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Stan Goff is a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces. During an active-duty career that spanned 1970 to 1996, he served with the elite Delta Force and Rangers, and in Vietnam, Guatemala, Grenada, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Somalia and Haiti....


Sowing the Seeds of Fascism in America

(Page 4)

Sex, Race, and Guns

Anson Rabinbach and Jessica Benjamin, writing in American Imago in 1995 (“In the Aftermath of Nazi Germany: Alexander Mitscherlich and Psychoanlaysis—Legend and Legacy”):

The crucial element of fascism is its explicit sexual language, what Theweleit calls “the conscious coding” or the “over-explicitness of the fascist language of symbol.” This fascist symbolization creates a particular kind of psychic economy which places sexuality in the service of destruction. Despite its sexually charged politics, fascism is an anti-eros, “the core of all fascist propaganda is a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure.” ... He shows that in this world of war the repudiation of one’s own body, of femininity, becomes a psychic compulsion which associates masculinity with hardness, destruction, and self-denial.

Men who are threatened by women’s decreased dependency and increased organization often adopt an individual strategy of “ overconformity,” compulsively acquiring “masculine” accoutrements, be they giant automobiles, guns or attack-breed dogs, and just as compulsively behave as if they are trying out for a role with the World Wrestling Foundation—affecting a kind of bright-eyed homicidal aggression as we are further socialized to equate fear with respect. 

Divisions of “male” labor and divisions of “female” labor respond to changes in the economic and political terrain.  Look at the more “respectable” masculinity that prioritizes responsibility to the family—which keeps men who are not in the ruling class working. Compare that to the fascistic masculinity displayed by the masculine over-conformers (described above), which merges easily with the idealization of military masculinity in times when warfare plays a more central role in society—for example, during crises of (economic and social) destabilization.  War becomes necessary to “rescue” the nation.  Gun culture is permeated with this thought, including its sense of embattlement, and its embrace of mythical frontier masculinity that sacrifices comfort to overcome dark forces from the Outside.

Economic destabilization is extremely disruptive of conventional masculinities that equate the male role with that of a provider (I am not endorsing “provider masculinity” or any expression of patriarchy, but comparing them); and create the conditions for overcompensation in the form of hyper-normal male identity ... as an armed actor.

The rise of fascistic masculinity prefigures systemic fascism, often in the form of vigilantism. Gun culture is steeped in vigilantism, which is steeped in military lore.  Guns in this milieu transcend their practical uses and take on a powerful symbolic significance.

In the last decade, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has always had close ties with the military, has been taken over from what are considered within the organization as “moderates,” that is, those whose message emphasizes peaceful, law-abiding gun use, like hunting (which is not peaceful for the game animals, but that’s another issue). 

During my service with 3rd Special Forces Group in Haiti in 1994, members of the SFU initiated back-channel communications in support of the right-wing death squad network, FRAPH.

Two of the favored preoccupations of Barry, the SFU, Soldier of Fortune, and the NRA were Ruby Ridge, where Vicki Harris, the wife of an ex-Special Forces white supremacist (Randy Weaver), was killed by an FBI sniper with her baby in her arms, and the outrage at Waco against the Branch Davidians.

Let me say here, for the record, that the FBI actions in both these cases were criminal and inexcusable, and largely provoked by the FBI itself.  But the fact that Weaver was one of the neo-fascists own, and that Koresh and his acolytes were white, combined with the stunning abuse of power by the federal government in both cases, turned these two cases into a twin cause celebre for the militia-right.  I will also note that I own firearms; I have no problem with others owning them; and I think much liberal opposition to firearms is stupid and moralistic and drives many people into the arms of the lunatic right.  I am an advocate of the right to self-defense.  My critique of gun culture is a critique of those sectors for which guns have been combined with imaginary enemies and taken on a deeply symbolic value as tokens of a violent, reactionary masculinity that fantasizes about armed conflict as a means to actualize its paranoid male sexual identity.

The problem is that this reaction is far from ab-normal.

There is a kind of interlocking directorate between white nationalists, gun culture, right-wing politicians, mercenary culture (like Soldier of Fortune), vigilante and militia movements, and elements within both Special Forces and—now—the privatized mercenary forces.  It is hyper-masculine, racialist, militaristic and networked.

If one simply pays attention to cultural production in the United States, especially film and video games, it is fairly easy to see that the very memes that are the cells within the body of white nationalist militarism are ubiquitous within our general cultural norms.  The film genre that most closely corresponds to a fascist mind-set is the male revenge fantasy, wherein after some offense is given that signifies the breakdown of order (usually resulting in the death or mortal imperilment of idealized wives or children) in which Enlightenment social conventions prove inadequate, and the release of irrational male violence is required to set the world straight again.  Any reader can list these fantasies without a cue. It is one of the most common film genres in American society.

R. W. Connell wrote in “Masculinities”  (University of California Press, 1995):

In gender terms, fascism was the naked reassertion of male supremacy in societies that had been moving toward equality for women.  To accomplish this, fascism promoted new images of hegemonic masculinity, glorifying irrationality (“the triumph of the will”, thinking with “the blood”) and the unrestrained violence of the frontline soldier.

Chaotic Dark Othering

It is in no way aberrant when the lionized Theodore Roosevelt can be quoted saying: “the timid man, the lazy man, the man who distrusts his country, the over-civilized man, [italics mine] who has lost the great fighting, masterful virtues, the ignorant man, and the man of dull mind, whose soul is incapable of feeling the mighty lift that thrills ‘stern men with empires in their brains’—all these, of course, shrink from seeing the nation undertake its new duties; shrink from seeing us build a navy and army adequate to our needs; shrink from seeing us do our share of the world’s work, by bringing order out of chaos in the great, fair tropic islands from which the valor of our soldiers and sailors has driven the Spanish flag.”

Roosevelt was also a lifetime member of the NRA, itself founded by Civil War veterans who were dismayed by the poor marksmanship of soldiers and decided to prepare the next generation of boys and men for armed combat.

Roosevelt is often cited as a conservationist who admired the wilderness.  What is less often noted is that “wilderness” was seen as a place where men could test themselves against “raw” nature, and that he referred to said wilderness as “lands we have won from the Indians.”  Karl Rove claims to be a major fan of Teddy Roosevelt biographies and quotes Roosevelt often.

The use of mythic male wartime figures is a common political ploy.  Former Attorney General John Ashcroft frequently used Lincoln that way to justify his own attacks on civil liberties, implicitly comparing the phony war on terror to the American Civil War.

This is not news, but it does support my general thesis that some key elements of fascism are already norms for broad sections of American society.

This should give us a special sense of concern that the military—under pressure from a retention and recruitment crisis—has relaxed the screening process against white nationalists joining the military precisely to gain military training and combat experience.  This not only allows more of these dangerous ideologues into the military, it gives them unprecedented access to other combat veterans, brutalized into the sociopathy of war and inured to white supremacy through the inevitable racialization of the occupied enemy.

What makes this particularly alarming is that another essential element for the emergence of fascism is a national enemy.  It is not unremarkable that the very people who question the federal government as an extension of ZOG/Illuminati/World-Government have also accepted the narrative—constructed by that self-same U.S. government for its own martial purposes—of a highly organized, technologically advanced terrorist threat:  Al Qaeda.  This has replaced the vastly overstated threat of the World Communist Conspiracy that proved so useful for the post-WWII American security state.  The fact that immigration is now routinely portrayed as a security issue (letting terrorists in), at the same time that anti-immigrant vigilantism is being supported by public figures like CNN’s Lou Dobbs (arguable already a fascist) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger , should give all of us pause ... not only because we are now training future McVeighs but because the immigration polemics are finding a receptive audience even among so-called moderates and liberals of the middle-class.

The generalized flexibility of the term “terrorist” makes it infinitely more useful as a political instrument than a specific nation or regime, and so invests the term with a long half-life.  The fact that Al Qaeda is a fiction created by the U.S. government—a fact well documented by researchers like Jason Burke, author of “Al Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror” (Penguin Books, 2004), and even the militarily connected Rand Corporation, which referred to Al Qaeda as “a notion.”

In a stunning bit of linguistic legerdemain, the actual mass movement of political Islam has been recoded by the neocons as ... Islamo-fascism, and among the crypto-libertarians of the white right, fascist is an epithet reserved now for liberals.

With the same semantic abracadabra, the “notion” that is Al Qaeda is transformed by our cultural paranoia in such a way that every Arab, every Muslim, every immigrant, every dissident, every person of color, every (choose your enemy) is a threat; and the world is divided between Us and the Dark Other with no resolution except the agonal, and could—with economic dislocation as the catalyst—tumble us into a paroxysm of white nationalist hyper-masculinity as prelude to a new, uniquely American ... what?

My friend, Steve McClure, a former window dresser and feral scholar in the darker residential regions of Washington, D.C. —itself a study in colonization and social contrasts—notes:

I hate the word fascist.  It has been bandied about so much and brings up images of Storm troopers in grainy newsreels that it seems devoid of meaning.  Furthermore, classical fascism was possible only in a mass society, organized along industrial lines, with one-to-many communications. Classical fascism is a reactionary modernism, a response to class struggle. Both German and Italian variants came to power after the defeat of revolutionary upsurges.

I think our own situation is very different, and a better term needs to be found that captures the unique qualities of our reactionary postmodernism.  “Military police state” doesn’t quite cut it. Fascism implies policing of thought as well as bodies, today’s reaction is selective, policing bodies but allowing private speech and the empty illusions of parliamentary democracy to stand.

The Civilizing Mission

This trend of ignoring the backgrounds of military inductees—driven by numerical necessity—is swelling the ranks of tomorrow’s vigilantes of reaction.  People have the mental habit of assuming that the powerful control their own outcomes.  They don’t.  The militarization of police forces, white flight and urban abandonment, even the international system of dollar hegemony that the military backstops ... these all develop with multiple determinations, more akin to weather than strategy, with the larger system taking on a character independent of the agents within it.  Changing outcomes is not the same as controlling them.

My greatest anxiety for my two grandchildren is not that they will be the victims of a plot but the inheritors of inertia and a society of “good Germans,” while society dives into a long period of unanticipated macho warlordism ... and, oh by the way, ecocide.

We already have whole sections of America—in the former enclaves of a now deracinated working class—where hopelessness exists alongside police forces that function very like a military occupation force.  Before the war, these occupation zones—filled with idled, angry, dark-skinned youths—were our middle-class nightmare, the Dark Chaos that inevitably leads us back to the patriarchal default, to militarized masculinity, and to the cultural celebration of bounty hunting and sexual revenge in feudal prisons.

Alas, the place-marker of a war on drugs—that created the largest national prison population on the planet—couldn’t create the pretext for bases in Southwest Asia, so the war on terror will have to do.  The recruitment crisis that has opened the door to neo-Nazi youths entering military service was anything but a plan.  The term before the war that proponents used to describe its outcome was “cakewalk.”

Now even putative liberals have copped to their own version of “white man’s burden,” saying (the rhetorical) we  cannot “abandon Iraq,” lest “we” leave behind a terrible state of disorder.  And so “we” continue down that hoary, blood-drenched path of “civilizing missions.”

The Bush administration never tires of telling us how war is necessary to protect “us” from disorder.

We need to ask ourselves, however, what sowing the winds of war abroad will reap at home.  They are not Arabs who are painting Aryan Nations graffiti on the shattered walls of Baghdad.

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Dig last updated on Oct. 3, 2006

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By Bukko in Australia, November 3, 2006 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hondo, to quote a senile but famous old fool, “There you go again.” There you go with the same tired rhetoric about what repulses YOU (not Americans) about “liberals.” Only, these liberals are entirely a construct of your imagination. “Straw man” is the term I learned in debate class for that argumentative technique. It’s the same thing your ignorant president uses on the campaign stump.

The thing is, Hondo, this thread is about Stan Goff’s analysis of the fascist takeover of the United States. Did you read it? What is your right-wing, Kool-Aide slurping take on it? Because really, mate, we don’t need an irrelevant repetition of your hackneyed squawking points about “liberals.” You have only one note, son. Develop a new one unless you’re too intellectually limited to do so…

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By Hondo, November 2, 2006 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
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Hondo’s List of What Repulses Americans About Liberalism:
1. Liberals believe in oppressively high taxes to pay for social engineering programs that don’t work.
2. Liberals believe in affirmative action. Put another way, liberals believe that a man should be judged by the color of his skin, not the content of his character.
3. Liberals believe in gay marriage. There is not one single state among the contiguous 48 where you will find a majority to support that.
4. Liberals believe in unlimited abortion on demand, with absolutely no restrictions. There is not one single state among the contiguous 48 where you will find a majority to support that.
5. Liberals believe in human cloning. There is not one single state…..
6. Liberals are against the Patriot Act. Liberals are against the NSA wire tapping program. Liberals are against coercive interrogations of terrorist detainees. There is not one single state…..
7. Liberals are against any reference to God or Jesus Christ at any time in the public square. Not only is there not one single state…..but there is not one single Founding Father that would agree with that position.
8. Liberals believe that “it takes a village to raise a child” means that “it takes a secular progressive government to raise a child.” They are wrong.
9. Liberals believe that the average American is too stupid to make it through the day without the care and nurturing of “Mommy and Daddy Government.” They are wrong.
10. Liberals believe that if you don’t do well in school, you “end up” in the military. Tuesday’s election will illustrate how strongly America disagrees with the dumbass from Massachusettes and his liberal comrads.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., November 1, 2006 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Read Al Gore on the limits of executive power.

Transcript: Al Gore On the Limits of Executive Power     PDF       Print       E-mail
Monday, 16 January 2006
by Al Gore
Remarks as prepared

Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America’s Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the “most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country” and vowed to “take him off his pedestal.” The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King’s murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King’s life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.

The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.

Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on “large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States.” The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program “without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection.”

During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President’s soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA’s domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: “The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men.”

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, “On Common Sense” ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described America’s alternative. Here, he said, we intended to make certain that “the law is king.”

Vigilant adherence to the rule of law strengthens our democracy and strengthens America. It ensures that those who govern us operate within our constitutional structure, which means that our democratic institutions play their indispensable role in shaping policy and determining the direction of our nation. It means that the people of this nation ultimately determine its course and not executive officials operating in secret without constraint.

The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.

A commitment to openness, truthfulness and accountability also helps our country avoid many serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned from recently classified declassified documents that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false information. We now know that the decision by Congress to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also based on false information. America would have been better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.

The President and I agree on one thing. The threat from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no question that we continue to face new challenges in the wake of the attack on September 11th and that we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.

Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable.

Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for the other branches to perform their constitutional roles. As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police it. Once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a government of men and not laws.

The President’s men have minced words about America’s laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the “kind of surveillance” we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.

This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the Authorization was being debated, the Administration did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that would have authorized them to use military force domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among others, made statements during the Authorization debate clearly restating that that Authorization did not operate domestically.

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: “To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress.”

This is precisely the “disrespect” for the law that the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure case.

It is this same disrespect for America’s Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution. And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.

For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.

This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then - until now. These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.

The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.

Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by these new practices on the part of our nation. The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those nations with the worst reputations for torture in its prisons - registered a complaint to his home office about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S. practice: “This material is useless - we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful.”

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is “yes” then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can’t he do?

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch’s claims of these previously unrecognized powers: “If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution.”

The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore our constitutional balance.

For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it.

Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme Court disagreed, but the President engaged in legal maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.

