, PNAC's original Statement of Principles called for the US to return to a "Reaganite foreign policy of military strength and moral clarity."

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)Founded in 1943, this influential Washington think tank is known as the headquarters of neoconservative thought. In a crucial speech in the leadup to the war in Iraq, US President George W. Bush said this to an audience at AEI: "You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds."

Jewish Intitute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)Based in Washington, JINSA "communicates with the national security establishment and the general public to explain the role Israel can and does play in bolstering American interests, as well as the link between American defense policy and the security of Israel." Some of the strongest supporters of Israel's right-wing Likud Party in the already pro-Israel neoconservative circles are on JINSA's board of advisers.

Center for Security Policy (CSP)CSP's 2001 annual report boasts of its influence saying it "isn't just a 'think tank' – it's an agile, durable, and highly effective 'main battle tank' in the war of ideas on national security." Securing neoconservatives' influence at the nexus of military policymakers and weapons manufacturers, CSP's mission is "to promote world peace through American strength."

The Hudson Institute

The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies

Ethics and Public Policy Center

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

Further Sources For Investigation

In his original article, "Fascism Anyone?", Laurence Britt (interview) compared the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet and identified 14 characteristics common to those fascist regimes. This page is a collection of news articles dating from the start of the Bush presidency divided into topics relating to each of the 14 points of fascism. Further analysis of American Fascism done by the POAC can be read here.

1.) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

September 11 Freedom Walk

New Majority Leader: Iraq War “May Be The Greatest Gift That We Give” Our Grandchildren

Headstones of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed with the Pentagons

war-marketing slogans

White House and the RNC are going to make a habit of using uniformed military personnel as props at Republican political rallies, despite the fact that it is a plain violation of military regulations banning politicization of the armed forces.

"You must glorify war in order to get the public to accept the fact that your going to send their sons and daughters to die." The inside story of the cozy relationship between big box office American war movies and the PentagonMore...

2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

We are now a torturing police state: Bush signing into law that will get rid of habeas corpus, allow hearsay evidence, and allow the President to determine what is allowable torture.

Bush Offers Himself Amnesty for Human Rights Crimes

Bush threatens to veto $442b defense bill if Congress investigates detainee abuses.

Guantanamo Judge: “I don’t care about international law. I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.”

Rumsfeld to approve new guidelines that will formalize the administration's policy of imprisoning without the protections of the Geneva Conventions and enable the Pentagon to legally hold "ghost detainees,"

US 'preparing to detain terror suspects for life without trial'

U.S. oks evidence gained through torture

July 1, 2003: U.S. Suspends Military Aid to Nearly 50 Countries: because they have supported the International Criminal Court and failed to exempt Americans from possible prosecution.
US has at least 9000 prisoners in secret detentionMore...

3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Congressman: Muslims 'enemy amongst us'

SB 24, Ohio law to muzzle "liberals"

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has joined a conservative Washington think tank, where he will found and direct a program called "America's Enemies."

Sean Hannity creates weekly "Enemy of the State" segment on his new program

Fox radio hosts suggests putting liberal commentators and activists in concentration camps.

World history textbook used by seventh-graders at Scottsdale’s Mohave Middle School was pulled from classrooms mid-semester amid growing right criticism of the book’s unbiased portrayal of Islam

Rallies planned against 'Islamofacism': Event to 'unify all Americans behind common goal'
More...

4.) Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

If you haven't seen the Oreo flash animation yet, see it here (It puts things in perspective!)

Bush’s Domestic Program Hit List (What Priorities are important?)

Bush slashes domestic programs, boosts defense. Arlen Spector calls it "scandalous"

Funding for job training, rural health care, low-income schools and help for people lacking health insurance would face big cuts under a bill passed Friday by the House

Pentagon to spend 75 billion for three new brigades

Three cable channels now feed news, information and entertainment about the armed services into millions of living rooms 24 hours a day, seven days a week: The Military Channel, the Military History Channel and the Pentagon Channel.
More...

