The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Sen Byrd, Media Begin To Cover Bush-Hitler Connection

By Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis
The Scoop

That the mainstream media has again found newsworthy the long-established connections between the Bush family and the Nazi Party is also instructive. . . . For sixty years it has been a matter of public record that Prescott Bush helped finance Hitler's rise to power and world war. . . . But right-wing Bush fanatics continue to deny those ties existed. . . . Similar denials have surrounded Arnold Schwarzenegger. , , , Is [Limbaugh] the Right's real minister of propaganda? Do his "dittoheads" resemble the unthinking brownshirts that terrorized millions?"
US Senator Robert Byrd, on the floor of Congress, on October 17, has explicitly compared the Bush media operation to that run by Herman Goering, mastermind of the Nazi putsch against the German people.
On the same day, the Associated Press ran a national story linking Prescott Bush to Adolf Hitler. The lead read: "President Bush's grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler's rise to power, government documents show."
That night, CNN ran a "streamer" on the bottom of its all-news programming confirming that "declassified documents show Prescott Bush connections to Nazi finance."
Stories reminding the public that the grandfather of George W. Bush and his United Trust Bank were cited by the US government in 1942 for helping Hitler under the Trading With the Enemies Act, have now spread widely through the major meda.
What's going on here? Are these stories linking Team Bush to the Nazis irrelevant? Mere partisan politics? Or do they indicate a growing public concern with what is actually happening in Washington?
Coming on the floor of the US Senate, Byrd's searing critique indicates that the equation of Team Bush with the Nazi elite has gained a certain mainstream credibility. A conservative Democrat who has represented West Virginia in the Senate for decades, Byrd is one of America's leading Constitutional scholars. He is known as the master of Senate procedures. A passionate student of the English language, his epic orations for peace and the preservation of historic American freedoms are likely to grace school texts for decades to come.
That the cautious, thoughtful Byrd has conjured explicit comparisons between the infamous mass murderer Hermann Goering and the administration of George W. Bush is a stunning commentary on how far to the right the Republicans have really gone. Goering was convicted of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Nazi war crimes tribunal afterWorld War II. He killed himself just before he was to be executed.
That the mainstream media has again found newsworthy the long-established connections between the Bush family and the Nazi Party is also instructive.
For sixty years it has been a matter of public record that Prescott Bush helped finance Hitler's rise to power and world war. Later a US Senator from Connecticut, Prescott was father to President George H.W. Bush and grandfather to George W. Bush. Because legal action was taken, Bush's deeds have been a matter of public record since 1942. They were widely covered in newspapers and electronic media at the time. The history is readily accessible.
But right-wing Bush fanatics continue to deny those ties existed. In a nationally syndicated radio show, conservative talk host Michael Medved recently claimed that Prescott Bush's bank's ties to the Nazis had not been established.
Similar denials have surrounded Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is a matter of public record that his father volunteered for the Austrian Nazi Party and the infamous SA, which engaged in brutal mass murder. Arnold himself has attempted to distance himself from his family's Nazi past. He has made large donations to the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, which has tracked Nazi fugitives. His backers now claim he attended an anti-Nazi rally at an early age.
On the other hand, he has been linked to statements admiring Hitler for his speaking ability and his ability to gain a huge following. A past indicating a strong authoritarian nature has also been cause for alarm. In 1975, Schwarzenegger yearned for his own Nazi-style rally, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being [in] total agreement whatever you say."
Widespread allegations linking Karl Rove to family ties of explicit Nazi origin have been withdrawn by Al Marten, who originally publicized them through his web site. But Rove is quoted in Bob Woodward's best-selling BUSH AT WAR as comparing the reaction of a New York Yankee crowd to an appearance by Bush as being "like a nazi rally."
Known as "Bush's Brain," Rove is the GOP's political mastermind. Widely feared for his harsh, vindictive actions, Rove is at the center of allegations that the CIA's Valerie Plame was "outed" in retaliation for a report filed by her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that contradicted the Bush-Rove line on Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. The disclosure could involve a breach of national security and a ten-year felony.
The ultimate GOP operative, Rove helped engineer the recent redistricting of Texas for expanded Republican control of the Congressional delegation. He may also have helped choreograph the Schwarzenegger campaign, where control of the California state house could vastly enhance the likelihood that Bush will hold the White House in 2004. Along with the Executive, Congress, Judiciary and major media, the GOP now controls governorships of the four largest states, the largest one-party concentration of power in US history.
Bush supporters deny his Nazi family ties have anything to do with Republican policies. Visiting the "sins of the father" (or grandfather) on an offspring has not been considered fair game in US politics.
But after eight years of total assault on Bill Clinton and his family, one can only imagine the media frenzy had Clinton's grandparents been linked to the Soviet Union. Would Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove have found such ties "irrelevant"?
Does Rush's apparent narcotic addiction resemble that of Hermann Goering? Is he the Right's real minister of propaganda? Do his "dittoheads" resemble the unthinking brownshirts that terrorized millions?
Such things can be hard to hear. In polite society, they can strain "credibility." But blood ties and shallow images were not what Sen. Byrd's comparisons between Bush and Goering were about: they were about Bush's actual behavior.
Like Senator Byrd, tens of millions of Americans are deeply worried that this administration has waged an unprecedented assault on American civil rights and liberties. It has shredded the Constitution and the natural environment as none other in US history. Its unprovoked attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq have prompted thoughtful comparisons to the unprovoked Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Its illegal detainment center at Guantanamo and its cavalier use of the drug war, the prison system and the powers arrogated through the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security apparatus have brought the US to the brink of dictatorship.
Given the horrific reality of what the GOP is now doing to America and the world, we should be profoundly thankful that the public is uneasy. If Team Bush objects to being compared with the Nazi elite, perhaps it should act less like it.
Too much sad history has been told over the centuries by those who failed to speak plainly and forcefully when the times demanded it.
What the Republicans are doing to America and the world has been seen before. And, it's been stopped before, but only by facing reality.
Speaking Truth to illegitimate power makes dictatorships temporary. That's the only way the SuperPower of Peace can ultimately prevail...which it will.
Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis are co-authors of GEORGE W. BUSH VERSUS THE SUPERPOWER OF PEACE, available November 1 from

Billboard: OUR LEADER.

Does this remind you of Chairman Bush, Stalin, Saddam, Kim Jung?

Mysterious ‘George W. Bush: Our leader’ Clear Channel political public
service billboard graces Orlando freeway



Things just got very interesting in Ohio.

While the Kerry campaign is certainly keeping an eye on the situation in Ohio, it seems some laywers are getting some real results. A great Daily Kos diary (note this page now takes quote a while to load, so I have put most of the information here) alerted me to an interview on C-Span today where my new hero, Cliff Arnebeck (bio), an attorney for Alliance for Democracy, who is going to file a suit sometime between Friday and Monday. They only have until Monday to recount and finish this up because, under federal law, December 13 is when the members of the Electoral College cast their votes.

This might be why why Blackwell keeps delaying the certification of Ohio's vote. Mr Blackwell is playing a dual role as Ohio’s Secretary of State (and thus its chief electoral official) and as Co-Chairman of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign there. As the Rev. Al Sharpton puts it "We need to investigate, coordinate, litigate, recount and recuse," he said, referring to the legitimacy of the Ohio vote. "Mr. Blackwell cannot be both the owner of the team and the umpire." Blackwell has gotten some unwanted attention on this issue. Just recently Conyers and other House Judiciary Democrats asked Blackwell to explain alleged Ohio election Irregularities. (PDF) This document is a MUST READ for anyone interested in preserving Democracy. Pass it on to everyone you know. They are asking him to explain the following:

Why did Warren County officials exclude members of the press from observing vote counting on election night, claiming an FBI agent had warned of a terrorist threat that was a "10" on a scale of one to ten, but the FBI has no knowledge of such a warning?

