America’s steady decline into fascism

It’s been coming since the dawn of this century and accelerated with the events of 911.  America’s response, defined by its political leaders, promulgated by members of the media, and accepted by a large segment of the population has steered the country towards fascism.  The political definition of fascism fits to a “t” what is happening in 21st century America.  Our increased militarism, which has given rise to a new military state which responds even to natural disasters with a military presence, the nationalism spurred by the ‘either you are with us or against us’ mentality, the tackling of a new and equally imaginary  jihadist Islam, to replace an old one, communism and now the nationalization of the banking system all are signs of the encroachment of fascism into the collective.  The last example has raised more than a few eyebrows, mine included, in a piece written for the Huffington Post.

Now, if you do not yet understand that the Wall Street crisis is a man-made disaster done through intentional deregulation and corruption, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell to you….. This manufactured crisis is now to be remedied, if the fiscal fascists get their way, with the total transfer of Congressional powers (the few that still remain) to the Executive Branch and the total transfer of public funds into corporate (via government as intermediary) hands.

From the very beginning Bush’s administration has always tried to remove any and all opposition to its policies, including Congress’ oversight function, and the unfortunate aspect of that is Congress has allowed it to happen.  The reinterpretation of FISA statutes, the Military Commissions Act and now the bail out of financial institutions have been structured in such a way as to bypass the other two main bodies of government, the legislative and judicial, and leave power solely in the hands of the executive.  The concept of the unitary executive, has been expanded under this Administration far more than previous ones and under Bush he deems fit to categorically dismiss laws passed by Congress and signed by him via signing statements which say in some cases he is not bound by the very law he is signing.

What struck me about this latest offense to come from Bush’s government is the way bailouts of Wall Street are designed to give power solely to the Secretary of the Treasury  in a manner which leaves out the other branches of government in the decision making process.

The Treasury Secretary can buy broadly defined assets, on any terms he wants, he can hire anyone he wants to do it and can appoint private sector companies as financial deputies of the US government. And he can write whatever regulation he thinks are needed.


Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Such language sounds so much like that employed in the Military Commissions Act, where only the President and or the Secretary of Defense can define someone as an unlawful enemy combatant and outside the reach of one of the most cherished rights of American statehood, habeas corpus and the judicial system.

But even in the waning days of the Bush Administration it appears this descent is in free fall.  The Republican Party feels confident nominating a ticket that includes one who claims it’s perfectly ok to look into the personnel records of state employees, while protesting the invasion of her own privacy and emails.  We’ve already talked about the hypocrisy of Sarah Palin’s position vis-a-vis her own party, but her idea that she can invade others’ privacy so early in the election campaign is chutzpah beyond measure and a sure sign that things will continue as they have been for the last 8 years.

I have an endearing hope in the goodness of the American society to overcome these shortcomings in our political leaders.  This is not to say the choices we are presented with at this time are solutions to where we are heading, but before the Brown shirts fully take over, I hope we can reverse this process which has wreaked havoc on societies similarly placed in the not too distant past.


Cry baby politics or the shoe is now on the other foot

Republicans can dish it out but they can’t take it, or so it seems.  Earlier this week when the Obama campaign unleashed some Spanish speaking political advertisements which took pot shots at the McCain campaign and featured excerpts from  Rush Limbaugh’s program where Limbaugh does his usually good job of inserting his own foot in his own mouth, Limbaugh took offense and fired off a response which spoke of Obama’s divisive “racism”.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black……Then there was the racism card pulled by the Republicans when it came to Oprah’s refusal to have Sarah Palin on her show which had to be muted until the McCain campaign finally decided before they could criticize Winfrey for not having Palin on they first had to make her “available” to the press! The Repubs will resort to this tactic of “crying” how they are being misrepresented or misinterpreted alot during this campaign season and into the next four years if the lose.  Of course they weren’t willing at all to entertain the idea that their opponents could have the same problem when inflammatory quotes were exhibited to demonstrate their opponents lack of patriotism.

Glen Greenwald does an excellent job of demonstrating the Republican’s hypocrisy in his blog on the latest Sarah Palin controversy surrounding her email account that was “hacked”.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a part of the GOP’s dirty tricks to get sympathy for their candidate, and it would have worked had  Greenwald not pointed out some of the problems in the Party’s protestations.

The same political faction which today is prancing around in full-throated fits of melodramatic hysteria and Victim mode (their absolute favorite state of being) over the sanctity of Sarah Palin’s privacy are the same ones who scoffed with indifference as it was revealed during the Bush era that the FBI systematically abused its Patriot Act powers to gather and store private information on thousands of innocent Americans; that Homeland Security officials illegally infiltrated and monitored peaceful, law-abiding left-wing groups devoted to peace activism, civil liberties and other political agendas disliked by the state; and that the telephone calls of journalists and lawyers have been illegally and repeatedly monitored.


Shouldn’t these same people be standing up today and insisting that if Sarah Palin has done nothing wrong, then she should have nothing to hide? If Sarah Palin isn’t committing crimes or consorting with The Terrorists, then why would she care if we can monitor her emails? And if private companies such as Yahoo can access her emails — as they can — then she doesn’t really have any “privacy” anyway, so what’s the big deal if others read through her communications, too? Isn’t that the authoritarian idiocy that has been spewed since The Day That 9/11 Changed Everything — beginning with the Constitution — to justify vesting secret and unchecked surveillance powers in our Great and Good Leaders?


And then there’s the McCain campaign, protesting this “shocking invasion of the Governor’s privacy and a violation of law” even though the GOP nominee has supported every last expansion of surveillance power and stood by the President’s every last violation of our surveillance laws. I wonder if the laws which the Palin hacker violated are similar to the federal statute that makes it a felony — punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense — to eavesdrop on the communications of Americans without warrants, or the multiple statutes (.pdf) which expressly outlaw the telecoms from allowing government spying on their customers without warrants from a court?


All these privacy fetishists and (to use Joe Klein’s term) “civil liberties extremists” screeching today over Sarah Palin’s “privacy” need to get some sense of proportion. If Sarah Palin has nothing to hide, if she’s not a Terrorist, why would she mind anyone going through her emails? And just because these things — those things that some overly-earnest people call “statutes” or “laws” or whatever the new trendy Leftist term for them is today — say that you can’t invade people’s private communications without committing a crime, does anyone other than shrill Leftists really take that seriously, really think that someone who does what the law says you can’t do should get in trouble or — more absurdly still — be arrested? Isn’t it time — just like David Broder and so many other of our Elite Guardians have directed — that we stop criminalizing our politics?

‘Attaboy…sic ’em Glen.