5.) Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

It's legal again, to fire gov't workers for being gay

Bush calls for Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages

Bush refuses to sign U.N proposal on women's "sexual" rights

W. David Hager chairman of the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee does not prescribe contraceptives for single women, does not do abortions, will not prescribe RU-486 and will not insert IUDs.

The State Department has awarded an explicitly anti-feminist U.S. group part of a US$10 million grant to train Iraqi women in political participation and democracy.More...

6.) Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

FBI Acknowledges: Journalists Phone Records are Fair Game

Report shows U.S. government has been engaged in illegal propaganda aimed at its own citizens and the story gets only 41 mentions in the media

Free Press details recent governmental propaganda efforts, from faux-correspondent Jeff Gannon to paid-off pundit Armstrong Williams, and from the demise of FOIA to video news releases passed off as news.

also... See a Whitehouse fake news release here (opens realplayer)

US seizes webservers from independent media sites-

Bush's war on information: US editors forbidden to publish certain foreign writers-More...

7.) Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses

Bush Aides ADMIT 'stoking fear' for political gain:

Bush adviser said the president hopes to change the dynamics of the race. The strategy is aimed at stoking public fears about terrorism, raising new concerns about Kerry's ability to protect Americans and reinforcing Bush's image as the steady anti-terrorism candidate, aides said.-

The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level.

GOP Ad These are the stakes-

Keith Olbermann: "The Nexus of Politics and Terror."-

Cheney warns that if Kerry is elected, the USA will suffer a "devastating attack"

GOP convention in a nutshell (quicktime) –

Rove: GOP to Use Terror As Campaign Issue
in 2006More...

8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Jerry Falwell cleared of charges that he broke federal election law by urging followers to vote for Bush

NC congressman proposes law making it ok to preach politics from the pulpit

Texas Governor Mobilizes Evangelicals

Family research council: Justice Sunday

Thou shalt be like Bush:

What makes this recently established, right-wing Christian college unique are the increasingly close - critics say alarmingly close - links it has with the Bush administration and the Republican establishment.

Park Service Continues to Push Creationist Theory at Grand Canyon and other nat'l parksMore...

9.) Corporate Power is Protected:

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

The K Street Project is a project by the Republican party to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It was launched in 1995, by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and House majority leader Tom DeLay.

American Conservative Magazine: One U.S. contractor received $2 million in a duffel bag... and a U.S. official was given $7 million in cash in the waning days of the CPA and told to spend it “before the Iraqis take over.”

There are 6 Congressional Committees investigating the Oil-for-Food (UN) scandal, yet not a single Republican Committee Chairman will call a hearing to investigate the whereabouts of 9 billion dollars missing in Iraq

Bush money network rooted in Florida, Texas: Since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, the federal government has awarded more than $3 billion in contracts to the President's elite 2004 Texas fund-raisers, their businesses, and lobbying clientsMore...

10.) Labor Power is Suppressed:

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

Labor Department warns unions against using their money politically

President Bush Attacks Organized Labor: Bush attacked organized labor Saturday, issuing orders effectively reducing how much money unions can spend for political activities and opening up government contracts to non-union bidding.

March 2001: President Bush signed his name to four executive orders on organized labor last month, including one that cuts the money unions will have for political campaign spending.

Congress and the Department of Labor are trying to change the rules on overtime pay, eliminating the 40 hour work week, taking eligibility for overtime pay away from millions of workers, and replacing time and a half pay with comp days.More...

11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

The A to Z guide to political interference in science

Bush's new economic plan cuts funding for arts, education

Artists from all over the world are being refused entry to the US on security grounds.

A group of more than 60 top U.S. scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates and several science
advisers to past Republican presidents, on Wednesday accused the Bush administration of manipulating and censoring science for political purposes

Freedom of Repression: New ruling will allow censorship of campus publicationsMore...

12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006
dictatorship similar to that in



















13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.




Bush Cronyism: Foxes Guarding the henhouse

Who's been indicted, named as a co-conspirator or convicted? The Grand Ole Docket tracks trial dates, court appearances and sentencing hearings for players in the current array of national political scandals.

Making Sense of the Abramoff Scandal

In preparation for upcoming Congressional hearings, Bush Administration firing federal attorneys and appointing ringers without Senate confirmation via the patriot act.