Why did precincts in Perry County apparently record more votes than voters?

Why did Butler County and a number of other counties record more votes for an underfunded Democratic candidate for State Supreme Court than were recorded for the Democratic Presidential candidate?

Why did historically Democratic precincts in Cleveland record up to twenty-two times more votes for the Constitution Party Presidential candidate than all third-party candidates combined received in the 2000 election?

Why did voters in Mahong County report that when they attempted to record a vote for John Kerry their vote was displayed as being cast for George W. Bush?

Why did there appear to be a shortage of voting machines in traditionally Democratic precincts on election day, causing up to ten hour delays for voters, while there was an apparent surplus of voting machines in traditionally Republican precincts?

But I digress. Back to Mr. Arnebeck....

What Arnebeck is doing here is important. He is not demanding a recount. He is saying that he HAS EVIDENCE that the election result in Ohio is wrong. Let that sink in. Evidence of fraud that could overturn the election results. This is big. Mr. Arnebeck claims that he has proof that the Ohio election result is actually the opposite of what has been reported. His proof will show that Kerry won 51% of the vote in Ohio.

Listen for yourself. Go to under "Recent Programs" and click on "Washington Journal Entire Program (12/02/04)", if you cant find it there try this:

Open Real Player, go to open location, and put in this URL:


Now I just tried it and the servers over there are being hit hard so here is the relevant bit from a transcript:

"The only logical explanation is that there was a movement of some 65,000 votes or so that were cast for Kerry into the Bush column. Which created a margin that is approximately the total margin by which Bush was reported to have won Ohio. So our current view of the evidence is that this is where the fix occurred.

There were a variety of other problems in the election. There was the suppression of black voters in Franklin Co. by shorting machines in black and high Democratic performance districts. There was what we would call a precinct shuffle in Summit Co. and Cuyahuga Co. where a deliberate confusion was created about where people could vote. They cast their provisional ballots...there were election officials were telling them that they could vote in any precinct of the county and it would be counted. And then you've got Blackwell saying they won't be counted.

Our present feeling is that this is, while a serious conspiracy to violate the civil rights of a protected class of voters namely those of the black race, that this is not where the real fix occurred. This is something we will discuss in the lawsuit, but we intend to focus very, to hone in very aggressively in full tilt litigation with full discovery on what we believe is the fraud that occurred in the southern part of the state with the shift of votes.

Look at the two races. In effect the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court race is a benchmark race for the presidential race because both of these races were competitive, they were running neck and neck. All right so this gives you a basis to say "all right what happened in this situation and how does it relate to the other, the benchmark." Now a more ingenious approach might have been if you're going to do this you should have made the adjustment also in the Supreme Court race too, so this wouldn't stand out. This stands out like a sore thumb.

I think what happened is, all this civil rights violation was a red herring intended to stimulate the public interest groups and civil rights organizations to hone in on this, on this horrendous, horrendous attack on the rights of black voters. They thought that's what we would go after, the clock would run out, we wouldn't be able to prove our case. The real fraud occurred in this switching of votes in southern Ohio. That's our present view of the evidence."

The old bait and switch. Smells like Rove to me.

Please forward this information LIBERALY!

Big hat tip to LawStudent over at DailyKos.


Kerry's campaign joins call for Ohio recount
John Kerry's campaign has joined a lawsuit by third-party presidential candidates seeking a recount in Ohio. A lawyer for the campaign said yesterday it does not question the Democrat's loss but wants any counting to take place statewide.

Kerry's campaign joined the suit filed by Green and Libertarian party candidates seeking a recount of votes in Delaware County. A judge issued a restraining order blocking that request, but the order expired yesterday. A hearing on the request is set in federal court in Columbus today.

Final count in Ohio gives Kerry 18,000 more votes
George Bush's nail-biting win in Ohio - the one that forced America to wait overnight to learn who its new president would be - was even closer than Election Day results indicated.
John Kerry will pick up about 18,000 votes when Secretary of State Ken Blackwell certifies final results on Monday, according to county-by-county totals gathered by The Plain Dealer.

- Jordan

Stinky and the Vulcans

Stinky and the Vulcans; needed a front man -- an arrogant Nazi "Overman" doppleganger so shallow and eaten up with hubris that he could easily be convinced of his God-like superiority, and would have no qualms about the genocide necessary to reduce the world population and to achieve their goal of a new world order in which no nation dared challenge U.S. dominance.

By Sheila Samples

The kid and I were chatting happily last week about really really important things such as this country's top movie, Spongebob Squarepants, when, suddenly, she pointed at the TV screen behind me. Then, as her face contorted in anger, she said ominously -- "He's e-e-e-e-v-u-l..."

Startled by the look on her face, I turned to the TV, expecting to see the Red Skull with his boot on the neck of Captain America -- but it was only George Bush, smirking and chortling and kissing members of his cabinet on the lips. "No, honey," I said, "that's only the president. That's George Bush."

"Well, okay," she said, with a shudder. Then, squenching her eyes shut and pursing her lips, she muttered -- "But I'm gonna call him Stinky."

I don't know which is more appalling -- that millions of comatose adults flock to theaters to pay homage to Spongebob Squarepants while the world goes to hell around them, or that a single 8-year-old, familiar with the stark, good-versus-evil battles waged by Spiderman, Captain Marvel and the entire battalion of Ninja Rangers could take one look at George Bush and instantly recognize a villain.

I hope she never sees Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, Richard Perle and the rest of the Vulcans when they take their second-term circus act on the road. Wow. What a gig. Think about it. Stinky and the Vulcans -- The Greatest Show on Earth --coming soon to a midway near you...

They never seem to tire; their contortions grow more grotesque as they parade before the world with bells and whistles, high-wire acts, sword-swallowing feats, freak act bumping into another, faster and you see it, now you don't...grinning barkers motioning from the racuous celebration whirling beneath the big tent...tanks and gun-ships, bombs and blood...

I am dumbfounded as people in this country clamor for tickets to the obscene, pornographic performance of this hideous group. I cannot understand why leaders of other nations stand by, enthralled -- with neither the courage nor the decency to yank the curtain before this murderous bunch shows up with their next act and brings the entire international house down.

Later, when the stench of bloated corpses can no longer be ignored, they'll say they didn't know. But they knew. We all knew. Dick Cheney, Vulcans' production manager and Paul Wolfowitz, dance director, published the show's program in 1992 with their "Defense Planning Guidance," wherein they called for "preemptive" military action against friend and foe alike, to establish and maintain the U.S. as the sole global superpower.

Fortunately, this act flopped. But the Vulcans didn't go away. They merely backed off and waited in the wings while refining their little program for world domination and looking for a lead singer for their group.

In addition to an "event on the scale of Pearl Harbor" to jump-start their strategy, they needed a front man -- an arrogant Nazi "Overman" doppleganger so shallow and eaten up with hubris that he could easily be convinced of his God-like superiority, and would have no qualms about the genocide necessary to reduce the world population and to achieve their goal of a new world order in which no nation dared challenge U.S. dominance.

They needed an Orwellian fool, one willing to debase himself -- unable to discern reality from fantasy. But more important, they needed one who could successfully captivate a gullible populace by cloaking acts of inhuman brutishness in words like "freedom," "democracy," "liberation," "God," and "compassion."

That man was George W. Bush. And he hit the stage in a dead run -- a rapper, a moon-walker, a whirling dirvish of death. He's on a killing rampage, and any American with the perception of an 8-year-old knows he must be stopped. Sooner rather than later. That's why we have a Constitution, a Congress -- a watchdog media. It's time for the madness to stop -- before the terrorism and evil we are spreading in the name of freedom metastisizes further, and we are drawn onto massive global killing fields from which there is no escape.