A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the Executive Branch’s handling of one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment of principle “at substantial cost to the government’s credibility before the courts.”

As a result of its unprecedented claim of new unilateral power, the Executive Branch has now put our constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for America’s representative democracy are far higher than has been generally recognized.

These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation.

For more than two centuries, America’s freedoms have been preserved in part by our founders’ wise decision to separate the aggregate power of our government into three co-equal branches, each of which serves to check and balance the power of the other two.

On more than a few occasions, the dynamic interaction among all three branches has resulted in collisions and temporary impasses that create what are invariably labeled “constitutional crises.” These crises have often been dangerous and uncertain times for our Republic. But in each such case so far, we have found a resolution of the crisis by renewing our common agreement to live under the rule of law.

The principle alternative to democracy throughout history has been the consolidation of virtually all state power in the hands of a single strongman or small group who together exercise that power without the informed consent of the governed.

It was in revolt against just such a regime, after all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate question being decided in the Civil War was “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure,” he was not only saving our union but also was recognizing the fact that democracies are rare in history. And when they fail, as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in their place is another strongman regime.

There have of course been other periods of American history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our second president, John Adams, passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and imprison critics and political opponents.

When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the abuses he said: “[The essential principles of our Government] form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation… [S]hould we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety.”

Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst abuses prior to those of the current administration were committed by President Wilson during and after WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a low point for the respect of individual rights at the hands of the executive. And, during the Vietnam War, the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel of the abuses experienced by Dr. King and thousands of others.

But in each of these cases, when the conflict and turmoil subsided, the country recovered its equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.

There are reasons for concern this time around that conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of presidential power. In a global environment of nuclear weapons and cold war tensions, Congress and the American people accepted ever enlarging spheres of presidential initiative to conduct intelligence and counter intelligence activities and to allocate our military forces on the global stage. When military force has been used as an instrument of foreign policy or in response to humanitarian demands, it has almost always been as the result of presidential initiative and leadership. As Justice Frankfurter wrote in the Steel Seizure Case, “The accretion of dangerous power does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly, from the generative force of unchecked disregard of the restrictions that fence in even the most disinterested assertion of authority.”

A second reason to believe we may be experiencing something new is that we are told by the Administration that the war footing upon which he has tried to place the country is going to “last for the rest of our lives.” So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other Presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity.

Third, we need to be aware of the advances in eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and to mine it for intelligence. This adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the same time as the potential power of those technologies. These techologies have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.

Don’t misunderstand me: the threat of additional terror strikes is all too real and their concerted efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction does create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. Moreover, there is in fact an inherent power that is conferred by the Constitution to the President to take unilateral action to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat, but it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not.

But the existence of that inherent power cannot be used to justify a gross and excessive power grab lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the other two branches of government.

There is a final reason to worry that we may be experiencing something more than just another cycle of overreach and regret. This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended.

This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president’s powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under this theory, the President’s authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked by Congress. President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its maximum by continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief, invoking it has frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, domestic and foreign. When added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine.

This effort to rework America’s carefully balanced constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a subservient Congress and judiciary is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same administration to rework America’s foreign policy from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the world.

The common denominator seems to be based on an instinct to intimidate and control.

This same pattern has characterized the effort to silence dissenting views within the Executive Branch, to censor information that may be inconsistent with its stated ideological goals, and to demand conformity from all Executive Branch employees.

For example, CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases.

Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar Hoover’s view that Dr. King was closely connected to Communists. The head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division said that his effort to tell the truth about King’s innocence of the charge resulted in he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured. “It was evident that we had to change our ways or we would all be out on the street…. The men and I discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in school. They lived in fear of getting transferred, losing money on their homes, as they usually did. ... so they wanted another memorandum written to get us out of the trouble that we were in.”

The Constitution’s framers understood this dilemma as well, as Alexander Hamilton put it, “a power over a man’s support is a power over his will.” (Federalist No. 73)

Soon, there was no more difference of opinion within the FBI. The false accusation became the unanimous view. In exactly the same way, George Tenet’s CIA eventually joined in endorsing a manifestly false view that there was a linkage between al Qaeda and the government of Iraq.

In the words of George Orwell: “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.

Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration’s eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.

Tragically, he apparently still doesn’t know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.

It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given still more power. Often, the request itself it used to mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has.

Moreover, if the pattern of practice begun by this Administration is not challenged, it may well become a permanent part of the American system. Many conservatives have pointed out that granting unchecked power to this President means that the next President will have unchecked power as well. And the next President may be someone whose values and belief you do not trust. And this is why Republicans as well as Democrats should be concerned with what this President has done. If this President’s attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost. And the next President or some future President will be able, in the name of national security, to restrict our liberties in a way the framers never would have thought possible.

The same instinct to expand its power and to establish dominance characterizes the relationship between this Administration and the courts and the Congress.

In a properly functioning system, the Judicial Branch would serve as the constitutional umpire to ensure that the branches of government observed their proper spheres of authority, observed civil liberties and adhered to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the unilateral executive has tried hard to thwart the ability of the judiciary to call balls and strikes by keeping controversies out of its hands - notably those challenging its ability to detain individuals without legal process—by appointing judges who will be deferential to its exercise of power and by its support of assaults on the independence of the third branch.

The President’s decision to ignore FISA was a direct assault on the power of the judges who sit on that court. Congress established the FISA court precisely to be a check on executive power to wiretap. Yet, to ensure that the court could not function as a check on executive power, the President simply did not take matters to it and did not let the court know that it was being bypassed.

The President’s judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power. As we have all learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called unitary executive, which is more properly called the unilateral executive. Whether you support his confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.

And the Administration has supported the assault on judicial independence that has been conducted largely in Congress. That assault includes a threat by the Republican majority in the Senate to permanently change the rules to eliminate the right of the minority to engage in extended debate of the President’s judicial nominees. The assault has extended to legislative efforts to curtail the jurisdiction of courts in matters ranging from habeas corpus to the pledge of allegiance. In short, the Administration has demonstrated its contempt for the judicial role and sought to evade judicial review of its actions at every turn.

But the most serious damage has been done to the legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to attain a massive expansion of its power.

I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938, 10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in 1971.

The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served. There are many distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today. I am honored that some of them are here in this hall. But the legislative branch of government under its current leadership now operates as if it is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch.

Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials.

There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don’t really know what an oversight hearing is. In the 70’s and 80’s, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.

The role of authorization committees has declined into insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is lumped into a single giant measure that is not even available for Members of Congress to read before they vote on it.

Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees, and amendments are routinely not allowed during floor consideration of legislation.

In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the “greatest deliberative body in the world,” meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: “Why is this chamber empty?”

In the House of Representatives, the number who face a genuinely competitive election contest every two years is typically less than a dozen out of 435.

And too many incumbents have come to believe that the key to continued access to the money for re-election is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give; and, in the case of the majority party, the whole process is largely controlled by the incumbent president and his political organization.

So the willingness of Congress to challenge the Administration is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.

The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted Congress’ role, and often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power.

Look for example at the Congressional role in “overseeing” this massive four year eavesdropping campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed Congress, but what he really means is that he talked with the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of the House and Senate. This small group, in turn, claimed that they were not given the full facts, though at least one of the intelligence committee leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and placed a copy in his own safe.

Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program.

Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption.

The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.

It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.

I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you’re supposed to be.

But there is yet another Constitutional player whose pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to dominate our constitutional system.

We the people are-collectively-still the key to the survival of America’s democracy. We-as Lincoln put it, “[e]ven we here”-must examine our own role as citizens in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and degradation of our democracy.

Thomas Jefferson said: “An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.”

The revolutionary departure on which the idea of America was based was the audacious belief that people can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the ultimate authority in self-government. This insight proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke: “All just power is derived from the consent of the governed.”

The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional system that is now in such danger was created with the full and widespread participation of the population as a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day, widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out so fruitfully in Philadelphia.

Indeed, when the Convention had done its best, it was the people - in their various States - that refused to confirm the result until, at their insistence, the Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent forward for ratification.

And it is “We the people” who must now find once again the ability we once had to play an integral role in saving our Constitution.

And here there is cause for both concern and great hope. The age of printed pamphlets and political essays has long since been replaced by television - a distracting and absorbing medium which sees determined to entertain and sell more than it informs and educates.

Lincoln’s memorable call during the Civil War is applicable in a new way to our dilemma today: “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Forty years have passed since the majority of Americans adopted television as their principal source of information. Its dominance has become so extensive that virtually all significant political communication now takes place within the confines of flickering 30-second television advertisements.

And the political economy supported by these short but expensive television ads is as different from the vibrant politics of America’s first century as those politics were different from the feudalism which thrived on the ignorance of the masses of people in the Dark Ages.

The constricted role of ideas in the American political system today has encouraged efforts by the Executive Branch to control the flow of information as a means of controlling the outcome of important decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.

The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the other branches can’t check an abuse of power if they don’t know it is happening.

For example, when the Administration was attempting to persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit, many in the House and Senate raised concerns about the cost and design of the program. But, rather than engaging in open debate on the basis of factual data, the Administration withheld facts and prevented the Congress from hearing testimony that it sought from the principal administration expert who had compiled information showing in advance of the vote that indeed the true cost estimates were far higher than the numbers given to Congress by the President.

Deprived of that information, and believing the false numbers given to it instead, the Congress approved the program. Tragically, the entire initiative is now collapsing- all over the country- with the Administration making an appeal just this weekend to major insurance companies to volunteer to bail it out.

To take another example, scientific warnings about the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming were censored by a political appointee in the White House who had no scientific training. And today one of the leading scientific experts on global warming in NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and control his discussions of global warming.

One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, “Any who act as if freedom’s defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America.”

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: “Men feared witches and burnt women.”

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment’s notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens’ right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President’s apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, “The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.”

A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President.

Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing—especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.

Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration of the health of our democracy.

It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected against either the encroachment of government or the efforts at control by large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.

I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.

As Dr. King once said, “Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.”

[ Back ]
Al Gore On the Limits of Executive Power

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By Dan Tuck, October 24, 2006 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment
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This is much like the well documented “Ipanema Effect”. Doctor S. Nooter, well known for his theories on BONDING and his obsession with fleece explains, if you whistle the tune, others will unknowingly pick up on it and it spreads from there.

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By Fade, October 24, 2006 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment
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Candid and Honest remarks. I see a lot of people who don’t like to see what you have to say. A lot of their deeply bred racism is apparent in the comments. Then we have the Muslim haters denouncing Goff, then the Israeli haters. Everyone’s got somebody they love to hate, apparently. As a poor white redneck who grew up in West Texas I know the ingrained racism of these people. I know how they can disregard the humanity of whole peoples simply because they are muslims, jews, negroes, or mexicans. As the ridiculous racist Wolf B’Shannon (Half Nazi/Half IDF? Lover) Can you be both nowadays? Plenty of hate to spread around- Anyway, as “Wolf” (macho!) says: ‘They’ are degrading us, our European culture, our MORAL CHARACTER (in all caps, no less, as if his sociopathic commentary didn’t render all mention of morality moot).

Killing unarmed pows and killing innocent civvies is NOT the heart of morality. Desiring to have those who can willingly do these actions is NOT something the American Military needs. Honor is NOT an Outdated nor Undesirable concept. And for those of you who make the Laughable comment that Goff should have done something- What makes you think he didn’t? Military men will know that, as Goff says- White Racists are hardly a minority in the armed forces. His point is - THEY SHOULD BE- but more and more- Racism is on the rise here in America. As evidenced by a lot of the la-la land commenters… Racists Degrade America, not enrich it.

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By Rod, October 24, 2006 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
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I always find it interesting when another leftist bashes and blames all of societies ills on white males.  Is that the best you can do?  Every time I see another “special” on tv regarding racism, it always focuses on whites.  Never a mention of black, hispanic, asian, jewish, arab etc etc etc racists.  You spent all this space blasting supposed white supremists joining the military to get training when you should have focused on all the inner city gangsters joining the military for the same training and then taking it back into their neighborhoods and terrorizing their poor neighbors.  But then again, I forget where I am.  I’m in “BLAME WHITES FOR EVERYTHINGLAND”.

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By Pollux, October 24, 2006 at 12:13 am Link to this comment
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Yes, there are extremist groups spread through out the USA.  And some of them actually join the military.  Some do it for patriotism and some for the military training.  The good thing about this is THEY ARE NOT THE NORM!

I served in Special Forces from the Vietnam War through the first Gulf War.  I was around for Operation Just Cause.  I was there through a lot of dirty little conflicts for which there are no medals or public recognition.

If what you claim about Haiti is correct and you didn’t do anything about it then you are a moral coward.  It’s easy to blame the other side for the bad things in our society.  What have you done to make things better?  Bitch about how bad things are?  Go out there and do something to make it better.

I need to quit before I go overboard.  But think about this – If you know something is wrong, and you don’t do something to make it better, then you are also part of the problem.  Pointing fingers at the other guy is not a solution.

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By Dave, October 23, 2006 at 10:24 pm Link to this comment
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Re #31915, on gasoline prices.
Interesting, another view of this is all the moralizing and theorizing on christianity, capitalism, democracy, etc. can be reduced to petroleum consumption instead, which has an interesting correlation to the rapid rise in living standards in the world, particularly in the USA. It’s common to see a graph of living standard vs. oil consumption displayed in discussions (particularly when the US is about to invade some country) to get everyone softened up for what will follow. Such conclusions should always include the observation that apparent causation found in a correlation could be present for other reasons, such as a shared third cause not present in the correlation.

Been in Russia for two years now, where the Soviet government has morphed into one giant corporation (call it Russia, call it Gazprom, call it RosNeft, same thing) dedicated to the supply of oil and gas to the rest of the world. The powerful people here certainly realize without a rise in living standards, they’ll have another revolution to mess with, so they are motivated, to say the least.

So forget all the moralisms and claims to superior civilization that people in the US like to lay claim to for a minute; clearly without a cheap transportation and manufacturing system that makes consumer goods and food extremely abundant and available, the US would be a very different place. The dark and reactionary elements described in this dig would likely become ascendant, as human nature likes to pin blame on things, whether it is merited or not. The educational and artistic level in the US doesn’t seem particularly high, either, so one one could imagine it turning to the same level of barbarism Americans like to consider exclusive to other countries. The existence of all these white power types should be of no surprise—wasn’t the country founded on that principle, after all? Certainly there was manifest destiny to take it all away from the “savages” that lived there previously.

From that point of view, the moral and religious view of the society has less effect than just switching to a different form of “cheap” energy (whatever that is). Does one enable the other (that is, does the particular moral and religious climate of a culture encourage the type of technical creativity that would produce such a thing)? It’s hard to see that a population that embraces a medieval belief like christianity so wholeheartedly would be able to pull it off. It seems more likely that things will get tough and repressive, and very polluted as the huge resource of coal within the US is exploited instead, which is much more polluting to burn than petroleum. One could certainly see that invasion of other countries to secure the oil supply could be picked as a less creative solution, and Russia, Inc., among others, certainly is afraid of the USA doing just that (Russians are naturally paranoid about such things, apparently for good reason, if their history is looked at).

Anyway, thanks for the mention of automobiles—I think it is key to understanding any discussion that has to do with USA, since the whole culture is based around them.