If Bush's pick is confirmed, that will mean the five top appointees at Justice have zero prosecutorial experience among them.

Iran-Contra Felons Get Good Jobs from Bush

Big Iraq Reconstruction Contracts Went To Big Donors

Bush Wars -- Crooks Get Contracts : The main companies that were awarded billions of dollars worth of contracts in Iraq have paid more than $300 million in fines since 2000, to resolve allegations of fraud, bid rigging, delivery of faulty military equipment, and environmental damage.

US Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) lost track of $9 billion

"Contracting in the aftermath of the hurricanes has been marked by waste, corruption and cronyism"More...

14. Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

A couple of election workers have been convicted of rigging a recount in Ohio following the 2004 election

Rolling Stone does some investigative and rather exhaustive digging into public documents and says we’re almost guaranteed the 2004 election results were massively rigged

Powerful Government Accounting Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
Conyers hearing in which Clinton Curtis testifies that he was hired to create hackable voting machines (.wmv)

The Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.

The Conyers Report (.pdf)

No explanation for the machines in Mahoning County that recorded Kerry votes for Bush, the improper purging in Cuyahoga County, the lock down in Warren County, the 99% voter turnout in Miami County, the machine tampering in Hocking County

Less access than Kazakhstan. Fewer fail-safes than Venezuela. Not as simple Republic of Georgia. The 2004 Elections according to international observers.

This picture is what stopped the ballot recounts in Florida shortly after it seemed that legitimate President Gore had a lead. The "citizens" started what was later called "the preppy riot". Screaming, yelling, pounding on the walls, these "outraged citizens" intimidated the polling officials to halt the court mandated recount. A closer look reveals who they really were. They were bussed and flown in at Republican law makers expense. Some even flew in on Tom Delay's private plane.

If Mussolini defines fascism as "the merger of corporate and government power" what does that make the K Street project?

Related Articles:

"Now and Then"- Part 1 A 3 part series by W David Jenkins III on the similarities between America now and Germany post Reichstag fire-

"Now and Then"- Part II: The Propaganda Machine-

Now and Then- Part IIIHitler's Playbook: Bush and the Abuse of Power-

It may sound crazy to some, but the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism.-

Is America Becoming Fascist?-

Eternal Fascism:




Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt-






With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.-










The Brownshirting of America:

Bush’s supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the September 11 attack on the US – truths now firmly established by the Bush administration’s own reports – as treasonous America-bashing.





































The Rise of Fascism in America; A Little Repeat Reminder and Review




Fascism in America won’t come with jackboots, book burnings, mass rallies, and fevered harangues, nor will it come with black helicopters or tanks on the street.




It won’t come like a storm—but as a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: Everything is the same, but everything has changed.




Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality will have taken its place. All the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns—plenty of bread and circuses.

But “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small and privileged group who rule for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

The change in America is taking place as I write, and Sinclair Lewis prophetically said” “That when Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
The rulers will act in secret, for reasons of “national security,” and the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name.

Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, state murder of “enemies” selected by the leader, undeclared wars, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security structures” targeted at the populace.

In time, this will be seen as ““normal”,” as the chill of autumn feels “normal” when summer is gone. It will all seem “normal”.Since the 1970’s, American businesses have grown larger and more monopolistic, helped along by deregulation, the repeal of anti-trust laws, and a steady transformation from manufacturing to capital management (dare I say, “capital manipulation”?).

As Paul Bigioni puts it in his excellent essay entitled “The Real Threat of Fascism”: “If we are to protect ourselves from the growing political influence of Big Business, then our antitrust laws must be reconceived in a way which recognizes the political danger of monopolistic conditions.”
Bigioni continues by emphasizing that “Antitrust laws do not just protect the marketplace, they protect democracy.” It is well to remember that conditions like these led to fascism in both Germany and Italy in the 1930’s, and Bigioni points out that the transformation toward fascism occurred in both countries while they were still liberal democracies.

In America, since at least 1971, the rich have gotten much, much richer and the poor have become poorer and far more numerous, largely because our government now sees its primary function as serving the interests of Big Business and its Big Money.