Later, some will say, "We didn't know what they were doing to our children...we were just supporting our troops...If only the media had told us -- had shown us what was going on -- we would have done something to stop it."

But they will know in their hearts that the time to have stopped it was before it started -- the instant the first big lie was told. They will know that on Nov. 2, when they bought tickets for four more years of madness, more than 1,200 Americans had already been brutally slaughtered, more than 9,000 Americans injured or maimed for life, and more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children destroyed. And all for lies. For greed. For power.

The media has been literally yelling about what we are doing in Iraq -- just not the U.S. media. We have no excuse for not knowing about the atrocities of Guantanamo Bay, the torture and murders of Abu Gharib, the mass killings of civilians in Fallujah and countless other Iraqi towns and cities. We cannot help but know that most people in this stricken country have no electricity, no water, no food, no medicine -- that our troops have been ordered to shoot on sight any male between the ages of 15 and 50 whether or not he is armed -- that hospitals and clinics were first on the list of targets and that aid groups and ambulances were stopped at checkpoints.

I cannot judge if Bush, or even the Vulcans, are evil. However, although they refuse to be held accountable, evil is being perpetrated in Bush's name, and under his watch. As Rana Kabbani wrote,3858,5069215-103677,00.html in Britain's Guardian newspaper last week, "...the graves of Falluja speak for themselves."

Kabbani reported that, "Iraqis watch as their homes and mosques are desecrated by soldiers who shoot injured men in the stomach in pre-emptive lunacy that mirrors that of their leader. (Emphasis added) They and a billion Muslims watched as Americans forbade families from burying their dead, and allowed stray dogs to gnaw the corpses of pregnant women and toddlers on the mean streets of what was once Falluja, during Id al-Fitr, Islam's Holy Feast. No one is taken in by the lies and arrogance and greed of this racist war."

It is a mystery to me why Americans would vote for four more years of war crimes against humanity. However, while watching a C-Span program on the subject shortly after the election, I was struck by the answer given by a sweet-sounding woman from Missouri -- "I had no choice but to vote for Bush," she said almost regretfully. "I was obliged to vote for him because he was endorsed by God..."

Has there ever been a more glaring example of the chasm that grows wider every day under this administration between "religion" and "Christianity"? Religious "believers" who cast their votes were instructed by their leaders to cast a "vote for God" or for a man who would "ban" the Bible, support not only gay marriage, but drive-through abortions and killing babies for stem cell research. Verily, this deeply religious woman, and millions like her, had no choice but to vote for Bush.

Perhaps that is why so many Christians are weeping...

So, as Stinky and the Vulcans head for that fantastical midway and begin rehearsing for their next number entitled, "To Iran -- and Beyond!" just remember even an 8-year-old knows instinctively that the coming attraction transcends comic-book horror. It's the real thing. And it's e-e-e-e-v-u-l...

Later, we cannot say we didn't know.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at

© 2004 Sheila Samples

Friday, December 03, 2004


Methodist jury convicts lesbian minister
Her 'crime' was violating church law by living with her partner

The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud could be defrocked as a result of the ruling, which came on the second day of her church trial. The same 13-member jury was set to meet Thursday afternoon to decide her penalty.

Methodist law bars "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from ministry. The jury of the sinless Bush lovers voted 12-1 to find Stroud guilty.

How dare this woman react to the feelings God gave her?
If she's "God's mistake," why is the victim being punished for it?
Does God make mistakes?
Do Methodists worship a faulty God?
When does His trial start - or do we just convict the innocent victim?

Catholic clergy get (at least) one free shot at an altar boy's rectum, but a Methodist with a consenting adult? That's going too far!

Sidebar: Think how confusing it must be for a foreigner to meet an American. They have to waste time with all that bullshit small talk to find out if you're a Bush fan who loves invading oil countries, tearing up treaties and beating up gays - or a normal, Democratic American who believes in civil rights and a less intrusive federal government.

Rep. Conyers, House Judiciary Committee to hold on Ohio Vote Fraud

Conyers to Hold Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Report

Friday 03 December 2004

Democratic Representative John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan, ranking Minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing on Wednesday 08 December 2004 to investigate allegations of vote fraud and irregularities in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential election. The hearing is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m. EST in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC.

Democratic Representatives Melvin Watt and Robert Scott will also be centrally involved with the hearing. Rev. Jesse Jackson will be in attendance, along with Ralph Neas (President, People for the American Way), Jon Greenbaum (Director, Voting Rights Project, Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law), Ellie Smeal (Executive Director, The Feminist Majority), Bob Fitrakis ( The Free Press), Cliff Arnebeck (Arnebeck Associates), John Bonifaz (General Counsel, National Voting Institute), Steve Rosenfeld (Producer, Air America Radio), and Shawnta Walcott (Communications Director, Zogby International). Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to attend.

The term ‘hearing’ is technically not accurate in this matter, as Conyers and his fellow Representatives will be holding this forum without the blessing of the Republican Majority leader of the Judiciary Committee. Staffers from the Minority office at the Judiciary Committee describe the event as a ‘Members Briefing.’ That having been said, this event will be a hearing by every meaningful definition of the word. Expert testimony will be offered, and a good deal of data on potential fraud previously unreported to the public will be discussed and examined at length.

The hearing came together thanks to a confluence of events, and through the work of like-minded individuals who are deeply concerned about the allegations of vote fraud in the Ohio Presidential election. Tim Carpenter and Kevin Spidel, along with other members of Progressive Democrats of America, went to Washington DC to speak with the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee about the need for an investigation into these allegations. They found Rep. Conyers, his fellow Judiciary Democrats, and their staffers already working on assembling such an investigation.

The core of what Conyers and his fellow Minority members will be discussing at this hearing can be found in the letter below, which was sent by the Minority office to Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell on 02 December. In the letter, Conyers, along with Reps. Watt, Nadler and Baldwin, outline a broad and detailed series of questions and concerns about the manner in which the Ohio election took place.

I will be traveling to Washington DC to begin t r u t h o u t coverage of this event on Tuesday night, and we will keep you posted on further developments as they arise.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international bestseller of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You To Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.'

Scalia: Jews safer With Christians in Charge

Scalia To Synagogue - Jews Are Safer With Christians In Charge

by Thom Hartmann

Antonin Scalia, the man most likely to be our next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, turned history on its head recently when he attended an Orthodox synagogue in New York and claimed that the Founders intended for their Christianity to play a part in government.

Scalia then went so far as to suggest that the reason Hitler was able to initiate the Holocaust was because of German separation of church and state.

The Associated Press reported on November 23, 2004, "In the synagogue that is home to America's oldest Jewish congregation, he [Scalia] noted that in Europe, religion-neutral leaders almost never publicly use the word 'God.'"

"Did it turn out that," Scalia asked rhetorically, "by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America?" He then answered himself, saying, "I don't think so."

Scalia has an extraordinary way of not letting facts confound his arguments, but this time he's gone completely over the top by suggesting that a separation of church and state facilitated the Holocaust. If his comments had gotten wider coverage (they were only noted in one small AP article, and one in the Jerusalem Post), they may have brought America's largest religious communities - both Christian and Jewish - into the streets.

Born in 1936, Scalia is old enough to remember the photographs that came out of Germany when he was a boy - they were all over the newspapers and news magazines at war's end. It's difficult to believe he wasn't exposed to them as a teenager, particularly having been raised Catholic. And if he missed all that, one would think that his son the priest would have told him about them.

