The Friends of California Libre...

15 September 2005

The High Holy Days

Greetings, friends,
Funny, maybe I wasn't paying attention, but as Robert kindly pointed out, the images of 11 September were almost invisible this year. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting the World Trade Center not a year ago. I did manage to catch a rerun of George W. Bush's 9/11 speech at the National Cathedral in DC, which was broadcast here on the Christian TBN network. What a wonderfully muddy speech it was, and a classic Southern sermon, even some of the Republicans were ready to drop off. Bill Clinton, I noticed, was doing this thing trying to prop up his chin on two arms, a position familiar to anyone who spent Sunday in a warm church.
I suppose George Bush has a lot to say to his God, who handed him two of the greatest disasters in American history. Makes one wonder what the message is, and if he's listening, but he's such a good Christian regardless. Some people can talk their way out of anything.
Alleged Drunk Driver Jumps Into Back Seat
Maybe George just has too much on his plate right now:
The New Ground ZeroBy Rupert Cornwell
The Independent UK Anti-9/11
By Patrick Sabatier
Libération Katrina Fiasco, Time for Bush to Go
By Gordon Adams
The Baltimore Sun
By the way, did anybody notice that Sunday, according to my desk calendar, was Patriot Day? When did we get that, and more importantly, when is my union going to negotiate it as a Monday holiday? Americans are so stingy with their holidays. You can read what our American Leader had to say about it:
PS For those making the arduous trek to Amboy this weekend, our God here in California is handing us perfect weather to ruminate over.

For those who would like to wallow in nostalgia and feel a terrific empathy for our friends in New York City, I can recommend the terrible audios available at this site:
The Records: Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11By JIM DWYER
The oral histories are a mosaic of vision and memory recalling the human struggle against surging fire, confusion, and horror.
On the subject of destruction, yeah, I've gotten all the wonderful photos being sent around about Katrina, and thanks to many of you for the many copies, and no, I ain't breaking the chain. I've attached them all at the end. They've already become the stuff of urban legend:
The reality is a lot more frightening. I was completely mesmerized tonight by this very odd television show, "Lost", which apparently is about a bunch of people who survive a plane crash on a deserted island (do we still have those?), and have the wherewithal to make good their escape, unlike the crew and passengers of the "Minnow". Well, maybe not all of them, and after a high school teacher blew himself with a stick of rotten dynamite, I had to turn it off. In between I'd seen commercials for a show about an invasion from the bottom of the sea and a situation comedy about a redneck. Hey, you get the country you want, eh?

Anyway, I found myself watching a documentary about the great Mississippi flood of 1927, which those subversives at PBS put on. The parallels to the last two weeks were deeply troubling. The Mississippi submerged 27,000 square miles of the Delta...that's almost the size of South Carolina (don't ask why I know that.) Hundreds of thousands were displaced, but while the whites were evacuated, the wealthy planters kept the blacks in tent cities on the levees, surrounded by water, afraid they would never come back and so destroy the cotton harvest. They were kept in miserable condition for months, and frankly the Red Cross played a part, using the blacks to run the refugee camps. Many thousands left anyway, the source of the great urban explosion in St. Louis and Chicago during the Twenties.

What urban explosion will Katrina feed, since our cracker Texan G can't keep everyone on the levees?

If you think I'd not giving George a break, he's doing his best to remind poor Southerners of those bad old days:
Bush Lifts Wage Rules for Katrina
President signs executive order allowing contractors to pay below prevailing wage in affected areas.
For those of you familiar with New Orleans or just really curious, here is a great collection of over a hundred photos on the Internet, snapped by a Nicaraguan immigrant living in the French Quarter, before, during and after the hurricane, showing better than any news source the slow progression of events:
Shirley informs me that the Dream Center in LA is only accepting the following donations:
1. Gift cards to major retailers
2. Bus Passes
3. Computers (Pentium III 500 MhZ or higher) and flat screen monitors
WHAT! Pardon me for seeming petty, but are they sure these folks don't need food or water or diapers? Idiots. Here're some better resources courtesy of my colleagues at Radical Reference:
Guides to alternative relief efforts: of Color-led Hurricane Katrina Relief
They also link to alternative news sites, which are never dull:
New Orleans Indymedia: Indymedia: News:
And thanks to those who sent me Michael Moore's donation suggestions:
We all need to help more than even in the tsunami off Sumatra, because our government is treating New Orleans like another Fallujah:
Blackwater Mercenaries Deploy in New OrleansBy Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo
t r u t h o u t Report
Aw, Joel, aren't you being hard on poor George, and right before the High Holy Days? You don't know the half of it (thanks, Dorothy):
Ha, I didn't know about this one:
1.) go to
2.) type in "failure" without the quotes
3.) press the I'm feeling lucky button (instead of the google search one)
4). Laugh

