Thursday, March 15, 2007

How close have we really come to a fascist state in America?

The more we learn about how the Bush White House (including the subsidiary of Cheney’s OVP and his shadow intelligence agency), the more we understand how close we came to a complete meltdown of the American system of representative and democratic government that has been in place for over 200 years. We are still on the precipice, but at least now many people are paying attention and are not afraid to ask questions.

I don’t even know where to begin with highlighting what Bush and his cronies have either accomplished or attempted to accomplish in the years since Bush’s inauguration in 2001. But even an incomplete list like this makes it very clear to me that, without calling it by name, Bush and his minions and enablers have tried to do nothing less than change the type of government we have from a democracy to some flavor of fascist/totalitarian state.

- The liberal use of Presidential “Signing Statements”, in which Bush gives himself the power to ignore or interpret any laws that Congress passes, even though this position is not supported by any possible legal interpretation of the Constitution.

- The suppression of data that does not support the White House’s position, such as the case in the run-up to the Iraq war, and the secret dissemination of cherry-picked data which is seen to support their position. This include selective declassification of data, whose declassified status might be known to only three persons in the entire country.

- The tactic of destroying, on a personal level, all political opponents and critics, even if they happen to be a member of the Republican party. The Scooter Libby trial is a very recent, very illustrative example of how Dick Cheney was intent on not only discrediting Joe Wilson, but destroying him and his wife for no other reason than punishment for dare questioning the trumped up reasons we are now in Iraq.

- The makeover of the Department of Justice from an independent office into a purely partisan one, which does the bidding of the White House. The purge of political appointees in the positions of U.S. Attorneys that wewre not sufficiently partisan is a blatant example of this. Included in this is the new “paradigm” that it is acceptable for Republicans in power to lean on U.S. attorneys to do the bidding of the Republican party.

- FBI abuses in monitoring U.S. citizens, bypassing all laws regarding such activity. Even if this monitoring was done legally, at times it was very suspect, such as monitoring religious groups who were protesting the Iraq war that obviously posed no threat to the nation.

- The existence of a rubberstamp Republican-controlled Congress that enabled everything that the White House desired to do while obstructing all inquiries and oversight proposed by the Democrats, even though oversight of the Executive is one of the primary jobs of Congress.

- The use of all tactics possible to minimize and totally eradicate, if possible, the effectiveness and input of the Democratic party when there was a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress. This runs the gamut from the policy to never allow to the floor a bill introduced by a Democrat to small things, as not assigning a meeting room in which Democratic members of Congress can hold meetings.

- Liberal use of redistricting as a means to ensure a Republican majority, such as Tom Delay’s Texas.

- The expressed position of the White House and the Republican party that the supposedly independent press in America should actually use its power to be a cheerleader for the United States. The other side of the coin is the Republicans’ belief that the media should never criticize Bush or any action he takes, as it might “embolden” the enemy.

- The planting of fake “news stories” in the media, either by paid members of the media who do not disclose their interests in trumping up whatever subject they happen to be writing about. Additionally, the White House routinely uses “anonymous sources” to plant information in credible sources (such as Scooter Libby using Judy Miller to plant information about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction) and then quoting those self same stories in support of their argument.

- A subservient news media which sees its job, up until recently, as to pass along any information it gets from the White House without questioning its validity or the motive the White House might in disclosing such information.

- The final maturation of Fox News as an organ of the Republican party, whose aim is to manipulate stories and add political spin to ensure that each story maximizes gain to Republicans and attempts to humiliate Democrats while reaching millions of Americans. In other words, it’s job is to deliver propaganda.

- The existence of a very large, effective Republican “echo chamber”, whose self-appointed job it is to echo every Republican talking point that comes out, to “dry run” possible talking points, and to magnify each other, over and over, until an initial tiny squeak becomes the conventional wisdom of the day. This echo chamber is also used to shout down anyone who raises any objections or criticisms to their methods. See Ann Coulter, Mike Medved, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh and a whole host of others of the same ilk.