The photos that can be seen, for instance, at of the Catholic Bishops giving the collective Nazi salute. The annual April 20th celebration, declared by Pope Pius XII, of Hitler's birthday. The belt buckles of the German army, which declared "Gott Mit Uns" ("God is with us"). The pictures of the 1933 investiture of Bishop Ludwig Müller, the official Bishop of the 1000-Years-Of-Peace Nazi Reich.

That last photo should be the most problematic for Scalia, because Hitler had done exactly what Scalia is recommending - he merged church and state.

Article 1 of the "Decree concerning the Constitution of the German Protestant Church, of 14 July 1933," signed by Adolf Hitler himself, merged the German Protestant Church into the Reich, and gave the Reich the legal authority to ordain priests.

Article Three provides absolute assurance to the new state church that the Reich will fund it, even if that requires going to Hitler's cabinet. It opens: "Should the competent agencies of a State Church refuse to include assessments of the German Protestant Church in their budget, the appropriate State Government will cause the expenditures to be included in the budget upon request of the Reich Cabinet."

That new state-sponsored German church's constitution opens: "At a time in which our German people are experiencing a great historical new era through the grace of God," the new German state church "federates into a solemn league all denominations that stem from the Reformation and stand equally legitimately side by side, and thereby bears witness to: 'One Body and One Spirit, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of All of Us, who is Above All, and Through All, and In All.'"

Section Four, Article Five of he new constitution further established a head for the new German state-church with the title of Reich Bishop. Hitler quickly filled the job with a Lutheran pastor, Ludwig Müller, who held the position until he committed suicide at the end of the war.

Which brings up one of the main reasons - almost always overlooked by modern-day commentators, both left and right - that the Founders and Framers were so careful to separate church and state: They didn't want religion to be corrupted by government.

Many of the Founders were people of faith, and even the Deists like Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson were deeply touched by what Franklin called "The Mystery." And they'd seen how badly religious bodies became corrupted when churches acquired power through affiliation with or participation in government.

The Puritans, for example, passed a law in Plymouth Colony in 1658 that said, "No Quaker Rantor or any other such corrupt person shall be a freeman in this Corporation [the state of Massachusetts]." Puritans banned Quakers from Massachusetts under pain of death, and, as Norman Cousins notes in his book about the faith of the Founders, In God We Trust, "And when Quakers persisted in returning [to Massachusetts] in defiance of law, and in practicing their religious faith, the Puritans made good the threat of death; Quaker women were burned at the stake."

Quakers were also officially banned from Virginia prior to the introduction of the First Amendment to our Constitution. Cousins notes: "Quakers who fled from England were warned against landing on Virginia shores. In fact, the captains of sailing ships were put on notice that they would be severely fined. Any Quaker who was discovered inside the state was fined without bail."

Throughout most of the 1700s in Virginia, a citizen could be imprisoned for life for saying that there was no god, or that the Bible wasn't inerrant. "Little wonder," notes Cousins, "that Virginians like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison believed the situation to be intolerable."

Even the oppressed Quakers got into the act in the 1700s. They finally found a haven in Pennsylvania, where they infiltrated government and promptly passed a law that levied harsh fines on any person who didn't show up for church on Sunday or couldn't "prove" that s/he was home reading scripture on that holy day.

Certainly the Founders wanted to protect government from being hijacked by the religious, as I noted in a previous article that quotes Jefferson on this topic. But several of them were even more concerned that the churches themselves would be corrupted by the lure of government's easy access to money and power.

Religious leaders in the Founders' day, in defense of church/state cooperation, pointed out that for centuries kings and queens in England had said that if the state didn't support the church, the church would eventually wither and die.

James Madison flatly rejected this argument, noting in a July 10, 1822 letter to Edward Livingston: "We are teaching the world the great truth, that Governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson: the Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of Government."

He added in that same letter, "I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together."

Madison even objected to government giving money to churches to care for the poor. It would be the beginning of a dangerous mixture, he believed - dangerous both to government and churches alike. Thus, on February 21, 1811, President James Madison vetoed a bill passed by Congress that authorized government payments to a church in Washington, DC to help the poor.

In Madison's mind, caring for the poor was a public and civic duty - a function of government - and must not be allowed to become a hole through which churches could reach and seize political power or the taxpayer's purse. Funding a church to provide for the poor would establish a "legal agency" - a legal precedent - that would break down the wall of separation the founders had put between church and state to protect Americans from religious zealots gaining political power.

Thus, Madison said in his veto message to Congress, he was striking down the proposed law, "Because the bill vests and said incorporated church an also authority to provide for the support of the poor, and the education of poor children of the same;..." which, Madison said, "would be a precedent for giving to religious societies, as such, a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty."

Madison also opposed - although he couldn't stop - the appointment of chaplains for Congress. "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?" he asked in 1820. His answer: "In the strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. ...The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles."

Madison went on to suggest that if members of Congress wanted a chaplain, they should pay for it themselves. "If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals, singly, or voluntarily associated, and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Constituents shd discharge their religious duties, let them like their Constituents, do so at their own expense. How small a contribution from each member of Cong wd suffice for the purpose! How just wd it be in its principle! How noble in its exemplary sacrifice to the genius of the Constitution; and the divine right of conscience! Why should the expence of a religious worship be allowed for the Legislature, be paid by the public, more than that for the Ex. or Judiciary branch of the Gov."

But always, in Madison's mind, the biggest problem was that religion itself showed a long history of becoming corrupt when it had access to the levers of governmental power and money.

In 1832, he wrote a letter to the Reverend Jasper Adams, pointing this out. "I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others."

As he wrote to Edward Everett on March 18, 1823, "The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both..."

Yet now, in 2004, the religious appear to be on the verge of both corrupting government and being corrupted themselves by the power and influence government can wield.

For example, as Reverend Moon has moved more and more into the political realm - from funding activities of both George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, to funding the money-losing but politically activist Washington Times newspaper, to financially bailing out Jerry Falwell, to setting up numerous charities that now ask for federal funding - we see an increasing and ominous participation of legislators and Moonies. Moon, for example, was crowned by several members of Congress in the Senate Dirksen Office building on March 23, 2004. As the Washington Post noted in a July 21 story by Charles Babington, Moon himself proclaimed to our elected representatives attending the ceremony, "Emperors, kings and presidents . . . have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."

Others, like Falwell and Robertson, who want to use the money and power of government to promote their religious agendas, are making rapid inroads with George W. Bush's so-called "faith-based initiatives," which shift money from government programs for the poor and needy to churches and religious groups.

All of this - the merging of church and state - is now being aggressively promoted by no less than Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, in no less shocking a venue than the nation's oldest Orthodox synagogue.

In some distant place, Adolf Hitler and Bishop Müller must be smiling at Scalia's encouragement of the growing conflation of church and state in America. It's exactly what they worked so hard to achieve, and what helped make their horrors possible.

And Thomas Jefferson and James Madison must have tears in their eyes.

Thom Hartmann (thom at is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America," and "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy."