As of 2003, according to a Congressional Budget Office report, the top one percent of households in America accounted for 57.5% of America’s wealth, up from 38.7% only twelve years earlier.

And this does not take into account the last three years of the Bush tax-cuts. In the U.S. today, there are 374 billionaires, approximately 25,000 deca-millionaires ($10,000,000-$999,000,000) and 2.5 million millionaires; and this does not even take into account the wealth of corporations!

Under such conditions, competition is minimized or thwarted, and capital is exalted over labor, the consummation of Marx’s contention that “Capital is dead labor.”

In every industry, huge monopolistic cartels dominate the playing field, following the spate of mergers and acquisitions throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. To cite just two examples: (1) Four media giants (AOL-Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch’s NewsGroup) control everything we read, view, listen to, see at movie houses, and do at entertainment parks. Just four conglomerates, which have oh so much in common with one another, produce (for profit) every newspaper, magazine, major internet site, movie, cd, dvd, television program, and so on.

The pressure to stay within fairly narrow bounds of covering and the fear of losing one’s job should one “think outside the box” is detailed succinctly in Danny Schechter’s March 27, 2006 column the title of which is taken from a line Edward R. Morrow utters in the movie “Good Night and Good Luck”: “The Fear is in the Room: Inside our Unbrave Media World”; Robert Fisk’s March 19 column, “The Farcical End of the American Dream”; and Bill Gallagher’s March 28th column, “There is No ‘Good News’ in Iraq."

To note one other example: if Wal-Mart were a country it would have the 19th largest economy in the world!

Do not be hoodwinked by labels here: there was nothing “socialist” about Hitler’s National Socialist Party, despite his clever employment of terms such as “volk” (the people or the folks), “heimat” (homeland), or the solidarity sounding “ein land” (one country)!

Likewise, there is no genuinely human freedom in the free market, despite the intoxicating rhetoric of the neo-liberals. Bigioni quotes Thurman Arnold, the head of the Anti-trust section of the Justice Department in 1939:

“Germany, of course, has developed within 15 years from an industrial autocracy into a dictatorship. Most people are under the impression that the power of Hitler was the result of his demagogic blandishments and appeals to the mob. . . Actually, Hitler holds his power through the final and inevitable development of the uncontrolled tendency to combine in restraint of trade.” And in another address, Arnold told the American Bar Association that “Germany presents the logical end of the process of cartelization.”

And, of course, every cartel needs a strong leader, a commander-in-chief with an iron fist, And Arnold says that Hitler filled that role, but that if it had not been Hitler, it would have been someone else.

(Americans today might draw an analogy: if it were not George W. Bush, the first M.B.A. President, who would serve as the front-man for Big Business, it would be someone else.)

Bigioni writes, “Compulsory slave labor was the crowning achievement of Nazi labor relations.” By analogy, Employment-at-Will, the outsourcing of manufacturing and even service jobs, and the rejection of a living wage, is the crowning achievement of American labor relations. (See, for example, Harold Meyerson’s article, “Three Ideas to Radically Reorder Economy” (Providence Journal, March 24, 2006) and Princeton University Professor Alan Blinder’s article in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs.

The disappearance of union jobs, outsourcing and downsizing has been the crowning achievement of American business relations over the past 30 years or so. The other factors contributing to what Bigioni calls “the fascist trajectory” includes low taxes, various forms of corporate welfare, the decimation of small businesses, and the ability of corporations to discharge obligations to employees, to the environment, and to the country as a whole.

In short, the United States is suffocating from the deleterious effects of Big Money interests in virtually every arena, from public political processes to the privatization of much of what belongs to all of us. Corporate advertising secures the pernicious effects. From time to time, one hears a call for public financing of elections, for truth in advertising, and for more regulation and oversight of lobbying activities, but on the whole, Americans seem glib about the way things are, supposing that this is the only way they can be.

The status quo breeds resignation in the citizenry, and this resignation, too, is in large part an effect of Big Business and its Big Money. It keeps ordinary folks and their common sense away from the political arena, which might otherwise force a change in the way things are done. Big Money does everything it can to sour people on political participation, so that the little guys who just don’t know what’s best for themselves or the country will leave matters of governance to the professional ruling class.