- Torture has become a normal, legal tool to be used for whatever reason, even though Japanese military personnel were tried for war crimes for using those same tactics (such as waterboarding). Torture can now be done on behalf of the United States by third parties, such as Syria (who is on our potential “hit list”), Egypt, Saudi Arabia (who supplied 19 of the 9/11 hijackers) or private “contractors” (i.e., mercenaries for hire).

- The suspension of Habeas Corpus, even though the Constitution of the United States specifically states that Habeas Corpus cannot be suspended unless in times of invasion. Anyone the White House designates as an enemy can now be jailed for an indefinite period, without access to a lawyer or being shown the charges against him.

- The blatant appointments of cronies as a means of repaying political favors, even if those being appointed have no qualifications for the post. Examples include “Heckofajob Brownie” to head FEMA, a veterinarian as head of the department overseeing women’s health issues, and 23 year old relative of a political friend to head up the process of rebuilding the banking system in war-ravaged Iraq.

- The liberal use of scare tactics during election cycles, such as raising the “Alert Level” for possible terrorists attacks to Orange on 13 different occasions during the 2003 presidential campaign. Keith Olberman put together a good story that showed that almost every instance of this increase came immediately after some newsworthy event about Kerry or the Democrats, or to change the subject about some topic that the White House didn’t want discussed. At one point, three-year-old information about a possible hit on the NY financial district was used as justification for the jump to Orange.

- The suppression of scientific input for political reasons, usually by Bush or party appointees. An example is the editing of several NASA scientific reports by a 23-year-old Republican college dropout who somehow managed to get himself appointed to a NASA oversight post and who felt it was his job to suppress any discussion of global warming and to insert language to make it appear that any scientific conclusions were under some dispute.

- The use of voter suppression techniques and possibly outright manipulation of voting tallies in order to gain Republican wins. There have been attempts that have been proven, such as the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal and yet to be investigated thoroughly episodes involving intimidation of black voters in Florida and questions that have yet to be answered regarding Diebold voting machines that leave no auditable paper trail.

- The use of lobbyists, who represent the very people the government is attempting to regulate, to write laws regarding the regulation of those same companies, and then withholding the information from the public about who was involved.

- The sale of political “favors” by members of Congress, such as Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who had a specific price list of how much each type of favor would cost.

- The casual but liberal use of lying in public, sometimes under oath, when deemed helpful to Bush and the Republican party. This includes statements by Bush that anyone found being involved in leaking Valerie Wilson’s name as part of the effort to discredit her husband would be fired (Rove is still on the job with his Top Secret security clearance) and that Rumsfeld would not be replaced, made two before the 2006 midterm elections when Bush knew for certain that Rumsfeld would resign immediately afterwards. Then there are Scooter Libby’s lies in front of a Grand Jury and the FBI, for which he has just been convicted. And it appears that Alberto Gonzales, our so-called “Attorney General”, just let loose a big one while under oath in front of Congress. Lying is now the norm, without any misgivings or second thoughts.

There are many more. But what I have compiled here illustrates exactly HOW the Bush administration and his rapidly shrinking legion of followers do NOT “love freedom”. Or, if they do, I am hard pressed to figure out what exactly they mean. Freedom for just “their kind”, who think and act exactly like they do and everyone else be damned? Is that what they mean? Or is it even more unsubtle than that? “Winners get everything?” Personally, I think that is what Bush means when he speaks of freedom. He has not the slightest concept of how a democratic, representative form of government is actually supposed to work.

I know this. When I look at the Big Picture, and not just the myriad of individual scandals that seem to be cropping up on a weekly basis nowadays, I am scared. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that, if Bush and Cheney got to do exactly what they want without interference, somewhat like they have been doing in the last 6 years, our form of government that has served us so well since 1776 would be a thing of the past.

Here are a some good columns and stories worth reading.

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