Naomi Klein calls for support for Zanon workers in Argentina; sign petition

***EMERGENCY APPEAL FROM NAOMI KLEIN TO SUPPORT THE ZANON WORKERS IN PATAGONIA***(Para versión en español ver abajo) (La traduzione in italiana si trova giù) Dear Friends,We’re writing to ask your help in defending an inspiring and courageous workers’ struggle in Argentina. The Zanon ceramic tile factory, a democratic, worker-run factory in Patagonia, is facing a serious threat of eviction, and the workers have asked us to gather international support for their struggle.To sign the petition, please click here: for more information, read on...For those of you who have seen our documentary, The Take, the Zanon factory, and Argentina’s wider movement of worker-run companies will be very familiar.For those of you who haven’t, this new movement of some 15,000 workers in almost 200 democratic workplaces is building hope and a concrete economic alternative in the rubble of Argentina’s disastrous experiment with orthodox neoliberalism in the 1990s.Recovered companies are run by assembly: one worker, one vote. In most of them, workers have decided that everyone should receive the same salary. They are proving the viability of an economy run on an entirely different value system, and they are growing.In the past year, Zanon has increased its workforce from 300 to 450: a 50% increase. What multinational corporation or national government could boast of such a dramatic rise in decent-paying employment in the middle of an economic crisis?And Zanon has cultivated a deep and mutual relationship with the surrounding community. For 20 years, the poor neighbourhood of Nueva España, across the highway from the factory, has been asking the provincial government for a health clinic. Zanon workers took a vote earlier this year, and in 3 months built and opened a brand new community health facility.But now the provincial government is threatening to send in the Gendarmeria to remove Zanon’s precious machines. This is an illegal order, since this force is Federal, intended to police Argentina’s borders. On a second front, the Federal judge presiding over the bankruptcy of the former owner is refusing to recognize the Zanon workers’ co-operative (called FaSinPat – short for ‘Fabricas Sin Patrones’, Factories Without Bosses.)The former owner received millions in public subsidies, and still amassed a huge debt and bankruptcy: he has since been removed from his own board of directors for “accounting irregularities”. The workers’ co-operative, on the other hand, is a major success: it is now producing 380,000 square meters of ceramic tiles a month – a level of production higher than when the former owner closed the factory - and the workers do it without the huge public subsidies (300,000 pesos per month) that he used to receive.The Zanon workers have told us that a massive international petition in support of their struggle could make a key difference with the various levels of courts and governments.Zanon’s highly successful combination of direct action and direct democracy is a precious example of that other world that is possible, that is growing before our very eyes.We urge you to sign the petition do everything you can to encourage others to do the same.Thank you for your time and support! Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Slavoj Zizek- The Liberal Waterloo

The Liberal Waterloo
(Or, finally some good news from Washington!)
By Slavoj Zizek

The first reaction of progressives to Bush's second victory was that of despair, even fear: The last four years were not just a bad dream. The nightmarish coalition of big business and fundamentalist populism will roll on, as Bush pursues his agenda with new gusto, nominating conservative judges to the Supreme Court, invading the next country after Iraq, and pushing liberalism in the United States one step closer to extinction. However, this emotional reaction is precisely what we should resist - it only bears witness to the extent liberals have succeeded in imposing their worldview upon us. If we keep a cool head and calmly analyze the results, the 2004 election appears in a totally different light.

Many Europeans wonder how Bush could have won, with the intellectual and pop-cultural elite against him. They must now finally confront the underrated mobilizing power of American Christian fundamentalism. Because of its self-evident imbecility, it is a much more paradoxical, properly postmodern phenomenon than it appears.

Take the literary bestsellers of U.S. Christian fundamentalism, Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins's "Left Behind" series of 12 novels on the upcoming end of the world that have sold more than 60 million copies. The Left Behind story begins with the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of millions of people‹the saved souls whom God calls to himself in order to spare them the horrors of Armageddon. The Anti-Christ then appears, a young, slick and charismatic Romanian politician named Nicolae Carpathia, who, after being elected general secretary of the United Nations, moves U.N. headquarters to Babylon where he imposes an anti-American world government that disarms all nation-states. This ridiculous plot unfolds until the final battle when all non-Christians-Jews, Muslims, et al - are consumed in a cataclysmic fire. Imagine the outcry in the Western liberal media if a similar story written from the Muslim standpoint had become a bestseller in the Arab countries! It is not the poverty and primitivism of these novels that is breathtaking, but rather the strange overlap between the "serious" religious message and the trashiest conventions of pop culture commercialism.

My next reflection concerns the basic paradox of democracy as revealed in The History of the VKP(b) ‹ the Stalinist bible. Stalin (who ghost-wrote the book) describes the vote at a party congress in the late '20s: "With a large majority, the delegates unanimously approved the resolution proposed by the Central Committee." If the vote was unanimous, where then did the minority disappear? Far from betraying some perverse "totalitarian" twist, this paradox is built into the very structure of democracy. Democracy is based on a short-circuit between the majority and the "All." In it, the winner takes all and the majority counts as All, obtaining all the power, even if this majority is merely a couple hundred votes among millions.

"Democracy" is not merely the "power of, by and for the people." It is not enough to claim that in a democracy the majority's will and interests (the two do not automatically coincide) determine state decisions. Today, democracy is above all about formal legalism ‹ the unconditional adherence to a set of formal rules that guarantee society's antagonisms are fully absorbed into the political arena. "Democracy" means that whatever electoral manipulation takes place all politicians will unconditionally respect the results. In this sense, the 2000 U.S. presidential election was effectively "democratic": In spite of obvious electoral manipulations and the patent meaninglessness of the fact that several hundred votes in Florida decided who would be president of the entire nation, the Democratic candidate accepted his defeat. In the weeks of uncertainty after the election, Bill Clinton made an appropriate acerbic comment: "The American people have spoken; we just don't know what they said." This comment should be taken more seriously than it was meant. To this day, we still don't know what they said‹perhaps because there was no "message" behind the result at all.

Those old enough still remember the boring attempts of "democratic socialists" to oppose the miserable "really-existing socialism" by holding up the vision of authentic socialism. To such attempts, the standard Hegelian answer provides the sufficient response: The failure of reality to live up to its notion bears witness to the inherent weakness of the notion itself. Why shouldn't the same hold for democracy? Isn't it too simple to oppose the "really-existing" liberal capitalist-democracy to a more true radical democracy?

This is not to imply that Bush's victory was an accidental mistake, a result of fraud or manipulation. Hegel wrote apropos Napoleon that he had to lose two times: Only after Waterloo did it become clear to him that his defeat was not a military accident but the expression of a deeper historical shift. The same goes for Bush: He had to win two times in order for liberals to perceive that we are all entering a new era.

On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers were hit. Twelve years earlier, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. November 9 announced the "happy '90s," the Francis Fukuyama dream of the "end of history," the belief that liberal democracy had, in principle, won, and that the only obstacles to this ultra-Hollywood happy ending were merely local pockets of resistance where the leaders did not yet grasp that their time was over. In contrast, 9/11 symbolizes the end of the Clintonite happy '90s, heralding an era of new walls - between Israel and the West Bank, around the European Union, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In their recent The War Over Iraq, William Kristol and Lawrence F. Kaplan wrote, "The mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end there... We stand at the cusp of a new historical era... This is a decisive moment... It is so clearly about more than Iraq. It is about more even than the future of the Middle East and the war on terror. It is about what sort of role the United States intends to play in the twenty-first century." One cannot but agree with them. It is effectively the future of the international community that is at stake now ‹ the new rules that will regulate it, what the new world order will be.

A new vision of the New World Order is thus emerging as the effective framework of recent U.S. politics: After September 11, America basically wrote off the rest of the world as a reliable partner. The ultimate goal was no longer the Fukuyama utopia of expanding universal liberal democracy, but the transformation of the United States into "Fortress America," a lone superpower isolated from the rest of the world, protecting its vital economic interests and securing its safety through its new military power. This new military not only includes forces for rapid deployment anywhere on the globe, but also the development of space weapons that enable the Pentagon to control the global surface from above. This strategy throws a new light on the recent conflicts between the United States and Europe: It is not Europe that is "betraying" the United States. The United States no longer needs to rely on its exclusive partnership with Europe. In short, Bush's America pretends to be a new global empire but it is not. Rather, it remains a nation-state ruthlessly pursuing its interests. It is as if U.S. politics is now being guided by a weird reversal of the ecologists' well-known motto: Act globally, think locally.

