Saturday, September 24, 2005

If the shoe fits...

You can use other words, but when it comes to what's happening in the U.S. FASCISM works fine for me. Fascists have been here a long time, lurking just beneath the surface of public consciousness, building rage, resentments, taking names and writing lists. Of course fascists don't call themselves fascists. It's one of those names, like Shithead, that people don't give themselves. For many Americans this makes recognizing them difficult because it requires a little thought and application of some historical perspective. Some Americans, like some of the working class "sportsmen for bush" I see around here, don't even know they're wannabe brown shirt thugs, just itching to get even with someone for all their frustrations. For them to get it, you have to spell it out very slowly and even then most Bush fascists are so well programmed to respond to the hot key issues they wander off into anti something hate speech.

Below is a long quote from an article, "International Perspective, by Marshall Auerback" posted on The Prudent Bear that I found on Digby's Hullabaloo via The Sideshow. It clarifies fascism nicely. You can use the list as a crowbar to try and open some minds. You might want to copy the list and pass it around.

Without some guidance, true believers and collaborators, unfortunately, who read the list will likely think it describes a good thing.

The reconstruction of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama provides a fascinating picture of how the Bush administration actually works. His government represents an odd melding of corporatism and cronyism, more in tune with the workings of 1930s Italy or Spain. In fact, if one looks at fascist regimes of the 20th century, it is appears that the Bush administration draws more from these sources than traditional conservatism. Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

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

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

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

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

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003, Free Inquiry)

That list about says it, doesn't it? If you want to learn more about fascists in America you can follow the links above and you can visit David Neiwert's Orcinus. He's got the subject well covered.


In case you were wondering where the Blackwater loyalties lie, loyalties beneath the guns for hire agenda, check out this article in the current issue of The Nation. A link is at the bottom.

Blackwater's success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater's CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush's victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum's re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004. As a young man, Prince interned with President George H.W. Bush, though he complained at the time that he "saw a lot of things I didn't agree with--homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the Administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns."

Mr. Prince is also described as a staunch, right-wing Christian.

The Nation article also introduces us to blacker water mercenary organizations also at work in New Orleans: Instinctive Shooting International (ISI), described as "veterans of Israeli special task forces", Body Guard and Tactical Security (BATS) and others.

Politics Test

Take the politics test.

I came out lower right in the lower right quadrant, a Socialist, to no one's surprise.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Though in charge, Rove splits

Senator Lautenberg is troubled by Rove, "White House Point Man" on the Katrina disaster, who will be giving a speech to Republicans in North Dakota when Rita is scheduled to hit. (Thanks to America Blog)

Quite a leader Mr. Chubby Bunnypants is, isn't he.

Dear President Bush:

The assignment of your Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl C. Rove, as the lead White House official for disaster coordination and recovery efforts raises troubling questions given his partisan political background.

As all know, Hurricane Rita is bearing down on the Gulf Coast even as the nation reels from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It would be expected that Mr. Rove would be at his post "24/7" during this crisis.

However, as unlikely as it might seem, we have learned that Mr. Rove will be traveling to North Dakota to engage in political fundraising activities. When this fearsome hurricane makes landfall on Saturday, Mr. Rove will be delivering a political speech to the North Dakota Republican Party, and will be featured as a special guest at a fundraising dinner.

I respectfully urge you to remind Mr. Rove of his responsibilities as the coordinator of relief and recovery efforts, and direct him to keep his attention focused on this critical job. There will be plenty of time for fundraising, but for now, putting lives back together and rebuilding communities must take priority over building political war chests.


Frank R. Lautenberg
Link From Senator Lautenberg's web site.

Bush still a drunk

The Sideshow today has this interesting catch from the National Enquirer that says Bush is drinking again. According to the article, Laura caught him throwing down a "Texas-sized shot" of booze to cope with the stress of Katrina.