To formalize this relatively recent reality, it would seem necessary to reword our Constitution to reflect those entities called “corporations,” which have now been deemed “persons” and whose capital is now regarded as a form of “speech.” (See, for example, Jeffrey Kaplan, “Uncivil Liberties: ACLU Defense of ‘Money=Speech’ Precedent Undermines Democracy.”) The United States has become a country “of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation.”

Public financing of elections and campaign expenditure limits are shouted down as communism or socialism, in a manner very similar to Big Money’s cries of “class warfare” when the population at large objects to additional giveaways to the richest few Americans.

Big Money (representing a small, elite class) does everything in its power to prevent the American people from awakening to the fact that what it is seeing really is class warfare: warfare that is being waged from the top down, against the poor and what we used to call the “middle class,” which are now subsidizing Big Money interests that control the political agenda and its legislative processes.

The influence of Big Money on U.S. elections cannot be underestimated. (See, for example, Greg Palast’s “Jim Crow in Cyberspace” in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, the work on election fraud by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, and the recent articles by Warren Stewart “Do You Know How Your Vote Will be Counted?” and Fred Grimm “Election Official Hammered for Telling the Truth”. The problem with the role of money in a supposedly democratic country is not restricted to the many and all-too regular scandals—such as the Abramoff affair or the conviction of Randy “Duke” Cunningham—nor is the problem restricted to the corruption that has ensnared elected officials and exposed lobbyists as little more than bribes makers and bagmen.

(See Geov Parrish, “That Old-Fashioned Corruption,” and Katrina vanden Heuvel’s, “Annals of Outrage I, II, and III) It is, rather, that money, as John McCain famously said, “is the mother’s milk of politics” (at least in the U.S. political system.) The need to raise money at every level, from city to state to federal offices, pollutes and perverts the democratic process.

The corruption is bipartisan; at present, the Republican Party enjoys greater favor with the corporate paymasters than does the Democratic Party, but both parties are “on the take”.

It does little to assuage one’s concern for democracy that one party gets 55-60% of the paymasters’ money and the other only 40-45%. In a country that prides itself on being democratic, private money peddles its influence across the political spectrum.

To cite one illustrative example, Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen, an energy industry watchdog, reports that Big Oil and Gas doled out $55 million to various campaigns for legislative and executive seats since 2001. And why not, ExxonMobil alone made a profit of $36.1 billion in 2005, the most profit ever recorded by a U.S. corporation in a year, and a rate of return on investment of 46-59%.

And what did these donations buy the industry? Among other things, when the executives of the top five oil and gas companies were called before Congress to testify about possible price-gouging and the prospect of a windfall profits tax, the five company representatives were not required to testify under oath!

Big Money and the future of Democracy in America

I suspect that everything just recounted is entirely by design: not by the design of our framers, but by the design of Big Money interests. The role of money ensures that only the wealthy and well-connected have any chance of influencing the political process or holding elected office at a significant level.

In the 2004 election campaign, 549 people each raised $100,000 for Bush’s re-election, and John Kerry, too, relied on big donors on his side of the political equation. Thus, it was not by sheer coincidence that, in the 2000 presidential campaign, voters were given a choice between a Yale graduate, whose father had been President and whose grandfather was a Senator, and a Harvard graduate, whose father was a Senator.

And in the 2004 presidential contest, the choice was even more narrow, between a multi-millionaire Yale “Skull and Bones” man and a billionaire Yale “Skull and Bones” man. Nepotism, like corruption, discourages most good Americans from participating in elections, to say nothing of running for office!

If in 1968, I had hung a poster on my bedroom wall that read: “Wanna Be President of the United States? First Find $25 Million”! Today, that wouldn’t buy a Senate seat or even a New York City Mayor’s job.

We should be either shocking or disgusting to realize that John Corzine spent $63 million for a New Jersey Senate seat, and Michael Bloomberg spent $70 million to become the mayor of New York City. With rumblings that he is considering a run for the Presidency we need not worry about being hounded for contributions by Mr. Bloomberg. He can foot the bill himself, and should he run you can rest assured that he won’t have to; there will be freely volunteered contributions to curry later favors.