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By John Kirgan, October 23, 2006 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment
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History has shown me all great civilizations have met their demise through their own negligence. Some equate negligence with ignorance. Like mistaking being nice for being stupid. Moreover, “the civil war” within the walls of Congress will be the nations downfall.
The tsunami of illegal immigrants cascading across the country will contribute to re-arranging the US as we know it. I’m glad I’ll be off the planet before it attains it’s worse level.
John Kirgan
Viet Nam War vet
Concerned citizen

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By Cale Collins-the moderate, October 22, 2006 at 4:45 am Link to this comment
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I do not agree w/many things the current admin. has done and am not ready to go to be called up as my buddy has (army reserve), but one thing that I think is funny is that Democrates are complaining about the high oil prices!!!! 
I don’t like it, but have bought 3 mutual funds that, even after the recent drops, have still given me a 25%+ return….ALSO as a moderate/fiscal conservative entrepeneure type of person the higher the price the sooner WE WILL look to alt. types of fuel, the more funding will go into it-both gov. and private…how can you be mad at EXXON, who cares what the price is??? If you are wearing you faded jeans w/anti-gov and corporate (70s style) pins on them and work (maybe) on top of that at a university you just have shown me/us (moderates) that you aren’t as samrts as you say you are!  The goal should be to make things BETTER!  HAVE (somewhat) POSITE OUTLOOK!  What can I do to help my country, can I use the profits that my oil funds have given me and invest them in an ENVIRONMENTAL mutual fund? HELL YEAH! DO I want the government to regulate medicine? HELL NO!  What has to be done, well (maybe) we want the government to pressure health insu. and pass reasonable laws that encourage inureers to offer products that all can afford and reduce the # of uninsured…reduce insurers admin cost which account for 38 cent of every dollar that is spent in healthcare and only 7 cents is for the DRUGS you and I use!  You want to get rid of the big pharma? Great that will look good when you add 90,000 drug reps to the unemployed, thousands of scientist, thousands of clerical workers, thousands of middle-managers, b/c that will mean not only a nice little increase in white-collar unemploymetn across the U.S.., but also many other local business owners and blue collar workers, b/c all these unemployed won’t need to go to the drycleaners anymore, they won’t have the guy mow the law, and who needs the red wine from that local cellar-HELL I DON’T.  I ‘ll need my money to be a disgruntled new converted radical liberal to buy some faded jeans and pins…no more $17 dollar haircuts at Great Clips…let it grow…just as the global economy is more and more intertwined, so is the everyday economy in the US and everywhere else.
There are no simple solution, my frustration is when I read some blogs etc, some a little/alot to the left and some a little/alot to the right is that I and the rest of us in the middle class with moderate common sense interests are left out.

NO ONE wants to budge…lefties complain about the oil price yet want to get rid of cars that don’t get at least 50mpg??????????????????????
“Hello McFly, anybody home?”
Contradiction???? Hell yeah!
Example, why can’t we go for something like raising the MPG to 30 mpg by 2012 to 35 mpg by 2017, design and implement the use of new even better cathliotic converters by 2010 in order to reduce the emmissions???? ect etc etc….instead, again, the right will say to ME I sound like a treehugger and the TREEHUGGERS will can me conservative BUSHY Detroit lovin’ retard!  So both of y’all have pissed me and many others of and will not get support b/c it is all to the extreme….so I’ll only play the lotto if it is at least $300 million or higher and otherwise say ot is playin w/the devil….please both sides do some detoxin and call when ya want to get together and play

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By Bukko in Australia, October 18, 2006 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment
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One interesting facet of fascism in Hitler’s Germany was how it crept up gradually. It’s like the old story about boiling a frog: if you throw it straight away into the hot water, it will jump out. If you increase the heat slowly, it won’t notice.

Whilst preparing to flee the U.S., my wife and I went to Zurich to arrange some banking details> Because it’s close to Munich, we made a side trip to Dachau. (We’re so farkin’ morbid; have to visit a concentration camp when we go to Europe…) In the administration hall, there was an extensive exhibit with old newspaper articles, photos and other info showing the step-by-step way Hitler accreted power. I had thought that he took control in one fell swoop. But it was incremental between 1933 and 1939. Seize the courts, then the economic planning, pass a law on the press here and a law resricting Jews there. Sadly, I saw the same thing in the U.S. Gave impetus to my flight.

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By John Cunningham, October 18, 2006 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment
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I’m just so totally self-absorbed in what is so totally occupying my personal explanation for a mind.  Oh, my god, oh jesus.

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By virginia, October 18, 2006 at 11:24 am Link to this comment
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The stories about the Air Force Academy seems to fit this pattern too. Onward Christian sky soldiers. Wonder what the other Academies are up to.

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By lao hong han, October 17, 2006 at 10:58 am Link to this comment
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While I admire and am in substantial agreement with Stan’s analysis, I’m perhaps somewhat less alarmed than he about the likelihood of a near-term advent of fascism. Still, a couple very recent news shorts, one from the US and one from Britain, are enough to make me go “Ulk.” Straws in the wind?

October 16—“For the first time, Coast Guard officials want to mount machine guns routinely on their cutters and small boats here and around all five of the Great Lakes as part of a program addressing the threats of terrorism after Sept. 11.”


October 15—LONDON - A British police force is considering using unmanned aerial surveillance drones to fly over troubled local council housing estates to help tackle anti-social behaviour in respective areas, The Sunday Telegraph reported.


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By JESSE, October 17, 2006 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)      search HR4752

Isn’t the draft an aspect of fascism?

prepair to serve your nation for two years. no questions asked. well unless you are gay.

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By Mad as Hell, October 17, 2006 at 9:01 am Link to this comment
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“Mad As Hell HAS FAILED TO NOTICE that the State does not run all economic enterprises in Europe, Japan, Canada or New Zealand. All of those countries are still capitalistic but much more egalitarian than America. For instance, they all have Universal Health Care, which I consider a basic human right and the dividing line between decent and sociopathic societies.. Anyone who fails to recognize that distinction is a sociopath.”

You mean there are GOVERNMENTS in Europe, Japan, Canada, and New Zealand??? Gee, I never knew that! Thanks, Rabblerowzer.

Do yourself a favor and go back and read what I wrote so you don’t look like such an idiot! I, IN FACT, cited specifically Europe and Japan as places where Capitalism is working VERY nicely, thank you very much.  They have freedom, capitalism, healthy economies, and tight controls over the excesses of un-regulated capitalism—unlike our current status.  Oh, and national health care systems that work. Well, at least they work a HELL of a lot better than our system, which is about to go into collapse (and just-retiring CEO of United Health Care may well go to jail along with some others for back-dating options).

Socialism has shown itself to be a total failure again and again. So has fascism.  Only a regulated capitalist society, the ENSURES the liberty of its people with steel bands, succeeds and prospers. “corporatism” as practiced here by Mad King George and his band of Merrie Fascists is merely fascism.  And, naturally, it is failing—and taking us down with it.  See how many corporate heads in the US are facing jail time—another just cropped up Sunday night—McGuire at United Health—the options back-dater!

Ok, so I left out Canada and New Zealand. Sorry. I wasn’t trying to be complete—I was showing examples.

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By K McG, October 17, 2006 at 6:18 am Link to this comment
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Sheldon Wolin is very good on the larger political dynamic (rather than the component “cultures” of militarism, racism, hyper-masculinity, etc.)

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By Paul M Smith, October 16, 2006 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment
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Forwarded to me by my sister from a friend of hers, but certainly appropriate info for this blog:

The list speaks for itself!  (unfortunately)

Subject: Gelbart’s List
Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 8:22 PM
Abu Ghraib
Unwarranted Phone Taps
Unprecedented Powers
Unmatched Incompetence
Unparalleled Corruption
Governor Bob Taft
Representative Tom Delay
Representative Roy Blunt
Representative Ken Calvert
Representative John Dolittle
Representative Tom Feeney
Representative Katherine Harris
Representative Jerry Lewis
Representative Gary Miller
Representative Marilyn Musgrave
Representative Richard Pombo
Representative Rick Renzi
Representative John Sweeney
Representative Charles Taylor
Representative Curt Weldon
Representative J.D. Hayworth
Representative Don Sherwood
Representative Bob Ney
Representative Duke Cunningham
Representative Tom Reynolds
Representative Chris Cannon
Jeff Gannon
Representative Mark Foley
Representative Dennis Hastert
Senator George Allen
Senator Bill Frist
Senator Conrad Burns
Senator Rick Santorum
David Safavian
The Vice Presidential Energy Task Force
Three bucks a gallon
Record oil company profits
Anwar Pipeline
Anbar Province
Arthur Anderson
Global Crossing
Global Warming
Global Boiling
Adam Kidan
Timothy Flanigan
Ralph Reed
Harriet Miers
The Supreme Court
John Bolton
Florida, 2000
Ohio, 2004
North Korea
Stem Cell Research
Scooter Libby
Valerie Plame
Golden Parachutes
Shrunken Pensions
Bernie Kerik
Eminent Domain
Social Security
Habeas Corpus
Ahmad Chalabi
The Baghdad Museum
Tora Bora
Taliban Resurgence
Iraqi Insurgents
General Eric Shinseki
General Anthony Zinni
Mission Accomplished
Illegal Immigration
Intelligent Design
Kenneth Tomlinson
Claude Allen
Swift Boat Hit Squads
Ari Fleischer
Scott McClellan
Tony Snow
Ann Coulter
Expiration of Assault Weapons Ban
John Ashcroft
Alberto Gonzales
George Tenet
Paul Bremer
Paul Wolfowitz
Richard Perle
Kissinger Redux
Duck Cheney
Donald Henry Rumsfeld
Turd Blossom
Terri Shiavo

...and finally, the
Uniter-Decider-Reader of
Camus, Shakespeare and “My Pet
Goat,” who describes the party
that successfully prosecuted
two world wars as people who
cut and run.

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By Margaret Currey, October 16, 2006 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
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In reply to Mad as Hell, the only president who has not come from the super rich is Clinton, everyone should know that the reason Bush got to be president is because of his name, even at the start of this country.  The rich also rose to the top, Washington, (father of the country) married money, come from the landed gentry, owned slaves, etc. etc. the only difference is people were free to be poor. 

Also the reason gays are moviated to get into government is power for their cause, but people must remember that gays are not always out to exploit boys, but a lot go that way.  I believe that being in the closet was not just a cop out but a way to honestly make a living, but people must remember that power corrupts, and when thisgovernment is under one party rule, the corruption comes out, if the shoe was on the other foot, the Dems would be corrupt also, but what really makes the GOP the way they are is lots of money.

M.T.C., Vancouver, Washington

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By rabblerowzer, October 16, 2006 at 6:37 am Link to this comment
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Comment #28831 by Mad As Hell on 10/14 at 9:07 pm
  Socialists crack me up!
  1—Socialism: The state runs all economic enterprises.
  2—And in ALL the Socialist states, past and present, who benefited from it? The   few running it at the top!

Mad As Hell HAS FAILED TO NOTICE that the State does not run all economic enterprises in Europe, Japan, Canada or New Zealand. All of those countries are still capitalistic but much more egalitarian than America. For instance, they all have Universal Health Care, which I consider a basic human right and the dividing line between decent and sociopathic societies.. Anyone who fails to recognize that distinction is a sociopath.

Matters concerning Life and Death are moral issues and beyond the understanding of sociopaths.

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By rabblerowzer, October 16, 2006 at 5:14 am Link to this comment
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No matter how they identify themselves: communist, socialist, monarchies or capitalist, all countries are dominated by a ruling elite which is essentially fascistic in nature. In every instance, the power elites manipulate, repress, and exploit the masses for their own advantage. Somehow, only two or three per cent of the populations in every country end up controlling the government, the corporations, the economy and armed forces.

That’s the way it is and always has been.

How is it that the masses have never found a way to prevent or escape autocratic rule?

Even as we watch, the ideals and hopes of democracy are slip sliding away in America.

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By livefree, October 15, 2006 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
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For a good discussion of the political and economic processes that led to the worst cases of fascism in the 20th century and the striking similarities to our current situation here in North America, check out this article that was published in The Toronto Star last year.

Fascism then. Fascism now?

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By nikolai, October 15, 2006 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment
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The USA will find out where it’s going via two pivotal events; the 2006 and the 2008 elections. It’s that simple. If the Republicans win both elections, either: A. The (majority of)people in the USA are stupid and deserve what they get, or,
B. The elections have been rigged (again) which the American people at least by proxy, have also let happen, again. However, there IS a third choice; throw out these corrupt bastards NOW. As it is, this should have already happened; the fact that it hasn’t is a clear signal to these facists that they indeed do have more than a snowball’s chance to stay in power. With that said, think about this (and this is only ONE example); the average 18 year old is not being drafted and shipped off to Iraq to be killed or maimed, only the young men and women who enlist by choice (or due to economic hardship, maybe not so much by choice), still, if these hawks had started up a draft and Johnny next door, or your nephew or your son (or daughter)were grabbed and shipped over to Iraq and were maimed or killied or in danger of being maimed or killed, and this same situation was hanging over 90% of all US citizens, then I think maybe, just maybe, we all would have stood up a little more to our “gov’t”. The proof is is the pudding, afterall. These neocons are doing what they’re doing because we’re ALLOWING THEM TO DO IT.

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By hank, October 15, 2006 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eric Hoffer said of the 1930’s,

“I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac.”

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., October 15, 2006 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
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To whom it may apply:

Go back and read my comment 28543 on 10/12.

Now read it again.

And again.

And again.

Get it?

If not, take off the blinders or blind fold and check again.

If you are a lurker, that is, one who reads but does not comment because you can’t type, discuss it with your family and friends. Those with real education, not just job training, do some critical thinking and some analysis.

If you find anything wrong with what I said, please give me the courtesy to direct a response to me. If you are right, I will discover my error. If I am right, you can claim the benefit of the knowledge.

But, for now, if you are concerned for America, vote Democrat. It is more important now than knowing why. Do not change your voter registration if you are Republican. That is not the error. The danger is to support anyone who believes that we can be protected by locking up our minds along with our bodies and keeping us there by calling us enemies of the state without due process to correct the error. Democracy and freedom are fragile. We must protect them long before the threat to dismantle the legal protections forces an armed rebellion such as the American Revolution. We must protect the dissidents, not imprison them. We must save the enemies of the state when they are our only defense against the state. We must not allow tyranny to become legitimate.

Pseudo-Democrats may argue that terrorists must be locked up to prevent terrorism. No. Terrorists may be the only evidence that we are being terrorized. I fear the local newspaper when it does not detect and report the erosion of freedom and human rights. I fear my fellow citizens who continue to support the creep toward totalitarianism and dictatorship. Don’t interfere with your own right to vote. Get out and vote Democrat this election.

Wipe the slate and work the problem again.

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By harryllee, October 15, 2006 at 9:40 am Link to this comment
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as bad a film red dawn is, I think it has valuable lessons our president could have done well to learn. basically, if you invade my country, you’re gonna have to deal with me. I believe this is more or less a truism anywhere you go, iraq, iran, north korea.

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By Joanne, October 15, 2006 at 8:04 am Link to this comment
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I speculate that Timothy McVeigh (for instance) never heard of NPR, or “The Nation” or accessed Common Dreams—or had ANY contact with ANY other kind of media than the right-wing stuff. The crushing avalanche of the media is when this reader gets most discouraged.

