Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fascist America?

H/T: Kurt(the infidel) at Pat Dollard

Ok, I was over at Dollard and saw a video of Ms. Naomi Wolf. She is obviously a passionate Libertarian. Ok, no big deal there. I am a closet libertarian myself. But let's get some things straight here. Libertarianism is in my mind the Conservative version of Utopia. It's a pipe dream folks. We live in a big world and the reality of our existence dictates how we deal with it, be we liberal or conservative.

What bothers me is that this woman has credentials and apparently a following. Of course it's not hard to get a following when you bash the CinC. There's always plenty of folks to jump on THAT bandwagon.

My issue is with the accusation that the Bush administration is Fascist.

All jokes aside. If you take what this woman says at face value...sure you can see her point. However I take exception to several of the "steps" towards a fascist state that she is pointing out as an indicator. I can't deny a couple of them, but then, whatever. The chance of Bush staging a coup are pretty much nil.

You can read the article here.

So without further ado....

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

...It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms....

If anything, it seems to me that the Islamist threat has been downplayed with the language used by the bush administration. Not to mention our continued association with fundamentalist Islamic nations (read: Saudi Arabia)

2. Create a gulag

...With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street...

Gulag? Is this woman nuts? If not for the intelligence gleaned during interrogations of these animals, where would we be now? Oh, and by the way, how many law-abiding citizens of the United States have been incarcerate here? Not to mention...that we are in a new age of global war. The enemy does not observe Geneva Convention rules. It does what id sees as necessary to achieve those ends. To believe that civilians...and American citizens at that will be secretly held here is in the realm of conspiracy theories. We've got bigger fish to fry and we don't have the manpower to pursue the war effort and worry about regular citizens that "might" be in cahoots with the enemy because they criticize the policies of the administration currently in office.

3. Develop a thug caste

OK...I just had to include the entire entry on this one...

...When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.
The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution
Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.
Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order"...

Ok, now this really takes the cake. I don't suppose the proliferation of idiots like the Westboro Baptist church, code pink and any other group of nutjobs is even in the same category? Or how about all the stories of republicans, in multiple states being derided at the poll booth by the workers there. Or being deliberately given a democratic ticket to vote with despite being told multiple times that they're republican…I wonder how many of those folks accidentally voted in the democratic primary instead of the republican one…wtf over?

Let's not mince words here. Why don't you just come on out and say it. Blackwater Security is the big bad Thug organisation you're so afraid of. If you have half a brain and actually pay attention to detail, you would know that the security of our diplomats and other VIPs in hostile areas can't be covered by our already stretched thin military. These "professionals" are necessary. And I will not stoop so low as to call them a necessary evil...I would be more inclined to call them a necessary good. All this talk of security contractors stinks of the bullshit that went on in Iraq about checks and balances. We don't have that problem here dear. They are US citizens. If they step out of line here...they go to jail.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

...In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.
In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent...

So, of course it always comes down to this…illegal wiretapping and surveillance of American citizens. Yeah, on principle I disagree with this, but the intelligence gathered has done an awful lot to keep us from experiencing a repeat of 9/11.
Quite frankly, as long as they're focused on the obvious threat, I don't much care. Especially since Congress still has the power to stop it at any time.

5. Harass citizens' groups

...Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition...

So, the ACLU reports…yeah. Ok. These guys are about as un-American as it gets. In case you all haven't noticed…we're at war. Keeping tabs on "peaceful" organizations and protests is nothing new. Perhaps if there had been more tabs being kept on David Korresh (sp?) we wouldn't have had such a crazy thing happen as Waco. Or what about Timothy McVey? Concerned citizens starting up militia groups that have anti-government leanings. Why? Maybe because they don't feel the government is protecting their freedoms properly. Just a hunch.
And in all honesty, I think that The socialist Dems are way worse for our national security than any Bush administration ever could be.

And what's wrong with monitoring activists. Zealots of any color are dangerous.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

...In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens...