Corporations give money to both parties in staggering amounts, and what they do not give directly to their favorites, they spend on advertising to shape the public mind. The result is a net loss both for the public good and for democracy. It costs the corporations only a small fraction in contributions for what they gain through their wheel-greasing.

Do you wonder how much the oil and natural gas lobby paid to secure that $9 billion in windfall profits that they stand to gain from the Bush administration’s plan for “royalty relief”. And that million dollar donation by the UAE to the Bush library in Crawford was surely just a down-payment on the ports deal they hoped to get!

It seems quaint nowadays to reflect back on the corporate culture of the 1960’s. John Kenneth Galbraith wrote the following description in his1967 book, The New Industrial State, as quoted by Paul Krugman in his excellent October 20, 2002 New York Times Magazine article, “For Richer”:

“Management does not go out ruthlessly to reward itself---a sound management is expected to exercise restraint. . . With the power of decision goes opportunity for making money . . . Were everyone to seek to do so . . . the corporation would be a chaos of competitive avarice.

But these are not the sort of thing that a good company man does; a remarkably effective code bans such behavior. Group decision-making insures, moreover, that almost everyone’s actions and even thoughts are known to others. This acts to enforce the code and, more than incidentally, a high standard of personal honesty as well.”

Does anyone believe that such a self-policing culture exists today? If the corporate scandals of the 1990’s taught us anything, it is that corporations no longer even aim to stay in business, a goal that used to temper their penchant for excess and bridge-burning. The cases of Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and many more perpetrators, should have made abundantly clear that there is no limit to corporate excess or insatiable greed, and, in the absence of federal and international regulations, it is usually the stockholders and the public at large who end up underwriting the thefts, cleaning up the pollution, and dealing with the displaced workforce.

Most of this is not new. In fact, the seeds of corporate rule over America were sown by the 1971 ”Powell Memorandum.” And we need only think back to the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980’s, to recall another half a trillion dollar boondoggle that taxpayers had to underwrite.

There have been plenty of books written about such scandals (see, for example, William S. Greider, Who Will Tell the People?, Arianna Huffingtom, Pigs at the Trough, Jim Hightower, Thieves in High Places, and David K. Johnston, Perfectly Legal, for starters.) Yet despite the recurrent malfeasance, little has been done to curb corporate excesses and outright frauds.

What is more, trans-national corporations need have no allegiance to the United States of America. They have offices in many countries and on many continents, and most of them have already shipped their profits offshore to avoid the patriotic duty of paying their fair share of U.S. taxes.

Remembering President Eisenhower’s Warning

Several commentators have recently reminded us of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s January 17, 1961 farewell address, warning of the threat posed by the “military-industrial complex”.

Usually omitted from discussions of President Eisenhower’s warning is the less well-known fact that, until the final version of the speech, Eisenhower used the phrase, "military-industrial-congressional complex”.

He is said to have deleted the reference to Congress from his final version to avoid offending legislators.

But President Eisenhower regularly referred to “the triangle” and even to “the iron triangle” consisting of the military, the industries that profit from war, and the Congress, which is charged with declaring war, appropriating funding for wars (and everything else the federal government spends money on), and for exercising oversight functions of various kinds.

According to University of Washington Emeritus Professor of engineering, public affairs, and social management, Edward Ward Wenk, Jr.: “These three cornered fellowships coupled hungry defense contractors, ambitious military officers whose promotions rested on husbanding new defense systems, and members of Congress eager to steer new funds and job opportunities to their district.”

Eisenhower might have added “educational institutions” to the list, since universities conducted research for the Manhattan Project and institutions, such as UC Berkeley, which managed the Los Alamos laboratory (which produced the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) from its inception until last year, when the University put Los Alamos on the auction block and Bechtel secured the management contract.

President Eisenhower’s speechwriter—whom Professor Wenk revealed to be Malcolm Moos—recalled that Eisenhower feared a “pathological influence of the military-industrial coalition beyond a healthy arm’s-length relationship, especially if the national psyche was prodded artificially by fear. A future chief executive might exploit political energies of the coalition to further a narrow and dangerous agenda” (Italics mine).