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Any ex drunk would tell you he's probably been drinking all along. At least that's a more credible explantion than the goofy choked on a pretzel account and would also explain the bike accidents. He may be barely functional, which is probably a good thing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gore won, Carter says

Jimmy Carter said Gore won, according to The Raw Story.

We all know this already, except for Republicans and the mainstream media. But it's comforting to hear a real president say it.

Here's the first three paragraphs:

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter delivered a shocker at an American University panel in Washington Monday: RAW STORY has learned he told the crowd he was certain Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election.

There is "no doubt in my mind that Gore won the election," the erstwhile President declared, saying the 2000 election process "failed abysmally."

He also snubbed the Supreme Court for getting involved, saying it was "highly partisan."

Now, if Bill Clinton could tear himself away from his new pal, Bush the first, maybe he could put his two cents in as well.

Plame Bolton

Arianna Huffington says the Plamegate investigation may be moving closer to UN Ambassador Bolton. Arianna gives us a peek into the inner workings of the Cheney sect of administration insiders. She introduces a CIA agent who, wearing two hats, also works for Bolton. The agent, Fred Fleitz, is a direct conduit of information from the CIA to Bolton who, of course, uses it to discredit rivals, settle scores and advance the Cheney agenda. This is, of course, Cheney’s crew and a dirtier bunch you could not find.

Sometimes I wonder how Cheney and his thugs so confidently circumvent the rules, ethics and morality to advance their own crackpot agendas. Are they true believers? Are they simply cynical and greedy? Is the goal really to simply move all the money from the working and middle class to the privileged plutocrats and take control of the world's energy? But then I come to my senses. I stop wondering and start trying to focus on how funny they are this cadre of bitter men simply driven by meanness itself dressed up as a grand scheme.

Cheney is a flabby, squishy muscled veteran of years of shuffling papers and resentfully sucking up to the top. It’s his time now and it is easy to imagine him hidden away with a list of enemies and scores to settle. It is even funny to think that he confuses shooting hundreds of caged pheasants, released on command, with actual hunting and even funnier to imagine his Victorian style safaris, with pal Scalia, to the duck blind. Does someone carry Cheney? Or is he floated along on a little rubber barge?

The whole Cheney trip of telling secrets, undercutting rivals, ghoulishly hiding away in bunkers and blowing caged birds to kingdom come would all be an uproarious riot of pompous silliness if it didn’t involve real lives and the easily anticipated and avoided stumble into the disaster of war.

The goofiest thing is that after all these screw ups the myth of competence is still attached to Cheney and his crew. It must be the deep voice and that sinister hand rubbing thing he does. Or maybe it's the simpler truth: shit rises.

Maybe Fitzgerald will nail Bolton and the despicable Judith Miller and the world will begin to right itself.

Go read Arianna and trust your own suspicions of how close to the truth of the scene she really is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bird flu (again)

As if hurricanes and rising gas prices weren't enough Bird Flu is still simmering out there. Some say it is only a matter of time until it blossoms into a full epidemic.
Indonesia could soon face a bird flu epidemic, the health minister has warned, after the death of two young girls suspected of having the disease.
Link BBC World News (thanks to Kos)

Visit the flu wiki to stay informed about every aspect of Bird Flu. If there is a pandemic, this site may turn out to be the most useful on the internet. Getting acquainted with it now is a good move.

$5 a gallon?

Looks like we're being prepped for a big jump in gas prices following Rita's collision with Texas. The pattern seems to be: a giant price increase, attributed to disaster, followed by baby step decreases that are still much higher than the pre disaster rates. Now that we're comfortable with $3 a gallon, let's go for $5 and then drop back to $4.

Brace yourself.

Weather and energy experts say that as bad as Hurricane Katrina hit the nation's supply of gasoline, Hurricane Rita could be worse.

Katrina damage was focused on offshore oil platforms and ports. Now the greater risk is to oil-refinery capacity, especially if Rita slams into Houston, Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas.