See, here's the deal. I live in California, a modern Western state in every sense. Like our friends in Europe and Canada, we're hip to the trends:
California Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill
By Joe Dignan and Amy Argetsinger
The Washington Post
Move is the first by a state legislative body without a court order. Lawmakers Pass Gay Marriage Bill
The Associated Press
Action is first by a US legislative body; bill goes to Schwarzenegger's desk
But one man subverts the desires of thousands, and that's a MODERATE Republican for you:
California Governor to Veto Bill Authorizing Same-Sex Marriage
By John Pomfret
The Washington Post
Now think about George W. Bush, who gave himself over to Jesus in the coffee shop of a Holiday Inn in Midland, Texas. What kind of America are these good Christians going to leave out on the levees?
Grooming Politicians for Christ
Evangelical programs on Capitol Hill seek to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.
By Stephanie Simon
The complete article can be viewed at:
Still think this is joke? These Christians are openly planning to take over government and impose their rule. They're starting with the Appalachian corner of the Carolinas, which for those who know it is not a bad head-start:
Strategizing a Christian Coup d'EtatBy Jenny Jarvie
The Los Angeles Times
They have their own website in case any of you feel like joining in:
Here in the infidel West we have our own gods to follow:
Beckham the 'Jesus of consumer culture'
But seriously, these people are enemies of science and diversity; they thrive on ridiculous explanations for the obvious:
Not Your Daddy's Creationists
By Rosa Brooks
The Los Angeles Times
They really got my dander up by attacking my alma mater:
University of California Sued over CreationismThe Associated Press
Heh heh, they pissed off a lot of Marxist Intellectuals:
Intelligent Design Has No Place in the Science CurriculumBy Harold Morowitz, Robert Hazen and James Trefil
The Chronicle of Higher Eduction
Their Leader, George W., inspires revulsion from esteemed writers...
The Unfeeling President
By E.L. Doctorow
The East Hampton Star
...and righteous mothers.
Hypocrites and Liars
By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t Letter
He's consistent in elevating his Christian friends into high office. Forget Iraq, forget New Orleans even, because in 30 years we'll still rue these days:
Bush Nominates Roberts as Chief Justice
By Jennifer Loven
The Associated Press
Yep, George is a great believer in justice, as long as he can control it:
Bush's Aid Cuts on Court Issue Roil Neighbors
By Juan Forero
The New York Times
Bogotá, Colombia - Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide.
He's got a lot of respect for international law, and sends the best and the brightest to represent our nation:
Bush Sends John Bolton to the United NationsBy Phyllis Bennis
Institute For Policy Studies
And without question, they do his bidding:
Bolton Pushes UN on Change as US Objects to Draft Plan
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times Wants Changes in UN AgreementBy Colum Lynch
The Washington Post Wants '11th Hour' Changes to UN Reform PlanBy Tom Regan
The Christian Science Monitor Voices Opposition to UN ProposalsBy Colum Lynch
The Washington Post Sets Last-Minute Drive to Scrap UN Reform Plan
Reuters Summit on UN's Future Heads for ChaosBy Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian UK
Not surprisingly, the diplomats at the UN were expecting this:
The Bolton Backfire: Weaken UN, Imperil Americans
By Helena Cobban
The Christian Science Monitor Faces Unprecedented UN OppositionBy Ann Gearan
The Associated Press
Naturally we Americans, if we're not watching "Lost", know that some people will oppose our good Christian plans just on principle:
Americans schizophrenic when it comes to France
But even our best friends turned on us, the unreliable bastards:
Britain Heads for Clash with US
By Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian UK
Disagreement over America's bid to derail UN reform. Declaration of War
By Phyllis Bennis
The end result, this time, a draw:
UN Adopts Modest Goals on Reforms and PovertyBy Warren Hoge
The New York Times
It's not like we need a strong UN, right? America can clean up the globe all by itself, and enjoy the spoils. Well...

