Friday, November 9, 2007

Speak the unthinkable!-by Alvin Wolfe

Speak the unthinkable!

When talk turns to the possible impeachment of Bush and Cheney, some folks are bound to draw the comparison of Bush to a dictator, and more pointedly to Hitler. Then someone else, usually a conservative type, will say: “Let’s not call them fascists! No Nazi comparisons. That’s too strong a statement."

Our reluctance to talk about the impeachment of Bush because there is some general political rule that we should avoid ad hominem name-calling makes little sense in the current political climate where our country’s core values are in jeopardy.

We don't have to scream "Nazi!", but we can analyze the steps that were taken by right wing politicians supported by a small segment of the population and by corporate business interests, see where that leads, and then compare those steps and their consequences with other governmental systems.

From his 2000 election, which was certainly of doubtful legality in Florida, Bush used every trick to upset the balance that is quite carefully defined in the constitution and has been crucial to American government for hundreds of years.

What we are concerned about is not just the war in Iraq, it is the misuse of executive privilege, the mendacity, the refusal to share even with Congress what should be public information.

The president subverts the constitution and abuses power by his intervention in matters within the Department of Justice, which, in American tradition, is supposed to act on behalf of the United States – meaning the people, the congress, the judicial system and the president -- not on behalf of the president alone.

The practice of going outside the law in matters of surveillance, especially electronic surveillance, even when adequate surveillance was possible if he had used the legal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court established by law for just such purposes.

The president's approval of torture as a means of securing statements from prisoners and his practice of rendition are illegal, in violation of international treaties and conventions relating not just to civil rights but universal human rights. They are surely unconstitutional and comparable to dictatorial acts that we all abhor.

The presidents's practice of exempting himself and his cronies and corporations from specific laws by means of "signing statements" which brazenly imply that he is above the laws of the United States.

Perhaps an impeachment resolution would fail in the House of Representatives, or perhaps the president would be exonerated in a trial in the Senate. But those actions mentioned above are very definitely comparable to the actions by which Adolph Hitler gained control of Germany and then, by wile and brute force, almost all of Europe.

A comparative analysis of fascist regimes done by Lawrence Britt in 2003 identified fourteen points such regimes have in common. I hope America could not be called "fascist," but we must be on guard. It certainly cannot hurt us to compare our current American political situation with that list of points. Here they are:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism..
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights..
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism..
5. Rampant sexism..
6. A controlled mass media..
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections. (Source:

A quotation that might apply to this situation, that is, the situation where conservatives recognize a presumed "general political rule" that is supposed to keep us from comparing Bush's rise toward absolute domination in America with that of Hitler in Germany sixty years earlier: "Just a quick observation, when people don't want to play the blame game, they're to blame." --Jon Stewart

What do you think?

--Alvin Wolfe, November 2007.

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