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By Mad As Hell, October 14, 2006 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment
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Socialists crack me up!
Rabblerowser: your definition of Mussolini’s “corporatism” is virtually identical to Socialism: The state runs all economic enterprises.

And in ALL the Socialist states, past and present, who benefited from it? The few running it at the top!

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By jeanand, October 14, 2006 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment
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In contrast to Paul kibble’s comment #28359, I find it pleasurable to read the progressive comments. This is because I was raised in New England but now live in the bible belt. It is extremely frustrating living here. what I have found epidemic is the inability of most people to reason. Most are indoctrinated at a young age and seem to prefer being told what to do and how to think. I have had debates with people where the facts are plain as day yet they refuse to acknowledge them. Fact and opinion seem to continually be confused. The kicker is that I am viewed as the one who can’t see clearly because I am not “born-again”. I have lived here for 15 years and there for a while it was difficult to explain to people back home what it was like until it went national! Now everyone understands!

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By dave, October 14, 2006 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment
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To late fasism is already a mainstay in America has been for some time

When IRS agents are sent to bust in your door and traumatize your family at gun point trying to enforce a tax law that does not exist

thats right income tax is illigal in America
there was no way to pass a law to bring in income tax the tax upon wages unapportioned
what they did was to enforce the law as if it was passed which it wasn’t nor would it ever pass
SO right there we see facism alive and well
in America
electronic voting? whats with that unheard of in a free society no paper trail?
I could spew out many other cases why America is no longer free
but instead I will tell you why this has happened
it all happened because Americans are not worthy to be free or American your forefathers would have shot all of you
where were the patriots when the patriot act was passed
why were the streets not filled with 5 million people carrying clubs

Americans are only a shadow of their formerself frightened and huddled in a mass of weary dreary people
no its not to late yet but I figure by the time Mr BUSH is done bushwhacking you all it may as well be over

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By Bob, October 14, 2006 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment
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Most of the problems I saw in the U.S.M.C. as well as the U.S.N. seemed to come from a lack of any real education. It has always been a simple task to control an uneducated mass and have them bend to your will. The problems in the military are merely a mirror of our society. How many in America today are capable of critical thought?
How many know that “why” is a question that must always be asked?
Of course when Little Johnny can’t read or think it’s probably not a great idea to give him a gun.
Below are some excerpts from a book written many decades ago by a veteran of WWI. (I found it at the local library.)
The least amount of crime is always in the most educated areas, hmmmmmmmm.

From the book “A Page A Day” Re-written and published by Kenneth Adams, original title “A Minute A Day” by L.L.Castetter, a WWI veteran.
Original was written in 1936.



Prejudice is a barrier to progress. It numbs the mind and closes its door. It is a mild form of insanity as it destroys reason. It blinds as a mist to the brighter things in life, hiding Truth and dimming the good. Prejudiced opinions hold the person instead of the person holding the opinion. It is purely a human characteristic. Animals may have passions as a beast, but humans have prejudices that make them devils. Race prejudice is ignorance. Prejudice poisoned Socrates, and assassinated Lincoln.
Prejudice is the enemy of charity, and is a kindly word for devil. To be full of prejudice is to be possessed of the devil. It makes people work harder by strangling Truth and destroying reason. It is the shadow of ignorance and it grows best in the uneducated regardless of how much schooling they have had. It is a form of weakness and in a class with superstition, meanness and fear. It is often used for lack of sense.


Real freedom comes by the practice of wisdom. Many think themselves free because they are controlled by their desires and conscious of their volitions, but ignorant of the cause by which they are led to wish and desire.
No persons are free who are not master of themselves. There is freedom to do what one likes, but a better freedom is in doing what one should. For those who are able, there is freedom to pursue their own good in their own way. Some are not fit to be free, and they never will really be free. Freedom is a curse to people who do not have self-control, or true courage. One must have knowledge and practice wisdom in order to be free and keep out of trouble and danger.
The only real freedom is justice, and only those who can think for themselves are likely to attract it to them. If we let others think for us we are followers. We are free to bargain with our time, talent, and labor. Our freedom only lasts if we make good bargains with each other.


The word Americanism has an appeal to the pride of those who love America. America is looked upon by many as the nation of liberty and home of the free; the land of opportunity.
If one takes pride in being an American they should try to be worthy of the name. To be a real American means to have the spirits of America, and one is freedom. Americans have the freedoms to advance, and have used freedom to establish a representative government; a democracy. If we wish to be worthy of the name we must co-operate to help keep it so, and make it a good and safe place in which to live.
The term ugly American refers to the narrow minded, ignorant, and arrogant people whom voice their opinions without any knowledge of truth. We do not however have the most of these people, merely the loudest, when one enjoys basic freedoms, one can afford to yell.
America has always been much more than a place on this planet; it is an idea, a spirit.

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By felicity, October 14, 2006 at 7:09 am Link to this comment
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Great comment.  Everybody on this site should read it.

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By rabblerowzer, October 14, 2006 at 6:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Socialism or bust.

Not one of our federal security agencies works for the benefit of the people. Not the FBI, not the CI A, not the NSA, none of the dozens of security agencies work for us. They work for the plutocrats who own the Military Industrial Complex and the government.

Every security agency was formed and specifically designed to protect the ruling elite from the unruly masses. We are merely livestock to be managed, controlled and repressed to preserve the privilege, wealth and power of the ruling elite. The United States is not a democracy and never has been.

The Plutocrats control everything: the president, the politicians, the courts, the media, the military, and the police. Our freedoms are an illusion fostered by incessant propaganda devised to divide and control us. Our lives are sacrificed in wars to preserve and increase their wealth and power over the entire world, not to spread democracy. They fear and despise democracy because it threatens their dominance.

Now, for the first time our rulers have stepped from behind the curtain of secrecy to reveal themselves. Don’t delude yourself into thinking there will be any serious investigations or meaningful reforms to change anything if the Democrats take control. That’s not how capitalism was designed to work. Capitalism was designed to serve those who have the capital. The system is rigged to protect and preserve the system, and the plutocracy.

What we have in America today is unfettered capitalism evolving into fascism.

“Fascism should more properly be called ‘corporatism’ because it is the total merging of corporate and state power”
Benito Mussolini

A healthy dose of Socialism is the only way to tame unfettered capitalism, but realistically considering what they have to lose, the plutocracy backed up by the rabid right will no doubt feel the need to wipeout half the population to prevent that happening.

Those who insist on playing survival of the fittest according to THEIR OWN RULES ought to be reminded, that game has no rules.

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By VoidMaster, October 14, 2006 at 3:31 am Link to this comment
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“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad” - Euripides

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By gary296, October 13, 2006 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You’re right Stan we have taken your subject on a ride off the original course.
  The left and the right are doing a good job of keeping us divided and conquered.
  Corporations in today’s global world don’t care if you lose your job to someone who’ll do it for less.
  We could spend money on healthcare but we choose to spend it on war. The idea it’s for oil is a joke, or for a democratic Iraq, according to my research.
  The idea of peak oil production; Check out It says Russia can drill 40000 feet and get oil from anywhere virtually.
  I believe the Bush administration is a trial run on how far we will be able to be pushed toward a Hitler style leader.
  Look at a movie on google video titled “terrorstorm”.
  Don’t forget Hitler was the leader of the national socialist workers party.
  Add it all up and you see that people are upset for many reasons, out-sourcing of jobs, corporations making more while workers make less etc.

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By John Zook, October 13, 2006 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
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We have met the enemy and he is us.

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By John Cunningham, October 13, 2006 at 1:16 am Link to this comment
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Oh, my goodness gracious.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., October 12, 2006 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First off, there is nothing wrong with capitalism as such. Also, there is nothing wrong with the socialist motivation.

It has been said, “If you are not a socialist before the age of 30, there is something wrong with your heart, but if you are still a socialist after the age of 30, there is something wrong with your mind.”

As with all ideals, there are those who distort the concept to introduce the extreme with disastrous consequences for the dream. Socialism can deteriorate to communist totalitarianism and capitalism can deteriorate to fascist dictatorship. Each can manufacture slogans that hide the truth of the distortions.

The extreme socialist would force change and destroy motivation to meet socialist norms. The extreme capitalist would punish progress that threatens capital. Democratic capitalism has advanced the American standard of living to the extreme that threatens our environment and human rights. Democratic socialism has made welfare a way of life for many and assured a steady supply of poor people dependent on welfare.

We in the center, both left leaning and right leaning, keep the ship of state on course. We detect when the party in power turns too far into the wind and when it lists too long in still water. We detect when the party in power is out of gas and when the party of power is full of gas.

We wield our power when most of us vote for a leader who lets us down and takes us too far in the direction we do not wish to go. Then we jump ship and vote the other party into power. We keep it in power until we detect too much of a good thing that threatens to destroy the foundations of our democracy. We do it again, and again, and again.

Right now, America is moving too fast toward fascism and violation of freedom and human rights and all that makes capitalism work for us. I remember in the past, we saw a drift toward socialism and the welfare state. We rescued ourselves from that debacle only to find ourselves in the clutches of an imperial president.

Time to do it again. Every middle of the roader and every left leaning do-gooder, vote Democrat. Get a vast majority of Democrats in both houses of congress. Impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney together so that a real change can be had by forcing the constitutional amendment on succession to the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives. We cannot risk two more years of George Bush, or even a few months of Dick Cheney and one of his cronies as vice-president in line for president when Cheney is impeached after George Bush is sent back to Texas.

If that process brings into power a welfare leaning lunatic, do it again the other way. We in the middle hold the real power in America. Let us wield that power in the interest of a working capitalism where every American can have a decent job and earn a decent income without fearing a fascist dictator or a socialist totalitarian as president. Where savings mean something and where temporary or even permanent incapacity does not take away the quality of life. We can, with little effort and a bit of overproduction provide for the sick and the lame. And we can even motivate the lazy to earn at least a part of the cost of their living. But, we cannot afford a welfare state, or a fascist capitalist state.

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By ELTEMPLO, October 12, 2006 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The coming of the Fouth Reich is here.
We now know, that it is not the “eternal Jew” who was responsible for all of the problems of the world, as claimed by a red hot Catholics Adolph Hitler and Mel Gibson.

Just listen to the red hot Catholics, on Fox and talk radio and you will soon discover that all of the problems in this world are the fault of the “eternal Liberal.”

You know, people like Barbara Streisand, the New York Times, The Civil Liberties Union, Hollywood, etc.

Incredibly the “eternal Jew” has remained silent throughout. What Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, could not accomplish in Germany, has been so easily achieved here in America, by Rupert Murdoch. Silence of the Lambs!

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By paul kibble, October 11, 2006 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment
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One of the incidental pleasures of regularly perusing a site written by and (let’s admit) mainly for progressives is reading dissenting opinions from the loyal opposition on the right. Occasionally, these opinions are thoughtful and articulate;  primarily, they consist of a dull, shrill parrotings of whatever Repug squawking points the Bush Ministry of Propaganda has decided to inflict on us this week.

Two cases in point are Hondo and Chuck. As anyone who surfs this site knows, Hondo, of course, is a familiar figure of American freaklore, the Angry White Male who wastes far too much bandwidth shrieking about how these whacko liberals are destroying are Christian republic. Read something he wrote six months ago, then read something he wrote yesterday and you’ll find you’re reading the almost exactly same thing; as Led Zeplin used to say, The Song Remains the Same. He comes here out of boredom or frustration or God knows what other unfathomable motive (he’d say, hilariously,  to provide “teachable moments’) A self-professed twice-borner* himself, Hondo has about as much in common with Jesus as Hitler,  whose crazed, foaming-at-every-orifice style he’s managed to replicate in his posts right down to a spit-soaked “T.”  Well, it’s some kind of achievement—-in Dubya’s new fave author Shakespeare’s words, “A poor thing, but mine own.”

Then there’s Chuck. Dripping with equal amounts of scattershot venom and Boy-Scoutish piety, impervious to sanity, much less reason, willfully ignorant of any culture or history except his own,  he comes hissing and clanging onto this string, eyes glittering with dim wit whenever he thinks he’s scored a killer debating point.

Except that he’s not debating. Although he clearly deludes himself that he’s just a Tough-Minded Realist, what Chuck’s doing instead is faithfully reciting the litany from God the Father George’s Book of Common Prayer.  Like all authoritarian faux “patriots” who equate any form of dissent against a particular administration’s policies with treason, Chuck has a need to Believe at any cost. Thus his first article of faith: the Bush/neocon Mafiosi   have “taken the failed policies of previous small thinking liberal war/appeasement makers and replaced it with a region building effort. In terms of scale, the problem needed a big solution and it is getting one.”

Does it get any better than this? With a majority of “small-thinking” Americans (and a growing number of their military counterparts) condemning the war as the latest disastrous version of Manifest Destiny, with Iraq sinking deeper into civil war, here’s Chuckie boy praising the most ill-informed and heedless administration in American history for its Big-Picture Middle Eastern foreign policy. (By the way, chuck, annexation of a region in order to expropriate its oil supplies—-explicitly identified as a “prize” by Cheney in a 1999 Haillburton speech—-isn’t quite the same as region, or nation, building, which neocons specifically repudiated as a goal in the run-up the war.)

When I first read the foregoing, I thought that it was Stephen Colbert trying to pull off one of his deadpan send-ups of Bushthink, this time by using a sock puppet named “chuck.” But no, this isn’t satire; it’s The Real Thing. Life once again imitates art—-very bad art, but still. . .

And it gets better. “In 30 to 40 years, the daily minutia [he means “minutiae,” but grammar and spelling are nuances that Rightie ideologues seldom bother with] of a car bomb or a jihadist prisoner will be a footnote, as will the feeble protests of the aging hippie generation who has the lowest stake in the outcome of the Middle East.”

“In 30 or 40 years. . .” This let’s-take-the-long-view approach is, of course, a muffled echo of King G’s pooh-poohing the current violence in Iraq as a “comma,” although increasingly it looks like an endless string of ellipsis points (“. . . . . . .”). Never mind all those unsightly bodies that keep inconveniently piling up in that “footnote” (which now takes up the whole page)—-they’re a glitch in the glorious march to reshaping the “Arab street” to Main Street, U.S.A. Ironically, this is a variant of the old Leninist saw that in order to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs. Who said Commies and Repugs had nothing in common?

As for Chuckie’s Future-Schlock scenario, as George Sand once wrote (as I remember), “There is a cast of mind that habitually turns its attention to the vague and remote, to the far-off,  to what lies down the road to escape the horrors of the present.” Or as Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.” Except for those nearly 3000 dead G.I.’s and almost 50,000 Iraqi civilians, there is no tomorrow. Wonder Chuckie “anticipated” their “sunset with glee”, too.

Now excuse me while I wipe the Seed of Chuckie off my screen (latex gloves required).

*And he’s a teacher, too.  J.C.’s “Suffer the little children” should be immediately amended to “Suffer, little children.”

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By WatchW, October 11, 2006 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment
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The similarities with the 30’s in Germany are chilling: cynical corporate and military interests mobilizing an extremist class on that had heretofore been left (by tacit agreement on the rules of political engagement) on the margins. How will be turn back now that Pandora’s box has been opened?