"We could be looking at gasoline lines and $4 gas, maybe even $5 gas, if this thing does the worst it could do," said energy analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover. "This storm is in the wrong place. And it's absolutely at the wrong time," said Beutel.
Link (CNN Money)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Here's a few paragraphs from yesterday's Krugman column, about Katrina and race, that caught my eye, followed by a link to the "unofficial" Krugman site. (Thanks to The Sideshow)

...But in a larger sense, the administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need.

Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.

And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, "There but for the grace of God go I." A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, "Why should I be taxed to support those people?"...

....Consider this: in the United States, unlike any other advanced country, many people fail to receive basic health care because they can't afford it. Lack of health insurance kills many more Americans each year than Katrina and 9/11 combined....

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dead whistle blowers

Here's an interesting paragraph from Juan Cole's post on the 1 to 2 billion dollars recently discovered missing in Iraq.

...There is also the unsolved case of two US contractors who warned last fall of massive fraud in the ministry of defense. One wrote to Senator Rick Santorum about it, who in turn went to US SecDef Donald Rumsfeld. The contractors were driving near Taji when their car was rammed and then they were shot multiple times. Their personal effects were photographed and put up at a radical Salafi website. But then anyone can post to a website....

These mercenaries are not the only people posing credible threats to the Cheney administration that have prematurely ended up dead. You can find a partial list at Bush Body Count.

Why there's no truth on TV

Here's a couple of paragraphs from a column about how and why big media echoes the Bush administration party line. The article details how the media shifted from blaming Bush for the Katrina mess to blaming local officials (except for Republican Governor Haley Barbour)as the White House spin machine regained control.

You know most of this already, but having it spelled out clearly will disgust you.

...If big media look like they’re propping up W’s presidency, they are. Because doing so is good for corporate coffers — in the form of government contracts, billion-dollar tax breaks, regulatory relaxations and security favors. At least that wily old codger Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, parent company of CBS, has admitted what everyone already knows is true: that, while he personally may be a Democrat, “It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.”

When it comes to NBC’s parent company, GE’s No. 1 and No. 2, Jeffrey Immelt and Bob Wright, are avowed Republicans, as are Time Warner’s Dick Parsons (CNN) and News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch (Fox News Channel). (Forget that Murdoch’s No. 2, Peter Chernin, and Redstone’s co–No. 2, Les Moonves, are avowed Democrats — it’s meaningless because Murdoch and Redstone are the owners.)...

via Kos

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pensions, now you got one, now you don't

I'm opposed to capital punishment, but in this case, from today's NYT, it makes me wonder if I should be so certain. Here's Robert Miller, a corporate hero of the plutocracy who makes his living guiding companies to default on pension plans. Shed of it's huge pension obligations the troubled company now becomes an attractive acquisition target and is sold for huge windfalls for himself and other already rich fellow executives. Pockets stuffed with pension cash promised to retired workers, the insatiable, Grendel-like Mr. Miller moves on to another company to cancel pensions and cash in on the misery of loyal, long time employees.

Mr. Miller's actions should be a hanging offense.

Whoops! There Goes Another Pension Plan

ROBERT S. MILLER is a turnaround artist with a Dickensian twist. He unlocks hidden value in floundering Rust Belt companies by jettisoning their pension plans. His approach, copied by executives at airlines and other troubled companies, can make the people who rely on him very rich. But it may be creating a multibillion-dollar mess for taxpayers later.

As chief executive of Bethlehem Steel in 2002, Mr. Miller shut down the pension plan, leaving a federal program to meet the company's $3.7 billion in unfunded obligations to retirees. That turned the moribund company into a prime acquisition target. Wilbur L. Ross, a so-called vulture investor, snapped it up, combined it with four other dying steel makers he bought at about the same time, and sold the resulting company for $4.5 billion - a return of more than 1,000 percent in just three years on the $400 million he paid for all five companies.
The ghoulish Mr. Miller is still on the pension stealing job. Follow the link and see if your company is next in line.