The World Factbook: Field Listings, Disputes, International

This chart summarizes specific international disputes, encompassing "a wide variety of situations that range from traditional bilateral boundary disputes to unilateral claims of one sort or another." Covers regions such as the Faroe Islands, Spratley Islands, Hans Island, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Kosovo. Specific disputes are listed under the countries involved. From the World Factbook, published by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
No, on this hostile planet, no government, not even the City on the Hill, can control it all:
Croatia zoo opens cages for world's most dangerous species - humans
Other people have their own inspirations:
Bruce Lee a symbol of unity in divided Bosnian town
Other people don't think so much of our arbitrary rules and restrictions:
Human Cannonball Soars Across U.S. Border
The world is full of people and full of diverse futures:
Dubai plans city of 'wonders of the world' replicas
The world is full of opportunities...(thanks, David):
German brews world's strongest beer
We will resist tyranny to the end, I hope, and your friendly librarians will go down fighting:
Library Challenges FBI Request
By Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Every little sin and misdemeanor will get raked over the coals:
Ukraine gets steamed up over planned Russian porn film
Anarchy will be the name of the game (thanks, Robert):
Subject: pro-theft activist site from (where else?) Spain
To: "Joel Rane" <>
Free speech will suddenly have a high price:
UK Lists Grounds for Deporting Hate Preachers
By Robert Hutton
Bloomberg UK
Government jobs will become training camps for future terrorists:
Colombian senator says cocaine dealers in congress
But maybe some of our puppets, like this poor Iraqi woman who made a fool of herself during this year's State of the Union address, will see the error of our Christian ways...
Iraqi Activist Taken Up by Bush Recants Her ViewsBy Andrew Buncombe
The Independent UK
It's not like we've done her country any favors:
Iraqi Constitution May Curb Women's RightsBy Edward Wong
The New York Times
No, ladies, you're usually on your own.
Anti-rape condom aims to stop attacks
We're all on our own, whether it's being blown to bits or drowned in the attic:
Iraq Looking More and More Like Vietnam
By Gordon Livingston
The Baltimore Sun of Baghdad Bombings Kill at Least 141By Ellen Knickmeyer, Naseer Nouri and Bassam Sebti
The Washington Post
Meanwhile, the fundamentalists in Iran took a card from George's playbook and instituted their own kind of theocracy. The neo-conservatives thought the hatred between Arab and Persian would trump the bonds of Shi'ism...WRONG:
The Iraq War is Over, and the Winner Is... IranBy Juan Cole
Hamstrung by the Iraq debacle, all Bush can do is gnash his teeth as the hated mullahs in Iran cozy up to their co-religionists in Iraq.
The Persian fundamentalists are asserting themselves like never before, both in fear of us and in gratitude that we've just eliminated two of their worst enemies, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein:
Iran's Oil Gambit and Potential Affront to the US
By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor
The Iranian government's plans to create an oil exchange fit into a strategy of weakening US economic hegemony.'s Dangerous New FriendBy Robert Scheer
The Los Angeles Times Ironies of Conquest: The Bush Administration's Iranian NightmareBy Michael Schwartz
Our peace-loving Christian president always has a spiritual solution:
Bush Raises Option of Using Force against Iran
Reuters Bush Would Gain from War with Iran
By Dan Plesch
The Guardian UK
But those dirty atheists just won't go along:
Schröder, the Underdog, Plays an Old Card with a New Face: IranBy Richard Bernstein
The New York Times Says Opposes Use of Force against Iran
Reuters Nuclear Watchdog Rebuts Claims that Iran Is Trying to Make A-BombBy Anne Penketh
The Independent UK
If you've got some time to kill, enjoy this Persian adventure with our very own bad boy celebrity, Sean Penn, who discovered that Iran is our best friend in the Middle East, and our best rival:
Day One in Iran: Culture in ConflictBy Sean Penn
The San Francisco Chronicle
Yeah, I'm afraid that Americans will learn the hard way that the world is full of tough neighbors:
93-year-old Lithuanian woman floors robber with killer grip
But before we do, even as you read this, people are paying the price for our arrogance with their lives:
Shots to the Heart of IraqBy Richard C. Paddock
The Los Angeles Times
Innocent civilians, including people who are considered vital to building democracy, are increasingly being killed by US troops. Says Blair and Bush 'Have Blood on Their Hands'
The Guardian UK
All of our allies are pulling away from American insanity:
The Two Koreas Favor Reconciliation Despite American Intransigence toward Pyongyang
By Philippe Pons
Le Monde
I fear the end is nigh...
Someone Tell the President the War Is OverBy Frank Rich
The New York Times
...and it won't be pretty.
Someone Tell Frank Rich the War Is Not Over
By Norman Solomon
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Thank our God that we have distractions from this terrible world, celebrities like Peggy Entwistle all climbing up to the top of their personal HOLLYWOODLAND sign, shedding swag bags and product placement the whole way. We have musicians who are also artists (thanks, Mike):
We can buy anything:
Polish customs officers seize haul of meteorites on Russian truck
We can work out a deal:
Polish hardware shop offers brothel visits to big-paying customers
And finally, we can hear another sermon about why our government is no more Christian than any other...this goes to the end of this slammin' screed, and it's worth reading. See y'all deep in the desert, where we can hide away from the bullshit (thanks, Blake):
Living Under Fascism
By Rev. Davidson Loehr

11/07/04 -- -- 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 - 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 - 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, longincarcerations 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 war time, 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 Yurica 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 workers' 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 Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, the 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:
* 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.
* Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the developed world.
* Increased loss of funding for public education combined with increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their children's education to Christian schools.
* More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into the police state necessary for fascism to work
* 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.
* 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 Veterans' Day sermon for this year.)
* More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.
* More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.
* 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.
* Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this one, and to characterize them as anti-American.
* Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and demonization of the few media they are unable to control - the New York Times, for instance.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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 - 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 learning 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 - step, by step, by step.

Davidson Loehr
7 November 2004
First UU Church of Austin
4700 Grover Ave., Austin, TX 78756
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Vive le screed!

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