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By Bukko in Australia, October 11, 2006 at 12:46 am Link to this comment
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WW: You’re right about the problem with peak oil. If Hubbert is right, the whole pattern of modern oil-based civukisation is going to crumble when our go-juice starts running out. The wars we see around the world fit in with that; a scramble to grab what’s left of a dwindling resource. If and when the hard economic times hit, that will make it easier for fascism to take hold in the U.S. After all, it was the Great Depression that led to the rise of Hitler and Franco. Who’s to blame for Mussolini is anybody’s guess…

I saw a good film on peak oil titled “Crude Awakening” at the Melbourne International Film Festival two months ago. (It’s odd how much American media is shown down here. We really are the 800-pound gorilla of the planet.) It’s all about the implications of the Hubbert Curve, and what that will mean to mankind. Its main speaker isn’t a liberal like Al Gore, but a Republican Congressman named Roscoe Bartlett from Maryland. If any of you get a chance, see “Crude Awakening.” It will make you lose more sleep than “Inconvenient Truth.”

And Stan, as far as downplaying the gender basis if fascism, face it: most of the people who comment here are male. It’s hard to analyse our own BS. Can’t see the forest for the testosterone. I will say the world would be a less fascistic place if women ran things. I used to work as a nurse in the Florida state prison system. Who were the murderers, robbers, other violent dregs of humanity? Men, of course. Perhaps what’s needed to save the planet is to eliminate 95% of our sex. It would certainly suck if you weren’t included in the lucky 5, though…

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By Shelley, October 10, 2006 at 11:10 pm Link to this comment
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Chuck, your post #28062 - How interesting your name connects to a porn site. Are you another Republican who secretly adores sex and doesn’t want anyone to know? I found your post interesting and your link even more so. It confirmed my idea that fat old white guys like you should be euthanized to purge the gene pool so lovely young ladies don’t end up with your evil spawn in their bellies. Good luck on your way down to hell.

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By peggy, October 10, 2006 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment
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What you call “today’s political leadership” is exactly the same age as Stan or older.  Some of them (Bush and Cheney) got out of fighting in the Vietnam war; others were in it.  It is sometimes said that today’s political leadership is, through the war in Iraq and beyond, trying to make up for the loss of Vietnam.  And they are making the same mistakes as were made by the US in Vietnam, only worse.  They want to build a big empire, “The New American Century” fast, by military means.  They did not even expect resistance in Iraq, which was enormously stupid.  At least the American leaders who got us into Vietnam knew there was armed resistance.  Plus they were fighting a real, named enemy via Vietnam; the name of the enemy was the Soviet Union and “communism” both or which actually existed (and still exist), as organized forms of government. Our guys lost because they were fighting other people on those other people’s ground.  Their alternative was to “bomb (Vietnam) back into the Stone Age” - but if they had actually done that, or tried, they would have caused millions of more lives to be lost, including American lives, and they would have started a Third World War, because North Vietnam was by no means politically isolated.  Plus, as you say, “Malnourished, poorly equiped and lacking education, the Vietnamese demonstrated that their will was bigger than yours.”  Bigger than whose again?  Certainly bigger than that of the American draftee footsoldiers, many of whom never wanted to go to war in the first place. And bigger than that of the American leaders at that time, whose wills were pretty strong, I have to say.  But when people are fighting for their lives, their homes, and their kin, their will can be pretty strong.

But even this simple lesson, our American leaders have not learned.  The Iraqi insurgents are fighting for the very same thing that the Vietnamese fought for - their lives, their homes, and their kin.  The threat for them is not distant and abstract, it is real and immediate.  They are killing more of our soldiers, faster than they did before.  To save their own lives, all our soldiers have to do is go home.  Which, if they have any sense, they will do, regardless of what their commanders say.

The “region-building effort” to which you refer is the projected next part of the effort at empire building.  If you have spent time in Iraq, and/or if you read the news, you will see that this effort is failing monumentally.  Through their invasion of Iraq, Bush and his crew have made things vastly worse there, and ruined their chances of gaining real allies, other than Israel, in the mid-east.  The American soldiers in Iraq are ill-equipped and badly trained.

The second biggest mistake America made in Vietnam was initiating a military offensive there in the first place.  The first biggest mistake was escalating the war, ultimately spreading it into other countries.

So, how exactly is our current American leadership doing things better?  How are they ensuring our freedom and our safety?  In fact, they have severely curtailed our freedoms, and according to the latest published US intelligence reports, they have not made us any safer.  They have stengthened the Islamic Jihad by encouraging new people to join it.  They have made enemies out of former friends.

You predict that “in 30 to 40 years, the daily minutia of a car bomb or a jihadist prisoner will be a footnote.”  I am inclined to agree with you on that one, because our problems then will far surpass any posed by car bombs or jihadist prisoners.  In fact, our problems now far surpass such things.  But our country is putting so much energy into those minutiae that it is ignoring the real problems, the big ones - from massive poverty to hurricanes to the probability that oil will cease to be a viable energy source.  They are in fact making these problems worse.

So, hang around and see what things are like in thirty or forty years.  Will America have a strong and secure empire, and control over the middle east?  Or ... something no American ever wanted?  I’ll bet you everything I own that the former will not come to pass.  I hope the latter does not come to pass, either.  Stan and people like him are trying to stave off catastrophes the likes of which you cannot even contemplate.  Stan has seen some realities that you in your youth have never seen.  And he has an excellent memory, and he is very intelligent.  In hand-to-hand combat, he could probably beat you to the ground in two minutes.  Do you feel threatened by such a man?  Is that why you, like a little dog behind a strong fence, are barking at him so ferociously?  Don’t worry, baby, Stan will never hurt you.  But the master you trust just might.

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By Charles Moreira, October 10, 2006 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
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I’ve read somewhere that PEAK OIL is a myth since there are other untapped sources and also, what’s to stop oil companies diversifying into alternative fuels when the opportunity arises?

Anyway. The oil companies were advising the new Thai administration not to replace 95 Octane fuel with gasohol but the Thai administration literally told them to get stuffed. See below.


Three firms to build ethanol plant
A sugar producer, an oil refiner and a zinc mining company have jointly formed a new company called Maesod Clean Energy Co to build an ethanol plant in northern Thailand, the companies said yesterday.

Padaeng Industry Plc, Southeast Asia’s only zinc smelter operator, Mitr Phol Sugar Group, the country’s largest sugar producer and exporter, and Thai Oil Plc, the country’s largest oil refiner, will build the 1.5-billion-baht facility in Mae Sot, Tak province.

Commercial operations for the factory, which will produce 100,000 litres of ethanol a day from sugarcane juice, are expected to begin in 2009. By then, demand for ethanol is forecast to increase due to government promotion of gasohol 95, a 10% ethanol blend that is scheduled to replace Octane 95 at the pumps early next year.

‘‘The venture will lift Thaioil’s total ethanol production capacity to 600,000 litres a day in 2009 and enhance our business opportunities in terms of having more options for raw materials,’’ said Viroj Mavichak, Thaioil’s managing director.

In addition to the latest factory, Thaioil is now constructing a US$150-million ethanol factory, scheduled to become operational in 2008, that produces 500,000 litres per day from cassava roots. The company, which is 49.54% owned by the state-run oil giant PTT, plans to buy all the ethanol from both projects.

The joint-venture company was established with capital of 100 million baht. Padaeng Industry holds a 35% stake in the company; Petrogreen Co, a subsidiary of Mitr Phol Sugar Group also holds 35%, while Thaioil’s stake is 30%.

Many local farmers have joined a crop cultivation programme supported by Padaeng. It granted 18 million baht worth of essential farming facilities for a pilot cultivation area of 3,000 rai where farmers could learn new techniques.

Maesod Clean Energy plans to enlarge the cultivation area of this project by about 10,000 rai in the initial phase, and ultimately to 60,000 rai.

Isara Vongkusolkit, president of Mitr Phol Sugar Group, said his conglomerate was confident Padaeng’s management team could run the ethanol plant efficiently and without hurting the environment and surrounding communities.

Tak deputy governor Cherdsak Chusri said the ethanol plant would make farmers confident their products would be sold.

Shares of Padaeng (PDI) and Thaioil (TOP) closed unchanged on the Stock Exchange of Thailand yesterday at 36.25 baht and 61 baht respectively.

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By Mad As Hell, October 10, 2006 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment
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I swear between the rightwing christo-fascists like Chuck, and leftwing marxist-fascist like Malcolmartin throwing in their useless fantasy pipe-dreams I don’t know whether to laugh or puke!

Both are like Harley posers: “Why dontcha get a REAL motorcycle. Harleys are the best!”  Oh, yeah? Best at WHAT? They are over-priced, over-weight, underpowered, under-suspended and un-reliable.  But like Chuck defending Bush despite EVERYONE else seeing his failures he insist “No, Bush is RIGHT and you all are wrong!” 

Based on WHAT?  The economy is stalled, inflation is back, interest rates are sky-rocketing, ALL restrictions on companies’ abuse of employees, accounting procedures and the environment have been lifted. The military is a mess—they are CUTTING funding for military hospitals and veteran bennies.  The war in Iraq is getting worse and worse, and Bush’s disdain for North Korea for 5 years and 9 months has just blown up in his face like a trick cigar!  Meanwhile, his ONLY reaction is to say “Let me take more of your rights so I can keep you safe.” Funny, I don’t feel safer—I live near New York City and there has been NOTHING done to protect the chem plants here in New Jersey, or the rail lines that pass by them and the refinery tanks. 

Containers and the ports here are STILL a HUGE hole for security—and all Bush could do was sell the port security services to—don’t you remember?—an ARAB state!  They spend 5x as much per person to keep Wyomingians safe than New Yorkers—I don’t remember any planes crashing into Wyoming—do you?

But still they need to take away our rights—and they have NO intention of returning them.

Then there’s Malcolmartin quoting from Marx as if he was Nostradamus—Marx was using obsolete economic methods (obsolete even in HIS time) to try to prove what he hoped to be true.  Capitalism about to fail? Communists have been saying that since 1848—they are like the guy with the long hair with the sign “Repent! The world is ending next week”  Then it doesn’t, and he re-writes the sign.  Wake up, Malcolm! It’s all the MARXIST regimes that have failed.  Only Cuba and North Korea are still holding out—China is capitalist now, while paying lip-service to Marx.  North Korea can’t feed its people.  ONLY Cuba is moderately successful—because it can sell sugar, rum, and tobacco to everyone BUT the US.

And capitalism seems to be doing VERY well in Europe!  As countries come into the EU, they get healthy and prosperous. I remember, not too long ago, the Republic of Ireland was in DIRE straits—people were leaving and the economy was in tatters.  Now it’s THE place to be in Europe for business.  No, Capitalism is healthy and doing fine in Europe, Canada, Brazil, South East Asia, etc.  Only the US, where we do NOT have capitalism but a weird, variant socialism the protects the RICH and INCOMPETENT (See George Bush) and REWARDS them for failure (see Michael Eisner’s Golden Parachute) is the economy struggling.

I suggest that you put down Marx’s Capital and pick up the New York Times instead—vary your reading a little!

So here we have it: The RightWingNut and the LeftWingNut, both so caught up in their theories and fantasies that they have left reality behind.  Why don’t both of you spend your time concentrating on the Roswell, NM and the aliens who landed there—and the cover-up of that…


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By Stan, October 10, 2006 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment
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I am a bit discouraged, I have to say it, that one of the main points of this dig—the gendered aspect of fascism—that has consistently been sidelined or overlooked in almost every past account of actual fascism (as opposed to the US now, where we are NOT living under fascism yet), continues to be ignored.  A couple of the women who have commented take note of it (thanks y’all), but even aside from the handful of wingnuts like Wolf and Chuck, those who seem to generally respond well to the monograph avoid the gender thing the same way abled people avoid looking at disabled folks.  It’s a mixture of denial and not knowing exactly what to say or do.

On my own blog, I see this quite often, and worse.  The discourse (here and there) against fascism or its latency takes on a typically macho voice… and I include there the quasi-religious verbiage of leftist political cults.  It is so linear, so sure of itself, and so preoccupied with showing that it is not sissified.  It does egregious things like describe physical courage as “having balls,” and political opportunism with “whores” (who are, in reality, among the most violently exploited victims in the world)... never even having a sense that this kind of language contains within it the devaluation of women and continues to assert a kind of universalized male prerogative.

This very manner of moving in forcefully to take up space is immensely intimidating (and painfully familiar) to a lot of women I know, which disinclines them to participate at all.  A shame, really.  In places where this is supressed (I selectively censor my blog, as do others, thankfully), the voices, standpoints, and stories of women have a lot to offer that is frequently fresh, insightful, and extremely important.

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By WW, October 10, 2006 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment
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Within 10 years, America will slip into the most incendiary period in the history of this country making the Civil War and the Revolutionary War look like arguments between kindergarten children.  Read below and weep, America.  The OIL companies, Bush, Cheney, et al., have all sold us the biggest lie ever told.  Bush & Cheney have personal family wealth tied up in oil!!!!  If everyone were to find out the truth about peak oil, then NO ONE in their right mind would invest in oil companies anymore, rather they would take their money out and invest in other companies who are researching alternative fuels.  That means—BUSH AND CHENEY AND CRONIES’ PERSONAL WEALTH GOES FROM GAZILLIONS TO ZILCH OVERNIGHT. All their cronies in the oil business and all their friends who have millions tied up in the oil business were scared s-itless of what is about to hit the world—-PEAK OIL.  If Gore had gotten elected, he would have moved America slowly toward alternative fuels and people would have moved their investments slowly from oil companies to alternative fuel companies.  NOW, we are at the peak oil point where oil companies will no longer be pumping oil because sweet oil will be extinct and the only oil left drilling for will be the very expensive kind to pull out of the ground.  As a consequence, the actual costs of drilling it will far outweigh the profits.  They would have to increase the cost per gallon so high that no one will be able to afford it!  When Americans FINALLY WAKE UP and they FINALLY KNOW that corporations have been sending all the jobs overseas, soaking up outrageous profits, raking in gazilions and putting them in their rich man’s pockets while ignoring the interests of the middle and poor class, then Americans are going to revolt unlike anything you have ever seen.  No one will be able to afford $15.00 or $20.00 for a gallon gas.  Who will be able to pay $10.00 for an ear of corn or $20.00 for a tomato or $25.00 for a gallon of milk because the cost of shipping it (cost of gas to drive the truck to get to the destination) will be prohibitive.  WAKE UP AMERICA!  If our Congress, our past presidents and our CURRENT BUSH/CHENEY COMPANY had been honest with us instead of pulling a Reichstag 9/11, killing thousands so they could lie and drum up pro-war sentiment about the fallacious story of WMDs in Iraq so that they could steal the oil in Iraq and then move on to Iran and make war with them and steal their oil too and then take over the Middle East, if our Government had been honest with us, we would not be facing the most outrageous Depression in the history of the world.  READ BELOW AND WEEP.  DARK, DARK, DARK DAYS ARE AHEAD.  First article is a speech given to Congress on 2/06 about the coming OIL PEAK.  Second web site will give you all the keys you need to understand the links between 9/11 Reichstag, Oil Peak, Bush/Cheney, oil company avarice, etc.


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By malcolmartin, October 10, 2006 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
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Who will make or lead the revolution that brings down capitalism and replaces it with socialism? Working people or course!

By looking around at the political landscape right now it is clear that it won’t happen today or tomorrow, but the objective conditions that will give rise to a worker’s uprising are on the horizon. It is on our way to that day that leaders will emerge from the ranks of the working class. Meanwhile, petty bourgeois will be on the sidelines wringing its hands and nervously murmuring, “Oh, I don’t know about this, that old system wasn’t so bad.” Refer to Malcolm X’s proverb about the House Negroe and the Field Negroe.