I think what is most important to discern here is that just because you're on a watchlist or detained and questioned about possible subversive activities is no big deal. Are you being handcuffed, jailed and humiliated? Doesn't sound like it to me. So Mr. Mayfield was "mistakenly" identified…are you sure? Where is the evidence? If they seized his computer, what led them to his computer to begin with? Hmmmm….

Well, let's see. How about a little history lesson. Does anyone remember Jane Fonda? Yeah. Peace activist...commie sympathiser. Oh, and a member of the Venezuelan Gov't...the same one that is openly calling for the demise of this great country? Hugo Chavez does not just criticize Bush ma'am, He criticizes America. He is a socialist. He hates capitalists...particularly powerful nations like us.

7. Target key individuals

...Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.
Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job....

Yeah and yet we allowed Columbia University to invite the president of Iran into our country and speak to the students. Our enemy was invited to come to our hallowed shores.
So a contractor was fired for stating their personal opinion about waterboarding…hmmm and they worked for the CIA? Well, seems like they were justified in at least reassigning this person. You can't have personnel in direct conflict of interest in a position that requires keeping classified information out of the public eye. Closed blog? What do you mean by that? That it wasn't posted on the internet and people without the need to know were privy to this employees thoughts about a tactic used on certain detainees to glean information? Sounds like they were perfectly within their right. Sometimes you have to know when to keep your mouth shut…I believe we call that OPSEC.

8. Control the press

...Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.
Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers...

Do you really believe the Bush administration is in control of the media? You obviously have a screw loose somewhere. Something that all you freedom of information folks out there have to understand is that not all information should be published. Especially if it can jeopardize OUR combat operations. Lets see, NY Times ring a bell to anyone? When you have photographers and journalist set up in a stakeout position to capture our troops being ambushed by insurgents…or even worse captured video of an IED taking out a military vehicle…and I'm sure killing some of our men and women in uniform. The propaganda war is being won by the enemy because of those selfsame bloodsucking leeches. The real truth from the lies? Try reading PatDollard or Michael Yon sometime. There are some Americans that know the MSM is lies and misdirection. It's all about ratings and what is good for their agendas. The real truthseekers are few and far between. If you see something on the news that disturbs you…do some research.

9. Dissent equals treason

...Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution...

Ms. Wolf…with all due respect, judging from what you've just written here, you are not an advocate of freedom, but of anarchy. When a news media giant like the times obviously leaks classified information, at what point to we turn our backs and say, hey it's cool. Go ahead why don't we just supply the media with all of our strategies, tactics and detailed op-orders of all our major engagements.
Point being a line must be drawn when such events occur.

10. Suspend the rule of law

...The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.
Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."...

I'm not so sure about this. I can see how under unusual circumstances, such as those listed above that the Nat'l Guard could be used to help out in whatever way necessary in such events. Let's see, do you think the regular police forces and emergency personnel of a given region are ever truly adequate in such situations?

I'm not sure about this one…I will give you credit on this. Score one for you. Iam not a lawyer so this is something I cannot argue intelligently about. It seems a knee-jerk reaction , but I could be off-base.

Ok...I have include quite a bit of Ms. Wolf's conclusion here...

...As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.
That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".
What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.
What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite...

Although I admire your passion for freedom Ms. Wolf. I must say you are definitely casting stones in the wrong direction. We are a federated republic…not a democracy. At least not in the strict sense. Our true enemy is the socialists in our midst. As a libertarian, you should see this. On principle, I believe in libertarian philosophy. However it is only that. It is to me the utopia of conservative thought. Unrealistic but nice to dream about.
We are just one country (albeit the strongest) in the world. We do more for others than any other country on the planet and we are reviled for doing so…why? Because they are afraid of us and jealous of our prosperity. They take with one hand while casting rude gestures with the other. And yet we still treat them with dignity. I am not a big fan of Mr. Bush. He has shown in the past term to be weak. I am disappointed with him. However I will defend him against such an accusation as Fascist to the bitter end.

You my good woman are nuts.

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