Professor Wenk, who served in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and who was the first incumbent in the post of science advisor to Congress during the Eisenhower administration, draws this conclusion in his March 17 article, “Ike’s Warning Reverberates Today” by saying: “I see coalitions increasingly entrenched.

Failed weapons systems are seldom canceled. Auditing is cursory for moving and feeding troops; malperformance is accepted in the fog of war, and penalties for fraud uncollected. . .” “Influence of coalitions also has grown with the cost of political campaigns. Members spend half their time raising funds, rather than forging policy. . . In the absence of strong vigilance, their concern about a corporate state hatched by stealth might yet happen.”

Indeed, it has already taken place, repeatedly!

It appears glaringly obvious these days that Congress has failed miserably in its oversight, appropriation, and war-declaration functions. This lack of oversight is apparent not only with respect to the Administration’s reckless adventure in Iraq, but also with regard to the passage of the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the muted response against policies condoning torture, the suspension of Habeas Corpus, the practice of “extraordinary rendition”, the warrantless wiretapping on American citizens, and the insuring of free and fair elections with verifiable ballot-counting.

What we have now is a military-industrial-Congressional complex indeed…a real foundation for Fascist formulation!

I nonetheless, really believe that “most” public officials begin their careers with a desire to serve the people and to make America better. I do not believe that members of Congress, or members of state legislatures, for that matter, run for office merely to enrich themselves. No, I think that most of them begin their political careers as genuine and sincere people. But the systemic role of money, as I have said, pollutes and perverts processes and people.

It is a bit like boiling a frog. If you drop the frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out of the kettle; but if you drop the frog in lukewarm water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog will neither jump out of the kettle nor croak anymore. And that is just what happens to far too many of our public servants and to the citizenry as a whole.

It is ironic that Big Business tries to insure that government stays on the sidelines and pursues laissez faire policies, until Big Business needs the government (usually aided by the U.S. military) to make some country or region “safe” for its business interests.

From making Cuba safe for the United Fruit Company, to securing access to Persian Gulf oil and South Asian gas, Big Business is always ready to have the government protecting its interests. One notes again and again, however, that such security is paid for by taxpayers, while the profits go straight into the corporate coffers.

But beware, Big Business; for as Bigioni warns: “Just as monopoly is the ruin of the free market, fascism is the ultimate degradation of liberal capitalism.” It’s sort of like be careful of what you wish for…

But then again the drift downward will be in a comfortable proper patriotic, flag wrapped, Christian, Family Values fog will all seem so “normal”…except, sooner of later the fog lifts and reality become clear.

It’s sort of like mowing the lawn on a hot summer day and having one or two too many beers. You lay down on the sofa for a few minutes with a fan blowing on you to cool down, and sleep comes quickly, a sleep broken by the rudeness of your neighbor ringing your door bell to report you left you mower running and it is now at rest against the side of his house….

Or you’ve had a good party with friends and your pitchers of Martinis were good and gone, and you awake to find yourself on that sofa again, and as you stumble in the Martini haze through the darkened house, you discover the bedroom door locked. You don’t know what you did, but you know you are in trouble, and at that moment you don’t know what you are going to have to do.

The arrival of Fascism is like that, seductive, intoxicating, and comfortable because your leaders have assured you that they are strong enough and have the answers to keep you safe and happy, and then comes the political hang over that can last for generations!

I on the other hand have no question as to where I stand, for the following words are, and will be, my refuge and resort when everyone has failed and the Fascist Flag Flies; I will be on the other side ready to begin anew the fight to regain what we all once knew before we succumbed to the intoxication, woke up in a fog pondering: “What do we do now, or as was written on the original book jacket of Sinclair Lewis’s, “ It Can’t Happen Here: “What will happen when Dictatorship comes to America?”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

When Fascism comes to America it will wrapped in the flag carrying a cross, and I will be wrapped in The Declaration Of Independence carrying a gun. It’s as American as Apple Pie!

No comments: