Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The F Word - Day Two  

In a spirited discussion of my previous post at Majikthise's terrific blog, Robert M. Jeffers recognized the serious nature of the Schiavo ruling but urged a retreat from hyperbole, "It's not judicial Armageddon, but it is as poor a law as can be imagined."

While today's ruling by Judge Whittemore might lend support to Jeffers' point, I must note that this disgusting circus is far from over.

I'm struck that many on the left blogosphere have focused on the details of the Schiavo case rather than its larger meaning. That meaning is stark and disturbing: The Bush administration demonstrated in public - not in secret, as with the Gonzales torture memos - that they have the will and the means to overturn any law they disagree with. Regardless of what happens now to the Schiavo case, the right wing extremists who control our government have made their point. Openly, they have asserted, and proven, that they are literally above the law of the United States. They are now unequivocably beyond any judicial control. Only a fool would believe that they won't do this again on a different issue. And again. And again.

It is equally striking that two major newspapers, often chided by the left blogosphere as slow to the punch and timid, hit the nail pretty darn close to the head. The Los Angeles Times wrote:
[Repulican leaders] brushed aside our federalist system of government, which assigns the resolution of such disputes to state law, and state judges. Even President Bush flew back from his ranch to Washington on Sunday to be in on what amounts to a constitutional coup d'etat. [Emphasis added.]
The New York Times editorial on the bill was equally outraged:
The new law tramples on the principle that this is "a nation of laws, not of men," and it guts the power of the states. When the commotion over this one tragic woman is over, Congress and the president will have done real damage to the founders' careful plan for American democracy...

...President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.
A coup d'etat. The rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the results they want...There's no reason to be coy about it.

This is fascism.

Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to write and comment on The F Word both pro, con, or otherwise. There is much to think over now. I am not used to the idea of living in an openly fascist state. In a very real sense I don't know what moral behavior under such a regime could be. Nevertheless, I don't feel a need to comment on this issue further -the position I hold is as clear as I can make it. I've carefully considered numerous alternate views but I see no reason to temper my conclusion. And I need to resume my life which, fortunately, demands considerable distance from the madness of this administration's actions.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The F Word  

Well, it happened.

On March 21, 2005 12:44 am, the extremists in charge of the US Government showed the world that when they don't like a law or a legally valid court decision - ANY law, ANY court decision, for ANY reason, no matter how carefully adjudicated - they are prepared to rip it up. There is a word for this.

The word is fascism.

As of early this morning, America can no longer maintain the slightest shadow of an illusion that it is a Republic with a flexible and somewhat benign, albeit hegemonic and imperialist, stance towards the world while enjoying a modicum of democratically established liberties for its citizens. Today, my fellow Americans, we woke up in a new United States, a fascist America in which a citizen's rights and liberties are inscribed not in a set of laws but are entirely subject to the whims of the extremists running the Federal legislative and executive branches. A fascist America which barely tries to disguise either its thirst for oil or its demands that all countries must kowtow to its leaders' demands.

Oh, c'mon! They can't DO that, they can't take away our rights without hearings, without extended open discussions, can they? We have laws! They can't just ignore them!

Well guess what? They just can ignore them and they just did. That's what the awful personal tragedy of the Schiavos mutated into: the perfect excuse for extremists to come out of the closet and swagger about, smirking, basking in the full extent of their fascist glory.

Nineteen judges examined the details of a heartwrenching medical case, numerous expert witnesses on all sides were called. The judgment was affirmed and unequivocal. No matter. In an entirely unprecedented move, and merely to demonstrate its overwhelming power, the extremists in this government told the American judiciary to take a hike. We're doing it our way from now on.

The extremists said to the courts and state legislatures of the land, "For heaven's sakes, there's a war on, don't you know? Give up those quaint, naive, too-subtle-for-my-mind notions of "Justice" and take a break, don't bother judging anymore, that's not your job, never really should have been, frankly. From now on, we'll simply tell you what justice has to be. It'll be easier on everyone."

When you're the fascist...Oh, the usefulness of those "just this one time" vital intrusions into cultural, political, issues!

Information about the identity of the traitor who leaked Valerie Plame's name getting uncomfortably close to disclosure? Convene an emergency session in the dead of night; authorize "just this once" a pre-emptive enemy combatant arrest or two for the good of the country. Mission accomplished. Are you a whistle-blower with important information that the CIA has far two few decent Arabic translators and that some of them are paid operatives of foreign governments? Convene Congress, amend the PATRIOT act, and you'll disappear like Padilla for several years.

Think fascism can't happen here? It already has. That's right. It already has. Today was just the first, truly normative display of the amount of control this fascist regime has. One party, fully in power that can, on a whim, overturn any law of the land. Without limit or control.

But since Bush first took his oath in 2001, American and foreign citizens have been held without trial or communication so many times it's almost routine. Torture is ubiquitous, all but official US policy; one well-respected pundit even suggested amending the Constitution to allow retributive torture of those convicted of capital crimes.

Meanwhile, the traitors who outed a CIA agent evade the law; and dollars to donuts at least one of those traitors is still working in the White House. "Open government" is a laughable oxymoron (remember Cheney's energy hearings?) And everywhere, fake news telling us George Bush knows all, is almost a holy force for good. And everywhere, a media so corrupt and incompetent it took something like a year for anyone to learn that a "reporter" who was a regular attendee at numerous White House briefings was not just a media whore, but an actual whore, and nothing but a whore who'd done a little typing, a whore with an explicit web site advertising his charms at the same time he was addressing a question to the president of the United States. Christ...

Now what?

Well, we can't sue them in court 'cause the courts are rapidly being packed with extremists and anyway, even if we managed to sue, they'd just pass a law giving us no standing ("just this once" as in Schiavo) and we're back to square one. We can't elect anyone to oppose them because they are busy gerrymandering district after district to make it all but impossible for anyone except a right wing kook to get elected. We can't make our views public in any coherent way because they own the best microphones and cameras and carefully ban effective spokesmen opposed to right wing extremism from important media appearances and events.

Oh, and by the way, don't bother with those "living wills" as some have suggested. Did you actually listen last night to what the crazies were saying? They couldn't have been clearer. Their goal is is to ban living wills if they request a do not resuscitate under conditions they don't happen to like. So sure, pay the 15 bucks for a LW and pretend your last wishes will be respected by Tom Delay and his fellow fascists, one of the most corrupt and stupid men in the history of Congress, quite an achievement. You never know, he could change into an honest, compassionate man (joke).


Should we move to another country and watch safely from afar as the nation we grew up in and love so much disintegrates before our eyes, as it surely will from the behavior of such extremists? I'm sure it will tempt many, but few will actually do it, for logistical, personal, and/or political reasons.

Should we work within the Democratic Party? Oh, please. Did you read Lieberman and Biden in the New Yorker, on the meaning of Dean as chair? Said with a sneer: "It never made a damn bit of difference who was Democratic chairman." Ok, maybe Dean can knock heads together enough to make a difference someday. But we're confronting real, genuine, fascism -the ugly kind- today. The incompetent clods who are still in charge of the Democrats not only let a genuine war hero and exemplary patriot get tarred as a lying traitor. They also permitted a drunken, stupid, ignornant and amoral WAR DESERTER be portrayed as a man of courage, stern conviction, and military mien. They should have raised holy hell. But they didn't.

Nah, the Democrats got a long, long way to go until anyone could even pretend with a straight face they're a nationally important party again.

Revolution and radical struggle? A second Civil War? The very notion sickens me. First, I'm a liberal. Political extremism and absolutism, of all sorts, revolts me. It is anti-liberal, ie anti-freedom. Furthermore, no sane American who truly thought about the consequences of the revolutionary overthrow of an American government, even a fascist one, could support such madness. The human consequences would make the first Civil War look like a collegiate wrestling tournament in comparison.

And guess who would win? Hint: Ken Lay's on their side. No. When you talk about destruction, you can count me out. (Where have I heard that before?)


Now what?

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