That’s the way history unfolds. Nat Turner and John Brown moved courageously against the institution of slavery but too soon in relation to objective conditions. Just a year after Brown’s futile raid on Harper’s Ferry the US erupted in the civil war which did abolish slavery. Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X would have lived and died in relative obscurity had they been born a few years earlier or later than they were.

When it is time for capitalism to be ushered to its funeral, class-conscious women and men will be its pallbearers. Those who survive the fight will then establish a new socialist economy and a government where the rich have been removed as our masters. That new reality will give humankind at least a chance to live into the future on this planet. A chance that does not exist under capitalism.

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By chuck, October 10, 2006 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
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The Vietnam era type soldier mentality may be shared by you and your “Band of Losers”, but do not confuse your experience of being led to battle by dimwited dems and pointy headed numbers wonks like McNamera with that of today’s soldier.

Today’s political leadership utilizes the military having successfully deconstructed the failed policies of previous small thinking liberal war/appeasement makers and replaced it with a region building effort. In terms of scale, the problem needed a big solution and it is getting one.

In 30 to 40 years, the daily minutia of a car bomb or a jihadist prisoner will be a footnote, as will the feeble protests of the aging hippie generation who has the lowest stake in the outcome of the Middle East. You had your chance. It’s our turn to insure our freedom and our safety. George Bush did not pilot 4 airplanes into our populace. The challenges we face today are no tougher than what our grnadparents had to do to stop Stalin and Hitler. They were not confused about why they needed to protect America.

The only mass of “angry downtrodden white men who carry guns and grudges” that I have encountered is the only generation in U.S. History that has ever lost a war. Malnourished, poorly equiped and lacking education, the Vietnamesse demonstrated that their will was bigger than yours. Your Black Flag of Failure is your banner of defeatist thinking. Having been provided every advantage that America could offer, you spit in her face.

Your generation was spoiled as children, doped out as adolescents, self indulgent as adults, and irresponsible having amassed wealth and political influence in your silver years. I anticipate with glee your sunset.

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By paul kibble, October 10, 2006 at 9:25 am Link to this comment
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Re Comment #27598 by Robert B. Livingston:

“Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros”? [For those who never studied Latin or attended the University of South Carolina: “Learning humanizes and does not permit cruelty.”] Self-flattering but, alas,  untrue. There is no cause-and-effect relationship between a higher level of learning (not quite the same as “education”) and a reduced capacity for cruelty.

What is “learning”? There is a difference between information and knowledge, just as there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Most of today’s university undergraduates are lucky if they can acquire accurate information, much less comprehensive knowledge, in their two-to-four years of training. As for wisdom—-or, for that matter, a capacity for critical thinking—-that’s one of those incidentals that you may stumble across somewhere along the way.

As George Steiner repeatedly claimed in his operatic denunciations of the “failures” of Western humanism, it was entirely possible for the Nazi commandant of a concentration camp to quote a line from Goethe or hum the strains of a Beethoven quartet while marching Jews into the gas chambers. Too, one remembers hyperliterate Ezra Pound’s celebration of the decimation of Soviet troops in WWII as an opportunity to put “more meat on the Russian steppes.” And Robert Macnamara could quote Shakespeare with the best of them while orchestrating the death of thousands in Vietnam.

The list does go on. Simple human decency can’t be conferred by a piece of sheepskin. Exposure to what Matthew Arnold called “all the best that has been thought and done” may make us kinder, gentler, more thoughtful, but the ways this process works are, frankly, mysterious and far from universal.

But, yes, Stan Goff exemplifies that process in an exemplary fashion.

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By Jimmy James, October 10, 2006 at 5:10 am Link to this comment
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It takes a special type of courage and introspection, Stan, to have undergone the political transformation that you have experienced—Bravo !!

For those who might not know, the US has a fairly long history of violent right-wing repression of those who hold political views which are quite different from their own. Most of us know about the demagogue Senator Joe McCarthy, but…

How many reading this web-site know about the “Red Scare” of 1919-1920??

How many know of a former Attorney General named A. Mitchell Palmer??

How many know about the still-born “Business Plot” of 1933-1934??

How many know who General Smedley Butler is??     

In the 2005 documentary film, “Why We Fight,” Gore Vidal referrs to America as “the United States of Amnesia.” We simply do not know our own history, because we see no value in learning about (and remembering) our own history.

The philosopher George Santayana once said that “those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

Sad, but true…

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By charlesmoreira, October 10, 2006 at 3:00 am Link to this comment
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While I agree with malcolmartin’s statement

“Marx’s brilliant science-based vision can no longer be challenged on the facts. It has and is going to continue to unfold just as he forecast. Capitalism is doomed.”

I wonder who’s going to make or lead and that revolution to bring capitalism down and to replace it with socialism.

Looking at the dominance of the paleoconservative and libertarian right wing in analysing and criticising the Iraq war, US imperialist aggression and so on, it seems a reactionary, isolationist, racist outcome could follow in the United States after the disengagement and withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, which would certainly be welcomed.

The left in comparison is weak and hardly provides any new analyses of the current situation apart from statements of condemnation and solidarity with the Iraqi resistance.

Only exception is the International Answer Coalition which is doing good in organising anti-war protests.

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By peggy, October 9, 2006 at 11:30 pm Link to this comment
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Hi Frank.  It is neither the cost of labor nor the cost of resources that causes the cost of living to be so high.  It is the need for corporations to make profits over and above the cost of labor and so forth.  Moreover, for a corporation to stay viable in the present world system, it must make more and more profits and get bigger and bigger.  It cannot just stay the same, manufacturing (let us say, ball-peen hammers) in the same way each year, at the same cost each year, making the same profit each year, even if there is a constant and eternal demand for ball-peen hammers.  The corporation has to grow.  The reason it has to grow is that it must please its stockholders, who want the value of the company to increase, which is why they bought the stocks in the first place. There is your free lunch right there. 

I know this is an extreme oversimplification, but it is the way things work as far as I have been able to ascertain after some study.  Things did not always work this way, evidently.  There was a time in living memory when most companies aimed to make money by pleasing their customers, making better mousetraps, as it were.  But at a certain point, the big corporations changed to wanting to please their stockholders first and foremost, and the division between haves and have-nots grew at an accelerated rate.

The pharmaceutical companies that make the medicines of which you speak MUST grow and make increasing profits year after year.  Part of those profits are ploughed back into research, but most of those profits go into shareholders’ pockets.  That is the system.  That is why medicine and healthcare have become unaffordable to many.  Pharmaceutical companies have to make big profits, HMOs have to make big profits, insurance companies have to make big profits.  If they did not, they would collapse.  It is, as I said, just the way things work.

We who have money to spend get marvelous products out of pharmaceutical companies.  But a lot of those products we do not need, and they do not necessarily improve the quality of our lives.  And lifesaving products and the means to deliver those products are out of the reach of most people.

This state of the world is not good.  There are other ways to do things.  The profit motive is not all there is to life.  You mention Cuba.  You say the quality of life there is “not attractive.”  I guess it is not attractive to you.  But I’ll bet it would be very attractive to a lot of the folks who used to live in New Orleans, to cite one obvious example.

And, Frank, there are millions of people who live in situations where no amount of hard work and no amount of “competence” will keep the wolf from the door.  It is not their fault – it is not because they are stupid or lazy or weak that they can’t make it out of poverty.  It is because of the situation in which they were born and must live.  And when the economy is set up to make the rich richer, it means that some children on the other side of the world, or even just the other side of town, die of eminently treatable diseases.  Are those children dispensable? Or might we not need just that particular child someday?

You say, “Those who cannot compete with others on an equal level must settle for less of the total productive effort.”  I’ve heard that before.  It is the neoliberal bottom line.  But I also hear the spirit of Ayn Rand speaking in those words.  Like the race goes to the swift and the battle goes to the strong.  But in life it doesn’t always work that way.  If you think you are better off than others because you are smarter and stronger and harder working than them – sorry but you are living in a Nietzschean fantasy world.

You say, “We care for the young and receive a compensation in human value and enjoyment of life. We care for the old and receive a compensation in expectation that we, too, will be cared for in our old age.”  But actually, things don’t always work out that way, either.  Our children are not always kind to us, they don’t always do what we expect, they don’t always make us happy. Often they make us very unhappy. We are not compensated by our children and they do not owe us compensation.  We care for them because we love them, and love means giving with no expectation of return.  We care for the old for the same reason.  It’s a whole different thing from the profit motive, you see?

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By malcolmartin, October 9, 2006 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
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“The quality of life in Cuba is not attractive.” Says who Frank? Have you asked any of the 48 million American working people without access to health care? Frank you seem to be impressed with your ability to apply Hegelian and Maxist dialectics to your political polemics. So tell me the questions engendered by this world view.

Fueled by the Industrial Revolution the capitalist system broke the brutish shackles of feudalism on the people of that day. At the same time capitalism birthed the only force capable of destroying it—the working class. Nascent capitalism enjoyed explosive growth and it spawned revolutions around the world, including the American Revolution. The young and dynamic economic system found that a bourgeois democracy was the most fertile soil for development. The United States and several other leading industrial countries adopted this form of government.

Since its birth, capitalism has been able to provide the American people with several powerful incentives to go along with a fabric of lies about itself and cool the class struggle. Five percent of the world’s population is invited to consume 30% of the world’s resources by way of imperialism. White Americans are invited to enjoy a disproportionate share of the national wealth by way of racism. A very comfortable niche is provided to politicians, intellectuals, academics, bureaucrats, and entrepreneurs in the narrow strata of society Marx called the petty bourgeois. But that deal with the capitalist devil is becoming more and more difficult to keep! The U.S. is being integrated into a global economy as capitalism searches for the lowest possible wage and the greatest possible profit. The process is steadily reshaping ours into a subsistence-wage service economy. The jobs of elite industrial workers, from auto and steelworkers to airline pilots, are disappearing across the country along with their health benefits and pensions. Even white Americans are now feeling the pain of a declining standard of living.

The sad truth is that the petty bourgeois, to whom life in Cuba is unattractive, cannot defeat the capitalist ruling class! They are a timid and passive group who, in this time for warriors, gather at the gates of the palace to nag and complain essentially to each other. They worry over things like “comfort” while death is dealt to working people from New Orleans to Baghdad. There are scores of Internet websites, magazines, newspapers, radio programs and networks like AirAmerica Radio, and some small television networks where liberal, left, progressive, and other commentators show up to whine out loud. They rail against the outrages and inhumanity of the U.S. government and the Bush Administration. They point out the duplicity, the corruption, the hypocrisy, the inhumanity, and the utter criminality loosed in the world today but to no useful end since capitalism will not be reformed nor shamed to death. Pointing out the defects of capitalism has become as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. The ruling class brushes its liberal democratic critics off like gnats as long as they stay away from the third rail. But let one of these voices dare mention unity based on working class-consciousness and a mobilization to strike at profits and great danger would shortly thereafter visit.

No matter the danger, it must begin to be spoken by our worker-warrior-poets: socialism is the only way humankind will live into the distant future on this planet. Only a working class in power will see to the end of this madness and willingly share our available resources to insure our survival on this planet. Some others will be forced by the rest to settle for only their fair share for several generations until the system takes root and communism evolves.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., October 9, 2006 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
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Comment #27731 by peggy on 10/08

Peggy, my method is to ask questions in a way that leads to contradicting answers in order to get at the real question and direct us to the real answers without the prejudice and foolish assumptions.

Ask yourself who would pay for meds that cannot be manufactured because research cannot be paid for by the user of the meds because they are too poor to be able to pay for them at a price that includes the cost of development, manufacture, transportation, and distribution. Even if government paid for research, development, manufacture, transportation, and distribution without a profit motive to justify the delayed satisfaction involved in commercial activities of all kinds, the cost would not be lower, but much higher in hours of labor, risks, and quality. That has been adequately demonstrated in socialist and communist experiments. Government in business is not efficient enough to compete with private enterprise effort.

Though medicine in Cuba is available to all at no personal commitment and cost in money, the price in loss of personal freedom and economic opportunities is high. The quality of life in Cuba is not attractive.

All human life is maintained at an expense in labor time and resources. Charity is limited to the amount of excess production that can be had without paying for it. Payment for charity has to come from the labor of those working. Management and entrepreneur ship tend to increase total production from labor time by motivations to produce more than the value of the compensation in order to provide for other burdens of business, government and charity.

Without the lure of riches, no commercial activities of any kind are undertaken. The other choice is a state of nature, and we all know what happens to an animal who cannot forage for its own food. Charity is rare in nature raw in tooth and claw. The goal of a modern nation is to provide incentives for cooperative ventures to meet our needs and expectations. When expectations are more expensive than the value of the contributions to the general effort, people are poor. A poor person is one who cannot produce enough of value by his labor to exchange for his consumption. A lazy person chooses not to produce, while a poor person could not even if he were willing. The natural poor are the young, old, sick and lame. Lazy poor is not a natural state, though a consequence of being ‘naturally’ lazy. Incompetence is another matter. Those who cannot compete with others on an equal level must settle for less of the total productive effort. They provide a positive motivation for others by a negative compensation in competition.

Yes, money has value, but only in so far as the money can purchase the product of labor. Everything consumed must be produced before consumption. Payment for production must be paid for before production, transportation, and distribution. All labor contains a measure of future value. It is the delay between the capital form and the consumption form of money that creates the need for venture capital to bridge the time element. That is what is lacking in the assumption that medicine can be free to those who need it. Only if the consumer of the medicine has contributed enough labor to the economy before need or can contribute enough labor to the economy after the need can he afford the total cost of his need and be satisfied by the availability of the medicine in his time of need.

It has been demonstrated that the total effort needed to provide all the necessities for one person can easily be met by an individual in his lifetime and still have time for leisure and renewal. Human economy, which is human ecology, has developed the means to bridge the times of negative productivity. We care for the young and receive a compensation in human value and enjoyment of life. We care for the old and receive a compensation in expectation that we, too, will be cared for in our old age.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free pill. Cheap medicine, cheap food, and cheap labor, but no cheap cost of living without a reduced living standard.

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By Lily Maskew, October 9, 2006 at 9:52 am Link to this comment
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When we live in a society where “macho” people are revered, and kindness and compassion are considered weaknesses, it is already too late.

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By Bukko in Australia, October 9, 2006 at 12:17 am Link to this comment
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How are you going, Justaguy? I agree with you about Howard and fascism. I knew he was of the Bush camp when I came down here, but I have been surprised at how far the Libs have been pushing the economic fascism with things like industrial relations “reform,” media ownership concentration and now a proposal to federalise the education system. I blame Murdoch for accelerating the rise of fascism in the U.S. by using Fox “News” to appeal to the worst instincts of Americans.

The thing that gives me hope here is not “Bumbler” Beazley but the fact that Aussies are more educated and independent than Yanks. Plus the government here is too disorganised and lazy to be properly fascistic. Full-time oppression would get in the way of having a smoko…

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By Audrey, October 8, 2006 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
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There are a couple of shorts by Jacqueline Salloum that, especially when shown back to back, do an excellent job of showing how our popular media contributes to racism.  Both can be viewed at

The first, “Planet of the Arabs,” (10 min.) is a montage of Hollywood scenes. The second, “Arabs A-Go-Go” (2 min.) is in a similar format, but with scenes from Middle Eastern films. 

The Hollywood male revenge fantasy film genre is indeed a main culprit. No surprise there. But the actual numbers are still hard to swallow - as Salloum points out on her website, “Out of 1000 films that have Arab & Muslim characters (from yrs 1896 to 2000) 12 were positive depictions, 52 were even handed and the rest of the 900 and so were negative.” Equally disturbing is the age at which children first get exposed/brainwashed into these stereotypes – one of the clips in “Planet of the Arabs” is from The Muppet Show.

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By peggy, October 8, 2006 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment
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Re: Comment #27671 by Frank Goodman, Sr. on 10/08

Frank, I guess you already know that the fact you point out constitutes not a contradiction in my argument, but a sad paradox:  Human life is cheap but the cost of living is high.

I would say that the cost of living is high BECAUSE mere human life is held so cheap.  In some parts of the world, a human life is valued at less than the water that a person has to buy (but cannot afford to buy) to keep alive.  People are dying for lack of the water that is pumped out of their land and sold to others who have the money to buy it. See articles by Sainath et al on this topic.

Similarly, in the US, people are dying for lack of the medical care that they cannot afford and that the US government will not pay for to enable them to keep alive and become healthy.

So, we might say that the lives of poor folks are cheap, but the lives of people with money are of value, BECAUSE they have money.  They can PAY for their meds and so forth, and therefore they are valued because the money they have is valued.  If/when they run out of money, they are on the street. This is exactly how corporations make profits.

You know this already, I’m sure, but I thought I would spell it out just in case other readers don’t get it.

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By 131488WOLF131488, October 8, 2006 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
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By justaguy, October 8, 2006 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment
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Protofascism is definitely upon us all, courtesy of the nexus of corporate, media, MIC and, not least, Likudnik Israeli interests.

But Bukko, Howard is taking us down the self same path, I won’t be rushing home to the 52nd State of the Union anytime soon. Murdoch and the Israeli lobby have an even stronger grip in our home than in the US, and electing a Beazely led Labor Party won’t change a thing. Heard of Labor Friends of Israel?

There’s always New Zealand.

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By Working Gringo, October 8, 2006 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
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We left the U.S. five years ago, not out of cowardice, but out of conscience. If anyone wants to know how the world will fare in the hands of a “liberating” U.S. military, they need look no further than Latin America.

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By ken lusk, October 8, 2006 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
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I suggest that we’ve become a sovietfascist state. not communist. Fascist in the Mussolini tradition where the government collect revenues on behalf of the corportations. This is corporate welfare. The obvious example is the collection of surplus Social Security funds which are given to the corporations and which closely approximate the bUSH tax cuts which benefit the wealthy. bUSH even admitted this saying that he was taking the Social Security funds and arrogantly saying “i’m not going to pay it back”. The Sovietization is the control of the MSM’s, which only serve to carry the administration viewpoint. Also, the monitoring of personal data and other illegal activities. The government admits to these illegal activities, finally, while passing laws to make them legal retoractivly.Meanwhile training future Timothy McVeighs. The country acquiessences to this atrocities without complaint. It’s classic Goerring.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., October 8, 2006 at 6:33 am Link to this comment
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Re:Comment #27516 by peggy on 10/07

Peggy, that was a well thought out comment. You match my views exactly.

But, if life is so cheap, why is the cost of living so high? Figure the cost of living to include the high price of responsibility for freedom in this world of capitalism, communism, fascism, Zionism, Islamism, Christian Nation, totalitarianism, and me-first-ism. If we promote our freedom to the extent that we advocate denial of freedom, the cost of living goes so high and the personal value so low that war is inevitable. The balance must be struck between freedom and comfort.

Suppression of my freedom of expression is far more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden’s freedom of expression. The danger from galloping fascism of George Bush and Company, Inc., is far more dangerous to America and the world than the loss of a dozen World Trade Centers.

Thanks for you comments.

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By John Cunningham, October 7, 2006 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Goff, I’m sure you’re aware of your medical benefits available at the VA.  I know from personal experience they have wonderful mental health facilities.

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By Bukko in Australia, October 7, 2006 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment
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Hondo and Big Al exhibit what rightist Kool-aide drinkers (including their cult leader the President) do: make up straw men who represent the worst demons in their head.

“Oh, liberals want to let Islamofascists run the country.” No, son, that’s what you IMAGINE liberals would do. Same with Bushie saying “There were 177 Democrats who voted against allowing the CIA to listen to terrorists’ phone calls.”  It’s easy to get all worked up about your imaginary enemies. Easier to knock down their non-existent positions than actually deal with what liberals are saying.

And Hondo, when you say “Americans are repulsed by liberals” you should realise you’re projecting. You project your own dislike for what an imaginary liberal is and assume that everyone in America thinks like you do. Word up, mate—you’re in the minority. More than half of everyone in America believes the Iraq war was a mistake. More than half believe we’re less safe from terror now. More than half realise global warming is a real threat. You’re living in a fantasy world, Hondo. Perhaps one day you’ll wake up. On the other hand, 900 people at Jonestown never did.

I worry that hundreds of millions of Americans won’t wake up to the fascist threat until it’s too late. They’re the people who say “None of my rights have been taken away.” Actually, they have. Your house can be searched without notice, your e-mails can be read without a warrant, you can be placed on a No-Fly list without knowing why…

If you’re a right-winger and you’re reading this, are you worried that your Internet activity might be flagged? Oh, one viewing of a left-wing site like Truthdig won’t get your door kicked in at midnight. But suppose you go to a lot of liberal websites to make spurious arguments against us treasonous lefties? And suppose you work with someone who gave money to a suspect group, or there are other coincidences that add up in the database the government is building? You too could be denied boarding when you fly off, or be dragged into a special room for interrogation.

Are you just a bit afraid now, rightie? Better stay away from here. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the fascists. Which, of course, don’t exist. Just keep telling yourself that…

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By Robert B. Livingston, October 7, 2006 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you Robert Scheer for bringing the learned Stan Goff to Truthdig!

Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.

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By jeanand, October 7, 2006 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
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Looks like we have another Hondo with Big Al! Say something with substance will you? The reason why so called “liberals” whine so much is because there are ignorant people (like you appear to be-sorry I just calls it as I sees it!)running this country. Its as though you hate your fellow Americans who disagree with the Administration more than the terrorists. Do you follow the news(outside Fox)? Do you not see all the military generals speaking with desenting opinions? I am glad you have all of your rights though. Its really nice to see someone who trusts their government so completely. Either you are white and rich or ignorance is just bliss for you!!All that matters though is that you have your rights-am I right? As long as its the way you want this country to be? Does the constitution mean anything to you or is it just a “piece of paper” as George Bush calls it. I suggest you educate yourself.

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By big AL, October 7, 2006 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
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once again,the libs are whining but not putting things in perspective.what rights have we lost since Bush and the “neocons"have gained office.?i still have all mine!maybe we should do as the libs say and just leave those poor islamofascists alone so they can run the US!i wonder what rights well have then?libs are so stupid they make me sick!

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By rabblerowzer, October 7, 2006 at 4:39 am Link to this comment
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“Most Americans are repulsed by liberalism.”

Thank you Hondo for expressing the opinion of most Americans. I’m curious, would you please explain what it is about “liberalism,” that personally repulses you?

Please omit any reference to “tax and spend” liberals, because borrow and spend conservatives have made that punch line laughable.

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By peggy, October 6, 2006 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment
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Stan, this is the most convincingly terrifying thing I’ve read by you or anyone else that I can remember.  I don’t want to believe what you say, but I have to, because I have seen with my own eyes, even though I have never been near combat, nor near the center nor near the damaged periphery of this system, what racism is and what it does and why it continues. 

Slaves were imported from Africa to the Americas largely because Africans were physically different enough from whites to be easily identified, on sight, as not white, and therefore as slaves or runaway slaves.  The longstanding institution of slavery attained a new level of power with this innovation, if it was that.  Likewise, the longstanding institution of warfare has attained a new level of power through the mobilization of racism, enabling any American soldier in Iraq or Vietnam to physically identify, on sight, every member of the to-be-killed category.  From what you (Stan) and many others say, I have no reason to doubt that American soldiers are not only allowed, but trained, to hate every “rag-head” or “gook”.  Maybe the white boys in the military already hated blacks, or maybe they didn’t, but it is too easy to toss African-Americans into the hated, to-be-killed category that “rag-heads” and “gooks” are tossed into.  And white supremacists in the military seem perfectly happy to let this happen.

Racism, like aerial-bombing, is a blunt instrument.  If your sole aim is to kill or enslave (preferably kill) all the people of a certain visibly identifiable category, it works fine, as long as those people are all more or less in one geographical place.  When those people are scattered all over the world, it is harder, because then you have to pick them out one-by-one, and kill or imprison them one-by-on in the regions you control.  This is the strategy being employed by the US Government now in its “war against terror” and its “homeland defense” and its as yet unnamed war-against-nonwhite-nonAnglo-immigrants, and its as yet unnamed war against African-Americans.

Why do they do it?  Because it is easy, very easy to get stupid or disenfranchised whites to go along, and risk their own lives for the sake of killing non-whites.  It is not only, in Westmoreland’s words, because for “Orientals” human life is “cheap.”  ALL human life is cheap.  In the capitalist world, human lives are easily dispensable, because they are an abundant resource.  As abundant as breathable air, more abundant than drinkable water.

The problem is that no human being wants his or her own life to be cheap, and most human beings have others that they value almost as much as they value themselves, if not as much or even more.  So human beings who are treated as cheap create inconvenient resistance.  If they didn’t resist, there would be neither war nor terrorism, and life would be peachy for those who feel entitled to reign supreme … unless they run up against others who think THEY are entitled to reign supreme.

I am by no means the first to say any of these things.

Racism is a simple and easy means of domination.  For that reason I think it will be around for a long time, like sharks.  It also serves capitalist agendas well, because of its cheapening of human life, indeed of all life.  Finally, it serves the agendas of rich, lazy, short-sighted armchair warriors, like Bush and Cheney and crew.

But in the middle to long term, it doesn’t work as a governing strategy, nor as a warmaking strategy, and emanating just from that fact we may find one ray of hope. It works great for a while, and then it collapses. The war in Iraq is not working.  The war in Vietnam did not work. The Third Reich did not work. Stalinism did not work. Large economic and geographical sections of the United States have become dysfunctional and unsustainable, to put it mildly, and the dysfunctionality and unsustainability of the American Way has greatly accelerated over the past six years.  It will not continue because it cannot.  It will collapse under its own weight.  This is my solid prediction, for what I, who am not exactly a principal actor on any scene, and my views are worth.  But just wait and see.  The best we can do is make the collapse as gentle as we can, so that fewer lives are destroyed in the process, and people will have the means to get along and rebuild their local communities meanwhile and after.

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By jeanand, October 6, 2006 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment
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Hondo why do you say that most Americans are repulsed by liberalism? Specifically what is it that repulses you(without the typical name calling)? It seems nowadays that even if you are slightly left of center you are considered a liberal. I am fiscally conservative and for small government(not Bush administration beliefs), yet I am for protecting the constitution and for individual freedoms as well as the press. Would you consider me a liberal? I voted Republican my whole life until Bush ran because I could see the writing on the wall with the christian right etc. So please, enlighten me!

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By gary296, October 6, 2006 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment
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I’m now no longer Gary but Gary296 when I comment! I should’ve known better than be so simplistic!

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By Toc, October 6, 2006 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment
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I am an American who lives outside the U.S. From a totally apolitical point of view, the most noticeable characteristic about Americans of all political persuasions is their fear. Whatever Americans may think, the fear appears extremely irrational to anyone who is not caught up in it.

I rarely watch TV, but when I do, I am shocked by how the news is presented in the states. Right wing or left, it is always couched in “fear the other guy” tones.

It seems that fear sells even better than sex these days.  Listen to the tones of your news readers. Fear mongers, one and all.

What is all this fear about. You are the richest most powerful nation on earth. You enjoy freedoms that most have never even dreamed about and yet, the face you show the world is people who live in fear of other people and of one another.

We have politicians who say nothing other than what we should fear.

What ever happened to “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

Look at yourselves!

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By Mad As Hell, October 6, 2006 at 5:39 pm Link to this comment
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Hondo’s probably right: The Republicans probably will prevail in 2006.  After all, in 2004, in district after district the exit polls, which are NEVER wrong showed Democrats leading and then the Republicans came back.  Dems were leading by 5 to 11 points in the last polls before the elections and lost.

Of course, DieBolt was counting the votes—and we’ve seen that the CEO himself distributed “patches” just before elections, proving Stalin was right: It’s not votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes (one for you, two for me, one for you, two for me).

Plus, if the GOP “wins” the 2006 elections, I GUARANTEE they will win in 2008—because all dissent will be outlawed and the Democratic Party will be outlawed.  After all, all “President” Bush has to do is declare that all Democratic elected officials are “enemy combatants” and arrest them.  He’s already going around saying they are in favor of taking no action against terrorism (a lie), that they want to cut and run (a lie) and that they are undermining our efforts (a lie).  It’s the CLASSIC set-up for a fascist seizure of power.

Then we will be the fascist empire that Hondo gets wet dreams about, the world will hate us, and World War III will erupt out of this conflagration he started in Iraq, and millions upon millions of people will die, in a slaughter to make WWII and the Great Plague look like a cakewalk.

In fact, Bush is SO careless he may well use nuc-u-lar weapons and poison the Earth forever—because he doesn’t care about stuff like that—just so long as nobody thinks he’s a wuss.

Of course, this is Hondo’s idea of “paradise”.  I won’t care.  Mad King George and his band of Merrie Fascists will have arrested me (along with millions of others—Halliburton is building the camps already) and somehow, I’ll be killed “trying to escape”.

Good night, America. We’ve had a WONDERFUL 230 year run.  I’ll always treasure and love you even as MKG and the MFs are murdering you in a The Death of 1000 Cuts.

But maybe, maybe, MAYBE the Democrats will take one or two Houses on November 7 and can let the air and light in on the ROT that has taken over our government.

All they need is a BIG ad that says “Had ENOUGH already?  Vote Democratic!”

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By Hondo, October 6, 2006 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment
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Bukko’s comment made me giggle, as do all of Bukko’s comments. He reveals a basic principle of liberalism in his comment. “When liberals lose, it’s because conservatives cheated.” That’s hilarious! It never occurs to the poor, deluded liberal that most Americans are repulsed by liberalism. Bukko, there’s a reason why only two Democrat presidential candidates in the last 50 years have won more than 50% of the popular vote, and it ain’t because Republicans cheated. Well, don’t make any plans to move back. The GOP will prevail in 2006, and again in 2008, so get comfortable Down Under!

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By jeanand, October 6, 2006 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment
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This is in response to “We’re not close to facism”-he questions ascendance. Can’t you see that certain groups in the U.S. have become very powerful for example the Republican Party and the christian right. As far as vigilantism, I think he was refering to the future and the fact that a lot of Timothy Mcvey types are elisting. White supremacy is on the rise especially among teenagers and their is a certain genre of white supremist music that is appealing to teens. A lot of this music is against the law in Germany or Europe so they come to the U.S. where they have freedom of speech. As far as economic destabilization-do you think that the deficits we have now will not affect our economy? He is saying that our country is ripe for this and he is right!!

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By Walter, October 6, 2006 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
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Is there any evidence that this article’s thesis is correct?  Are people who serve in the military more racist, less tolerant, and so forth than those who have not (but who come from similar working class backgrounds)?