Within these coordinates, every progressive who thinks should be glad for Bush's victory. It is good for the entire world because the contours of the confrontations to come will now be drawn in a much starker way. A Kerry victory would have been a kind of historical anomaly, blurring the true lines of division. After all, Kerry did not have a global vision that would present a feasible alternative to Bush's politics. Further, Bush's victory is paradoxically better for both the European and Latin American economies: In order to get trade union backing, Kerry promised to support protectionist measures.

However, the main advantage involves international politics. If Kerry had won, it would have forced liberals to face the consequences of the Iraq war, allowing the Bush camp to blame Democrats for the results of their own catastrophic decisions. In her famous 1979 Commentary essay, "Dictators and Double Standards," Jeanne Kirkpatrick elaborated on the distinction between "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" regimes in order to justify the U.S. policy of collaborating with Rightist dictators, while actively subverting Communist regimes. Authoritarian dictators are pragmatic rulers concerned with power and wealth and indifferent towards ideological issues, even if they pay lip service to some big cause. In contrast, totalitarian leaders are selfless, ideology driven fanatics who put everything at stake for their ideals. So while one can deal with authoritarian rulers who react rationally and predictably to material and military threats, totalitarian leaders are more dangerous and must be directly confronted. The irony is that this distinction encapsulates perfectly what went wrong with the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Saddam was a corrupt authoritarian dictator striving for power and guided by brutal pragmatic considerations (which led him to collaborate with the United States throughout the '80s). But in removing him, the U.S. intervention has led to the creation of a "fundamentalist" opposition that precludes any pragmatic compromises.

Bush's victory will dispel the illusions about the solidarity of interests among the developed Western countries. It will give a new impetus to the painful but necessary process of strengthening new alliances like the European Union or Mercosur in Latin America. It is a journalistic cliché to praise the "postmodern" dynamic of U.S. capitalism against the "old Europe" stuck in its regulatory Welfare State illusions. However, in the domain of political organization, Europe is now going much further than the United States has toward constituting itself as an unprecedented, properly "post-modern," trans-state collective able to provide a place for anyone, independent of geography or culture.

No reason to despair, then. The prospects may be dark today, but remember one of the great Bushisms: "The future will be better tomorrow."

Perpetuating Plessy

From the Nation:

Perpetuating Plessy
By Ari Berman
11/30/2004 @ 10:09am

As thirteen states passed amendments banning gay marriage on Election Day, Alabamans also jumped on the discriminatory bandwagon, voting to uphold racist segregation-era language in their state's constitution.

Amendment 2 sought to delete wording inserted in the 1950s that mandated "separate-but-equal" schools, denied children the constitutional right to an education and established the state's ability to collect poll taxes. Alabama Governor Bob Riley, a conservative Republican, supported the changes and political observers expected the amendment to pass easily.

But two weeks before the election, the Alabama Christian Coalition aggressively denounced the changes, claiming that awarding children the automatic right to an education would prompt higher taxes and encroachment by "activist judges." The Christian Coalition won high-profile backing from radical former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore--who last year refused to remove a two-and-a-half-ton Ten Commandments monument from the state's main courthouse--and his top aide Tom Parker, who passed out mini-Confederate flags while campaigning for a Supreme Court seat. The anti-tax fervor stirred up by the Christian right led to Amendment 2's narrow 1,850 vote defeat, even though virtually every state legal expert and newspaper disputed the tax hike claim. (An automatic recount started yesterday, but few observers--including the Secretary of State--expect a shift in results.)

In a blatantly opportunistic compromise, the Christian Coalition now says it'll support the segregation repeal--but only if the new legislation drops the education rights clause. Upholding racist history still precedes guaranteeing proper schooling. Apparently this is what they mean by "moral values."

Frank Rich: The Nascar Nightly News: Anchorman Get Your Gun

The New York Times
December 5, 2004
The Nascar Nightly News: Anchorman Get Your Gun

IF Democrats want to run around like fools trying to persuade voters in red America that they are kissing cousins to Billy Graham, Minnie Pearl and Li'l Abner, that's their problem. Pandering, after all, is what politicians do, especially politicians as desperate as the Democrats. But when TV news organizations start repositioning themselves to pander to Nascar dads and "moral values" voters, it's a problem for everyone.

There's a war on. TV remains by far the most prevalent source of news for Americans. We need honest information to help us navigate, not bunkum skewed to flatter one segment of the country, whatever that segment might be. Yet here's how Jeff Zucker, the NBC president, summed up the attributes of Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw's successor, to Peter Johnson of USA Today: "No one understands this Nascar nation more than Brian." Mr. Zucker was in sync with his boss, Bob Wright, the NBC Universal chairman, who described America as a "red state world" on the eve of Mr. Brokaw's retirement. Though it may come as news to those running NBC, we actually live in a red-and-blue-state country, in a world that increasingly hates all our states without regard to our provincial obsession with their hues. Nonetheless, Mr. Williams, who officially took over as anchor on Dec. 2, is seeking a very specific mandate. "The New York-Washington axis can be a journalist's worst enemy," he told Mr. Johnson, promising to spend his nights in the field in "Dayton and Toledo and Cincinnati and Denver and the middle of Kansas." (So much for San Francisco - or Baghdad.)

I don't mean to single out Mr. Williams, who is prone to making such statements while wearing suits that reek of "New York-Washington axis" money and affectation. But when he talks in a promotional interview of how he found the pulse of the nation in Cabela's, a popular hunting-and-fishing outfitter in Dundee, Mich., and boasts of owning both an air rifle and part interest in a dirt-track stock-car team, he is declaring himself the poster boy for a larger shift in our news culture. He is eager to hunt down an audience, not a story.

He's not an isolated case. You know red is de rigueur when ABC undertakes the lunatic task of trying to repackage the last surviving evening news anchor, the heretofore aggressively urbane Peter Jennings, as a sentimental populist. In a new spot for "World News Tonight," Mr. Jennings tells us that "this is a really hopeful nation, and I think there's a great beauty in that." This homily is not only factually inaccurate - most Americans continue to tell pollsters that the nation is on the wrong track - but is also accompanied by a tinkling music-box piano and a montage leaning on such Kodak tableaus as a fishing cove, a small-town front porch and a weather-beaten man driving a car with a flag decal. Mr. Jennings is a smart newsman, but his just-folks incarnation is about as persuasive as Teresa Heinz Kerry's chow-down photo op at Wendy's.

If the Nascarization of news were only about merchandising, it would be a source of laughter more than concern. But the insidious leak of the branding into the product itself has already begun. Last Sunday morning both NBC's "Meet the Press" and ABC's "This Week" had roundtable discussions about - what else? - the "moral values" fallout of the election. Each show assembled a bevy of religious and quasi-religious leaders and each included a liberal or two. But though much of the "values" debate centered on abortion and gay marriage, neither panel contained a woman, let alone an openly gay cleric. Allowing such ostentatiously blue interlopers into the "values" club might frighten the horses - or at least the hunting dogs.

A creepier example of the shift toward red news could also be found last weekend when ABC's prime-time magazine show "20/20" aired an hourlong "investigation" into the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in the red state of Wyoming. "20/20" added little except hyperventilation to previous revisionist accounts of the story, most notably JoAnn Wypijewski's 1999 Harper's article filling in the role crystal meth might have played in driving the crime. But ABC had obtained the first TV interviews with the killers and seemed determined to rehabilitate their images along the way. The reporter, Elizabeth Vargas, told us that while the pair had been "variously portrayed in press reports as 'rednecks' and 'trailer trash,' " they were actually just all-American everymen with "steady jobs, steady girlfriends and classically troubled backgrounds." Aaron McKinney, the killer who beat Shepard into an unrecognizable pulp, wasn't even challenged on camera when he said he had "gay friends" (none of whom were produced or persuavely vouched for by ABC) and that he had only invoked a homophobic "gay panic" defense in his trial because that's what the lawyers told him to do. What's not to like about the guy?