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By troubled by poor historical analogies, October 6, 2006 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
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As a leftist who hates promiscuous and poor historical analogies (particularly ones to Nazi Germany) I wrote a brief email last night in response to the Stan Goff article…

How come it wasn’t posted???

As i submitted my post, I was notified that a Moderator would review it to check for spam or off-post comments…

So what happened????

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By Gary, October 6, 2006 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
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I recently finished a book that quoted an american businessman named Laurence W. Britt, who is also a novelist-historian and a social science sleuth.  In 2002 he examined principles of fascism and noted 14 identifying characteristics of fascism:

1.  Powerful and continuing nationalism
2.  Disdain for the recognition of human rights
3.  Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4.  Supremacy of the military
5.  Rampant sexism
6.  Controlled mass media
7.  Obsession with national security
8.  Religion and government are intertwined
9.  Corporate power is protected
10. Labor power is suppressed
11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections

Interesting to say the least.  One can see many of the above currently at work in our country today.  Many also attributable to the religious right at work.

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By we're not close to facism no matter how bad things, October 5, 2006 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment
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The editors note that begins this article states Stan Goff warns that “white supremacy, militarization of culture, vigilantism, masculine fear of female power, xenophobia and economic destabilization—are ascendant in America today.”

In ascendance????

I looked up the dictionary defintion for ascendance: “a position of dominance or controlling influence: possession of power, superiority, or preeminence.”

Vigiliantism is a dominant featue of American Society????

Did I miss something?

Have there been thousands of leftists (unions, communists) street fighting with brown shirts???

White Supremacy???

Has the klan been riding through towns again?

Economic Destablization???

Where is this guy living???

In Germany during the 20’s, the inflation rate was so high it reached 3.25 × 106 percent per month (prices doubled every 49 hours).

I don’t think we’ve approached that level yet…

there are lot’s of things to be worried about, to get organized and active about but exaggeration and bad historical analogies are of little help….

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By Present at the destruction, October 5, 2006 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
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In Comment #26986 Colonel writes quite correctly:

“Goff wanders all over the lot, making some good points and some not so good. What he totally misses is that the “military facism” he deplores is a copy of the Israeli Defense Force mentalty. Further, the American military ‘facists’ who Goff denounces are being used in Iraq and other regions of the Middle East primarily in the service of Israel, not U.S., interests.”

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By John on Maui, October 5, 2006 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment
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Absolutely fantastic article, I have many of the same thoughts but without such an organized, articulate expression. I actually took my whole lunch break to read the whole thing.  Unfortunately it isn’t an issue that can be wrapped up in a 30 second news story so we won’t see it on the evening news, (if you still watch the evening news.) Good Luck everyone.

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By Richard Scheirman, October 5, 2006 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
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I stayed in New Orleans throughout Katrina and Rita and the most frightening aspect was the speed with which a police state was established.  “Security” types were clearly enjoying the power that fell into their hands, and used it to bully, intimidate, loot and even kill.  They had the time of their lives.
It took some time for things to return to “normal”, and for a while, with no murders and little mayhem in October and November, the NOPD spent much time getting drunk in the parking lot at the cruise ship docks.

As a Navy veteran, I am alarmed at the right wing shift in the armed forces.  When I was in the service, most peoples’s goal was to learn a skill, get out, join a union, vote Democratic, and have a family.
So few Americans, much less the media, have any contact with the military now they have no idea what it is all about.  It looks as though we are developing a military class now, like they have in many Latin American countries.  Like them, it is closely allied with the religious establishment (in this case the Evangelicals instead of the Roman Catholic Church), as well as the wealthy right wing of the country.  Given the current feelings of hatred for their fellow countrymen, the new torture law, secret evidence, secret prisons, I fear for the future of this county.

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By Thank You, Stan, October 5, 2006 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
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Thanks Stan



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By Bukko in Australia, October 5, 2006 at 1:58 am Link to this comment
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Yours Truly, I’ve already sent my absentee ballot in to San Francisco. (Postage cost me $3.70 Australian!) I’m paranoid so I don’t have much faith in the U.S. electronic voting machines, though. If the elections are miraculously fair and liberals take power, we might move back. Course, that will mean we sold a very nice California house with an ocean view and uprooted our entire lives for nothing…

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By CoronaRising, October 5, 2006 at 1:33 am Link to this comment
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I note that two other foundations of true fascism - backing by religion & corporate control of government - both certainly apparent with the current administration (and our country’s state of affairs), should be duly contemplated as further evidence of our swift advance toward fascism.

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By yours truly, October 4, 2006 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment
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re: Comment #26917 by Bukko

Looking ahead a few years to when America loses the Iraq war and the troops finally come home,  Bukko sees America “slipping into a long, dark night.”  Which, incidentally, is what happened in Germany when its troops returned home after WW I.

How can we prevent America from slipping into that long, dark night?  By winning the November election, that’s how.  It’s the first step towards changing the world.  .

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By Stacia, October 4, 2006 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment
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wow. good analysis. nothing scares me so much as the thought of these white supremacists armed and organized and turned against…us. Aryan Nation graffiti in Baghdad is one thing. Scrawled on the walls of my ‘safe’ little town in the woods of New England is quite another. But here it comes. In my not-very-big town, the police budget has grown exponentially, in many cases with funding from Homeland Security, and the police are palpably a bigger presence, and we are way way over-policed. But there they are, and nothing makes me feel more unsafe than a bunch of bored cops. It’s different than the issue of supremacists in the military, but not that different. Not different enough.
Strangely enough, the one thing in the article that gave me a tiny fragment of hope is the notion of ‘unplanned outcomes,’ that the ruling class sets things in motion but are themselves overtaken by events in a world too complicated to control. To me, it means that the outcome is still in play.
So what to do? I have to ask this question. To not ask the question is to risk hopelessness, which may be realistic but nevertheless leads to paralysis and inaction. Fear is necessary to fascism.
My own opinion is that what we do now is listen, we listen to the people we disagree with, to the people we’re afraid of, even to the people we hate, not to our own detriment of course, but if you can, listen with great humility and attention.
Believe it or not, I’m not really a pollyanna. I am a teacher, though, and experience has taught me that most education is coercion, that the act of teaching is a gradual disempowerment of the ‘taught’ and turns people into ‘good Germans.’
the only way to really teach anyone anything is to have a relationship with them, and then a natural human economy, the exchange of ideas between equals, can take place.
So that is what I propose as a solution, that instead of shrinking away in horror from the neo-Nazis and such, to engage with them, not if they’re going to bash your head in, of course, and not like some weird New Age evangelist, but if their thinking is based on pain and fear, those emotions are like epoxy, and the only thing powerful and simple enough is listening.

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By blackfeather, October 4, 2006 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment
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It’s refreshing to hear this from a man, and a military man. One of the most frustrating things about studying human history, for me, is the way so much energy over the past millenia has been wasted in controlling how women behave, and how we raise our daughters to be, when the deciding factor in the social cohesion of each generation is how that generation raises their sons, how male peers expect and pressure each other to behave, what role-models fathers present to their sons. And then possibly how much abuse or disrespect women will accept from their lovers and their sons without at least trying to buck the system. Female power is possibly a necessary thing to maintain peace in a balanced society. Our mothers let us down when they sacrifice so much and treat us so damn well, because, generation after generation, we always seem to miss the point of female kindness. Thanks, Mr Goff, i’ll read your book.

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By gary, October 4, 2006 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment
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What an article! Blame the liberals for the failure in Iraq, I could believe it. Since I’ve agreed I’m a racist to a certain degree, I must be a republican! NOT! Iraq is the new wild west where it’s a free for all. Some have already left the U.S. because of what is coming since I can’t and won’t, now what? Rebuild America? How? Free elections, I don’t think so! It’s truly the new world order. Look at the Tri-Lateral Commission, their goal is one world government. They are 300+ of the world’s elite with this common goal. White racism is responding to the situation of our cities, government, and loss of power. There is a chance of conflict that I never thought I’d see, yet, it might. As always, it’s by design! If you can find it check out a book written in 1976, published by FreePress titled “Rockefeller Secret Files”! My hometown college library had one copy not to be checked out and the town library zero yet there was over one million! It says surrender by consent or conquest.

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By Bukko in Australia, October 4, 2006 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment
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So Stan Goff, you actually read these comments? Those of us who compulsively opine don’t often get to see that our feedback is read back. Good onya for writing it, mate!

I’ve met a few Special Forces men during my years. (Real ones who were quiet about it, not the fakers who brag.) I was impressed by these guys because they were so damned smart. Multi-lingual, knew other cultures, well-versed in the U.S. Constitution… You don’t get to that level without brains. It’s a cruel world out there, and you need hard men to handle it. They don’t worry me as much as the non-coms and enlisted men. My dad was career Army, and I grew up on military bases. Officers were decent (if a bit bloody-minded) but it’s easy to see the men further down in the ranks being the threat. How many human bombs like McVeigh are ticking at this moment?

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By Richard C, October 4, 2006 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment
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For those of you who are leaving the country, I can only think of you as cowards. So, you love your country, but when the going gets a little tough, you up and leave? How nobel of you. A great example you’re setting for your children.

Instead of putting your tail between your legs, how about standing up for what you believe in, and band together to throw these turds in office out the window? They are NOT gods, they’re fallable people, that’s right, PEOPLE with stupid ideas in their heads. They can be ousted.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE, or be a frightened yellow-belly coward. I guess we always show our true colors, dont we?

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By Frankster, October 4, 2006 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment
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Socrates, what are you directing the editor to correct?  US Army Special Forces are part of the US Special Operations Command, just as the Navy Seals and several other groups are.

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By johnnyfarout, October 4, 2006 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment
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A good and scary article. I’m sure Mr. Goff has seen the films and read the books and articles covering the growing sense that 9/11 was a part of the violent face of a right wing Pentagon coup to secure the dominion of a white supremacist world view. McVeigh and Waco were nascent ripples foreshadowing a calamitous wave of righteous indignation by the Power Elite, that America could possibly have to take second seat in a free marketplace, peopled by irrational religionists bent on talking gibberish and mouthing mystical spittle and mental sandstorms over their sovereign oil fields. We face a future perhaps even more extreme than science fiction has dared to imagine. A world where oil is no longer a tradable commodity; America is the Empire Oil built and is bent on controlling every last drop of it. If fostering ignorance and outright lying are useful strategies in this winner take all conflict then those who help will be given Medals of Freedom. Those who object will find no habeas corpus or even a thousand points of light in little bags floating down the River Styx to mark their passing. War is peace and ignoble causes are holy grails. The barbaric hordes are among us already. They look at us cross eyed from Presidential podiums. Bush #43-44 tells us the truth: all “-isms and “-ists” that obstruct the way will be crushed by super tech hobnailed thugs working hard and doing swell, whether troops, or para-military contractors, or bespectacled under-employeds sitting in ranks of air conditioned cubicles reading and editing dispatches from the colored populated frontlines. Doomed as doomed can be. Jesus weeps. Who will help a poor widow’s son?

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By Stan, October 4, 2006 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
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Further clarification on Special Operations v. Special Forces, because the last clarificaton by Socraties was not exactly correct.

Special Operations encompasses a very wide variety of activities that fall outside the rubric of “conventional” operations, and this is evolving (for the worse, with Rumsfeld contributing signficantly to the degradation of all forces, especially the “special” ones).

Special Operations is covered geenrally under the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), a joint (multi-services) command, with subdivisions specific to each branch (Army, Navy, Air Force) under SOCOM.  Special Forces is an Army organization, and it is NOT limited to “advising,” but has responsiblity for a variety of missions with the emphasis on language capability (unique to SF)... which include direct action, but also something called “foreign internal defense,” “unconventional warfare,” and “special” (strategic) reconnaissance.  I served in two of these “Groups,” 3rd and 7th, and did everything from pull teeth to run battalion consolidated sniper training to play military dictator in a small section of Haiti.  (And I’m sorry, Socrates, but having worked both sides of this, I can say that “advising” is by far the more nuanced misson, and the one that calls on more skills that shooting people and blowing things up, no matter how unconventional the means of delivery.)  The Army’s Special Ops—under the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)—also includes Psyops and Civil Affairs, 75th Ranger Regiment (a shock infantry outfit, where I served thrice), 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), and Special Forces Operatonal Detachment - Delta (SFOD-D, or Delta Force… my unit in 1983-4-5-&6)... which operates with other serivces through the Joints Special Operations Command (JSOC), which includes one Seal Team (that shares a counter-terrorist mission with Delta) and some other components.

They are all as subject to bureaucratic bullshit as any other service, albeit in their own “special” bureaucracy, and they are (among trigger pullers) the whitest units in the military.  Their mystique is far more impressive than their actual operations; and it isimportant for readers to understand that these units are peopled by… well, people… who put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else.  Among them are theocratic lunatics like Bishop Boykin, future left-wingers like your truly, serial rapists like Marshall Brown, drunks, miltary legacy admits like David Grange, and lots of folks with nothing to distinguish them aside from a decent ASVAB score and the ability to put up with physical punishment.

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By Mad as Hell, October 4, 2006 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
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Stan Goff said more elegantly and eloquently what I have been trying to say in many, many posts: Fascism is upon us.

That first Tuesday in November may well be our one chance to prevent it—and the conflagration that will engulf the world if they win.

But it’s terrifying that SO many military men are all in favor of this radical racist “trash that scrap of paper (the Consitution)” view that a military coup, which has NEVER happened in the US, no longer can be considered impossible.

How many Augusto Pinochets are in position to establish a junta?  How many dream of herding all the “undesireables” into Yankee Stadium, RFK Stadium, Dallas Cowboys Stadium and Candlestick, then machine-gunning them all? Like Pinochet did at the University stadium in Santiago? All the Democratic Congressmen, Senators, Governors, Mayors, “Uppity” Black leaders, Hispanics (they’re all prolly illegals anyway),and one else designated a “liberal” will be first.

I’ll bet they get all in a sweat thinking how “great” it will be to become genocidal mass murderers, who, if they are EVER brought to justice, will face The Hague as criminals against Humanity.

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By Dave -in California, October 4, 2006 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
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Good read…. a 20 year Vet myself 1976-96, I became disillusioned after see the mess of Desert Storm. It is sad now, as a Pscyhology graduate student, to see this change in the cultural attitude of America.
Question for you much smarter folks out there; is the forecasted economic collapse in 2008, due to the Basal II, a legitimate spark for the coming confligration? Or is Basal II a cover for something deeper? (See Arlington Institute report)

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By DOC, October 4, 2006 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
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I continue to be surprised by the Administration’s frequent use of the term “fascist” as a pejorative describing our enemies in the Middle East because it is disturbingly reminiscent of activities closer to home. 
  According to “The Anatomy of Fascism” by R. O. Paxton (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004, pp 219-220), ideas underlying fascist actions include (1) a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions, (2) the primacy of the group to which one has duties and the subordination of the individual to it, (3) the belief that one’s group is a victim which justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, (4) dread of the group’s decline under the corrosive effects of individual liberalism, (5) need for authority by male chiefs, (6) superiority of the leader’s instincts over reason, (7) the beauty of violence devoted to the group’s success, and (8) the right of the group to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or devine law. 
  Does that sound familiar or what?  Perhaps the Administration’s leaders might consider using some other term than “fascism” to defend their policies, a term which would not turn attention to their own activities.

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