As chance would have it, this episode of "20/20" ran opposite the special "Dateline NBC" farewell to Mr. Brokaw. There could hardly be a more dramatic illustration of the changing of the tone, as well as of the guard, in network news.

Though the retrospective paid tribute, as Mr. Brokaw often has, to his roots in deeply red South Dakota, the career highlights that unfurled were not tied to any agenda but the stories the anchor reported. The newsmakers who made freshly shot guest appearances in the program to augment Mr. Brokaw's own accounts included not just George H. W. Bush and Norman Schwarzkopf but also Betty Friedan (who talked of how women of the 1950's "were supposed to have orgasms waxing the kitchen floor"), the AIDS activist Larry Kramer (whom Mr. Brokaw identified as his friend), Tom Hayden and, for the Watergate recap, a "former impeachment committee staffer" who happened to be Hillary Clinton. If Mr. Brokaw were arriving as anchor instead of leaving, this genuinely fair-and-balanced account of his career would have been vilified by the right-wing press and blogosphere 24/7 - assuming the red-state-besotted suits at NBC would have allowed him anywhere near the anchor chair in the first place.

That both Mr. Brokaw and Dan Rather are going into retirement in the aftermath of the election is a coincidence of timing but widely seen as a fateful one. It's been a cue to roll out once more the funeral rites for network news. We know the litany. The evening newscasts' ratings have been sinking for years, their budgets slashed, their audience forever slipping into the pharmaceutical demographic. The investigation into Mr. Rather's apparent reliance on forged documents in a "60 Minutes" exposé of President Bush's National Guard record is an added embarrassment, perhaps rivaling Rupert Murdoch's publication of the "authenticated" Hitler diaries two decades ago. But the perennial demise of network news has been the slowest final curtain in the history of show business, and is likely to continue indefinitely. All three network newscasts, not to mention the morning-news franchises led by "Today," draw exponentially more viewers than even Fox News's top-rated hits and make tons of money. Though more and more Americans use the Web as a news source, even there they often turn to the sites run by TV news. In the real world of 2004, it's still a TV culture - just look at the flat-screen set breaking some relative's bank this Christmas.

And so network news still counts. The idea, largely but not exclusively fomented by the right, that TV news might somehow soon be supplanted by blogging as a mass medium may remain a populist fantasy until Americans are able to receive blogs by iPod. (At which point they become talk radio.) The dense text in the best blogs often requires as much of a reader's time and concentration as high-end print journalism, itself facing declining circulation. Since blogging doesn't generate big (if any) profits, there's no budget for its "citizen reporters" to reliably blanket catastrophic and far-flung breaking news. (There are no bloggers among the 36 journalists thus far killed in the Iraq war.) Bloggers can fact-check documents (as in the Rather case), opine, organize, talk back, leak early exit polls and publish multimedia outings of the seemingly endless supply of closeted gay Republican officials. But if bloggers are actually doing front-line reporting rather than commenting upon the news in a danger zone like Falluja, chances are that they are underwritten by a day job on the payroll of a major news organization.

Kevin Sites, the freelance TV cameraman who caught a marine shooting an apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner in a mosque, is one such blogger. Mr. Sites is an embedded journalist currently in the employ of NBC News. To NBC's credit, it ran Mr. Sites's mid-November report, on a newscast in which Mr. Williams was then subbing for Mr. Brokaw, and handled it in exemplary fashion. Mr. Sites avoided any snap judgment pending the Marines' own investigation of the shooting, cautioning that a war zone is "rife with uncertainty and confusion." But loud voices in red America, especially on blogs, wanted him silenced anyway. On right-wing sites like Mr. Sites was branded an "anti-war activist" (which he is not), a traitor and an "enemy combatant." Mr. Sites's own blog, touted by Mr. Williams on the air, was full of messages from the relatives of marines profusely thanking the cameraman for bringing them news of their sons in Iraq. That communal message board has since been shut down because of the death threats by other Americans against Mr. Sites.

The attempt to demonize and censor Mr. Sites simply for doing his job is not an anomaly. Last spring The New York Post smeared Associated Press television cameramen as having "a mutually beneficial relationship with the insurgents in Falluja" simply because their cameras captured the horrific images of the four American contract workers slaughtered there. Well before the National Guard fiasco at CBS, red-state news-hounds tried to discredit Mr. Rather's scoop on the photos of Abu Ghraib as overblown if not treasonous. This hysterical rage at the networks is a testament to their continued power - specifically the power of pictures in each of these cases.

Such examples notwithstanding, the networks were often cautious about challenging government propaganda even before the election. (Follow-ups to the original Abu Ghraib story quickly fell off TV's radar screen.) As far back as last spring Ted Koppel's roll-call of the American dead on "Nightline," in which the only images were beatific headshots, was condemned as a shocking breach of decorum by the mostly red-state ABC affiliates that refused to broadcast it. If full-scale Nascarization is what's coming next, there will soon be no pictures but those promising a mission accomplished, no news but good news. And that's good news only if you believe America has something to gain by fighting a war in the dark.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Benito Mussolini - What is Fascism?

Modern History Sourcebook:
Benito Mussolini:
What is Fascism, 1932

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) over the course of his lifetime went from Socialism - he was editor of Avanti, a socialist newspaper - to the leadership of a new political movement called "fascism" [after "fasces", the symbol of bound sticks used a totem of power in ancient Rome].

Mussolini came to power after the "March on Rome" in 1922, and was appointed Prime Minister by King Victor Emmanuel.

In 1932 Mussolini wrote (with the help of Giovanni Gentile) and entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism.

Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....

...The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others -- those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after...

...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied - the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage....

...Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of "happiness" and indefinite progress....

...Given that the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority...a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State....

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....

...The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone....

...For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But empire demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice: this fact explains many aspects of the practical working of the regime, the character of many forces in the State, and the necessarily severe measures which must be taken against those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of Italy in the twentieth century, and would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology of the nineteenth century - repudiated wheresoever there has been the courage to undertake great experiments of social and political transformation; for never before has the nation stood more in need of authority, of direction and order. If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs which point to Fascism as the characteristic doctrine of our time. For if a doctrine must be a living thing, this is proved by the fact that Fascism has created a living faith; and that this faith is very powerful in the minds of men is demonstrated by those who have suffered and died for it.

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997

Davidson Loehr - Living Under Fascism

First UU Church of Austin - Sermons
Living Under Fascism
Davidson Loehr
7 November 2004
First UU Church of Austin
4700 Grover Ave., Austin, TX
78756 512-452-6168 -

SERMON: Living Under Fascism

You may wonder why anyone would try to use the word "fascism" in a serious discussion of where America is today. It sounds like cheap name-calling, or melodramatic allusion to a slew of old war movies. But I am serious. I don't mean it as name-calling at all. I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. That's what I am about here. And even if I don't persuade you, I hope to raise the level of your thinking about who and where we are now, to add some nuance and perhaps some useful insights.

The word comes from the Latin word "Fasces," denoting a bundle of sticks tied together. The individual sticks represented citizens, and the bundle represented the state. The message of this metaphor was that it was the bundle that was significant, not the individual sticks. If it sounds un-American, it's worth knowing that the Roman Fasces appear on the wall behind the Speaker's podium in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.

Still, it's an unlikely word. When most people hear the word "fascism" they may think of the racism and anti-Semitism of Mussolini and Hitler. It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient of Mussolini's and Hitler's tyrannies. So-called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (in "The Corporation Will Eat Your Soul"), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it.

Few Americans are aware of or can recall how so many Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the future during the 1930s. Yet reviewing our past may help shed light on our present, and point the way to a better future. So I want to begin by looking back to the last time fascism posed a serious threat to America.

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as those concerned with individual rights and freedoms as anti-American. That was 69 years ago.

One of the most outspoken American fascists from the 1930s was economist Lawrence Dennis. In his 1936 book, The Coming American Fascism a coming which he anticipated and cheered as Dennis declared that defenders of "18th-century Americanism" were sure to become "the laughing stock of their own countrymen." The big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private rights."

So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always, and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds.

Mussolini, who helped create modern fascism, viewed liberal ideas as the enemy. "The Fascist conception of life," he wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual." (In 1932 Mussolini wrote, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, an entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism. You can read the whole entry at

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.

In an essay coyly titled "Fascism Anyone?," Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 "identifying characteristics of fascism." (The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at See how familiar they sound.

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. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, 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 is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

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.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.

But, again, this is not America's first encounter with fascism. In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much you think his statements apply to our society today.

"The really dangerous American fascist," Wallace wrote, is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising in America, Wallace added, "They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection." By these standards, a few of today's weapons for keeping the common people in eternal subjection include NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, union-busting, cutting worker benefits while increasing CEO pay, elimination of worker benefits, security and pensions, rapacious credit card interest, and outsourcing of jobs not to mention the largest prison system in the world.

The Perfect Storm

Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of "Perfect Storm," a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.

1. The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream of the Project for the New American Century. I don't believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan, to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.

2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity, which he has been preaching since the early 1980s, is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration.

Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson's "700 Club" shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The urica Report. Search under this name, or for "Despoiling America" by Katherine Yurica on the internet.)

3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of worker's unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franklin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, they picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie "The Corporation," they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot.

Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America's middle class after WWII.

Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton's sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton's equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that "liberals" had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.

These "storm" components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn't even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America and, they hope, of the world.

What's coming

When all fascisms exhibit the same social and political agendas (the 14 points listed by Britt), then it is not hard to predict where a new fascist uprising will lead. And it is not hard. The actions of fascists and the social and political effects of fascism and fundamentalism are clear and sobering. Here is some of what's coming, what will be happening in our country in the next few years:

1. The theft of all social security funds, to be transferred to those who control money, and the increasing destitution of all those dependent on social security and social welfare programs.

2. Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the developed world.

3. Increased loss of funding for public education combined with increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their children's education to Christian schools.

4. More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into the police state necessary for fascism to work.

5. Withdrawal of virtually all funding for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. At their best, these media sometimes encourage critical questioning, so they are correctly seen as enemies of the state's official stories.

6. The reinstatement of a draft, from which the children of privileged parents will again be mostly exempt, leaving our poorest children to fight and die in wars of imperialism and greed that could never benefit them anyway. (That was my one-sentence Veteran's Day sermon for this year.)

7. More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.

8. More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.

9. Control of the internet to remove or cripple it as an instrument of free communication that is exempt from government control. This will be presented as a necessary anti-terrorist measure.

10. Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this one, and to characterize them as anti-American.

11. Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and demonization of the few media they are unable to control as the New York Times, for instance.

12. Continued outsourcing of jobs, including more white-collar jobs, to produce greater profits for those who control the money and direct the society, while simultaneously reducing America's workers to a more desperate and powerless status.

13. Moves in the banking industry to make it impossible for an increasing number of Americans to own their homes. As they did in the 1930s, those who control the money know that it is to their advantage and profit to keep others renting rather than owning.

14. Criminalization of those who protest, as un-American, with arrests, detentions and harassment increasing. We already have a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in the world. That percentage will increase.

15. In the near future, it will be illegal or at least dangerous to say the things I have said here this morning. In the fascist story, these things are un-American. In the real history of a democratic America, they were seen as profoundly patriotic, as the kind of critical questions that kept the American spirit alive are the kind of questions, incidentally, that our media were supposed to be pressing.

Can these schemes work? I don't think so. I think they are murderous, rapacious and insane. But I don't know. Maybe they can. Similar schemes have worked in countries like Chile, where a democracy in which over 90% voted has been reduced to one in which only about 20% vote because they say, as Americans are learning to say, that it no longer matters who you vote for.


In the meantime, is there any hope, or do we just band together like lemmings and dive off a cliff? Yes, there is always hope, though at times it is more hidden, as it is now.

As some critics are now saying, and as I have been preaching and writing for almost twenty years, America's liberals need to grow beyond political liberalism, with its often self-absorbed focus on individual rights to the exclusion of individual responsibilities to the larger society. Liberals will have to construct a more complete vision with moral and religious grounding. That does not mean confessional Christianity. It means the legitimate heir to Christianity. Such a legitimate heir need not be a religion, though it must have clear moral power, and be able to attract the minds and hearts of a voting majority of Americans.

And the new liberal vision must be larger than that of the conservative religious vision that will be appointing judges, writing laws and bending the cultural norms toward hatred and exclusion for the foreseeable future. The conservatives deserve a lot of admiration. They have spent the last thirty years studying American politics, forming their vision and learn how to gain control in the political system. And it worked; they have won. Even if liberals can develop a bigger vision, they still have all that time-consuming work to do. It won't be fast. It isn't even clear that liberals will be willing to do it; they may instead prefer to go down with the ship they're used to.

One man who has been tireless in his investigations and critiques of America's slide into fascism is Michael C. Ruppert, whose postings usually read as though he is wound way too tight. But he offers four pieces of advice about what we can do now, and they seem reality-based enough to pass on to you.

This is America; they're all about money:

* First, he says you should get out of debt.

* Second is to spend your money and time on things that give you energy and provide you with useful information.

* Third is to stop spending a penny with major banks, news media and corporations that feed you lies and leave you angry and exhausted.

* And fourth is to learn how money works and use it like a (political) weapon as he predicts the rest of the world will be doing against us. (from

That's advice written this week. Another bit of advice comes from sixty years ago, from Roosevelt's Vice President, Henry Wallace. Wallace said, "Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."

Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A simple definition of "colonization" is that it takes people's stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are ironically in a state of taxation without representation. That's where this country started, and it's where we are now.

I don't know the next step. I'm not a political activist; I'm only a preacher. But whatever you do, whatever we do, I hope that we can Remember some very basic things that I think of as eternally true. One is that the vast majority of people are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very few people are evil, though some are. But we all live in families where some of our blood relatives support things we hate. I believe they mean well, and the way to rebuild broken bridges is through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.

Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and hope to a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do, individually and collectively. It will not be either easy or quick.

But we will do it. We will go forward in hope and in courage. Let us seek that better path, and find the courage to take it a step, by step, by step.

What does it mean, then, to call America under Bush not merely a corporate haven but a burgeoning fascist state? Is it merely name calling? Or is this the plain and simple acknowledgment of reality?

Is this the first step to a fundamental paradigm shift? How can Democrats win elections if the elections are gamed, manipulated, or purely fraudulent? Are Republicans the proper targets of Democratic and Green Party ire, or is it the system of which they are but a part and a symptom? Can we win elections without first reforming them? Can we reform elections without reforming the media? Can we reform the media without limiting the political power of corporations? Can we limit the political power of corporations without severing the ties between lobbyists and politicians? Can we sever those ties without first winning a presidential election? Can we win a presidential election without improving the American education system and quality of media reportage? Can we do either of those last two things without first winning an election?

My point is that we are looking at a vastly intermeshed system of power structures, and that unless we begin to look at the underlying construct and pattern, and critique them as what they are (correctly identifying the elephant in the bathtub as an elephant, and not merely a collection of body parts), and begin to talk about how to evict it as a whole and at once, our efforts may well be futile.

Are we living in a democracy, or nascent fascist state? What do you think?